Voyage to Renewal

Do you know Iona?  It’s an island off the west coast of Scotland.

If you’re wondering what visiting this really special place has to do with your work life, bear with me. Iona is a place for contemplation, restoration, meditation, prayer, and just plain thinking.

No one there asks you what you do.  They are more likely to ask you what you are reading, how the hike to the other side of the island was, or if you would like some tea.

The abbey at Iona was founded in the sixth century by Columba, an Irish monk.  Columba had had a bit of difficulty at his monastery in Ireland and had been forced into exile.  Legend has it that he and his twelve companions vowed to build a new community at the first place he came to from which you can’t see Ireland.

Columba had failed.  He had been humiliated by his failure and he was exiled.  Yet when you visit Iona and its magnificent abbey, you don’t think about failure, but the triumph that this early settlement became. Columba brought Christianity to the Picts and the Northumbrians.  The cemetery at the Abbey is said to the burial place of Scandinavian royalty as well as Macbeth, Malcolm and Duncan.  For several centuries, Iona was a center of learning.

Failure?  Columba left Ireland in disgrace and set the stage for a glorious epoch of celtic intellectual and spiritual community.

When I need restoration and inspiration, I want to run – to western Scotland.  I will be reminded that no failure is fatal, that a comeback is mine for the asking.


2 Responses to “Voyage to Renewal”

  1. Amy Headley Says:

    I really enjoyed this timely post. I believe that ancient reaction to run is discouraged early, laughed at, as you’re called “impractical” and told to just pull yourself together. I say run. Maybe not to Iona,but listen to that primal calling. I run to the woods two blocks from my house. Inhale freedom away from it all. Ok,maybe even hug a few trees, this actually works! And soon, thoughts more focused, I’m able to walk back. You always have an option.

    • anneheadley Says:

      Thanks, Amy. Maybe we each find our own “Iona” to draw on when we need to. Hope you get to hug a tree today. As for me, I’ve got a screen saver of photos of Iona, and that rarely fails to take me away for a second or two to the land of possibilities.

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