Life in the ole dog yet?

“At last! We’ve got to Stoodley Pike. What a view!”

So I remarked to our friend Emily who’d accompanied us to this famous folly perched high above the Calder valley. It was indeed an achievement to climb it. Especially as we only went there because we’d taken a wrong turn off the Calderdale Way. A mistake that cost us dearly in terms of sore feet by the time we staggered, exhausted, into Todmorden.

Jane and I are enduring this self-inflected hardship to prepare for walking the Camino de St Jacques through central France in May. Will the joints in our legs and feet stand up to the challenge of 14 days’ hiking? It will be a tremendous achievement if we don’t have to make use of the daily bus that plies the route, picking up stragglers.


For 70 long years, our bodies have done us proud. For me, there’s been all those cycle rides, horse rides, and (previously) running…the lifting and carrying we do on a regular basis. The digging, shovelling, hammering, drilling; playing musical instruments. Eating, digesting…talking, listening, loving…Jane’s body has hosted three babies. But, of course, bodies undergo wear and tear. I’ve counted eight complaints for which I could justifiably visit the doctor. I try to tackle them one at a time, at a rate faster than I acquire fresh complaints. But I’m not sure I’m succeeding.

Am I treating my body fairly? According to St Paul, our bodies are temples of God’s Holy Spirit! (1 Corinthians 6 vs 19,20). The Corinthian church, in Greece, was enjoying the freedom spelt out by the Good News. Some people were enjoying it a little too much, even to the point of going with ‘ladies of the night’! Paul pointed out that this was like joining Jesus to a prostitute because a Christian’s body is like an outpost of Jesus on earth. What an awesome thing to say about a human body! In conclusion Paul urged them, ‘You were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies’. Indeed, he tells us that we who are disciples are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5 vs 20), a huge privilege and a massive responsibility.

Urm…just in case you’re wondering, I’m not in danger of copying the libertarian example of the Corinthians. But do I look after myself in a way that honours my body? Do I abuse my body by over-eating, or being tempted by that extra glass of wine a bit too often?

Happily, I get plenty of exercise, but do I seek medical help when I need it? I’m afraid I lapse into the way of most blokes, thinking it’s somehow more manly not to go bothering the doctor. I need to do something to strengthen those arms of mine. I derived a lot of benefit doing arm exercises at the gym before lockdown, boring though they were. I don’t plan to compete in a weightlifting competition any time soon, but I’d like to continue using my arm, shoulder and chest muscles for as long as I’m around.


So, if you come across us on the Calderdale Way, or even better somewhere in the Auvergne in France, wish us well. Encourage us to keep going when we flag. Perhaps we’re at the end of our days’ walk when every step becomes a painful plod? Then please remind us that the New Testament often speaks about life being a journey and that we have to persevere until the end.


But the time may come, because of old age or sickness, when our bodies wear out more quickly than our minds. I was moved to tears when I received a Christmas card from a frail 97-year-old lady whose body is almost spent, whose journey is nearly done. She triumphantly wrote that she is waiting to receive her inheritance in heaven including – as she wrote in capitals – her NEW BODY! (Romans 8 vs 23).

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