“For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven…”

Last Sunday at had the opportunity to visit the Island of Iona off the northern coast of Scotland. This island is only 1 mile by 3 miles, yet it plays a very important role to spirituality. Saint Columba and 12 companions brought Christianity to Scotland in this place in the year 563. He also founded an abbey that later fell into ruin. An ecumenical group restored it in the 1930s and it is a place that people come to visit from all over the world. We had a chance to tour the abbey, cemetery and nearby ruins of what had been a nunnery.

I’d been looking forward to visiting Iona for a long time. As we planned out our day, we discovered how long it takes to get there. From the mainland it’s 45 minutes on a ferry to the Island of Mull, 1 1/2 hours in a bus across Mull and then a 15 minute ferry ride to Iona and then the reverse going back. With all these logistics, we had 2 1/2 hours on the island. Instead of a relaxing contemplative walk around the island, we had to budget our time to see what we could and be back to the boat on time. It was a meaningful experience but one where the constraints of time we’re ever present. Not exactly what I’d expected.

Fast forward a few days, I had the opportunity to explore beautiful gardens and the windswept seashore without worrying about a timeline. It felt much more like immersing myself in God’s creation and just being—something I don’t do often enough. It was there in those places I could better understand the words from Ecclesiasties 3: “For everything there is a season.”

Gracious God, we thank you for all the gifts you give to us including the gift of time. Help us to see this as a gift and to use our time in ways that honor you. Amen