So we arrived back at Bishop’s House and began sorting out what needed to happen next, and after checking the post, E mails, text messages and answering machine comments it was a relief to head over to St Coumba’s Grantown on Spey for the Commissioning of the Rev Alison Hart to serve both St Columba’s and St John the Baptist, Rothiemurchus. Alison had come to retire amongst us but when the congregations were faced with the death of two faithful priests she stepped up to the plate and has helped to heal and strengthen the people there. It now seemed appropriate that she should take her place in synod and in the meetings of the diocese. The service was very relaxed and jolly, I managed to stay awake as jet lag began to hit and it was good to get home and off to bed.
Two quiet days followed before a slightly crazy Sunday arrived. I was in the Cathedral for the morning services and then we drove through to Keith to lead a congregational meeting looking at the questions that the Mission and Ministry Board is asking the congregations to consider. We had a good meeting and Eucharist with a number of suggestions made that would help other places at the expense of some of the things the congregations have been used to. We then drove through to Gordon Chapel, Fochabers for a Confirmation service and then home for a very long sleep.
On Wednesday I drove through to Alness to celebrate the Eucharist with Claude and Janice Broun. Fr Claude is in the local nursing home and it was good to spend time with them both, bringing him up to date with provincial chat and he telling me stories of yesteryear.
The next weekend was equally busy but this time it was all taking place in Aberlour so we were able to take up residence in Glenlivet for the weekend. So on Friday we drove through to Hopeman and coffee with Douglas as we went through the diary, then up to St Margaret’s, Aberlour and the wedding rehearsal for Clement and Joleen. Then to Blairfindy, unpacked and drove through for afternoon tea in Tomintoul and a lovely walk to Scalan College. Scalan was the training college for the Roman Catholic church during the periods of persecution for that church. The college nestles in a secluded glen and we looked at the renovation work that has been taking place and then climbed to the ridge ad walked back over the hills to the car. Later in the evening Beth and Mara arrived and we huddled around the television and snoozed.
After a lovely cooked breakfast I headed down for the wedding and then through to the Findley house in Craigellechie to discuss the memorial service I was leading on Sunday afternoon. Back to the Glen for a lovely relaxed evening and an early night.
Next morning I led worship at St Margaret’s and was delighted to see a very healthy number of people in this beautiful church, it was good to see so many old friends. We then nipped along the High Street for lunch at Le Petite Gourmand, a wonderful ham omelette!
It was then time for the memorial service for Billy Purves who had been a resident of the Aberlour Orphanage had emigrated to Australia and risen to become a Crown Prosecutor in Sidney. His last request was for his ashes to be brought back to the place he thought of as home. So a number of us, including family and former residents of the orphanage, gathered in the church yard as we placed Billy’s ashes alongside the memorial that remembers the children of the orphanage. It was a very poignant moment, we then headed to the Craigellachie Hotel for a dram and a blether, listening to others sharing their memories of Billy and of life in the orphanage.