So. . . how annoying is it when people start a sentence with the word “so”? It doesn’t make sense and yet if you listen to people being interviewed on television and radio, more and more people are doing it.
Interviewer: “When did the road to (wherever) close?”
Response: “So, the road closed . . .”
“How much has been spent on upgrading the route?”
“So, the council has set a budget for . . .
So, a propos of nothing that has gone before, let me ask you, how was your Christmas?
I am hoping that despite the disappointment of not being able to have the kind of Christmas we have been used to in the past, most of us will still have managed to enjoy it and that the answer to the question just posed, will be (with or without a “so . . .) “Christmas was surprisingly OK”.
I have been blown away by the number of people who went to great lengths to try to ensure that people struggling to make ends meet, or people who were on their own, got the message that they mattered and are important.
Meals were made and delivered. Donations were handed into foodbanks. Toys and gifts were bought to be given to those of all ages who would otherwise not have had a present to open. It was amazing and I think it is a story that was replicated the length and breadth of Scotland.
The meals and the gifts in and of themselves were important but I suspect the knowledge that someone else cared, was perhaps even more important.
A propos of nothing: how can we carry that goodwill and kindness into the year ahead? And spread it?
(Spoiler – possible Rev IM Jolly moment ahead!)
It seems to me that, as a society, we have been sliding steadily down the slope of self-absorption where what matters first and foremost, is “me”. What I want. What I have. What I need and enjoy.
This way of thinking and being means that when a relationship, for example, doesn’t always give a person what they think they need, then they walk away from it. Despite the fact that it’s when we work through the stickier patches of a relationship that things move up a gear and its real depth and value is proved.
I write that fully aware that there are those who stick with relationships, when they really need to let go. These last few months have not been kind to the victims of domestic abuse and for those on the receiving end of emotional, physical or sexual abuse, the time is right for you to think of you and to get out.
No one deserves such treatment.
For most people 2020 has been a challenging year. In the midst of it all though, in hard ways and in good ways, so many have learned that life’s real gift lies in the people who share that life with us.
So, for all those who have the good fortune to love and to be loved, warts and all, how can we be encouraged to lift our eyes from our own wee world, to see the bigger picture around us?
I think the answer lies in more “me” time. Yep, you read that correctly.
I think we need more “me” time.
Only I don’t mean that in the sense of having more time to do what I want – but real “me” time in which our batteries are recharged in such a way that, from that time-out, we are then able to turn around and get stuck in.
I am thinking of the kind of “me” time that is not so much self-indulgent, as crucial to our being able to be all we can be. In days gone by, such a time-out would have been called a retreat.
It meant time alone and away from everything (hence the word “retreat”) but time alone and away from everything, with God.
The idea was that space was made for that individual to check over their priorities and at the same time get a sense of what the Almighty might be asking of them.
This ancient “me” time was about a refocusing of lives – in the light of God’s priorities for that person, for their community and for the world beyond.
It seems to me that if we practised this kind of “me” time, the world could be a better place.
So . . . are you up for it?
The Very Rev Susan Brown is minister of Dornoch Cathedral and the former moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland