Thursday, 4 September 2014


I wish to make you an introduction.

I wish to introduce you to Archie, my next door neighbour's cat. I will miss many things about living with Cornelia (my housemate) but one thing I shall especially miss is Kevin's cat.

Archie was adopted from a Cat Rescue as a kitten but he is not insecure for all this and knows is strong cat mind on all matters. He is can be seen purposely striding across the lawns in front of our terrace of houses and is (the real) owner of all the back gardens. There is charming unawareness of time, so that now he may track some movement under a hedge with great concentration and then lie in the road sunning himself and can be seen catching dragon flies for his supper in Conny's garden in the twilight.

He takes great pleasure in winding up our other neighbour's dog by perching on her front window sill and blatantly staring into her lounge while her dog barks until he is breathless with indignation. If we leave our windows open on the ground floor, he may suddenly decide that he would really like to visit, and stick his head and front paws through to investigate only to chased away on account of Conny's cat allergy.

Kevin's parents live on the same street, with their disabled son for whom Kevin is the full time carer. So Archie with no apology lays claim to both houses. Of an evening when it is dark, if he is at Kevin's parent's house he will insist on being carried home in state particularly if it is cold and wet.

For all these idiosyncrasies he is a timid creature, and it is only very recently that he allowed me to stroke him after kneeling down to discuss my day with him in the beckoning twilight. He even gave me an appreciative lick for my trouble.

I will miss you Archie, my cat neighbour. May you enjoy many a summer evening snatching at the dragon flies.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


I have been counting down the days and watching them disappear past, pondering a September, 13 years ago. Sliding on Old Aberdeen cobbles, I remember arriving on September 18th on the bus with my suitcase and being met by the oh-so-kind Ruth Strachan and her boyfriend. I remember the first night of unpacking in Halls, the over starched sheets on the bed, and the feeling of disorientation. I set up an email account for the first time in my life and successfully sent an email to my parents in India.  I remember the first exploring and wandering around, trekking the length of Union Street in search of Barclays Bank. I found Radio 4 with my brand new never owned before DVD player and tuned in marvelling at the clear reception. No static here.

I thought it was very cold. Someone told me rather cuttingly it was mild. And of course it did get much colder and darker. Welcome to the winter. I would come out of lectures at Marischal College at 5 pm to pitch darkness - and the icy walk back to Hillhead.

And the new year rolled around, and I watched the first Spring come and tracked back a year to Hebron and familiarity. I felt things unbend as the sun came out with the daffadils and relaxed as the world got warmer and felt less foreign.

Now it is September again and I am finally leaving. Sad and happy. Excited and apprehensive. Looking forward and looking back. Goodbyes are strangely clumsy things. Awkwardness and smiles and tears spilling out. Last time at church, last time to speak so easily to this friend, last time to spend time with a family.

But the best friend, the closest friend, the "One that sticks closer than a brother" goes with me and consequently all that is most important does too - all friendships that are bound up in or because of this one friend and so I am not so bereft. And He was here too 13 years ago going ahead of me.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Like the great deep.

I made a promise last week that every evening I would take a picture of the sea out of my bedroom window less I forget - that I could wake up to the gleeming blue, or grey, or sun reflecting on water, so bright shinning white. And the sky. Palest northern blue, scattered clouds and so wide and high, who can take it all in?

My flat is sold - oh-so-quick - but who could not admire my room with a view?
I have sat in my home this weekend,  and felt the peace it is offered, green grass out the front, blue sea and enormous sky at the back and pondered the goodness and provision of God.

For it is not just the taking off my hands so fast but the letting go of the familiar. I feel brave and adventurous. A year ago, I did not want to leave my home, or my friends or the familiarity and knowledge of 13 years in Aberdeen. However now I am sorting, and throwing out, and packing and I have let go.

In three months I will move to a room at Woodend Staff Home, and then in 4 months down to my yet to be rented flat. But I feel brave and adventurous and I can look forward and not back. I know God will take care of me and help me. New friends, new city, new church, new home, new job. God's love and God Himself, is so big, so beyond comprehension, far larger than the ocean out of the window or the endless sky and so his faithfulness is too.

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep. 
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights. 
 For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

Psalm 36 vs 5-9 (NIV)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Why I like Desert Islands Discs.

I am newly addicted to listening to Desert Island Discs podcasts via the Radio 4 website. And I have been pondering why this might be. Some interviews catch my attention more than others. Some strike more of a chord. So many stories and different takes on life. Music choices- meaning that I find a new kind of music or a new composer.

Frank Gardner; BBC Journalist shot 6 times in Riyadh. Now paraplegic but still reporting. Dame Cecily Saunders, founder of the Hospice movement saying of singleness "All in the end is Harvest". Nigella Lawson, and her love of cooking. But you also discover that she has lost her mother, sister and her first husband to cancer. Emma Thompson describing the how and why of the Sense and Sensibility screenplay. Baronness Ryder working as a SOE during World War II and then the years after, driving across Europe with supplies for the wreck that Poland was after the end of the war. Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, imprisoned at Auschwitz and Belsen, a member of the Auschwitz orchestra, who survived the Holocaust and later moved to England and played in the English Chamber Orchestra for many years. And there are so many others.

