Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hail Thee, Festival Day

For my Christian friends, today is Easter, a holy day that I always felt should be more celebrated than Christmas. As a very wise priest once said to me, the birth of Christ was the beginning, but only with his death and resurrection was the promise of eternal life and joy fulfilled.  This year, Easter is just one week before the pagan festival of Beltane.  Both Beltane and Easter celebrate life and, as I look out on a beautiful sunny day, it is a sense of renewal and new life that envelopes me and gives me joy.

I was telling a dear friend that last year, while still in the States, my husband and I found ourselves in WalMart just before Easter.  Along with the rabbits and chicks and eggs, we stumbled across chocolate crosses.  No matter your religious views, I can't imagine anyone would not find this offensive.  As my friend said, "What next, a Jesus on the cross made out of Smarties (M&Ms)?"  What next indeed?  The commercialism of Easter has taken away from what it truly symbolises - life!  Life coming from apparent death; life vanquishing the darkness. That, to quote Jurassic Park, "Life finds a way."

It was not until I made a point of learning more about Celtic paganism and paganism in general that I discovered the "cross over" that happens during the major festivals in both Christianity and paganism. The symbology of holidays make more sense now. But whether Christian or pagan, spring is a time of celebration. We all made it through the winter and flowers bloom and trees put on their coats of green.  One of my favourite passages from the Bible comes from St. Matthew and the Sermon on the Mount (or what I like to call "How to be a Good Person 101").  Here is my favourite passage, 6:28-30:

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

And so, I look out at the unfurling leaves of the trees and the blooming flowers in the garden and planters and feel quite sure that, no matter what, everything is going to be all right.  And it will be.  For whatever our beliefs are, our deity will not let any harm come to us as long we believe.  As long as we believe in the continuity of life, the natural laws and apparent miracles that bring us flowers and green grass in the spring, we will be part of that circle of life.

Hall thee, festival day...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The sun in the morning and the moon at night...

We have been treated to a beautiful day here in Fife.  The sun was out and the sky was that beautiful Paul Newman eyes blue.  The light off the water sparkled and we could hear people out and about all day.  These days make me think of how it must appear in the woods when the bears first emerge from their dens.  Eyes adjusting to light, tired bodies lapping up sunshine as if it were water to someone who has been without a drink.  My son-in-law took advantage of the day and spent a great deal of time tending to the garden, which appears to have been forgotten by other tenants.  Slowly but surely the top of the hedge that separates our deck from the hill beneath looked a little less scraggly.  The view deserved a tidy place from which to see it.  After lunch, we went to the front of the house where we have a large paved area for a car (if we had one).  The gate can be closed, thus rendering the place safe for a vivacious 20-month old.  Catherine had earlier discovered the joys of writing on herself with a Crayola felt tip marker so she went out to play in top, nappy, and neon pink legs!  It was interesting watching her walk along the joins in the paving, as if following some sort of maze.  Her attention was dedicated.  We weren't sure if it was the difference in the colour of the joins or the feeling of warm, soft compound that she liked.   My son-in-law was cleaning out the garage and, as he discovered some of Catherine's treasures, he would put them out into the paved area.  So books and ribbons and balls appeared, all to her great delight.  It is such fun watching her play, reminding me that there are simply joys in life that we must not forget to enjoy.

We had the window wide open all day, letting in the clean air.  Birds sang and children played and it was a good day.  Little did we know that the evening sky would be as kind and generous.  Just as night fell, we looked across the Forth to see a huge full moon rising over the water.  The sparkling of the sunlight was replaced by the sparking of the moonlight.  So very beautiful and peaceful.

I love the transitional seasons - an abundance of colour and perfume in both.  With spring come the flowers and the trees once again donning their coats of green.  It is as if we are all waking up from a very long sleep.  I welcome the spring and summer.  I won't pretend that I will miss the harsh, hot and humid summers of Virginia.  Truth be told, I hated them.  They were oppressive and, at the very least, uncomfortable.  I much prefer the summers here - mild by American standards.  The days are ridiculously long, but there is a certain energy that is derived from so many hours of sunlight.  I am designing and creating more jewellery now - and part of that I put down to the sense of renewal that the season brings.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Springtime in Scotland...

I think spring has well and truly arrived.  Today, we had the great fun of meeting an old school friend of Chris’ at the Royal Botanic Gardens.  Such lovely gardens and free to the public, which is always a plus.  We met Andy at the Gateway CafĂ© and had an exquisite lunch and then took ourselves outside into the welcome sunshine.  My worsening arthritis meant that I had to use a wheelchair (also free), so I imagine Chris will be feeling the pain tomorrow from pushing my chair.  Bless him, he is such a wonderful husband.

The gardens were truly beautiful.  Well laid out, without feeling too planned or formal.  The variation in trees and plants was amazing.  There were even redwoods reaching for the blue springtime sky.  A feeling of Virginia greeted us in one corner of the gardens – azaleas just on the brink of blooming and white trilliums opening up their petals.  With each turn in the path, we were greeted by more colours and intoxicating perfumes.  Around us we caught glimpses of young lovers, walking hand in hand, and families with young children – shoes off and feeling the softness of the spring grass.  The sunshine was warm on our faces and we took deep breathes to fill our lungs with the sweet, warm air.

This is what I love about most cities in the UK and specifically about Edinburgh.  Despite the fact that it is a large city, the buildings – most of them of neo-classical design – don’t overwhelm.  There is a patch of green in most places and I know, from our time here before the trip back to the States, that just miles out of the city centre there are fields and hills that are green and untouched.  Amazing.

As our train pulled into Waverly Station this morning, I was reminded of why I love Edinburgh so much.  The train pulls in just below the castle – dark and imposing on the hill on which it seems to have appeared out of the dark rock.  Nearer to the station, the Scott Memorial, still blackened from the days of coal fires, reaches to the sky with its ornate spires.  Everywhere you look there is a buzz of activity and around every corner there are quirky little shops and storefronts.  I am not a city person, but Edinburgh is a city I love.  Now that the weather is nicer, perhaps Chris and I can get to town more often.  I am limited, of course, by my lack of mobility, but I would love to spend more time there.  With museums free and the use of wheelchairs available, I am sure we can find ways to fill sunny Saturdays.

The daffodils are blooming, the trees are flowering, and the sun is shining.  You can’t ask for much more now, can you?