Sunday, 28 July 2013

Squirrelling nuggets of wisdom

You just never know who is going to visit your garden. This little guy (I think we should call him Ruairi - translates as red-haired king in Gaelic) has been paying regular visits to our bird table and enjoying the spoils that he finds there.

I watched him this morning in the act of burying the nuts in the earth in the flower-pot! He went on to bury them in random places in the middle of the grass.

I have to admire his faith. Wherever he buries the nuts he has the belief that at some time in the future he will be able to come back and find his hidden store.

As he left that morning I could only step back and admire his simple faith. Perhaps we try too hard. 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The day Thou gavest Lord hast ended

For some reason this just spoke to me today.

I thought, is is about:

rest at life's end?


an angel whose work is done?

Why was it speaking to me?

Then I read its' title.

It is called 'Angel of Grief'.

Today is the 3rd February. A year ago today I lost my best friend.

Angel of grief - yes.

But, I think of my friend - a woman, a minister, whose work here on earth was done.

And I am glad that I knew her.

Glad that I shared such a wonderful, sparkling, journey with her.

Glad that she is now at rest at life's end, in the company of God and all the hosts of angels.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Snow Geese at Night

Google Image from Audubon 

I can hear them
 I can’t see them
Snow geese that fly at night
They seem infinite in their numbers
Every night the past month I heard them call
This time when they are elsewhere
I will remember selfless calls
Their perfect V’s
Unseen to those who fly

I will remember
The perfection of their V
Silhouetted above the street lights
Generated by the air that we can not see
Explained by the geese that can only feel
When they are in the right place
Singing with the ecstasy
Of remembering
Their home


By John Miller 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Like a feather

When you pray lay aside thoughts
that peck at the body and dive after souls
fears that give birth to needs
concerns that lay ambush to the future
mistakes that make poison of the past
When you pray lay aside thoughts
Of where you are and what you are doing
of your struggle to walk the Chosen Path
even your hopes to leave behind
a few final steps in the sand
Then pull from under you
what little ground you stand on
and fall
like a feather
into the hand of God
Rest there 
so lightly 
so very very lightly
that when you think about it
you will feel no longer where you end
and God begins.
 Centering Prayer Magazine from Snowmass Benedictine Monastery

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Stormy weather

Harbour wall at Arbroath, Scotland

Yesterday, heavy rain descended causing problems with our rivers and on our roads. Today the sea battered against the shoreline in Arbroath causing unwary bystanders to be soaked.

Stormy times batter our days.

The words of this hymn turn us in the direction of God's presence in the storms:-

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

A Step Along The Way

Every year our church walks along the Ministers Walk between Glen Prosen and Glen Clova. Gordon (my husband) and I are pictured above on this year's walk. We have a service in Prosen Church at the beginning and a communion service at Clova Church at the end of the walk. Physical walking and spiritual walking are often closely linked. There is a well-known prayer called 'A Step along the way that offers us powerful reflections as we step out along our way today:-

 A Step Along The Way

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of
saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything,
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw

*This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Card. John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener  Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled “The mystery of the Romero Prayer.” The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

All roads lead to Rome

The saying goes 'all roads lead to Rome'. And here is proof. I left Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland, the birthplace of J.M. Barrie, author of 'Peter Pan' to go on holiday in Rome. Walking down the streets of Rome I was passed by this bus .... Peter Pan too had followed the road to Rome!

Having taken the photo I was then left wondering - why had it appealed to me so much? I think it is to do with connections. I have a very strong bias for being connected to my roots. Whether that is digging around my family history or returning to places of my childhood or youth - I have a strong sense of belonging to people and places. Seeing Peter Pan in a far flung country drew me back to my adopted town of Kirriemuir. A feeling of familiarity and relatedness. It was a good feeling.

I had the same feeling on Sunday when I attended the Church of Scotland service in Rome. The week had been full of new experiences:- wandering among the ancient treasures of Rome, looking in wonder at the incredible artwork in the Vatican museum and standing in awe under the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. But, coming into the Church of Scotland building with all its' simplicity and worshipping in such a familiar way, I felt again that sense of belonging and relatedness. It was too a good feeling.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Behind the shutters

Looking out of a window onto another window caused me to stop and wonder this week. We were on holiday in Rome and the heat caused us to fling the windows open at any given moment. Down below we were entranced by the sounds from the street. Laughter from the pavement cafes, barking dogs encountering each other round corners, street sellers peddling their wares, bells from nearby towers - noises that all reached their way into our flat.

But, it was the silent unknown also caught my attention. Here I was in one flat with my own life, my own story contained within. While just across the way was another flat - hidden behind the partly opened shutters. I know nothing of the folk behind those wooden slats.

I know nothing of their make-up - who they are, how they live, where they come from or what they do. But, perhaps more significantly, I don't know the 'whys' of their lives.

