I’m retiring soon, so I’m in reflective mode. And I had a thought. How much of my life in business and the church have I spent in meetings? Weeks, months, years! I shuddered. Having lived through a technology revolution, you’d assume we spend less time in meetings. I’m sure in the future someone will write a book about why we spent so much of our lives in meetings, just like we wonder how our forebears spent long hours working in factories.
So my heart warmed to revelations in ‘The Times’ about the late French President Mitterrand’s conduct at meetings. While his fellow European leaders were discussing budgets, he had more important matters on his mind – love. He wrote to his beloved, recalling her phone call that morning. ‘Your voice on the phone was so clear, so light, so winged, that joy entered in gusts through the window’. The next day he wrote, ‘I am writing during the council meeting. Mrs Thatcher is getting ready for the fray, tension reigns behind the friendly atmosphere.’ And at midnight after a 10 hour meeting, ‘It does me so good to write to you. I would like to love you so much better’.
Penning love letters during a meeting? Without the chair noticing? How romantic and mischievous!
It’s good to know that our leaders are as human as we are. And it just goes to show that as the Beatles sang and Jesus taught, there’s something more important than meetings, to love and know we are loved.
By the Revd Canon Stephen Bowen, Community Canon, Gloucester Cathedral