The Annunciation Trust

to help you discover the God you already know

Author: Henry Morgan (page 1 of 10)

Is there life after death?

 

A recent brush with cancer, that may not yet be over, together with the deaths of family members, and my own advancing years, have led me to consider my own mortality and to think again about what I believe lies beyond death, if indeed anything does.  I take this to be a healthy exercise and am grateful that life has encouraged me to mull on it.  The more so, as it’s the big taboo subject in our materialistic society: it’s the conversation nobody wants to have and all seem keen to avoid.  So far, my mullings have been encouraging, my trust in God has been deepened, and without in any way desirous of death, I find myself increasingly confident that death is not the end, and there is a part of me that is curious about it will be like.  What has nourished my confidence?

1““Observing the natural world, of which I am a part, I notice that nothing ever disappears, but over time everything changes into something else, and is transformed. There is a constant process of recycling: of birth, growth, maturity, decline, death, and decay which in turn leads to new birth. This appears to be true of everything.  Why should we be different?

Moreover, this pattern replays itself constantly throughout our lives. We grow and then we have to let go, and move on to more growth and yet more letting go.  We grow in our mothers’ womb, but we have to leave that place of apparent security where everything we need is supplied, to be born into the world. We have to leave home for school; we leave one school for another; we leave education to begin work, we leave home to create a new home of our own; in time we leave work and retire. We continue with this process of growth followed by loss, followed by a fresh opportunity for growth, throughout our lives. Life is a constant process of growth through letting go of what has become familiar. You might argue that life is designed for us to learn to do this gracefully and hopefully.  The opportunities for transformation come thick and fast, we often don’t welcome them, indeed, we are sometimes dragged kicking and screaming into them, but what looks unfamiliar and frightening frequently turns out to be full of gift and new possibilities.  Hopefully as our lives draw to an end we will have become accustomed to this pattern, and learnt to appreciate it as gift, and that therefore there is never anything to be afraid of. As  angels in the New Testament always seems to say, ‘Fear not.’

Does this process come to an end at death?  Physically it does. When we die our bodies return to the earth, whether we’re buried or cremated, the result is the same. But are we just our bodies? Is there more to us than that?

“A starting point for any reflection on the nature of life is death, comparing the dead body of a person or animal or plant with the living state that preceded it. The amount of matter in the dead body is the same as in the living body, the form of the body is the same, and the chemicals in it are the same, at least immediately after death. But something has changed. The most obvious conclusion is that something has left the body and since there’s little or no change in weight, that which has left is essentially immaterial.” [Rupert Sheldrake]

I can remember coming to a similar conclusion on witnessing the birth of each of my daughters.  When confronted with the awe and wonder of the arrival of a new life, I found myself wondering ‘where has this new life come from?’ A basic understanding of the biology involved felt like a wholly inadequate answer. It seemed obvious that something more than that was involved: that we are more than just our bodies.

I have thought for a long time that the question ‘is there life after death?’ can’t be answered apart from the question ‘is there life before birth?’  The two questions seem to stand together.  I recall the comment of Deepak Chopra: “Every life is framed by two mysteries. Only one of them, birth, is considered a miracle. The other is death.”  The two mysteries look rather similar as the story of ‘the twins in the womb’ suggests:

“In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”

 “Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

 The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

 The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

 The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

 The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

 “Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

 The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

 The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

 To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” 

 

2“““`“So universal is the assumption that something does happen next that the reductionist scientific culture of the West is almost alone in its unshakeable belief in the finality of death.” [Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick ] If there was a democratic vote amongst all the humans who’ve ever lived on whether they believed in life in some form, after death, there would be an overwhelming ‘Yes’ vote.   That doesn’t necessarily mean that its true, of course.  But we do seem to be hard wired to believe it.  Irvin Yalom wrote: “I have noted two particularly powerful and common methods of allaying fears about death, two beliefs or delusions, that afford a sense of safety. One is the belief in personal specialness; and the other, the belief in an ultimate rescuer………these are universal beliefs which, at some level of consciousness, exist in all of us.”   What Yalom is saying sounds very like an example of what I have elsewhere referred to as a ‘Memory of Home’.

The assumption that death is not the end runs pretty deep in us, perhaps even is innate in us, and evidence is emerging that supports this assumption.

