Been slipping here - partly due to being away for the weekend in London, at a readthrough of the Lord of the Rings radio series, organized by mirabehn and mirrorshard. It was wonderful! I got to be Gandalf! (I should get a Gandalf icon along with the Treebeard one - I played Treebeard the first time Elly organized such a readthrough).
Anyhoo. There are various more substantive intellectual posts in the queue, but brain not up to that just now. So, an easier one, from the self-same mirabehn, who asked "Where is your favourite sacred place?"
That's a fairly easy one - has to be Iona, the Scottish island where St. Columba landed and founded his monastic community, which became the center of Celtic Christianity in northern Britain for centuries; and which is now a base for the modern-day Iona Community, a social-justice oriented ecumenical Christian community (their other base is in inner-city Glasgow). They practice a creation-centered form of Celtic Christianity that probably bares only a little more resemblance to the original than modern Celtic Paganism to its ancient inspiration, but which is no less awesome for that.
I went there with a chaplaincy trip from Warwick Uni in 1993. There was a student week, with groups from various unis.
It is of course a stunningly beautiful natural setting, and both the island and the abbey where we stayed are incredibly peaceful, spiritual, well, sacred places. The founder of the Iona Community, Rev. George MacLeod, described it as a 'thin place', where the veil between earth and heaven is weaker. Kind of like a reverse Hellmouth, if you will.
And, well, it was a powerful experience, with the music and the services and the walks round the island, and the ceilidhs, and it was where I was introduced to Single Malt Scotch, and where I first started properly encountering folk music.
Yeah, really want to go back there some time.