March 2017 - Jim Munro
I was born in a mining community in Fife and educated at Dunfermline High School and Edinburgh University, eventually leading to a PhD in French literature. After a three-year period teaching French at Leeds University, I was appointed to a lectureship in French in the University of Stirling at its opening in 1967. The rest of my working life was spent mostly at Stirling, teaching both French and English as a foreign language, but my wife and I spent a year teaching in China and I also spent some time in Hong Kong.
My writing of verse goes back a long way but has been fairly sporadic, so my output is not large. I like doing translations from French into Scots and have done a number of pieces in Scots and English for the choir of Alva Parish Church to sing. The other pieces I write tend to reflect my persuasion that the core of the Christian message is the discovery of a kind of interpersonal relationship which is a partnership and yet allows the partners to retain their own personal identity.
I heard a story once of how a man
took umbrage at his shadow—that black version
of him that was both him and a perversion.
Thinking to shake his shadow off, he ran
and ran, but still his blacker self clung on.
At length he dropped exhausted to the ground
beneath a spreading tree, and—wonder!—found
the tree’s great shadow had absorbed his own.
I have a shadow too: a self diminished
by hopes and aspirations unfulfilled,
struggles in and around me, never stilled,
a restless quest for wholeness, never finished.
So: is God’s love the over-arching tree
whose shade gives rest from self—and joy being me?
‘He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty’ (Psalm 91:1)
‘I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” (Book of Songs 2: 2-4)