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Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament [Draft]

Meeting date: Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Scotland’s Prison Population, Scottish Parliament Powers, Committee Announcement (Economy and Fair Work Committee), Decision Time, Our Kids Won’t Wait Campaign


Time for Reflection

Good afternoon. The first item of business is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is the Rev Tina Kemp, Church of Scotland.

The Rev Tina Kemp (Church of Scotland (Retired))

Thank you, Presiding Officer and members, for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you today.

I would like to tell you about my granny. I always turn to her when seeking inspiration.

Granny Stephen was a wee north-east wifey. She was a farm hand’s wife and was widowed in her 50s. With five children to raise, she cleaned the houses of the gentry in Stonehaven, which is the town that she latterly called home.

Summer holidays spent with gran were a real treat for a town quine like me. There was the old tin bath that took forever to fill from pans heated on the stove, the smell of the paraffin lamps lit each evening, and the nightly adventure to the toilet at the end of the garden.

I learned a lot from my granny. I learned some inimitable phrases such as “Dinna fash” and “Ah’m fair trachled.” I learned that it is all right to eat your pudding before your soup, if it is ready first. I learned about the beauty of words as she taught me Scrabble and read me poetry. I learned about the wonder of nature as we combed the beach for stones to polish and walked the hills among wild primroses, and I learned about the faith that guided her throughout her life. It was a simple, homespun theology that was grounded not in academic study or fancy books, but in the reality of life—a faith that settled and took root within me.

Most of all, I learned about the importance of story. Stories have a power that ideology and rhetoric do not. They can touch us in a way that nothing else can.

A man called Jesus told stories. He grounded them in the reality of life in first-century Palestine, which gave them authority and urgency. It was simple parables that embodied the manifesto by which we all try to live, regardless of our beliefs. Most of all, Jesus listened to the stories of those around him, and it was in the listening that new life and hope took root.

Granny Stephen taught me that all our stories are inextricably connected, that they define who we are and what we might become, and that our own stories might be enriched by listening to others.

Today, I invite us all, at some point, to share something of our own story. In the telling and the hearing, may we help to shape for good the lives of those we encounter.