The first service at St Columba’s since lockdown began was held recently in the church garden. The theme was “my rock” and people shared rocks that were meaningful to them as well as reflecting on what (or who) had been their “rock” during the Covid pandemic. These personal “rocks” ranged from family members and friends to nature and the Edinburgh landscape. The fact that our church is built on a rock – a (hopefully extinct) volcano – also seemed significant.
As I sit in our Quiet Garden on May 19th I can hear some traffic rumbling away but not enough to drown out leaves rustling in the cold breeze. I’m watching the seagulls wheeling and dealing, catching the currents and am reminded of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull’s speedy exploits, read to us in assemblies at Truro Grammar School in the 1973. These gulls seem less driven than Jonathan yet just as gymnastic , a bit Roger Federer to Rafa Nadal.
Looking down, I watch ants and woodlice scurrying across the stone and right by my side a length of spider’s web is battling to hold on against the wind.
If you know the garden you probably want to know what’s new. Well we have a fittingly beautiful new bench with a shiny plaque which says
In loving memory of
Thomas Austen Whiskerd
1927 – 2019
No doubt we will want to bless this bench when we’re back together again.
The two empty beds have been manured and one is full of re-homed irises. They struggled to compete with the tree but this year they’ve enjoyed the new space and light and several have flowered deep-purple. Indeed, purple has been the season’s “in” colour – Columbines, Bugle/Ajuga, Honesty but they are now about to be overtaken by pink in the way of Thrift, Chives, Dainthus and Cranesbill. But not I fear by the new should-be pink of Lambs’ Ears which is struggling to make it. A garden is always the great teacher when it comes to accepting failure as the companion of success.
Let’s do a little more celebrating though ! The Bronze Fennel looks like 2020 might be its year when it grows up. Some powdery-blue Forget-me-not has got its foot in the door but will have to be watched. One or two lovely bright yellow Welsh poppies stand proud and the Solomon’s Seal has been happy enough in its secret hidey-hole. Val’s delicate Clematis is flowering as is Marjorie’s pink Cranesbill but I’ve told you that already. Last but not least , the regular supply of fag- ends has dried up! Hurray, one less job to do!
Just before lockdown I did quite a bit of chopping back. Result, we have a humongous pile of garden waste still waiting for a kind car-owner (plus trailer even better) to volunteer to go to the dump post -May 28th.
Apart from cigarette-ends, my least favourite job has to be weeding the cracks between paving stones. I am just about to start on these little clumps of grass using the method I call “hoiking out, scalding and hoping it won’t come back”. But wait, I think someone’s already started! In “The Tailor of Gloucester” it was mice who crept in overnight to give a helping-hand so ” Thank you” to our secret little mouse.
If there are any other willing mice out there without a key , please do let me know and we’ll sort out access. Perhaps there is even a mouse who is a dab-hand at pointing the paving!
Just over the garden wall, the ash trees , always a slow-starter, are now out in leaf. Alongside copious ivy, these natives provide wonderful cover for urbanite robins, blackbirds and magpies. A few weeks back a friend in the Grassmarket reported hearing an owl. Semi-alert, I’ve now heard it down in Castle Terrace.
Next time, names…..
We are pleased to announce the launch of our new Facebook page.
This is the place to catch up with all that’s been happening at St. Columba’s, future events and the home of our livestreamed services.
6pm – 8pm on Tuesday 25th February
In the Church Hall
Beat the February blues with a party. Some pancakes and fillings will be provided but you are invited to bring little extras and drinks. In good ceilidh style, why not bring your party turn? You may even win one of the Pancake-flipping competitions!
On Sunday 26th January at 6pm , we have a chance to walk a labyrinth – indoors!
With gentle music and lighting, this ancient practice will be away of connecting with your own personal journey. Everyone welcome. As always at StC’s@6, this will be followed by a simple supper.
On the 19th October we played host to Scottish Faiths action for Refugees Weekend Club. Club volunteers and folk from church joined with families from Syria and Nigeria, chatting, playing games, and sharing a meal before enjoying a free visit to Edinburgh Castle.
On 28th and 29th September we join in Edinburgh’s Doors Open Days – from 2.00-4.30pm on Saturday and from 12.00-4.30pm on Sunday. Our newly refurbished church will also have a display of some of the connections our community has with communities, charities and needs around the world. The lovely quiet garden will also be open as usual.
Our theme this year is “Places of Enchantment” – places which people experience as sacred, special or as having a sense of God. After reflecting on Oceans, Forests and Deserts, we move on to Gardens and, finally Cities – how we experience God in the place where we live.
So said our local and eminent Victorian thinker, Patrick Geddes.
Right in the midst of Geddes-country, we have following his advice in a small project called Days for Girls. An ex-member of St Columba’s who is now based in York, showed us how to make sustainable cloth Period Protection kits.
Three years on we have been holding sewing workshops, making up kits in attractive fabrics and sending them in colourful homemade drawstring bags to girls in Malawi. The first lot went out with a local social worker and then we discovered that George Watsons College have a link with a Girls High School in Mangocha.
Last year a school-group went out and have brought back this short film of the Malawi girls receiving our kits. They are happy to be able to attend school for more days of each month.
If the embedded video does not play, click or tap the arrow on the top right-hand side of the video, and it will pop out into a separate window.
Mums and students joined our latest workshop , which was another happy day.
Recently the umbrella-organisation Days for Girls has become rather more a business enterprise so our York colleagues and ourselves will no longer be using that name. We are currently open to suggestions…..