My Sisters and Brothers,
I’m tired. I’m on the early shift this week at work, which means I’ve been waking up at 3am. And right now, my eyes are feeling heavy, and my body is weary.
But this tiredness is making me think of Iona – that magical, mystical island that I love so much! There were many times when all the walking tired my body out, and I would rest myself for a bit in my favourite building on the island – Caibeal Odhrain (St Oran’s Chapel).
It’s a small building, next to the abbey, consisting of just one room. When you walk inside, your footsteps echo on the stone floor, and the smell of dust and candle wax fills your nose. A few birds live in the roof rafters, and their tweets are the only sounds that break the silence.
When you are alone in this little space, it almost feels like you’ve entered a quiet, comforting womb (as strange as that may sound).
I remember sitting in this chapel a few months ago. It was winter, very early in the morning, and it was pitch dark. A wild Hebridean wind was blowing outside… but inside, I felt safe and cocooned within its stone walls.
As I sat there, with a couple of candles illuminating the darkness, I thought of one of my favourite Hebrew names of God – ha-Rachaman (the Merciful or Compassionate One). The root of this name is rechem, which means “womb”.
The Mercy and Compassion of God for us is that of a mother for the child within her womb!
It was a very comforting thought on that cold, dark, and windy morning. And it has been a comforting thought ever since. Whenever I feel lonely, or weary, or sad, this memory fills my heart. And I know that no matter what I’m going through, I am always safe and protected in His womb!
May our Merciful and Compassionate Father enclose you within the safety of His womb! And may you always feel His heartbeat echoing in your ears as He protects you and nourishes you in the deepest part of Himself! Amen.