For reasons that have never been entirely clear to me, though I suspect they are very clear to our Edinburgian member, we have haggis for dinner on St Andrew’s day. Sometimes it is the authentic sheeps’ innards version; at others, a vegetarian alternative. Either way, it is one of those mixtures into which one dare not enquire too closely. Fragrant, tasty and very sustaining, I think the haggis is an apt metaphor for holiness. No one would really like to say in what it consists, beyond being close to the Lord. It takes time to perfect, is attractive to others and lasts for ever. A thought to take with us into Advent, I trust.
Today is the end of the liturgical year, the end of the month we set aside for praying in a special way for the dead. It is a bluff, gruff kind of day, cold and a little bleak. It is also the feast of St Andrew, and in Scotland a sad day as people come to terms with the helicopter accident which has injured many in Glasgow. We can see it as a hinge between two times, one that looks back and one that looks forward, a kind of hiatus between death and life. It has an almost ‘Holy Saturday’ quality about it; and just as we spend Holy Week in silence and recollection so now, as Ordinary Time passes into Advent, we shall have three days of profound silence here at the monastery. It won’t be an empty silence, nor will it be particularly penitential (I hope), though it will have its longeurs. It will be a time when we try to listen more intently to the voice of the Lord calling us to follow. Each of us must, in our own way, step out into the deep, sure of only one thing (and sometimes perhaps, not even of that): the Lord who calls desires to give us life in all its fullness. We are fee to accept or reject his invitation. What we cannot do is put off our answer to an uncertain future. We must decide now.
While the community is in retreat, blog posts, tweets and Facebook statuses will all be automated (i.e. scheduled in advance) and we won’t be responding to any emails or comments. We shall hold all of you in prayer. Please pray for us, too.