Rock Art

Many years ago I went to stay at Bishop’s House on Iona with friends. I can’t remember what was wrong with me (other than the usual) but I was unable to join them on long walks about the island. Instead, I would take my book and sit at the little beach at the foot of the garden. I might paddle, or sit in the shelter of some rocks and read, or just gaze across the Sound to Mull. Just like every pilgrim before or since, I gathered some pretty pebbles, knowing I’d probably never be able to carry them all home.

When I was in the local shop I spotted some enamel paints (the ones which model makers use) and thought I could paint something on those pebbles. I did some celtic crosses and friends’ names and handed them out to everyone as a wee memento. And ever since then I have painted the occasional doodle or word on little pebbles.

Then came Pinterest. If you don’t know about Pinterest, google it now. What an amazing resource. So I started to pin religious paintings, Scottish art, nice old gates and doors (a particular favourite of mine), funny quotes, nativity sets from around the world, cute cats because who doesn’t love a cute cat?, crafts to make for church… and that’s where I found my first piece of Rock Art. It was a rock, a stone, a pebble painted with beautiful patterns. I could do that, I thought. And so I did…

To begin with I made mistakes. But you learn from your mistakes. Here are some tips that I’ve learnt:

  • Acrylic paint is best but I found that a coat of Gesso does a wonderful job of preparation.
  • Brushes have to be just right and I found that brushes specifically for acrylic paints are best of all. I have a zillion brushes but I use only 3 or 4 – 2 flat ones and 2 tiny pointy ones.
  • Chalk or a pencil gives you the outline but pencil can show through light colours so don’t press too hard.
  • I use my old travel hairdryer to speed up drying if I want to move on to the next colour or do the other side.
  • Don’t put down newspapers but use plastic sheets because the paint can pick up newsprint if it’s not completely dry.
  • For outlines or fiddly bits use Sharpies pens.
  • I’m using a varnish for decoupage just because I had some but you can use exterior varnish if you want to put them outside or Mod Podge.
  • There are books you can buy for inspiration but I’ve found Pinterest has more painted pebbles than you can shake a stick at.
  • And if you make a mistake or the varnish makes the paint bleed (which it did with some black paint for some unknown reason) you can paint over and start all over again.
  • Let the shape of the rock dictate what it will become.
  • Sometimes the rock is so beautiful you don’t need to paint it all – just do a little bit.
  • If you live near a beach or river then you can find lots of nice rocks. Smooth surfaced ones are best. If you don’t have easy access your local garden centre should have River or Sea Cobbles which you should wash and leave to dry overnight before use.

Happy pebble painting! Here are some of my first attempts.

Cream and Red mandala first attempts flowers Mandalas owl and mandala Penguin and owl

In which Ruth ponders why congregations don’t like new hymns

Two complaints came to my ears this week. The first was that we didn’t know the last hymn. Indeed, when I announced said hymn I did ask Mad Margaret, our deliciously eccentric organist, if it was a new one as I didn’t recognise the first line. Half the congregation shouted NO and the other half shouted YES, so just so be on the safe side MM played it through first. Indeed we did know it, except, it would seem, the person who complained. And her friend.

This is an ongoing problem. New hymns. And I wonder why it is that so many people don’t like them. If I thought it was because they like to sing everything with gusto and not hesitation then I wouldn’t mind. But it is rare that a congregation really lets rip with joy and abundance when singing. (Easter and Christmas being the exception and strangely enough we only sing those hymns once a year.) We like familiarity in Church. We like things to be the same. We like the same liturgy, the same pew, and it would appear, the same hymns. Nothing to disturb us. Nothing to upset us. Tosh!

hildegard-musicI mean, if we never learned any new hymns we’d still be singing some Gregorian Chant with a bit of Hildegard of Bingen for the girls. And I have one person who can’t stand the modern Iona hymns set to well-known tunes. ‘Hymns should never be set to folk tunes,’ they say. Like Vaughan Williams never did it! Ha!

