The Catholic Parish of
Saint John Henry Newman

 Covering most of East Leeds


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We all try to ignore the aging process, but our bodies soon tell us by the odd ache and pain, that we are slowly falling to pieces. When things we used to be able to do start becoming more difficult, then we have to rely more and more on our memories of times past. My wife suffers from Parkinson’s and dementia, but I am fortunate in having the most professional and dedicated team of carers in Leeds, who visit four times a day to help me look after her, so at the moment, looking forward isn’t really an option for me, so I also tend to look to times past.

I remember, many years ago when we were both much younger and fitter, my wife and I decided to get away from the “mass holiday resorts” and so we rented a cottage in a small village in the Scottish Highlands. It was a beautiful tranquil spot, just north of Inverness and a short walk away from the village pub. We spent many happy hours walking on the quiet hillsides, with only the sound of birds and sheep for company and enjoying our lunch in the village pub each day. Then one day as we were taking a rest and I was sitting smoking my pipe, we met a hill shepherd who stopped for a chat and he asked us where we came from, when I told him we came from Leeds.

He told us that he had lived in the same area all his life and hadn’t travelled more than twenty miles from his birth place and had no wish to travel to cities full of people, as he preferred the solitude of the hills. “Don’t you ever feel lonely?” I asked him. “Never,” he replied, “My sheep are like family to me – they know me and I know them. When they see me approaching, they come to meet me, like we’re old friends.” I remember we sat in silence for quite a while, looking out across the beautiful valley and enjoying our smoke. Then he said, ”People sometimes wonder if there really is a God, but when I look across the glen as far as the eye can see, all I find is beauty and although I don’t go to church, I think I know the answer to that question.”

They always say, that to be at one with nature, is to be at one with God. It seems that many years ago, this simple hill shepherd had already found this secret in the quietness of a Scottish hillside.

“No one should ever make us do something that is in conflict with our inner being, our identity and our personality. Our job on earth is to learn more about our own nature, so we can all flower and bloom in the best possible light.”

Published Fri 27th Jun 2014 16:03:56

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