Between the years 1958 to 1972 on Easter Sunday I loved to hear the St John's Church bell ring out to the parish of Oxgangs to celebrate Easter Sunday. Easter was always a very special time at 6/2 Oxgangs Avenue in the Hoffmann household.
Back in the late 1960s/early 70s Anne, Iain and I would have joined the Blades (6/6) on some Easter Sundays at the former Oxgangs Evangelical Church. Paul Forbes and I also attended Charlotte Chapel too, probably through the influence of Fifi and Liz Blades. And when we were very young children we were taken along by 'the old boy' to Belford Church too.
And yet despite all this we weren't religious at all; certainly not in the true sense. It was something which we did; I guess we were just stumbling along on life's journey. In a half-hearted way, without any formal analysis; like any other young people, we were finding our path in life.
However, I enjoyed going along to the churches. I liked the occasion. I liked seeing people dressed in their 'Sunday best'. I liked seeing families together. I liked the sense of fellowship. I liked seeing the minister interact and embrace members of the congregation. I liked seeing older spinsters or widows feel part of a larger family. I liked being part of a group or extended family. I enjoyed the service-the biblical stories; the sermons; many of the values promulgated. I liked too the sense of occasion and the mix of formality; history; tradition; and warmth too. I found myself, even as a young and occasionally rebellious teenager,finding and enjoying these moments of quiet reflection during the service.
On Easter Sunday itself we would be collected by our grandfather and driven down to Durham Road, Portobello; I loved the route and in particular seeing the women and gentlemen dressed up in their lovely coats and hats walking happily to church services at Greenbank; Morningside; the Grange; and Duddingston Village. Usually we would hear the lovely sound of the peal of the church bells ringing out and calling the followers to worship.
Easter Sunday, perhaps appropriately, was a simpler affair. Our artist, grandmother had made three hard-boiled eggs for each of us which she had painted very attractively. We would go out into the warm sunshine in the back garden and roll the eggs until the shells eventually broke. I'm unsure whether we realised the significance of this-I'm sure we will have been told.
And although we can't enjoy the peal of the St John's Church bell ring out today, have a lovely and 'Happy Easter' wherever you are; and if you get a moment to pause for a moment of reflection, enjoy that too.
ps 'The Half Hearted' is a very early, but enjoyable novel by John Buchan-worth a read.