Saturday, October 09, 2004

Historic Event--Scottish Parliament opened!

Today I saw the photos of the opening of the new Scottish Parliament by Queen Elizabeth and read her speech. I am reminded of how much I loved Scotland and how much at home I felt there! I saw people there who reminded me of someone, maybe my grandfather who is long dead now. We, my daughter and I, went to the Hogmanay Festival in the year of 1999 as the Century turned over and we walked all over Inverness following a flat bed truck loaded with singers and dancers, with lit candles, and singing Auld Lang Syne. Then hearing the Scottish national anthem on the pipes played over and over again for weeks. I would recognize that music anywhere now! I remember standing close to a fence while watching the dancers and the night air being so cold. To me, it was the coldest place on earth because the ice was thick on the streets and we had to hold hands to steady ourselves in order to traverse them and not break our necks! There was a crowd and when they heard us speak, they knew we were visitors and then one woman said to me something which at the time I thought was very strange. She said, "Scotland is experiencing a homecoming. It is calling all its expatriots back home." And I thought that was an odd thing to say at that time. Now today I read of the movement to separate Scotland into a sovereign, independent nation with citizens instead of subjects of the Queen--a meeting that took place even as the official celebration at Holyrood happened. And I understood what the woman meant in the year 1999.
We also went to Edinburgh and we walked the Royal Mile and saw the Holyrood Castle and the Castle of Edinburgh. We had to had to pull ourselves up to the Royal Mile street by holding onto the handrails attached along the street that led up to it, because it was so steep and the ice was so thick and treacherous-- a new experience for Southerners. We searched out the Murray tartan at the shops. We walked across the place where The Tattoo does its thing. We took the train to Blair Castle that is now inhabited by the half sister of the last remaining Murray Nobility. We walked the grounds and saw the peacocks there and we left a note at the door, saying we were Murray descendants too. That was fun! The idea that Murray clansmen and women originated in such a beautiful place as Scotland. The whole feeling of familiarity just astonished me. The idea that traditions that I had thought of as Southern were really Scottish or English! The fox-hunting my grandfather and father did when I was a child. The tea drinking. The wool sweaters my grandfather wore. My grandfather's wry sense of humor that I thought very odd as a child but after having observed it in Scotland and England, it all made more sense to me.
It seems like I left a part of myself there! And I hope someday to return there, but today looking at the photos made me remember it all again. The experience of a continuity that I could not explain. The feeling that I had been there before or somehow deep in my subconscious I remembered it even though it was my first time there. The scenery and landscapes were beautiful there is no question about that, but what felt so familiar to me was the people who were out that night on the Hogmanay Festival. The way that they thought we belonged until we spoke with American English. The sense that somehow somewhere in the past, ancestors may have lived there because there was such a sense of peace in my heart to be there right then. The traditions seemed to soothe me, and it all seemed so right to me. My grandmother was a Murray and my grandfather a Poole. The Poole is an English surname and of course, the Murray name originated in Scotland. There is an ache in my heart for that place--Scotland! I never knew how a person could long for a place that they had only visited for a few weeks, but I find myself remembering Pitlochery like it somehow belonged to me. Somehow in some part of my ancestral and genetic makeup there was a Scotland shaped imprint and the most amazing thing was that I was there at all,because it was the leading of The Lord. And I was surprised that it all felt so right.
I am reminded of the Scriptures in the Bible that say that the Lord "gathers His people" from time to time and I wondered if He had gathered us to that event? To take part in something that if ancestors had not emigrated, they would have taken part in? I often try to figure out the way The Lord works in the lives of His people, leading them to a nation after many years of being gone. Remember how the Israelites were 400 years in another nation and then God led them out of that nation and back? I thought about all these things when I read of the Scottish Parliament opening and saw the sculpture depicting the "honors of Scotland"--the crown, the sceptre, and the sword. We saw those too, encased in glass in the middle of the room and we heard the story of the Stone and the Honors. We heard how the wall of the Castle was scaled once and the story of King James' birth. I wonder if the familiarity came to me because I read and study the King James Holy Bible? Or because I read of the Protestant Reformation and the turmoil between England and Scotland and the terrible tribulation then. The men who died for their faith there! The events that nearly destroyed Scotland and brought them under the English rule for so long.
Now Scotland has a Parliament, a self determination to rule their own. The idea that they are citizens and not subjects! And at the same time inviting the Queen to give the opening address, creating acts of good will hopefully, I suppose. God bless Scotland is my heartfelt prayer! May it ever be a place where faith in the Living God is acknowledged, respected, and incorporated into their Public Acts and Governance. May there be peace in that nation and May God Himself repatriate those whom HE will.

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