Of Spirit and Soul

I have read books about it for years. I have attended conferences, workshops and retreats. And yet, I am not sure I can define it. I am referring to spirituality. Spirituality is so often spoken about, and yet, it is in essence unspeakable; it is the topic of great lectures and the result of much silence; it is the gift to very few and the call for many.

Some time ago I had the opportunity to travel to the island of Iona, Scotland. The so-called Iona spirituality, rooted in true Celtic Spirituality always intrigued me, but never grabbed me. I thought it trendy and on the verge of New Age.

The day we set foot on the island it was foggy and cold. Something one almost expects in Scotland. Holding our coats tights and carrying our suitcase we climbed up to the only hotel on the island where we settled in for just a minute and out we went to visit the monastic buildings and experience the landscape.

As we walked the island, it was as if the words were flushed from my mind and the gates of my soul were opened to the movement of the spirit. Spirituality was taking hold of me. Not the kind of spirituality that is taught and learned. Not the kind of spirituality that is imposed. But rather, a spirituality that rises from the soil and is whispered through the trees and seeps through the decaying walls of ruinous chapels. A spirituality which was entrusted to creation as the Spirit swept over the water and life was breathed into all beings. This kind of spirituality lingers in all of us, waiting to be recovered and recognized. This kind of spirituality has its roots in the deepest realms of our being.

Prayer that night in the restored abbey church was not according to the great traditions of the church and surely not up to the standards of an accomplished liturgist. It was both too much and too little, yet it was just right. As we sat on the cold stones marked by the crevices of the ages, we sang hymns, old and new and prayed for the needs of the world which seemed for far and so near.

I was almost unwilling to leave the building, even when the hundreds of candles had been extinguished. I walked to my room through the dark, dark night. I opened my window to the sound of the waves and the smells of the sea and rested my soul in the hands of our creator God as I had never been able to do before.

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