The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections from Dorothy Neilson 

Sunday - 31 October 2021

Hello, friends in Crail and St Ayle.

Entering the presence of God.

Eternal God, the light of the minds that know you, the joy of the hearts that love you, the strength of the wills that serve you; Grant us so to know you that we may truly love you, so to love you that we may freely serve you, to the glory of your holy name.  Amen. (Gelasian Sacramentary 5th century.)

One of the questions in my prayer book asks me,

“How then shall you live?”

Knowing God, the care He has for us, the knowledge He has OF us, the way He directs us and walks with us…..knowing all that……How then shall we live?  When Jesus walked this earth, he was asked the same question.  And his reply was this.

First in importance is, 'Love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.'  And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’  There is no other commandment that ranks with these.

(Mark 12:30,31 – The Message)


This week’s reflection is very personal.  I hope you don’t mind.  It’s about lockdown.

Lockdown started last March 2020, 19th months ago.  It was a horrible shock at the time as this pandemic and the way it had to be handled was completely out-with anyone’s experience.  But we did it, once, twice, three times and we began to get used to it.  To such an extent that for me at least, there will be no ‘going back to normal’.  It was a brand-new phase of life that I found myself entering by the end.  And today as I look back, I am beginning to understand what happened inside me and for the future.  My future, at least.

Lockdown locked us down, physically and in many other ways too.  I shut down.  I missed everyone so much and felt I had real difficulties in setting up my own life in my own wee house.  I wrote up a timetable and tried to stick to it and develop a pattern.  And as time went on, I DID develop a pattern.  But then I sank into a trough, then an abyss, then got started again, then slid back.  Not so much a rollercoaster, more a trip on a choppy sea.


But now I can look back and see more clearly.  And this is what I see.  I hope you might recognise some of this too.

I was forced to make peace with my own company.  I had to make friends with myself in order to live with myself with no outside stimulus - like seeing friends or going out for coffee.  Or painting or child-minding, pursuing hobbies.  It was a lonely time, despite all the zooms and facetimes.  In making friends with myself, I quickly realised you don’t get close to someone that you are constantly criticising.  I had to stop whining about myself TO myself and I had to treat myself as a friend that I was only getting to know.  So I stopped criticising myself and I stopped telling myself that everything I thought about or did was rubbish.  It was almost like bringing a child up.  I tried – and it was HARD – to coax myself on, encourage myself, tell myself just to try, reward myself if I had stuck to my plan.  Wow!  Being nice to yourself is hard!!!  But I did it and it became more normal, and I blossomed under my own self-regard.  I became a happier and more contented person, in spite of lockdown.  “Love others as you love yourself.”  Said Jesus. 


My problem had been that I was hyper-critical of myself and therefore hyper-critical of everyone else too.  When I stopped criticising myself, I could begin to accept other people too, warts and all.  It is still a work in progress.  And it IS work.  But I am doing it and beginning to find it easier.

So, my hope is that through using all this energy and patience to love myself, I may also be able to love YOU as well. 

  • Even when you are grumpy.  Because I know that sometimes I too am grumpy.

  • Even when you push me away.  Because I understand that I too push people away and usually I really, really would prefer them to stay. 

  • Even when I sense your impatience with me.  I can understand that I annoy you sometimes because sometimes I annoy myself too. 

  • Even when you want me to go away and leave you alone.  I try to understand what is happening in your life to make you feel that way.  I try to see your life as YOU see it.  I try to understand what YOU are feeling.  I try. 

I don’t always succeed.  But I try.  And I am learning.

But do you see?  We can’t have one without the other.  If we are unable to show ourselves a little bit of love and understanding, then we certainly will be unable to show it to anyone else. 


“And the Lord said, ‘Love your enemy.’ And I obeyed him and loved myself.”  (Khalil Gibran)


So, love yourself.  Love others.  Love what the day brings.  Love what the weather brings.  Love here.  Love there.  Love him.  Love her.  Love that odd ball across the road.  Love the weirdo on the bus.  Love the man who never smiles back at you.  Love the woman who swears at you.  Love.  Love. Love.  It’s Jesus commandment.


And Nike also has a wee commandment which is good too.  JUST DO IT!  SO….let’s try.  And sense the lightness of spirit that lingers longer as you go on your way.  Love.


First in importance is, “Love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.  Second is, “Love others as well as you love yourself. There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” (Mark 12: 30,31- The Message)


Song: Google this if you can. (Below)

Let there be love shared among us, let there be love in our eyes
May now Your love sweep this nation.  Cause us, O Lord, to arise.
Give us a fresh understanding of brotherly love that is real,
Let there be love shared among us.  Let there be love.