Monday, May 17, 2010

Thought for the Day
Good Morning Scotland
BBC Radio Scotland
Monday, May 16th, 2010

My parents are over from Canada. They head off this morning on a bus tour of the highlands and islands for five days. They are part of that great crowd of North American visitors who will try to connect with their roots this summer. You’ll see them on the high street. You might roll your eyes when they announce to the young lady behind the counter in the shop that their ‘grandmothers were Scotch’

Visitors are a strange lot, aren’t they?

You see them coming off the ferry in places like Iona as you’d see them walking along the cobbled streets of Jerusalem. At St James and St Mungo’s we get our share of visitors throughout the year. They file into Church at an Easter Vigil or a Christmas Carol service or pop up in the back pews on an ordinary Sunday morning. Pilgrims and visitors – looking for something old and worthy or something novel and even transcendent.

The raw material for this experience is our countryside – our history – our Sunday morning service. They want to be a part of us for a while. They’re the only ones in church who actually read the pew leaflet. In town you’ll see them standing on the street corner reading through the tourist guide. By the time they finish their visit they can tell us things about our city that we didn’t even know.

Grant them this, at least: Strangers, pilgrims and visitors are here on purpose. They don’t find themselves here because they’re in transit or because they were born here.

They’re sometimes a lot more alert than we are. Their eyes drink in more of the beauty and the magic than ours do. Have we grown so used to the landscape – physical or spiritual - that we find ourselves amazed to see people so nourished by it?

And so there’s a gift to be given here – not from us but to us – a prompt, if you like, to rediscover some of the beauty and the sense of what we have forgotten or overlooked.

The audio is available for a limited time HERE. TFTD begins at 1:22.06, about halfway along the audio bar.