Then there’s the words, the content. Some of the modern hymns (and I don’t mean those banal choruses) are really powerful and far more relevant to some of us. But its like the bible, isn’t it? Some still prefer the King James version to the NRSV – until you ask them to read it aloud, that is. We want to encourage new folk into church but we also want them to sing ‘consubstantial co-eternal’ and understand what its all about. 

Of course not all congregations are like this about new hymns. Actually, that’s not true. They are all like this. But teaching organist with fagthem takes great skill. Now, I don’t sing. Actually, that’s not strictly true – I do sing, perfectly in my head. It just doesn’t always come out the way I’d hoped. So my method for teaching new hymns has always been to get the organist to play it through first and then we all have a bash. It works. Not always well, but in time we all catch on. And often some people do know the hymns anyway. I hate it when organists or choir leaders say ‘Oh we don’t know that one’ as if they speak for everyone. They may never have sung it in that church before but people do visit other churches and places and do pick up different hymns. (I’m starting to get really angry now – teeth clenched etc.)

In Christ Church they only teach new hymns if the choir can sing it first, perhaps a few times, before the congregation is ‘allowed’ to join in. Now the choir sing/lead one hymn and that’s just after communion. And frankly, not all hymns are suitable for the post-communion slot. When I first came here I was told that nobody knew Sweet Sacrament Divine and the choir would have to sing it a few times first. How smug was I when everyone joined in? (Yes, that was considered one of the ‘new’ hymns a few years ago.) A friend was visiting a church in Fife a few weeks ago and told me, in shocked tones, that the Rector had taught them three new hymns in one service. Three! I ask you! How brave is that man?

Anyway, back to the other complaint… that the hymns were too long. This poor person was exhausted by the end of it. Really? For those of you who don’t do liturgy or choose hymns to go with it, let me give you a few hints:

  1. The Introit hymn (entrance) should be jolly and majestic, suitable for a procession, long enough to get the altar party down the aisle and to their places. Sometimes, if there is incense, it needs to be a little longer to allow the Celebrant to cense the altar too and find their seat which make time with all that smoke about. 
  2. The Gradual hymn (just before the Gospel) can be short and snappy and preferably the words should suit the reading of Scripture or fit the theme of the readings. This is not always possible but the Lord knows we try.
  3. The Offertory hymn (when the bread and wine is brought and the collection taken) should be long enough to allow all this to happen. In some churches it involves more incense and there might even be two hymns (eg St Michael & All Saints). Bonus points are given if it also fits the theme of the service.
  4. The Communion hymn(s) are just as people are coming for communion or going back to their seats. The choir may do a beautiful piece as a solo, or in our case the congregation can join in if they have got back to their hymn books. The second one is usually when everyone is back in their place and is slow and reflective and usually sacramental in nature. It may have to be long to allow the priest to also get out to those in wheelchairs and unable to get up for communion. (Unless you have an organist who can ‘twiddle’.)
  5. The Recessional hymn is the one the altar party march out to and might have ‘sending out’ words to encourage us. It should be a bit like the coming in one – fast and uplifting. You Shall Go Out With Joy is a good and bad example of this. Good because of the words, bad because it is only one verse and you’d have to make it a sprint which is never dignified. (Yes, we sometimes play it three times.)

In my defence, the hymns last Sunday had (1) Jesus is Lord! (3 verses with chorus); (2) God of mercy, God of grace (3 verses); (3) All hail the power of Jesus’ name (6 verses with chorus – but the verses had 3 lines); (4) Such love (3 verses) and then O God who at thy Eucharist dids’t pray (4 verses) and still not long enough; (5) O Lord all the world belongs to you (5 verses). Well I managed them and I have COPD and Asthma! 

So there we have it. Rant over. Want to share your love of new hymns? Any suggestions on how to share your enthusiasm?

