Literate or Numerate?
Soon after I came to Edinburgh I found myself with a free day. I still had my own car so I set off towards the West. Eventually I found myself on the brow of a hill near the West Highland Way overlooking Loch Lomond. There was a lonely phone box and I thought I would use it to surprise someone in Yorkshire. The snag was that I had no phone list with me and, having no memory for numbers, I found it difficult even to remember my sister’s number.
It seems that most people are either numerate or literate. It must be good to have both gifts.
At Sunday school we had to learn proofs. I can still remember that my very first one was on a sticker showing lilies. It said ‘Consider the lilies!’ When I was a bit older I learned ‘Remember thy creator in the days of thy youth while the evil days come not nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say I have no pleasure in them’. We were expected to recite chapter and verse but I could only remember that it is Ecclesiastes. The important thing is to do as instructed.
I knew a brother who admitted that he didn’t know the words of a single hymn. Why didn’t I ask him what kind of things he did remember? Thinking about these things makes me a bit more sympathetic to those who busy themselves with working out such things as the date of the Lord’s return to the earth. They are probably more numerate than literate and enjoy manipulating figures.
I can’t remember the number of a single hymn. I love the traditional hymns that we have in the green book and don’t have any problem with the archaic language. I find an exhortation in almost every one. A hymn that has helped me during the Pandemic is ‘Here O my Lord, I see thee face to face’. One of the verses says
‘I have no arm but thine to lean upon’.
Many-a-time, even when using a walker, I have needed an arm to steady me but we are not allowed to touch.
So I ask the numerate people what form their meditation takes. Have they got a mind well-stocked with thoughts and memories which help them when they are alone and in the dark?