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Pilgrimage to Iona with the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation

Updated: Jun 26

In June of 2024, my wife and I attended a pilgrimage led folks from the Shalem Institute. Please see this link for more information about the pilgrimage; I recommend it! We had originally planned on going in 2020, so it was good to finally be able to participate.

Iona is known as a "thin place" in the world; a place where the separation between the divine and earthly realms is thin. In thin places, our sense of reality is expanded as we are more aware of the embrace of a loving God in the here and now; in birdsong, in the swirling movement of the spirit across fields of grass, in ancient stones, hewn with love of God, and most all, in blessed community. We drank deeply of Celtic spirituality, which St. Columba and his spiritual followers for over 1500 years wove into Christianity. Two important differences between the theology of the Roman church and Celtic spirituality are the absence of focus on original sin and the lived experience of the presence, almost quiveringly so, of God in all of Creation. I'm finding a great alignment between my own beliefs and Celtic spirituality.

As has been the case for my time spent with Shalem at Bon Secours in Maryland, I felt a sense of being at home on Iona. In part, this was due to my maternal grandfather's Scottish roots and being with like and spirit-minded folks from Shalem. But more important was the experience of the wild beauty, awe at being inside the ancient church and nunnery, and presence of ancient prayers that continued to vibrate in the rough-hewn and soaring sanctuary. I was also strongly drawn to the aspirations and ministry of the Iona Community

How about you? Where and with whom have you visited spirit-filled thin places? How was your heart moved?

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