Monday, 13 June 2011

Pentecost at St John's

Yesterday, Sunday June 12, we celebrated Pentecost at St John's, Burnside in Moffat. I had been feeling a bit empty and low, until I remembered that I live virtually next door to the community I had been thinking I lacked. Through the clear windows of the little white church, the sky was blue and the leaves on the trees an intense bright green. Pentecost is a milepost in the year, a time to take stock, and make ambitious plans. In my handbag, I am carrying Bishop Seraphim Sigrist's new handy pocket-sized collection of meditations A Life Together as emergency reading matter, savouring it as it is intended to be, not rushing. As soon as I got back from church, it was time to set off for a picnic in the forest with family and friends. The miraculous weather held; the children played on the pirate ship, the new picnic table was inaugurated, the hens pecked around in the grass nearby and Flo the family's faithful Cairn terrier sat under the table being fed pieces of cold sausage. In a kitchen cupboard, I found a packet of meringue nests at least five years old but none the worse for that, which we ate crumbled with our strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. A book was planned, school issues aired, we went on a slug hunt but they had all gone to ground. On our way out, we met Lee who lives in the barn coming in - we had borrowed some of his salt to sprinkle on our tomatoes. I saw two hares on the hill, and a buzzard over the newly felled open land at the east end of the plantation. The willow tree by the house is flowering, sending out puffs of thistledown seeds called 'pukh' in Russian. Tolstoy was only 4ft 11. I cannot get over that, after a lifetime imagining him a bearded six-footer like my sister's partner Jacques. All in all, an auspicious day, when a long-dreamed of plan to organise an event to celebrate the life and work of that great Christian, martyr and friend Father Alexander Men looks finally possible to bring to fruition.

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