Another Story from Roland Walls

I  read this as I was preparing my sermon. It comes from a chap called Roland Walls who lives in the Community of the Transfiguration at Roslin, outside Edinburgh. I met him years ago and he is one of the most extraordinarily cheerful and laid back chaps you could hope to meet, but is now apparently quite frail. He was talking about silence.

Walls writes: “And a last point about silence which I think is very interesting. Living creatures of the vegetable and insect variety – I know this could be very sentimental, and sometimes is – become extremely important in silence. It is an extraordinary thing that they begin to have space to be noticed, and a spider or an earwig, or anything that’s moving in one of those huts  becomes absolutely precious. You know you are sharing your life with that little thing, in a way that you would not normally notice the blooming thing. I would go further in my crazy way: I think I have communication with insects in silence. For example there is a spider who is a terrible nuisance because he will come to where I am sleeping at night and you sometimes have to brush him off. Well now, I tell that spider : ‘that’s your end’, and I think he knows it now because he stays there. In other words this empathy stuff reaches an intensity which is quite surprising. There are gifts in silence”.

The Grace of Acceptance

In his book ‘Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace’, James Torrance tells of an experience that a colleague of his, Roland Walls, a member of the Community of the Transfiguration in Roslin village, a few miles out of Edinburgh, had. One day James noticed in his garden a piece of sculpture he had not seen before. Roland told him about it. A young sculptor, brought up among the Exclusive Brethren, one day confessed to the fellowship that he was gay. As a result, he was asked to leave the Assembly. In his distress, he found his way to the Roslin Community, where Roland found him on his knees in prayer in the chapel. The young man poured out his story and unburdened his heart. At the end of their conversation, Roland simply put his arms around him and gave him a hug! That hug symbolized everything for the man. He knew he was loved, accepted, forgiven. He went back, found a block of sandstone and carved out a figure of the two Adams. They are kneeling, embracing one another. Christ lays his head on the right shoulder of fallen Adam, and fallen Adam lays his head on the right shoulder of Christ the second Adam. The only way in which one can distinguish between the two Adams, is by the nail prints in the hands of Christ. That sculptor saw himself in fallen Adam, and in that symbolic hug he saw himself accepted in Christ, the second Adam.