Author Archives: St. Columba's

Quiet Time – calm, poetry and silence for Lent

Join us at 4pm every Monday in Lent for twenty minutes of reflective silence, with poetry and readings. Whatever your religious background or lack thereof, you are most welcome. 7, 14, 21, 28 March and 4 and 11 April.

St. Columba’s by the Castle Church, 14 Johnston Terrace, EH1 2PW


This year’s Provincial Youth week is called Out of the Ordinary. It’s a time for young Piskies at High School or college to be themselves, make friends and explore faith. Please contact for details.


Wild Garden by Firelight

Join us as we celebrate creation and light in the cold dark days of winter

5.30 pm, Sunday 6th January 2022 (please note new date and time)
Johnston Terrace Wild Garden

Open to all

Please come dressed appropriately for being outside, and please share with anyone who
you think might be interested

Quiet Advent – reflections for the season

Every Monday in Advent at 3pm, we are offering an opportunity to enjoy calm, candlelight, silence, poetry and readings for 20 minutes. Everyone, whatever their spiritual journey, religious affiliation or lack thereof, is most welcome. You can light a candle at any time and stay for as long as you wish. We hope that this quiet time can offer you a way to de-stress from the busyness of the pre-festive period and help you discover a deeper connection with the season of Advent.

On finding a weary garden

It’s only the 7th August and our Quiet Garden is weary. I look around and it stirs up the same feelings as an end-of-season clothes sale, except here there are no crowds .

June , turning to July was glorious – we welcomed back visitors who enjoyed seeing irises and pink geraniums, smelt the burgeoning sage and rosemary, thyme and mint and heard sparrows and blue-tits fluttering around the feeders and leafy branches. We planted up our new boat feature , with fennel billowing like sails. We supported baby tomatoes, allowed the self seeded foxgloves to flower wherever they wanted and everything flourished as in the “bee loud glade.” Congregational fellowship after church was re-established and Nathan played with the pebbles in the water-feature. Lydia, researching Roof-top Ecology, was very pleased with her findings.

But there was a worm in Paradise as the large Rowan-tree was dangerously worn-out. We couldn’t risk large dead branches falling so we had to get the tree-surgeon in to fell it. Georg came and took the logs away and we are feeling the loss.

Following water-damage, we then had to organise scaffolding for roof and wall-repair. While the work is happening we can’t welcome visitors as there are poles and planks all over the place. And the foxgloves have gone over and the geraniums are wearing thin and the yellow alchemilla is turning brown. Most dramatically the Solomon’s Seal is completely stripped of its leaves, the victim of sawfly I believe.

Well a garden is where we can learn about what John Keats called Mutability – that life is always changing, sometimes on the wax and sometimes on the wane.
Trying to come to terms with this universal truth, I look around for signs of energy…. Reassuringly I find :

  • a few poppies and rudbeckia very late and still to flower
  • some potatoes to dig
  • bees still busy around the catmint and lavender
  • the new hyssop planted in the boat about to bloom
  • the tree-stump area asking for a big, new idea!

Fortunately we now have the church itself open every afternoon of August so we can still offer a place of beauty to take some time out in. Seemingly, we live in an economy of God’s Provision, only requiring our willingness to go along with it.

Jenny P-W
Volunteer gardener and Lay-reader

Immrama – new Columba exhibition in Edinburgh

A new exhibition opens in Edinburgh on 6th August for the duration of the Fringe, telling a little of the story of Columba, and inviting you to reflect on your own journey – your voyage tale.

More information and opening times

Artwork by Paul Anders MacPhail,

(previous event) Talk and discussion on Impact (ethical) Investing

The way we spend, save and invest money impacts on the world around us. Come and explore the connections between faith, money, values and how we can use our church and personal finances to shape a more sustainable world.

Rosie Venner from the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility will be exploring these connections with us on Tuesday Evening, 18th of May, on Zoom 7.30 – 8.30 pm.

All welcome.

For more information, please contact us.

New Science and Faith Webinar series launched

Catch the first of our new series of Science and Faith webinars on 1st December, 7.30 p.m.

Dr Murdo Macdonald, Policy Officer of the Church of Scotland Society, Religion and Technology (SRT) Project will be speaking on the topic of Restraining Climate Change: What is the Role of Faith Communities?

How to register and further information about the Change in a time of Chaos series

Garden Church

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.

A reflection from our Quiet Garden

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…..