At Christmas 1993, I had an overwhelming desire to buy a new duvet cover set from Marks & Spencers. The design was called Iona:
The Labour Leader, John Smith, died at 9:15 a.m. on 12 May 1994 and I remember feeling quite sad about it, but didn’t know why. I wasn’t a Labour voter, but I was of course born with the same surname. Interestingly, I find he was born on 13 September, which now always reminds me of Psalm 139. I also see from Wikipedia that John Smith had previously had a heart attack on my ex-husband’s birthday (shortly after our marriage) in 1988. The time of John Smith’s death (9:15 a.m.) led me to look at John 9:15, which is the statement of “the man born blind” after having been given his sight by Jesus. A few weeks later in 1994, after my husband abandoned me for another woman, I was born again and Jesus gave me my spiritual sight, which leads me to this well known song, that tells the happy result of my husband leaving me:
However, you may wonder what this has to do with Iona (the title of this piece). Well, John Smith was a Christian and on 20 May 1994 (the day before this final photograph of my husband and myself was taken at our best man’s “Hog Roast” party in a barn on his farm) John Smith’s body (according to Wikipedia) was buried in a private family funeral on the island of Iona, at the sacred burial ground of Reilig Odhráin, which contains the graves of several Scottish kings as well as monarchs of Ireland, Norway and France.
I discovered, after my husband left in June 1994 and I became a Christian, that Iona is known as a “thin place”, in the sense that many prayers have been said there over many centuries and it is a place where people feel very close to God.
My ex-husband had a flat in Hove and I remember going there at some time in 1994 and finding that not only did a Christian named John Priestley Smith (a former colleague of mine from my time working in Victoria) live next door, but that a few doors away in the other direction was a house named Iona. So, in a matter of months the word “Iona” had come up in various forms. I had thought that at some time I would visit the island of Iona, and I was very taken with the Celtic form of Christianity that had been prevalent in the British Isles many centuries ago and seemed to be a more spiritual form of Christianity.
I then heard of a Christian music band called Iona that had been formed in 1988/1989 after a visit to Lindisfarne by one of the founder members. I really enjoy their music and it is very different to any other kind of Christian music I have heard.
I see from their website that they are touring with their “Another Realm” Tour, playing in Lancaster (another special word for me) on 1 June 2012, but I hope to hear them at the Big Church Day Out on 2 June 2012 (12 years to the day my father-in-law died). (On 3 June 2012 it will be 18 years since my husband declared his love for another woman and I started on this adventure with Jesus.) Iona then go on to play in Boston (yet another special place that God has spoken to me about) in Massachusetts on 24 June (John the Baptist Day and a “special” date that God has spoken to me through).
I also see that they played at Farncombe Music Club on 14 October (the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and another of my “special” dates) in 2011. If only I had known then, because I was living just up the road in Surrey at the time.
So, finally, the band Iona with another song (a battle song inspired by the last book in the Bible – Revelation):