Sunday, September 11, 2011

11th September

So today I was cautioned to be careful on my daily walk through the woods at Kedleston Hall. And the wind was certainly beginning to pick up a little, though no problem with tree falls just yet. But tomorrow they reckon the tail end of Hurricane Katia will be more severely affecting the UK and reception staff say they may have to close the park to visitors. The claim is that some of the trees there are maybe a thousand years old and are rare remnants of ancient native woodland… walking there is my favourite activity at the moment. It may be a heavily managed estate and certainly not a wilderness but the route I walk makes few demands physically and there’s plenty of space to be alone on even the busiest of days. It truly is a haven of peace where I meet with God in the midst of my personal storms.

Whilst there today I met some old friends who were out walking with their son. He must be in his thirties and is very severely autistic, completely incapable of speech and with limited response to any communication. His behaviour can be rather weird to say the least… he likes to stroke people’s hair which is awkward with those who don’t know him. Given his lack of inhibitions it’s fortunate he has no interest in girls and indeed doesn’t even appear to know what they are. Years ago I remember that though he was quite able to make a pot of tea he would insist upon eating sink plugs and they had to hide them from him. It’s a difficult condition to understand for sure. My friends are true heroes. They’ve sacrificed decades of their lives to care for and show immense love to this severely challenging son who is incapable of acknowledging their attention and maybe their existence in any meaningful way. But he always seems to be such a gentle person so their love is having an effect for sure.

Over the years I’ve met a number of people who have comparable challenges with their children and have given themselves willingly to care for them. My heart goes out to them. And also to the Lord. I am so totally thankful for the way God has blessed my life. I enjoyed forty incredible years with my wife as both lover and best friend, she was truly my closest confident and we shared absolutely everything, good or bad, there were no secrets. I have no complaints about the Lord taking her home… she deserves God’s best and in heaven she is now fully healed and restored in the presence of the Lord. It hurt so much to see her suffer physically for so many years. And the Lord has given me four healthy children, a couple of sons-in-law until next month when my youngest daughter gets married and I get another. And so far four grandchildren who are more and more becoming friends… I’m even learning to play games using texts with the eldest who’s now eleven.

Anyway I feel like I’m rambling and what I really want to say is that despite losing my wife prematurely and despite having a long term battle with M.E. myself I am really the most blessed person who has ever lived. My heart is filled with God’s love and his favour is and always will be towards me. In the midst of every storm there is a haven of peace and joy to be found in God. His grace is always sufficient to cover over any challenge that life can bring our way.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ‘give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ (NIV)

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