Tuesday, July 05, 2011

5th July

I like being on holiday as even on my own I’m enjoying myself. Am I allowed to say that? I can’t say I really feel happy but I certainly don’t feel too bad, a bit lonely now and again and still massively tearful when memories come crashing in to disrupt my normal composure. This morning I walked down the campsite road, avoiding the permanent berries strewn underfoot and passed a pitch we’d once used some years ago. It was there that Jane persuaded me to get my son behind the wheel of our absolutely brand new motorhome. As an 18 year old he’d had a couple driving lessons in a small driving school car not a large 31/2 ton van, so he only went back and forwards a few times but I’m not sure who was more terrified, me or my son. I continued walking and another pitch came to mind from about ten years ago… Jane’s health problems suddenly became rather more severe and she had to be sorted out in the middle of the night, 200 miles from home camping in a tent. She completely ignored it and the next day I remember she instigated a prolonged Frisbee game and then family badminton… wonderful memories then but rather sad today.

Anyway later on I went back into Deal, as you do, and simply walked along the front eventually finding my way onto the pier where I simply sat and soaked up the sunshine. It’s strange being alone and having no-one to talk to, although fellow campers always seem happy to pass the time of day but once out and about it becomes quite challenging to even say good-day to those passing by. I play the game of trying to catch people’s eye and at least mumble a hello but they nearly always ignore me and look down when walking past.  Makes me feel a bit odd but who cares.

So what happens when one of the locals, a guy in his 70’s, is out walking his dog and crosses my path on a large otherwise empty green? I almost collide with him as I nip in front to get back into my motorhome. We have a laugh and end up talking for the best part of an hour. Do we believe in co-incidences? Not when this man once lived maybe half a mile from where I now live back in Derby… and his brother went to the same grammar school that I did. And he witnessed the single Heinkel bomber raiding Derby’s Rolls Royce in 1940. The same raid that came close to killing my mother-in law on her way to start her shift at Rolls Royce, and was seen by my own teenage mother who thought the friend she’d just said goodbye to had actually been hit. I nearly wasn’t here and nor was Jane. But my dad’s school here in Deal was also bombed and children killed as well.

So it was good to make a friend if only in passing and we sorted out many of this country’s if not the world’s problems before sharing the more painful parts of our lives. We all have a story and fairly recently his younger wife had left him leaving him very lonely and grateful for his dog as his only companion. Then a few weeks ago a long-time friend was killed with his wife whilst piloting a light aircraft leaving him quite unsettled. So it was good to be able to share a little of my own faith journey with this rather shaken atheist and gently encourage him to explore life’s greatest truth… it was only a few days ago I was wondering how I might help the lonely old folk I kept seeing on my walks.

Isaiah 55:6 ‘Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.’ (NLT)

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