There were so many sad images yesterday:

Kind people who could no longer be kind; the grief of bereavement; the minute’s silence; people standing apart but together.

I owe a huge amount to two men.

Ray was a missionary in Thailand and subsequently a probation officer; Ted worked on the docks in Liverpool and became a Baptist minister.

Both were larger than life characters with a wicked sense of humour; both were family men with three children; both were wise from their broad experience of life; both had a deep and robust Christian faith; both are sadly no longer with us.

A few words don’t tell the whole story.

Both were strong men with weakness. Both suffered with depression at a time when mental health issues were not so widely accepted; both had loving wives who supported them through tough times.

Both, at significant times in my life, taught me that it’s OK not to be OK.

Two old hymns:

As a child I sung, ‘When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed’. I didn’t know what billows were; it sounded like ‘pillows’; being tossed on pillows sounded OK.

I could never understand why they sung ‘Abide with me’ – a song apparently about death – at the cup final.

‘When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.’

It is the spirit of Mufasa with Simba, the ‘Power greater than ourselves’ of our addict friends on the 12 step programme, the presence of God of the Christian.

By some strange paradox there is strength in weakness. Teaching our children to be strong and independent isn’t the whole story. From his faith perspective St Paul said, ‘I delight in weaknesses… For when I am weak I am strong.’

OK? Possibly not, but that’s OK.

Ref: Picture above is of Ray

Two old hymns:

‘Count your blessings’ by John Oatman (1897)

‘Abide with Me’ by Henry Francis Lyte (pub 1847)

2 Corinthians 2:10

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