A View from St Kilda – May 2023

I haven’t watched ‘The Portable Door’ and the mysterious firm J.W. Wells and Co yet, even though it’s now on SKY, but I probably will. I like the idea of a door that can take you to different places. 

I often think it would be good to drive through the Clyde Tunnel and come out at the exit of another tunnel, in another land. Think how excited I would be turning from Victoria Park and passing into the tunnel (avoiding the potholes) and coming out heading for Sorrento! 

For those of you old enough, you might remember the children’s programme ‘Mr Ben’, who, when he tried on a costume in a costume shop, stepped out of the changing room into a different time and different place appropriate to his apparel. 

We all have favourite places so, for a moment, I invite you to take yourself back there. For me it is easy – sitting at the Bar Marinello looking onto the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius in the distance, with the sun beating down, as I sipped a glass of white wine, or quenched a thirst with a Birra Moretti. 

Why are you at the place? Is it im-portant because of who is with you, or why you went there? Is it a familiar place, one which you’ve returned to often? Or is the impact of the only time you were there so powerful that it has always remained with you? Did you linger, or was your time there all too brief? Who were you then? What did you experience? How do you feel now? 

Place matters. And, having taken yourself to a place which matters more to you than anywhere else, you will be the better for it. Place matters. And the importance of a place in your life can never be tak-en from you, no matter where else you might end up. Place matters. You don’t have to explain why, or make it the same as anyone else, or even reveal your choice to another living soul. And you might not be able to articulate the importance of that place anyway. But place matters, and always will. 

For, in your existence, however long or short that might be, or wherever life’s meandering journey has taken you, you were there, you were at that place that so deeply affected your life. You were at that place, in that important moment of time, and that place is now in you, and it always will be in you. And that’s why, at my invitation, you have been able to be back there so readily. For you and that place cannot be separated. 

When life is hard, when sleep seems a distance away, I go to these places – yes it might be Sorrento, or Rome where an Italian patted me on the stomach and said ‘Too much spaghetti’, but it could be the walks Pam and I took in the Yorkshire Moors, or even walking from our hotel in Piccadilly, Manchester, heading for the Etihad Stadium to watch City play. 

We read, on Sunday 23rd April, the lovely Emmaus story, where two disciples journeyed and were met and accompanied by Jesus. We are blessed by these special places – think how, looking back, these two disciples would feel when they returned to that road physically or mentally; or when he broke bread with them – how they would rest in that place. 

We are heading towards the summer and a more restful time – we can be blessed for all the special places and who was there with us… but we are also blessed by the fact that Jesus is with us – making many places special because he was there. 

Your friend and minister

George Mackay