Entertaining Strangers


"I expect to pass through this world just once."

Harry Calvert-Lane was no ordinary man.   He had a commanding appearance; a simple geniality tempered by a serene dignity which was strange in one so young.    He carried himself well and looked one straight in the eye with a piercing  gleam relieved by a super sense of mischief.  There was an aloofness and an elusive quality about him and an air of standing apart.    In a word, he was different.

Now three years fighting in Afghanistan had left him weary and ready for a break and so it was with eager anticipation he awaited the Christmas holiday with his family in Devon.     His moneyed parents Henry and Jane lived a life of luxury and ease in a mansion close to the sea.    Harry their only son and heir was their proud boast.    Could  he bring along his buddy Tom who had lost an arm and a leg he ventured to ask?   

That would be no problem they replied

 and they promised to give them a memorable vacation.

Bouyed up by their spontaneous reply, Harry had the temerity to pose another question.    Could Tom stay on in the granny flat when he, Harry, was forced to return as

Tom had nowhere else to go and nobody really wanted him?     

 Surely something would come up to give him a future and a hope.   The reply from his parents was slow in arriving but

when it did, his dreams were completely dashed.   

 It was out of the question.   

 There were the golf, tennis, cricket and swimming club dinners to organize and that long-awaited Wild-life trip to Kenya was already booked for March and...  

They knew he would perfectly understand and not make a fuss and so...

In the grey of the dawn just ten days later they were awakened by an insistent phone.   Major General Oates at the other end in Kabul was requesting their immediate presence at a local hospital where Harry lay in a deep coma. Every effort in order to resuscitate him was at the moment being carried out and he was in the hands of the very best doctors and staff.  His friends were devestated at finding him in such a condition. It was imperative that they come at once. 

Yes -  at once!

Rushing through the city they were ushered into the ward where Harry had died just thirty minutes before their arrival.   The circumstances of his death had yet to be established.    

 They were mute from shock.  

Stripping back the sheet which covered his precious body the scene which met their eyes was to haunt them eternally.    Harry Calvert-Lane, their pride and joy, had but one arm and one leg.   


"I expect to pass through this world just once.   Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now.  Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

Stephen Grellet,

(1773-1855)   French- born Quaker Minister


Written for my precious army friends and their companions in Afghanistan

May they always walk with God!

With a mother's love, blessing and an earnest daily prayer.

Life is Fleeting.

The hill flowers fade,

but will bloom again next year.

But we never get back our youth. 

Life is a fragile gift which we enjoy only briefly;

our life is like the warming of oneself in the sun.

We live in a flash of light; before we know it, 

evening comes and night falls. 

But the very fleetingness of life

makes it all the more precious.

Lord, may your gentle and sure light

guide us on the unfolding road,

so that we may walk with confidence

towards the light that never fades

and the life that never ends.

The First Christians.

'Those Christians love one another/ they never fail to help widows/ they save orphans from those who would hurt them/ if a man has something he gives freely to the man who has nothing/ if they see a stranger Christians take him into their homes and treat him like a brother/and if they hear that one of them is in gaol or persecuted for professing the name of their redeemer they will give him what he needs/if it is possible they will bail him out/ if one of them is poor and there isn't enough food to go around they fast several days to give him the food he needs/we are dealing with a new kind of person and there is something divine in them.

"Love to the end" is what brings about the seemingly impossible metabasis:   stepping outside the limits of one's closed individuality, which agape is - breaking through into the divine.  ' Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away'. (Mark- 13-31). The Word - which seems almost nothing in comparison to the mighty power of the immeasurable material cosmos, like a fleeting breath against the silent grandeur of the universe - the Word is more real and more lasting than the entire material world. The Word is the true dependable reality; the solid ground on which we stand, which holds firm even when the sun goes dark and the firmament disintegrates.  The cosmic elements pass away ; the Word of Jesus is the true  ' firmament '  beneath which we can stand and remain.

Pope Benedict XV1

Anita Kilbride-Jones


St. Paul's Bay,



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