Without the focus of work and the need to provide for the family the autumn of our lives can bring fresh challenges! For me, one of these was about making sure I was living and experiencing the abundant life Jesus was offering! I felt this new period in my life carried a responsibility not to fritter away something unspeakably precious. I found I was being encouraged to fill my extra free time with enjoyable pastimes, which was great, but I worried I might be missing something?
I thought about the world around me and realised I took so many things for granted and knew so little other than perhaps what I had touched on in school many years ago or had added to rather randomly over the years. I thought I needed to bring myself up-to date with the huge advances made by science in recent years.
This was possibly a mammoth task but it was made easy for me! I was having a patio laid at the time and from this unlikely source the landscape gardener, Richard, recommended Bill Bryson’s ‘A Short History Of Nearly Everything’! It was just what I needed as the author was on a similar quest to my own! I found it quite a revelation on reading this book as to how quickly we i.e. man, had reached the limit of his understanding in just about every field of science and that we were such a long way off from understanding how everything in the universe (and beyond) worked together in any meaningful way! The reality which I enjoyed day by day was, I deduced, still mostly a mystery – to which my only response could be one of awe, wonder and thanks!
My quest then took me to understand better the historical context of my surroundings. I was pretty ignorant of what had shaped this and I decided to study this from the Roman occupation onwards – the Dark Ages, the Saxons, Vikings, Normans etc. and then the reigns of the British kings and queens; the shift of power to the people and the influence that passionately held Christian beliefs and values had had on the world as I knew it and which I had accepted as a ‘given’ for the way of life I was currently enjoying!
So far everything seemed to have been ‘handed to me on a plate’! Not much else to do perhaps, other than to enjoy all this new free time! Having said this I was still quite busy! I had been adopted as a child and this had instilled in me a compassion for children who did not have an adult to love and care for them. I had used such skills as I had in finance to work for children’s charities and in my retirement have continued to do this particularly to help street children.
I also have a wonderful family and great friends but was all this giving me the abundant life that I wanted to fully savour? I had a deep concern that something was still missing?
And then one day I stumbled on the treasure I had been seeking! A virtually unknown writer to whom a room had been dedicated in Hereford Cathedral which I was visiting with friends who had moved to the area! The person I discovered was somebody about who C S Lewis had said ‘ I could quote from (him) forever’ !! He was it seems a local parish priest who, among other things, had been asked for some material for a kind of home group a friend was setting up! He wrote a set of one hundred ‘meditations’ followed by 3 more (centuries!) and an unfinished 5th (of only ten) before he died.
He wrote extensively of truths and treasures and how to enjoy them fully and the consequences of not doing so! He was at times controversial but he gave me the stimulation and challenge to see things in a different and fuller perspective, almost as if he was answering my questions, yet 350 years ago!
This writer I found filled a gap for me – at times he ‘blew my socks off!’ He expressed in many different ways the awesomeness of life and how to fully experience this! He is not for everyone but I feel the need to at least bring this man to your attention! Denise Inge has written a wonderful introduction to his life, ‘Poetry and Prose’. I never go anywhere without it! I leave you with a quote from 1:59 of the Centuries and referring to ‘the Cross’.
‘There we see the most distant things in Eternity united: all Mysteries at once couched together and explained’!