My brother Martyn was explaining the “six degrees of separation” idea to his son, my nephew Sam, (soon to be 12 years old).
Martyn told Sam that I had met Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He went on to ask Sam to think about all the “famous” people who had also met the Archbishop.
Two degrees of separation for me, via Desmond Tutu, to so many humble, or notorious, or brave people.
And I’ve also met former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey when he was a teacher at my Seminary - St. John’s Theological College, Nottingham, U.K. Just think of all his contacts, from whom I also have two degrees of separation.
Come to think of it, my first Director of Ordinands, the late Canon Geoffrey Paul, was the father of Jane Paul, who is now Jane Williams, wife of the present Archbishop of Canterbury. Now here are some multitudinous degrees of separation twixt me and the world!
Some years ago I met Senator Edward Kennedy. He was the speaker at a graduation ceremony for students of the Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, MA. I was on the platform to give the invocation and blessing. Ted Kennedy and I shook hands.
Lord only knows to whom I was connected through that handshake. John F. Kennedy and Bobbie Kennedy to say the most.
Now Ed. Kennedy is in the Massachusetts General Hospital, stricken with a brain tumour.
This beloved “son of Massachusetts”; this marvellously effective U.S. Senator; this Liberal Lion for whom the entire USA ought to be utterly grateful; this child of God has a brain tumour.
And I, who once shook his hand, feel a dreadful sadness.
“No man is an Island, entire of itself”