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Madadh Ruadh

"Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom." Song of Solomon 2. 15

Sgùrr a Mhadaidh Ruaidh (Hill of the Red Fox) is a favourite. I was last there on a shocking night, camping on the Trotternish Ridge. It was late in the day and driving rain further impaired visibility. I was somewhere near the summit which lives up to its name (crafty and elusive) but not sure exactly. Suddenly a lull in the storm and a break in the clouds revealed the narrow isthmus of grass which connects it to the ridge, allowing me to nip over before returning to safer ground, for somewhere to wile away what remained of the night.

The other day a fox ran across the road, just s stone's throw from the manse. I didn't even know we had foxes in Breakish! From an aesthetic point of view, there is something enchanting about a fox. Among the most beautiful sights I have ever seen is that of a red fox dashing across a snowfield below a wintery sky of cobalt blue. It was on the road between Carbost and Talisker.

But, more generally, foxes are not well received: considered predators and pests. In the Song of Solomon the king's consort refers to foxes as symbolic of all that threatens the beauty of their romance. They may be little but they can have a devastating impact.

What are the foxes, the little foxes, which damage our own relationships, particularly our relationship with God? They may have their attractions - like a fox dashing across the snow or beguiling us with its unexpected appearance - but their intent is sinister and their effect can be disastrous.

It takes skill and determination to catch a fox, which is why we must not be naive about threats to our spiritual and relational health. And the earlier we identify and root them out, the less likely they are to grow into big foxes!

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