Our recent visit to the Borders, of Scotland allowed us to do the touristy bit. The ruins of abbeys are treasures waiting to be discovered. The monks of Melrose have left many traces to explore and savour. Here generations of faithful lived out their calling and left their marks. There are traces of a lively community and many little side chapels with their separate piscines - each a place for particular prayer. I was reminded that silence is a treasured part of monastic life.
Perhaps in an effort to seal out the rush and puff of everyday activity a wall was built between the religious enclosure and that of the lay people. I wondered what it would have been like living near the monastry in another age.
In the wall there is a doorway through which you would have had to pass get to the monks 'enclosure' - overhead as you cross the threshold there is this image ofChrist's face - reminding me of St Patrick's Breaastplate.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
Recent mini series entitled 'The Big Silence' saw a handful of people, whose very busy lives meant they had little or no time to discover peace and quiet, introduced to silence first of Worth Abbey and then to the Retreat House of St Buenos. Each found refreshment and encounter.
The above average temperature, superb seasonal colours and glorious autumn sun were all combined to refresh and encourage this pilgrim.