We arrived on the Isle of Iona, Scotland in the morning fog with silver mist hanging on the white beaches as the ferry made its landing. Heading northward towards the abbey, we stepped along cobblestones through the little island village, past the ruined convent, along the ancient cemetery. It was there next to those gravestones when I saw the bench inviting us to sit and reflect. The wood back was carved with the simple inscription: Rest and Remember: an invitation to the weary traveler’s soul. Sit for a while. Catch your breath. Take a short break. Look out across the silver sea. Watch the day emerge as the sun sparkles in the dew-heavy grass. Rest. Listen as the abbey bells call us to return. Rest and remember.
Remember the year 563, the year Columcille (a.k.a. Columba) arrived from
Remember. Think of the thousands upon ten thousands of travelers coming across oceans, over mountains, by boat, by land, by sea, through the centuries, coming to this island to rest and renew. They keep coming. The day we departed from
Return to the bench called Remember. Sit here and rest. Watch. Listen. Reflect. Hear the rhythmic song of the sea upon the shores of
Rest and remember. Trace the shoreline northward to the abbey church, rebuilt in the 11th century by the Benedictines after two hundred years of Viking raids had decimated the island population. Walk visually along the path leading from the abbey church to the graveyard, a path known locally as “the Road of the Dead”. Pause for a moment to ponder St. Martin’s high cross, one of the few remaining of the Celtic high crosses on
We travel to distant lands, partly to sit on a bench called Remember. We traverse among the ancient stones, along the paths of the dead, to think about those who walked this path before us. In this is we discover how to live and survive. In this is our soul’s rest and return.