A Moment to Reflect

1 July 2020

A Moment to Reflect -56


Our grandson started walking when he was only about 10 months old, which was just after the lockdown began, but already ground level is not good enough for him. He always wants to go higher. Although he’s still at the stage of occasionally falling over when he walks, he is a fearless climber …and will try to climb anything he sees …so he’s quite a handful for his parents.

I have no inclination to climb mountains these days, but I do love to see them and photograph them. In my now quite large photograph collection, I have hundreds of pictures of mountains from so many different parts of the world, including this one from Mozambique. I don’t remember the name of this mountain, but I vividly remember taking the photograph. There’s a story behind it…

I was on an official visit to Malawi and Mozambique which I had known in advance would involve several long journeys. I hesitate to call them ‘road trips’ because sometimes (particularly in that part of Mozambique) there sometimes wasn’t much of a road to go on. On this particular day we had to travel a very long distance on very rough tracks. I wasn’t looking forward to that at all as only a few weeks before I’d had surgery on a hernia. (Bad timing, I know.) Having had some previous travel experience in Africa I knew I was going to be bounced about quite badly and it was likely to be pretty uncomfortable.

However, our hosts had organised a 4×4 pickup truck to take us to our various destinations that day which were several hundred kilometres apart. Our luggage was being carried in another 4×4.

Northern Mozambique has some very stunning landscapes and, as we bounced along the rutted highway, I was trying to take pictures of the many very interestingly shaped mountains.

About halfway along the route we stopped to pick up a choir. (I’m not making this up!) About 8 choir members all dressed in their brightly coloured outfits clambered into the back of the pickup while we, the Scottish guests, were in the cab.

As we travelled along the rough, winding roads the choir were singing continuously in the way that only Africans can sing. I continued to take pictures out of the window of the moving car. There was one particular mountain that had caught my attention. It looked like an enormous flint arrowhead. But I couldn’t get a decent shot of it from where I was sitting, and I knew that it would soon be getting dark. I would be wrong to say I had become accustomed to being bounced and battered about but I was coping alright.

And then, without any warning, we were suddenly on a brand-new highway with a smooth surface —no potholes, no disappearing verges. The contrast was stark. 

So, the driver pressed his foot down on the accelerator pedal, we began to pick up speed, the choir sang louder and held on more tightly … then …BANG! There was a jolt, the pickup slowed down as quickly as it had sped up and we pulled over to the side of the road. We all had to get out.

We’d had a puncture—or to be more precise a complete blowout of the tyre.

The tools and spare tyre had been taken out and put in the other car (to allow all of the choir members to get in the back.) It ended up taking a couple of hours before we were rescued by which time the sun had gone down completely. 

But guess where we had come to our sudden stop? Right beside ‘my’ mountain! Hence the picture.

It was almost to me a parable of life itself:

In the journeys of our lives there are parts that we know are going to be rough and difficult, yet which sometimes turn out not to be as bad as we had feared. We get through even if do get a little bit battered and bruised.

And there are other times when we seem to be breezing along blithely and blissfully and then we’re hit by a sudden and unexpected event that brings everything to a grinding halt.

In between there are special moments to savour and sights to wonder at.

But most of all—if we’re lucky—we may share the journey with travelling companions who keep on singing as they go. 

As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.” ― Robert Louis Stevenson

But even better than that…the Good Shepherd himself has promised to travel with us where we go. There’s bound to be a song about that somewhere…