Eileach an Naoimh

I have just been checking out some photos of a trip I took with some friends to the Garvellachs in May.

The Garvellachs are a tiny Archipelago of islands in the Inner Hebrides. They are uninhabited, and the only way of getting to them is by boat charter.

The islands are absolutely beautiful. Anyone who has ever visited and explored small islands like these will know that they are all different- and that being within their confined boundaries can be a very expansive experience. A chance to be at peace, to pray, worship, think, talk, sit around campfires, and seek shelter in caves.

The Garvellachs offer something else however. On one of the islands (Eileach an Naoimh) is an almost complete monastery dating back to the time of St Columba. Some say that this was the site that Columba used as his own place of rest from the busyness of Iona- the famed Hinba.

We spent three days full of gales, sunshine, and sunsets- sometimes scrambling over cliffs, sometimes huddled in ancient buildings, or in the privacy of our tiny tents.

It was a time of blessing- and so I offer here some photos, and another poem…

Eileach an Naoimh

Hard place
Stones ring and rattle
Upon this hollow ground

Soft place
Pillowing the prayers
Of a thousand saints
In the skein
Of tender years

Thin place
Between this wonderful world
And the next

Mysterious
Like the purple veins
Of a pregnant woman
Singing in those parts of us
We used to call
Souls

May 2008

The Garvellachs, Inner Hebrides