I love this time of year


I love this time of year. Despite all that has been done to neutralise it , commercialise it, emasculate it and turn it into one long meaningless party, only interrupted by bells, all the effort to make it yet another frolicking hyped up winter festival, played out on the Capital’s streets or on TV, for unashamed commercial gain, it is still special.  It is still significant. It still means something, connecting us, as it does, to an ancient drama that stretches back through history.  It is to do with the ordering of time. It is to do with the fact that time doesn’t just pass in an endless dribble but has been, and is, ordered into minutes and hours and days and seasons and years and decades and millennium.  We get something of the majestic beauty of this from the creation narrative in Geneses, when, out of seeming chaos, God created order: earth and sky, light and darkness, land and sea, rocks and plants, fish birds and animals, times and seasons and us at the centre of it. His verdict on all they had done was that it was good and good, and very good.

And so for me Hogmanay is like taking a rest on a long hill climb, finding a smooth rock to sit on, a sandwich and flask of coffee from the bag, and with the legs hanging free, gazing back down the slope and pondering where and how we have come this far. Taking the space and time to reflect: to identify the difficult terrain that was so hard to negotiate, the seemingly endless bog we had to get through somehow, the unprotected windswept ridge when we felt so isolated and alone, the weary slope when we wondered why we had bothered to come at all. At the same time: looking back on the pleasant path by the burn with the surprising warmth of the sun, and the richness of the colours and scent springing up from the soil and the kindness of travelling companions. And somehow at the same time thinking about the way ahead, looking upwards, considering and wondering what might lie beyond the first outcrop and how long it will take till we reach the summit.

So for me it is a time to pause: to look back with genuine gratitude and to look forward, knowing that whatever it will be, it will be for good and good and very good.

Crawford Mackenzie

In the Autumn

fintry from braes 2

The first frost is beginning to bite, the geese are marshalling overhead and that’s all that it needs to remind me that Autumn is my favourite time.  Every season has its beauty and its charm; winter with the crisp frost and blanket of snow that covers so much ugliness and for a while transforms the city into a magical wonderland, Spring bursting through the ground, as hard as iron, with the continual surprise of new life and Summer with its early mornings by the green and long evenings on the beach, that seem as if they will never end. But, for me, Autumn has most to say and most to bring and like Keats, its colours, its songs ,its blessings far outstrip the other seasons  For me, It is packed through with memories: the time when I became one of the big boys and moved to secondary school, the time of leaving home and the first days at college, the time of coming to this city and later to our present home, the time when our daughter was married and when our granddaughter was born, the time when I fell in love.

It is the changing of the seasons that is part of the wonder. But the changes in life’s seasons carry something of the same magic. Moving on and up to the next step, the next phase, the next decade: like the new jacket, the new décor, the new strings on the guitar, the new horizons, ideas and possibilities, the new people. The breathtakingly realisation that it is all still so much bigger and grander than you could possibly have imagined.  Inevitably there is sadness and loss that is inescapable. There will always be sorrow.   I identify with Sandy Denny in “rising of the moon” “ there’s a heart in very place a tear in each farewell but that’s the way it is that is my fortune”  yes moving on is sad , saying goodbye is sad, leaving people is sad, but overwhelmingly there is the joy of the promise of the hope of the glory.  There is reminder of the reality that all that seems to be loss is in fact gain and giving up is getting more.

It is the beginning of autumn again and for me, a new phase, a new opportunity, a new beginning. I could try, but it would be impossible to describe that joy.

Crawford Mackenzie