Of all the places in Stirlingshire that family friends could move to in 2012 they chose the village of Thornhill. This was near where Morag came from. Here I was forty years later being invited to visit my friends in that place. Memories of that Saturday night came flooding back as I drove to their cottage. As they did so I could hear the distant voice of Cat Stevens in my head singing Morning Has Broken – an apt soundtrack. Coincidentally, the visit happened to be on a Saturday. My friends knew the story and the village’s association with it but it did not stop me repeating it once more – to their delight I hasten to add – at the dinner table that evening. They could not believe that I had once been so shy. When I left their home later that night I noticed that it was near to the time I had left the dance – or rather blown my chance. All that I needed to bring the memory to life as I headed back was the sound of Cat Stevens singing that song. Alas none of the Best of… CDs in the glove compartment contained it so I had to make do with the distant sound of his voice once more. It wasn’t so much Morning Has Broken as I drove through the darkness but rather the sky – it poured all the way.
A habit when I return to Scotland is to attend church but instead of the usual one I went to the Church of Scotland. It was purely for nostalgic reasons – besides worship of course; I had not been to a service there for over forty years. I wanted to sit in the balcony pew where my younger brother and I used sit during our Sunday school days back in the mid – 60s. Thankfully nothing had changed; the pew was just as I remembered it – hard and uncomfortable. However on this occasion I never noticed.
The service that I chanced to participate in that morning was a christening. The church was quite full. The opening hymn was the normal one of praise followed by a coming together prayer offered by the minister in down to earth albeit reverent language. The christening of the baby then followed, which is always a touching spectacle. After the parents and their newly sprinkled child returned to their seats the minister then announced the next hymn.
My face beamed with a broad smile as I stood along with the rest of the congregation singing with gusto. As I did so I thought how sensitive and perhaps humourous God was. I now knew why there was no CD in the car containing that song. Instead of listening to its heavenly strains God had had it in mind for me to sing it at church the next morning instead. Thoughts of that Saturday night joined me as I sang turning it into a fond rather than regrettable memory. After all that is all that it was now. Beyond a memory lies a new day.
Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God’s recreation of the new