CONTRIBUTIONS FROM OUR 2009 GUESTS
Here are some of their comments and photos:
Fr. Raphael Pavouris:
Fr. Raphael Pavouris
Marina Lisurenko:"I was told that the sun always shines when the Orthodox community comes to the island and I certainly was not disappointed! I enjoyed the peaceful landscape, beautiful sunrises and most of all the wonderful, kind people that made my stay even more special. The island brings together Christians of different denominations to celebrate their faith in unity and that to me is "the magic of Iona"..."
Reader Ignatios outside St. Oran's Chapel
Fr. Marcel Oprisan:
As a Romanian living in Western Europe it is a great thing to discover its saints, who a long time ago in the earliest centuries were tried; all-glorious has been their suffering. The Saints of that time the Orthodox Church considered most worthy of honour.
We too should do the same; praying and venerating them, like going to the Isle of Iona, where thousands of monks lived and Glorified Our God. Iona is an amazing place, and I want to thank Ignatios and his wife Joanna for the opportunity to go there for the pilgrimage they organised.
May the Lord Our God and all the Saints be with you.
St. Columba's Blessing
Matushka Jenny Musther:
In September 2009, Father John Musther, myself and two of our friends from "The Orthodox Community of St Mungo, St Cuthbert and Herbert," Keswick, Cumbria, paid our first visit to Iona. We stayed in "Clachanach", which for three weeks was appointed as an Orthodox retreat house, thanks to our host, Reader Ignatios Bacon, and under the blessing of Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia.
Every visitor to Iona realises very quickly that this is a very special place. We were blessed with fine weather and drank in both the visual delights of the island and then those unseen but deeply experienced ones. We had the privilege of participating in Orthodox worship in the beautiful 12th century chapel of St Oran. One of my special memories is of walking down the coast road from Clachanach, our retreat house, to the chapel, for Matins just as dawn was breaking. God's presence seemed very close.
Prayer of the heart comes easier in such a setting, walking over the hills and exploring the beautiful history-rich coastline. The time passed too quickly, but we all came away blessed and refreshed, and would highly recommend such a retreat to others. The tremendous effort and energy invested into the retreat project by our host was greatly appreciated.
On the last morning, the fine weather broke but somehow it seemed very fitting to walk down to the ferry in sheeting rain. It reminded us of the extreme devotion and stamina of those who trod this way back through the centuries and also of the gift of living water in abundance to the thirsty soul.
Holy Columba, pray for us!
St. Columba's Bay St. Columba in Clachanach
Orthodox Retreat on Iona, Sept. 2009
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It rained as we hurried from our last morning office to the pier. I’m sure that many people, saying good-bye, would feel they leave some heart behind and find themselves in tears. It happened so to me.
FROM THE APRIL 2010 RETREATANTS
"The Iona Orthodox House is a beautiful place to gather spiritual and physical strength with its atmosphere of harmony and hospitality. Services in the chapel, prayers, and discussions about the life of the Saints, Iona and Orthodoxy made me “stop” and relax from my everyday routine. Every day we explored and enjoyed the island's beauty. My thanks to Fr. Rapael, Ignatios and Joanna who organised such a beautiful time and “created” for me a very warm memory about Iona." Natalia Chechina
Maria, Mihaela, Fr. Raphael, Ignatios
It has been more than one year since we came to Iona in April 2010. We stayed only for five days but long enough to stamp the stay in our hearts forever. In the middle of nature with the ocean on the west side with its blue water, and sheep and cows in the green pasture happy to enjoy a rich meal free of chemicals. That was a perfect stay far away from so called “civilized” places.
From a spiritual point of view we came back enriched by the participation for the first time in our life in a unique religious activity offered by the small chapel close to the Iona Abbey. We still remember tourists who popped in to have a look at our small congregation and left their contribution on the plate.
Thanks to Father Raphael’s devoted activity and yours, Ignatios, thanks also to Father Columba who sacrificed an evening for the discussion in Clachanach and other hours to participate in the Liturgy, also to Presbytera Elisabeth for singing in the choir - we were blessed to live such unforgettable days.
Too many words sometimes are useless, so I would like to recommend the place and to encourage other Orthodox Christians to visit Iona. They will have a unique experience in their life.