PS MM is a lovely organist and is extremely obliging and willing to have a go at anything. Anything.

In which Ruth finishes her favourite journal

20140208_131328Did I mention how much I love stationery? Oh how I do! Lovely journals with beautiful covers thrill me more than I can say. (I’m a huge fan of PaperBlanks.) I love beautiful pens with vivid violet ink (CultPens are a great source of the unusual) and lovely puffin tins and purple staples and wooden pencils and … You get the picture.

Whenever I go off on retreat or holiday or to a course I take a notebook/journal. In it I jot down little notes and reminders. Sometimes when I come home I transfer bits to my bigger Quotes Journals or blog about the events which happened. This week I’ve been on the Clergy Silent Retreat at Whitchester and finally finished my lovely purple bejewelled journal. Who gave me it? I can’t remember but I’m sure it was a gift. I’m quite sad it has come to an end, this purple beauty, for it contains many truths and many memories. It still looks beautiful and I shall find a space where it can lie face-front in all its glory.

Do you want to know what’s in it? OK, here are just a few snippets:

  • On visiting a church famous for pilgrims, wonder why the people who take the service aren’t more friendly. Indeed, seem positively snooty. Would it hurt to ask where we’re from?
  • Retired clergy who take Clergy Retreats should not talk at length about their holiday memoirs, or insist that we all love poetry.
  • Meet clergy who are bullied, clergy who are gay but frightened to tell, clergy who are deeply unhappy. Praying seems so inadequate. Why is nobody caring for the carers?
  • Note: buy Icon to St Cuthbert by Tavener. (I never did.)
  • “Some gates only open if you work at them.” David Adam
  • “Too often church worship is weak because we have not been faithful in our own daily prayers. Its like trying to be friendly on a Sunday to someone you have ignored all week.” David Adam

O island my lovePuffin2
my windswept and craggy one
with rain and snow and sleet and wind
to batter down my defences
with sun and moon and stars
to remind me of your awesome power
with quiet and rest and stillness
to revive my spirits.

  • At Bishop’s House, Iona I did some manicures for my little flock. Someone said it was like Maundy Thursday!
  • Staffa and the water was like a millpond. Puffins are God’s comedians. Tobit should be in the lectionary more often.
  • Gilmore-Fraleigh style = Achieving/Directing
  • Saw God in the windows of St Chapelle. Adored spiral pillars and fan vaulting at St Severin.
  • “An atheist is someone who wakes up on a beautiful morning feeling thankful, and then remembers there is no one to thank.” G K Chesterton
  • Is there anything so sexual as St Theresa in Ecstasy at Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria?
  • Find it hard to find God in a chantry chapel until I spotted the unicorn.
  • Thomas Traherne is lovely and all that, but he’s really just not me!
  • Every cathedral should have geese in the courtyard.
  • DSCF0227Oh Gaudi how I love thee. How I love your fluid lines, your nature-in-stone, your colour and symbols.
  • Cool light of the cloisters are places to rest and ponder.
  • Everyone should have a Black Madonna in a snowstorm.
  • Pudding stones from 1026 in a church looked like clootie dumplings.
  • Relics Exhibition at The British Museum and adored some stunning reliquaries.
  • In the bible hardly anyone goes back home – you can only go forward home.
  • Who is holy? Someone who earths God in the ordinary things of life.
  • Today, what is it that priests need to become?  Enabler, listener, risk taker, perseverer, being a bit weird, shared episcope.
  • “How can I find God’s will? God’s will, if it exists, is probably locked up in a file in the Bishop’s filing cabinet!”  Margaret Silf
  • Stop reading and start watching and noticing. Everything is a gift.
  • Taking a group on pilgrimage is like herding cats. And I never did have much of a maternal instinct. Why can’t grown-ups catch a bus/ferry/train when they’ve known the time for months?
  • Feral Goats for 2 miles.
  • Shortbread and lemon curd. Yum.
  • An Art Studio on Skye is really someone’s front room.
  • “I have often repented of speaking but never repented of silence.”
  • Rest is not what we do – it is the gift of God.
  • The gift of rest is a gift to others.
  • Accept the discomfort of not being as we would like to be. Accept others are they are.
  • Stillness enables the work of God within us. It is not about what we do, but what God does. God works in the inner heart. That’s why the Kingdom of God takes so long to come – God takes time.
  • We are so concerned with the world right we haven’t put ourselves right.
  • Humility. As soon as you think you have it, you’ve lost it!
  • Vainglory – seeking attention for ourselves, that we are better than others, taking what is due to God to ourselves. This is a big danger for the Church and clergy.
  • God covers our sins, puts his hands over them.
  • Perhaps today’s reduction in numbers in the Church is God’s plan to take away some of our power.
  • “The utterly magnetic God.” Mother Jane  God draws us to himself whether we know it or not.

