After a short but gruesome battle with cancer a close friend of mine was promoted to glory last Sunday. Not a famous author or a Christian celebrity but a faithful servant of Jesus Don Hague has impacted my life in more ways than any blog post about him could do justice to and despite being convinced of his promotion to glory I can't help but feel gutted! Gutted he's not here to share earthly life with, gutted that in the hussle and bustle of summer I hadn't spent more time with him & gutted that others will miss out on the brilliant way he loved.
Being brought up in a faithless family I have always been slightly jealous of my friends & colleagues who would delight in sharing childhood stories of night time prayers, bible stories over breakfast & headings after tea. I spent a long time wrestling with God why I'd been placed in my family & not in others & then rather randomly Don (& his amazing wife Vivien) were placed in my life via a chance meeting at a midweek Anglican cafe church service opposite the school I worked at. Instantly our lives connected, Don & Vivien had been together since they were 16yrs old and had grandchildren of a similar age to me, not my usual targets for friendship yet I knew there was something special about them. As our connection deepened I realised the wealth of experience they both had, I listened intently as they shared their stories, wisdom & humour, with years in business & a life time of working with people I had much to learn from them. But what really impacted me was the two way nature of our relationship, the way they asked me about my life, the interest them had in sharing my experiences and the joys and sorrows we both shared in. They became weekly spiritual parents to me, I missed them when they took holidays & when my dads cancer got worse & he died they were my rock. Telling them I was moving to Cornwall was probably one of the hardest conversations I've ever had to have & when I left they gave me the best presents, a small statue of Jesus (so I could keep my eyes on the prize) an address book (with their details already in) & chocolates (to keep the kids happy on the journey) & of course I cried like a child as I said goodbye to them!
Throughout my time in Cornwall I knew they prayed for me, Don would regularly email me asking me about things only God & I knew about & I swear at times I literally felt them praying over me. We exchanged emails about Don feeling unwell & the tests he was having and then all of a sudden it went silent & knew something was wrong. Don had been diagnosed with Cancer and after supporting me through the death of my dad to the rotten illness they didn't want to tell me over email, consistently putting my needs before their own.
When I returned from Cornwall I was heart broken, getting ill had reminded me that I was not Wonder Women, I was vulnerable & the instant loss of community & identity was hard. I ran into Don & Viviens company like a child whose fallen over can only be consoled by its parents & as always they patched me up, prayed for me & sent me back out. Yet in the midst of that Don was dying, his earthly time was running out & yet he chose to invest in me.
This blog post may sound a little big headed & all about me but my intention is to highlight that really it is all about Don & Vivien. I am thankful for the time they adopted me, I am grateful for the things they taught me & I am hopeful that in this process, despite the hurt of loosing Don from my life, that I may be blessed with an opportunity to spiritually parent in the very same way.
May I give my time to others selflessly, may I practice grace at every opportunity & long may the legend of Don the spiritual father live in & through us all thanks to Jesus!