Dust yourself down – Spring’s not far off….

 In my current January mood, as I sit here in my life, grumpy, with a metaphorical blanket pulled over my head, my spirit decidedly in need of dusting, these words from well-known writer, broadcaster and former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway speak powerfully to me: I offer them to my fellow January-ites out there, with the thought that the snowdrops are already proliferating cheerfully in our local Botanic Gardens….

St Magnus Cathedral Window, Orkney
St Magnus Cathedral Window, Orkney

photo: Anne Whitaker

“This is my dilemma. I am dust and ashes, frail and wayward, a set of predetermined behavioural responses, … riddled with fear, beset with needs…the quintessence of dust and unto dust I shall return…. But there is something else in me…. Dust I may be, but troubled dust, dust that dreams, dust that that has strong premonitions of transfiguration, of a glory in store, a destiny prepared, an inheritance that will one day be my own…so my life is spread out in a painful dialectic between ashes and glory, between weakness and transfiguration. I am a riddle to myself, an exasperating enigma…this strange duality of dust and glory.”


(NOTE: Having googled this quotation, I discovered that it has got around, and some of the wording varies slightly depending on who is quoting! So I hope Richard Holloway will forgive me any minor errors which may appear in this version, whilst I track down the exact quote, in the precise book in which it appears….)

Richard F. Holloway (born 26 November 1933) is a Scottish writer and broadcaster and was formerly Bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church. To read more about him and his writing, click HERE


300 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Richard Holloway 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page


8 thoughts on “Dust yourself down – Spring’s not far off….

  1. Thankyou for posting Richard Holloway’s quote .  And the snowdrops are emerging here too.

    Sent from Samsung Mobile

  2. Feeling the same . Daffodils are almost out in this unusually mild and wet weather. I have got my gloomy hat on too . I call January the month of Mondays and yet The mornings are already getting lighter and there is plenty to cheer about .i enjoy reading your posts but my replies seem to get lost somewhere!!thanks Anne

    1. Cheering to know I’m in good company in my dusty January mood, Ghislaine! Thanks for commenting – it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

      By the way, don’t quite know what your lost replies problem is – I’ve received and replied to several of your comments over the last year. This one seems fine – I always get an email when someone comments on my posts.

  3. Wonderful and wise words…thanks so much for sharing them. I’ve had it with winter and like you, it does definitely affect my mood. I guess we will appreciate all the more when Spring does arrive but here in the Northeast US the official start of Spring is a good 2 months from now and it will likely be met with some snow.

    1. Glad you liked the quote, BP! It seems to fit the mood of this time of year. And I am all too aware from my USA web friends – and the news! – of how lightly winter touches us here in the UK compared to where you are!

  4. I so much enjoyed the quotation. Being very much a both/and sort I’ve always found concepts of flesh/spirit, saint/sinner, law/gospel, speech/silence, light/darkness and so on very congenial. We keep wanting to divvy up the world – children of light, children of darkness, and so on – but in truth all of us are all of it. Only now and then, one end of the sliding scale seems to predominate.

    Tonight? It’s darkness and cold predominating! It was 60 in early afternoon. Now, it’s 40 and raining, and everyone’s all excited about freezing rain, sleet, and so on. No snow for us, but some of Texas is getting it already. The good news for us is that by Saturday it will be back to 60. The poor plants always get so confused in January!

    1. Yes indeed, Linda. I like what you say re the artificial nature of the either/or divvy that we humans seem to need as a primary means of clarifying the world. We are inextricably both dark and light, on the small and large scale: neither can exist without the other. The ancient myths of the world, across all cultures, make this abundantly clear to us ….

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