DSCF0725

In which Ruth copes with living on an island for 5 days

You know I’m a city girl. You know I’m not terribly keen on the country unless I’m inside a luxury coach (with toilet, of course) or seeing it through a window from the warmth of a nice interior somewhere. For a day or two. At the most. But somehow Iona is different. I have even managed 7 days there before and only started to twitch at the end. I love going to Iona and the journey is all part of the pilgrimage, from the roads round lochs, stopping at the Green Wellie Shop at Tyndrum, to the one-way system in Oban. I’m familiar with Iona. I know how it breathes. I know where the shops are and where you go for peace. I know where the best stones are to be found. And I know that the view over the Sound to Mull changes every 5 minutes or so. I know the water is so clear and so blue/green that you could be in the Mediterranean.  I know where the sheltered beaches are and what the sound of the Corncrake is like. (Bloody irritating.) I love St Columba’s chapel in Bishop’s House like an old familiar church. I like meeting people as they pass by and sit beside you in church. I love Iona.

So that is why I am always happy to take my little flock to Iona. Because I know that mostly they are country people or love the outdoors and will love it even more than I do. And I’ve never been wrong. This past 5 days was no different. I took a group of 18, mostly from my little flock, some of whom hadn’t been before, and they loved it. We laughed a lot. There are many in-jokes which will frustrate those who didn’t go in the days to come, no doubt. (Tippi Hedron impersonation anyone?)

Anything to irritate? Yes. The fact that 17 adults seemed incapable of remembering any times given to them. “Ruth, what time’s supper again?” “Ruth, what time is the Eucharist?” “Ruth, when do we meet again?” “Ruth, when’s the ferry?” (even when I hadn’t booked their ferry!) Over and over and over again. It was like herding cats or dealing with very small and unsure children. Next time I will do a timetable and stick it to their foreheads. However, I don’t think it will stop the uncertainty about time. And of course, we lost some of them on the way but we gathered them in eventually (after I went another few shades greyer).

I paddled, went to Staffa again but this time it was so calm we even sailed right in to Fingal’s cave, saw porpoises and seals basking in the sunshine, got sunburned, went to the Abbey on the Feast of St Columba, went up the North End in a golf buggy, painted stones, over-ate at a barbecue, ate Hogget and laughed like nothing on earth.

Every morning I did a little talk on all things Celtic: St C himself; Spirituality; Prayer etc and borrowed heavily from Ian Bradley’s books. I did quote him even in my sermon on Sunday so much so that when we went up to the Abbey just an hour or so later and heard Ian Bradley himself preaching it was almost as if he’d read my sermon. Or rather that I’d borrowed liberally from his book!  One of my little flock even brought him back to Bishop’s House to meet me after the Island Pilgrimage. (I was shopping!) He was very charming, as was his wife. And didn’t mind me borrowing from his books at all.

And now we are home once more. I would like to go back again quite soon.

