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Language: English / Gàidhlig


Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid) 07 September 2021

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Programme for Government 2021-22, Programme for Government 2021-22, Urgent Question, Business Motion, Decision Time, Point of Order, Reserved Board Seats for Islanders


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. I remind members that social distancing measures are in place in the chamber and across the Holyrood campus. I ask members to take care to observe the measures, including when entering and exiting the chamber. Please use the aisles and walkways only to access your seats and when moving around the chamber.

The first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader is the Rev Hayley Cohen, the minister of Northesk parish church, Musselburgh.

Presiding Officer and members of the Scottish Parliament, it is an honour to address you today.

I wonder whether you were someone who, in the beginning of lockdown, noticed that it appeared that the birds were singing louder than before. Perhaps you, like me, in those more difficult days of lockdown, found listening to the birds, walking in the woods and enjoying nature in general to be a source of joy, solace and strength.

We know now that it was not that the birds were singing louder—in fact, in some cases they were singing more quietly—but that we humans had slowed down enough to notice them.

Lockdown shone a light on how alienated we have become from the natural world around us. We have filled the world with so much noise—from the literal noise of traffic to the general noise of our lives—that we failed to notice that the birds have been calling out for us to slow down and pay more attention.

If you were one of those people who heard the birds, I wonder whether you are still noticing them or whether life has resumed its absurd pace from before.

In the gospels, Jesus encourages his disciples to look at the birds of the air as a pathway to understanding how much God cares for each of us and for the world that we share. Jesus knew that, when we slow down and take time to be in nature, we cultivate a greater appreciation for our own lives, each other and the world around us.

That sense of appreciation hopefully leads us not just to look after ourselves with more care but grows within us a desire to look after the world that we live in and the people with whom we share it with compassion, justice and love.

In just a few weeks, Scotland will be host to the 26th United Nations climate change conference of the parties—COP26. With our climate in crisis, we know that there has never been a more pivotal time to slow down and listen to the needs of the world around us and act quickly to save not just ourselves but the whole of creation.

My prayer for all of you is that you look at the birds and, in seeing them, grow in appreciation for our world, and that you act out of that gratitude for all our sakes. Thank you, and God bless you.