Finding Healing in Action A Reflection on Pilgrimage 2016 By Michelle L Hofer

What healing do you seek?

A simple question…and yet an invitation to search beyond the physical.

What healing DO I need?

What in my heart needs healing?

What in my spirit needs to be mended?

The spiritual pilgrimage I made to Scotland, England, and Ireland brought me to places of healing and renewal where healing opportunities often involved some movement, motion or gesture – action. The God of Scripture often intended for and purposefully instructed action to accompany healing. As my journey unfolded the question became less about a specific healing need and more about the desire to be made whole.

I and my fellow pilgrims stayed three full days on the island of Iona off the coast of Scotland. Known around the world as a thin place, Iona is said to be a location where people sense the presence of God in a powerful way. I experienced this. God's healing presence rests at the heart of my visit to this sacred site.

On Iona, I find myself swept back to my memories of getting to know God as a child. Those first interactions with God as a young believer were through the wonder of nature. As I wander this tiny island exploring its different landmarks, my camera and I discover anew the soul-soothing balm of delight in the creation. Abounding on the island were sand and wave, bird and beast, stone and flower, pasture and trail.


With each press of camera button, beauty mends my soul.

All will be well.

On our group walking tour of Iona, we ventured to Columba Bay at the southern shore with its pebble beach. Here we stand facing the sea; it is glistening under the vast clear midday sky. Our ears ring with the unique sound of the waves pushing and pulling the stones over each other.

We are asked to select a rock...hold it...and reflect on something we are desiring to give up, and then when ready, cast that rock out into the water. This action was a gesture of releasing something to God – a burden, a hurt, a regret, a longing, a feeling of anger or bitterness. I raise my arm and throw my stone as far as I can. Watching everyone’s stones hit the water, a wave of calm rolls over me.

I stand there awhile and breath the misty air…it is in God’s hands now.

All will be well.

The last night on Iona we attended the healing service at Iona Abbey. It was marked by two movements:

  • a reading of names of persons seeking or needing healing
  • the laying on of hands for all present who desired healing for themselves or others

The list of names is extensive with several readers taking turns. Individual names are spoken with a brief pause after each; we do not hear what kind of healing these persons are in need of. As the listing moves on, I begin bringing to mind the persons I know by these names. Holding each name in my thoughts, I multiply the prayers for healing beyond those who are specifically spoken.

The second action, the laying on of hands, was equally powerful in its simplicity. Three persons stand at the center of a ring of kneeling stools; they move around the circle placing hands on the heads of those who kneel down. Others congregate around the healing circle in a mass of additional hands placed on those who now kneel and those waiting to receive this ministry. As persons rotate in and out of the kneeling circle, the chanted healing prayer echos through the abbey. I take my turn kneeling, hands are placed upon me...I rise, move back and place my hands on another.

The Spirit is present here.

All will be well.

Our travel across Ireland included stops at the healing wells of Saint Brigid and Saint Kevin.

St. Brigid’s well at Kildare, Ireland featured the original well, a pool with steps and a gentle flowing stream.
The original well at St. Brigid's Well at Kildare, Ireland.
St. Kevin’s well at Glendalough, Ireland was an unmarked stone-lined hole with a ferny surround and the water visible only upon crouching down on the kneeling stone.

In silence our group assists one another in kneeling. There is a humbling in this crouching, bending and reaching movement. Plunging my hands into the cool clear water, I scoop it onto myself and ask for God's mercy and healing. Tears flow easily with the actions of the body.

I am reminded of the river described in the book of Revelation – it flows from God’s throne and along its banks grow trees with healing leaves. I imagine the water at these wells originating from that holy place of refreshment.

Bowing down at these wells, I remember God as the source of living water.

God is the Almighty Healer.

All will be well.

I hold these experiences with tender gratitude for both having received God’s healing and a renewed desire to be made whole.

Now I ask you…What within you is weak, hurting or broken?

I encourage you...take a walk with a camera and explore the beauty of nature. Give something up by casting a stone into a body of water. Remember those who need healing by speaking their names aloud. Pray over another - lay hands upon them. Anoint yourself with water at a river, stream or lake.

Receive the grace of cleansing and renewal God extends to you.

Your own healing awaits...

Put thy salve to my sight,

Put thy balm to my wounds,

Put thy linen robe on my skin,

O Healing Hand, O Son of the God of salvation.

- from the Carmina Gadelica by Alexander Carmichael

Further inspiration:

Created By
Michelle L Hofer