The stags heard me as I approached. They all looked up, straight into my face, as if measuring me. There was no fear in those eyes, no movement; just a heavy sort of silence, as if they belonged to some strange world from very far away. The silence of someone taken away by illness, and the silence of someone taken away by grief. The silence of homeless people who no longer look you in the eyes when they beg in the street. The silence of bereaved people who feel that their time for mourning has finished, and the world around them moves on as they sink deeper.
Nature hides such wisdom in it, so many precious lessons, and it is so easy to not even take notice, to waste or even destroy it – for money, out of greed, out of lack of love for anything that does not translate into more power, more property, more dust to quench our desperate thirst for a fake immortality. It is overwhelming to suddenly feel with such strength and clarity that one is made by the same God Who made such beauty. It is overwhelming to suddenly become aware that we share our Maker with these stags, with these mountains, with the ocean and its winds.
I was driving from Iona to Kilninian when I saw them and stopped. The island is so beautiful in the winter, brushed by the ocean wind and covered with snow. There is so much knowledge hidden here, a treasure of self-understanding and faith waiting to be unearthed. I am beginning to wonder whether we should start organising one or two week-long prayer retreats in the future – either during Advent, or during Lent. A small group of people leaving together for a week, praying together, cooking together. Short walks by the shore, meditating on a theme and practising the Jesus prayer. Praying together at midnight. Waiting together in silence in the middle of the night for Christ to open a gate within us to His Kingdom. Evening talks in the living room, by the fire, well hidden in the warmth of the house as the storm rages outside. ‘Two or three’ gathered in His Name.
If something like this would interest you, let me know. If you feel you could benefit from such prayer retreats, I shall do my best to make them available.
Until then, pray for me, and may God bless all of us.