Tag Archives: new life

Confused? You soon will be!

I have a lurcher who is liable to chase sheep. In fact the the only reason he does not chase sheep is that he is never off the lead near them. Remember this fact gentle reader, but let it rest at the back of you mind while I discourse on sheep.

I have three female sheep and this year all of them lambed (they are not all ewes but let go too). Bernadette had twin ewes, poor Martha had two dead lambs and one live one, and Hilda had two live ewe lambs and a little cold still tup lamb. I picked him up, and he was so tiny I knew he could not live. But in my hand he drew his first breath, and so I dashed him up to the house and plunged him in warm water, the quickest way to fight hypothermia. After a bit, I got him out and wrapped him in a big towel and put him in a low oven.

Astonishingly he did not die after all and with careful nursing in the kitchen, he grew strong and well, and doubled in size which made him a small size for a new born lamb, but a perfectly viable size. He is called Martin, in honour of Martin of Tours. (My other wether is called Gregory, and the historians among you will appreciate the joke).

Then Martha’s only lamb broke its leg terribly badly and could not be mended. She had to be put to sleep. leaving Martha frantic. So the decision was made to try and foster Martin on Martha. The trouble was that while Martha, a kindly soul, went along with the deception, Martin was bemused to be asked to take milk from a huge smelly woolly mammoth (Martha is not a small sheep). Milk came in bottles from his real mother – the first one he had set eyes on when the oven door opened. Me.

After a struggle, instinct kicked in, and Martin began to feed. He had lost a lot of weight he could not afford to lose, and it became apparent that after all the disasters, Martha had lost much of her milk supply.

So Martin remaines with Martha for care, comfort and small snacks of milk, and I go twice a day and feed him a bottle of milk. At the smallest chance he runs to the kitchen, and into it, since that was his first home and he hopes I will feed him before his due time if he looks cute enough (Martin does cute big time). Martha, determined not to lose her lamb a second time, runs after him, and if I am not quick enough, into the kitchen too.

This brings us back to the place I started. My lurcher,  Max, who would like to chase sheep. This evening I had let him out because he expressed an urgent need to answer a call of nature. I had forgotten that I had not yet shut Martha and Martin into a pen for the night. Martin saw me and hurtled towards me. I looked in horror at Max, knowing both how vulnerable a little lamb is, and how precious to me Martin is. Martha, with the same motherly thoughts, forget she runs from dogs, and also hurtled towards me. Max took one terrified look at 100 kilos of sheep charging towards him turned tail and fled into the very back of the kitchen.



It’s time – for smiles, joy, love.

It is the smiling faces I love. I can only too clearly remember when the faces were not smiling. I remember my Uncle Alan, whose life was totally messed up by the fact he was gay. To be gay was to be guilty of a crime, or it was if you tried to love another person. Alan was never caught, never found guilty of love, but he internalised the guilt and it dogged and harassed him. It did not stop him being there at all the great family events, smiling, engaging. His charm, his caring for a little girl, to whom he was not, in fact, related, because he was an Uncle only by virtue of being my father’s friend, ensured that from my first years I had a face to put to the word ‘homosexual’. That face was not a face of fear, of disgust, but a happy smiling family face. I got lucky there.

It has been a very long road for society from there, from the 1950s, to here, to today. Today the Equality Network launch their ‘It’s Time’ video. Because although it has taken society about sixty years to get there, now so many happy smiling faces are ready to welcome the legislation for Equal Marriage.

They are faces of love, of joy, of caring. I count myself incredibly lucky that some of those faces I also know. They belong to happy, strong, caring people I know. I wish we were completely there. I wish everybody in my church was as supportive of Equal Marriage as the faces in the video and the bloggers blogging on it today. Actually, I cannot seriously think why they are not – usually in my expereince it is fear. Perhaps I will blog about that soon. But not today – today must belong to the smiles, to the love. It is time for that.

The green fire

The green fire is spreading up the hillside, but it has not reached me yet.In this latest of years I have been watching hopefully as the fuse first lit down at the coast has been edging slowly but firmly up and up, in and in. Now the valleys are blazing with new grass, budding hawthorn, and black ash buds.

Not here, not yet. Soon though. There are signs of its coming. Buds not yet broken are still swelling. A sudden riot of coltsfoot and celandine has broken out. Not the green, however, not yet. Not that sudden lushness all over the fields and hedgerows that means spring feeding, and lushness and the renewal of life is here.

Joy, real simply joy

The small boy, the tiny boy, set off across the grass towards the duckpond, and I lumbered after him, retrieving him before he hurtled into the icy water. Scotland was not warm this Easter Monday. ‘Small children have such joy,’ I remarked to my companion. ‘Before life knocks it out of them’ she rejoined a little gloomily.

And suddenly I knew the answer – not to the Universe, which I already knew to be 42. Rather to the question posed earlier. The question of why I gave up good sleep on Easter Sunday, and appeared somewhat dozy at lunch when I could just have had a leisurely breakfast and really enjoyed the day.

There is not one simple answer to be given, but try this for size. I went to that place, a place some 22 miles from where I live, at that time, seven am,  and after feeding my livestock, and walking the dog, and on the morning the clocks changed, I went there because I knew that there I would find adults showing every sign of just that same joy in being. That is a very precious thing.

