"Wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." Mark 14:9 (RSV)
The early morning shower had begun to subside when our small band of pilgrims made its first stop, in front of an ancient ruin. Jan, one of our two guides from the Iona Community, told us it was the remains of an Augustinian nunnery dating back to the twelfth century. The nunnery is as old as the abbey, where we started our journey, but unlike the abbey, it has not been rebuilt.
Jan told us that when she first came to the island, the Reverend George McLeod, the Scottish Presbyterian minister who founded the community, led the pilgrimage walk and didn't even stop here. She took this oversight as symbolic of the way women's contributions to the religious life have often been overlooked. Her words pierced my heart, for I had been to this island once before and I had not even noticed the remains of the nunnery.
Who were these women, generations of prayerful women, leading lives of simple devotion on this remote island? Like the woman who anointed Jesus at Bethany, they did not seek recognition for themselves, but simply wanted an opportunity to express their deep personal faith. I need to find a way to value their spiritual contributions.
Let us dream. Let us prophesy. Let us see visions of love, peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage, that You, O Christ, are the life of every child, woman and man. (From a South African women's prayer)