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The rooms we occupy — those places where breath is taken, words are spoken and memories are made — are often taken for granted. They have four walls and a ceiling, reflecting the personality of the occupant or the traditions of an organization. But can rooms be more?
Iona, an island off the coast of Scotland, was home to a medieval monastic community. By the early 1900s, the community was long gone, and the buildings were in ruins. George MacLeod, a pastor in a working-class dockside congregation, was frustrated by the men being sent to him for internships from the seminary. They had head smarts but were unable to connect with the men on the docks and the families in his community. So he devised a plan. During the crushing years of the Depression, MacLeod brought together unemployed tradesmen and young seminarians and sent them to rebuild the monastic quarters and the abbey chapel. Working, praying and sharing in everyday life, they rebuilt not only a historical landmark but also a spiritual community that continues to have global influence today.