Really want to see you, Lord, but it takes so long……..the opening lyrics from possibly the most spiritually moving song ever written…uplifting and sobering …. With just 24 hours left of my working life here in the UK and 39 years after entering service as a boy soldier, I’m feeling strangely at peace with life…it isn’t done by a long stretch, but everything seems so much clearer. An inescapable aspect of life in Gozo is religion. Despite having not being christened and having a creationist view of life, I have always had a fascination for places of worship and religious art.
Being a career Infantry soldier, most conflict intervention is in some part down to one faith or another; one God or another…who has the best imaginary friend! And that aspect has been the hill to acceptance I had been unable to climb. Though, it’s fair to say in the difficult times, I had asked my imaginary friend to see me alright!!
Two events in my life, one a near fatal bike accident and the other marrying Danielle, completely reshaped my view of life and our purpose. Surviving my accident was truly a gift, and as I entered the scanner my doctor boomed in his deep African accent “Mr Whatley are you a religious man? When you are well you must go to Church and thank the Lord, you should not be here”….
Danielle showed me that faith and believing wasn’t something to be ashamed of…. its not about being a zealot….its not about literal interpretation, it’s about understanding the intent of the message, leading a good life, doing the right thing and being a good person. Did Jesus exist? Of course he did. Did he have magical powers? No. He wasn’t Paul Daniels!! Did he feed 5000 with 7 loaves and a few small fish? It’s pretty improbable. According to the Gospel Jesus said: “I have compassion for these people, they have been with me three days, I don’t want to send them away hungry”. It was the goodness of his thoughts and intentions, not that he actually made the rations stretch that far!! For me, that is the truth behind the story…
And so it is that, yes, I do have faith, and it directs me to be a better person; to do the right thing, to give without expecting reward, to treat everyone equally. Moving to Gozo enables all these things….a new beginning… a rebirth, call it what you want. To slightly misquote Monty Python’s Life of Brian…I am a Christian, and so is my Wife!!
Peace out xxx