I Feel I Have Come Home

Dear Heartbeat Family,

I have recently returned from Iona and one of our Pilgrimage Weeks. The island was in its autumnal wildness of beauty. There were days of unspeakable glory in the sun’s lowering light. And there were times, including our pilgrimage walk around the island, when we were showered with that other blessing that Scotland so excels in! Our bodies and souls felt washed.

John Philip Newell on the Iona

John Philip Newell on the Iona

One of the young Heartbeat scholarship recipients said to me, ‘I feel I have come home’. Some of that, of course, was the island itself, always such a sheer gift of blessing. But much of it also was the shape and focus of our community life and study. To enter silence together, as we do at the beginning of the day in the Michael Chapel, is a simple spiritual practice that people are hungering for but haven’t necessarily known how to access. Some of our Iona pilgrims learned for the first time how to take this simple discipline forward in their lives to be rooted more deeply in prayerful awareness. And the teaching sessions, always circling around our threefold vision of Celtic Spirituality – nobility of soul, the sacred earth, and the grounding of vision in compassionate action – more deeply equipped us all to be part of the holy work of transformation.

So many of the pilgrims spoke to me with deep gratitude about our mixture of pilgrimage participants, and especially for the intermingling of generations. This simply would not happen without the financial support that many of you have generously offered the Heartbeat scholarship programme over the years. You need to know just how many young lives you are helping shape and how many older lives are being blessed by relationship across the many boundaries, whether of age or race or class or faith, that have separated us. We need one another.

I came away from Iona with a new sense of urgency. It isn’t necessarily that we need to be ‘busier’ in our work for transformation. Feeling busily driven can speak more of franticness than faithfulness. I wasn’t feeling driven. I was feeling drawn. I believe the time is ripe for the vision we are trying to serve. Whether it is our pilgrimage work, our refugee and interfaith initiatives, or our earth-honouring teachings and School of Celtic Consciousness, Heartbeat has an urgent role to play now. The Spirit is inviting us into greater intentionality about choosing to work together in this Sacred Journey Toward Earth’s Well-Being.

I thank you for being part of this. Please continue to gift Heartbeat’s work with your support.  I urge you forward in the unique role that is yours to play.

With my blessings to you and much gratitude,


John Philip Newell