Here is the transcript of the latest Reflection broadcast on BBC Cambs Radio Faith Show. Link below. The reflections are 20 minutes into the programme.
In the early days of recovery at home from heart surgery, I was struck that I never felt ill as such; it wasn’t the sensation of flu or sickness for me, it was simply being drained of all energy. I was touched by the care from my family and friends, but perhaps, as with all bereavement, it’s when the phone stops ringing and cards and messages stop arriving that you realise how difficult a prospect you are facing.
I was shocked how vulnerable I felt and how much I had to rely on others for very simple tasks: opening a packet or lifting more than a bag of sugar. I was determined to take the advice of cardiac support and walk from day one. But I was shocked how daunting the prospect of walking just a little around the park was and my mind went back to the start of this journey, some eight years before on the same stretch of green after I had been told I had heart problem.
I feel blessed to have such great friends and support throughout it all: the casseroles and hugs, the flowers and cards, the chocolates, the walks with furry companions, the long lazy pub lunches and afternoon teas, but above all having the ear that listens. And maybe I feel blessed to realise how terrifying It must be to go through this without friends.
On one such occasion, after navigating the crowds, I found myself using one of the back streets that I knew so well from the many door stepping sessions of a local politician. On this particular street, there is a funeral directors which I had passed many, many times before and usually had only given a cursory thought to its activity. However, on this occasion the yard door was unusually left open and there in front of me was an empty hearse. I stopped in my tracks. And looked at the somber vehicle and I realised how easily I could have been its occupant if events had taken a different turn.
It’s often been said that the only taboo left in Western society is death. That confrontation with the hearse was a stark reminder of its reality in all our lives.
This has been so violently reinforced for me, in the national tragedies over the recent months. The precarious nature of our being. How in a moment with the swish of cold steel, the explosion of nails and the ferocity of fire, the joy and excitement of a concert or the blissful ease of a summer evening by the river and a cozy late-night cuddle on the sofa, can be shattered.
And yet in the midst of this awful and life searing chaos we once again see an outpouring of love. The Manchester cabbies looking for people to give free lifts to and the Londoners rushing to provide food and shelter, where the authorities seemed to be a step behind, was beautiful to behold.
In the recent national wave of prayer, Thy Kingdom Come, I took part in a Beacon Service where a candle was lit to represent the witness and love and ministry of a variety of Cambridge churches under a candle of Christ’s light. A prayer was offered, not just for peace but for us all to be the peacemakers.
Surely, with every hug and tear, bottle of water and mattress, this shows what is strongest. Communities coming together and whilst angry and deeply hurt, still showing that love is not only possible, but necessary.