I am almost thirty years old and still struggle with the concept of a leap year.
I think it has something to do with the sun/Earth’s orbit? Someone told me that if we did not do the leap year thing the seasons would shift around the calendar, and in 700-ish years June would find itself in the middle of winter? Just crazy. Did you also know that the 29th is known as ‘Bachelor Day’? Have you heard of this tradition? On this day, women are ‘allowed’ to propose to men and it is seen as socially acceptable and people were wildly excited about it around here. Leap years are just full of surprises, eh?
Speaking of surprises, we stayed up until 5am watching the Super Bowl on a work night this year. Worth it? Yes! Do we have Bronco fever? Yes! Did we miss American Super Bowl snacks and watching it family? Heck yes! However, we are really lucky to have an amazing group of friends that also had NFL fever and hosted a Super Bowl party. And for the record, I loved the halftime show- I know there are some haters out there, but it brought me to tears! All of the Beyonce, Coldplay (#firstconcert2005), missing Colorado, and let’s be honest ‘Merica, I was just feeling emotionally overwhelmed in a fun and homesick kind of way. We miss you Denver!
This Valentine’s Day was a little different, because we kind of forgot to plan something. Remember the elementary school days? Staying up late to make a homemade mailbox, signing your name on what felt like thousands of pre-made cards and getting sick off candy hearts? The pride of coming home with a treasure trove of My Little Pony and Nascar cards and buckets of candy? A wee collection, a reminder, that an entire day of school could be devoted to love and friendship. Those were happy times. But over past couple of years, I think I know more people now that kind of hate Valentine’s Day and for fair reasons. Some people that I love are grieving for ones they have lost, experiencing loneliness without that someone they have prayed years for, angry at the commercialism and money-making scheme, disappointed with unmet expectations, or like me, dumped your sophomore year of college on Valentine’s Day (you can laugh at this one), who does that, so mean?!
I am a big fan of letting people know that they are loved, every day! I understand that the 14th can be a fun way to celebrate, indulge, remind us to love our people well. It is so important to tell people. To tell people they are loved. They are smart. They are valuable. They are beautiful. They have purpose. I pray that I can know God’s love more fully and more deeply because that is the only way I will know how to truly love others well and freely extend forgiveness and compassion. Thanks be to God that He gave us an example of this in Christ, without it I would truly be lost.
This month, Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of the Lenten season- part of the church calendar that is dedicated to repentance and remembrance leading up to Easter Sunday, a time to focus on the cross of Christ. I am following the reading plan led by She Reads Truth and it has been a very educational and encouraging study to read. So far it has covered the traditions of Lent and takes a deeper look into the spiritual disciplines of repentance, fasting, and prayer. I love this season because it helps to refocus the heart, gain a deeper understanding of the Cross and remind us that Christ defeats the power of the grave!
We had the privilege of finding some peace and quiet on a weekend trip to Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island, with some of our best friends, Benj and Amy. Located in Northumberland, near the border of Scotland and England, Holy Island has been a place of religious pilgrimage and retreat for centuries. It was St. Aidan who arrived on the Island in 635AD to start his Monastery and from here the Christian faith spread across the world, garnering the nickname ‘the cradle of Christianity’. We loved the island’s natural beauty, ancient remains and peaceful surroundings.
The entire area is tranquil and feels much further away from the city, although it only took us an hour from Waverly Station in Edinburgh to the front door of our cottage on Holy Island. We stayed at Sally’s Cottage, a charming cottage from the 1660s, built above an ice cream and fudge shop. If you are planning to visit or stay on the island, make sure you check the tide timetables! The causeway to the island is a narrow two-lane road that is only open to drivers during low tide or you risk getting stranded.
One of our favourite places on the island was a local coffee bean roaster and cafe called Pilgrims Coffee. Each bedroom of the old house has been converted into living room styled spaces for guests to take a break from the windy shoreline. We went back a few times for the homemade cherry almond scones, iced tea (Ryan’s fav, also harder to find in the UK than you think!) and delicious pour over coffee. Like I said, perfect weekend escape.
Around the corner from the cottage car park are the ruins from the Lindisfarne Priory. The monks first came to the island in the year 635 but fled after the violent Viking attack in 793 AD. The ruins you see today are from the early 12th century! Up the hill from the Priory is a quaint observatory where you can take in picturesque views of the coast, Lindisfarne Castle, walk to St.Cuthberts Isle and see Bamburgh Castle in the distance.
Sunday morning, Ryan and I walked out to St.Cuthbert’s Isle while the tide was out – and the colours in the sky were just perfect. St. Cuthbert, the patron saint of north England, would often retreat here to pray. Just one of those moments that made us slow down, to think about Christians from all over the world, over hundreds of years, that make pilgrimages to this very place.
“The serenity of Christ be ours
The serenity of Christ, King of tenderness
Help us to make the transition from criticism to joy
God of renewal, lead us from complaining to appreciation
From stagnation to creativity
From coldness to love
From ourselves to you
Most glorious Giver of Life
May hills and islands praise you
May male and female praise you
Darkness and light praise you
Stars and moon praise you
The sheep and the butterflies praise you
The ducks and the sea otters praise you
May all creation praise you and give you glory forever.”
A little wander around the quaint village found admiring the sheep in the fields and collecting driftwood and colourful sea glass along the beach. If you are lucky and depending on the time of year, this area is also home to lots of wildlife, including baby seals!
Our February was a busy one. I still can’t believe how quickly the month went by despite it being a day longer than usual. We are now ramping up for Ryan’s departure to Germany next semester and going to enjoy every moment we have together this spring.
I hope you are entering March with the motivation you started with in January and carrying lots of good things over from February. Here is to looking ahead to spring weather, (less rain and clouds here in Scotland?) buds on the trees and longer days of daylight!
With love from Scotland! x
Princes Street, Edinburgh