Come walk with me, the journey is long….

the journey, the journey, the journey is long

And in isiZulu:

Hamba nathi kalulu latu (repeat)

Kalulu, kalulu, kalulu latu (repeat)


A powerful gift of music came to me on the Scottish island of Iona, halfway between Ireland and Scotland.  It is known for the abbey that St. Columba founded.  St. Columba retreated to Iona after a bloody war over scripture.  He felt responsible for having been part of the cause of so many people dying, so he went into exile on the first island from which he could not see Ireland. The monks of the monastery he founded were all pacifists, which made it difficult when the Vikings came marauding.


Other than St. Columba, Iona is known for being where the veil between earth and heaven is thin, and Spirit is extra accessible.  There is now a retreat center in St Columba’s rebuilt abbey on Iona, and I went there for a workshop about Pilgrimage.  


The Iona Community met in the abbey for worship every day at 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.  On Tuesday evening, we had a service about pilgrimage.  We all stood up and processed halfway around the church to the song “Come walk with me, the journey is long.”  We sat in new chairs and heard the message before getting up and processing around the other half of the church to “Walk with me oh my Sisters/Brothers.”  Both songs were sung over and over, like the songs from Taize.


On Wednesday, we took a pilgrimage around the island.  It was about 50 degrees, and we were walking in the wind and the rain from the dying edge of a hurricane.  As we trudged through the Scottish mud, cold and wet heads bent pushing against the wind, we began singing “the journey, the journey, the journey is long.” The song actually got us to the other side of the island, where they fed us on hot tea and flapjacks. Then we struggled and sang our way back.


I knew the song had taken root in my soul, along with the posture of hunching against the wet wind as we walked forward.  I had not realized just how deeply the roots had grown.  Within a year of my returning to the states, my mother had a stroke, and as I accompanied her struggles to return to health, I realized that I was living the song they had given me in worship in Iona.  Come walk with me, the journey is long, the journey, the journey is long.


Come walk with me (us) the journey is long…. (repeat)

the journey, the journey, the journey is long

As a side note I was fascinated to discover that  “Hamba Nathi…”, the isiZulu version of this song, was used in the movie Invictus about Nelson Mandela and South Africa. It can be heard at

—Dorothy Day