Sunday, 22 March 2020

A happy day

22 March 1990 - Ali on the Isle of Wight with Pooh Bear (right) and Linden Lee (left)
On this day 30 years ago, Ali and I went for the day to the Isle of Wight.  I think it was our only visit to the island and it was an exceptionally happy day for Ali.

Just over a year later she would be received into the Catholic Church, but at that time Ali felt totally unwelcome in and excluded from the Church.  We didn't go to Church as she felt there was no place for her.  Ali often said she wished there were in Churches a "leper place" - where the lepers would be tolerated - where she could sit, if not welcome at least not shunned.

On the Isle of Wight we found ourselves passing Quarr Abbey, and for the first time in some months Ali entered a Catholic Church, though with some trepidation.  We arrived a little late (perhaps helpfully late) for Vespers.  Ali wrote to  me later that day:
"We were late (not by accident, I think) and no one noticed us at all.  In a funny way I felt as relaxed as if I had found a spiritual "leper place" where I could be unnoticed and easily, happily with Mama and Jesus - cradled, loved, accepted, really who I am. You being by my side bore me to Mama and Jesus.  You took me to the place and "carried" me in.  I felt fully alive...It was a special present just for today.  It's not yet time for the Church to accept me or learn to love my brokenness.  We must await that in patient hope." 

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

The age of retirement

In the earlier years of Ali's employment for SPUC - about 1991.
Today, on her 65th birthday, Ali would have reached retirement age and qualified for her state pension.  For most of her working years, Ali was employed by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), defending the right to life of the most vulnerable from conception until natural death.  Whether or not Ali would have continued in paid employment, had she lived until now, it is not possible to believe that she would have ever ended her efforts to defend the most vulnerable.

Ali's pro-life work was achieved at much personal cost. She could not help but be deeply affected by having to read and hear on a daily basis how people like her were "better off dead" and thus denied the chance to even be born, or so "undignified" in their suffering with chronic disability or illness that they should have the option of ending their lives.  I don't think many people understood the damaging effect on Ali's own self-esteem, effectively to have to justify daily her own right to even exist in this world.

The walls of Ali's study varied over the years but the one constancy was that they were covered with photos of dear friends and loved ones, including many who were especially vulnerable.  The photos of these individuals helped to motivate Ali. I'm sure that if Ali had been merely concerned with establishing her own right to live she would not have been able to work for SPUC for as long as she did.  It was her love not only for God but also for others, which spurred her on to persevere in her very important work. 

Ali's study wall in Sept 1992
Ali's study wall in May 1995 
Feb 2003:  Ali in her study
Part of Ali's study wall in Nov-Dec 2006