During the month of November I decided to highlight in my sermons the significance and importance of our memories. I think we are all shaped by our memories. I've been suggesting to the congregation to take time and reflect upon the people and the places that have helped shape us. I know we have both good and bad memories. I'm no physiologist or indeed analyst so I'm not dealing with the hurts of the past in these sermons. Though I believe the gospel has much to say about healing our past memories. In these sermons I'm more about looking at the good and seeing how good people and their lives can change and shape our outlook. I recall how the Apostle Paul writing I think to the Philippians talks about the healing qualities that come about through “thinking about the good the true and the noble.”
As a teenager I was greatly influenced by a group of young people, we played music together, laughed together, dreamed together, sometimes fought with each other, sometimes misunderstood each other, but somehow we all influenced each other most of the time for the good and we have stayed friends for over 50 years. I refer to the first band of musicians I ever played with. " The Living Stones" Now we were never quite the 'Rolling Stones", but some of us wished we were, maybe not the Rolling Stones? yes we did! Well teenagers can dream!
This month i’ve been inviting the congregation to share memories about people in the past who have shaped and helped change their lives. I was delighted to receive information this week about a number of people and i fought it would be an inspiration to share some of these stories. The thing I’ve noticed is that it is not the grand gestures that seem to have influenced people. It’s the small insignificant things that could easily be forgotten as inconsequential that in fact end up as being the most important. I think there is another verse that says “God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty”
As I was looking through the stories, my eye caught the name of the “Rev Mr Sommerville. “ I thought, now there’s a name. I recall a friend of mine introducing me to his uncle who was a retired minister from Polmont. My friend told me he was one of the kindest men he had ever met. When I read the story I thought this must be the same man. So here are some of the stories i’ve received. If you have one why not add it to the comments on the blog
REV MR SOMERVILLE
1. One of the people who influenced me was our minister, Mr Somerville. There were six of us in our family and Mum couldn’t give us money for the Sunday School trip. Mr Somerville came along the Avenue and asked if we had a ticket. Of course, I didn’t have one and he gave me and everyone a ticket. That trip was the first time I had been on a train. It went over the Forth Bridge and I thought it was amazing. We also got a goody bag. I used to think Mr Somerville was God as I used to think that was how God must be
2. JOHN DUNCAN ROSS
My grandfather (Mum’s dad) was the pier master at the village of Skipness on the Mull of Kintyre. There were ten children in the family, my Mum being number seven. The brothers became soldiers, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. I’m told that when the soldiers sailed off to the first World War, he stood and saluted them until they were out of sight. He used to read from the huge family bible and the
dominie, Tom Johnston, was always a welcome visitor. The education then was all in one room for ages 5 – 14. Grandad died around the time I was born, but my Mum always said he “wanted a teacher in the family”. I like to hope he would have approved of me.
3. MRS ALLAN
When I left school at 14 years old I got my first job in a florist’s shop for £1.00 a month. It was Mrs Allan’s shop and one day I found her dead in bed. Her son’s wife, another Mrs Allan, took over the shop and I still think about her. She was a very religious person and was friendly with Mrs Gardner who was the wife of the Minister at Craigmailen Church. I became very friendly with both of them and this influenced my life. Eventually, I took over the shop myself and enjoyed every year I was in it.
4. CHURCH PEOPLE
I was involved from the age of four in the church and all the organisations, both as a learner and a Sunday School supervisor which I found quite inspiring. I felt there was a lot of freedom here which I did not have at home and people were kind and understanding.
5. WILLIAM KING
Will King was my Grandad, my father’s father. He fought in the 1st World War and came through it. I used to beat him all the time at dominoes and snap and I only realised years later that he let me win and I wasn’t as clever as I thought. He taught me how to guddle for trout in deep ponds at the side of the burn and it was from him I learned the names of the trees and flowers and birds. My safest, warmest place in the world was when he sat in front of the fire in his leather chair with the big brass studs and listened to the news on the wireless, and I’d sit on the floor between his knees. That’s often when he made bubblyjock noises in my ear. I think now he maybe did that to get rid of me so that he could get peace to hear the news. On Sundays, I’d be on his shoulders and we would walk along the canal and hear things buzzing or plopping. I loved the canal. Or we would go up and see the greenkeeper at the golf course, or visit Robert Laurie’s farm and see the pigs or the cattle, which my Grandad never referred to as anything but ‘the kye’. On other Sundays, if we didn’t do that, my Auntie Kate would always take me to visit the cemetery. My Grandad would sometimes be double-digging his garden and that used to annoy me because it took him a long time and got a bit boring for me. I preferred when he was doing lettuces or fruit bushes. He used to give me rabbits feet but I don’t suppose I would thank him for that now. His favourite flower was lily of the valley and I can still remember him playing his favourite song on the gramophone - it was Bonnie Mary of Argyle. My Granny’s name was Mary but she died before I was born. I remember when they came and told me he was dead. I was playing at standing on ‘stilts’ made from tall tins of baby milk powder threaded through with string. I can still see myself looking down at these tins on my feet and feeling the confusion about what it all meant. He is the first person I lost, but he is the one I remember most clearly. I was only seven when my Grandad died, but these years with him influenced me throughout my whole life.