A View From The Vicarage - September
A few days ago while on holiday in Scotland we had the opportunity to visit Robert Burns’ final home, a very ordinary house on a side street in Dumfries. As I wandered about the house, now a free museum run by the local Council, and later admired the magnificent mausoleum in which his remains now rest some of my favourite lines of his poetry came into my head:
“If the Lord would grant of the gifts he gives us, to see ourselves as others see us.”
These have always seemed words of great insightfulness to me, words which I am convinced our society would be a great deal better and more harmonious if we could actually live by. How many of us, myself very much included, are horrified and appalled when we discover what other people actually do think of us. I for one, am always horrified when I hear a recording of my voice, not by it’s volume, of course, but because what I’m hearing sounds absolutely nothing like the sound that I actually hear. Yet, these senses of sight and hearing are absolutely fundamental to our interactions with other human beings.
A few days ago I asked the congregation at our Pet Blessing Service at Kinnerton which of their characteristics they thought that their pets would most admire; we did, naturally, exclude the provision of nutrition and a home. It is a fascinating exercise to try and conceive what others think of us and the messages that we pass on to them either deliberately or inadvertently.
What is true of us as individuals is equally true of us as communities, as society and as a nation. There has been over the past three years an enormous amount of speculation in the press and media both at home and abroad of the impact that the Brexit imbroglio is having upon our Country’s international reputation. How many times have all of us pondered quite what other nations think of and see us?
What should our response be? We should, it seems to me, always be conscious and cognisant of what other people think of us but that should not be the sole determinant in our actions and behaviour because their opinion may actually be entirely wrong. Just consider for a moment what those who witnessed Christ’s crucifixion must have imagined they were seeing or even those who opposed Jesus during his public ministry: as we know their views were entirely wrong. What is true of them may equally be true of us and our times as well. I wonder what the historical conclusions about Brexit will actually be?
If the evidence of eyes and ears may not be entirely reliable – what can we depend upon? It seems to me that the only realistic option is to follow Christ’s injunction “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and your neighbour as yourself”. If we and all in our community could follow that advice what a happier place the world would be and all would be content that they do see themselves as others see us.
I’d like to conclude by telling you a story that I chanced upon the other day; a tale which reminds us that seeing may not always be believing.
“My son Zachary aged four, came screaming out of the bathroom to tell me that he’d dropped his toothbrush in the toilet. So I fished it out and threw it into the rubbish. Zachary stood there thinking for a moment, then ran to the bathroom and came out with my toothbrush. He held it up and said with a charming little smile, “We’d better throw this one out too then, cause it fell in the toilet a few days ago”.
With my love and prayers as always