I managed to slip down a flight of stairs in my stockinged feet in one of our host’s houses and jammed the little toe of my left foot in the banisters. This brilliant move may have broken my fall but it twisted the toe just this side of snapping. Not a good move in the early stages of a long walk. Donors will realise that I have been limping this past week and delighted to have a short break to allow the toe that strongly resembles a prize winning radish to recover its past poise.
We went to a service in one of the many churches we attend to favour and the sermon was about the need to avoid sin, and it was implied, particularly sexual sin. Glancing round the congregation I concluded that, as gross self indulgence has reduced most of them to such proportions, both adultery and fornication would merely be an exercise in the ridiculous.
Another couple of days off and then back to the walk.
The Grim Reaper
Another friend of mine is at death’s door. His wife is convinced he will be saved by a miracle cure – not “may”, mind, but “will”. I worry about this. Not so long ago, one of my employee’s husbands was afflicted with pancreatic cancer, and then it spread to his liver and lungs. It seemed clear that it was “Good night, sweet Prince” for him, but no – Rachel had received a sign that he would be cured. Then she heard about a clinic in Acapulco that offered a diet and drug cure for a mere £20k – would I cough up?
Call me a cynical old thing if you will, but in my view if the Oxford Nuffield can’t crack it then why would a South American clinic? Of course, there will always be some snake-oil clinic that claims to have a miracle cure (no guarantees mind) – provided, of course, you have the dosh.
I have known three cases of partners so hooked on the idea that their loved one was not going to die that it inhibited the process of saying “farewell”. Further, the failure of healing to take place resulted in great resentment and a broken-hearted loss of faith.
Cheerio, Here I Go…
Death, of course, comes to us all, and it’s a lonely business. We all have to deal with it in our own way. Here’s what I think:
I am a profoundly fortunate man to have survived thus far. When I am diagnosed with my galloping ab-dabs – and it’s not “if” it happens but “when” – I hope I shall dwell upon how incredibly lucky I’ve been to have experienced a life marinated in love for as long as I can remember. And I will give thanks for I have been the beneficiary of undeserved GRACE to such a degree that I wonder just to think about it.
I am now an old man and most of what I was meant to do has been done (or not done). So, if I am due to die soonest then I shall of course have a few regrets, and I will be profoundly sad to leave my family and friends behind. But broadly speaking, the timing will be fine by me for I am in God’s hands. His will be done, all will be well, and thank you for the joy and laughter. I hope I will be able to say all this cheerfully enough for unless one is actually facing the end then how we come to terms with it is bound to be theory.
Many of my dear friends are dying with distressing rapidity and I seem to spend an increasing amount of time at funerals and memorial services. It all appears so arbitrary: some of the finest people seem to be “gathered”, as the Scots quaintly put it, and then there are those whom I think could easily be spared that seem grimly to soldier on. Broadcaster David Frost died in 2013 and then his 31-year-old son Miles died last year. Poor Carina Frost had to face the double whammy of losing her husband and son within a short period of time. Mother Teresa once said she intended to have a strong word with the Recording Angel when she arrived in Heaven, and I propose to do the same!
All Will Be Well
I have to admit I’ve never witnessed a “miracle cure” as such, but that’s not to say these manifestations do not occur – just that they seem to be rare. For me, miracles are not necessarily to do with physical cures, but instead may provide profound spiritual healing: the resolution of deep personal traumas, such as a lack of forgiveness; the occasion for true repentance and the resolution of family disputes (often those that have lain unrecognised for years); and the forgiveness of sins and a spiritual awakening that can transform not only the lives of the dying, but of those who are agonisingly left behind.
My view is that whatever happens, all will be well and all manner of things will be well. Our lives are gifts from God, and He (or She) can take back that gift at any time.
Drove past Kinlochmoidart a couple of days ago and thought of you and Jane – Stewards Trust Houseparties and I think you took the place for a family party?
Keep up the good work/walks – rather surprised that you think of yourself as an “old man” Tom – you are more active than some people half your age.
Amanda is moving to Oxford later this year so might look you up!
Hope all goes well with the walk. Fantastic effort both of you.
Love Mike and Annie
Thank you Tom for your piece on death. I totally agree and applaud your openness. It is regrettable that so many ignore this inevitable event and consequently leave so much unfinished business, reading this may help more than you will ever know. Bless you both as you continue this walk, will pray for “miraculous healing” of your toe!