August- September 2018

Dear Friends,

It really has been the most fantastic summer in many ways, perhaps a bit too hot at times especially for plants! The Walk on behalf of UCAN across Scotland in the second half of May was a brilliant experience. As always I was grateful for Steven’s companionship on the way. People across the land gave us habitual hospitality and assistance which was as always all very much appreciated. My especial thanks to all of you who helped us raise in excess of £3,300 towards the work of this important charity at ARI. In addition to the fund-raising the whole pilgrimage was a profound spiritual experience. It was very much an engagement with the Gaelic concept of Dùthchas, where one associates with the land, the people and its spirituality. Quite honestly if someone said that I had to do all that again next week I would! As I said in the recent Saturday Sermon in the P&J we live in a beautiful country but the only thing that spoils it is the plastic, the cans and the rubbish lying about. It is there because as a nation we have lost the awareness of the land, the sea and our belonging to it. We trash the place because we have lost our sense of roots and connectedness. That is why pilgrimage is so important. We cannot truIy live unless we appreciate our sense of belonging. We are part of Creation and I am delighted that we are hosting a Day Conference on that very subject here at St Margaret’s on September 21st and I enthuse you if possible to attend. Twenty-first century people should not invest the be-all and end-all of existence on electronic and technological wizardry. There has to be something deeper to nourish and sustain the soul! For me the sea voyage by courtesy of Niall Livingstone of Lismore round the bottom edge of Mull through the Torrin rocks and landing at the pier on Iona on the most beautiful of days was something I shall never forget. In that Holy Isle the distance between heaven and earth is gossamer thin. As a priest to be allowed the privilege of celebrating Mass in St Oran’s Chapel in the Graveyard of the Kings is one of life’s great privileges. It has been suggested that the building of the Chapel may have been encouraged by St Margaret herself. Anyway, the whole exercise was a life-changing experience and for that I am most grateful.

This summer the Church Garden has been unbelievably good especially with the roses and now herbaceous plants. What a joy it is to have this oasis around us. The garden has attracted a lot of visitors and that is good because it has given me opportunity to speak with people. In addition to people, and perhaps more importantly for the planet, we have been inundated with various species of bees!

I recently nipped in past Pitmedden Garden. What a superb place is that? I hadn’t been there for years and the Gardens with extensive herbaceous borders, with flowers like coloured lace, were looking at their best in the July sunshine. Pitmedden is that classic 17th Century creation, and the result of that far-seeing eye of Sir Alexander Seton. It is great when people have that kind of vision and bring it to reality. The guide book had a most memorable dictum by Elizabeth Murray and I quote it here… “Gardening is the art that uses flower and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.” I think that we have been coloured as creative here and that St Margaret’s, on account of its policies, is distinctive and unique. This helps us to have a vision, and vision is quintessential in our religious living. We hold the brush and we can paint on a canvas. We can create spiritual oasis in the desert of contemporary life.

This weather is set to continue so let us bathe in the opportunity.

It will soon be Assumption-tide and there will be the usual buffet. Hopefully we will be joined again by the Sea Cadets. See you at Mass.

As Aye,

Fr. Emsley