September 2009

Following the Crowd

Many of us have had a break over the summer period. If you are retired or without young children, it may have been just fewer meetings for you, and you may have already had a week or two off in June or July or perhaps will have a week in September. For families like mine with school age children it is the main time to ‘get away from it all’.

This year we had 3 weeks in northern Europe, driving up via Birgit’s parents in Cologne and then 2 or 3 days at a time at camp sites in rather basic cottages on the coast and lakes of Southern Sweden. 3 weeks without news, the internet or phone calls. Marvellous!

On the way back we stayed a night in Copenhagen and before we drove to the west coast of Denmark for the overnight ferry back to Harwich, we had a few hours to explore this fascinating city. Though it was a bit of a culture shock from sparsely populated Sweden to be in the hustle and bustle of a larger city, we enjoyed walking passed historic building and avoiding the numerous cyclists.

Working our way north along the harbour front, the children were anxious not to miss the bronze statue of the Little Mermaid following the story by great Danish story-teller Hans Christian Andersen or perhaps in the children’s case, the story by great Disney corporation. How would we see where it was? ‘Easy’, I said, ‘just look at the crowd of tourists staring into the water.’ And lo and behold, as tourist coaches arrived and disgorged their tourists for a 10 minute photo opportunity, we followed them past the souvenir sellers to gaze in wonder at 1.25 metres/ 4 feet high statue. Er... actually it was a bit of an anti climax. The statue is small, and there were too many people in the way.

I guess it comes with the more relaxed and reflective time but it occurred to me that in all of us there is a tendency to follow the crowd, to do the quick photo and hop back on the bus, kidding ourselves that we have actually done something worthwhile. It’s the ‘been there, done that, got the T-shirt’ mentality. Especially in my Christian walk - a quick read of the bible, a few prayers said, attendance at a worship service – is it just chalking one up or is it taking the time out to experience God’s presence in my life?

I’m hope those tourist getting on and off their coaches enjoyed their one day in Copenhagen, I know we enjoyed our time. We got an overview, a taster only, but if we are honest, we didn’t experience very much.  As life cranks up again, and we do the business and the busyness of life, I pray that both you and I will end up with more than a T-shirt proclaiming that we’ve been to Copenhagen. Perhaps we might even find time to meet with God.

September 2009