Chapel

 

Crucifix

 

Puffin grass

 

View from Dun-I

 

Iona sea

 

Dun-I cairn

 

Iona beach

 

An Iona Benedicite

In Bishop’s House, Iona, there is Guest Book. In the cupboards you can find all the old ones filled with lovely comments, watercolours, poems all telling of the special time visitors had. In 1947 E D Sedding, SSJE, wrote an Iona Benedicite which is very special. (I have also been known to make up my own version with other friends after a little libation but I’ll leave that to your imagination!)

O ye angels of the Lord, bless ye the Lord, 

praise him and magnify Him for ever.

O ye Saints of the Isles, bless ye the Lord.

O ye servants of Christ who here sang

God’s praises and hence went forth

to preach, bless ye the Lord.

O ye souls of the faithful, who rest in Jesus,

O ye kindly folk of the Island,

O ye pilgrims who seek joy and health

in this beloved Isle, bless ye the Lord.

O ye sheep and hornèd cattle,

O ye lambs that gambol on the sward,

O ye seals that glisten in the waters

bless ye the Lord.

O ye ravens and hoodies,

O ye rooks that caw from the sycamores,

O ye buzzards that float on the wind-currents,

bless ye the Lord.

O ye gulls that fill the beaches with your clamour,

O ye terns and gannets that dive

headlong for your prey,

O ye curlews and landrails,

O ye pied shelduck and Brides’ ghillies,

O ye dunlins that wheel in unison over the waves,

bless ye the Lord.

O ye larks that carol in the heavens,

O ye blackbirds that pipe at the dawning,

O ye pipits and wheatears,

O ye warblers and wrens that make

the glens joyful with song,

O ye bees that love the heather

bless ye the Lord.

O ye primroses and bluebells,

O ye flowerets that gem the marsh with colour

O ye golden flags that deck Columba’s Bay with glory,

bless ye the Lord.

O ye piled rocks fashioned by Nature’s might

thro’ myriad ages,

O ye majestic Bens of Mull,

O ye white sands and emerald shallows

O ye blue and purple deeps of ocean,

O ye winds and clouds, bless ye the Lord.

O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord,

praise Him and magnify Him for ever.

St Columba

Today is the Feast Day of St Columba and this is my favourite painting of him by John Duncan. It depicts the story of Columba and the White Horse which goes thus:

After this the saint left the barn, and in going back to the monastery, rested half way at a place where a cross, which was afterwards erected, and is standing to this day, fixed into a millstone, may be observed on the roadside. While the saint, as I have said, bowed down with old age, sat there to rest a little, behold, there came up to him a white pack-horse, the same that used, as a willing servant, to carry the milk-vessels from the cowshed to the monastery. It came up to the saint and, strange to say, laid its head on his bosom-inspired, I believe, by God to do so, as each animal is gifted with the knowledge of things according to the will of the Creator; and knowing that its master was soon about to leave it, and that it would see him no more-began to utter plaintive cries, and like a human being, to shed copious tears on the saint’s bosom, foaming and greatly wailing. The attendant seeing this, began to drive the weeping mourner away, but the saint forbade him, saying: “Let it alone, as it is so fond of me, let it pour out its bitter grief into my bosom. Lo! thou, as thou art a man, and hast a rational soul, canst know nothing of my departure hence, except what I myself have just told you, but to this brute beast devoid of reason, the Creator Himself hath evidently in some way made it known that its master is going to leave it.” And saying this, the saint blessed the work-horse, which turned away from him in sadness.

From Adamnan’s Life of St Columba

And if you are near Edinburgh this weekend and into all things Iona-ish you could go to see a play called ‘An Island Between Heaven and Earth’ at South Leith Church Halls telling the story of the unemployed shipyard workers and trainee ministers who went to Iona to restore the Abbey in 1938.

And finally to finish… the prayer by George Macleod which I use as an invitation for communion:

Come, not because you are strong but because you are weak.

Come, not because of any goodness of your own but because you need mercy and help.

