Mandela Yurt, Solas 2014

  Newsletter 03 August 2021  
  Dear Friends,

Welcome to September's MeetPrayLove newsletter

I hope you have had an opportunity to enjoy the summer, including the recent extended spell of fine days. In Dunkeld the trees are just starting to catch fire with the colours of autumn. They look amazing set against a clear blue sky.

It was great to see so many people visiting our 'Madiba Yurt' at the Solas festival back in June. In the Yurt we facilitated a range of arts activities inspired by nine values of Nelson Mandela's life identified by CNN shortly after his death last December.

How did people engage? How were they affected by our activities and the opportunities for dialogue in pairs or small groups?

As Solas drew to a close on Sunday afternoon we gathered around a table to start our evaluation of the our presence at the festival. A lady walked past carrying the fruit of her Madiba activities, each one representing a Mandela-inspired value: a talking stick (look people in the eye and shake their hand), some embroidered fabric (change yourself first) and a butterfly (forgive). She offered us her perspective.

"When I arrived on Friday night", she reflected, "I was completely stressed out. Your yurt has provided a wonderful place to think and reflect. I found the Nelson Mandela focus really interesting and it gave me a lot to think about while I worked on my crafts. I'm now completely chilled out and leaving the Festival feeling great."

Over the weekend, hundreds of people came to the yurt to make things, from lanterns created out of old tin cans (make the best of your current situation) and ceramic coasters (use your passion to persuade others) to funny animals from pipe cleaners (keep a sense of humour) and mirrors in clay shapes (acknowledge weaknesses). A particular favourite of mine was the tiny, bright purple snail that found a snug corner to sit in on our 'Mandela Tribute Tree'. As we made things we talked about the things that mattered to us and what our part might be making the world a more just and equal place for everyone.

Our volunteers, old and young, enacted the gospel of welcome, acceptance and love. We offered space and opportunity for conversation and engagement, and the variety of activities was chosen to appeal to men and women, able and not so able.

Over the next year we will continue think about each of these Mandela inspired values and how they might affect the way we live our lives and thus contribute to making the world a better place. We will also be posting details of the craft activities on the MPL website for those of you who find craft a helpful way to reflect and pray.

As we approach the end of summer it's good to have things to look forward to in winter. One of these is our new Advent resource, which we are producing in partnership with Welsh friends. The four sessions explore an old Welsh tradition known as the 'Plygain'. Traditionally this takes place before the cock crowed on Christmas morning. Families make their way in the darkness to chapel, carrying their own candles to light their way and the venue. Each family then takes turn to sing a carol to the assembled group – however it must be a song that no other family has already sung that night. Over the years this has led to families creating their own songs so they can be sure no other family will sing the same one.

The Advent resource, which explores the relevance of the Plygain tradition to us today, will be available from 1st November both as a download from or in hard copy form. I'm hoping to hold a Plygain in my nearest chapel at Amulree – it will be interesting to see what response I get from my community! I will, of course, let you know.

Sally Robertson
MeetPrayLove Editor
MeetPrayLove is part of the Methodist Church and is open to all.



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