Here's a fabulous
little reflection from Vince Exley who's hit the wagon at the moment and
consequently found God in a hug. Seriously, our mate is in hospital in
Brisbane at the moment recovering from a potentially fatal infection he
picked up and he sent us this delightful little reflection that I am sure
will warm many hearts as much as Vince's regular afternoon Scotch on the
Rocks, normally warms his little heart. Enjoy your day and give someone
you meet today a really good hug! And Vince, if you want any visitors
you'd better get a message to our forum quickly letting us know which
hospital you're in!
GOD NEEDS US!
Some six weeks ago I contracted an humungous germ in my right ear. It
gradually grew worse and ended up with excruciating pain and damaging
the nerves on the right hand side of my face. The present specialist tells
me it was potentially fatal. The nerve endings in the triangles between
the eye, ear and mouth are close to the surface and lead directly to the
brain. (A mate believes the germs would have been disappointed to get
there and find the area vacant!)
Airlie Beach is a great place to live but real medical help is just about
negligible. I eventually got a referral to an ear specialist and flew
to Brisbane. As of today they are still waiting for cultures from biopsies
to grow but they have me on a permanent drip.
They think I will recover some use of the right-hand side of my face.
For example, they will no longer need to 'super glue' the eyelid shut
to avoid damage to the eye from it being permanently open, and they hope
that when I put my Scotch into the left-hand side of my mouth at some
time in the future it won't dribble out the right-hand side.
Otherwise I am here being fed by a bevy of beautiful nurses and would
welcome any visitors (Room 317 - Ward 3F).
The real reason for writing is to provide some of the thoughts these
experiences have given me.
The Brisbane specialists waiting room also served Cochlea Implant Specialists
and, while I waited, there were three families with three or four, 3 to
6 year olds each. Obviously one in each family waiting for some sort of
treatment. It breaks your heart to see kids start out life behind the
eight ball. But then I realised how privileged even these kids were compared
to many in the world — our own indigenous population — kids
in Africa, China, India, Iraq, many many parts of the world suffer far
worse than them and have no hope of help. Where would many of our indigenous
people be without the work of St. Fred Hollows ?
This reminded me of a movie I watched on TV a few months ago. It was
one of George Burns 'God' movies. God was trying to get some kids to help
The kids in the movie could see and talk to God but the adults couldn't.
I'll come back to this in the second part of my take.
The main kid actor asked God: "Why do bad
things happen in the world?"
God said: "That's a tough question but
I will try to answer. Look at that box you are playing with — it
has an inside and an outside, it has a top and a bottom, it has a back
and … (the kid) … FRONT! Yes and where there is good there is
the opposite BAD. If someone can create a world that is all good I would
love to hear from them."
(This from a God who, according to Fr. George Coyne the recently retired
head of the Vatican Observatory, had created the stars — 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
To the Kid he said: "This is why we need
people. They have to provide the love and the good to overcome the bad
things in the world."
We can't all be like St. Fred Hollows but we can all do our best within
our capacity, within our local area of influence.
The second part of my take has to do with the MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE subject
we were discussing a few weeks back.
The waiting room children playing in the play pen provided brought this
back to me. One would pick up a doll, clean it down and then sit and have
a deep conversation with it. The kids in the movie saw and talked to God
and I bet the waiting room kids did too!
It has all to do with imagination. Tolkein
(Lord of the Rings) when discussing his Christian faith with Chesterton
(before Chesterton's conversion) said that Chesterton's problem was a
lack of imagination.
I believe our own childlike imaginations have been driven out of us over
the last 100 to 200 years by so called scientific advancement and replaced
with an absolute need for rationality.
Now I want to relate, from a totally non-academic perspective, what I
believe was a mystical experience I had a few months ago. (I have not
had a Scotch for over a week. In fact I put one down as special request
on the hospital daily meal order, but they only gave me ginger beer).
Last Christmas, as usual for over 30 years I went to spend a few weeks
with a mate, his wife, their three sons, wives and eight grand children
— my surrogate family. I ended the stay with a Chinese banquet for
all of them and one 15 year old grandson brought a girl friend.
After the meal we were all saying our good byes when the 15 year old
— all 6 ft 1 inch of him, put his arm around me and gave me a big
hug. I can't explain the more than expected feeling it gave me —
a sort of electric shock. It was like Brian Coyne's 'Great
Big Hairy Arm From Heaven' came down and hugged me. (The boy
probably did it because his teenage juices were working in overflow because
his girl friend was there.)
A few weeks later – now back home – I received a letter from
the girl friend thanking me for the meal and the opportunity to meet the
This got me thinking about the hugging event and pondering on what had
happened that night and by throwing all rationality aside I am convinced
that God did hug me saying 'I love you Vince.'
I think we all receive 'mystical experiences' like this but we need to
be free of excessive rationality and suppressed imagination to realise
SOURCES: The animation used in the headline is adapted from
an animation created by wondercliparts: http://www.wondercliparts.com/hugs/graphics/hugs_graphics_02.gif.
Vince Exley is another much-loved member of this community who has been with us since the very earliest days of the CathNews discussion community. The lucky bugger lives in one of Australia's paradise locations, the Whitsunday Islands in tropical Queensland. He's a really contented bachelor and described his life to me a few years ago in these terms: "I feel God has really blessed me in leading me to retirement in this beautiful area. I lead a very fulfilling life of twice daily Christian meditation, a very fulfilling Sunday Eucharist, pleasant daily walks along the beach, Vinnie's activities, relaxation in the resort's Spas and Pools and an afternoon scotch or two on my balcony (where the parakeets actually try to drink my scotch)." Following a recent illness and hospitalisation Vince has been learning to live with some permanent paralysis on one side of his face.
What are your thoughts on this commentary?
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[Index of Commentaries and Reflections by Vince Exley]