Thursday, June 30, 2022


I'll get back to the subject of ageing but something odd happened a few days ago.  Carol asked me what was the matter with my left leg, pointing to something on the back of my leg, out of my sightline.'' never seen anything like it! she exclaimed. 'It's like a black growth with a black teardrop hanging down. It's really strange and ugly.'  Blissfully unawares I had for some days, showered, dressed, sat and walked while this thing determinedly hung on.

At Tesco pharmacist we asked for advice. At first she seemed loathe to examine me but, when pressed, she pronounced with surprise that I was housing a large tick which needed to be removed at once.  A tick?  Wouldn't I have felt something like that?  Apparently not.  Just over 2 hours later in our doctor's surgery a nurse wielded large tweezers to extract the tick and then jump on it several times. Apparently, NHS regulations suggest killing it by a burning cigarette - that doesn't sound appropriate in a smoke free zone! The nurse from Cameroon said she had often dealt with ticks in Africa but since coming to England I was only her fourth victim.

Then began a watch and see period.  Was the site going to expand, change shape and colour?  Was I going to show symptoms of infection such as headache, fatigue, muscle pain. I am happy to report that a friend who is an experienced nurse has now examined me and declared me free.  There is no mass underneath the bite and I have no symptoms.

The great mystery is where this particular tick has come from. Could it have begun eating me in the US on our visit there?  Or is it homegrown?  Apparently, they are on the rise in the UK.  So, this salutary tale is a warning to us all.  Beware ticks..  

Friday, June 24, 2022

Optimistic faith


In fairness, I should give more space to the book with that provocative title: The Joys of Successful Ageing. Written by a popular US pastor George Sweeting it is full of bright optimism. Though he has experienced serious illness, it is also clear that he has enjoyed a successful career and is widely admired. Optimism radiates from the first chapter 'Lighten Up'. He likes the quote: 'We don't stop laughing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop laughing'. Humour, he writes, combats stress and helps creatively cope with life. He calls us 'to use it or lose it' and claims that people of faith tend to live longer. Because they view the physical body as God's temple, trust in God, belong to an extended church family, practice faith with prayer and can experience grace. 

Positively, he unpacks these different aspects with the OT character, Caleb, as his role model. Aged 85 when many people are well into retirement Caleb claimed he was as strong to serve as he had been at the age of 40 ( Josh 14:11).  ‘Rather than seeking security and ease, he asked for an enemy-infested mountain, so he could give it as an inheritance to his children and grandchildren. Caleb is an authentic role model for all who want to age successfully. His last years were his best…and they can be your best as well'.

He commends Caleb's secret: 'Don't be misled by circumstances or frightened by difficulties. They're not what matters. It is you attitude that counts. Caleb won the battles of life because he first won the battle of faith. That was Caleb's secret...and it can be yours.'  

It's a bright and cheerful book. I couldn't help thinking about two sentences at the beginning:  First, he says he was born with a happy disposition, a giggler who sets others off laughing.  Second, he emphasizes how authentic joy has nothing to do with disposition but comes from a spiritual relationship with God. Nothing to do? Isn't it likely that when you are born with a happy disposition, applying Christian faith positively is easier?   I must ponder some more!




Friday, June 17, 2022

Getting back into the swing.


Returning from the USA has proved long and weary. Jet lag has lagged on and on. What we could once bounce through in a day or two has taken nearly two weeks. Several have pointed out that not only has the  pandemic interrupted patterns of behaviour, but has wedged two years of misery and ageing into our lives. This certainly hasn't helped any of us. But, whatever the reason, it has been hard work getting back into the swing.

When I turned 70 (a while ago) I was given a Christian book - The Joys of Successful Ageing   It made me think.  What joys lie ahead?  Is joys the appropriate word?  And what is successful ageing?   Is ’joy’ the primary sign of successful ageing?  So that when everything takes more time, faculties dim, friends die, and life becomes more limited, is the ability to keep joyful the symptom of success ? 

For younger readers I realize these may not be urgent questions. (Though, of course, ageing is continuous and maybe there are applicable lessons for those in their forties, fifties!)  But, frankly, I didn’t think much about ageing until I was into my 70’s.  But this book title set me thinking and I need to ponder what word is most appropriate to ageing. 

So, for a post or two I though I might reflect about successful ageing. I rather like the idea.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

A good hiatus

I know there's a gap in postings. Well, we have just visited our US family, for the first time in 3 years.  Having not flown since (blame Covid) it all seemed to absorb more nervous energy beforehand and some exhaustion afterwards.  But as Carol pointed out, helpfully, everything seems more difficult with age.  But it was so worth it!

  • Just being with family after a long separation.  Yes, just being.  Relaxed, sitting, talking, listening and eating.  I guess that the fact we had missed being together for 3 years intensified the experience. They have worked so hard improving their home in Warwick, NY, with 1 and half acres of grass, trees, with deer, chipmunks and flourishing flower beds. A lovely home.
  • Kindness in so many ways.  Planning for us very thoughtfully. Their checklist included visiting Carol's favourite store in their town (three times); seeing Downton Abbey together; strolling through a huge outlet stores complex where Carol spent birthday money; cheering Elliot playing trumpet in the school jazz band as it led the town's Memorial Day procession;  being amazed at Sophie's skill on her computer design programme; enjoying ice cream served by Elliot at the farm shop where he works part-time; celebrating the Platinum Jubilee with BBQ steaks, fire pit and sparklers. 
  • They planned a Grand Finale on the day before we flew home.  Rob had booked a session in a photography studio to capture us as a family group.  But, to my astonishment, he presented me with a plaque celebrating the 50th anniversary of my ordination.  Which I had to hold for some of the poses!  All slightly embarrassing but so generous and thoughtful. 
I know family reunions can vary greatly.  But I just wanted to share with thanksgiving how ours worked out.