I have decided to embrace winter. It’s all the thing these days. Very fashionable indeed. ‘Hygge’ is the word for it which apparently is pronounced something like the sound you make when you are clearing your throat. The word is Danish in origin and let’s just remember that the Danes burn more candles than any other nation on earth – so that gets them a lot of Hygge points straight away. To get into the hygge mentality we must think about things like warm woolly socks and lying in front of the fire roasting chestnuts. We must spurn things that are annoying or emotionally overwhelming and instead embrace the peace of the mid-winter.
Maybe think of that sound outside after snow has fallen – all sort of muffly. And make your brain go like that (and if there’s no snow try a large gin – it has the same effect.) Ah! now I’m getting there.
But then a jolt. A cold un-hyggey jolt. There’s all the Christmas preparations to get done in my new hyper-Hygge state before I can sail through to spring. Perhaps others of you share that Christmas ‘blip’ – most un-Hygge – far too much stress and rushing about. So let’s take the Christmas Hygge challenge. How can we manage it all in a stress free way? How about shopping locally for starters.
Let’s buy lots of our gifts on Santa Day. New this year is the craft stall in the Taybank carpark. All our wonderful local shops will be open as well as the charity stalls in the square. Let’s buy a glass of mulled wine or a warming cup of hot chocolate and wander round in a sort of tranced Hygge kind of way – peacefully gathering gifts. I’m sure it’s also very Hyggey (have I just invented a new word?) to give to charity. One really good way is to rake through the cupboard for good quality toys and get those donated to the Santa day charity toy stall. Alternatively, if you have grandchildren coming to stay over the hols why not get down to the toy stall on the 9th in the Duchess Anne and update your toy selection.
Regular readers of this column will know that my Christmas isn’t complete until I have watched Gregory Peck in the Guns of Navarone.
Considering I always do this in front of the fire with a glass of sloe gin I’m wondering if I can count viewing a war movie as Hyggey or not? I think …on balance …I can – for while Mr Peck might be emotionally overwhelming he’s certainly not annoying.
On behalf of John and myself may I wish all you wonderful readers a very Hyggey Christmas and a Happy and Successful 2018.
Thank you so much for all your support over the past year. I look forward to catching up in February when the snowdrops will be out and spring will be on the way. Skål!
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 January 2018 15:27
Notes from a Councillor
Season’s greetings one and all.
I have no idea where that year went? It only seems like five minutes ago that I was looking forward representing the Strathtay ward and here I am giving you an update on some of the things that have already happened.
No doubt you will be pleased to see that the footpath on the Blairgowrie road (A923) is now complete and makes life a little safer heading up the hill. It is also good to see the long overdue road surfacing work near to the Golf club has also been done. This year will also see the start of the A9 dualling work from Luncarty to Birnam and a planning application is imminent for the sand and gravel borrow pit near Loak farm.
I recently attended the remembrance service at Dunkeld Cathedral and the Wreath laying ceremony at the War memorial. It was very sad to see only a handful of attendees. A number of residents commented that maybe it would be beneficial to have the memorial moved to a more accessible location. I would be interested to hear your thoughts.
As always, I am happy to take your phone calls or receive your emails for matters that you wish to discuss and I am always willing and happy to come out for a meeting.
It just leaves me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
Councillor Ian James
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 January 2018 15:31
Thought for the Month
What happens after we die?
Recently someone pointed out to me that, according to a statistic, about 52% of the UK population declare themselves to be without any faith. I couldn’t stop wondering why so many of my brothers and sisters seem to have lost interest in something that is so dear to me.
November for we Catholics is the month dedicated to our dear ones who have passed to eternal life, so that we don’t forget to pray for them. But not just that. It is the time when we are encouraged to think about the true meaning of life.
What is life? What do we live for? Where is life coming from?
Is there anything after death? So, apart from praying for our dear ones who have passed to eternal life, the month of November is a month to refocus our attention on the things that are most important. That treasure that no one can take away from us, not even death.
