Images from Iona, Scotland

This post was inspired by the passing of Leonard, Cohen.

I first listened to Leonard Cohen on a most special trip to Iona Scotland.


For those of you who don’t know, Iona is a very spiritual place; the birthplace of Christianity throughout Scotland. They say the layer between heaven and earth is “thinner” on Iona.


Every time I hear a song by Leonard Cohen, I go back there in my mind.

Anthem is one of my favorites. Here are the lyrics and what Leonard Cohen said about them. No matter what you believe, they seem relevant to today.


The lyrics:

The birds they sang at the break of day
Start again I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will be fought again
The holy dove she will be caught again
bought and sold and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

We asked for signs the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood of every government –
signs for all to see.

I can’t run no more with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring …

You can add up the parts but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march, there is no drum
Every heart, every heart to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.


Leonard Cohen once explained the meaning of the song as follows:

That is the background of the whole record, I mean if you have to come up with a philosophical ground, that is “Ring the bells that still can ring.” It’s no excuse… the dismal situation.. and the future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. “Ring the bells that still can ring”: they’re few and far between but you can find them. “Forget your perfect offering”, that is the hang-up, that you’re gonna work this thing out. Because we confuse this idea and we’ve forgotten the central myth of our culture which is the expulsion from the garden of Eden. This situation does not admit of solution or perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect. And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together, physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.
– from Diamonds in the Line


Sorry, I couldn’t resist one more sheep photo!

Have a great weekend.  Go out and be the light!





2 thoughts on “Images from Iona, Scotland

  1. Thank you for once again speaking to my heart and soul in words I cannot summon. And the pictures, oh the pictures……….of a land my heart comes from! Xoxo!

  2. Beautiful story, Jamie. Also the photographs are outstanding! I like your idea of ringing the bells it and still ring. Yesterday’s over we can’t go back and change it So look forward to where the bells thank you. Love you, dad.

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