I learned that she lived alone in a hamlet cottage some 10 miles away and had travelled to Walsingham that afternoon, using the country bus service. She seemed far from well and in the early part of our conversation, related to me that she had already received chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast cancer which, by now (and from what she went on to tell me) was being treated palliatively, although she was, so I gathered, off treatment at the time in question. She went on, “I’ve had a few really bad days of late, especially with my swollen arm (for which apparently, she was currently receiving treatment). “I ask night and morning for help” she assured me, “and when I awoke this morning someone seemed to be saying to me, “Go to Walsingham”. I haven’t been here for the past seven years or more but well, here I am”.
I need not and will not relate the substance of our hour-plus conversation, save to say that its contents and subject-matter were all very familiar. Moreover – and throughout the course of it – I gathered enough to establish that the most unexpected, unpredictable and incredible occurrence was here ‘unravelling’ before my very eyes. At length she asked me the time, stating that she would need to return to the bus stop for her return journey. Before saying “goodbye” my new-found friend told me; “I didn’t know this morning when I set out why I had to come to Walsingham”, adding thoughtfully, “But I do now”. Imagine her even greater astonishment when I said to her, “Well maybe it will convey even greater meaning and, hopefully, support when you next telephone your sister and tell her that you met up with Dr Bindemann whilst he was on holiday!” Moments before her bus arrived at the stop, she said something that I shall long remember and which ran somewhat as follows: “You know, I’ve come to believe that my – well faith I suppose it is – helps me to face things and sometimes even to overcome them; you know, in my mind, more than all the treatment put together”.
No one – and that, of course, includes both of the sisters referred to above – would presumably question either the urgency for or the benefit that can increasingly and rightly be attributed to prompt and appropriate treatment for such physical disease. But remember her phrase? “My faith…has helps me to face this… in my mind…” Yes indeed, and as we have already witnessed, such growing and increasing awareness has in the past and will doubtless continue into the future to reveal an important ‘gateway’ for so many, in their need to daily resolve the wide variety of key quality of life issues; i.e. “My beliefs…my faith…!”
Let me conclude with some words attributed to one of that multitude of great ‘inventors’ and innovators of the twentieth century; “My work hails a new discovery, with all of its exciting implications for future development and progress. But never ever forget; this is by no means a new phenomenon. Indeed and had we but known of it – even from the commencement of man himself – it was ever thus!” May your God journey with you and may He bless you with patience and perseverance to ever move toward the light with courage and hope to overcome.