Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Gleanings from a Glens Girl: Rainbow through the rain

Gleanings from a Glens Girl: Rainbow through the rain: Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland Our country is bracing itself for a severe storm today. There is word of road and rail disru...

Rainbow through the rain

Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland

Our country is bracing itself for a severe storm today. There is word of road and rail disruptions, bridge closures and ferry cancellations. I feel for anyone working outside or caught up in the turbulent weather today and hope that they all keep safe. Hope is of course what we carry into all kinds of storms. The storms of life that can hit us all at various times: bereavement, illness, redundancy, family troubles, life changes.

Hope is what can carry us through the eye of the storm and back out to the other side. Hope that the sadness will ease, that we will feel better, that a job will be found, that the family will settle, that we can cope with the shifting rugs beneath our feet.

Hope is often symbolised by the rainbow. That spectrum of beauty and colour that emerges as the rain meets the sun. It appears just when we fear the storm will prevail and we will be overwhelmed. Its upward arch reminding us that we too can be lifted up and out of the turbulence. A spiritual symbol of God's relationship with us bringing with it the rays of hope of faith.

Whatever storms loom overhead for you today, may the glimmer of a rainbow carry you forward in hope.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Green heart of the snowdrop

Green heart of the snowdropKate McIlhagga

Into a dark world
a snow-drop comes.
a benison of hope and peace
carrying within it a green heart
a symbol of God's renewing love
Come and inhabit our darkness
Lord Jesus Christ,
for dark and light
are alike to you.
May natures white candles of hope
remind us of your birth
and light our journey
through life and beyond.

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.