Saturday, June 27, 2009

A very dangerous man?

I forget, have you met Donald Reeves? We've certainly talked about him, and I know you'll enjoy this story.

When, in 1980, Donald arrived at St. James's in Piccadilly, I was a member of the congregation. The next decade proved to be a memorable time at the church. A time when, along with Donald, we all felt that we were breaking challenging and exhilarating, new ground.
Eighteen years after his arrival, leaving behind a parish transformed, Donald moved on.

By then, I, too, had moved, but I continued to hear of Donald's achievements. Of how this irrepressible individual, a man of amazing energy and compassion, had founded The Soul of Europe, and sent himself on a mission to bring healing and reconciliation to the Balkans.

Only Donald could have done it . . . only Donald did it!
This year he was honoured with an MBE for his achievements.

Why am I reminiscing about Donald? Because he has written his memoirs, an absorbing and inspirational book entitled The Biography of ‘A Very Dangerous Man’. The other week, feeling both a little nostalgic and very privileged, I attended its launch at the Bosnian Embassy.

Little did I ever imagine that I would be invited to the Bosnian Embassy. But there I was . . . all thanks to Donald.

It was moving . . . and memorable . . . and highly idiosyncratic . . . just like Donald!
The Bosnian Ambassador gave a speech. The Publisher, from Continuum, also gave a speech.
And Donald . . . ?
Oh no, Donald couldn't give anything as orthodox and simple as a speech! Scorning the microphone used by the others, he wandered happily amongst his guests chatting to them, acknowledging them, and thanking them as he recounted his colourful story.

Was this to be his swan song? Was Donald about to retire?
Far from it! He was off to Bosnia the following week. He had great new plans . . . people to meet . . . books to be written . . . this was merely the start!

The affection for him in that room was palpable. His friends had gathered not out of a sense of social obligation, but because this man was dear to them. They loved him . . . and they wanted to say so.

Afterwards, Donald willingly signed copies of his book and, as he did so, I took a photo. It wasn’t until I returned home that I discovered the orb.
Can you see it?Link
There it is, exactly where you would have expected it to be . . . hovering, like a button-hole, directly over Donald’s heart.
'A very dangerous man . . .' ? No, Margaret Thatcher was misinformed.
More likely, wouldn't you agree, that the orb is paying tribute to a truly remarkable and unforgetable friend?