Thursday, July 12, 2007

Written June 25, On The Isle Of Iona, On A Bench At The South Side Of St. Micheal's Chapel, Facing The Isle Of Mull Across The Ocean

Husband Randall has been posting his writings and musings from our trip to Iona... so I thought I should get around to posting the one thing I got written there... on a beautiful morning, sitting in the sun...


I feel like there should be awesome insights flowing through me- as though here, in this ancient, sacred place I should perhaps be finding the answers to the age-old questions of the universe.

But it is not so.

No inspiration.

No earth shattering revelations.

No magnificent hymns of praise.

No perfect melodies of worship.

There is only emptiness- if stillness and quietness and peace is empty.

There is the sound of wind and lowing cattle, bleating sheep and birdsong.

From where I sit, in the shelter of the Abbey wall, I can see, but not hear the ocean- unless that faint sound as of a distant metropolitan highway is the sound of waves on the shore.

From the Abbey church drifts the sound of piano music. Practicing? The beginning of a service there? Randall was going there to be quiet; perhaps this means he'll be coming to find me soon. To wonder if I've finished the poem or written a song.

Nothing, I'll have to say.



But I won't go away feeling empty or disappointed. This is a healthy kind of nothing.

Maybe because, in spite of human kind's great efforts to destroy and deface God's creation, the sea is still probably nearest to being what it was when God said, "Let there be..." and called the oceans and land masses into being. 

Maybe that's why being by the ocean- any ocean- for long enough can make you feel cleansed and empty.

I had thought a week on this Island would be a filling experience- but I am finding it, rather, to be an emptying one.

This is supposed to be a "thin place" on earth, where God is easily reached and where the space between heaven and earth is somehow minimized... I had envisioned/ imagined that this would make it a place of inspiration and revelation. Of tremendous insights and creativity.

Maybe the thinness of the place has an opposite effect, and rather than being full of myself and my own creative brilliance, I'm more aware of my insignificance, being more fully aware of God's presence.

There is a kitchen in this end of the Abbey grounds.. and it always smells like chicken noodle soup here. Another homey, comforting smell.

A cleansing smell. Like fresh baked bread or apple pie or the ocean and the wind.

And so.

I may put away my book and pen.

I may finish my Sudoku puzzle or not.

I may end up sitting on this bench that faces the North Atlantic Ocean and just gaze at it. And watch the ferry travel back and forth from the Isle of Mull. And listen to the birds and sheep. And catch whiffs of the chicken soup.

And be comfortable being empty.

And wonder how God will choose to fill me up again when we go from this place. 


  1. Nicely written. Does the emptiness = the peace that passes all understanding ? If so, I hope you are still experiencing it back in the 'real' world.


  2. Hey, when i was praying yesterday a thought came to me on this whole thing.

    I think it's been since about Christmas that you've been saying to me that it just seems life is coming at us one event after another after another after another and we had nothing left.

    I'm thinking this is God's way of taking out the list, the events, the stress, and giving you back your life.

    and, as you conclude, I think it's a good thing. A very good thing.