Monday, July 11, 2011

Smitten, just simply smitten...

An ancient writer advised..."be still". 
It's such an important exercise - it helps us absorb life's experiences.
Never in a million years (actually probably more) did I ever think I would share, dare I say it, feelings here. When this little blog began, almost three years ago, it was just going to be a venue to share some images, some reflections, and some experiences related to a couple of our favourite self-propelled activities - sea kayaking and trail running. And maybe, within the context of it all, a little "wisdom" could be shared that got absorbed along the way, really just simple lessons learned.

Such dramatic vistas put our lives, our joys and our struggles, in perspective.
Since then, it's been a bit of a surprise to see what the heart has guided the fingers to tap out on the keyboard. As much as I love the emotive value of just about every Dan Hill composition, heck, I was born on this island and I always thought that the "stiff upper lip" extended well north of Gretna Green, for heaven's sake.

And the "blogosphere" is hardly a safe place for the honest expression of emotion for a guy who feels he should keep such things to himself - after all, anybody could be reading this!

Our words and our aspirations, however, often outlast even the sturdiest of our human constructions, whether it be those built on a large scale, such as a 1000 year old priory...

The ruins of Restenneth Priory, by Forfar.
...or those built on not so grand a scale, such as a Highland crofter's cosy, stone cottage.

Our lives are brief...reason to live each day fully.
So words are important. The fact is, the expression of deeply held thoughts, questions, wonderings, healthy. Yeah, even for guys. That's why keeping a journal can be incredibly therapeutic. It's important to note, however, that guys keep journals - not diaries. :)

A tiny Scottish "corner" of this fragile island planet, whirling through space.
So, throwing all caution to the wind, I'm going to admit it right here:

I'm smitten...simply smitten with this land and her people. 

The pastoral and peaceful fields of Forfar.
My mother and father and I left Scotland when I was three years old and sure, there have been visits a number of times, some extended. But something strangely warming happened this time. It had a lot to do with losing my very dear mother while we were here. It had a lot to do with, the opportunity to be with family, at that most important time...after way too many years. Their warmth, their love, their caring, their laughter, their stories and their shared memories has brought healing.

Important moments with both our Scottish...
...and our English, very special family.

There is so much..."outside" here.
The experience of being "smitten" also has a lot to do with the land and the topography - the rugged coastline, the deep red sandstone cliffs, the soft green hills and fields, the deep glens, and the rugged mountains - some of which we were blessed to have had the opportunity to explore. And the Highlands, so austere yet so welcoming, so full to brimming with misty images of a brave and complex history. And we know that this is just scratching the surface of this ancient and mysterious land.

All these things inspire a feeling of deep peace...a feeling of connection, a sense of belonging.

Connection and a sense of belonging are so important.

New friendships and warm memories.
And then there are the people of St. Margaret's Parish Church in Forfar with whom we worked with and amongst - warm, engaging, lively, and hospitable. Their eyes sparkle and their words and phrases emerge as songs. Their laughter and their tears bespeak a passion for life and a sense of the preciousness of each day. Their hospitality enriches and affirms. They are making the world a better place. We'll miss you, one and all.

This past five weeks here have been a deeply moving time for one who prides himself on keeping emotions in check. Many thanks to the Reverend David and Catriona Logan. It was their idea and vision that gave birth to the possibility of this exchange.

St. Margaret's Church, Forfar, Scotland
Bless the folks of St. Margaret's, and our own very special United Church of Canada parish community back home on Vancouver Island.

These two loving and trusting "families", thousands of miles apart, gave us the freedom to pursue this spirited adventure. They also served as great support teams, back at "base camp", to their respective visiting ministers.

I believe we have returned home having invested the time wisely and enriched by this experience.

We bid a fond farewell.
The "symbol" that sums it all up.
Bottom line about this country and her people? We're smitten, just simply smitten.

Tapedh leibh - one and all.

Yours "aye",

Duncan and Joan.

PS And to "Stella" (the well known Forfar umbrella), our constant and faithful companion for just about every day - you were awesome! :)


  1. Glad you finally feel connected even though it is to a land and people many miles away from us here. Now hurry safely back on home!
    p.s.I've been telling you for years that emotions are good!

  2. Connections and emotions are both good. So happy you were finally able to enjoy and link both. Now it's time to come home, but I read between the lines that you will be going back there often.

  3. You will always be welcome in Scotland Duncan, for it is your home. Scotia does not forget her sons.

  4. Well David you Scots may borrow him from time to time but you can't have him! He belongs to Canada whether he wants to or not. haha

  5. Hi L (X2), J, and David, thanks for dropping by. Yeah, it seems one is never too old to yearn for a sense of belonging. And the very sources of such important connections transition over time. It seems that Thomas Wolfe was not quite correct, you CAN go home again. :) D.

  6. it's been a bit of a surprise to see what the heart has guided the fingers to tap out on the keyboard
    the real magic is in between chair and keyboard :-). our mission is to keep us true and simple as much as possible.
    nice, nice words duncan

  7. You sure got that right, Giovanni, "true and simple". But it's not always easy, is it! :) Cheers. Duncan.

  8. I'm so glad that you and Joan had such a wonderful experience and so glad to have you both back home, even if it is now one of two!
    Welcome back.

  9. Thank you so much for that, Cathy. We never stop learning, do we? I seem to be just now discovering that the "heart" can be in more places than one, in all kinds of ways - and that that's a good thing. :) Again, thank you.

  10. I always enjoy and marvel at the photos you post but these are simply amazing. I'm awestruck and jealous...we don't have views like that around my parts.

  11. Thank you, Jimmy, we never take such natural beauty for granted believe me. But you folks have sunshine! And it's been awhile since we've seen that either in Scotland or here on the Island. :)

    Great to hear from you. D.

  12. As part of the scottish family, it was really great to have the cousins together in the same place for perhaps the first time ever. It was great to see everyone. Thanks for a lovely day.

  13. Indeed, Ian, it was an amazing experience for which we are deeply thankful. It was so good to see you all. We won't let such a long time pass again!

    Thanks for visiting here on the blog too! :)