Minister’s Message – November
November 01, 2019
In his book, ‘A Life In Pictures’, a book donated to Greenbank by one of one of our late elders, Ken McKenzie, Alasdair Gray records his life as an artist. For those interested in looking at it, the book can usually be found on the organ in the sanctuary. In one part of the book, Gray writes about being homeless and working at Greenbank for months, spending his nights in a sleeping bag on the vestry floor, until he was ejected when he broke the toilet there after trying to fix it when the water froze in winter. Shut out of the vestry, he slept under the communion table in the sanctuary and continued to paint the Ruth mural in the transept while services were taking place. As is the case with much of Alasdair Gray’s work, he moved on before finishing the mural and it was completed by someone else.
At the end of his book he adds a postscript which begins, “This book has said too little about close friends” and he goes on to tell the story of a disabled friend called Nellimeg, for whom he was adding paintings about her life and family, to a book that she owned. Gray writes that the proceeds from his own book would support her and people in similar circumstances. Despite becoming an acclaimed Scottish writer and artist, Alasdair Gray has not left his friends behind and it seems like the story from the book of Ruth, depicted in the mural he painted in our transept, is a fitting tribute to his own life.
At the beginning of October, I spoke at the Guild on its 2019 theme called ‘Companions on the road’. We thought about Ruth and the choice she made to be the friend and companion of her mother in law, Naomi, through life. At the meeting we also took some time to share our stories, about the people in our lives who have been good friends and companions to us.
We all felt blessed to have good friends and companions in our lives. What about you? Perhaps we might all take some time in this month of remembrance to thank God for the blessings that friends and companions bring to our lives, for all those who love us no matter what; who share our sorrows; laugh with us in celebration; weep when we weep; hold us when words fail; need us as we need them and give us the freedom to be ourselves.
When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind. When a weaker brother stumbles and a strong man stays behind Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me To become as big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be. And all travellers can witness that the best of guides today Is not the one who tells them, but the one who shows the way.
[..from ‘Sermons We See’ by poet Edgar Guest]
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