Hello and a warm welcome to the new issue of the Voice for Arran. As we leave March and step into April, I get a sense of weight lifting with the lengthening days and the letting go of the remaining darkness of winter. And it looks set to be a busy month, with Easter and school holidays, and all the activity that Spring brings.
In this issue we have news of various things that are coming up on Arran over the next few weeks. There are more dates for the newly launched Zero Waste Café, volunteer days to join at Woodside Arran and a series of Gaelic in the landscape walks with Arran Geopark. Music Arran has a concert with pianist Gamal Khamis, and the end of the month sees the first McLellan Poetry Fringe Festival. There are lots of great events organised for this, so take a look at the programme and the previews on the poets who will be here.
Surrounding all these happenings, an awareness remains of the great upheaval continuing in the world. But there is a feeling that the initial shock brought about by the war in Ukraine has dispersed – in the continuing on with life, a degree of forgetting? But I have been reminded in getting this issue together, of the times over the past month that I have gone through what Jason Bradford describes in The Moon, The Forest and The Last Time, as a ‘last time’ state of mind. In a context of threatening nuclear war, Bradford appreciates with greater intensity the signs of spring flourishing around his home in Oregon. Witnessing bald eagles roosting in the trees and buttercups blooming on the lawn, he says “If I am lucky I will get to see more.”
Reading Bradford’s piece, what struck me most was the shared experience of threat that I had with someone over on the west coast of America. As I write this I’m not entirely sure why I was surprised, and so gladdened. People in their daily lives doing similar things, having similar thoughts and feelings, all over the planet. But perhaps it is because it points to another thing we seem to easily forget, (and the solace experienced was part of the process of remembering) – that of our intrinsic connections to each other through time and space.
In another piece concerned with these ideas, Sue Weaver’s article, Council of All Beings, describes this ‘interbeing’ of humans and non-, as having developed over the billions of years of our evolutionary journey. The practice of the Council of All Beings rests on the remembering of our long and intertwined history. It is only in the last 400 years after all, that as modern humans, “we awaken enclosed by walls in a world made by machines…” and believe we are separate from our world, not part of it. “How did this – cars, motorways, skyscrapers, aeroplanes, TVs, supermarkets with tins and packets of food made in factories – all happen so fast?” And how is it that we forget so easily these aspects of our common humanity that seem to serve us well?
I wonder if we can learn to better remember in the moments of our daily lives. In the current global situation, Bradford has been practising a Last Time meditation, “the idea being that there will be a last time for anything you do, and because you can’t really know when that is, reflecting upon this fact while doing something you love heightens your appreciation of the moment.”
I will keep practising! And wish you a lovely month, Elsa