Behind the why questions lie the root of who we are. Why do we behave the way we do? Why do we think in certain ways? Why do we respond to people in certain ways? Why do we choose certain paths than others? The answers can uncover deeply held beliefs and values that may actually need challenging from time to time.

Back in Rome and the shutters across the way remained closed. I will never get to know those people. But, those few moments of looking across into their unknown lives has brought me to my own shutters. And the possibility of opening them open a bit further and asking myself my own 'why' questions.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Scottish fiddlers in town


                      The Angus Strathspey and Reel Society

What a morning! The Angus Strathspey and Reel Society band came to Kirriemuir Old Parish Church. It was part of our annual music festival in town - the TMSA (Traditional Music & Song Association). The band came to play the music for our hymns at our 11.15am service. All the tunes were Scottish ones and each hymn offered us both praise and reflection. The one below is called 'Names they called him'. Each verse takes us through a time in Jesus' own journey. We travel from the manger, to his carpentry days, then onto his ministry and through to his persecution, his death on the cross then finally his resurrection and what it means for us. Hear the fiddles playing, hum the tune and join in with us in our journey of praise.

Hymn: Names they called him
Tune: Bonnie Lass o’ Fyvie’

We proudly sing of how a King
Forfeited fame and security:
Born and brought up unknown,
A manger for his throne,
And they called him a victim of obscurity.

In faith he grew, in wisdom too,
Learning and loving with every breath;
He served his time and trade,
As furniture he made,
And they called him the carpenter of Nazareth.

Twelve friends he called were soon involved
Sharing his mission to shire and slum;
He healed the sick and sad,
He helped the poor and mad,
And they called him the man who made the kingdom come.

For doing good, for where he stood,
Rumours were spread with the worst intent;
His critics, unimpressed,
Disparaged those he blessed,
And they called him a threat to the establishment.

Cruel and detached, a plot they hatched,
Leading to death on the gallows tree;
Those who his grace had seen
Refused to intervene,
And they called him the dross of all humanity.

And yet we sing – this is the king
Who neither death nor deceit can kill.
By rising to forgive,
He sets us free to live
And he calls us to be his friends and followers still.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The value of friendship

Friendship is unnecessary, 

like philosophy, like art... 

It has no survival value; 

rather it is one of those things 

that give value to survival.

C.S. Lewis

Monday, 3 September 2012

A light in the garden

Kinpurnie Castle gardens, Newtyle, July 2012

In Murray Bodo's story of the life of Clare of Assisi, A Light in the Garden, some of these seasons of the soul are touched upon:

The lives of Francis and Clare are themselves seasons of every soul, and it has something to do with Assisi in the spring becoming summer, surrendering to the gentle mists of fall, lying seemingly dead in winter, and waiting for the poppies of another spring ...

You choose your vocation in life over and over again. It is not a decision make once for all time when one is young. As Clare grew in experience and in understanding of her commitment, she had to say yes again and again to a way of life that was not exactly the life she expected at the beginning.

(From Celtic Daily Prayer - Inspirational prayers and readings from the Northumbria Community)

Sunday, 2 September 2012



Whenever you run in a race, there is a lot of preparation to be done, and your plan is always to complete the race. But sometimes something occurs that stops you in your tracks.

Japan's first appearance at the Olympic Games was in Stockholm, 1912. Two athletes represented the country, including their marathon runner Shizo Kanakuri.

He began the race with the other runners but along the way was overcome with heat. It seems Kanakuri, on the verge of fainting from heat exhaustion, had been running past a banker's villa on the outskirts of Tureberg when he spotted people drinking orange juice in the garden. He stopped to quench his thirst but stayed a little too long - more than an hour. It was now, he thought, too late to get back in the race. He took a train to his hotel and caught a boat back home, too ashamed to tell anyone he was leaving.

For more than 50 years Shizo was listed as a missing person in Sweden until a journalist finally found him: he had spent several decades living a quiet life in southern Japan.

In 1966 the Swedish Public Television network called him with an offer: would you like to finish your run? The 76-year-old Kanakuri accepted and travelled to Stockholm to finish the race he had started so many years before. This time he did cross the finish line. His final time was 54 years, eight months, six days, eight hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds.

Like Kanakuri, I have been somewhat side-tracked from my path for a number of months. This blog, which I have so much enjoyed writing, has been sadly neglected. But, now I am back on track. I'm ready to pick up the pen again (or whatever the equivalent phrase is for typing on a keyboard) and see what flows.

I could be annoyed at myself for having been side-tracked but I've decided that it is actually ok. Our faith journey can often have similar moments. There are times when we are going full steam ahead - everything flows and we are moving and growing. Then there are times when we stagnate or even go off the rails completely. Then there are times when we too are side-tracked. But, I do believe that God understands. We can be fickle creatures but God is patient with us. There may even be learning and growing to do in the side-tracks that will stand us in good stead when we feel we are back on the right path again.

Wherever you are in your journey, and however long it takes, Go with the infinite grace, peace and patience of God.