Rubha nam Bràithrean, Isle of Skye


I’ve had some misgivings about writing this blog. Am I doing the right thing? After all I’m a writer and I’m writing about my wife as well as myself and it is my wife who has been ill. Is what I am doing ethically correct? I have spoken to Margaret about it and she is very happy with what I’m doing. As Christians, I believe and she believes that God has been in the middle of it all. She feels strongly that we should share the good news of God’s dealings with us with others and perhaps help them if they are going through hard times. Also, we have had encouraging comments from friends who don’t think we are doing anything wrong in telling others what happened to us during Margaret’s illness last year.

Other misgivings I have are harder to articulate. Some of the trans-physical events I describe that I mention in last year’s Diary are hard to believe. Some unbelievers will laugh them off as imaginings, or whatever. If so, so be it. But I know also that some Christians will raise an eyebrow at such events. They might even call them the works of the devil or of the occult. To these people I would say: Do good works come from the devil? The test for me, when something trans-physical happens (an example is given below, in the diary) is whether good issues from it or not. Personally, we know that what has happened has been for the good of either ourselves or others.

DIARY – Sunday 15th July 2012

The morning sermon

The minister’s theme in the morning was the call of God to Abram and how he was told by God to go on a journey to Canaan. But before setting out on the journey he was delayed in Haran for five years. His father’s name Terah means delay. Sometimes we fail to fulfil God’s will for us but he is a forgiving God, as he was with Abram, and gives us another chance. God told him, ‘all peoples on earth will be blessed through you’; and so they have been through the line of David, culminating in Christ. Little didn’t Abram know what would happen thousands of years in the future, but God did. We are all in God’s hands. The sermon spoke powerfully to Margaret. Tomorrow we might find out a little more of what the journey we are on holds for us. Let us hope there isn’t too much Terah!

DIARY – Monday 16th July 2012

Waiting for news

In the morning, Margaret phoned the doctor to find out if there was any news of what was to happen next. She said she would get in touch with the surgeon’s secretary in Fort William and that we would probably hear from him later in the day. We knew there had been a medical team meeting in Inverness on Friday. We hoped that perhaps we would get a phone-call on Friday, but it was not to be. We would have to wait till Monday. Waiting, waiting, waiting; the waiting is the worst! Margaret had to busy herself. She felt better if she was doing something. It took her mind away from herself.

Chemotherapy before the operation

She decided to clean the windows on the outside and she was cleaning the kitchen window standing on a ladder when the phone rang. It was the surgeon. I gave Margaret the phone through the kitchen window. I knew by the look on her face that the news was upsetting her. What upset her was that she was told she would have to have three doses of chemotherapy before the operation. The surgeon also used the word ‘tumour’ rather than ‘ulcer’ as had been used previously. Her case would be dealt with by a doctor in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness. He would be in touch with her in a week to 10 days. It could be by phone-call or it could be by letter.

Absorbing the news

Poor Margaret was shocked by this news. It brought home to her the seriousness of her condition. Why hadn’t he mentioned the possibility of chemotherapy before. On the phone he said it was now the protocol to have chemotherapy before a gastrectomy or partial gastrectomy. The rest of the day was spent absorbing this latest information. This gives us an insight into the suffering of others; the thousands of people who are given cancer diagnoses every day; many of them much worse that Margaret’s. At least Margaret has someone else she can talk to and someone who will do his best to support her. What about the people who are on their own? It must be ten thousand times worse.

A verse from the Lord

But also, we have a strong faith in God. We know God has been in the middle of all that has happened to us and despite our failings and weaknesses he is, as the psalm puts it, ‘our refuge and our strength.’ If we are in the Spirit, and by that I mean if we are praying and listening for the still inner voice, the Spirit sometimes speaks to us with a verse from the Bible. After all, the Bible is a record of God speaking to his people through the ages. The verse that came to me for Margaret was, God in the midst of her doth dwell; / nothing shall her remove: / The Lord to her an helper will, / and that right early prove. And it did bring her comfort.

The fire that tries the soul

Suffering is the fire that tries the soul. It is the existential maelstrom that often forces us to think of the deeper issues of life. And, for the Christian, it is suffering that makes him or her pray to God and to put his or her trust in him. This subjective, interior world which we call the self or the soul or the heart is where all this happens; where decisions are made; where world-views are formed; what I have called the fourth world.

Sometimes we cause our own suffering

Sometimes, or even often, we are the cause of our own suffering. Take smoking. Everybody knows that smoking can be a cause of cancer, and yet they smoke. This illustrates so clearly the link between the fourth world of spirit and the first world of nature and natural law. The person, the agent, makes a personal choice to smoke. He doesn’t know what ill effect this might have on the biochemistry of his body, yet he smokes. The biochemistry of his body belongs to the natural world with its causes and effects, the world of nature. It runs on according to its natural laws, oblivious to our concerns. How wonderful to think that the two worlds are running constantly side by side – the world of our subjective experience and the apparently thought-free world of nature.

How the world of mind/spirit affects the constancies of nature

Usually, the world of nature runs inexorably according to its own constancies, untroubled by our thoughts; parallel to our mental world but seemingly untouched by it. Yet by our thoughts, for example, by a decision to smoke, we can affect this elementary first world. This is just an example, but if we think about it, this happens all the time, not just at the microscopic level but at the macroscopic. Examples are buildings being dreamed up by architects and then being built from nature’s materials; novels being dreamed up in the author’s mind and being transferred to the page or the screen; sculptures created from marble and wood. The list is endless.

A trans-physical dimension

But here is something else to consider. Sometimes something happens spontaneously in the natural world with no apparent interference from the mental world. I have elsewhere given a summary of some very unusual things that happened to me and Margaret. We have described them in detail, as I mentioned previously. Other similar things have happened since then which are equally amazing. If nothing else, they have proved to us that there is trans-physical dimension. Of course, what happened to us comes under the category of the anecdotal. The events cannot be repeated. We cannot prove them in a scientific manner.

One reason why I believe in a trans-physical realm

But, I am confident, if they happened to us, that similar things have happened to other people. The most amazing thing is the apparent connection between th
e external natural world and the interior mental world. The renowned psychologist C.G. Jung knew that very well and describes many instances in his writings. I told what happened on the 5th July with the framed Turin shroud representation of Jesus falling off the table with no-one near it and how it had happened previously on the 28th May. On both occasions it appeared to be telling us something specific. I don’t pretend to know what made the picture fall. But it did and I wouldn’t risk the fate of my soul telling lies about such an event. What it – and many similar events –  does for me is put the whole materialist paradigm in question.