Rev Jo Blogs

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Jo blogs: Tenth space

The beach at Iona

Iona is described in Celtic writings as a ‘thin place.’ That is, a place where the space between heaven and earth barely exists. For me, this is experienced most powerfully of all on the beaches of the island. Though constantly changing with tides and weather conditions, these places have remained essentially unchanged since the time […]

Jo blogs: Ninth space

The Refectory at Iona

The kitchen is the place of preparation so that meals can be served not just to sustain the community and guests physically but also so that people can eat together and build friendships over food in the way people have done down the centuries. Planning is of course a vital ingredient in this process, which […]

Jo blogs: Eighth space

The Chapter House at Iona

The Chapter House Today this space is used as a place to gather in small groups for worship and discussion, planning meetings, music practices etc. The day to day life of the Iona Community and what it stands for is portrayed on display boards. Visitors are left in no doubt of the community’s vision to […]

Jo blogs: Seventh space

The Cloisters at Iona Abbey

The Cloisters These four corridors around a central square provided a sacred space for monks to walk along, thoughtfully reflecting on their lives, the scriptures, their brothers in danger or just dreaming of what the future might hold. It was here that they would study the Bible and great spiritual classics. Many decisions must have […]

Jo blogs: Sixth space

Metal spiral staircase

Stairs to the dormitory Leading directly from the spaces for worship and prayer, stillness and solitude are the stairs to the space for rest and rejuvenation. This staircase would have been used for the monks to ‘hurry in a dignified way’ to engage in ‘the work of God’, and no doubt hurry back to a […]

Jo blogs: Fifth space

Interior of Iona Abbey

The choir and north and south transcepts Facing east, with the lectern to the left and marble altar. Listening to and reflecting on God’s word is an indispensable part of training in Christlikeness. Extensive research by the Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago has revealed that this discipline is the most potent catalyst in moving […]

Jo blogs: Fourth space

Interior of Iona Abbey

The Nave Worship at the Abbey follows a regular pattern of short services, one at 9 in the morning and then at 9 in the evening. They are led by members of the community using the Iona Abbey Worship Book, liturgies that are fresh and creatively relevant to life in its rough and readiness. Music […]

Rev Jo blogs: Third space

Close up of a baby being baptised

The font at the front Entering Iona Abbey one is met by the massive font constructed of sandstone from Mull and marble from Iona’s small quarry. This marble is special – shades of pinks and whites combine with an intricate pattern of hairline cracks to give it a unique quality. We saw the stones at […]

Rev Jo blogs: Second space

Tower, Grand Canyon

The watch tower A tiny room is built into the corner of the Abbey at a height that allowed the watchman to see anyone coming up the long pathway from the bay. The purpose was not so much to be prepared for enemy attack but rather so that visitors and pilgrims could be welcomed. Benedictine […]

Rev Jo blogs: First space

Lee Abbey

Crosses are high in Celtic Christianity. They proclaim a Saviour who was lifted up for all to see, and a Redeemer who reigns high over all. They also serve the very practical purpose of becoming a focal point for all to gather round to worship. As we began a seven mile pilgrimage around the sacred […]