Photo © 2014 Caleb Dodson.

Several years ago, I stumbled upon simple but profound text, Listening to the Heartbeat of God. It was a book that resonated deep within my own soul as it eloquently reminded me of the heart of God beating in each and everyone of us – inviting me to look and to search for the love of God present in every living thing.  In reading this book, by John Philip Newell who at one time was the warden of the Abbey on the Isle Iona, I felt enchanted by his references to the island referred to as a “thin place where only tissue paper separates the material from the spiritual.”  I knew I wanted to make a pilgrimage to this place, to reflect, deepen my knowledge and my faith; and to be led by this man, John Philip.  When the time came for me to do so, it also came to me that to share this with The Seattle School community would deeply enrich my own journey into the sacred.  And indeed I found this to be true.  Following our 2014 Pilgrimage I wrote the following to my fellow pilgrims:

As we jostled along on the train from Oban to Glasgow—most of you zonked out from endless hours of prayer and solitude, my heart warm towards each of you, it came to me  that pilgrimages must be done in groups with friends and persons with common interests. Sharing such a unique experience, I have now come to understand, deepens that which we seek. As we joined together in the sharing of the bread, and of the wine, the scotch and the dance, the rituals of the Celtic community, our endless suppers, the walk across the island, the lambs, the mandela, the love and insights of our beloved John Philip and Ally, and…. in the quiet listening deeply for the heartbeat of God, birthed from our communion, something within our private hearts was shifting, something new was being birthed. I believed then and believe now that each of us was being called to something deep within.

This listening and being together in community takes courage, because it calls forth our vulnerabilities.  And yet, fearing what may be revealed, we also know that the deeper we are willing to look, we will find the very thing for which we yearn—the love of ourselves, the love of the other and the deep and abiding love of our God. Oh how I pray we will keep alert and not run when we are afraid. I pray that you will grow deeper into how loved and lovely you/we are. For the more we can grasp this divine love, abiding within ourselves and within the other, the more we are able to breathe the love of God into our hurting world.

As I awoke this am, I went to the Abbey Worship Book and turned to the Morning Service. Here in the Affirmation we read:

We affirm that we are made in God’s image, befriended by Christ empowered by the Spirit. We affirm God’s goodness at the heart of humanity, planted more deeply than all that is wrong. We celebrate the miracle and wonder of life; the unfolding purposes of God, forever at work in ourselves and the world.

And in prayers for gratitude and concern for Monday are: O God, lead us from death to life, from falsehood to truth. Lead us from despair to hope, from fear to trust. Lead us from hate to love, from war to peace. Let peace fill our hearts, our world, our universe. We ask it for your own name’s sake. Amen.

May this fresh new voice continue to enliven you as you fondly remember its sounds from spoken in the ancient walls of the Abbey. I pray that you have not yet forgotten and that these words will penetrate your heart and soul in our ordinary not always liminal lives we are called to live. The life of Ordinary time.  I pray that whatever good work that began in you in Iona, will follow you all the days of your life as we dwell in the heart of our Lord together here in sacred harmony with one another each and every day. I pray that we will not be “heaven waiters” on this earth waiting for what is next, but that we will take our Lord’s Prayer very seriously and pray and live, the kingdom here on this earth.

Remembering our short liturgy of living on the Isle of Iona where we gathered for morning service in the Abbey, (some of you!) to the work of the day, to dance and revelry in the evening, may you continue to construct a deep spiritual life that reflects, works and plays as well as you did in Iona.  You are wonderful wonderful people.  My love to each of you.  Roy

Knowing of the deep healing and reunions with God that many of the pilgrims experienced in Iona, I thought what better thing could be done, than to bring Iona to Seattle. John Philip was eager to know us better and to share his life with us further. So the time has come. From January 14-16, 2015, we who have been and those of you who will join us will pilgrim together, discovering God in new and wonderful ways.

John Philip will be speaking to us not only of the Celtic spirit of a loving God whose heartbeat beats within us all, but will call us forth into a New Harmony, believing that, “for the world’s well-being and for our own individual well-being, we need to know that all things are interwoven and that each strand in the tapestry is holy.  We need to know that our distinct races, our countless species, our many wisdom traditions, our children, and the men and women of every nation are wonderful ‘outbursts of singularity’ each carrying within them the life of the One.” – from A NEW HARMONY, by John Philip Newell.

Learn more about the two day conference engaging John Philip Newell’s most recent working, The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings, coming up January 15-16»