The Thought for the Week this week is written by Graham McKenzie-Smith

by Susie Jean Sharkey

“Anyone who eats of my flesh and drinks of my blood remains in me, and I in him.” John 6:56

 Feeling somewhat lacking in Vitamin D after a cold grey summer, we took a last minute holiday to Tuscany with the intention to colour our skin from extreme white to pale milky coffee while reminding ourselves what the world looks like when you don’t have to run between pelting rain. It’s so easy to forget that there is a part of the world (i.e. anywhere outside Scotland) where the sky is a deep blue and people go places without raincoats or fleeces. As it happened, Italy was actually experiencing one of the worst droughts and heatwaves for a decade. The temperatures were usually at least mid 30s at lunchtime, often higher. Indeed one day I cautiously stepped into the car and saw the gauge reading 44c. Had I left a chicken in there, it would have been done to perfection. So we quickly learnt to take a nice drive in the middle of each day, viewing the countryside and coincidentally enjoying the lovely air conditioning, which is why one day we found ourselves in a lovely spa town and the foot of the Tuscan hills.

 I say lovely but truth be told, it was mainly plain, modern and unexciting. We parked the car and tentatively stepped out into the heat to explore in the hopes of finding a gelateria. It doesn’t take long in those temperatures to feel hot and sweaty and we were at the point of giving up when we came across a park which had one of the spas that the town has been famed for since roman times. In the middle of the park stood a huge imperialistic looking building from the early 1900s with a grand ornate entrance. Inside, the structure was made up of colonnaded high vaulted ceilings with a large courtyard in the centre. The courtyard was open to the sky and only had white canopies for shade while the sides of the building were on the whole open to the gardens beyond while the floor was a shiny marble. The overall sensation of the place was one of peacefulness with cool shades, colour and light. With every step came a glimpse through the sturdy columns towards trees, fauna and fountains. As if this wasn’t enough, one area had rows and rows of large basins, each with large taps from which flowed cool refreshing mineral waters to drink from. It was all a most tranquil and relaxing setting, like a temple or oasis. 

Now we can’t always run off to Italy or some such place every time the weather is gloomy or things at work are rather stressful, and we certainly don’t live in the midst of a natural drought. However, there are times when we do need a place of calm, of refreshing, strengthening, and it’s not always easy to physically step away and take a deep breath but we must never forget that we have that place within us. He is Christ, and He dwells within. This is the place that our spirits ought to be no matter where we are for in Christ we find the cool from the heat of the day, the shade from the harsh realities of a busy life, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the refreshing living waters that flow from the cross. Jesus is the temple in which we are at peace and if we step outside, even for a moment, we are burned by the things of this world that are so intense and chaotic. Remain in Him and He shall certainly remain in us, keeping us safe through the heat of the day.