Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thought for the Day
Good Morning Scotland
BBC Radio Scotland
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A teenager walks out of the deep forest straddling Germany and the Czech Republic where he claims to have been living rough with his father and with no other human contact for years. The father dies in a fall in the woods. The boy follows a compass heading north and shows up in the city of Berlin seeking help.

He is English speaking and claims to have little memory of his life before he entered the woods as a small child.

Mystery and intrigue: Is the story even true? Some lost souls, washing up on shore or found wandering in the heart of a great city - know very well who they are. The memory loss conveniently covers a darker past.

So even when the police express their opinion that this boy is telling the truth, there remain suspicions.

In the Christian tradition, solitude is an exercise. We are not abandoned to it. We enter into it freely. We leave human community and conversation for a time and a season. We retreat with our thoughts – like so many characters from the Old and New Testaments did - to a lonely place and, there, sort things out in the silence and in the presence of that part of God’s creation which does not speak our human language.

The idea that children could be raised apart from people belongs to a Romantic age. Mowgli or Tarzan represent the “noble savage” - at one with nature and “free”- a more authentic state than we enjoy. In that fantasy – even children raised by apes or wolves retain that which is best about humanity.

But we know that children raised in such circumstances suffer enormous deficits. The lack of interraction makes them unable to communicate. Thought, itself, is language - and language is spoken between people.

When our loneliness makes itself known to us we will usually follow the compass needle until it brings us back into the grasp and conversation of others.

An audio link is available for a limited time HERE. TFTD begins at 1:24.24 - halfway along the audio bar.