Climate emergency – Finding Petunia LittleTree

“Finding Petunia LittleTree”, is a humorous, yet bittersweet, physical theatre and dance solo, which explores emotional responses to the climate emergency through a compassionate lens, asking how can we live with what we know, with humour, dark undertones and all? Petunia’s reactions to the climate crisis and her internal conflicts emerge as she explores relationships with plastic rubbish, the tree’s personal history of fire and deforestation, and humans’ interdependence with nature. It is appropriate for audiences from 9-90+.

A moderated post show discussion will follow the performance, inviting the audience to reflect on, discuss and energise our own options and choices within the climate drama.

The piece premiered at the Findhorn Bay Festival 2022, and its creation was supported by The National Lottery through Creative Scotland’s Open Fund. Sharon  has choreographed and performed across Scotland and internationally in a variety of professional, higher education and community contexts, with both able-bodied and disabled performers.

To purchase tickets  visit: For more information:

Dreaming of the Holy Rood: a liturgy and exhibit

St. Columba’s by the Castle will present “Dreaming of the Holy Rood: a Liturgy of the Incarnation based on the Ruthwell Cross” developed by Timothy J. Ray on Sunday, October 22 at 7 PM. This service of hymns, readings and projections contemplates the life and mission of Christ through images from this Anglo-Saxon cross in southern Scotland as well as compatible images Timothy developed during a spiritual retreat in Ruthwell. This service also will be streamed live at:

Local artist Cat Outram created illustrations for this liturgy and her artwork will be on display in an exhibit at St. Columba’s called “The Steadfast Cross”, October 16-22 between 10 AM and 6 PM.

Both of these events are open to the public and free of charge.

Creation Season is here

Join us for our special Creation Season services in September and October. This year’s theme is the Four Elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire, as understood by the ancient cultures of Greece, India and Tibet.

We explore the importance of these aspects of creation, in both physical and symbolic ways.

More information and dates

And the toast was St. Columba!

We marked St.Columba’s Day on June 9th with a party, celebrating our Immrama (Voyage Tales) project. Our in-church exhibition has already been visited by hundreds of visitors and now its companion website, is available for those who can’t visit in person, or who want to explore Columba’s legacy more fully.

Our Rector, David Paton-Williams who was part of the working -group of members who created the exhibition, welcomed a large throng of guests from near and far. “We are rightfully proud of what we have achieved” he said. He thanked people who had contributed expertise  – Catherine Gillies (project facilitator), Andy McGregor (graphic designer), Michael Smith ( video-maker), Cat Outram and other artists, John Longley (soundscape-creator) and academics such as Dr Gilbert Markus.


Bob Gould – this is your ministry

June 11th marked the 40th Anniversary of the priesting of our wonderful non-stipendiary minister, Bob Gould. Nathan presented Bob with a celebratory photo-album full of memories and David regaled him with poetry, while Sheila’s steadfast contribution alongside was marked with flowers.

Softening edges

Congratulations to our local Grassmarket community who have just celebrated the tenth anniversary of having the keys to West Port Garden. Local residents  have created a truly impressive flower garden on a very steep site and are working hard to make the garden more accessible and safer to the public. West Port Garden was first created in the early 20th century by Norah Geddes, talented daughter of the more famous Patrick Geddes, who involved as many barefoot children from the local tenements as she could possibly manage!

One of the highlights of the recent celebrations was the launch of a volume of poetry based on Norah and the present-day garden. A line or two from Tessa Berring appealed to me:

Norah taught the city
how to soften itself
How to press itself
against the edges
and burst

As some-one who tends our own Church garden here on the terrace on the corner of Victoria Terrace, I think this is what we have also been trying to do – to soften the edges of the church, by swinging the big blue door open and using the garden as the route to the twice-weekly Foodbank.

I have been attempting to limit the proliferation of wild strawberries, pink geranium and campanula, not always with success. But that is alright, plants have a life of their own and how true is another evocative line from the poetry collection:

crack, splinter, wedge
here comes saxifrage
Jane Goldman

Our version of this is the foxglove. I plant them in a specific spot – they do very badly. The next year I find them pushing up really quite a hefty rosette of leaves next to a wall or between two paving stones, determinedly doing their bit to further soften Edinburgh’s straight lines and hard walls.

The world of gardening is also softening its edges by blurring the distinction between weed and wanted. We will see this at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. There will be nettles this summer in our big flower bed (hopefully attracting butterflies) and eventually they will be harvested and soaked to make a smelly but healthy plant-food.

But the sight to behold right now at the beginning of May are the  purple irises bursting out of their bed! Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet would surely rejoice.

Jenny Paton-Williams

Immrama website launched

Immrama - Columba Exhibition, Edinburgh

We have launched our new Immrama website at

The website complements our physical Immrama exhibition at St. Columba’s by the Castle, which combines ancient stories, contemporary art and reflective questions to explore resonances between Columba and today’s world and to help people reflect on their own ‘voyage tale’.

Retreat in Daily Life – starting this Lent

“From Loss to Love” – a retreat in daily life conducted by Timothy J. Ray

Each Sunday evening at 7:00 PM

February 26 – April 2 & April 16 – April 30, 2023

(on-site and online)

More information

News from the Quiet Garden

If you haven’t visited for a while you may not have seen our new trees! We had been unhappy about the loss of three trees ( all for good reasons) over the last few years and were determined to replace them. Eventually we settled on an apple-tree ( Charles Ross eater-cum-cooker) and a fig-tree, again with an eye to food as well as beauty, shade and climate resilience.The fig tree was planted against the south-facing wall and in a pot, on Sunday  29th May by Sheila, dear friend of Jean and Gilbert, son of Gilbert , helped by Nathan and David. The tree is dedicated to the Columban generation of 1949 who defied plans to close the Church, drawing on a parable of Jesus ( St.Luke   13 v 6-9), to give it another year! Here we are 73 years later….. So far so good as the photos testify.

Visitors are once-again dropping in for a sit-down for a few minutes amidst the bustle of a city-break or from city-centre life or work. Occasionally we hear next-door’s  Hostel-kitchen  in high spirits but that’s life. We have received some lovely comments in the Visitors’ Book such as

“Local lass found solitude while working. Great find”

“This garden (especially the plaques on the wall) is heaven.”

It depends on the availability of volunteers as to how often we can open but until the Festival its most afternoons.

Of course, in this very dry year here in East Scotland, we have had to water many times. We were kindly donated a hose a few years back but now we have made a small step towards climate-resilience by also installing a water-butt. Thanks must go here to Judith B who set to on drilling the requisite hole in the down-pipe, ending up with an industrial-strength drill piece which eventually got the job finished! Fortunately we’ve had a bit of rain and the butt is filling up nicely.

The other development in the Quiet Garden is an increasing amount of edibles. We tried a few potatoes and cherry tomatoes in pots last year with mixed success. Now we have three new planters (courtesy of the ever-helpful Mushroom Trust and made by the Grassmarket Community Project Workshop), we are growing salad leaves, mange-tout, chard and green beans. Of these the green beans are the pick of the bunch! We have been able to offer a small amount of fresh produce to Foodbank clients who pass through on Tuesdays and Fridays.

On Sundays after church, our church family wanders out on the terrace to enjoy our drinks and a blether in the sun. Its a real joy for us. Join us sometime!

Students Welcome Here

Whether you are a student from the UK or another part of the world, St C’s is a progressive, inclusive church where we prize hospitality as central to the gospel of Christ. We are a smallish gathered church that is open to the world, to life and to all who walk through our door.