Mindfulness@Lunchtime will continue to meet on Tuesdays at 12.15 at St Mark’s throughout the Festival Fringe period
We were most fortunate that during the service on 2 July, Tom Spark’s, from Amnesty international spoke to us about the work of the charity.
The good cause in September and October will be The St Catharine’s Convent Homeless Project.
In September, (the exact date will be announced in August/September Waymark) our ’Friendship Table’ will receive our annual donation of consumable items for the St Catharine’s Homeless Project. This year the Project would like us to collect tins of Baked Beans, Lentils and Soup.
The homeless project gives support to the homeless in Edinburgh, the number of whom is increasing all the time. As well as serving over 90,000 free meals a year, the project offers a huge range of services, from guidance with job applications; help for support groups for addicts; to counselling and help in seeking medical assistance.
The project is used by up to two hundred people a day. These range from long-term homeless people who are sleeping rough or staying in hostels around the city, to old age pensioners who bus in from their flats in the Edinburgh estates for a meal and some company.
On Friday evenings, two people from St Mark’s help serving the meals. If you would like to be a part of this worthwhile initiative, please speak to Elaine Edwards
Images from Clip Art
LYNSEY BAILEY reports on
On Sunday 4 June, in a very timely interfaith service, Mary McKenna had invited Trishna Singh to provide an insight into some of the practices and principles of Sikhism. Beginning with the time for all ages, we heard a traditional Sikh tale of a meditating crocodile and an arrogant priest who did not believe that a crocodile could have a sense of God. The moral being that we should always remember that regardless of our circumstances, we are all one. Once the children left for their activities, Trishna recited of the first part of the Sikh daily prayer (first in Punjabi, followed with an English translation) which affirms the oneness of God and creation. We then heard of how Sikhism was founded as a breakaway religion, drawing on both Hindu and Islamic thought. It was interesting to see the commonality and parallels with Unitarianism. Going on to hear about the principles and practices of a fully baptised Sikh took me back to what I had previously learned about Sikhism during a primary school project on India (such as the 5 Ks* that all Sikhs must wear and the festivals they celebrate). It was good to be reminded of this and really highlighted how, in the current climate, being willing to engage with those of other faiths to build understanding is so vital.
It was also very apropos, since sharing a meal following worship is a Sikh tradition, that we had our Bring and Share lunch following the service. Normally Bring and Share meals are an evening event, but on this occasion it was lovely to be able to include those for who evenings do not suit. The generosity of the contributions is always heartening and there is never any worry that anyone will go away hungry. The conversation flowed over lunch and, although I was sorry to have missed Trishna’s informal Q&A session while setting up for the lunch, I did manage to glean the gist of it and those who had attended found it very enlightening.
Given the awful events in London the night before, I think it was the type of day we all needed.
*The five Ks are:
Kesh (uncut hair)
Kara (a steel bracelet)
Kanga (a wooden comb)
Kaccha - also spelt, Kachh, Kachera (cotton underwear)
Kirpan (steel sword)
by LESLEY HARTLEY
Green is a significant force in our lives. As a colour it has positive features of harmony, balance, refreshment, rest, restoration, reassurance, environmental awareness, equilibrium, and peace.
In the world religions, green plays an important part. In Hinduism green is a festive colour. In Maharashtra, it represents life and happiness. For that reason, a widow does not wear green. Symbolising peace and happiness, green stabilises the mind.
In Japanese culture, green is associated with eternal life; it is the sacred colour of Islam, representing respect and the prophet Muhammad who wore a green cloak and turban.
Green, blue-green, and blue are sacred colours in Iran, where they symbolize paradise. Green is the colour of love associated with both Venus, the Roman goddess and Aphrodite, the Greek goddess.
In the bible, several references are made to green. It represents bountifulness, hope and the victory of life over death. It is one of the colours associated with Christmas, and the long season of the Trinity in summer.
‘..to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’ Gen 1:30
‘He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.’ Psalm 23:2-3
Green strikes the eye in such a way as to require no adjustment whatever, and is, therefore, restful. Being in the centre of the spectrum, it is the colour of balance, has a wavelength easily seen by the eye, and is the least offensive colour to look at. As a result, it has a calming effect, which is why TV studios and theatres have ‘green rooms’ to calm guests’ nerves before they appear.
Before the arrival of interactive classroom displays, blackboards were painted green because it was easier for students to look at them. Green is restful for eyes and produces the least amount of eyestrain. This is a good choice for computer desktops if you are in front of a screen for many hours. Those who practise feng shui in their lives have little need to avoid green.