 

3““`Recent surveys have shown that between 10-25% of people who recover from a cardiac arrest report they have had an experience during it that is now called a ‘Temporary Death Experience’, a TDE, because they were clinically dead at the time. These TDEs have a number of common features:

A sense of entering into light

A sense of journeying, typically into an English country garden

A meeting with dead relatives who welcome them and sometimes send them back

But the features which are the most memorable and significant for the person concerned are the peace and calmness and, in the deeper experiences, the intense compassion, love and light that are experienced.  They are life enhancing in that the person feels safe and cared for, and on their return to life have little or no fear of death any more.

This is consistent with Near Death Experiences, NDEs, where people do not clinically die, but have an experience which they describe as nearly dying.  A Gallup Survey in the US in 1982 suggested that 4% of the population had had an experience of this sort.  Peter Fenwick, the leading authority on NDEs in the UK says that a blueprint of a characteristic NDE will include:

An overwhelming feeling of peace, joy and bliss.

The person leaves their body and can look down on themselves, and is sometimes able to describe in accurate detail what took place in the operating theatre where their body lies.

They may enter darkness, usually a dark tunnel, and at the end they see a pinpoint of light, which as they approach it, grows larger and larger.

The approaching light is described as white or golden, but not painful to the eyes. Very often it seems to act almost as a magnet, drawing the person towards itself.

They may meet a ‘being’ of light, sometimes a religious figure, sometimes simply a presence, that is warm and welcoming.

Sometimes people sense that there is some sort of barrier between them and the light, which in some way marks a point of no return.

People often say they have visited another country, usually an idyllic pastoral scene, or that they have glimpsed such a place beyond the barrier.

Occasionally other people are encountered too, usually dead relatives, more rarely friends who are still alive, or strangers.

At some point the person may see events from their life flash before them. For some events are unfolded to them which are to take place in the future. And some are told there are tasks ahead of them which they must go back and complete.

Often people want to stay, but in every case realise that this is impossible, that it is not yet their time to go. Sometimes they make the decision to go back themselves, usually because they realise that they are still needed by their families.

The return to the body is usually rapid.

For most, the NDE, like the TDE,  is one of the most profound people have ever had. Often the person returns changed in some way, though not always permanently. Virtually everyone reports that they have no fear of death, though they don’t particularly want to die.

 

Peter Fenwick and his wife Elizabeth have written a book entitled ‘The Art Of Dying’ that discusses some of the above but also evidence about the actual process of dying, what they refer to as ‘End of Life Experiences’ ELEs.  One of them is what they call ‘Deathbed Visions’ that some dying people describe, usually in a clear or only moderately impaired, consciousness.  The Fenwicks admit that they don’t know how common these experiences are, but they seem to be more common than previously thought. They are not dependent on religious belief.

The visions are nearly always seen as welcoming and the dying person responds with interest and joy.  They are usually of dead relatives, frequently someone the dying person had a close emotional contact with, and their purpose seems to be to help the person through the dying process.  Sometimes this process is taken even further, so that not only does the visitor appear in the room, but the dying person may journey with them to an intermediate reality that they perceive as being more real than the real world, and interpenetrated by light, love and compassion. Sometimes the dying person gets out of bed to try to go with their vision.

They may drift in and out of this area in the days or hours preceding death.  Both relatives and strangers may be seen, but nearly always they are experienced as a comforting presence, there to help with the dying process and holding out a promise of a continuation of consciousness.  There are many accounts of the ‘visitors’ making their first appearance in the days or weeks before death, and occasionally the ‘visitor’ may be given short shrift if their appearance is thought to be premature.

 

Like the NDEs there are feelings of absolute peace, bliss or joy, and the experience of light. In both the concept of journey is central, probably because the message of the ‘visitors’ suggests continuity and not finality. Its an optimistic message.  The TDEs are more narrative than deathbed visions and more detailed in terms of the world in which the vision is occurring. The TDE is a journey with a beginning, middle and end, which is the return. In all three the other world into which the person moves has a quality of absolute reality.

 

4        Most religions have practices whereby worshippers invoke the aid of the dead, their ancestors, and sometimes sense their active presence in their lives. There is a recognition that  individual worshippers stand in a tradition that they have inherited and that needs to be honoured and passed on to future generations. Gratitude is expressed to those who have preceded us in this world, and their continuing assistance is sought. As is the recognition that the dead have wisdom that we have forgotten, and that we need to access in making our decisions.  Prior to the Reformation, the saints were invoked by Christian worshippers in very much this way, but we’ve mostly forgotten that now, to our detriment I sense.