While I was living this November time with the Church someone presented to me the statistic that I started with, and I could see some sort of connection. Generally, when we talk about the afterlife, we are still using the terminology and imaging which we used a long time ago. This terminology and imaging was developed in a time when most of the population was illiterate and of little education.
Today it’s totally a different story, and if the way we used to speak about heaven and the reality of the things to come might be still adequate for children (not always), it is not adequate for adults. Who knows why for many of us when we talk about heaven it seems like a fairy tale we used to read as children? Maybe simply because of the way it was presented to us.
The most basic question of all is; what is the meaning of life? Scientists can tell us how life developed along the millions of years but no human study can give me an answer to why am I living, or what is the purpose of my life. Am I just a mere coincidence, one moment here the next gone for ever? In this case, if we eliminate God and his love as the reason of our existence, we would be condemning ourselves to this horrible answer. One might say that the fact that this answer is a negative one does not mean that it’s not the truth. That’s true, so how do we know that it’s not the truth? My simple answer is because I believe in Jesus, I trust Him, I am sure he told us the truth. In life we have to take a risk. We can risk on what some scientists say or what someone else says no matter who that person is, I can risk on my own opinion, but I choose to take a risk on the Word of Jesus.
My parents could have desired a baby about 48 years ago, but there is no way they could have desired me. I did not exist and they did not know me. Only One knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb, only He wanted me to be simply because He loved me. Yes, for me life has only one meaning: life is a selfless gift of a loving God; life is a journey towards perfect unity with this loving God, and life will reach its climax when we are united with Him for ever.
That’s why we were created.
What is heaven then? If we are talking about the afterlife, then we are in the realm of the spirit (we believe in the resurrection of the body, but our body will be glorified; this means that our body will not follow anymore the laws of physics but will now follow the rules of a spirit) and so the rules that apply for matter do not apply anymore. This means we cannot think in the terms of space and time anymore. I believe that heaven is life after death, when, unlike this life, everything is certain, no doubts anymore, everything is clear as crystal. Above all the clearest thing would be that God is all that is beautiful, all that is truth, all that is love, all that we can desire, all that is life and heaven is the certainty that now we are in his loving embrace for ever. There we would lack nothing; there is no more suffering, sickness, the evil of this world, there is no death anymore.
Heaven though is not just God embracing us for ever, but we must embrace him forever too. We are free human beings and God does not impose on us anything, not even heaven.
Sometimes I will meet a worker with dirty hands and when I offer my hand for a handshake, he would start trying to clean his hands the best he can. How can I embrace God if I feel that I am stained by sin?
We talk about God’s judgement after death. It is not God that makes the judgement, we will make our own judgement.
If we have tried our best to live a good life but still failed and maybe sometimes a lot, can we imagine how we would feel when immediately after death we would realise how much He had loved us and how ungrateful we have been? We Catholics call this purification after death purgatory.
Purgatory is that state after life when we realize with perfect clarity the infinity of God’s love towards us and at the same time how tepid, maybe even negative was our response to this love; this is the moment when we feel most powerfully the salvation of Jesus, we realize that in Him and because of Him only, we can embrace God for ever.
What is Hell? Hell is the realisation without any doubt that God is all that is beautiful, all that is truth, all that is love, all that we can desire, all that is life and that one had made a fundamental decision in life against Him and this means we have lost Him for ever. Imagine two magnets when one puts the two negatives or two positives near each other there is a repulsion. The same thing would happen to him who in life takes a decision against God and love. In the immediate moment after death instead of feeling the need to embrace God for ever he would feel that repulsion from Him for ever.
Do you find this scary? Not for those who are honest with themselves, with God and with others. God sees the heart and surely, He would be gained by all those who seek him with a sincere heart, even those who never actually find him in this life.
Fr Edward Vella
Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 January 2018 15:34
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