Time for Reflection

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 7th November 2001.

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The Very Reverend Dr Hugh Wyllie (lately Minister at the Old Parish Church of Hamilton):

You all came here, rightly, with high hopes and expectations and with a dream of creating a better Scotland. Now that you are here, however, how do you cope with the day-to-day pressures of the business of the Parliament, the endless details of committee work and the letters from members of your constituencies? How do you cope with the temporary accommodation and with the vast numbers of media correspondents? How do you fit in the needs of your family and friends with the entries in the diary on your desk?

Let me tell you about two desks. On the corner of the managing director's desk lay a scrubbing brush. He had it there on purpose: a reminder of how his widowed mother scrubbed tenement stairs in Glasgow to see him through university. When he was under pressure, he looked at the scrubbing brush and knew that he could not let her down. That helped him to keep his priorities right and his problems in perspective.

As Isaiah puts it:

"Remember the rock from whence you were hewn and the pit from which you were dug."

On the second desk—mine—there is a drawing of an operational Shackleton called Charlie King, the plane that I flew with during my national service. I was demobbed two days before my full two years were completed. On that second day, Charlie King was called out to rescue a trawler in the North sea. When she could not get radio contact, she dropped height to read the name on the hull. That was when she caught a high wave and went under. All members of the crew were lost. They were all married—I had been the only one who was not. The drawing reminds me that I have today and that they do not. I have to use today well.

None of us can bring back yesterday. It is gone. None of us can take tomorrow for granted. Next Sunday's war memorials and the events of 11 September are reminders of that. All that we are sure of is today.

Jesus said:

"Do not be worried about tomorrow; tomorrow will look after itself. Each day has troubles enough of its own."

That is to say, take one day at a time and use it well. These, I believe, are ways to keep the pressures in perspective and one's priorities clear.

Let us pray.

Lord, help us to make good use of this day that we have.

For this day well spent will mean that tomorrow's memories of yesterday are good ones.