Michael Ramsay was greatly loved within and beyond the boundaries of the Church of England. He was a gifted scholar. He would require special skills of leadership to become an Archbishop. The high office to which he was appointed gave him a privileged position in the pecking order of high society in Britain. In the eyes of many there was an element of eccentricity about him. Cartoonists certainly appreciated the large eyebrows over which he never seemed to be in control. In retirement he was to be seen on the streets of Durham with a perpetual smile on his face. You thought he was about to speak to you. One young couple met him and returned the smile. They weren’t disappointed. “Isn’t it nice to be in Durham” he said as he continued on his way.
Robert Runcie in a Foreword to a book about prayer written by Archbishop Ramsay says, ‘ It is a consolation and encouragement to a present Archbishop that one of his predecessors, after decades spent at the heart of ecclesiastical administration, is able to produce a work like Be Still and Know. The style is as serene as the title. It has an authentic, apostolic simplicity.’ A tremendous compliment, but to those who heard Bishop Ramsay speak about prayer, particularly during his freelance days of retirement, Dr Runcie’s tribute is to the man Michael Ramsay was in himself. He was not the exposition of a theory. He spoke a personal testimony. His life radiated a humility and a serenity ranking him with the saints of whom he delighted to speak. No doubt above all else he recognised that the Christian prayer and the Christian life are properly inseparable.
“‘To intercede is to bear others on the heart of God’s presence…..There are times when prayer vibrates with joy and eagerness, there are times when the brain seems stupider than ever, the imagination wanders far away and the feelings are cold and the will very weak.”
Michael Ramsay Be still and Know. (A Fount Original, 1981)