Sacred Places Journal
1 October, 2001: Departing Iona: Total Immersion
We sit on the pier sheltered in Catriona's car as the waves wash over us-literally over the car. She tells us of her call last night from a lady in New York. She lost several friends in the atrocity and is suffering a crisis of faith. She books a retreat. Iona was ever a place of healing.
We watch the waves roll over the jetty as the ferry docks with difficulty. "Now, if you time it right you won't get too wet," Catriona says. "You run, and I'll bring your cases as I'm wearing wellies."
The ferryman takes my hand and runs me aboard. Squealing and sputtering, I sink onto the first bench and lick salt water off my lips. I'm only wet to the knees. Evelyn caught the big one-she is soaked head to toe. A five-week-old bairn sleeps through it all, carried aboard zipped inside her mother's coat. Another companion cries, "Look! Watch this!" She turns her pockets inside out and water pours to the floor. Later we realize how dangerous it really was. Even such a brief experience with the power of the sea is eye-opening to one born and bred in the Idaho desert.
Back up the roads of Mull by coach-the mists hanging low on the mountains, absolutely everywhere little rills of waterfalls tumble like streaks of spilled milk.
Thirty-two miles up the island to Craignure, the sky struggles to brighten, and we set out on calm water, sharing a cup of tea and posh, chocolate-covered ginger biscuits with our erudite, cosmopolitan Franciscan, Fr. Stephen, who is going to Oban on business. The meeting proves to be more than fortuitous. As we discuss the holiness of beauty, favorite writers and opera singers, Evelyn's motion sickness, returns with a vengeance. Fr. Stephen places his hand on her forehead, offers a blessing for healing. Her sickness subsides.
He puts us on the train, helps with our luggage, and gives a parting kiss on the cheek.