Rev Dr Russell Barr: Amid the frenzy take a walk on the quiet side

During the festival season Edinburgh's city centre is bursting with energy and activity with so much to see and do.

Tuesday, 9th August 2016, 11:37 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th August 2016, 12:43 pm
The Call 1914 monument, Princes Street Gardens
The Call 1914 monument, Princes Street Gardens

So how about a moment to catch your breath as you join me for a little walk through Princes Street Gardens.

We’ll start in the west end outside the main door of St Cuthbert’s Church.

Edinburgh Castle looms above and all around lie the graves of generations of people who lived and died under its shadow.

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Think for a moment about the passing of time, the things in your life which have changed and the things which have remained the same.

Walking into Princes Street Gardens we come to the huge monumental fountain. Legend has it St Cuthbert, a 7th century pilgrim, pitched his tent here because it was beside a stream. At the place where Cuthbert found rest and refreshment, where are the places you go to rest and recharge your batteries?

Leaving the fountain we head up the hill, turn right along the higher path until we reach the Scottish American Memorial, The Call 1914.

The frieze behind the kilted figure shows civilians changing into soldiers as they follow a pipe band. Sadly as recent events in Belgium, France and Germany have illustrated, and as conflict continues in Syria and many other parts of the world, we are still struggling to live peacefully with one another. What do you suppose the people whose lives are commemorated by this war memorial would make of it?

Do you think they would expect better of us?

Walking back down the hill we come to the Ross Bandstand. Music has the capacity to touch the deep places of the human soul, the places of pleasure and pain, longing and hope. Standing before the bandstand can you recall a song or a tune that means something important to you?

Come on, this is your moment, sing.

Okay, just a line or two, not the whole song, and before we are asked to leave let’s walk along to the floral clock, one of the Garden’s summer highlights. How often have you moaned about not having enough time? Is that true?

As you stand in front of the clock think about the things and people in life who really matter to you and ask yourself whether, with a little more thought, you might find you have plenty of time for who and what is really important.

Climbing the steps we cross at the foot of the Mound, walk past the National Galleries and come into East Princes Street Gardens.

With Salisbury Crags beyond, take a moment to enjoy the skyline; it really is an inspiring mixture of the built and natural environment.

We are going to the end of the east Gardens where we come to a statue of David Livingstone, one of Scotland’s most famous missionaries and explorers who spent much of his life in Africa searching for the source of the Nile.

Are you at a point in your life when you are searching for something new, a new direction, a new sense of meaning and purpose?

Well, we’ve reached the end of the Gardens and the end of our walk.

Thank you for your company and I hope you have discovered something interesting, not just about Princes Street Gardens, but about yourself

The Right Rev Dr Russell Barr is the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland