Crossing the Sound

Sun and sea and rock and sand. Clouds and sunshine, wind and rain. The steady passage of the CalMac ferries between mainland and islands. Sacred histories, present blessedness, the arc of poetry, prose and prayer in countless forms and shapes and voices. The sound of the pipes and the songs of the surprised. Newfound friendships, laughter and tears, love and longing.

Food and drink and gracious hospitality. Hearts, minds, souls and bodies stretched and opened and glad to be alive. Pens taking flight across paper. Single track roads built for slower appreciation of our life’s journey. Glorious waterfalls cascading out of misty heights. Time, time, time, slowed and savoured. Glad remembrances contemplated and celebrated.

Work and rest and play each day. Oh, Iona. We crossed the Sound only 24 hours ago and thought we were leaving. But all that we have known in these past days has come home with us, much as we have come home to ourselves.

Set in form

It may be said that we inherited poetry from the universe. Creation was set in form and framed in rhythm long before mankind became part of it

Louis Untermeyer
The Pursuit of Poetry

I’ve been gazing at a pebble. A treasured – often steadying – gift from a friend. It will travel with me in the coming week, some of which will be spent in company with fellow writers on the island from which it came to me: Iona.

Described as a ‘thin place’, off the southwest coast of Mull in the Inner Hebrides, one where the division between earth and heaven is very slender indeed, St Columba travelled to Iona long ago, and other pilgrims and poets through many generations have contemplated there dearly and deeply.

For me, as for the pebble in my pocket, this visit will be a returning. And I shall once again reflect deeply on Louis Untermeyer’s ‘Creation was set in form and framed in rhythm long before mankind became part of it.’

Where has my pebble travelled in the past? Whose the pockets before (and after) mine? And whence the creation, the form and the rhythm, the sustainer, the pattern, the bedrock of time?