about writing and life and God

Blinkered, dogmatic, forgetful…

on October 2, 2012

I’m back. Safe and sound. The travelling was ridiculously arduous for such a small island but it all went well. And my time in the North was brilliant…wonderful… truly refreshing. And full of lessons, many of which I’m sure I’ll use in sermons and maybe the new novel.

Basically, I discover that we human beings seem to be hardwired to be

  • blinkered
  • dogmatic
  • forgetful.

Talking with my sister, I discover that my memories of our childhood and our family are only a small part of a kaleidoscope of impressions and information. I don’t have all the data. Neither does she. But when we put our pieces together, it makes a more comprehensible picture.

I also discover that I have been, to a surprising extent, an unreliable narrator! Some of the stuff I’ve believed for more years than I’m going to identify turns out to be …. well, wrong. And I realise I have to be kind to that little child me who misheard/misunderstood/shouldn’t be expected to get complicated adult things right!

I also discover that when faced with a different interpretation of a family story I am tempted to pipe up that my version is the right one! Intrinsic dogmatism. There’s good learning here that gentles me back towards a kind of humility: my eyes and ears and childish mind could only take in what I saw and heard and understood. And that ain’t perfect, or the last word!  Other people’s eyes will, of necessity, see from a different angle than me. I need to accept my limitations and my fallibility.

Lastly, I am amazed that I could ever forget how staggeringly beautiful my home county of Caithness is. On Sunday afternoon I walked the white shell-sand beach that fringes the northernmost coast of Scotland, gazed out at the row upon row of islands that comprise the Orkneys, and breathed in the purest air in the world. Yesterday on the train south, I travelled through the Flow Country – the last true ancient wilderness in the country, an area of blanket bog and rich wildlife.

I return refreshed – not just in body from the great walks with my sister, but also at a very deep level of who I really am. A “who I am” that I feel had gotten dulled and downplayed for too long. I return like a pot-bound plant that has been re-potted in rich compost and a bigger pot where there is room to reach out and grow.

I’m curious to see what difference this will make!




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