Come, because you love the Lord a little and would like to love him more.

Come, because he loves you and gave himself for you.

A tale of a pilgrimage

Pilgrimages begin with a journey. In fact, the journey is very much part of a pilgrimage. It allows the pilgrims to start the process of getting away together and of course the journey to a special place is always alive with anticipation. Last Saturday a minibus left St Mark’s with some very excited pilgrims and I set off in my car with P for company.

P and I only got as far as the first big roundabout out of town when a bus decided to ignore the lane markings and take me with him back to Portobello. And to make matters worse, to drive off with nary a backward glance. A few scrapes and scratches and thankfully no damage done to my passenger and off we set again.

Miraculously we all met up again in Oban at the ferry terminal in time for our ferry to Craignure on Mull. The sun shone hard and the sail was spectacular for those who haven’t been before. That’s the thing about going back to a familiar place with people who’ve never been before – you get to re-live it again through their eyes.

A warm welcome at Bishop’s House and after a quick scamper round the house we took a wander up to the Abbey. Compline in the chapel rounded off a tiring day and after a few glasses of wine from a well-stocked bar we all went to bed.

Bishop\'s House, Iona

Sunday

The day started with a Eucharist in the beautiful chapel at Bishop’s House. I love this chapel and the altar frontal tells a story of Iona (and inspired a fabulous frontal at St Columba’s Bathgate after our last visit).

St Columba\'s Chapel, Bishop\'s House Iona

Some of us went up to the Abbey for their communion service and enjoyed some memorable music. After lunch a group of us walked over to the Machair while others started their exploration of the island. We had a short talk on Celtic art and the colouring in began, as well as some masterpieces in encaustic art. Evensong in the chapel was peaceful and contemplative. In the evening I did 5 French manicures for some of my little flock. Someone said it looked like another kind of Maundy Thursday and footwashing.

Monday

Lots of visitors from Toronto at the Eucharist this morning. That’s one of the lovely things about Bishop’s House – you are always blessed by visitors from all over the world at each service. In the morning we had a session on Celtic Spirituality and some good discussions ensued.

Another glorious day and an afternoon visit to Staffa and Fingal’s Cave. I’ve been a few times and it is always an amazing sight but this time it was as flat as a millpond and on the way we saw seals and basking sharks as well as all sorts of sea birds.

Fingal\'s Cave, Staffa

The climb up to the top was worth it (after a snifter from I’s hipflask to calm my asthma!) and I finally got to see the puffins. I couldn’t believe how close they came to us. We were told that humans are friends to them because they have learned that we keep the seagulls at bay.

Puffin on Staffa

The evening was spent sharing after-sun and a little discussion from the The Book of Questions – most revealing.

Tuesday

No eucharist in the morning so some joined me for Morning Prayer. Always lovely to share saying the Office. Everyone went on the Abbey Pilgrimages and I had the house to myself for a few hours. Full house for evening eucharist again and in the evening we all sat and shared stories. This week we have a rota for readings, prayers, leading Compline and altar serving. It means that people who don’t usually do these things can try them out in a smaller environment. The readings at the Eucharist have been from Tobit this week and we almost feel like ending them with ‘tune in tomorrow for our next exciting instalment’. I get the feeling that a few purchases of bibles with the Apocrypha will be happening on our return. Another thing which has struck me this week is seeing another side to my little flock. This was especially true of L who has been able to be herself this week and not a ‘mum’. It has seemed strange giving her the Body of Christ in two hands when normally one is holding a small child and another is wriggling at her feet. She has been so serene. Fell asleep to the sound of waves lapping on the beach.

Wednesday

Cooler today and windy but dry until evening. Our session this morning was on Celtic Prayer and I sense some masterpieces waiting to be born. In the afternoon some of us walked to the north end and paddling was the order of the day. The shops took some visiting too. The group has now really started to gel and there is much hilarity at meal times and in the evenings. Then there was the incident of the bread and the seagulls but the less said about that, the better. (You really had to be there, but believe me when I say it ran and ran!)