When the world about us contains plenty of green, this indicates the presence of water, and little danger of famine, so we are reassured by green.
The physical effects of green are many: in the presence of green your pituitary gland is stimulated; your muscles are more relaxed, and your blood histamine levels increase, which
leads to a decrease in allergy symptoms and dilated blood vessels, aiding in smoother muscle contractions. Green is calming, stress-relieving, and – a bit paradoxically – invigorating. It’s been shown to improve reading ability and creativity.
Medical research has found that views from windows have great importance. A recent study has shown positive effects on patients recovering from abdominal surgery. It was discovered that patients whose hospital rooms overlooked trees had an easier time recovering than those whose rooms overlooked brick walls. Patients able to see nature got out of the hospital faster, had fewer complications and required less pain medication than those forced to stare at a wall.
By no means was it just a green view that was of benefit. He also found that heart surgery patients in intensive care units could reduce their anxiety and need for pain medication by
looking at pictures depicting trees and water. In one wellknown study, Rachel Kaplan found that office workers with a view of nature liked their jobs more, enjoyed better health and
reported greater life satisfaction.
So, if the colour green has so many positive effects for us, what about the power of a green space. What is your favourite green space?
Can you think of the feelings that are aroused in this place? Are you content, relaxed, protected, solitary, comfortable?
For many of us, our nearest green space is our garden; it might be some pots on a patio, a window box, or for a flat at Newhaven the green space may be a view of the Forth.
My Mum loved her garden; she was a diligent gardener, but oh the distress it caused when she was unable any more to bend to the flower beds or to tread carefully down the steps into the garden. In the garden’s heyday, Mum would sit contentedly at the end of an afternoon’s green-fingered ministrations and smile at an ordered space and then she would walk to visit each bed, stopping to smell a flower, touch a petal or tweak a weed.
My Mum was one of many who have a genuine attachment to their garden. Sometimes this attachment can provide a feeling of connection with our ancestors, families of gardeners.
Alan Epstein in ‘ How to have more love in your life’ ( Penguin 1966) implores us to spend more time in a flower garden, spending enough time to take in the garden’s charms and to feel at home there.
Barton and Pretty's study of exposure to green space and mental health showed the strongest positive effects on mood and self-esteem for the shortest duration (even just five minutes) of activity in green space, irrespective of the intensity of the activity).
Research has shown that children who live in greener environments have greater capacity for paying attention, and they're better able to delay gratification and inhibit impulses. Results of studies also suggest that green space generally enhances feelings of social safety.
Green spaces work for the senses. Touch different textured and patterned leaves, smell scents of flowers and herbs, they provide the quiet to appreciate birdsong and insect movement
In Edinburgh, there are around seventy public parks to enjoy – used by families, footballers, sunbathers, people who want to sit quietly, readers, snoozers, dog walkers, birdwatchers and picnickers - to name but a few.
Urban parks are used as visual landscape with so many benefits such as reducing stress, reducing air pollution and producing oxygen, creating opportunities for people to participate in physical activities, optimal environment for children and decreasing noise pollution.
Local authorities have responsibility for ill-health prevention strategies and parks play an important part in encouraging exercise and outdoor pursuits.
Harrison Park West has been awarded the green flag for its beauty and quality green space. It boasts a community herb garden that belongs to and is tended by the local community with an open invitation for anybody to help themselves to their produce of fifteen types of herbs.
Polwarth Canal garden invites people to drop in and enjoy the peace and tranquillity on the canal side. A beautifully tended spot.
Victoria Park in the Hackney area of East London has often been referred to as ‘the lungs of London’. Might the lungs of Edinburgh be Princes Street Gardens, or the Botanics, or Inverleith Park – our city has a wealth of beautiful green space - a good part of the city’s soul.
The Unitarian movement in the UK has as its holiday and meeting centre, the Nightingale Centre in the village of Great Hucklow in the middle of Derbyshire’s Peak District.
It provides holidays for children from deprived areas who very often have not had a holiday before, nor seen the countryside (not covered up in kagoules and boots) to climb over stiles; or stride across fields full of curious cows; not seen lichen on stone walls; nor inspected a miniature orchid in the woods; not heard the sound of a green woodpecker or had a squirrel scamper in front of them; not enjoyed a wide view of hills or sky, trees and the occasional farm vehicle.
Schools play their part well in allowing children to access green space. Many schools have ‘forest school’ trained teachers who are able to plan safe but challenging activities for children to work and play in wooded areas. This hands-on approach has been responsible for good progress in reading and writing, especially for boys who find they have something they want to read and write about.
