Auld Claes and Porridge

This is Old Scots and it translates, old clothes and porridge (oatmeal). It means “The holiday is over and it’s time to get back to work.”

We’ve enjoyed a nice break here at the Carswells: two week’s together, first at Haggerston Castle Resort, then in Carrick, near Kirkcudbright (kur-KOO-bree), near Dumfries, near Carlisle (look it up…).

Then, as you know Lisa and I were in Paris for four days, followed by a four day retreat in Dunblane (home of Andy Murray) for myself.

Why, you may ask did I feel the need for a retreat after three week’s holiday?

Not a bad question and one I’m glad you asked.

Technically, this kind of retreat is not a holiday, it more closely falls under the general designation, “Study Leave,” (something ministers get two weeks of every year). But, a retreat is not study time either. I don’t do any planning on retreats, no mapping out of the year’s sermons, no writing of liturgies or dreaming up bible studies or Sunday school plans. I do a little reading, but nothing serious.

A retreat is a time to withdraw from the world for prayer and for spiritual direction. The days are filled with nothing but time to read scripture, take walks, pray, journal and reflect upon the movements of the Holy Spirit in your life.

I usually fast on retreats, sometimes for several days. Fasting is for me a means to an end, it makes my body slow down and consequently my mind and my spirit. It is a way to manage one’s desires by overcoming the desire for food; Christ becomes your singular desire. It’s not easy, at first, but with practice over the years, it becomes easier to stop eating for a time, and it is surprising to find mealtimes come and go without much worry; the loss becomes a gain.

The most important part of a retreat is a daily meeting with a spiritual director. This is a person who acts in some ways like a professional counsellor, but who focuses on spiritual issues rather than psychological ones. S/he may ask questions like, “What are you thinking about, what are your concerns, what’s going on in your prayer life, etc.” A good director helps you sort out the wheat from the chaff by drawing your attention to the spiritual issues that really matter and by giving you questions to ponder and scriptures to consider in your prayers.

The aim is spiritual growth that leads to a deeper intimacy with Jesus Christ and a deeper understanding of the mysterious ways of the Spirit in your life.

If it sounds Catholic, well, it is. But, it is a tradition that predates the Reformation by many hundreds of years. The Roman Catholic Church has maintained the art of spiritual direction since the Reformation, but the practice is catholic in the universal sense of the word; it is for all Christians, laity and clergy alike.

During our first meeting my director asked me what I was looking for at the retreat. I told her I hoped that God would refill my well, so that I would have something from which to draw as I lead my flock over the coming year.

Suffice it to say that I return wearing not auld claes, but glorious new ones, and my porridge is a banquet fit for a king.

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3 Responses to Auld Claes and Porridge

  1. feistybluegecko says:

    I very much enjoyed your post, which I confess I stumbled upon when looking for a reference for the expression “auld claithes and porridge”. As a Scot, living and working in Asia it was very warming to read. I would like to reference this in the post for my own blog which I am currently working on.
    Very warm wishes
    Philippa (aka Feisty Blue Gecko

  2. Pingback: Wilcox Family News/Prayer Letter, Autumn 2017: SPECIAL EDITION! | Paul Wilcox

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