Well…it was everything I hoped and expected and more. The Glen was as beautiful and magical as ever. The peaty brown river was flowing softly on its course. It was a pleasantly warm autumn morning and great to meet with my family and my good friends Peter Neilson and James Faddes, who did the honourable deed for me!
It was wonderful to be in a place that brought such a powerful spiritual experience to me in the summer and to do something as spiritually significant for my onward journey there. And…that it was in my native Scotland was just even better.
Peter shared the text from Genesis of Jacob’s dream, the angels ascending and descending on the stairway between heaven and earth…he recognises that there, in that spot, was the house of God and the gateway to heaven, what the Celtic Christians would have called a ‘thin place’ where the veil between heaven and earth is so narrow that you can touch it, and so he set his memorial there and worshipped the God of his fathers. The Sma’ Glen became a Bethel for us too, a House of God in a very real sense. That Glen taught me many things…lessons that I will share one day but which for now I hold close to my heart. Peter also shared words from 2 Cor 4, ever special words for me, which speak of treasure held in clay jars.
And then, to step into the water as a thoroughly convicted follower of Jesus and to identify with his death and resurrection in that symbolic way was just…well, there are no words. It was a holy moment that brought not only a deep sense of joy but a deep sense of belonging, both to God and to the place.
Peter concluded the time with a Celtic Easter liturgy and, unaware of my novitiate with the Northumbria Community, prayed the blessing from the Northumbria Community morning office as we stood there in the wilderness ready to go home rejoicing!
And then…the rest of the day, God’s creation signalled its usual signs of affirmation and calling to me. First there was the appearance of the dragonfly who, on my day in the Glen in the summer, taught me so much about God’s leading and provision. Later, there was a flock of Wild Geese that flew alongside our car – long term symbols in my spiritual journey – calling out as the prepared to fly south.
“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.” – Mary Oliver
And then, in the afternoon, sharing a meal with good friends, a great sense of connection and communion in the ordinariness of shared food, conversation and prayer. It was a really holy day. So special and will truly rank as one of the very best in my life, of that I’m sure.
“And now, hallelujah! the rest of my days
Shall gladly be spent in promoting His praise
Who opened His bosom to pour out this sea,
Of boundless salvation for you and for me.” – William Booth