I had mapped out these weeks following my return from the USA for some gentle times of reflection and some work in my shed/sanctuary. With my US family actually living alongside us in Cambridge I recognized that some time would be expended on an energetic nine and six year old ...expended is the word1 But it looked a relatively straightforward month.
I had no idea that immediately on my return I would be plunged into heavy duty as the eldest nephew of my only surviving older relative -my 91 year old uncle who lives four hours away. Taken into hospital twice in rapid succession and needing to find a new residential home, his needs have suddenly entangled us with the world of doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, social workers, and residential care workers. The next few days we shall be involved in physically moving him from his home of the last 15 years. He is a kindly private man who will not complain. All my life in ministry I have witnessed others going through this process with elderly relatives - now I can speak with fellow-feeling.
However, today I have exulted in a very different family happening. Carol has celebrated her Big Birthday in style. For the first time ever, both our boys and their families were able to join us in our home for a riotous Chinese take-away, cricket on the nearby playing field, water-play in the garden, balloons, banner, cards (over 50 so far!), and gifts. Earlier we had driven out for a couple of quiet hours in Bury St. Edmunds. As we sat by the bowling green with the backdrop of the magnificent abbey we reminisced about life so far and God's goodness in it. Family life certainly adds complications but we are profoundly grateful to God for the story so far.