Things to inspire us

The early light coming through the east window of St Mary’s church this morning reminded me of yellow ochre, with which a sheet of drawing paper was primed before we began a watercolour in art classes at school.  It glowed, whilst outside the sun, still below the horizon, touched the edges of the clouds, with a golden lining.  

We walked to Anvil Point, where a surging sea sought out a blow hole in the deeply fissured rocks.  Every few moments a light spray was forced thirty feet into the air.  It was possible to stand nearly upon it.  Up above, the pigeons circled, and higher still flocks of finches and corvids drift across the sky, whilst out at sea there were gannets skimming the waves in twos and threes.

There were other walkers, mostly with dogs, enjoying being out after two days of nearly continuous rain, and, looking close to the ground the odd brave flower still bears its head above the fading grass.  Maybe it was a trick of the light, but the very stones were glowing whiter this morning, with pale lichen obvious, as they sat in the bumps and hollows of the seaside meadowland.

It was all quite inspirational, and perhaps accentuated by the rain-washed countryside opening to a drier day - we hope.  Things that give us a little urge to press on come from different quarters.  Sometimes like this morning, being fresh and bright; sometimes it is a challenge that brings out a bit of determination.  

At the beginning of this second lockdown I read an article in which a number of public figures were asked what they thought they would achieve and not achieve during this second lockdown.  My eye lit on the words of one woman who said that, “She was not going to finish The Idiot by Dostoevsky", that she had started in the first lockdown.  Why I noticed it was because I too had started the very same book last March, and managed a bit over a half of it before it was shelved again.  It made me determined to get to the end, which I finally did yesterday, having spent some hours on Saturday on a sizeable chunk.  The interest in the book is that talked about at some length by Rowan Williams, in his study of Dostoevsky, in which he debates the long-held view that the author was trying to create a Christ-like figure in the central character Myshkin.  Having waded my way through its 600 pages in which not very much happens, I’m not really much the wiser, but its end does suggest that Rowan William’s comment that the consensus is that he managed a failed Christ-like figure is probably nearer the mark.

More inspirational, perhaps, is the commemoration today of Margaret of Scotland.  She had a most interesting life.  By descent she was of the Anglo-Saxon English royalty, but during the time of the Danish kings in England her family lived in exile in Hungary, where she was brought up and educated.  After the Norman invasion in 1066, she was invited to the safety of the royal court of Malcolm III of Scotland.  She married Malcom three years later and proved to be a person of energy and determination, founding monasteries, and, as a woman of prayer, was simply a holy presence for all around her.  She died on this day in the year 1093 at the age of 47.

John Mann