A Journey of Sea and Stone

How Holy Places Guide and Renew Us

A Journey of Sea and Stone

How Holy Places Guide and Renew Us

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Over the last twenty years spiritual director, teacher, and pilgrim Tracy Balzer has made more than a dozen transatlantic visits to Scotland's Isle of Iona, welcoming the hallowed spaces of the island to sculpt, bend, and sustain her spiritually. "It might be said that Iona has been my spiritual director," says Balzer, for with each visit she is freshly confronted by key questions of faith: Where is God? Who am I? What can I offer the world?

Set against the backdrop of Iona's deep Christian history and exquisite natural beauty, A Journey of Sea and Stone explores these questions, prompting each of us to reach for meaning in our daily lives and to consider the myriad ways God might be inviting us into something new. Tapping our innate desire to seek and find, to encounter God in creation and in the history of faithful people, Balzer guides us in our own journeys to cultivate and find sustenance and connection in sacred spaces.

Deep passages of reflection are complemented by rich illustrations reflecting the island's stunning terrain and Celtic heritage, providing spiritual seekers and armchair travelers a fresh entrée into the world of the sacred, wherever they may be.


"Which books keep you sane when the world locks you down? For me it's those with marrow-deep ties to the geography they describe--Wendell Berry's Port William stories, Timothy Egan's pilgrimage to Rome, Henry Beston's year on the beach at Cape Cod. New to this heartening shelf is Tracy Balzer's A Journey of Sea and Stone, the tale of her longstanding love for the cloistered island of Iona, off the Scottish coast. We all have places we seem to have known forever. In lucid, rhythmic prose, Balzer develops a spiritual travelogue of solace and gratitude, of openness to wonder and reason, and of a longing for what Beston called 'the dear earth itself underfoot.' This is a welcome book."

--Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River

"The ancient tradition of spiritual pilgrimage reminds us that ordinary places can be holy places. Tracy Balzer takes us to the holy Isle of Iona to find fresh inspiration and meaning in our daily lives. If you want a spiritual pilgrimage that will renew your faith, you don't have to travel far. All you have to do is read this book!"

--Dr. Winfield Bevins, director of church planting at Asbury Seminary and author of Ever Ancient, Ever New

"A visionary, Tracy Balzer draws us in to a vivid sense of what holiness looks like, feels like. She demonstrates how anyone who experiences this transformative power can never again be the same--it is that radical."

--Luci Shaw, Writer in Residence, Regent College and author of The Generosity and Eye of the Beholder

"This book is about listening and looking and learning; it is about being deeply there to hear the heartbeat of a place, and the teaching that comes from all these things is gracious and generous. This work is like a polished serpentine stone from St. Columba's Bay on Iona: hold it to the light and you find more every time you look."

--Kenneth Steven, author and poet

"The real gift of Balzer's book is learning that our ordinary lives and receptive hearts can become sacred 'islands' in their own right as we create sanctuaries for ourselves and one another."

--Lisa Deam, author of 3000 Miles to Jesus: Pilgrimage as a Way of Life for Spiritual Seekers

"Tracy Balzer has given us all a wonderful gift. She invites us into sacred spaces and reminds us that we, on our own soulful journeys, are on holy ground."

--Brent Bill, author of Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality


"[A] glowing testament...Christian naturalists will relish this."
Publishers Weekly

Product Info

  • Publisher Broadleaf Books
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506464596
  • eBook ISBN 9781506464602
  • Dimensions 5 x 7
  • Pages 244
  • Publication Date June 8, 2021