Terry Waite. taken from a past article written in the Salvationist online.
TERRY WAITE walks tall. He's a man with a tremendous zest for life, who refuses to be beaten. Six-foot-seven Terry is - like his former boss, the late Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Robert Runcie - energised by a sense of humour, a selfless quick compassion for the suffering of his fellow human beings and a supreme confidence in the Almighty. At the Army's carol service he shared these gifts, telling how - as one of the world's best-known hostages Terry has many memories of Dr Runcie. He particularly recalls the archbishop's modesty. Few people know that the archbishop-to-be served with distinction in the Scots Guards during the Second World War, winning the Military Cross for wiping out an enemy gun emplacement. When Terry spoke to him about his medal Dr Runcie only chuckled and declared, 'They gave those away with the rations!' 'But of course', Terry told me, 'it was a conspicuous act of bravery’. In fact Dr Runcie first came into the ministry through his war experiences. He was a man of great compassion, as many Salvationists are. He received people who were in the deepest trouble. He never rejected them. Nor was his ambition ever to be an archbishop - even though he was an accomplished academic and scholar. Dr Runcie was also a man of very great humour and, as later became known, kept pigs. I don't know if he was comparing them to his staff at the time but he thought some were very intelligent animals! He once received an invitation to contribute a limerick about pigs. "I can't write limericks," he sighed. But he had a go and composed the following:
‘An archbishop, to keep himself calm,
Kept pigs on a Hertfordshire farm,
The grunts and the snores,
of the prize-winning boars,
to episcopal ears were as balm.'
Not all requests from the sackfuls of mail arriving for the archbishop's attention could be answered personally, but Dr Runcie was a workaholic and a perfectionist, and kept his typists busy. Terry writes about a hiccup within the Lambeth Palace administration. From the post-room, positioned directly above Lambeth Palace Road, a chute directed the archbishop's mail downwards to street level into a sealed box exclusive to Lambeth Palace. ‘Prior to being emptied from below’, explains Terry, ‘it frequently had to be helped on its way with a long pole, kept conveniently to hand. Each day the Lambeth Palace postman tipped countless envelopes into the box, until one day he discovered that within the chute there were about 10 feet of uncollected letters. However,' he adds, 'the problem hardly seemed to make much difference to the smooth functioning of the Church of England’. Dr Runcie's concern for the wider Anglican communion - in addition to the countless ceremonies and public engagements in the UK which often necessitated late-night journeys back to Lambeth Palace - made heavy demands on the archbishop's time and energy. So how did he survive? What was the source of his strength? ‘Often when we travelled half way around the world Dr Runcie would be up early before anybody else, and we'd find him praying quietly by himself in the chapel,' Terry tells me. 'He amazed me. I think he kept his spirituality because he had a real love for prayer - it was not just something perfunctory. Furthermore, he always made time for what he called his "cell". This was a group of people who met once or twice a year to get away together for quietness and prayer. Dr Runcie never said anything about it but it was always marked out in his diary. So, despite his busy programme he always had a quiet place. That, I think, is the secret,' says Terry. 'The more active you become, the more you've got to be able to withdraw - and not be afraid of doing so.'