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Monday, 31 December 2012
Here we are at another Hogmanay, as they call it in Scotland. The end of one year, on the threshold of another, with all its promise.
It’s been a busy year in the Morrison clan and we are all feeling a bit weary. I’m writing this by a fireside, watching the flickering flames and enjoying some real old-fashioned vinyl records on the record player.
We walked Dusty round Scolty Hill this morning. It was pleasantly mild, the gale force winds from earlier having died away. A good way to bid adieu to the year.
What I crave is a few hours contemplation, looking back, looking forward. Like the old Roman god Janus (from whose name we get the name of the first month of the year). God bids us to remember what he’s done in our lives, which fuels our hopes and plans for the future.
I am tempted to see the new year in beside this crackling fire, but the others are thinking of heading to Stonehaven to the ancient Viking fireball ceremony. It is supposed to be a dramatic way of seeing out the old and welcoming in the new year, and with its inherent dangers it may soon be relegated to history as health and safety issues intervene.
So, what does 2013 hold for us all? Firesides or fireballs?
Probably a bit of each. God bless you in 2013.
Monday, 24 December 2012
‘Twas the night before Christmas.
Two years since my dear dad’s death. A sad anniversary, on the eve of the memorial to the most incredible day in history. The day that the creator God invaded earth to live among us as one of us.
To stand beside us and weep in our sorrow. To chuckle and guffaw with us through our joys. To celebrate our successes, mourn our failures, and never leave us alone.
Our earthly loved ones will leave us at some point, or we will leave them. That’s the way of this world.
But God will never leave us. He is with us yesterday, today and forever. Immanuel – God with us.
But until Jesus returns to recreate this world for his family to share with him, it will always be the night before Christmas in a way. Because although he is always with us, it’s not always in a way that we appreciate.
We know it by faith now, but then we shall see him face to face.
It will no longer be the night before... it will be Christmas then, forever.
Merry Christmas now, as we celebrate his coming to earth, and as we anticipate the Christmas that is to come, which will never end.
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
We thought she might go over, and over she went, right in the middle of an episode of Cheers.
Yes, the tipsy angel and in fact the entire tree pitched sideways, casting baubles and candy canes hither and thither and throwing the angel into the corner. Now, although it is rather ugly, the tree is anchored to the curtain rail with a thick piece of string.
That’s what happens when we’re not rooted and grounded, when we’re not anchored to something immovable. We begin to slip sideways, maybe imperceptibly, but then all of a sudden, we go over.
I don’t know about you, but I’m anchored to God, my roots down deep in Jesus, hopefully growing deeper every day.
It’s too easy to go over otherwise.
Tuesday, 18 December 2012
The tree’s only been up a few days and already the spiky top is leaning over, the angel perched precariously as though she might pitch sideways at any moment. Pine needles haven’t yet begun to rain down on the carpet though.
Preparations for the big day are in full swing. Cards are mostly sent, some meaningful, some funny. Decorations are up. Cake is made. Cookies are underway, and their production will no doubt take up hours over the next few days. And a few more presents to buy, a little more food to purchase.
What would be nice, right smack in the middle of the week before Christmas, would be a full day’s retreat. A retreat from the bustle and hustle of it all in order to reflect on the meaning of the day, take stock of the year which has past, anticipate and pray about the year to come.
I don’t see it happening this side of Christmas. But I hope that between the holidays I will make space for such a pause.
God calls us to remember what he has done. It gives us strength and hope for the future, when we remember the wonderful things he has done in the past.
Whatever this season means for you, be it happy or be it blue, I pray that you will allow yourself space to reflect with God.
We don’t want to waver like the tipsy angel atop the tree, in danger of pitching forward or backward.
Monday, 17 December 2012
Imprinted on American coinage and dollar bills is the motto of the United States of America: In God we trust.
The tragic irony of this motto in light of last week’s dreadful shootings is truly terrible.
It seems that a majority of Americans do not trust in God anymore, if they ever did. Now they trust in their weaponry.
I am an American, though I live in Scotland. I know very few people in the States who own weapons, apart from those who use them for sport. But I do know some. And they own them because they fear all the others who own them.
A culture of fear breeds fear. The more guns proliferate, the deeper the fear grows and the more ordinary citizens feel constrained to arm themselves.
The gun-wielding majority, or at least those who have a powerful lobby on Capitol Hill and influence politicians’ decisions on legislation, do not trust in God. They trust in power, in bullets, in an individual’s freedom to be armed and ready for anything.
Well, that’s one kind of freedom I guess. But it cancels out the rights of children to go to school without having to pass through metal detectors. It cancels out the rights of children and parents who want safe schools where kids can learn in peace of mind without having an ear tuned to the sound of approaching gunshots.
Tragedies like the one in Connecticut last week are only possible because individuals, fearful for their safety in the home in such a culture, create mini-fortresses stockpiled with guns and ammunition.
Obviously the perpetrator of the crime was mentally ill. But mental illness and easy access to heavy weapons do not make good partners.
When people ask the questions they always do in the face of tragedy, questions like, ‘Where was God?’, and ‘How could God let this happen?’, we need to be ready to answer. God is there weeping as people only look to him, and then in anger, when an atrocity occurs.
It takes courage and faith to lay down weapons, but unless people start doing that, the future is grim.
Trusting in God brings perfect freedom. And requires steadfast faith.
But he is faithful.
In God we trust? It’s time we did.