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Elphinstone Kist   Doric Prose, Folk History

The Wird o God     by: Munro, Mary

Wirds have aye hid a queer fascination for me, for they can be saft, couthy an clean, or hard an coorse-sounin wi a bite in their sayin. Some wirds ging roon yer hert like a hairy worm an gie ye a warm glow, an there’s ithers that gar yer bleed run chill like an icy burn. As a bairn, I aye likit the soun o the wirds drappin frae the minister’s moo in the Kirk, even though I’d nae much idea fat they meant - jist that they hid a flow an a rhythm that made the Bible wirds soun like poetry, even tae a bairn’s lugs.

If truth be telt, the Kirk wis files a place o escape frae the jobbies o hame. Sunday mornin, Faither aye hid a list o things tae be deen, bit if ye, innocent-like, said, “Bit, I’m gaen tae the Kirk!” he wis that dumbfoonert, he hid nae argument agin that. The inside o the Kirk had a ‘holy’ feel aboot it, fite an clean, an the smell o the altar floo’ers and the dusty pews gied ye a calm sough, sittin there feelin unco gweed an kennin ye were better there than at the ither side o the saw-meer cuttin sticks wi Faither or gaitherin his dug tatties for him. I liket the look o the minister’s face - he hid a look o ane o the Saints, clean an scrubbet, wi fite streakit-back hair and hans saft an faulded fan he prayed frae the pulpit. He kinda drifted in frae the vestry, his goon swishin roon his queets like a floatin ghost! He gied ye the feelin he hid the lug o God an micht get through tae Him far us lesser mortals couldna. Fan he read oot o the Bible, the auld wirds hid a soothin soun, an files, rich an mellow, they seemed tae soar richt tae the vaulted rafters o the Kirk. I didna aye follow his drift - I kinda lost the threed as he kirned aboot in his sermon, bit then I wid jist sit an coont the organ pipes ahin his heid or watch the licht playin on the brasses far it filtered wi bonny colours through the stained-glass windaes. Failin that, there wis aye the wifies’ hats or the mannies’ lugs tae amuse ye - that’s foo I aye sat weel back in the kirk so that I hid a gweed view o aa the ferlies!

It seemed a fine, couthy place tae be back then, for the days o fire an brimstane that made the Victorian fowk hodge an squirm on their hard pews wi aa the thochts o sulphur lakes an hell-fire waitin for them hid changed tae stories o hope an forgiveness for them that did ill aa week bit were at the Kirk o a Sunday tae tell o their sins an be sorry aboot it aa. It wis a kine o a clean-oot for the week, jist like Mam gied yer guts a clean-oot ilka week-end wi Syrup o Figs, except it wis yer sowl that got the spring-clean o a Sunday!

As I gaithered mair sense wi the years, I eest tae like the Bible stories fine - real grippin tales wi a bit o “gumption” in them. We werena an awfu ‘Kirkie’ faimly, bit I liket the feelin o bein ane o the kirk-goin fowk back then. Mither wid nark awa at Faither till, for peace-sake, he went tae the Communions. He aye hid tae hae a bigger bath than his usual lick-an-a-promise, an then hid tae trail oot his weddin suit frae the moth-baa smellin press! He wis a gweed enough livin chiel, Faither, bit he hid aye a lot o work tae get deen. As weel as that, fan Granny an Granda Davidson hid a craft doon the road, he an his brithers hid tae gie the auld bodies a haan, so we were aften doon at Logie Coldstane o a Sunday fan I wis a little bairn. It’s hard tae explain the feelin the Kirk gave me then. Maybe it wis jist a wye tae be thankfu ye were sittin there in this bonny Kirk wi aa the hills roon aboot ye, like a comfortable place far ye could sit an gie yer brain a file tae mark time jist lettin the fine wirds wash o’er ye.

We werena as feel as we lookit as we grew up tae be teenagers. If ye said ye were gaan tae the Youth Fellowship Classes in the vestry on a Sunday nicht, ye aye got oot! Mind ye, ye telt a bare-faced lee an vowed tae Mam that it wis frae seven o’clock till nine, fan it really feenished at eicht, so ye hid an oor tae caper aboot on the kirk green wi yer freens. Some o the meetins were fine tae. Files, a missionary chiel wid show picters o the Holy Land or some far-aff foreign place, or ye’d hae a Bible quiz an wid choose yer ain hymns. We aye wintit the roch, roarin kine o hymns, nae the dirges o death that made ye feel like deein there an then as ye droned them oot.

On Winter Sunday aifterneens, some o us even went tae Holy John’s class in the Readin Rooms. I think Holy John and his twa sisters were Evangelists fa hired the Readin Rooms on a Sunday tae try an bring some religion tae the heathen young o the village. He aye mined me o a hoodie craw, tall an thin, aa dressed in black, jist like his twa sisters. They were gweed fowk an, I’m bein honest aboot this, I feel a twinge o guilt noo, for I think we only went for the sweeties! He used tae hand oot the Bible texts on bits o bonny coloured paper like stamps, an if ye could learn it up for the next time an recite it tae Holy John like a parrot, ye got a sweetie! I canna mine goin on fine days fan the sunny hills beckoned, bit on a coorse Sunday, it wis a fine meetin-place tae ging wi yer pals, bit I aye think the sweeties were aye the great attraction.

As ye can see, we were nae angels, bit, thinkin back, oor religion wis kinda mixed up wi a fear o a mythical kinda God fa ruled the warld o Nature, an we were close tae Nature here, it wis like God an Nature were ane an the same thing. I still hiv that feelin noo on tap o a lonely hill wi the saft sough o the win in mi hair - it’s like bein close tae yer God, faa iver he is! Bein close tae the land, as Grassic Gibbon aye said, ye hiv a heathen-like worship o the very marra o life itscl, the Land! I consider I’m real lucky, for I’ve found my God back hame amun the hills!



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