Thought from the band – Willie Young

Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing testimonies and devotions from some of our band members.

Tonight we want to share another thought from Willie Young.

Pherice is a village which lies mid-way between the settlement of Lukla and Everest base camp. In reality, it is a random collection of huts and homes and the only area of flat ground in the centre of the eastern Himalaya in northern Nepal.

Pherice is also a landing site for the local helicopter (which, incidentally, is painted yellow, red and blue!) to land with vital supplies and to deal with emergencies. The only basic shelter the village can offer to travellers passing through is a “tea-room” heated by one cast-iron stove and fuelled with dried yak dung.

I remember standing outside that tea-room. We had trekked a long way to reach it, and the couple of hours’ rest was well-earned. As we prepared to leave on a further leg of the journey, we did all the usual checks including blood-sugar levels and topping up our drinking water. The date was November eleventh, and we had timed ourselves to depart as the Remembrance Day parades and services were taking place throughout Britain.

Standing there in a circle, linking arms, was one of the most emotive experiences of my life; a powerful moment shared by every member of the group … thinking of families and friends back home, people who counted in our lives and who had made many sacrifices for us to be there, and with whom we tried to share that moment through the distances of both time and geography.

Captured in verse, that day will stay with me forever.

The things I most remember
stay wrapped up
like the linen shawl
my grannie kept her jewels in
and slept

with under her mattress.
Strange how I should remember
that as we stood outside
the tea-room door
in Pherice in a Nepalese
November,

blood thumping through
our heads, the bashful
silence, that last
of all youthful
embarrassments,
a circle

of brotherhood that
stood on the ragged edges
of our throats
tugging at thoughts
of people far away
and the words

that simply would not come,
a speechless antique pose
which held a moment and meant
the world to the eyes
of those who came
and looked on us.

The ways in which human beings can, and do, separate themselves from others comes in many forms. We fall out, often over trivial matters, and make things worse by not swallowing our pride in order to solve disagreements. There are more ways than one to distance us from one another.

“Distances”

All distances, any distances
of space or any other you can name
which separate and hold apart
like distances of time, however long,

meet in this place of porcine
closeness and cuneal words
which, conterminous with death,
pluck their healing herbs,

and men, their tired eyes
gazing at heaven, are torn
apart by other distances
in the places they were born.

During these days when distancing is being enforced for very sensible reasons, maybe this is an opportunity for many of us to re-assess our relationship with other people… perhaps, even, with the person whom we have distanced ourself from, whatever the reason. Jesus knew how broken relationships affected people’s lives, and he spoke about it. Others, too, have voiced or penned advice. Here is what one person wrote:-

I sought for God, but God eluded me.
I sought myself; myself I could not see.
I sought my brother, and I found all three.

Willie Young

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