Beloved

It has been over a week since my last post. There are two reason for this. One is that we returned yesterday from a few days on the west coast of Scotland (near Glasgow) visiting my aunt and uncle, and one my cousins and his family. The girls really enjoyed their second cousins and it was nice to spend more time there than I have in decades.

A view of the Sleeping Soldier from Largs on the west coast of Scotland. Can you see the soldier? He is lying down with the top of his head pointing to the left and his hands resting on his chest.

The second reason for the delay in posting is that I am trying to shake the habit of feeling like I have to “produce” something all the time. It is a hard habit to break. It has been almost six weeks since we began our sabbatical, and it is starting to feel weird. During the first few weeks my mind and body managed by feeling like I was on vacation. But now we’ve gone past the length of even a very long vacation and are entering into a new phase in this sabbatical experience. The pull to produce or accomplish something, almost to justify my existence, is very strong. But moving through that addiction (using the term loosely) is a very important part of this experience. At least I think so! So I have been resisting the temptation to produce blog posts and instead am trying to wait until I want to write something. That is the luxury, and the discipline, I am trying to live into here – doing things because I want to, not because I feel like I must have something to show for myself.

Today I happened upon something that I wanted to write about. As with many of my favorite moments it was while I was biking. I came across a small village called Simonburn nestled in the hills north of Hexham. It has two central features. A church. And a tea room. I stopped in to partake of my new favorite exercise nourishment – a scone with jam and fresh cream (unsweetened and much tastier than American whipped cream), and tea.

As I sat in the silent tea room by myself enjoying a freshly baked lemon scone with cream, I picked up a compiled history of Simonburn lying on the windowsill. The church in the hamlet is named after Saint Mungo. Mungo is a nickname for the late 6th century evangelist whose birth name was Kentigern. He is venerated for spreading Celtic Christianity in what is now Scotland, and is said to be founder of Glasgow.

But what struck me today, Maundy Thursday, is the likely meaning of his nickname. It means “beloved”. The history I found in the tea room at Simonburn says that he was named by a mentor. What a wonderful new name to have been given and to be remembered as. Beloved.

As I sat around the dinner table this evening with Erica and my daughters reading some of the Last Supper story from the Gospel of Luke I kept thinking about St. Mungo’s name. Beloved. Isn’t that what holy week is all about? Remembering the grace of God that claims and re-names us. Beloved. Not because we have produced anything deserving of such a name, but because in the Easter story God chose to give us a new name. Beloved.

– Mark

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3 thoughts on “Beloved

  1. I love to read blogs from you, Mark. I’m sure it’s difficult for you to just to “be” (we are alike in that respect) but I am sure there is no right way to be on sabbatical. That we are all beloved is a lovely Easter story message. I’m looking forward to having tea and scones with you all!

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