A gap in the Diary

Does it matter what church one belongs to? Roy Abraham Varghese’s book The Wonder of the World are some of the topics discussed in today’s entries. After the 22nd July 2012 there is a gap in the Diary until October 7th 2012 when I take up the story again. Margaret also describes what happened to her when she was in hospital.

Our blackbird friend

There are a couple of pics below of our resident blackbird (taken through the window). He started visiting us last summer and has visited us daily ever since. Of course, it helps that we give him food. He sometimes appears to remind us by moving his wings and opening his mouth.

Friday 20th July 2012

Worries about how slow things are moving

We hoped to get word from the hospital today as to when Margaret would be going to see the oncologist, but no letter or phone-call. We were told the oncologist would be back from a fortnight’s holiday last Monday, so I phoned his secretary in the hope of finding out what was happening. It turns out that the oncologist was away for three weeks and won’t be back till next Monday. I was quite annoyed at finding this out. It seems obvious to us that the sooner her treatment starts the better. When I pressed the secretary about this and told her our concerns, she said she would speak to another of the consultants in the oncology department and phone me back. She phoned back to say that all their diaries were full for the coming week but she would make an appointment with the oncologist allocated to Margaret’s case, for Monday the 30th. This delay is causing us no end of worry. We are not oncologists and we don’t know what a delay like this could mean.

I had phoned earlier to the local hospital, hoping to speak with the surgeon who had told Margaret of the diagnosis in the first place, but he was off till Monday. But his secretary said she would pass on the message to another doctor and that he would phone back later. He did phone that evening and reassured us that the time-scale for Margaret’s treatment was well within the procedural limits and that, going by what he knew of such cases, it would normally take months or even years to spread to other organs. But he understood our anxieties and told me to phone the surgeon first thing on Monday morning.

Sunday 22nd July 2012

Different kinds of churches

Does it matter what church you a member of? At one level I don’t think it does. At the deepest level what matters is that you believe in Jesus Christ and the relationship you have with him. But the question begs a lot of other questions. A key question would be: What does your church believe about Jesus Christ? Or perhaps: What does your minister believe about Jesus Christ? If you belong to a broad church which allows ministers to believe what suits their conscience, you might find one minister believing in the resurrection and another who denies any trans-physical explanation. For me a church that denies the resurrection and the divine / human nature of Jesus is not a real church at all. If God didn’t supernaturally intervene in human affairs by dying on the cross and miraculously rising from the dead, then there is no hope for mankind.

Varghese’s book, The Wonder of the World

I’m very fond of the writings of Roy Abraham Varghese, author of The Wonder of the World, sub-titled A Journey from Modern Science to the Mind of God (2003). It is a wonderful book which sets out the case for theism as opposed to monism, that is, that the world is physical / material only or purely spirit only. Varghese has the ability to go to the heart of a problem by taking in what the experts in a field of study say and weighing up what the likely truth of the matter is. The book ranges widely over philosophy, biology, cosmology, neuroscience and much more. It sets out to make a case for the existence of a divine intelligence separate from the physical world.

Antony Flew’s conversion to deism

It may have been a factor in the late Antony Flew’s conversion to deism. Flew was one of the world’s most prominent atheists and an authority on Hume and a critic of theism for 50 years. Late in life he changed his mind on the question of God and wrote a book There is a God: How the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind. He says of The Wonder of the World that he ‘was hugely impressed and substantially challenged by it.’

Varghese and The Christ Connection

When I first read Varghese’s book he came across clearly as a theist but not as a Christian. Imagine my delight then when I came across The Christ Connection: How the World Religions Prepared the Way for the Phenomenon of Jesus, which I have been reading for the last few days. I am delighted, because here is a brilliant intellect who also believes in the reality of the risen Christ. And he doesn’t just believe it with his heart but makes a good intellectual case for it as well. Here is a man who doesn’t take scholarship lightly but who also is not mesmerised by the latest scholarship fad such as the Jesus Seminar. His two books are a good and challenging read for the natural sceptic, the modernist and the post-modernist.

It will also clarify the question I started off with. Does it matter what church you’re a member of? Maybe not, but it is important what you believe and your beliefs will naturally lead you to the church which you believe is suitable for you.

Our resident blackbird

Triplet lambs across the fence from our house

Sunday, 7th October 2012

In hospital

I gave up writing the diary for a few months due to being busy with other things. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since I last wrote. Margaret has now completed her chemotherapy treatment. The first session she had was in the first week of August 2012. She was three days in hospital in a cancer ward. It was quite a shock to see the four patients who were in with her. One had the same kind of cancer as she had, stomach cancer. Margaret was in hospital for three days. She had a PICC line inserted in her arm in the MacMillan suite before going to the Ward. This is a canula fed into a deep vein and she will have this line in her arm for about eight weeks, for the duration of her treatment.


For the three days she was in hospital, she had epirubicin and cisplatin fed intravenously. She was discharged on the Saturday morning and we drove home to Skye. She had a belt and pump round her middle which fed a clear chemical 5FU to the PICC line. It’s quite scary to read the possible side effects of chemotherapy. You’re given information sheets which list most them. The ones which affected Margaret were hair loss (fortunately she was given a very good wig!), mouth blisters and sore throat and tiredness. She began losing her hair quite soon and by the time of the second chemo she had what remained cut. The pump had to remain on her for two days, and on the Monday the district nurse came to disconnect it.

Margaret and the very ill lady

While in hospital, Margaret kept a diary of what happened to her. She is aware of the Lord using her as a channel to help others. As a person who lives with her, I am very aware of God working in her life. I wrote earlier of the fourth world, the world of the Spirit and Margaret seems to be especially close to that world. She is waiting for the Lord to use her to tell other people the good news of his presence. While she was in hospital the first time, a woman was taken in to the bed opposite her. She was very ill and dying.

In Margaret’s own words, this is what happened: “I went over to speak to her and in the middle of our conversation I asked her whether she believed in God and she said she didn’t. I just felt so sorry for her. I put my hand on her hand and said a little prayer asking the Lord to help her, and she responded by saying ‘Thank you’. Her face was full of pain and fear and I really felt for her. However, I left her and went to bed (this was about 9.30pm) and slept until 3.30am. The lady opposite me became a real burden on my spirit. I prayed for her for hours and about eight o’clock in the morning I became so tired and I said to the Lord if you want me to say something to her you have to give me the words and I opened the Bible at Luke 19: 9-10

A message from the Lord

I didn’t know what to do but I felt I had to write the verse down for her and so I wrote this note: “I have just been reading the Bible and I have a message for you from the Lord. Luke 19: 9-10 ‘This day is salvation come to this house … For the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.’ Just say to yourself, Lord help me. I strongly feel that this message is for you.”

The ward was busy. I had a problem, how was I going to give her the written note without anyone seeing me. There were nurses and a cleaner in the ward. I prayed to God to make an opening for me and within five minutes the cleaner had gone and the bed to the side of her was screened off and the nurses were behind the screens. It was easy for me to go across and give her the message. And I asked her to say quietly ‘Lord help me’ which she did and as she said it I could see the fear going and the peace coming in and it was so amazing. I was really so happy. Shortly afterwards, a female doctor, who happened to be a Christian, came in and I told her what happened. She wanted me to hold her hands, which I did, she said she could see the Holy Spirit in my face and she wanted to be part of it.”