Sunday best – then and now.

 NaBloPoMo is a blogging challenge – prompting us to write a post on our blog every day for the month of November. So I am giving it a whirl 😃.

Today the RevGals prompt was about Sunday clothing – for me, usually a black clerical shirt, dark skirt, Geneva gown and a stole of some kind, sometimes in a liturgical colour.

Zoom back nearly 50 (gulp) years, and my Sunday clothing was very different. Growing up in Presbyterian Scotland, it was your “Sunday best” that came out on the Sabbath. I can remember, even now, the feel and the smell of my smart brown button up coat – and how horribly itchy it was! But Sunday also meant “the muff” . 

It was a simpler time, and in the 1960s it meant this:

  
A furry hand warming thing that hung on a string around your neck. 

I certainly needed one of these in the cold dark church I attended as a young child, where the children of the Sunday School were gathered on the front pew under the pulpit and under the beady eye of the minister’s wife (a woman who terrified the living day lights out of me!)

So my early memories of church were: the cold,  the itchy coat and the warmth of the furry muff in which I clutched a “trupp’ney bit” in my sweaty palm – for those of you too young to remember “old money”, it was one of these:

  
Truppence or 3d to go in the collection plate. 

Ok, now I feel old, and am going in search of the anti wrinkle cream 😫

Lost things

Today’s photographic is called “lost spirituality” (by Jonny Baker on Flickr). 

It seemed appropriate for today when the significance of Good Friday, other than being a day off from school and work (for some anyway), is largely lost or ignored. 

  

In keeping with the bleakness of my mood on this Good Friday, here is a favourite poem from a beautifully bleak poet:

In Church (RS Thomas)

Often I try 

To analyse the quality 

Of its silences. Is this where God hides

From my searching? I have stopped to listen,

After the people have gone,

to the air recomposing itself

For vigil. It has waited like this

Since the stones grouped themselves about it.

These are the hard ribs

Of a body that our prayers have failed

To animate. Shadows advance

From their corners to take possession

Of places the light held

For an hour. The bats resume

Their business. The uneasiness of the pews

Ceases. There is no other sound

In the darkness but the sound of a man

Breathing, testing his faith

On emptiness, nailing his questions

One by one to an untenanted cross

(From Collected Poems, 1945-1990. P180.)

Former things

The former Barony St John’s church in Ardrossan – brilliant night shot by Carol-Ann Walker.

 

Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,–
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Paul Revere’s Ride)

Memories (4)

Today’s photo is a lovely shot of  the former Barony St John’s Church building, taken from Ardrossan’s South Beach. From this angle you can see the Isle of Arran just creeping into the background. For reasons of safety (and with much sadness) the congregation vacated the building in November 2011. It was recently sold to a Charity, so it may eventually come back into community use.  (Photo is by Peter Ribbeck/)

This poem called “Please close this door quietly” was written for the National Churches Trust by Rowan Williams

The slow, loud door: pushing against

a mound of dust, dust floating
heavily in a still room; step
slowly,

Stones can deceive. The ground looks
firm, but the dust makes you blink
and feel for purchase. This is
marshland,

Difficult light to sting eyes, terrain
whose spring and tangle hides deep
gaps, cold pools, old workings;
careful.

Too much left here of unseen lumber
dropped, knowingly or not, behind
the door to trip you while you rub
awkwardly

At naked eyes, opened on thick,
still, damp, scented air, imprinted
used and recycled, not clearing up,
catching:

The weather of memory. Underfoot
lost tracks wind round an ankle
and abandoned diggings, wells, mines,
foundations,

Wait for your foot to find them,
drop you into the unexpected chill,
the snatched breath and swift
seeing,

The bird’s flap at the edge
of your eye’s world: things left
but alive; a space shared; a stone
yielding.

Hope…

flameIt has been a very difficult year.

I am always a little wary of blogging about personal stuff (mine or that relating to my congregation) which is probably why there have been so few blog posts over the past year or so.

It has been another year in limbo with our building and 18 months spent as guests in someone else’s space.

And a year in which ongoing problems with my voice have caused me to question myself and my calling.

It has been a difficult journey and now there is light breaking into darkness.

A quote from Joan Chittister has been buzzing around my mind of late.

It is  about holding on to hope and to all those small acts of will which can eventually transform darkness into light.

“Hope is not a denial of reality. But it is also not some kind of spiritual elixir. It is not a placebo infused out of nowhere. Hope is a series of small actions that transform darkness into light. It is putting one foot in front of the other when we can find no reason to do so at all”.

(Joan Chittister).