This is a picture from Rachel’s camera of part of the group as we were leaving Iona on the ferry to Fionnphort (before the bus ride across Mull to Craignure before the ferry to Oban before the bus to Glasgow–this is a day-long affair). As is always the case with retreats, the people make or break an event. One of our group members this week, Ian Campbell, goes every year, and he said the group doesn’t always function this well. On the first night, I looked around the refectory and thought, “What could I possibly have in common with anyone in this room?” But sure enough, as lives unfolded, everyone had something to teach me, from the public health professor to the woman who organized a choir for homeless people to the Swedish pastor who pursued ministry as a second career, having been told she couldn’t as a woman the first time she tried. You don’t get a dynamic, compassionate, willing to ask hard questions group every day.
What’s remarkable about Iona is that as ancient as it is, the place also feels very modern (or postmodern, if you will). It felt a little disconcerting at first, but it was intentionally designed as a living, breathing community dealing with the lived experiences of people right here right now, always. So even if it’s cliche, I think it might be by design that the people end up being the most central part of the Iona experience. And I was incredibly fortunate to get to learn from all of them.
Next report– Madrid sans bullfight.