We arrived at church this morning a few minutes late and out of breath because we underestimated how much time it would take to hike "up" the city, instead of "down". The doors were shut and an imposing minister stood guarding the front turning away tourists. "Are we too late to worship?" we asked, "of course not" he said, opening the wardrobe drawers and letting us into Narnia.
The church was once split up into four churches with walls partitioning the different sections. While technically you were a member of only one parish, people often popped into whichever sermon they were most interested in hearing that week. The partition walls came down later during a restoration project, but it stands to show the thread of change that goes through history. St. Giles was John Knox's church. He'd been banished during the persecution of protestants, but came back when James VI was a baby after the drama with his mother (I think? Assuming I'm not mixing things up). I have complicated feelings about all of the great reformers (Luther, Calvin, Knox...etc). And I think the key word is "struggle". People want things to be so black and white. But the real progress comes in the back and forth. The "rows" so to speak. It's hard to hold all of the things in your hand, but after spending hours and hours in Edinburgh's version of the Smithsonian I can safely say that today's politics have got nothing on its predecessors. In the same way the 19th century military and culture was over the top and romantic with lots of bells and ribbons and good intentions, so it seems to repeat itself.
On a more prosaic note, I've been working on a Classical style sunday school curriuclum (for fun or my own family), and I love these little medallions from parish schools rewarding good learning. Proof we've long used a reward system for teaching kids. 😎
Last week we tried to go to the Elephant House coffee shop where JK wrote Harry Potter, but it was so crowded we ended up at the French Bakery next door. I think everyone this morning was hung over from the rugby match because we got right in and made our way with our coffee to the back where JK wrote. Andria listened to The Hobbit and I worked on my book while we watched the rain fall in Grey Friars graveyard. On a side note...Tom Riddle is buried there. :P
From there we went back to the aforementioned Scottish National Museum. I'm pretty sure you could spend a lifetime in there and eventually your ghost would just be wandering around trying to piece everything together. Physiological beings that we are though...our stomachs eventually growled loud enough to drive us out in search for food. I blame it on the immense energy expended carrying all of our earthly possesions. We were like gypsies or tinkers, backpacks, bags, shoes, jackets and waterbottles all hanging and clanking around as we took out unsuspecting victims every time we tried to turn around. Eventually our shoulders couldn't take it anymore and we piled all of our stuff up on the floor and moved it in front of us from room to room after taking long periods of time to geek out over everything.
We picked up some pasties from the Piemaker shop and some beer from the market and made our way down to Princes Park to enjoy our vittles. I'm sure Scotland does indeed get some mighty gales, but at least for our trip, the rain was just light and steady...with random wind and sunshine (not counting the snow in the highlands). Before we left, I asked an elder at our church (who was once stationed in Scotland) if I needed an umbrella and he said no one really had one because it was too windy. He spoke the truth. We saw very few umbrellas. In fact, even coats were somewhat optional. I kind of liked it because everyone just embraced the wild hair, a fashion statement I can definitely get behind.
I feel bad I've given mental space and airtime to Burns, Scott, Gabaldon, Tolkein, Lewis and JK, but not to Sir Terry Pratchett which is a shame because you can't walk through Edinbourgh without feeling like you're in Ankh Morpork. These pasties were a perfect example. Each one filled with unidentifiable meat that tasted different with every bite (corned beef? sausage? pastrami? it was impossible to tell).
And now we're safely ensconced in our hotel next to the airport. We're checked into our flight, our boarding passes are printed, and the alarms are set. Lord have mercy and see us home.