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On Being the First...

The death of the UK's first (and so far, only) woman Prime Minister has caused a flurry media activity, from the carefully honed (and undoubtedly written ages ago and kept in readiness) to the knee-jerk, from gracious and measured to vitriolic and offensive.

If I'm honest, I have mixed feelings about her, and about what she did.  Some I don't think was wise, but some was clearly necessary; some I totally disagreed with, some seemed justified.

But I suppose what it is that strikes me is the challenge of being first, the first, the one that people look at to see what such a creature might be, or do or say.  The person who is entrusted with a task in which she might fail or succeed - and will most probably do a bit of both.  The person who will disappoint, and be disappointed by, those who elect/call her.  The person onto whom so much hope is projected - and so much suspicion.

This morning I am off to Pitlochry to spend twenty four hours on retreat in a male dominated group.  I am that oddity, that first woman, that inevitable heretic, the one whose every move, every word just might be taken and twisted to prove some point, either way.  Those I will be retreating with are good, honest, earnest, Bible-believing, less-heretical-than-me men.  Most of them are gracious and welcoming.  But there will be those who blank me... being first, the first, has its price.

I have no desire to be like Mrs Thatcher.  Whilst I can do stubborn and bolshy, I don't think I am anywhere near her league.  In any case, I am not trying to steer a nation, I am seeking to serve a church.  I am not elected by people, I am, in so far as I know my heart, called of God.  No-one is going to devote 36 pages of newsprint to recalling my life (phew!) the most I will get is a line on a PowerPoint at Baptist Assembly if by then it still happens.

My Dad, born a few months before his political hero, but pre-deceasing her by more than two decades, used to say one should never speak ill of the dead.  Whatever we thought of Baroness Thatcher, she was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and she was the first female prime minister of the nation I know as home.  Today she will be mourned by those who genuinely loved her.  And she was a first - one of a small portion of society who, chosen or otherwise, must create their own path, for there is none to follow... 

May she rest peacefully, in the grace of God.

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