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 isle of Iona people of all ages came together here. Having had our footwear inspected for its appropriateness and infirmities duly recorded I was surprised to see a fair number of children, some no more than six, pulling their parents’ arms and running up the mound where it is said Columba had his hut. Yet the natural way everyone just got on with each other and the ‘ready for anything’ spirit was as inspirational as the song we started with. We were all on level ground at the foot of the cross, all generations gathering to worship and to walk.

Pausing to look more carefully at the carving on the cross one is reminded of the interweaving of heaven and earth with four spherical bosses representing the creation of four seasons, surrounding the sun, the source of all light and life. The large circle around the Cross of Christ speaks of the Holy Spirit, the eternal Love of God into which we are welcomed. Thus the Holy Community of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit greets us as we gather at the entrance to the Abbey and tentatively say hello to one or two fellow travellers!

Possible Practices

  1. If you belong to a church say hello to someone you don’t know. Find out their name by discreetly asking someone else who seems to know them. (This is good practice for growing humility too)! Then make a point of remembering their name and one thing about them you may have discovered in your brief conversation, if you got that far. Write it down; draw a funny picture to make the association eg if it’s Tom, draw, paint or imagine a tomato for their head etc. Then make a point of speaking to them again the following week, making sure you use their name when you can.

Wherever appropriate, seek to speak to someone from a different generation each week.  Pray for them from the list or pictures you build up.

  1. Put a cross or a picture of a cross in a place that is higher than your normal eye level and stand, sit or kneel looking up at it. Recall Jesus’ words, ‘When I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself.’ (John 12; 32)

Thank God that he is always seeking to draw you closer into a relationship with Jesus through a love which hurts.

The following words of Charlotte Elliot’s hymn can be learned and used as a prayer:

Just as I am, though tossed about,
With many a conflict,  many a doubt.
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come!

The Lamb is the symbol in the Bible of forgiveness through sacrifice – Christ’s sacrifice of himself on the cross. Coming to the cross has the potential to be an experience of forgiveness and peace. Allow yourself time to enter into whatever God wants to give.

This would be a wonderful way to begin each day. Try it for a week and see what happens.