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The Diary: Santiago to Fort Augustus by Rebecca Blakey

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Truly Yahweh is in this place and I did not know!’ He was afraid and said, ‘How awe-inspiring this place is! This is nothing less than the abode of God, and this is the gate of heaven!’ (Gn 27:16-17)

My desk sits facing my bedroom window, which looks out onto our garden and the hills beyond it: now a beautiful mass of soft greens, oranges, yellows and browns. I watch two white ducks traverse the leaf-covered ground to the burn. On the garden slope below the burn there is a small muddy cavern - it is the exciting beginnings of a garden ‘grotto’, where a beautiful little statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary will soon abide.

The last few months I have often found myself reciting the above verses from Genesis, especially when I wake up and open the curtains. Jacob exclaims them after he wakes from an incredible, life-changing dream in which he encountered the Lord - not only the Lord but the Hosts of Heaven! I have been struck by how this experience completely transforms Jacob’s perspective of his situation. The place where he finds himself, which had the night before been of no significance, becomes wholly ‘awe-inspiring’, ‘nothing less than the abode of God’!

Over the past few years I feel I have, like Jacob, encountered the Lord in a powerful way - discovering that the God of the Bible sees me, knows me, loves me and invites me to step into the fullness of life with Him every day. Also like Jacob, these revelations of His love have opened my eyes to see the Lord as He is present all around and in front of me, most especially, since the Lockdown, to recognise Him in my homeland here in Fort Augustus.

In April I flew home to Scotland from Santiago, Chile, where my intended stay of six months was cut short to three weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. I had been staying with the Manquehue Apostolic Movement, a Chilean lay Benedictine community which has a residential mission in the UK, as well as an ‘offshoot’ community in the UK called the Weave of Manquehue Prayer. Through my involvement with the Weave and Manquehue, the Lord has opened my eyes to see His presence in my life and in the world around me.

As I flew back to Scotland in April it was with great peace that I was in the Lord’s hands, as He spoke to me particularly in these verses, ‘And you will know that I am Yahweh, when I ... put my spirit in you, and you revive, and I resettle you on your own soil. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken and done this.’ (Ezk 37:13-14) Being back in the Highlands has been an experience of receiving the lifebreath of God, and recognising His hand in creation from the moment I open my curtains in the morning. All of this feels like part of a long path the Lord has been leading me on, toward Him, towards discovering Him ‘on my own soil’. I am excited to discover that there are so many others who also seek to celebrate God’s Heavenly presence in this awe-inspiring place!

Rebecca is from Fort Augustus originally, but moved to Edinburgh to study Divinity where she also completed her Masters. She has moved back to the Highlands with a desire to stay here and serve God.

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