Saturday, June 20, 2009

Just a moment

[The clock of Dunblane Cathedral]

There's never enough of it: but there are occasions when you have some to spare.
You can have it on your hands: but occasionally you have to kill it.
Often it drags along: but more often it flashes past - especially as you get older.
It's a strange thing.
At least how we perceive it is strange.
I particularly like these two quotations from the Bengali poet and seer, Rabindranath Tagore.

he butterfly counts not months but moments,

and has time enough."

"Time is a wealth of change,
but the clock in its parody makes it mere change and no wealth."

Some of our Kenyan friends would often say "you have the watches: we have the time."

In the Biblical way of thinking, of course, there are two different kinds of time, chronological time (the kind you can measure with a clock) and 'kairos' time (the "right time" - the opportune moment.)

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven" [Ecclesiastes 3]

... but I still think there's not enough of it around!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Surprise encounters of the interesting kind

[His Excellency, Kenneth David Kaunda, first President of Zambia at Dunblane]

It has been a very, very busy few weeks - hence the absence of any blogging recently. But there have also been some interesting moments, and some interesting encounters.
Towards the end of May we were invited to lunch at the Palace of Holyroodhouse by the Lord High Commissioner, George Reid. We expected it was going to be one of those Holyroodhouse events where about 150 or more people would attend and we would be lost in a sea of people we didn't know or could only vaguely recognise.
As things turned out, we discovered there were only a couple of dozen people at the lunch. That in itself was something of a surprise and for once it wasn't difficult to get free parking in Edinburgh because we were able to park our car inside the palace gates in the forecourt.
But that was nothing compared to the surprise we got when we went inside to discover that also invited to lunch that day was Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife, Leah. [He had just come from addressing the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland - an inspiring address well worth watching and listening to.]
Unfortunately, after the introductions, I didn't get much opportunity to speak to Desmond Tutu himself but, during the very excellent meal, I was sitting between his wife and the wife of the Lord High Commissioner, and we had a great chat together.
I generally don't have much time for the cult of celebrity that fills the media these days, especially when so much nonsense is written and spoken about people who are famous mainly for being famous, but it was a privilege to share a table with someone who is a genuinely significant individual in the history of the world. And like most really great people he is really pretty humble.
But there was more...
I have just returned from Dunblane where, since Tuesday, I have been attending the meeting/conference of The Church of Scotland's World Mission Council to which I was recently appointed. Last night we had another surprise visitor, in the form of Kenneth Kaunda, the first ever President of Zambia. He joined us for our evening meal and then came to speak to us at our evening session. We even got to hear him play the piano, sing for us and do a bit of a dance!! Even without his surprise appearance it would have been a long day. But the additional item - which immediately moved us into Zambian time (and anyone who's been to Africa will know what I mean by that) - meant we didn't finish till after 10pm.
And we had started just after 8am!!
I had taken my camera with me hoping we might have had even half an hour of free time at some point over the two and a half days but it didn't quite work out that way. However, it did mean I could snap "KK" as he is commonly known.