Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Scotland

life takes the long road

I wrote the poem below just over four years ago. Today, we’re locked into national and international upheavals. They reverberate with hatred, fear, anxiety, and a level of human panic that grows by the hour. Sadly, the energy for too much of this comes from Christian churches who feel called to return us to a white, Christian nation.

I can’t help thinking about Hitler, the Nazis, and the torture and extermination of human beings deemed unacceptable as fully human or worthy of living. The USA’s role in meeting this worldwide crisis was less than stellar. For a stellar presentation of Hitler’s rise to power, and its impact on the world, check out this link. D and I watched the series recently. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Especially in light of today’s wars here, abroad, and in churches.

In addition to this, my health and age keep reminding me that I’m far along on my journey. Each day brings decisions I don’t want to make. If I do this, I can’t do that. Sometimes I’m tempted to give up. This poem helps bring me back to what really matters right now.

life takes the long road
through majestic terrain
gleaming and foreboding

daylight falls quickly
below horizons
of narrow vision
ablaze with dying day

The photo at the top, taken in Scotland, is breathtaking. As breathtaking as a single life that burns out boldly before fading into darkness.

It reminds me that what’s happening in and behind the “news” is often not good news, and easily becomes a distraction from the larger picture. The long view doesn’t promise me an eternity. It does, however, invite me to keep my perspective clear.

One of my readers left a wonderful comment in response to yesterday’s post. In it she shared a comment from a friend of hers in India. Here it is–a way of putting things into proper perspective:

WORLD: How could you stay in the Church after all the scandal?
ME: You don’t leave Jesus because of Judas.

Here’s to a thoughtful Wednesday.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 September 2018, edited with opening comments, reposted 12 October 2022
Photo found at pixabay.com

Farewell, Scotland! | Dear Readers 2

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Edinburgh Castle, high above the city

This week D and I have been looking at photos/slides taken in 2015 during our 50th wedding anniversary trip to Scotland.  It was fabulous! We flew out of Philadelphia on September 1 and spent nearly 2 ½ weeks in Scotland. Here’s one of my Scotland posts. A tiny peek into a stunning trip. Don’t miss the panorama below, taken from Edinburgh Castle. Click to enlarge (2 times if needed). 

For the record,

  • D drove us safely over 650 miles on the ‘wrong’ side of the road without any scrapes or bruises. Every now and then he had just a bit of what he called ‘terror on the road.’ Especially on the narrow, winding back roads we enjoyed for most the trip.
  • We have over 2000 photos to help us remember this fabulous trip.
  • We left our pedometers (Fitbits) at home, which is most unfortunate since we climbed up and down the equivalent of at least one mountain each, and walked over 100 miles each in cities, towns and forests.
  • We ate breakfast most days like royalty (thanks to our Bed & Breakfast master chefs!), learned to depend on TESCO and The Cooperative Stores found all over Scotland, and enjoyed more versions of yummy carrot-red lentil soup than I knew existed in this world. Usually served with an enormous, thick slice of heavenly bread.

We spent time in Edinburgh, North Berwick, Stirling, Glasgow, Oban (Isle of Mull and Iona), Grantown-on-Spey (Cairngorms National Park), Huntly (George MacDonald’s home), and Aberdeenshire (Castle Fraser).

Most amazing and somewhat strange was being together and doing only what we chose to do on any given day. The weather was mild, sometimes chilly damp and windy, but overall stunningly beautiful.

Here are several more photos from the first day of our trip. Enjoy!

First, a panorama looking down from the Edinburgh Castle to the City. Click on the photo to get a closer look. Can you see the ferris wheel?

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Here’s a flag of Scotland whipping around in the wind above the Castle. Note the wind-worn edge.

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Now we’re down on the street, walking away from the Castle.

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This colorful window garden caught my eye–one of several in a small, quiet courtyard just off the busy street.

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This magnificent organ was in the church where John Knox once preached. No, I didn’t get to hear it being played–one reason I have to go back some day!

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Finally, here’s a little street beauty from a residential area just below the Castle.

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I hope you all had at least one or two happy adventures during the last few weeks. If not, here’s hoping you survived whatever other adventures came your way.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 September 2015, lightly edited and reposted 11 May 2022
Photo credit: DAFraser, September 2015, Edinburgh, Scotland

life takes the long road

life takes the long road
through majestic terrain
gleaming and foreboding

daylight falls quickly
below horizons
of narrow vision
ablaze with dying day

This photo, taken in Scotland, is breathtaking. As breathtaking as a single life that burns out boldly before fading into darkness.

It reminds me that what’s happening in and behind the “news” is often not good news, and easily becomes a distraction from the larger picture. The long view doesn’t promise me an eternity. It does, however, invite me to keep my perspective clear.

One of my readers left a wonderful comment in response to yesterday’s post. In it she shared a comment from a friend of hers in India. Here it is–a way of putting things into proper perspective:

WORLD: How could you stay in the Church after all the scandal?
ME: You don’t leave Jesus because of Judas.

Here’s to a thoughtful Tuesday.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 September 2018
Photo found at pixabay.com

remnants transformed

She dwells in days
Layered with moss memories
Accumulated remnants
Transformed into melodies
Of mercy and grace

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 September 2018
Photo taken by DAFraser in September 2016, roof of an old house at Loch an Eilein, Scotland 

Loch an Eilein, Scotland | Photos

This week I enjoyed looking back through photos D took on our 50th wedding anniversary trip to Scotland three years ago. If I had to pick one place I’d love to revisit, it would be Loch an Eilein. It’s got everything–mystery, 15th century small castle ruins on an island, and a gorgeous 4.5 mile hiking trail around the lake.

