An Iona Stone

Sheila Mary Lee, a member of St John’s Church, Long Eaton, brings some surprising things together in this poem about a particular, and it might seem, rather unimportant, loss.

Almost white and streaked with almost gold
(Almost festal colours) the
Pebble’s asymmetric volume pointed to its incomplete ordeal by
Shaping wave, the grinding on the beach;
Hefty it was but admirable, so I
Carried it the long way to my home

Displayed indoors it reminded of time on a beach;
Joyful, tearful, I watched a young man with supporters
Wading, struggling into the tidal font of St Columba’s Bay, to
Commit to the Divine Name and be received;
Fully aware, I made my vows again
Exultant, but trembling

Moved outdoors it rested by the gate or
Held it open for the wheelie bin, when
Function joined with beauty, symbolism, memento;
What an excellent pebble!
Unaware, attachment deepened
No longer an Iona stone, but mine

Who stole my stone and why?
A window-cleaner needing to prop gates?
A paper-girl with unmet need for beauty?
A vandal hunting missiles for his fun?
Daily, compulsively, I look at the absent stone
Anger and loss wounding my spirit

Yet, strangely, in
Bodily absence the stone speaks
Reminds me of my life’s bedrock:
I do not steal but sin in other ways
One in frailty with the brother, sister, who has hurt me so
Our Father waits to forgive

Columba, ground and shaped by Love
Remember me, in process still, and
Join your prayer with mine for
This dear thief
Like you and me
Loved by the Wounded One

Sheila Mary Lee
© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 3rd February 2001