This morning’s Thought for the Day on BBC Scotland:
‘Welcome home, Father’. The flat vowels of the passport officer at Dublin Airport. I’m caught – misty-eyed – between Ireland which is home in the sense of deep belonging and family history and Scotland which is home by choice and calling, the place which has made me welcome, the place where my grandchildren are growing up with Scottish accents.So Good Morning to you on this St Patrick’s Day
One of the things which Ireland and Scotland share is the story of migration – movement from Ireland and particularly west Donegal to lowland Scotland – but of course a much wider diaspora to the New World and elsewhere. They were driven mainly by need and poverty, the Highland Clearances in Scotland and the Great Famine in Ireland. Work, dignity, place to rear a family .. and somewhere to call home.
Our faith traditions all have hospitality embedded – for Christians our welcome to the stranger as if welcoming Christ himself. Nothing in any of that about building walls and fences higher – dividing walls are for taking down. As peoples who have a history of migration ourselves we have an instinctive desire to welcome.
On Wednesday evening I was one of over 350 people in the Scottish Parliament for an event organised by the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society – which is rooted in the Moslem community. The theme of Exodus gave a gathering of people representing almost every strand of Scottish Society a chance to explore the issues of migration and hospitality
I heard people talking about the ‘new Scots’. That’s when the stranger made welcome begins to settle down, to experience what it is to feel at home in a new place and to share in the shaping of the society of which they are now a part.
This evening I’ll be at the party in Edinburgh for the Irish Community. We’ll all be talking nineteen to the dozen about home and how we miss it – but home is where you are welcomed at a deep level and wherever that is becomes home