By the side of the playground in my school we had a popular green area - lots of children played on it or sat on it – it wasn’t grass because grass couldn’t have coped with the foot traffic. This was NoMow - an area of artificial grass - but an area which amazingly produced calmness for those who sought it.
One of the important events in our school year was to take children - who lived in the Peak District - for a week’s holiday in the Peak District. To many children, this place, only twenty-five minutes’ drive away, was a world away. It changed lives and it helped children grow in self-esteem and confidence. It created opportunities for the children to look ahead; to decide what they wanted in their lives; to see that there were other possibilities rather than being a celebrity or a footballer.
On a walk from Edale to Castleton across the Peaks, my class of well-muddied children were feeling quite proud of their efforts that day and had time to reflect on what they wanted from life. One boy said, ‘When I grow up I would like your job’. He was talking to a Peak Park ranger, one of our dads at school, who was accompanying our group. ‘I like it out here. I’ve thought about lots of things and found things I can do.’ That boy went on to achieve a degree in environmental education and is now…. a Peak Park ranger. The power of a green space.
Copyright Lesley Hartley used by permission given in St Mark’s on 16 October 2016
Lesley Hartley is a member of St Mark’s, convener of our ministry team, leader of the Chalice Singers and pulpit secretary.
If you would like to lead, or assist in leading, Sunday worship, please speak to Lesley.
The pictures on pages 1 and 8 were supplied by Roger Hartley.
We first meet Patrice and Leslie in August 2010 when, as members of the Westport Unitarian
Chamber Choir they participated in a Sunday service. Subsequently the choir gave a concert at St Mark’s. This year, on 6 August at 15.30 Patrice and Leslie will present the great American Songbook as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Additionally, Patrice will lead worship at 11.00 on:
A Great American Songbook Cabaret
Songs you know and love presented by cabaret specialists Patrice and Richard, who have performed on the east coast in the US, Hawaii, Ireland and on cruise ships. Join us for a relaxed collection of standards, songs from Broadway musicals and jazzy tunes. Family friendly!
Photograph courtesy of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe brochure. https://www.edfringe.com/
In 2017, the International and Fringe Festivals celebrate seventy years of welcoming performances from across the globe. St Mark’s also reaches its own landmark, celebrating
thirty-five years as a regular Fringe venue. This year, between Thursday 3 August and Saturday 26 August, we will host some sixty performances of twenty-two shows in our church.
Our full programme is included in this edition of Waymark. As you’ll see, we have up to six performances a day. Please take a moment to peruse the programme. We guarantee there is
something for you whether your musical taste is romantic, classical, popular, new compositions, Renaissance song, Scottish piping, experimenting with percussion - or theatre
with the third instalment of the comedy smash-hit, The Gin Chronicles. It’s all waiting for you at St Mark’s this year, from the beloved Richard Michael to a late-night screening of the
1920 silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari complete with live musical accompaniment.
During the three and a half weeks of the Fringe, St Mark’s is a vibrant, joyous place, welcoming several thousand visitors from all over the world. Most are, naturally, here for a show -
our building’s acoustics are particularly praised - however, others, seeing our open door, simply take the opportunity to have a look around our magnificent church. Often we have
tourists introducing themselves from other Unitarian congregations. Consequently, it would be wonderful to have as many of St Mark’s congregation as possible on site during August. For that reason, I am now seeking volunteers to look after our box office.
Many of last year’s volunteers have already said they want to help again, but I’d love even more of you to take up the opportunity of joining us. Shifts last for around four hours, although if you wish to volunteer for longer, that would be most welcomed. This year, shifts will be available from 09.30 to 23.00. You can do as many, or as few, shifts as you wish.
You can also do shifts alone or with a companion. In return for volunteering, I’m pleased to announce you will receive two free tickets for any show (subject to availability) for
every shift you work!
As a volunteer, you will never be alone on a shift. At least one other member of staff, one experienced in running the church as an arts venue, will be in the building at all times. The work is never pressurised or physically strenuous. On the contrary, as a volunteer of many years standing, I can personally assure you that while staff must be professional, committed
and courteous throughout, we always remember the bottom line: this is a festival! By being a St Mark’s volunteer, we’ll make sure you enjoy being part of the biggest arts festival on
If you become a volunteer you will:
See the Festival Fringe from a different perspective
Represent our Unitarian community and beautiful city of Edinburgh to visitors
Provide cover that might otherwise have to be paid for, thereby you enhance St Mark’s income
Please do get in touch with me if you would like to discuss being a volunteer. It would be great to have you on the team!
