Greetings on this summer day. The last few weeks at HH  have been an intense focus on recruitment for a new permanent ED.  Excellent candidates are showing up…the HH Board will select a finalist by next week. A future blog will highlight the new ED. In this blog, I would like to tell a little more of the early HH start days and amazing “weavers” from the Whidbey Institute (WI)  Fritz and Vivienne Hull, and healing pilgrimage travel to Iona.


Iona Abbey

When I was in graduate school at the UW in the mid 70’s I often attended the Univ. Presbyterian Church where Fritz Hall was a pastor. He and Vivienne then left on a sabbatical to Iona Scotland and discerned a new life path: the creation of the Whidbey Institute. I was curious about their new center and would go often to their monthly open houses to learn more. Fritz became a mentor and Vivienne a leader in sacred pilgrimages to Iona.  I became a member of a couple of leadership groups as well as many other wonderful programs at WI. When I was being medically evaluated for cancer  I was in the WI Women’s circle and was somewhat frightened. The group asked me about my favorite color which is blue/green and told me to visualize being wrapped in it by them anytime I needed support. Amazingly a week later when I was at St. Joseph’s hospital to begin Chemo there was a huge blue/green painting prominently on display near my room. This group and hundreds of others reached out for support during my whole journey with Lymphoma. Vivienne who was an inspiring leader of Iona Pilgrimages invited me to go with her which I did as soon I got my port out.  My beloved Mom and I traveled to Iona to be with Vivienne the next year—Mom later said it was the greatest adventure of her life.

Iona is a small ancient Island (1.5 by 3 miles) off the west coast of Scotland. It is considered a “thin place” where the seen world is close to the unseen world…or as described online “only a tissue paper separating the material from the spiritual”   Iona angels are there for all those in need. A weekly prayer service is held in the Abbey every Tues. I send many names (first name only) in the following categories  for healing prayers:

Ancient Nunnery

Iona Pilgrimage Team at Nunnery on a rainy day!

*Those who suffer pain and ill-health, and their families

*Those who suffer in mind and spirit

*Those who have difficulties with emotions or relationships, and for those trying to overcome addiction and all who care for them

*Those needing &/or seeking a new direction for their lives; those who have found the courage for a new start

*Those facing bereavement, for those facing death and those who died

*Those whose needs are not known to us but are known to you, and we give them thanks for health


If any of you reading this blog have names you would like me to add to this list please send me an email with their first name and the category for prayers.

Iona is also the home of the healing green stones (marble and serpentine) which I have brought home as gifts for our CR participants. Thanks to Vivienne’s inspiration I have been to more than 11 pilgrimages (co-leading some of them) with many nurse colleagues and other dear friends joining us.  My hope is to travel to Iona again in 2020. The focus of these pilgrimages  is on 10 practices:

  1. The practice of spiritual nourishment (prayer, meditation, solitude, poetry, etc.) that help sustain the strength of your inner life so that you are able to live with respect, wonderment & gratitude.
  2. The practice of compassion and kindness toward all being. “Let kindness flow from your eyes” is a common Celtic greeting.

    Iona Holy Goose

  3. The practice of radical generosity by being willing to share, freeing yourself from the fear of not enough. Hospitality for both friends and strangers.
  4. The practice of forgiveness to free you from past and present wounds and injustices, real or perceived and so help free those who have harmed you.
  5. The practice of reverence for the natural world, taking action to protect the integrity, health, and beauty of creation.
  6. The practice of economic responsibility through attentiveness to patterns of consumption and systems of greed, living on behalf of the health and well-being of all.
  7. The practice of “doing something”  to help bring healing and hope to the world.
  8. The practice of community by developing and fostering anamchara (soul friend) relationships, gathering with others for mutual encouragement and guidance.
  9. The practice of legacy thinking, learning to live on behalf of the future so your life will be a blessing for generations to come.
  10. The practice of hope, knowing that hope is a choice you make every day and is not dependent on circumstances of the outcome.


Notes of gratitude to donors from those attending a recent Cancer Retreat

  • Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Thank you! Words cannot express how much your grant and this experience has meant to me during this stressful experience.
  • I feel this event has helped save my life. I have never been in a slump like this from medical stress. Thank you so so much.
  • This has been really hard in the most perfect and wonderful way. Thank you so much for your generous support.


Thank you again for reading these blogs. It is my honor to share these stories. Blessings from Harmony Hill!   Gretchen