November 20, 2012


A sanctuary where the lost are welcomed, the forlorn found. It is a simple, stark and quiet place where solace resides in one’s own thoughts, where comfort fills the still spaces and where the moment before and the one immediately following matter not. It is a place to hide and heal where no notice is paid or polite inquiry sought. Polite, I say, because the calm of it is unmistakable, inviting no harm, rancor, or ill will.

There is something quietly heroic in the straightness of its lines, the sturdiness of its weathered planks and the heavenward tilt of its prow.  It's vantage takes in what must seem like the whole of the world in one sweeping gaze. Spare and modestly ordered, if one were to look through the panes of its windows, might glimpse long even rows of hand tooled wood pews cradling the forms of folk in solemn contemplation.  Or in another fanciful stab of reverie, eye a salt-worn attendant versed in the ways of the sea, hunched over a desk strewn with logs, maps and coastal charts, intent in his duties to stave off calamity.

What I do know is this. It is a photograph taken of a church on the Isle of Iona, Scotland, where Saint Columba founded his great monastery. The archaic rock strata of Iona is some of the oldest on the planet, possibly 1500 million years old, and as such it certainly carries a primeval and powerful creative energy.  What lures men and women from the far corners of the earth to the tiny rocky island off the west coast of Scotland?   Not the scenery, for there is more magnificence on the mainland of Scotland. It must be something deeper. Something knocking on the heart which speaks of mystery and holiness, of dreams and truths which have outlived time. There is an indescribable atmosphere on the tiny island washed by the waters of prayer down through the ages. Hallowed and blessed by Christians for about 1,400 years, as well as by those who were there long before.  Is it any wonder that an aura of spiritual peace surrounds the island.

“This island set apart, this motherland of many dreams,
still yields its secret, but it is only as men seek that they truly find.
To reach the heart of Iona is to find something eternal....”  G.E. Troup

It’s a fitting narrative for this stunningly stark place connoting a remembrance of things past and a foretelling of times to come with wishes placed, fears soothed, promises pledged, and on occasion, prayers answered.

It is all of what we will be feeling this day of thanks when we sit, kneel, genuflect or be together. Whether the thresholds you cross this day be grand or sparse, walk them with grace and gratitude, content in your lot, your place, your fellow man and your time spent here on this earth.