This is a thrilling day for me! Whilst, like many ‘armchair poets’, I have had the occasional poem appear in collections edited by others or in local newspapers, today has seen the publication of a small personal collection as a download from Wild Goose Publishing, the publications arm of The Iona Community.
I am sure every author finds publication of their own work an exciting experience, but this is especially so as it is a new link in the long thread of our experience with that very special island, Iona, which has been part of our story over the last twenty-five years or so. It all started when I took a retreat at All Hallows, Ditchingham in a year that we had booked a holiday on Mull. I mentioned this to the Mother Superior, who made it her practice to meet all retreatants, and she suggested we went to Iona where her community were going to be ‘baby-sitting’ a small ecumenical retreat house on the island, whilst a new warden was found by the American organisation that ran Duncraig. Pam still tells the story of my sudden stopping to ‘chat up’(!) a nun in the garden of Duncraig which led to us being shown over the accommodation. This was the start of a time when we took groups of friends to the island on several occasions: they were always precious events and we found that rounding off each day at the Iona Community’s Abbey services added immeasurably to their specialness.
It was on the island that Pam felt affirmed in her call into ministry and I found much delight in building up a small suite of Iona poems from visit to visit (see end).
Sadly, Duncraig is no longer a retreat house. A fund-raising campaign I helped with to try and save it foundered when a major prospective donor, whose gift would have enabled the house to continue its ministry, lost money in the banking collapse. As it happens, the money from the subsequent sale of Duncraig went into Bishops House where we are planning to lead a group visit in September - an unexpected thread of continuity.
We have had many more personal Iona experiences, including a retreat led by Kenneth Steven, the well known Scottish poet and then last year joining Author’s Week at the Abbey run by the community which led to the publication of this download. Hence my delight on this special occasion. It feels poignant too, in that we very nearly didn’t get to the Author’s week as a hideous cough, the first evidence of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, made travelling to the island feel an almost impossible challenge. But we got there and then later travelled on by bus to Inverness to spend time with one of the friends who earlier travelled with us to Iona. And today, now sandwiched between chemotherapy and radiotherapy, is part of the outcome of that trip, for which I am immensely grateful.
If you would like to see details of the download - and even, perhaps, purchase it (for only £2-20 +VAT), you can find it HERE. I personally would much appreciate your interest and you will also be supporting The Iona Community’s magnificent work which you can find summarised HERE. They, too, will be delighted to receive your support through a purchase. For some people, the download may be of particular interest as it has a description of a very simply organised Easter Day children’s/ congregational activity which involves the giving of Rosemary to the congregation as a representation of the spices the women carried to Jesus’tomb.(Hence the title of the download)
My Iona collection of poems can be found by clicking HERE