Books I’m taking on pilgrimage to Iona

Two weeks from yesterday, I will arrive on Iona for a week of pilgrimage, as I’ve written here recently.

Part of my preparation has been choosing what to read before I arrive, and what to bring with me.

I’ve been spending time with these three books before I leave:

  • A Pilgrim’s Way by Lacy Clark Ellman, a recent graduate of The Seattle School. I did not cross paths with her there, but love what she’s been up to since her graduation. This book is a great look at making everyday activities into pilgrimage.
  • Waymarkers by Mary Dejong, a current student of The Seattle School. This is a pilgrimage guidebook to Iona, a workbook really.
  • A New Harmony by John Phillip Newell. Newell will be our pilgrimage host/guide, and has requested that we all read his newest book before arrival. From my own perspective, I much prefer Newell’s earlier work to his later work, but I am looking forward to discussing his current direction when we are together.

I also plan to read sections of Ian Bradley’s new book entitled Pilgrimage; a section from Brandon O’Malley’s book of resources that describes Iona pilgrimage specifically; and part of Philip Sheldrake’s book on Celtic place and spirituality, Living Between Worlds. Maybe something else.
Because I’m planning to pack simply, I’ve decided not to bring any books with me. Instead, I will bring my Kindle, which has plenty of back reading already. I’ve purchased a few books specificially for this trip though – things that I have in print that I want to revisit there. I purchased Newell’s New Harmony both in print and on Kindle.

  • River Flow by David Whyte. Whyte is British/Welsh and now resides near me on Whidby Island. He’s fast becoming my favorite poet. This is his newest re-release of poetry. I love his poetry collection Pilgrim and would bring it along if it weren’t $9.99 – too much for a brief book that I’d rather read in print anyway. And I may cheat and bring this text – it’s small :-). 
  • To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue. I bought this long ago and while I prefer to read the print copy, I need St. John with me wherever I go. And this trip he’ll make many appearances, I suspect.
  • The Case for the Psalms by N.T. Wright. I haven’t yet read this, though I suspect that I’ll start on this trip. The Celtic Christians were famous for their love of the Gospels and Psalms, and their prayers of the psalms in their natural space. Last time on Iona I wanted to imitate the stories of St. Kevin and others by praying psalms while standing in the water, but I only got ankle-deep when I decided that was deep enough. This trip I imagine the same immersion level may happen, but we’ll see.
  • The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser. I’ve not read this in a long time, but am using part of it for an upcoming class. As a wonderful text on spirituality and formation, in addition to some consideration of the sacredness of place, I’ll visit this again.

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