We also need to be aware of generations yet unborn, because the decisions we make today will affect the greater interconnected community of humankind across time.

It is a commonplace to say that we tend to see only what we’re looking for, and for the most part our eyes are closed to signs of the activities of those who have lived before us and are now dead. We might know about them in our heads as history, but we don’t know it in our souls as presence.  As I sit here writing, I’m sitting on a chair at a table, and likelihood is that those who made both chair and table are now dead. The men who built the house in which I live, most certainly are. The people who planted the trees I can see through the window are no longer here.  When I leave my house I walk along a road which has been used for hundreds of years, mostly by people on foot. The country in which I live, and everything in it, its tradition and culture, has been shaped over centuries by the men and women who have lived here. As George Eliot put it  “that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

I read books by men and women who are dead, listen to music by composers long dead, wonder at art by artists who died years ago. I am hugely influenced by people no longer alive and my life now is unimaginable without them: I owe them a great debt.  Just as I owe a great debt to my parents who had a defining influence on my life, and still do, and beyond them to their parents who influenced them in turn, and so on back through the ages.  I owe a similar debt to countless ‘teachers’ who’ve consciously or unconsciously shaped my life, many of whom are no longer alive.  That I am who I am is a lot down to people who are now dead.

I can remember many years ago reflecting that it didn’t seem to make much sense to imagine that when I die everything will become clear and set, and that I will find myself in either heaven or hell or their equivalents. Rather it seems more likely that when I die I will be aware that I still have work to do before I achieve enlightenment, peace, fulfilment or whatever you might like to call it. In particular I assume that I will be even more aware than I am now, that there are people whose lives I have damaged in some way, and that I will feel the need to pray that they can successfully redeem the damage that I have done to them. Partly for their sakes, as people whom I know and love, but also for my own, for how could I enter heaven, find peace etc, without them having done so.  This sounds rather like a modern version of purgatory.

I’ve shared this notion with people who’ve felt damaged by their parents behaviour in some way or another, as just about all of us inevitably are. I’ve suggested that their parents have only passed on to them what they must have received themselves, and that this process presumably goes back many generations with damaging behaviour being passed down. How could it be otherwise?  Not all that gets passed on is damaging of course, much is creative and beneficial.  If my notion contains truth then it follows that its appropriate that we should be giving thanks for all the benefits that our ancestors have bequeathed us, and meanwhile generations of our ancestors will be praying that we succeed in redeeming the damage they have passed on to us. In attempting to do so we will have the active support of our ancestors, as we are acting for them as well as for ourselves. There may be moments when we become acutely aware of that active prayerful support.

Moreover, we’re also hoping that if we are to some extent successful, then we won’t pass on the damage to our children for them to struggle with. We are all interconnected in some way, and salvation becomes a corporate as well as an individual matter.

 

5        All this has a personal energy for me because I’ve had three experiences, each of them very much to my surprise and bewilderment, of being addressed by people whom I knew to be dead, which has left me convinced that they are still in some sense alive, and that we are deeply interconnected.  Two known to me personally and the other not. In each case it was less the content of the message that the experience conveyed, and more the unquestionable authenticity of the experience that was so powerful that it was impossible to doubt it.  They each had a ‘Damascus Road’ effect, in turning my world upside down, while being hugely life affirming.  Hence I take this stuff seriously.

 

I’ve been brought up as a Christian, I committed myself to follow Christ in my teens, I felt called called by God to be a Christian priest and was duly ordained.  The Christian faith is the star that I have sought to follow all my life, and central to it, its foundation stone, is the Resurrection from the dead of Jesus of Nazareth.  How does that story speak to all of the above?

