Showing posts from November, 2014

Christmas letter

The calendar tells me November
ends tomorrow; Advent then
I click on the Christmas play
list, slide the everyday
celtic cross from its silver chain,
slide on the glass venetian gift
I keep for purple seasons
of waiting. And I wait.

I wait in vain for the sky to turn
to blue from grey as Arthur's Seat
crouches beneath its misty covers,
looking lonely - or is that my
reflection in the window?

I wait for light as I have never
had to wait for it before, winter
followed by winter, naturally,
with the exchange of climate to pay
for dreams. I have heard
that though the heat will rise
in other parts, on this much smaller island
cold and dark and wet will
intensify, so flutter the wings
of butterflies.

I await salvation, liberation,
though I enjoy less, less clarity
and quality of that picture,
for me, at least. Could it be
that my dis-ease is not my own,
but yours and ours together, and I
will be free when we all
sleep peacefully like little ideal
babies in our mangers - an image

speaking the important messages with care - on grieving a public figure and stories that go untold

This one is about Australia, and mostly for Australia.

We are in shock. A young man who plays cricket for his country died playing cricket. It is all over news media and social media, all over the world. Sports men and women, elite and amateur, across many different sports are putting out their bats in honour of Philip Hughes, who died last week when a cricket ball hit him on the wrong part of his head.

I have seen a few posts on Facebook reeling at the disproportionate attention afforded this tragedy in the midst of human tragedies of refugees from war zones, hunger, illness, rejection at our borders, insurmountable challenges facing oppressed indigenous populations of many nations ... I could go on.

I reel at this reeling. Yes, call to account the sweeping under the carpet of injustice and human tragedy too inconvenient for our liking. But please take care as you do so.

The deaths of Indigenous folk in custody, of refugees held in detention off shore, of our precious environment are…

of poetry, again, and money, study and the human story

Without intending to, I managed to fill my afternoon and evening with poetry yesterday.

I had spent a reasonably productive day in the postgraduate study room reading various contributions to the debate over Paul's purpose in writing his letter to the Romans (and the associated debate over whether he was, in fact, writing to folk in Rome, Ephesus, or even Jerusalem). Yes, there are some very fascinating days in the life of a PhD student.

The mid-afternoon hungries started to distract me from this lively debate, to the point of making me very aware of the leaf-blower across the street behind me. My reading became decidedly less productive. So back to my flat I wandered, with the intention of grabbing a snack and with the change of scenery, continuing with my reading.

But my mind kept floating back to the pages of my bank accounts, and their alarmingly low numbers. What can I do, I thought - what can a storyteller-poet do to earn her keep? For the minister in me has feelers out into…

Life in Edinburgh: two months here

It's not quite two months, I suppose, but it is eight weeks today since I arrived in Edinburgh. So I thought I would write a post in commemoration.

I started to write it this morning and after another night on which it took hours to get to sleep, it was all exhaustion, frustration, disconnection. There is no doubting that life has been challenging in these eight weeks in a new town, and that there still is a significant element of exhaustion as it seems like everything is new, unfamiliar, unknown.

But then I went and had a day that moved me progressively towards happy again.

Coffee (and morning tea for her, breakfast for me) with Katie was restorative, grounding, affirming and encouraging. She's come from another country, settling in various new cities here in the UK over the years, so she gets it; and she can speak encouragement from the other side and affirm that I will reach a time when this city feels known and I feel known in return. Katie is one of those people I feel I …

note to self: things to remember from your weekend of poetry

Where the Scottish Poetry Library is.
You were welcomed here,
warmly, G&T on arrival, greetings
from interested and interesting people
wanting to connect through this shared
It is full of poetry books, books
about poetry, gatherings for the reading
and writing of poetry.
Come back.

When you do, look
for these poets: Fiona Sampson, you
liked the way she gave voice
to her words, their pattern
and rhythm; also what she
had to say about the craft and culture
of poetry. Don Patterson, who told of looking
into the eyes of his dog as she breathed
her last and took you there beside
them both. Maciej Wozniak, whose
Polish poetry was captivating, though you
did not understand - was there need?
Sasha Dugdale. Evocative, thoughtful
word pictures you want to read
again. Come back.

When you want to meet with poets
again. Come back. Gather around the table
here and read and talk and hear
poetry. Remember the friends you made
between these shelves, nursing coffee, …

the miracle of sunshine through the grey

By some miracle, I have begun today like the sun streaming through my windows - bright!

It was a night of broken sleep, tears and desperate longing for rest.

In response to the lamenting update on Facebook land, I received hugs, encouragement, solidarity, love.

In response to the blog posts of recent weeks, I have received care, solidarity in sorrow and disappointment, and more hugs, encouragement, and love.

Thank you.

You, my friends, family, colleagues, have said you are coming with me on this journey deeper into my Spirit-led calling.

You may want to come for the joyful discoveries, the new learning, the vicarious view of the world through my words and pictures. You will enhance the joy for me through sharing it.

I need you to come for the struggles, the challenges, the hard days when I can't sleep, can't get out of bed, can't find the words I want. You will bring about miracles of sunshine through the grey.

Thank you.

there's a storm brewing

The grey Edinburgh day matched my mood.
A grey mood, blown in on an email.
We regret to inform you that on this occasion your application was not successful. 
I have read those words many times this year. Once more was, in some ways, no surprise.
Still, there is no stopping the self-doubt, no plugging the hole as the air escapes through the sails merrily carrying you along and you stall. No. Again. Not good enough. Again.
And as this was the last scholarship application, life in Edinburgh gets more complicated from here.

It is an incredible privilege to have received the education I have - I have four degrees and a vocational certificate. It is an incredible privilege to have this opportunity to study a PhD at a top 20 university in a country not my own. Many, many people do not receive even the most basic education, especially people of my gender, let alone seeing the world and following dreams.

So I am grateful, and I hope I will continue to give voice to this story of the voiceless,…