I was watching a woman stand in a room, she was about to lose her job. She was contemplating her future and reflecting on her past. She looked at peace, ready to receive the news of her departure. I wondered as I watched her, would I be so dignified?

‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’

When Jesus went up the mountainside by himself, he was placing a border around his quiet time. His disciples respected this boundary, as did the other people following him. The example of Jesus has been much written about, the way he went off on his own to pray, to spend time alone with his father.

There is a time in the night, in rural areas, when the dogs have stopped barking and before the birds begin singing when absolute silence reigns.

I love this time, especially in the winter. The frost is about to start sparkling on the grass, and when it is a clear night the stars twinkle as the nursery rhyme. It becomes one of those moments when heaven and earth kiss. The northern hemisphere is breathing more slowly like a giant sleeping, the heartbeat reaching its nadir.

Jesus stayed on the mountainside until just before dawn. As he walked towards the disciples he did so as the sun was beginning to rise.

‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’

Spending time alone, in the elements of winter, reminds me to take courage, to not be afraid of the dark, because he said he’d never leave me – he is there with me.

I am especially privileged to live in a place with hedgehogs and other nocturnal creatures and sometimes in the night as I sit wrapped in a blanket on my step, one of these creatures scurries or hurries and makes me jump, but within seconds my heart rate returns to normal and I climb back in my skin and I breathe in and breathe out slowly. Spending time with the Father. It is precious and special and needs ring-fencing

‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’

Matthew 14:22-27

Jesus walks on the water

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’