Yesterday afternoon I visited a remote corner on the north west coast of Skye. At the end of a single track road overlooking green fields and the sea stands a little whitewashed cottage (pictured above) which was once occupied by an old christian couple I knew. William and Mary married later in life and as a result had no family. William predeceased Mary many years ago and Mary herself passed on to her eternal reward last Autumn. I remember her, even the last time I saw her, as a distinguished and elegant lady steadfast in her faith and in her redeemer.
As I looked at the cottage yesterday memories of the couple came flooding back to my mind. To me they represented a past generation of christian in the Highlands and Islands. The couple were quiet, unassuming and humble. They did not shout about their faith or attempt to force it on other people. But it was real and genuine nonetheless. Their lives were their witness – integrity, commitment, zeal and transparency were the marks of their deep faith. And yes, it is possible to have passion and zeal without being brash and loud. I recall meeting Mary one Sunday morning many years ago now when she was beaming more than usual. She could not wait to tell me that a young person in the community had come to faith and she was excited about it.
William and Mary also represent a generation of christians who had no ‘voice’ outside their small community and circle of friends. It goes without saying that they had no internet, no social media, nowhere to comment on the pressing issues of the day. They could not find their meaning and purpose in such things as so many of us do today. But their lives had meaning and purpose at a much deeper level.
Speaking last night to a friend who knew Mary much more intimately than I did said – ‘She was a dear friend and I often think of her wise words’. Mentioning a Scottish flag, that now flies over Marys old cottage, my friend said – ‘She wouldn’t be flying any flags. She wore her Christian flag with humility’. I like that! To wear the flag with humility – that’s what it’s all about! So thank you Mary – thank you William for being an example to us. As my friend said in her parting comment – ‘We pray that the people we leave when we pass on into glory will think of us with similar emphasis as far as our witness is concerned.’ I agree wholeheartedly.