Ministry Team Quiet Day

I was on a Ministry Team quiet day at Carberry Tower, about 9 miles from Edinburgh. After morning coffee (a glass of milk for me) and Morning Prayer (Year 2, Week B) we descended into silence for 3 hours. Well, the other three team members did. I went outside to phone Jane to see if she know of the location of a convenient opticians near home.

When I sat down to say Morning Prayer, I took my glasses off to wipe the lenses and the leg of the frames came away in my hand. I was not pleased. Once I’d acquired two strips of cheap, non-3m, clear office tape to strengthen the legs I was fine… apart from the legs now gourging ulcer-sized holes in the back of my ears!

About two hours in, as I was sitting outside in the sunshine I decided to go for a walk. Thirty minutes later I was standing at the top of Carberry Hill, where apparently Mary Queen of Scots was captures in June 1567 by the Confederation of Lords and taken to be imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle and later Lochleven, before being executed. There is a large carved stone at the top of the hill — I didn’t just sense that historical gem from the atmosphere.

I was standing at the top of the hill, on a small wooden dias, with mud caked on my jeans and trainers. I had climbed the hill like a man possessed. I had no idea where I was going, but I climbed and slid and leapt my way up the hill. I’d seen a map of the estate on my way up the hill so had some idea that if I climbed I might just reach the summit.

I stood at the top, gained my breath a little and had a good pray. The experience reminded me of repentance: literally having to turn around and find my way back, trying to get a little less dirty on the way back down the hill.

I arrived in the dining room at 1:00pm on the dot. Hot, sweaty, tired, and very hungry. I think I overdid it a little, having not been particularly well last week, but it was good to get out and discover somewhere new.

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Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.