Camp Iona

As we moved through our week at Iona Abbey, our time and activity took on the aspect of a church summer camp.  One night as we watched the children (many families had come to be a part of the Abbey retreat) perform in a talent show (the word “talent” was very charitably applied!), I leaned over and commented to Jolynn that we could have gone to Glen Lake and saved money. I had come expecting more quiet meditative time.  I knew in advance that community was a central part of the Iona Abbey experience and believed that I would benefit from being in community while I prayed, meditated, studied and reflected.  I failed to account for how “messy” community can be! We have met and conversed with people from a variety of countries (though predominately from Great Britain – Scotland and England).  We’ve shared in conversation and learning what has not always been comfortable. What holds the messy whole together is worship.  Twice a day at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., all in the Iona Community are required to be in worship. (The only other requirements are to participate in the common meals and share in the common work.)  I am not a liturgist.  Most of those reading may be aware that I helped pioneer so called contemporary or “praise” worship.  But, the liturgy in the Iona community is marvelous.  I have found it deep and rich in imaginary; fresh and new in style; provoking and guiding in direction.  Much of this is, I think, from the great music leadership of John Bell and also from the great liturgical traditions of both the Church of Scotland and the Church of England. At its heart, the liturgy is impressively and insistently Trinitarian.  “Holy one, holy three” is a common phrase.  The liturgy refused to settle on either the first, second, or third person of the Trinity.  There is a lesson here for us.  I find myself more convicted and determined to be deeply Trinitarian.