Barlows In Birmingham

My most recent adventure was on the Isle of Iona. For years, I have wanted to visit this island - which has played such a key role in the spread of faith on the islands of Ireland and Great Britain, and well beyond. Iona has been inhabited for millenia, but in more recent history, the Irish monk St Columba settled the island around the 6th century A.D. From there, the Picts were reached with the message of the Gospel.

Using the word "adventure" is quite accurate, because the journey there is a bit tricky and weather-dependent. I had to take two trains, two ferries, and a 35-mile coach ride across the Isle of Mull which took more than 90 minutes. I had no certainty of reaching Iona as scheduled. The return journey had to be advanced by 24 hours, because a storm was brewing off the coast of Scotland - and everyone was fairly sure the Iona ferry would not be running. They were right!

I spent the week on Iona with two goals in mind. The first was to understand more about this misunderstood and under-appreciated period of Christian history. I discovered much and grew in my appreciation, but there was so much I didn't have time to see and visit. The other goal was to finish the first draft of a big writing project - part of which touches on the role of "foreigners" who come to a new area and bring significant transformation. That was certainly the case for St Columba and his band of Irish monks.

I don't know if I will ever get to the island again. The journey is unpredictable and somewhat daunting. But my hope is that some of the spirit of that island and its history will go with me wherever I am. Their desire to live the reality of life deeply transformed by God may seem to be "foreign," but it is something that many are searching for without even knowing it.


Tom's Blog

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