I have noticed recently that my recollections of ‘the olden days’ seem to occur as small detached items, rather like individual jigsaw pieces. At the same time a thought popped into my head from years ago about some reference to predestination in the Greek New Testament as verbally related to the ‘horizons’ of the people of God – indicating that the skyline of their past and their future is certainly vast, in contrast to tiny bits of a jigsaw’s picture.
Short enough for the task . . .
As I prepared to put pen to paper I watched a TV programme about the singer Elaine Page. After a series of unsuccessful auditions in her youth she was on the point of giving up all hope of a career in singing because she was viewed as too short to fill a theatre. Just then, the artiste rehearsing for the stage role of Argentina’s Eva Peron had withdrawn from the show four days before its launch. Elaine quite literally fitted the role, because Eva Peron, despite her colossal political presence, was likewise ‘vertically challenged’ physically!
When being presented to the Queen Mother after one performance, while curtsying, muscle cramp held her in her diminished pose! Her Royal Highness, being then 98 years old, commented: ‘I thought that only happened at my age ‘!
Of course, Elaine also had a great voice, a good manager and professional orchestras to enable her to maintain a vast-horizoned career.
For the want of a nail . . . a kingdom was lost.
Another snippet of recent recall is the poetic saying about how a kingdom was conquered in war because of a missing soldier shot dead as his horse hobbled into the conflict, due to the loss of a blacksmith’s nail. (Please excuse my snipped snippets!)
Of course, it would be just as unhealthy and unhelpful to become neurotically obsessed with every last detail, whether of strategy or, in my case, ‘correct’ English grammar or the ‘best’ Bible version!
The prophet Zechariah warned his listeners not to despise ‘the day of small things’ because God was about to use Zerubbabel to turn a mountain of opposition into a plain (see Zechariah 4:10, New American Standard Bible).
‘One small step for man . . .’
I’ve been browsing in a volume of quotations while getting myself into an appropriate frame of mind. Here’s a surprise. Many of my readers will recall exactly where they were while awaiting the moment when Neil Armstrong would leave the lunar module to set foot on the moon’s surface.
According to Nigel Rees in ‘Brewer’s Famous Quotations’, Armstrong claimed that what he actually said when stepping on to the moon for the first time on 20th July 1969 was:
‘That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.’
‘I had thought about what I was going to say, largely because so many people had asked me to think about it.’ But Rees comments: ‘What the six hundred million heard was another matter. The indefinite article before “man” was completely inaudible thus ruining the nice contrast between “a man” (one individual) and “mankind” (all of us)’. ‘But’, Rees adds, ‘it is just as possible that Armstrong fluffed his mighty line.’ And it’s exactly how it sounds in all recordings; there is no perceptible gap between ‘for’ and ‘man’.
We’ll let King David have the last word on all this
‘Lord, you know everything there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind ‘You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence!
‘You know every step I will take before my journey even begins. You’ve gone into my future to prepare the way, and in kindness you follow behind me to spare me from the harm of my past.
‘With your hand of love upon my life, you impart a blessing to me.
‘This is just too wonderful, deep, and incomprehensible! Your understanding of me brings me wonder and strength.’
(Psalm 139:1-6, the Passion Translation)
P.S. Hopefully there will be a spate of snippets to follow.