In many places in south west Scotland, there are memorials and gravestones for the hundreds of Covenanters who were martyred in the 1680s, near the end of what became known as ‘The Killing Times’. In 1638 they had signed a Covenant to maintain Presbyterianism in the church of Scotland in the face of attempts by English kings to impose Anglican forms of worship on the Church of Scotland. The struggle continued for most of the 17th century. A stone on the tidal marshes of the Solway Firth, near Wigtown in Galloway, marks the spot where, in 1685 two women were chained to stakes and drowned by the incoming tide for refusing to swear allegiance to King James II (VII of Scotland) and to renounce the Covenant. One of the women, Margaret Wilson, was only 18 years old at the time of her death and is the subject of a painting by John Everett Millais, The Martyr of Solway. On the same day, six male Covenanters were hanged in the market square in Wigtown.
~ PETER WILDMAN
From the Minister
"When things are shaky - we are on the verge of something"
This is a quote from a book that I have borrowed from a friend. Recently I have been in touch with many people [including myself!] who have been very shaky for a variety of reasons.
It could be because of a loss of confidence... or for financial or health reasons ... or because of a deep loss of friendship through death or other kinds of separation. Often I find that these experiences can shake us into depression of one sort or another including a loss of faith in human goodness and kindness.
But it can do the opposite.
I am currently facing the possibility of houses being built next to my home which will block my fantastic view across the Severn valley. This situation affecting so many locals has created an amazing sense of community and solidarity. It has awakened me to so many other .aspects of this green space..
It has made me realise that there are more important feelings and long term effects on the local community than my glorious view! I have also made some new friends through the action group meetings.
We must all also be aware of the difficulties many of us and our loved ones and our local communities will face as a result of the current government proposals. I was made more aware of that being part of the Bristol protest March on 23rd.
There is much to say on this, but let me conclude with a positive tale on human kindness:
Recently I got off a train; a man chased me... "Madam is this your hat? I found it on the seat". I had not even missed it - but would have..
The kindness of strangers...especially when things are shaky can warm our hearts.
Tell us your stories.....
Looking forward to seeing you soon..........
A WEEKEND WELL SPENT
On Friday 17th September, I went for a retreat to Ivy House in Warminster. This was being run by Kathy Beckett, a Unitarian member from Southampton. Ivy House is also known as St. Denys Retreat Centre and was formerly a home for the Sisters of St. Denys. Each bedroom also had a comfy chair and as I was sharing a twin bedded room with a friend we had a separate small room with a settee, easy chair and a table and two upright chairs. The gardens are absolutely stunning, separated off into smaller areas for quiet contemplation. It has its own productive vegetable garden and these vegetables are used to make delicious home cooked meals.
We had a programme mapped out for us. On the Friday after dinner we had been invited to bring an object that we treasured to talk about and we split into small groups to do this. The whole day on the Saturday we spent learning about the Enneagram. This proved to be a fascinating insight into our own personality and that of others. There are nine types of personality and although there were only 15 of us every type was covered. Our facilitator Josephine Seccombe was very knowledgeable and told us about "our wings", where our energy takes us when we are stressed and where our energy takes us when we relax and retreat to our point of security. I no longer wonder why I do particular things - I am typical of my type.
On Saturday evening we were all split into small groups. I had asked to do a collage but no one else had volunteered so I found myself filling a gap in the drama group. This proved to be great fun as Kathy had written a short sketch for us which we acted through. At this point we didn't know that we had to perform this at the service the next day but this proved no problem and we found a few props to help us.
Each evening and morning we had a meditation/epilogue which both started and finished the day well. On Sunday morning the Rev. Akasha Lonsdale arrived and hour and a half before the service to go through putting the service together with all its various strands. She is an Interfaith Minister, psychotherapist and author. She guided us in collating everything into a whole and this turned out to be a wonderful service. We had prayers, poems, drama, singing and dancing and Akasha gave us a short address.
On Sunday afternoon we were invited to join in Dances of Universal Peace. This wasn't quite as successful and some participants dropped out gradually. However some did persevere until the end. I think it was probably at the wrong place in the programme; we were all quite tired and not ready for physical activity at this time.
I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and had taken two friends with me who were not Unitarians and did join in everything including the Sunday service. I would say, for me, this was one of the highlights of my year.
~ Diane S Roberts
RUSI Stands for Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. I did not know this full title until I attended a meeting of the Women's Advisory Council for the united Nations Association on 29th September. It is an independent Think Tank engaged in cutting edge defence and security research and was founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington. We heard two speakers from RUSI - Elizabeth Quintana, a British aerospace engineer and Dr Lisa Aronson, an American who is head of RUSI's new programme, looking at the role and possibilities for women in military defence. This is especially in the light of UN resolution 1325, which was adopted in 2000. It expressed concern that civilians, particularly women and children account for the vast majority of those adversely affected by armed conflict. It reaffirmed the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflict and peace building. SUSAN WILDMAN