I wondered whether to post this blog but on thinking about it, I think it is the perfect time to think about how we celebrate the lives of those we have loved.
In this busy, busy world of ours, amidst all the hustle and bustle, we are encouraged to take time to slow down. We should stop and just ‘be’ for a moment. Use our senses to take in the world around us. Sometimes that can be so much harder than others. However, if we are lucky enough to physically be in a place that lends itself to that, then surely it must make this challenge easier.
Of course, we can’t always be physically in such a place but we can use the wonderful power of our minds to take us somewhere else. (Perhaps a bit of a ‘Beam me up Scotty’ sort of a moment!) If I need a picture in my mind of a place that is calm and peaceful, then I can take myself back to sitting on the cliffs at Marwick Bay on Orkney. I can remember the smell of the fresh sea air, almost feel the brush of the wind on my face and hear the seabirds calling as I watched a group of four puffins bobbing on the water below.
On our way to the Bay, we spotted a hare standing in a field. Its long ears pointed skyward in the sunshine. Another day we saw four more hares – more than I’ve ever seen in my life. That was until we visited a place that not only offered me peace but hope.
I write of a little cottage in the small village of Tingwall on mainland Orkney. A cottage donated to a couple who had the wish to create a special and unique memorial.
Betty Proctor was a very good friend of Craig Mollison and Jane Spiers. When Betty passed away after an operation, Craig and Jane decided they would organise a memorial with a difference. The result is the wonderful, ‘Betty’s Reading Room’. A tiny cottage filled from floor to ceiling with second hand books. There are comfy sofas, one covered in a specially handmade beautiful blanket, fairy lights strung from the rafters, lanterns, a stove and everywhere, hares. There is a lovely photo of Betty holding a hare, she must have loved hares!
Every visitor is invited to spend time in the reading room and, if they would like to, they can choose a book to take home with them. If it’s possible, they are asked to pop a little into the next charity box they see. For each book there is a label that the visitor can stick inside and, when they have finished reading it, they can pass it on to someone else. And so the chain of kindness spreads.
On a table lies a book for visitors telling the story of how the reading room came about and all who helped to make the vision of Craig and Jane come alive.
Look out for the stain glass window and also the mermaid sculpture by Frances Pelly
To have inspired such an outpouring of love, Betty truly deserves to be in our thoughts. Once again it is the kindness of others that I love and appreciate. The fingers of joy that are spread when a hand is held out to help others.
So I would like to say thank you, to Craig and Jane and all the others who created this wonderful room but also to Betty Prictor. What an inspiration to us all.
I am at the start of ‘A Long Petal of the Sea’ by Isabel Allende and have just finished ‘The Penguin Lessons’ by Tom Michell which I would thoroughly recommend!