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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

17 August 2011: Melanie Evans, Reader at St. Peter's Church, Petersfield

The Iona Community

In July a group of ten people from St. Peter's Church and the United Reformed Church visited Iona, a small island hallowed by St. Columba in the 6th Century. It is three by one mile, off the Island of Mull, in the Inner Hebrides.

With 50 other guests from around the world, we stayed in the abbey with the Iona Community whose ethos is; renewing worship, building community and working for justice and peace. Iona is known as a 'Thin Place" where there is a thin veil between God and humanity.

Living conditions are basic. No resident doctor, dentist, transport and many of the things we believe we need to survive. Our mobile phones were useless - there was no signal. Instead, air sea rescue helicopter for major accidents, one Spar shop, Post Office, craft shops, farmers, fishermen, crofters, a few Christian retreat houses and hotels including a Youth Hostel.

We all mucked in with the household chores, enjoyed the village Ceilidh and community entertainment; sea and mountain views, walking, sheep, cattle, dolphins, seals, puffins, corn crakes.

We were acutely aware of (1) the silence and peace, (2) the past, as you sit by a white sandy beach where monks were killed in the 9th Century by Viking Marauders, and (3) the total reliance on God, his Creation, (the beauty of which is all around you), and the community you live with. Psalm 46 sums up Iona. "God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble", and verse 10 says "Be still, and know that I am God!"

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