A View from St Kilda – March 2024

‘Where did you go on your break?’

The expectation, of course, was Italy, or at least somewhere warm, which wouldn’t be hard living in Scotland. Yes, somewhere where the sun shines daily, the temperature in the low 20’s, the sea azure blue, as fishermen mended their nets on the quayside and the aroma of local cooking and the noise of chatter over lunch fills the air.

‘Where did I go?’

On Sunday 11th, we walked to Hyndland station and took the train to…

Drumgelloch, which is the next station after Airdrie on the line heading to Edinburgh. What can I say about the place. Let me say, it was interesting! As we made the 20-minute walk from the station to the Excelsior Stadium, we took in the sights, of which there were none!

Yes, part of my holiday was spent at a football stadium that I had never been to, where the scotch pies were inedible and black as the ace of spades but the result was a joy. In amongst the police vans and the fighting of fans, I thought of you all and would have sent you a postcard saying, ‘Wish you were here’ but I don’t think Drumgelloch has postcards, or even a post office!

‘Wish you were here.’

We have entered Lent once more, a time of reflection and inward looking to our spiritual life and with self-examination, a time to stop to breathe along the way.

There is an old Hasidic teaching which says:

‘Rake the muck this way. Rake the muck that way. It will still be muck. In the time you are brooding, you could be on your way, stringing pearls for the delight of heaven.’

As we rake the muck, this way and that, it will do us good to remember that the beginnings of the Lenten story finds Jesus tempted in the wilderness.

There, as he contemplates his mission, he understands all the temptations and trials that we face in life, the muck that we move from one place to another. I love that story, not just because it is so dramatic but because it helps me understand that Christ knows how I feel.

In the Gospels, there is a clever line at the end of his desert experience which says, ‘the devil left him for a while.’ How true, that the ups and downs of living continue, that we are faced with trials and tribulations daily, and when we are and we feel that we need the presence of Jesus near and we want to say, ‘wish you were here’, he actually is.

So, wherever your Lenten journey takes you as we head towards Holy Week, in the hope that as you travel you ‘string pearls of heaven’ and perhaps not to places like driech Drumgelloch, hold on to the fact that Jesus is your companion. Following Lent can be difficult but so also is following Jesus because we know the places and the people he calls us to, he is also going to say ‘wish you were here.’

Your friend and minister,

George C Mackay