Last Friday I took a day off. As we were in the midst of a number of heavy storms I, at first, checked the cinema listings to see if the mighty minds of entertainment were offering anything worth going to watch, but, apart from the wonderful One Life, which I had already seen, there was nothing at all that caught my eye. I decided then that, storms or no storms, and following the dictum that there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing, I would wrap up well and go walking. I wouldn’t, of course do anything silly. I had seen footage of people on a pier in Galway, at the height of Storm Isha, struggling to walk against the wind, and being blown dangerously close towards the edge of the pier where there was a sheer drop into the sea. Such madness could cause a risk to life, not only to themselves, but to those who might have to try and rescue them. So, I would be playing it safe.
As it turned out, last Friday was an almost balmy day, and perfect for walking. I drove to Clachan of Campsie, to a lovely café I had come to know, and treated myself to a breakfast stack and a pot of tea. The breakfast stack consisted of a pile of toasted pitta bread, lots of smoked bacon, a slice of black pudding, two poached eggs, and a wee pot of beans. I could have swapped the black pudding for haggis but, having had haggis, neeps and tatties the previous day for Burns’ Night, I stuck with the black pudding. It was all delicious and kept me packed for the day. If I had any complaint, it was that the pot of tea was brought immediately, with the breakfast following about 10 minutes later. I prefer my tea fresh with the food. But then, I know other people who like the tea brought immediately, so, yet another great debate. Where do you stand on that one?
After breakfast I drove the short distance to Schoenstatt and prayed for a while in the little chapel. I then set out on one of my favourite walks along the John Muir Trail, which I have travelled many times before. About two and a half hours later I returned to Schoenstatt and enjoyed another time of prayer in the chapel. When I have stayed in Schoenstatt before, one of the sisters advised me of a good route to Drumchapel, through Milngavie, so that I could attend to my caring duties for my brother. On those drives, I was always aware of going past Mugdock Country Park, which I had never before set foot in. I decided this was the day to give that a go as well. I parked in the East Car Park and followed signs through Peitches Moor to the visitor centre. Peitches Moor was deserted, not even a dog walker in sight, and I had a sense of being in a great wilderness, and of being the only person on the planet. As a serious introvert, I love experiences like that. It brought back memories of driving 400 miles through the Kalahari Desert in Botswana to visit the late Father Larry and not seeing a soul the whole way. It reminded me of the hymn, Come Back to Me, based on the Prophet Hosea, where it says that “the wilderness will lead you to your heart, where I will speak”. Also, I was reminded of my diaconate retreat on Monte Argentario in Italy when I walked up into the mountain during a thunder storm one night, calling to mind one of my favourite psalm verses, which says that “the Lord’s voice flashes flames of fire” – how’s that for alliteration? I know that God speaks in the gentle breeze, and the sheer silence, but sometimes in the thunder too. I then walked around Mugdock Loch to the castle and back by a different route to the car park. I will return sometime soon to walk Mugdock Wood and Drumclog Moor, perhaps on my next retreat in Schoenstatt. I proceeded then to attend to my caring duties, then back to Bishopbriggs for our Friday Night soiree. As we were defrosting the fridge freezer, we just had a couple of pizzas that were in the freezer for some time, and we didn’t want them going to waste. The following Monday we bade farewell to Father John who was off home to India for a couple of family celebrations, and on the same day we welcomed Brother Conor, who will be with us for a few months, as he prepares for his diaconate. The rest of us are well.
As ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.