Although I am happy to not be working for the Iona Community (not in a bad way, just in a I've done that and moved on way), I do miss something in particular about it.
I miss the freedom of the services. The Iona Community itself is ecumenical, and all the services held are as non-denominational as possible. I really like this, as it really proves that all are welcome. It is not the services themselves that I miss however. I can still go to them, living only on the other side of the field. What I miss is writing and leading them.
As a resident staff member, that was part of my job. I was on the rota to lead services which also meant writing the service, preparing for it and picking all the hymns. I really enjoyed this part of the job; I guess it was a creative process for me. I'm a definite ideas person, and I thrive on being creative. I loved coming up with an idea and thinking through all the possibilities for it. Then diving into the hymn book and the liturgy book to see what I could find in there to match. After being to some churches where everything is set in stone, I found the potential for it to be about anything at all really liberating. And I mean literally anything. I've done services about sleep and the need for rest, being happy about the little things like gummy bears, old and new stone in the abbey, and the wind.
It felt like I was able to ask people to really think outside the box, which by complete coincidence is where I live. I could get people to get up and wander around the abbey feeling all the stone and notice how they were all different but all necessary to build a beautiful church. I could ask people to go to three different areas of the church depending on what they were needing to say and have three separate Alleluia chants happening at the same time, each with a different feel to it but all blending together wonderfully. I could ask people to sit and listen to the raging storm outside and just let themselves feel truly safe and looked after for once. And they would. Things that would be totally unacceptable and out of their comfort zone in any other church seem to be expected in Iona Abbey. I love that.
Sometimes now when I hear a song or read something brilliant I think to myself "That would make a great service". I miss having that creative outlet I think. It's not that I like the preaching aspect, and I certainly don't want to go down that road. I wasn't really a fan of getting up in front of everyone either; it definitely wasn't a limelight thing. I just liked being able to share an interesting thought or point of view. I also know I was good at it, so I miss that nice feeling you get when you do well.
I'm not likely to enter back into the Community any time soon though, so I will just have to keep missing it. Attending will just have to be good enough.