Thank you again Ignatios and long life! We hope that you will hold the flame alive better than any Olympic Games participant!
Mihaela, Maria, Daniel
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|Cairn on top of Dun I||Fr. Raphael, Daniel, Ignatios, Natalia|
removed from the mainland, Iona is a place where one can truly retreat
from worldly distraction and enter the place of the heart. The indelible
grace of God has soaked into the earth and stones of this beautiful
island from the blessing of the great Saint Columba, from the breath of
monastic prayer over many centuries, and from the bones of unknown
martyrs and saints which no doubt still lie hidden beneath its soil. It
was indeed lovely to participate in Orthodox worship in the setting of
St Oran's Chapel, and to enjoy the company of the devout Romanian and
Russian pilgrims with whom I travelled to Iona, to be so warmly welcomed
by Reader Ignatios and his wife Joanna, who labour tirelessly to
restore the Orthodox tradition in Iona, and who deserve every support in
their great efforts.
May 7 2011, having made a late decision to take a post Pascha vacation 10 days earlier than I had originally intended, I found myself crossing the Sound between Mull and Iona, some 18 or so years after my first visit on a pilgrimage led by the then Bishop Kallistos Ware.
Now, I couldn’t but help noticing how the very light itself seemed to change about half way across the Sound, becoming somehow more intense and yet more ethereal.
I was met by Reader Ignatios Bacon at the quayside and soon made very warmly welcome along with another guest ……at our hermitage overlooking an ever-changing sea (ever sure!) with its deep purple-red hues, and an earth-pink cliffed Mull on the far sometimes ‘rusted’ horizon.
What was it that made the place and time so special? The family we pilgrims, albeit so briefly, constituted? The warmth and friendliness of the other visitors and folk from both near and far whom we encountered? The unfolding days, which were predictable weather wise only in so far that there was a daily round of sun and at times, heavy showers—eagerly anticipated by this particular pilgrim, as I watched with awe, the skyscape and landscape perpetually changing its mantle of light and dark, now opaque and then so deeply transparent—the ‘ordinary’ shot through with, even, what seemed to me, at times, like glimpses of the Numinous…?
Knowing that there was a warm and prayerful home to which to return, I happily ventured out to meet each days’ ‘gifts ’in what appeared as ‘ordinary’ language; seen landscape and its creaturely inhabitants; at times, a sense of an over-arching Presence brooding, shining over , through all; gentle ‘intimations’ of something eternal and forever bright…
Matins and Vespers, faithfully led by our Reader, Ignatios Bacon, each day, whatever the weather, and the noon day prayers in the house, (the latter brief but somehow warm and sweet), saw various visitors taste albeit briefly, the clarity and depth of Orthodox worshipful prayer, as we gathered (privileged to be present in this, the first and original chapel, so imbued with prayer and worship from those early times) with St. Columba, the pilgrims and saints. Till now even, resonant voices beckoning for Christ--- the jewel of their fervour and trust. We, somehow privileged to take part in the day’s worship, as we took turns to sing or assist Ignatius Bacon - listening to the poetic words from the Pentecostarian, for example, their light, wisdom, and healing love, and their evocative imagery imbuing our inner landscapes with wonder and Mystery. Somehow, the veils separating us from the Beyond appear ‘thinner’ here and can allow a finding - deep, still, spaciousness in the very air and climes we breathed, and even in, above, and below/around, the words given each day for us to share and ‘take in’ and ‘break’ (metaphysical) bread (meaning) with, during the set times of communal prayer.
So for me, this time especially was given to exploring some of the depths of the Near and Far - the ‘near’ being very present in the sharings of being in community, however small, and in the near details of the landscape and or its inhabitants about one at any given moment; the ‘far’ came to me at any rate as the Beyond, that ever present but usually only dimly sensed Presence within our deep heart and within the beauty of the created world about us calling to us, calling to be known, and loved - and in what the prayer life in the little chapel could and would stir in the heart - inscapes which were also near and also far.
Ignatios , himself, very alert and present to each moment, whether in the formal worship or in the attention to detail and delicious home-cooked food he prepared and lovingly produced for us, and for the guests who visited during that week together.
Rich fare indeed. Do come and taste, and see for yourselves.