I have always found it difficult not to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus as historically sound.  I don’t pretend to understand exactly what happened, but certain facts seem to be clear. Namely that His followers either betrayed, or denied, or deserted Him. When He had been killed they all ran away and hid fearful for their lives. But a few days later they re-emerged full of confidence, telling anyone who would listen that He was alive, and willing to suffer & die for this conviction as they travelled around the then known world.  The Resurrection stories are a bit confused as if the people who tell them do not quite know or understand what happened, but there is a pattern.  People are surprised, often don’t initially recognise the figure who meets them, doubt the experience, find themselves forgiven, accepted, loved and then challenged and sent out.  Forgiveness and acceptance without judgement are key.  [A pattern you will recognise in the TDEs NDEs and ELEs that I described earlier]   It appears undeniable that something must have happened. If you disbelieve their claim of Jesus resurrection, then you have to come up with an alternative explanation for this dramatic turn-around in their behaviour.

The significance of Jesus’ resurrection seems to me to be several-fold:

Jesus believed himself to have been called at his baptism to speak and act in God’s name. But he was caught on the horns of a dilemma. The very God of whom he spoke was primarily concerned with inner, not external, transformation. A few followers understood that, but the religious authorities of his day saw him as a threat, and connived at his death. At its most basic the resurrection of Jesus was God’s way of vindicating Him: of declaring that Jesus’ insight into, and knowledge of, the nature of God was fundamentally correct.  If God exists and raised Jesus from the dead then we are offered a bigger picture that brings ultimate meaning and purpose to our lives.

For Jesus’ resurrection is a sign that death does not have the last word. There is a bigger picture that places this life on earth within a context in which we come from God at our births and return to God on our deaths. This life is not all there is, but is rather a preparation for what is to come.  Jesus vision of God’s purposes will be realised beyond death, and Jesus’ resurrection is the first fruits of that.  This seems to have been the core of the preaching of the first Christian communities.

They also believed that this Jesus of Nazareth whom they’d known, was still in some sense alive and continued to accompany and guide them.  They prayed to Him and He seemed to answer their prayers and indeed to guide and direct them in ways that were starnge to them, and sometimes contrary to what they’d previously understood Him to teach. This is as true for us now as it was for them then.  To learn to trust this process is to enter into eternal life and to begin to incarnate it here, now, as Jesus Himself had done.

In summary, my mullings have nourished my trust in God as revealed through Jesus; my awareness that the Risen Christ has guided and sustained me throughout my life, and my trust that He will continue to do so both in life and in death; and my hope that death is but a gateway through which we will all pass, and that there is nothing for us to fear.  This life is a part of a bigger picture, in which we come from God at our births, are held and sustained by the Risen Cosmic Christ through our lives, and return to God at our deaths.

 

 

 

Some reflections on my daughters death

Sarah, one of my daughters, died suddenly about two months ago. Amongst other things she suffered from epilepsy and died unexpectedly one night after an epileptic seizure caused heart and respiratory failure. Its an unusual way to die, but it does sometimes happen, it always seems to be without apparent warning, and nobody appears to know why. It came as a terrible shock to her sisters and I, and indeed to all her family and many friends.

 

Her twin and I travelled down to the city where she died and visited her body in the hospital mortuary, something we both wanted to do. I wept there [we both did] and I talked to Sarah and said a prayer committing her back to the God Who had given her to us. I remember her and her sisters’ births, I was present at each of them, and recall how moved I was by a sense of wonder and awe at the creation of new life. Where did it come from?  I knew something of the biology, and my part in it, but that in no way even began to answer the question ‘where has this new life come from?’.   Seeing her dead body provoked a matching question: ‘Where has she gone?’  It was her body, it could almost have been her asleep, and yet the life force that is Sarah [call it what you will] was gone, where is she now?

 

The only answer that seems to do justice to the realities for me, is the one St John wrote about in his Gospel.  In the Prologue he talks about Jesus being with God from the beginning, and laying that down in order to be born as a human being, and at the end of the Gospel he talks about Jesus returning to be with God again. I take it that this is the model for each of us. We come from God when we are born, and after we die, we return to God. While we are alive the divine spark lives within us, and our task, like Jesus, is to incarnate that divine spark as best we can in a manner that will be unique to each of us.  I have felt increasingly sure over the years that there is truth in this way of understanding things, and Sarah’s death, her funeral, and all that went with it, has confirmed my faith in it.

