Sunday, 21 March 2010

'Once I was a stranger...'

"Once I was a stranger to the sky
I'd look up from the ground
and block my eyes
Like black smoke in thin air

Tried to be content with what was mine
But my heart was aching all the time
And the scars are still there

And hey, every angel has its time
And hey, I'll write when I arrive
Hey, I've come to claim what's mine

In an elevator to the stars
take a long hard look at who you are
If you're unfamiliar

'Cause one day comes
when you must face yourself
Such a waste pretending someone else
Can still fulfill you

And hey, every angel has its time
And hey, I'll write when I arrive
Hey, I've come to claim what's mine

If your motivation's just to win
That's a handsome trap you're standing in
And its jaws can break you

I would never claim I've seen the light
But I heard the truest song tonight
Whose tune can change you

And hey, every angel has its time
And hey, I'll write when I arrive
Hey, I've come to claim what's mine

I've come to claim what's mine
I've come to claim what's mine
I've come to claim what's mine

Once I was a stranger to the sky
I'd look up from the ground
and block my eyes
Like black smoke in thin air"

Every Angel - The Push Stars

Do you ever think that there's a day when suddenly you aren't a stranger? To the sky, to the world, to people, to a place, to work, to nature, to conversation, to God, to yourself. This last two weeks have been a test of that. How much of a stranger am I to all of these things? "Once I was a stranger to the sky"
Our volunteers (vollies) arrived on Tuesday 9th and then our Work Week guests arrived on Saturday 13th. After spending all of staff training with just the 20 or so residents, this was an overload of people. 25 extra staff members and 22 extra guests joined us to live and work in community, so within a week we had over tripled in numbers and suddenly we, as residents, had become the minority. Odd feeling. "Cause one day comes when you must face yourself" This sudden amount of people made me face myself. This may make no sense to begin with, but I shall try to explain how... When you have to work 12/13 hours a day to get the work done that needs done; to cover days off, to organise and oversea the work week jobs being done, to look after 4 vollies in a kitchen you aren't familiar with, to open two centres for guests, to go to services, to do the orders, to go to meals, to build community and get to know those around you; you have to learn to take time to yourself wherever and whenever you can. In your office (until the phone rings or someone comes in), in your room, in services, in your home space (shared with 6 others), in the small time gaps you have to go walking... What do you do with these times to use them to best suit you and your needs? "Tried to be content with what was mine"

I found this challenge tough, but I found it useful. The hardest thing about all of this for me was that time with friends was less than normal and less than I would have liked. My friends here are amazing and I wouldn't have them any other way, so not getting much time with them has been very strange for me. But I've also realised that if I want to appreciate them and have the best relationship I can with them, then I need to have space for myself also or I will be tired, worn out and probably not the best company. A hard lesson to learn, but one that is invaluable. "Every angel has its time... I've come to claim what's mine" My friends are my angels, but I have to claim my own time too. This is a lot easier when those angels are always there and when they realise that you need your time and help you to keep to that. My time with them is more treasured this way, and treasured is how I like it. "I would never claim I've seen the light, but I heard the truest song tonight, whose tune can change you"

Sunday, 7 March 2010


After a few days in Glasgow doing the last few bits of our staff training we all got the rest of the week off. I took this week as an opportunity to spend some time with my awesome friends...

A quick stop over in Edinburgh Sunday night to Tuesday afternoon spending some time with friends and family, and then Tuesday evening to Friday afternoon in a youth hostel. We drove down to Boggle Hole youth hostel which is about 7 miles south of Whity, close to Robin Hood's Bay. It's an awesome hostel! It has been made to look and feel like a pirate ship (hence the 'Yarg!') and it's really welcoming and cosy. And the best bit is that Auntie Sue starts work there tomorrow (she always wanted to be a pirate) and so I can hopefully stop by there again at some point this year to say hey! We had a day in Whitby being tourists, eating cake, drinking hot chocolate, shopping and taking silly pictures and we spent a day trying to walk to Whitby along the cliff edge from the hostel (don't worry, there's a path!) but we failed at that as we didn't quite realise how far the walk was.... So, after a few aches and pains and very very muddy boots, we made it back to Robin Hood's Bay for toasties, ice cream and a wander along the beach before dinner in the local hotel. Very nice :)

Now I'm back up on the wee isle and straight back to work. I placed a few orders before I left and came back yesterday to discover just how big the orders were... it's quite hard to move anywhere in the burrows just now! So, I'm slowly working my way through unpacking that, cooking meals, getting the centres ready for the volunteers who arrive on Tuesday (YAY!), preparing for work week guests arriving and the rest of the job bits also...

But, for now, I must go to my room and enjoy the warmth (unlike this room!) before a nice long snooze :)

Monday, 1 March 2010

Nearing The End Of Training

We have been in Glasgow for the weekend, as a Resident Group, to attend a Committe Meeting in The Iona Community's Glasgow Office. We also enjoyed dinner at a Community Members very nice flat at the top of a very steep hill with very lovely views across the city, some time with the Youth Development Team, a spot of shopping, staying with various Community Members, lots of eating, church services with our hosts, Holy City event and a very cold but informative pilgrimage around Glasgow. We started our pilgrimage in Govan Old Church, which is the church that George MacLead, founder of The Iona Community, was minister for many years. It was amazing to go inside and see this place that I had heard so much about.

Our Pilgirmage was led by Alison Swinfen, a Community Member, and I also attended a session last night at Holy City that she was running based around Refugees and Asylum Seekers... Her story is so real, so honest, so terrifying... I would love it, and I'm sure she and her husband and their foster daughter would love it even more, if you could go to any of the below websites to have a look at what is happening to them just now, and to do what you can to help  them...

Online Petition:
Official website:

Last week during staff training we did a days First Aid course, run by a guy from Inverness. I understand now why at the start of our weekly pilgrimages around the island the leaders always say that they have basic First Aid training and that you don't want to be the person to find out how basic.... One day isn't a long time, and I know now how basic that training is! Was a good day though, and quite a giggle... Especially when a question was asked as to how we know what the signs of hypothermia are, and wondered what you should do if the majority of the people in the room at the time are displaying those signs... it really was a cold cold day!! Here is a photo of us on our training pilgrimage, stopping for a quick bite to eat and to catch our breath...

Last week we also spent a day down at Camas, the Iona Community's outdoor adventure centre on Mull. It was a beautifully crisp day, and was a very nice change from being in the Abbey all day long. They have two little kittens there just now, one of whom loves attention...

There is a massive amount of work to be done before our vollies (short for volunteers!) arrive on the 9th, and before our work week guests arrive on the 13th... and we are now all on holiday until going back to Iona on Saturday... So, this does mean that I am doing lots of work today, back in Edinburgh... but, I shall (try to) put that to the back of my brain tomorrow as I will travel down to Whitby to have a few days holiday with Eilidh, Sarah, Sue and Becki :) Can't wait to be out and about and enjoying the company, good food, outdoors and relaxing and refreshing before a busy season begins.

And a few more photos for you...