A Jump Into The Ocean of Life
Two summers ago, I went on the adventure of a lifetime. Prior to that, working in a wee Christian community for three months, not getting paid and being on a tiny island was not really what came to mind when I thought of the “adventure of a lifetime”.
Yet, on arrival, the Christian aspect and the tiny-island seclusion that had concerned me were soon forgotten. When I stepped out on the jetty having travelled a good six hours by bus, train and ferry, I wasn’t prepared for the magic I was to encounter.
Welcomed by a group of strangers — each of whom seemed quirkier and cooler than the last — I was thrown into community living. Working, eating and living with the same people everyday started off wonderfully.
“In my moments of crying on kitchen floors and getting the best hugs in times of sadness — I got to know a realer me.”
I met fellow students, proper grown-ups, people with smiles as bright as the sun and stories that were never ending. My big, bubbly, yet awkward self soon felt at ease and in no time, I felt I’d already told my fellow housekeepers half of my life story.
I was enchanted by the endless friends I made. While folding tea-towels, washing piles of mugs and brushing the refectory floor I met people from all walks of life. A charismatic teacher who was wise, kind and danced in the rain the way I do when no one is watching. Someone so different from me — shy and quiet, became one of my closest friends. I met an angel of a girl, who just like me understood stomping angrily through the muddy fields of the island. I befriended some others for just a week — they told me their stories, gave me hugs and laughter — and then I never saw them again. While more came to be in my life for much longer. I made the kind of friends that drink wine with you for hours and let you ramble on about life. Friends that want to swim in the freezing ocean, dance wildly at a cèilidh and sit in grateful silence with you in a church full of tealights.
For me it was a journey of healing after an intense year; recently having come out to my family and being diagnosed with depression, arriving on Iona totally unsure of who I wanted to be. Whilst living with numerous warm-hearted humans I learned to let myself be free. I got to sing at the top of my voice, laugh like a lunatic and embrace my huge heart that wanted so much to love everyone endlessly.
And yet it wasn’t all easy. In between the midnight swimming and the a-cappella singing there were tears and heartbreak. I got tired of the endless rotation of humans, and there were moments where I didn’t want to meet anyone new. It was like I had no space left in my head and heart for yet another story. Serving guests is fun until they start complaining and saying everything is your fault. Being on a secluded island is magical until you just want to lose yourself in Primark or go to an actual supermarket.
But in my moments of crying on kitchen floors and getting the best hugs in times of sadness — I got to know a realer me. I came back knowing that I could face the hardest times; that I am always going to fight for love; that every week is filled with a little of everything; happiness and challenges combined.
I still feel a strong love for a space that showed me everything from anger and frustration to crushes and spiritual awareness. A deep gratitude fills me for the summer that was one big jump into the ocean of life. I learned more than I could ever fit in an article, and when I left I took my healed heart, friends for life and the knowledge that I am worth loving.