It's a small island, and if you tread the beach at Columba's Bay, or climb the peak of Dun I, or just go up the little mound outside the Abbey where Columba's writing cell is said to have been - then you must, of necessity, put your feet in the same places. There are only so many places where a foot can go, after all. There is no choice but to share footprints with Columba, and with his monks, and with all the monks and pilgrims who have followed on down the centuries to this day. In a thousand years of history, there have been many footsteps in this place.
So, you walk on the beach where Columba and his followers first landed, and you wonder if it was just as stony in his day - or if not, you hope that they had good stout sandals. It would have been a severe penance indeed to haul your currach up that stretch of rock and pebbles in bare feet!
Climb up from the bay, and follow the faint path's across Monks Plain, and think of them exploring this island for the first time - without the benefit of a map! Did they discover the same boggy patches as you did, sinking ankle deep into the ooze? Did they laugh or (quietly) curse?
Look down across the green Machir. Land good for farming, good for building. And further on, in the shadow of Dun I, they would have seen a good place to establish their Abbey.
Climb that peak, look out at the patchwork of islands that they must have seen. Did they wonder at the strange and distinctive outline of Dutchman's Cap (as we name it now)? Did they know about Staff and its remarkable rock formations? Were they impressed by the towering cliffs of Mull? Could they make out the coastline of Coll and Tiree, 20 miles and more away?
Did they worship as they took in the vista? And did they get caught in the rain as they made their way back, and arrive in their huts with habit's cold and soaking wet?
You cannot be on Iona and not share with these ancient saints at least some of their experiences, touch part of their lives.
But when you come back from Iona, when you leave behind the white beaches and the rock breaking through the grass in outcrops great and small, when you come back to the bustling city and the crowds, the traffic and the adverts and the news headlines, the sheer weight of noise and busyness and people...
Then you realise that you have brought some of Iona with you. And what you have brought is the knowledge that you are still treading in the footsteps of saints. Not so clearly defined, not so well recorded. But of all the many people who came this way before, some were saints.
Once you have connected to history, you cannot easily leave it behind. Once you realise that wherever you go you are following all those who went before, then you know that you are part of history, a component of the warp and weft of time in this space we call Earth.
Some may be challenged by this. Some may be encouraged. Some may shrug it off and go about their own lives.
But consider this: if we now walk where Saints have walked before us, then it follows that others yet to come will tread in the same places that we now tread.
What footsteps will we leave?
Iona, July 2016.