So why do I like it so much? Is it discovering Emile Waldteufel's music? Is it just the details of people's lives that are so fascinating? No- I think it is bigger than this - for beauty, bravery, courage, creativity and people's (albeit imperfect) goodness or kindness point me to the provider and source of it all.

“The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory).

Sunday, 12 February 2012

In which I am currently....

Reading Love Letters from Cell 92 by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maria Von Wedemeyer. I like ordinary homely details, what he is reading, whom she visited, what he is learning from his Bible reading and all in the midst of the bleakness of prison. Love, waiting love at it's most acute.

Eating brown toast and honey. Or was for breakfast.

Drinking tea. Obviously.

Wearing black trousers, peasant style blouse from Sainburies (blue and red patterns), and black cardigan.

Feeling hopeful. Because of different new things that might happen/are happening.

Weather is surprisingly mild. Bulbs are beginning to poke their heads out which fills me with spring-anticipation.

Wanting - well - many answers to this one. I have applied for a job, waiting to hear about short listing and then interviews would be the 1st March. But I would really like to get it. Please.

Needing - again many replies. However I really need to de-junk my flat. The proportions of this task are a little over-whelming but I suspect I need to isolate certain areas (this box, this cupboard, this drawer) and just focus on it for an evening or weekend afternoon.

Thinking about quiet time (and bible reading) quality. And not really having it or doing it. Early it needs to be, and of course with tea. But more than that I need soul feeding. After all, few things are needed and they tend to be the most important.

Enjoying NIGELLA!! I ordered all of the Nigella TV programmes on DVD from Amazon. I love her enjoyment of cooking and food and somehow I am picking it up when my motivation for cooking for one is at a low ebb. So I am enjoying preparing a meal (however humble) in my kitchen and eating it.

Looking forward to an International Palliative Care course at Edinburgh University for the whole of next week and a long weekend in Birmingham with friends.

Thank you Sarah Bessey at for this idea and giving me permission to use it.

Friday, 9 December 2011


The ink sputters on the white clean parchment. I have re-lit the light, writing in the light from the bending taper. At the close of the year, I think of our Lord's Birth Day. The young mother. Ostracised and alone. Husband beginning to understand. Long journeys from Kings and mothers heavy with child. Roads thick with dust and nailing heat. Aching back from camel or donkey seat. New star. Unearthly guiding light. Shepherds with their smelly sheep suddenly suffused in light, music and glory. Rushing to Bethlehem to see and then rushing away to tell.

But this baby, this God-with-us bundle of joy, Was and Is, before anything else was. With God himself, right when the world was first being made. Making it happen.

So in this Word, this revealer of the truth, this Person by which things happen, by a great mystery, he is a man to us but also light and life and goodness and God Himself. He showed us what God is like. He showed us the way back to him. The path of forgiveness and grace.

He wasn't recognised truly for who he was, not in birth, or life or in death. The empty tomb, the shining angels saying "He is alive", the wounded hands made it plain. And belief in this forgiveness-giver, life-giver, grace-giver and blessing-giver makes us children of Most High God.

And so I begin, this record, so that many will read and believe - I write so they might believe and have the life that is life. I write to add to the many books that will be written. The world is not big enough to contain all the books that could be written about the things our Lord did. I write so that our Lord Jesus might be known.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.
He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe.
He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No-one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known."

John ch 1 vs 1-18 (NIV)

"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.....Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

John ch 20 vs 31 and ch 21 vs 25 (NIV)

Waiting Widow

"When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”, and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismissed your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him."

Luke ch 2 vs 22-40 (NIV)

I have pondered the waiting widow of Anna many times. Simeon was also waiting but it is Anna, that I think of.

To be married only seven years, and then widowed and remain after that always alone. This is what stings the eyes. Of course, she was perhaps not always alone. She may of had family who took her in. She may of had sons and daughters. However, she remained unmarried and she was waiting along with Simeon. Maybe with a grief that never really fades. Waiting on God is not like waiting for a delayed aircraft to take off. It is not like waiting in a supermarket queue. It can seem much harder than that, because we worry that what we are waiting for; (a husband? a baby to be concieved? a friend to become a Christian?) might never come to pass.

Simeon, it seems was sure of what was coming. He knew and he trusted God. These things that trouble me, don't have that same certainty about them. But God is the same. God who sustained the widowed Anna, the waiting Simeon, the unbelieving Zechariah, the amazed Elizabeth, the fearful Mary, the bumbling shepherds, the searching Kings, sustains me. My cause is not dis-regarded. His understanding, no-one can fathom. My strength will be renewed. God is far bigger and more powerful than my concerns and worries. Waiting on God is not like a train station waiting room or a delayed appointment. There is nothing static about it. The real question is; how is God making me more like Jesus at this time? What is he teaching me? How can I serve him?

"Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 40 vs 21-31 (NIV)