Someone asked me, ‘aren't you afraid about the state of the world? ‘I allowed myself to breathe and then I said, ‘what is most important is not to allow your anxiety about what happens in the world fill your heart. If your heart is filled with anxiety, you will get sick, and you will not be able to help.’ There are wars - big and small - in many places, and that can cause us to lose our peace. Anxiety is the illness of our age. We worry about ourselves, our family, our friends, our work, and the state of the world. If we allow worry to fill our hearts, sooner or later we will get sick.
Yes, there is tremendous suffering all over the world, but knowing this need not paralyse us. If we practice mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful sitting, and working in mindfulness, we try our best to help, and we can have peace in our heart. Worrying does not accomplish anything. Even if you worry twenty times more, it will not change the situation of the world. In fact, your anxiety will only make things worse. Even though things are not as we would like, we can still be content, knowing we are trying our best and will continue to do so. If we don't know how to breathe, smile, and live every moment of our life deeply, we will never be able to help anyone. I am happy in the present moment. I do not ask for anything else. I do not expect any additional happiness or conditions that will bring about more happiness. The most important practice is aimlessness, not running after things, not grasping.
We who have been fortunate enough to encounter the practice of mindfulness have a responsibility to bring peace and joy into our own lives, even though not everything in our body, mind or environment is exactly as we would like. Without happiness we cannot be a refuge for others. Ask yourself, what am I waiting for to make me happy? Why am I not happy
right now? My only desire is to help you see this. How can we bring the practice of mindfulness to the widest spectrum of society? How can we give birth to the greatest number of people who are happy and who know how to teach the art of mindful living to others? The number of people who create violence is very great, while the number of people who know how to breathe and create happiness is very small. Every day gives us a wonderful opportunity to be happy ourselves and to become a place of refuge for others.
We don't need to become anything else. We don't need to perform some particular act. We only need to be happy in the present moment, and we can be of service to those we love and to our whole society. Aimlessness is stopping and realising the happiness that is already available. If someone asks us how long we need to practice in order to be happy, we can tell her that she can be happy right now! The practice of aimlessness is the practice of freedom.
Copyright Thich Nhat Hanh. Used by permission. The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching. From ‘ Here and Now’, (the Community of Interbeing magazine).
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who was in Vietnam during the Indochina wars between 1946 and 1989. He was the leading peace activist during the wars and therefore is able to speak with deep understanding.
Thank you to Jon Bagust for submitting this piece. Jon invites you to come along to St Mark's on any Tuesday between 12.15 - 14.00 in order to share the practice of Mindfulness@Lunchtime; Mindfulness as taught by Thich Nhat Hanh.
It is our practice for a different member of our community to light our chalice at the start of Sunday worship. It is an opportunity to highlight important concerns and issues. Susanne Urquhart lit the chalice on 28 May. She was assisted by her children, Sam and Martha. In remembering the victims of the attack in Manchester on the previous Monday, 22 May, Susanne’s theme was peace and hope.
I light the Peace Candle today for the victims of the attack in Manchester on Monday.
My deepest sympathies and thoughts are with those who lost their lives; with those who were injured; with their families and friends; with everyone who was and is affected by this random act of violence.
I also light the candle for hope and for peace. Not the kind of peace that is merely defined by the absence of conflict. Conflicts and differences are a part of life. But the kind of peace that is a constant process of solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education; and through humane ways.
We speak about conflict and peaceful conflict resolution with Sam and Martha to enable them to develop ways to deal with the tricky situations they may be confronted with at school or nursery. In one of these discussions Sam and Martha concluded that ‘being kind is peace’.
I would like to share two quotes, which give me a sense of hope and guidance in the face of such an incomprehensible and tragic event as has happened in Manchester.
‘No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.’ Nelson Mandela
‘I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquillity will return once more. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.’ Anne Frank
July promises to be an remarkable month in St Mark’s, as you will find from reading this issue of Waymark! The interesting themes don’t finish at the end of the month, but spill over into August. Once again, St Mark’s becomes an Edinburgh Festival Fringe venue and ANN SINCLAIR is seeking volunteers to look after our box office.
As a volunteer you will:
See the Festival Fringe from a different perspective
Represent our Unitarian community and beautiful city of Edinburgh to visitors
Provide cover that might otherwise have to be paid for, thereby you enhance
St Mark’s income
Interested? See Waymark page 7 for more details of how to volunteer
See also pages 5 and 6 of this issue for the Festival Fringe programme at artSpace@StMarks Venue 125
The photograph, supplied by Roger Hartley, is a view of the Shepherd House Garden Inveresk. http://shepherdhousegarden.co.uk/
See, also, Lesley Hartley’s address on pages 8 and 9.