Here are some previous thoughts on the subject of Perspective. When you have finished on this page, click Back to look at other topics.

Four pieces of wall have led to a serious fracas in the opera world. The conductor, Riccardo Muti, and his director-designer Hugo de Ana regarded the wall as essential scenery for a forthcoming production of Verdi's La Forza del Destino but the Royal Opera House said it wasnít safe. Now Mr Muti has withdrawn from conducting the performances.

Attention to detail is an important aspect of any work of art. Itís important in life generally. Whatever piece of work we are engaged in, the smaller aspects often require the same care as its main components. The effect created by whatís in the background can be just as significant as that created by whatís more obviously in the limelight.

On the other hand, to allow concern with the detail to become too dominant can undermine the whole project. Whatever weíre doing, we need a sense of perspective. A bit of distance from the whole makes it possible to distinguish whatís important from what doesnít matter so much.

Thereís probably more to the drama at Covent Garden than we know about. But it offers a reminder to keep a balance in life between being meticulous and being flexible.

Some instructions are open to a variety of interpretations. When John Cage, the 20th century composer, said that his composition Organ2/ASLSP should be played "as slow as possible" he may not have meant that it should be spread over 639 years. But this is how long a group of German music experts in the German town of Halberstadt have decided the performance should be.

They want to commemorate the creation of the city's historic Blockwerk organ in 1361. The performance, on a specially built organ in which keys are held down by weights, began on September 5th, 2001. It starts with silence, and the only sound for the first year and a half was air. The first notes were played in February 2003. Two new notes rang out last week and the next chord progression will take place on March 5, 2006. "It has a philosophical background: in the hectic times in which we live, to find calm through this slowness," said Georg Bandarau, a businessman who helps run the private foundation behind the concert.

Such an unhurried approach to life sounds attractive. Life often seems to consist of a series of deadlines which crowd mercilessly upon us. Perhaps what we need is a longer perspective, a view of our tasks which sees them as part of a much longer term project. Some believe that God sees and exercises some influence over the whole picture. They trust God to incorporate what we make of our lives into the total composition and so can approach their detailed tasks in a less frenetic way. Even those without that belief sometimes find that when they take a broader view of their lives, they can see a pattern which is missed if they are only conscious of immediate pressures.

The individual chords which make up our lives today may not make always make sense out of context. Letís try and see them as part of a sustained and more long term harmony.

Six people have spent three days going round and round in circles and want it put in the Guinness Book of Records. They are claiming the world record for consecutive hours on a Ferris wheel after 36 hours spent on a ride at Six Flags St. Louis. The riders got off the wheel twice during the ride that began last Wednesday, due to lightning. They ate and slept on the wheel, and had privacy curtains and portable toilets.

Clearly everything was done to make their ordeal as comfortable and safe as possible but it can hardly have been fun. Probably only the incentive of achieving the record kept them going.

In life too, going round in circles can make life feel frustrating, boring and unfulfilling. Only if there seems to be some purpose to it does it seem bearable. The people who left Egypt with Moses complained that he was leading them nowhere. Yet in retrospect, their time in the wilderness was very formative for them as a people. It was a time when their relationship with God deepened and they learnt about trust and living as a community.

If life doesnít seem to be going anywhere at the moment, it may be worth exploring what value it might nevertheless have. Sometimes it is only afterwards that we realise what has been learnt from apparently unproductive periods in our lives. Occasionally, if we try, some purpose can be found in them even while the wheelís still turning.

If you scan the night sky over the next ten days or so just before dawn, you might be able to see Mercury, Mars and Jupiter near together forming a tight triangle. Your chances however are slim if you are a city dweller. The constant light of an urban environment diminishes the brightness of the night sky. You need darkness to see its full beauty.

Light and darkness are frequently used as metaphors for our experiences. There are times of clarity and fulfilment but there are also periods of confusion, struggle and doubt. To feel permanently in the dark and to see no glimmer of light from the depths of despair or suffering can be utterly miserable. Never to know darkness, on the other hand, would make us people whose depths are never plumbed and who never discover some of the riches that emerge from within us when life challenges our equilibrium.

Letís today be glad when we experience darkness and light in an appropriate balance. Periods of darkness enable us fully to enjoy the light and there are certain truths and strengths that we only really discover in the dark times. Sometimes itís only in the darkness that we discover the full beauty of our lives.