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.