The proud male duck at the top is guarding his mate who’s hidden in the marsh grass, sitting on at least one egg.

For perspective, here’s an overview of the lake, with that mysterious island in the distance. Can you see the bit of stone emerging from the trees? The hiking path goes right around the perimeter, offering several views of the island and castle.

So here we go…one foot after another. Loaded with water and snacks. Sometimes the path was smooth. Sometimes it wasn’t. Good hiking shoes required. We walked through stands of towering pines and meadow-like blankets of heather and thistles.

Here’s the best view we had of the castle ruins. Make up your own mysterious, romantic story….

From this point, we walked around the top of the lake and followed the path on the opposite side of the island. The path so far had been friendly for wheelchairs or walkers, if a bit bumpy. Beyond this point we went through several rough, rocky patches along with a few uphill climbs. Still, it was beautiful, and gave us one more good look at the castle ruins.


Finally, after walking for what seemed an eternity, we came to the end of the hike. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Well, most of it anyway….

Happy Friday! Here’s to a weekend of dreams come true and the creative rewriting of our worst nightmares.

Thanks to D for all these photos, and thanks to you for visiting the gallery!

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 September 2018
Photos taken by DAFraser, September 2015 in Scotland

Thou art my eternity.

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~~~Diamond listening to the voice of North Wind from his hayloft bedroom

Do you ever wish for a lullaby? George MacDonald’s sonnet for today reminds me of a lullaby. It instills trust, not fear.

He begins with “O Father, thou art my eternity.” In his sonnets, MacDonald doesn’t often call God Father. Even here he reverts later to his more often used “Lord.” But not until he sets the stage with “O Father….”

I own an edited volume of MacDonald’s letters. The first letter in the volume was written in 1833, the year after MacDonald’s mother died. He was 8 years old. His letter begins “My dear Papa,” and ends with “I remain, my dear Papa, your affectionate son George Macdonald.”

He writes from Portsoy, Scotland, where he’s staying with his younger brother at an aunt’s home. He wants his Papa to come and stay with them until they return to Huntly. He doesn’t like drinking the water here, so refuses to drink it. He also says, “I am sorry that my writing is so bad but my pen is very bad.”

There’s something simple and straightforward in his letter that reflects child-like trust in Papa. He tells him about his visit, including the state of his health (not good) for the last few days, and finding the carcass of a whale that had washed up onto the shore.

These and other bits of information add up to this: he misses his Papa and longs to see him. Something of that spirit pervades this simple, straightforward sonnet written to his other Father.

August 6

O Father, thou art my eternity.
Not on the clasp of consciousness—on thee
My life depends; and I can well afford
All to forget, so thou remember, Lord.
In thee I rest; in sleep thou dost me fold;
In thee I labour; still in thee, grow old;
And dying, shall I not in thee, my Life, be bold?

George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul
Augsburg Fortress Press 1994

Here, as in his phantasy tales, MacDonald challenges himself and us to think about reality from the outside in.

For example, when North Wind comes to visit Diamond the first time, Diamond is trying to sleep in the drafty loft of a stable house where he and his parents live. There are cracks in the timber walls, and holes through which icy North Wind blows in the winter.

The holes are covered with pieces of brown paper. Sometimes they come loose and must be replaced. Over several days, North Wind keeps blowing the paper from one of these holes. Diamond is at his wit’s end. It’s cold and he doesn’t want to get up and cover the hole yet again.

One night he hears a soft voice just beyond the paper-covered hole. He puts his ear to the hole. Sure enough, North Wind is trying to get his attention. She wants him to remove the paper from the hole so she can see out her window!

Her window? How could that be? Isn’t this Diamond’s hayloft bedroom? And his little window?

As it turns out, it is not! This is North Wind’s window which she herself made, and from which she looks out of her great house into Diamond’s house. Which, by the way, is actually contained within Her World. She isn’t an intruder at all.

Getting this basic fact clear takes a while. It isn’t easy for Diamond to grasp North Wind’s strange perspective.

MacDonald’s sonnet above, like others, conveys his God-centered perspective. We exist within and as part of God’s reality. Created, pursued, challenged and watched over from cradle to grave and beyond.

Remembered by God, we can work and rest peacefully in every stage of life, death and beyond. Though it may seem God is absent, God will not forget us, even if we forget ourselves.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 13 February 2016
Wood Carving by Arthur Hughes, included as an illustration in MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind. Illustration found at etc.usf.edu.

Dear Dad | Photos and a Dream

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Castle Fraser — Front drive leading to formal entrance under the arch.

Dear Dad,

The 102nd anniversary of your birth came and went last week. For the first time since you died in 2010, it didn’t trigger a downward spiral in me. Read the rest of this entry »

Small Signs of Faithful Lives | Photos

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The photo above was taken in Edinburgh, directly behind the Sir Walter Scott Monument. We’re looking down into the East Princes Street Gardens. Notice the benches. They line the sidewalk from one end to the other. Each has a plaque Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland, Food and My Gut

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Scottish Traditional Vegetarian Breakfast, Priestville Guest House

I can’t get The Reclamation Project out of my mind. In fact, just reviewing it this morning reminded me of what happened in my gut while D and I were in Scotland.

I have challenges when it comes to food Read the rest of this entry »

Farewell, Scotland! | Dear Readers

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Edinburgh Castle, high above the City

I can’t believe we did it! D and I left Smudge with our son’s family, flew out of Philadelphia on September 1, and spent nearly 2 ½ weeks in Scotland celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. One of our great adventures together. Read the rest of this entry »

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