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Opening the heart

Kenneth Steven explains why he leads retreats to Iona.

IT’S somehow ironic to be leading retreats in Celtic Christianity on the island of Iona.At the height of the Celtic Christian period, hermit monks in particular were leaving the island because it was too busy: the excited clamour of talk and argument and creating was such that they had to retreat elsewhere.

But I’ve always wanted to bring people here. The wonder of Iona is that at the Abbey and in the village there can be crowds of excited pilgrims, yet walk three quarters of a mile to the west side of the island and it feels as though there’s no-one between you and America.

Kristina and I live not far away on the Isle of Seil. This island has its links with the Celtic Christian story too: it’s more than likely St Brendan established a monastic settlement here, down below the present kirk. South of us is the tiny island of Eileach an Naoimh with its wonderfully preserved beehive cells and monastery, more than likely the island the Celts called Hinba. The place to which they retreated from that busy island of Iona!

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IN THIS ISSUE OPENING THE HEART Experiences of retreat MAKING CHANGE Interview with Fiona Buchanan, Church elder and campaigner for climate and gender justice DISINVESTMENT DEBATE The case for taking Church money out of fossil fuels ..and much more