I’m a long way up from the coast now, and each time I walk around to a new ravine, I wonder should I walk down only to walk up again, or shall I stay high until I find the famous bay where St Columba first brought news from Ireland of a remarkable man called Jesus to the Celtic peoples of Britain.
Suddenly, the terrain opens wide before me, the sun glistens off the flat stretch of water in the distance, and I see a ravine full of large pebbles. It seems somehow fitting that I should reach this place in the middle of the day in the middle of my week in Iona, the centrepiece of my sabbatical.
As I walk down the bay, I see that people have piled up the stones here and there, perhaps inspired by stories of the patriarchs. In the distance I can see patterns but can’t yet make them out. Then I see among all of these just one word, presumably created by some child, yet pregnant with meaning for me after my deliberations in the early weeks of my sabbatical, and even this very morning.
As if to ram home the spiritual nature of the metaphor, I see a large cross with a small cross by its side. Then yet another image from this morning now catches my eye. 10m from the word is a Star of David inside a large circle. Such a strange heap of coincidences as all my thoughts of the morning appear to be summed up in these three pictures written in stone.
The coincidences stretch my credulity to breaking point. I sense that God is graciously speaking to my heart, gently affirming the reality and immediacy of his presence, and powerfully giving me a new set of lessons for a new day.