15 July 2013
Terri and I have learned a great deal about distance during these past few weeks. On the surface of things, mileage around the nation of Scotland is quite small. Scotland is about 1/3 the land mass of Wyoming. Even though it has 10 times as many people, the bulk of the population are located in the urban corridor between Edinburgh and Glasgow with a few large smatterings in the East around Aberdeen, the North around Inverness, and the South around Dumfries. With the exception of a few 4 lane highways that connect the major areas all other travel revolves around two lane roads with few shoulders. The result is that even though the distance between areas is relatively short the travel time can be quite long.
Not only have we learned about the distance around a nation we have also learned about the distance between people. I have now conducted three worship services at Dunbar Parish Church. I have felt the presence of God during our times of worship. The exciting part of worship has been seeing the folks with whom I have been able to connect with the message that God has given me to proclaim. The distance of different cultures and different dialects of the same language has been bridge by the Spirit of God.
What has aided the shrinking of the cultural distance has been the personal contact with people outside of the church setting. What a joy to spend time with the McDonalds and the Mannings, the Weavers and the O’briens, the Pattersons and the Coulharts. It is with joy that we anticipate getting to know the Wrights and the Hasties and the Hardies and Rev. Twaddle and the list continue to grow. It is in the moments driving to see the sites or visiting over dinner or tea that the distance between American and Scotsman, pastor and lay person diminishes. We get to know each other.
Distance is not only geographic and interpersonal. There are spiritual overtones when it comes to distance as well. I remember a person talking with me about the feeling that God was distant and the prayers offered simply “bounced off the ceiling.” Those moments when intimacy with God is felt are so incredible. The incredible distance between us and God when it feels that God is silent can seem so vast.
This week I am especially feeling the distance between Dunbar and Jackson. I guess it is not uncommon as children grow, go off to college, and start lives on their own, that distance begins to play a major role in the relationship. Yes, texting and the ‘telie’ are helpful, but, they are usually short lived. When coming to Scotland I chose to leave my cell phone at home because I couldn’t get international coverage on the old Blackberry. I told my boys, “Emergencies only and dial Terri’s number.” I didn’t realize the distance I would feel, especially when Cameron called with the news that his girlfriend’s father had died.
I guess the distance is augmented by the fact that Isaac, my eldest, is in Jackson this week with his friends The Collective out of Nashville, Tennessee. They are going to be putting on a concert at Walk Festival Hall at Teton Village. The 5,000 miles that separate us is huge. I will not be able to attend. I knew that being far away, experiencing this incredible land and brilliant people would have a price, but I didn’t anticipate the feelings that distance might produce.
And so on this 15th day of July, 2013, I simply want to say from this great distance: “Isaac, my heart is with you and I am proud of your passion and work to follow your dream. I am proud of you. I love you, son.”