Easter 2018 in Lochside

Quartz – Outerweave in action.

Where do I start to describe this Easter weekend? Perhaps, at the moment on Easter Sunday when I was unexpectedly asked to tell a story.
I was standing in Glentrool park with an enthusiastic collection of children. They were learning the ancient art of using slingshots as part of a LIFT (Lochside Is Families Together) fun afternoon. This was part of the Hidden Histories contribution to the afternoons programme. Hidden Histories is a project which has been running in Lochside and Lincluden, helping the local residents make sense of the ancient landscape and stories hidden by modern developments.

This story goes back to the bronze age, and probably further. The 7th largest stone circle in the UK lies within walking distance that afternoons activities. The Cluden water (or Lin- Cluden) flows through a sacred landscape remembered though names such as Druids wood, Nunholm, Holywood, Friars Carse and the much more recent Garden of Cosmic Speculation. The Cluden water meets the river Nith at a site with structures dating back roughly a thousand years. These include the ruins of Lincluden collegiate church, originally a nunnery and adapted to several different uses during it’s lifetime before falling into ruin.

The plan was that the activities today would link into a repeat of “Abbey Antics” to take place the following afternoon in Lincluden. A yellow weather warning has meant that these were postponed, however, and I am using the time to write this account of the afternoon which did take place. Which brings me back to my introduction. As newspaper and gaffer tape ammunition was slung through the air, I was approached by one of the afternoons organisers. She asked if I would tell the story of Easter, as many of those there would probably not have heard it before. It would probably help you as a reader to know that one of the ways that hidden histories brings history to life is to use first person costumed historical interpreters – or people dressed as characters from the past. My persona is brother Cathbad, a Culdee monk, so who better to tell the Easter Story?

My morning had started with worshipping in St Johns church at the all age service. I had heard the Easter story told about five times that morning in various different ways. When you stand up in front of a hall of friends and strangers to tell the story though, where do you start? There are so many names to introduce, as well as concepts like sin, salvation and grace, which have taxed intelligent minds for two thousand years. These stories are also set in a culture which is far distant in time, space, and common sense.

So after I had been introduced to a hall full of inquisitive faces, some on chairs and some on the floor, I started with talking about darkness, and how darkness can be scary.

A light came into this darkness, and this light was God in human form. His name was Jesus and when he was with people things were better. There was something about him that changed the character of what was going on around him. Like a light in your bedroom which stay alight and means that you are not afraid of the dark any more. People loved him for this. Well, some people did, there were also those who he upset. These people got together and planned how to kill him.

This is why there are crosses at Easter.

They arrested Jesus and then nailed him to a cross, killing him, snuffing him out like a candle. There was darkness.

They buried Jesus in a cave, well a borrowed grave, but it was dark in there. Then they put a stone in front of the cave and sealed it to stop anyone from tampering with it. They posted some guards to keep an eye on it too. This had all been done in a hurry, so a few days later some of the women in the group of Jesus friends got together to give his body a proper clean because that is what you did in those times. They were walking to the tomb with lots of nice smelling things, worried about how they would move the great big stone in front of the cave to get in. They were strong women, but that was a heavy rock.

When they arrived at the cave though, they were surprised to see that the stone had been moved. They were worried that someone had been messing with the body of Jesus, which was upsetting, to say the least. Looking inside they saw what looked like a young man sitting where the body had been. The guy told them “why are you looking for the living in the place of the dead?” “Jesus has risen from the dead – go and tell his disciples!”

Amazed some of them ran back to tell the others, one of them was really upset though, and while she was working out what had happened she saw someone who she thought was a gardener walking towards her. She asked him what was going on and where the body was. “Mary” he said. When he said this Mary looked again and recognised him and saw that it was Jesus. “Teacher” she called him and then he sent her to tell the disciples what she had seen.

People have been telling this story ever since, and that is why we have Easter eggs. The eggs are like the stone which was rolled away. They are a reminder of the story, and a reminder that if you are ever alone or afraid in the dark, there is someone who can help you.

Or at least that is what I hope was the story I told. I did mention that there are many ways in which this story has been told and I know that there were some listening who know the story well and will be showing videos of other versions if it. Hopefully those who were new to it will want to hear more!  

With my wife, I try to make Easter weekend a special time. Over Lent, in the 40 days run up to Easter, we change how we live to think things over and to prepare for change. There are certainly many opportunities to reflect in a variety of ways over the weekend. These include high quality choral renditions of classical works, praise bands, and informal jumbled together worship opportunities to sing songs from my childhood.

I think though, if I want to be reminded of #SensingAwareness I’ll take a mug of coffee and a sandwich at a buffet in a hall full of kids with a community karaoke outside. Telling the story was certainly a case of #SensingChallenge, and watching people’s faces when I asked them if they knew what it was like to be afraid of the dark reminded me that this is a real experience not just a metaphor. As I believe in a light which burns in the mirk, and the mirk “slacken it nane” then I am drawn to places where I can help provide light

There is an opportunity for #SensingMystery in high art, or special places. There is also a sense of wonder and awe I feel when I watch someone learning to tie a knot in a piece of string, to make a sling. There is a process by which they go from not believing that it can be done, to discovering that with patience they can overcome their frustration when it goes wrong, to finally smiling when the knot holds, and they have made something that works. This revelation, and the privilege of being a nursemaid in it’s discovery is open access to one of the primal things which makes us human. It is good to be able to turn raw materials into usable things, but to be a part of the experience where someone discovers that they can do this themselves – and then teach others- this is where I find myself #SensingOtherness. thinking about it while writing warms me like sitting by a fire kindled with the divine spark of life.

So my time for writing this draws to a close. Lent is over, and now is a time for celebration and relaxing. Perhaps for some feasting and finding friends too.

all content and images © Wordsmithcrafts - last update 1-jun-18