FOLKESTONE to WALMER
Passed through the Battle of Britain Memorial early this morning. The statue of an Allied airman is both simple and powerfully evocative. I stopped briefly here and sat and reflected on those who this memorial honours.
Extract from Reflections Journal – Thursday 31st August 2017
It is Thursday on the seventh week of my sabbatical pilgrimage journey and with just two more days before I arrive at my destination in Canterbury, this journey – this part of my life journey- is drawing to its end and I was unsure about how I feel about it. During the whole of this final week I felt some sense of satisfaction that this walk that had started physically some 500 miles before on the west coast of Cornwall was nearing completion, but at the same time I had this realisation that by Sunday it would be over and I would be heading home – by car – and back to normal life (Whatever that is!). Each day of my journey was entirely different to those before it and those to follow it, but at the same time the pattern of my daily life had become simple and had adopted a certain shape and pace which was relaxing, calming, and comfortable. Every day I moved forward. Every day I had time to focus on my relationship with God. Every day there was time to listen. Every day there was an opportunity for something to surprise me. As I reflect back to this week a whole year later I can see just how quickly I slipped back into the speed and expectations of the everyday, and how easily I have allowed myself to lose contact with that experience of time and space.
It was my privilege to spend the night at the home of a minister in Walmer who is very sadly quite unwell. I have encounter several ministers and vicars along the way who struggle with health issues and it has made me wonder how this impacts their ministry. For some there is a practical and physical impact on them in that they are simply unable to do all that they would want to do, but are there other implications? Do these servants of the church feel let down by their infirmity? Does it make people in their churches and communities question God’s motives or goodness? I have reflected in this journal on the modern day reality of stress suffered by a growing number of ministers and it strikes me that it is often invisible to those they serve, but these physical ailments are not so easy to hide and perhaps they present different challenges. I have experienced a couple of health issues myself over the last 4 or 5 years and I can easily remember the feelings of frustration and even failure at times during them. I fear that many ministers and quite a lot of church members and others, work on the premise that somehow they – the minister – should be above illness and difficulties, and any such problem might be counted as some kind of judgement!
I came across this poem by Terry Donavon a few years ago and although it is not explicitly Christian I think it is an interesting observation:
Who heals the healer?
That even with her healing hands
She’s only human after all
And as a human she can fall
For bugs and bumps and pains and aches
And as a human make mistakes
And, busy making others better,
Forget these things are out to get her.
Through her do powers intercede
To get to work on those in need,
Through her they pass to cure so much
With just her presence and her touch.
But can’t they stop and can’t they see
When she herself is not pain-free?
It somehow seems to be unfair
That she who gives out so much care
From sources by whatever name
Cannot expect to get the same.
We’ve heard about ‘mysterious ways’
But some things always will amaze,
And after all the spin is spun,
Who heals the healer – anyone?