Because he rose

‘It must be a great comfort to you to believe that you will live after death,’ says yet another person, ‘I suppose that is what it is all about.’

Er, no. Because he rose, he is with us helping us work now. Looking to him we find life, energy.

Energy to work for justice, so that trade generates wealth for the producers and workers, so that they can live a full life. And for the environment, while it is still there to be loved and nurtured as the God-given thing it is. Energy to work for a world where people are individuals, free, accepting of who they are, and yet striving to be the best they can be. Where nobody is limited by class, colour, gender, or orientation. A world where people can face pain, and disappointment, and that hope deferred which makes the heart sick, and still get up the next morning and start again.

Above all, to work for a world where people can forgive, and can accept forgiveness. A Kingdom where shame has been destroyed, so that people can face their guilt, and work on not endlessly repeating the same mistakes. A Kingdom where each person knows they are loved, and loves themselves, and can therefore love others.

Because he rose, we are set free to live and love now. And wonderful as it is to know we are loved for ever, it is not as important as knowing that hatred can never destroy love, and we are loved now, now.

Spring post –

Oh dear, what a lapse in the blog! Lack of time and inspiration in equal measure. I am promising amendment of life. But as time and inspiration are likely to be in short measure during March, too, what I propose is a little spring-watch column. A few words or more on spring, as she creeps up over Ayrshire. Something each day which may be a little or a lot.

And to kick it off, the first lamb has been born -arriving before the expected flood starting on 17 March – a healthy little blackface ewe lamb.


I have spent a long time dreading the place I am now. Dreading getting estimates, taking responsibility for the adequate or more likely inadequate restoration of this place – both home and security. I have dwelt on the difficulty of telling apart the honest tradesman from the undercutting cowboy and the one who hears my accent and sees £ £ in my eyes, as in the cartoons.

I have thought hard on the terror of watching totally irreplaceable capital evaporate while work still needs done, and the impossibility to stretching it to what needs done, let alone to what I have long dreamt of doing.

And now I am here.

And I am just loving it.

Me, the peace loving, the ritual creating.

I am surfing down terror inspiring waves, and it turns out it is just as much of an adrenaline rush in the realm of metaphor as it is when the breakers are real water.

Low (and high) Sunday

I started the day wrapped in profound gloom – an unedifying combination of misery and fury. Church lifted it somewhat (a more than usually good sermon, I thought. The preacher looked mildly astonished at this comment. I used to notice in the happy preaching days that any sermon of mine that I thought more than ordinarily mediocre usually drew from somebody the comment that it was especially good.)

Then home in the sunshine. I was determined to be glum about the sun, but it defeated me. And I re-potted the asparagus (subject of word searches leading people to the blog, surprisingly). I had believed much of it dead, despite its over wintering in the house. But only one root seemed to have died, and I got a good number of little phallic seedlings moved into two troughs for more nurture. In fact, an afternoon of tidying and planting in the pots outside the house removed many of the sad casualties of the grim winter, and revived the survivors, and then introduced new joys.

Then a new builder arrived to offer his thoughts on the house. He struck me as man who knew how to balance the demands of craftsmanship and economy. Face by J S Sargent, I think. Do we trust Sargent? He went with the suggestions of my daughter Grace and my surveyor, both of whom I trust. It looks as if I shall end up with a hanging floor. Is that the right term? My Builder’s Bible is buried in a box somewhere. I would put the floor on to the joists myself, thus saving money – but entailing more work.

The long and the short of it is that I will need to find big reserves of courage and energy to see me successfully over all this, but I begin to think I can do it. ‘It is very do-able’ said Sargent.

If the little asparagus can make it through the winter, hopefully, I can make it through the restoration of the house. I ended with a high Sunday after all, or a Sunday high.


It is a strange experience revisiting a poet who used to mean a lot to you, and who you have not thought of for years.

A few days ago, a friend was speaking of her fears for the world where we have global warming, and declining educational standards, and a plethora of officious bullying people with no sensitivity at all. She is (in the expressive Scotticism) not wrong. But I found Yeat’s Lapis Lazuli running in my head for the first time in many years ‘then they and their wisdom went to rack … all things fall, and are built again, and those that build them again are gay.’

Then I fell into contemplating a friend’s friend, and Yeat’s sixty year old smiling public man was there before me.

What a power the poets have to interpret our experiences, and to form them. Strange that after, oh thirty years, I could remember Lapis Lazuli almost word for word. I suppose those convictions which make me ‘really religious’ are a wall formed of many stones of hope and experience and the writings of others, and it is the stones which make (pace Yeats) the centre hold. Because it does hold. Despite all my doubts, I find I believe the centre of things is wholesome and true. It is to be approached with caution (I don’t think it is tame and I am not sure it is ‘safe’ in any sense that we understand it) but I am certain it is true and sound and joyous. And I don’t think it is out to do us down.

But that is not to say the world is not infinitely tragic – so much so that it cannot grow by an inch or an ounce. So I have come back to wonder that my seventeen year old self could have seen that and lived it for so long. Yeats for the canon, anybody?


Ne’er day walk, me pushing the youngest grandchild. Smile says it all.