17 January, 2019
My holiday had been ruined. My skiing lessons had been refunded. I spent 6 days in the hospital with plenty of time to think. Some people came to visit, even though they had only known me for a couple of days, and my friends from the Thursday night group rang again. It was not like I was forsaken. And I had plenty of time to think.
There were too many co-incidences. I had had it impressed on me to have a rest. So, was this the rest that I so badly needed? And my friends had said that I was to contact them in case there was any trouble. Well, to me it was a lot of trouble. And how was I to interpret this? In the way that I was learning at the Thursday evening meetings? Would that mean that there was some truth, some reality in what those people were about? I did not find the clear answers.
When the roads were safer (less ice) I was discharged from hospital. The accommodation had reduced my costs of staying there because of the prolonged and unexpected absence and the ski school had refunded most of my money, so I felt I owed myself a present. I made tracks to the nicest hotel- restaurant in the village and ordered a delicious lunch and followed it with my favourite sweet. The last thing was to relax with a coffee and a cigarette. I had not been able to smoke all the time in hospital, so decided that I owed it to myself.
When I lit up the cigarette I realised that it was the most vile taste that I could imagine. The coffee came and I butted out the cigarette. It was the last cigarette I would ever light up. Not that I was a heavy smoker, just one or two on a social occasion. A packet of 20 lasted more than a week. Nonetheless, it became one more of the questions for me to answer; was this all planned? I was increasingly perplexed.
After arriving back at home, I had a medical certificate for several weeks. As a person who worked in an office where we sat all day, I could not work. Sitting for long periods was just too painful.
The meeting hostess invited me to lunch at their house on the 18th February. I was happy to go, to do something different in my long days of recovery. When I arrived at around 11 a.m. I was told that we would go to the American Hospital where her husband worked because he would finish at midday and then there was a Catholic Mass in the hospital Chapel. I went along and eventually we arrived home for lunch; sandwiches etc.
The discussion over lunch soon turned to my problems, some of which had already become apparent in the months that they had gotten to know me. I was adamant that “IT” was the problem and not me. This made for interesting inventions. Eventually the wife took one of the bibles that usually lay around the house, put her hand on it and, looking at me, said, “This is God’s Word. Either accept it or reject it but don’t attempt to change it to fit your circumstances.”
It was a word that hit me hard. I had been having counselling from an American Catholic Clergyman, studying in Germany, and that is exactly what he had been teaching me. How to interpret the bible so that I would get the answer I was looking for. I did not have an answer to such a direct challenge. I just sat there.
It was then that the wife of the couple addressed me with the words, “May we pray for you?”
I replied, “Wouldn’t do any good anyway.” With that reply she got up, cleared the table and started to wash the dishes. Her husband got up and went to the children who had just arrived home from school. And I sat there!
Now the thoughts really went through my head. These people had had me over for tea every Thursday evening, they had driven me home after each meeting, they had had me over for Christmas, they had trusted me enough to let me look after their children for a whole day and nothing had ever been too much for them. Now they asked me only one small thing, “May we pray for you?” I felt so small. I was ashamed. Surely it couldn’t hurt me. In a small voice I just said, “OK, you may pray for me.”