 

I have heard many people say that there is no worse experience for a parent than to have one of their children die before they do.  I have to say that I don’t feel that.  Maybe in the future I will, but right now I don’t.  Rather I feel a deep sense of privilege to have been gifted by God with Sarah as my and her mother’s child, to have tried my best to help the divine spark grow in her during her life, and then to let her go and return her with thanksgiving to the God from Whom she came, at her death.  I’m also humbled to be aware that she did as much and more to nurture the divine spark in me, than I was able to do for her.  Sarah taught me a great deal, and is a wonderful and rich gift to me.  She would be astonished to hear that, of course, which is an essential part of the mystery of it all.

 

I’m left with a number of things to attend to.  I need to name for myself where Sarah’s giftedness lies, both in herself and in what she called forth in me, and to do what I can to nurture it so that I can play my part in making it a giftedness for the world.

I need to do what I can to support her sisters and all those others who mourn Sarah’s death, just as they are supporting me.

I need to explore my deepening conviction that the dead, the yet unborn, and we the living, are all intimately inter-connected in ways beyond my understanding.  Prayer and love, which I suspect are the same thing but in different guises, are the key to this I intuit.

And behind all of the above, I have to look after myself: allow myself the time and space to grieve; listen to my body, head, heart and soul and attend to their needs; and to let healing come at its own pace.

Prayer is…….

Prayer is anything that nurtures the relationship between us and God

God in creating us and giving us the gift of life, has initiated and continues to nurture that relationship

God is the primary pray-er, not us.

 

Prayer is time consciously spent in God’s presence.

All time is spent in God’s presence, whether I acknowledge it or not.

God consciously spends all time with me, nourishing our relationship, whether I acknowledge it or not.

God is praying in me, even when I am not consciously praying.

God is the primary pray-er.

 

God is not just praying in me but in all others, including the dead and the yet unborn, and indeed in all creation.

God made, loves, upholds and sustains everything that there is, was and will be.

As I sit here God is praying through the chair I sit on, the clothes I’m wearing, the air I breathe, the window I am gazing through, the trees & the buildings that I can see

As I go outside, God is praying in each person I meet.

As we meet, the God in me meets the God in them.

God’s praying thus unites me with everything else that God has created.

God is praying in each and all of us, and in everything.

 

I am united in prayer with all those who have lived before me, and the yet unborn

The former will be praying that I build on their successes and redeem their failings

The latter will be praying for the world into which they will be born.

 

United by God’s prayer, my relationship with all other human beings, is transformed, for they are now all my sisters and brothers, and their well-being is now my concern as mine is theirs.

Prayer calls us all to social and pastoral action.

 

Similarly, as I sense the God whom I know praying in the whole of creation so my attitude to creation is transformed.

God is in it and meets me there, God calls me to care for it, and for creation to care for me

In caring for the world and all of creation, I am co-caring with the God Who cares.

 

I am mostly not very good at all this, but my attempts seem to be accepted, and so I keep working at it.

 

 

 

Everyday Miracles

When I get up in the morning I like to make myself a cup of tea, and a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon for my wife, and then spend time in prayer.  Usually that means walking down to my shed in the garden, but earlier this year the weather didn’t encourage that, and instead I sat in the front room, still warm from last night’s fire, and found myself gazing silently out of the window, which faces south east.  Each morning I either saw the sun rise over the horizon, or was aware that while I couldn’t see much beyond the road, nevertheless it got gradually lighter. The quality of the light was different, every day, and it always looked beautiful.  And every day my heart and soul were lifted by a sense of awe and wonder, and I began the day with my spirits lifted.  All because I watched the dawn.

 

There is nothing unusual or inexplicable about this. It happens every day, every where, and provided you’re awake and have your eyes open to the world outside, you cant miss it.  But every morning I felt a sense of awe and wonder and began the day with a spring in my step, my faith in life and in God [what’s the difference?] deepened and nourished.  It felt like a miracle.  And of course that’s what miracles are: not inexplicable events ‘out there’ beyond the ken of current scientific understanding, but experiences ‘out there’ which deepen and enrich faith ‘inside’, such that I engage with life and the world more confidently and with greater trust than I might otherwise have done.  The fact that there is a rational explanation of what is happening ‘out there’ when the sun rises, makes not a jot of difference to my experience and what that experience evokes in me. The miracle is in what happens inside, not in what happens outside. And it seems like a miracle because I have no conscious control over it, I certainly can’t will it to happen, and I experience it rather as a mysterious, unexpected, and wonderful gift, which I have done nothing whatsoever to deserve.

