Psalm 121 (NIV)
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and for evermore.
Barry Oliver has written this for us:
First job is to read Psalm 121 starting, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,”. From it think about your life today, now; this is the moment.
I found that my years working as a hill shepherd in the Lammermuir Hills, East Lothian as the most educational time of my life; working 2000 acres of the heatherland and the bent land with only my dog Moss for company. He was a wise worker and great friend. He talked to me with understanding eyes and actions all day.
Once a friend of mine, retired Vice Chancellor of Newcastle University said to me, ‘How can you enjoy living in such solitude?’
The answer was easy: sit in the heather in August, the perfume is perfect. Under, is peat soil which when cut into cubes and dried makes peat logs for the winter fire, ah, the smell! Further down is gravel of stones and then the rocks shaped billions of years ago by the ‘Big Bang’. Looking down into the valley, past bracken, rabbit warrens and fox dens to the burn flowing full of brown trout, dipper birds and wild ducks with ducklings. In the air are grouse, pheasant, heron buzzards, falcons, yellow hammers, snipe, curlew and endless others, all with their own style of living.
Then, look up to the skyline, past conifer woods and arable ground and see the sky. Changing colour and hue 24 hours of blue, white and grey with levels of clouds giving indications of weather changes all the time. At night the twinkling stars in constellations and your eyes see the Milky Way- endless vision into millions of light years. One 2 am, coming home, I had to stop and open ten boundary gates, and at one gate there was a searchlight beam, absolutely brilliant and suddenly it started to expand into the multicoloured stripes of the real Northern Lights. The full sky lit up for a few minutes and then disappeared. A once in a lifetime thrill and no-one to share it with. These were the days that cultivated my acceptance of on my own.
Coming up to more present times, 26 years ago, my lovely wife died, and then my oldest daughter and her only son died, both with brain tumours. That knocked me severely to ‘ultra-lonely’ when I’m not with friends or relatives. Sympathy only lasts a short while, and I made a point of having a happy disposition when out and about.
Don’t sit and moan and become frustrated; take up knitting, tatting crochet, embroidery, painting, calligraphy, cooking; do anything except just sit. Remember your younger happy days and bring joy back to life; write a book about it, do a family tree.
Use your eyes more, even if you need glasses, feed the birds and watch the fun. Stand at the door and pass a friendly “Hallo” to everyone who passes by. I do and always get a warm reply and smile. You will find at bed times you had a nice happy day with a smile on your face. ‘Lock-down?’ No such thing, it’s not so bad after all.
Mind you, there are words to use and I wonder what they meant, such as Contagion, Pandemic, ‘self-isolation’, Epidemiologist, Coronavirus, COVID-19 and others too.
Lonely; who’s lonely? NOT ME.