Thursday

Another sunny day and by this point most people have trotted round the island a few times. The fitter ones have made it to St Columba’s Bay and the Marble Quarry, and most of the others have found Port Ban (my favourite beach) and the Machair. One of our oldest members even made it to St C’s bay which has to be a miracle. This morning we had a talk on Celtic Saints and all chose religious names. Some friends bought me a beautiful Celtic stole made from Harris tweed which will always be treasured. In the afternoon all went on the tour of the Abbey while I stayed behind to write my sermon for Sunday. In the evening we played silly games. Bats and corncrakes abound.

Friday

This morning we had a review of the week and people brought their treasured objects to share. We shared our Celtic prayers and they were fab. (The book will be available soon!)

memorable objects from Iona

Last chance to shop and visit places yet unseen and in the afternoon we had a healing service in St Oran’s chapel. The acoustics were amazing and the sound of Bless the Lord my Soul will stay with me for a long time. On the walk back we even managed to see a corncrake up close which is rare indeed.

In the evening we had our concert party and most folk did a wee ‘turn’. I got a lovely pressie too which was unexpected and a delight. And a poem was composed which may make it to the blog at a later date. We even booked up for May 2011. First come, first served folks…

Saturday – the journey home

Saying farewell to Iona is always hard. We met some lovely people, we got to know one another better and we all had a good rest. (Well, I know I’ll sleep well when I get home!)

St Mark\'s pilgrimage to Iona 2008 - the group

P and I couldn’t get the same ferry home as the rest so we killed time in Tobermory and nearly got an eagle through the windscreen. The bus wasn’t there to meet the rest at Oban so we were all late home and exhausted. But what memories and I know that some will be first in with applications for our next visit.

Pilgrims ahoy

Tomorrow morning – very early when you are all still fast asleep – 22 of us will start our parish pilgrimage to Bishop’s House, Iona. Its been over 2 years in the planning and there is much excitement afoot. Suspect i wont be in touch while i am away so please behave – and no rude comments while my back is turned.

Don’t worry – be happy… my giddy aunt!

“Don’t worry,” says the Lord. “Are the birds in the air worried?” Well, they do look a little windswept… “Look at the lovely lilies… are they worried?” Well the ones in church looked a little nervous at church cleaning this morning.

Don’t worry. Well, that’s all very well for you to say. But between now and next Saturday when I head off on a parish pilgrimage to Bishop’s House Iona I have to fit in the following:

  1. write the talks for the pilgrimage
  2. attend 4 meetings
  3. prepare 3 Diocesan Display boards for General Synod
  4. host a Quiz Night
  5. prepare and lead a prayer group evening
  6. book ferry tickets and plan journey
  7. look out, wash, iron and pack clothing for the week on Iona
  8. photocopy a zillion books and stuff for Iona

So, don’t worry? I don’t think so. That would be like saying to the ocean ‘Stay right where you are.’ Control freaks and perfectionists worry – that’s what we do.

If you could just say a prayer for the worrying thing and I’ll meditate on that damn sparrow…

Big Sing and things

Last night at St P’s we had a Big Sing and it was wonderful. Stuart Muir and others from Dundee Cathedral came along and introduced us to some wonderful new Advent and Christmas songs and hymns. He also managed to get our little Clavinova to sound like nothing on earth – what a gifted man he is. It was great to have our little church fill to the domed roof with music sung in harmony. Perfect to get you in the mood for Advent.

Excellent Clergy Conference last week with Canon Anne Dyer (more women please!) and then a few days off. Sadly this was marred slightly by awful toothache but today the offending article was removed. I’m sure I read somewhere that models get their back teeth removed to give them more pronounced cheekbones. It doesn’t appear to have worked for me. Wouldn’t you know it?