 

Looked at like this, miracles are potentially occurring all the time, and can be occasioned by all manner of events, many of them tiny and seemingly insignificant: the setting sun, the sight of the stars at night, the birth of a baby, the moment of death, the first heralds of spring, a friendly smile, any moment that touches the heart and soul in a creative and challenging manner, evoking awe and wonder.

 

But there’s the rub.  They do happen all the time and so we easily take them for granted: we develop a sense of entitlement to such things rather than one of thankfulness; and we are usually too busy elsewhere to notice them. And if we don’t notice them and allow them to work their magic on us, they will have been to little avail for they need our active co-operation to maximise their effectiveness. Despite my winter awakening, I know that I still miss most of them, but I am more aware now, at least for a time, that I need to get better at paying them attention, because miracles are the food on which faith feeds.

 

Faith means trust.  If I have faith in somebody it means that I trust them. To have faith in God is to trust God, to trust life. Faith in God is innate in all of us, it comes fitted as standard, when we are born. It comes as a gift. Some people seem to have been endowed with a lot of it, and nothing in life ever seems to shake it, others seem to have been born with less, and any serious setback seems to crush it. But it is innate in us and we never lose it entirely. The right stimulation will bring it back to life and strengthen it.

 

You can’t buy that stimulation: it’s not available on amazon. It comes, unexpectedly, out of the blue, as an unexpected gift. All we have to do is recognise it when it happens, receive it, and allow it to change us. When it does it feels like a miracle.

Roy’s Christmas Reflection

I first met Roy Gregory many years ago as a fellow member of the ‘Soul Space’ team offering spiritual direction at Greenbelt.  We got on well from the off, despite supporting rival football teams, and our friendship has blossomed over the intervening years. It was Roy who one day at Greenbelt was kind enough to tell me that he thought it was a pity that ‘Approaches to Prayer’, a book I’d helped put together, was now out of print.  ‘Wouldn’t it be a good idea to make it available on-line?’  he asked.  I thought that was a lovely idea but I had neither the time or the skill to make that possible, and couldn’t see how it might be achieved. ‘Leave it with me’ said Roy.

As well as being the leader of a lively free evangelical church in St Albans, Roy also lectured in engineering at Hatfield University, where he had a friend who was skilled in web design. This friend said that he’d willingly put the book online and said what he would charge to do so. When Roy relayed this back to me I said that I couldn’t afford that. Roy went back to his friend, who was an atheist, and told him what I’d said, and was stunned to hear his friend say that his wife, a Christian, had told him that as the book was about prayer, he ought to do the work for nothing, and so he would.  Cheekily I then asked if he might be willing to create an Annunciation Trust web-site, which would include the book, but would also allow us to put other things on it as well? Again, he agreed, and that is how this web-site came to be.

Roy became a much loved and valued member of the group of us who work under the umbrella of The Annunciation Trust and looked after the web-site once it was up and running, and so our friendship continued on after we had each left Soul Space.  Five years ago Roy suffered a stroke, and lost the use of his left side, but with the devoted care of Christine his wife, their family and friends, and a range of skilled professionals, he has learnt to adapt and manage pretty well, although mostly confined to a wheel-chair. When I’m down in London from Worcestershire where we live, I go and visit him and Christine and we continue the stimulating conversations we began together many years ago.

All of this is by way of a very long preamble to a letter I received today, dictated by Roy and written by Christine, enclosing a ‘Christmas Reflection’ that Roy was ‘given’ this Christmas, and which with his permission I’d like to share with you here:

 

Christmas Reflection

 

God sent down His Angels to Earth

To show how much His creatures are worth.

 

He came to them and shook them to the core

And changed their life for evermore.

 

All sorts of people in the midst of life,

Shepherds and kings and a carpenter’s wife.

 

The Angel said to Mary

“I am sorry this is scary”

You will have a baby one day

In a very different way”.

 

Mary was humbly obedient

Although it was inconvenient.

 

The shepherds saw Angels in the sky

It changed them in a blink of an eye.

 

Of this they had no choosing

Unkind friends said they’d been boozing.

 

The star led the kings and they were able

To find the Baby in the stable.

 

In awe they put aside their self-promotion

And fell on their knees in humble devotion.

 

These events people know they cannot prove

By faith they can see God was on the move.

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