Ever felt like you had the best idea in the world, a flash of inspiration so great that the likes of Elon Musk and Bill Gates would bow down at its sheer genius…only to wake up in your bed and realise that your plan to build the world’s largest stick insect farm might not actually be so clever? Just me?!
Well, last year, having been so inspired by Michael Sheen’s Aneurin Bevan lecture at the Hay festival, I found myself on a 24 hour retreat in a prayer house in Bristol where the idea of a coast to coast walk across Wales in celebration of the hard working heroes of the NHS popped into my head. Maybe it was sunstroke. Maybe the Spirit. Maybe it was the effects of the nice bottle of red I was enjoying. In either case, I didn’t wake from the dream but took it to those at my churches who are experienced at building me up or reining me in when needed. They plumped for the former and here we are a year on, making final preparations for a 190 mile trek across Wales!
“But it’s not all about you,” I can hear my friends chiming. And they’re right of course [he admits, reluctantly!]. You see our Rhyl to Cardiff walk is part of our wider series of events which we are hosting in order to highlight our thanks to, and admiration of, the incredible women and men who work for the NHS, giving of themselves day after day as they care for our health and well being. We want to show our pride that the idea of universal healthcare was inspired by the compassion and community care witnessed in Tredegar and throughout the mining communities of South Wales. We want to loudly declare our belief believe that every single person is a much-loved child of God who should be treated with dignity and kindness, dependent not on their bank balance but on their very humanity. This is the message we believe in –
“God’s message from the beginning is this – love one another. How is God’s love shown by anyone who has many possessions sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help? Instead, dear children, we must practice real love in action!”
Words from The Bible – 1 John 3
Though the walk begins tomorrow, I have already been overwhelmed by the backing and brilliance of others as we have begun our celebrations. The imagination of those who have crafted and created art pieces that we’ll be giving to the NHS workplaces we visit; the hospitality offered by strangers across the country willing to put up weary travellers for the night; the amusement of primary school children as they learnt about the old remedies used before the NHS was founded; the dedication of the support car team as they plan where and when they can check in on us; the appreciation of the staff at the doctors surgeries visited; the sheer magnificence of a senior citizen from the valleys knitting a nurse she labelled ‘Nurse Windrush’…it has been incredible, and we’ve not even tied up our bootlaces yet!
All this involvement from a wide range of community groups demonstrates the depth of support, appreciation and love of our National Health System across our society. What a privilege it is, then, to visit some of the hospitals, care homes and doctor’s surgeries to offer thanks, pray for blessing and give gifts to NHS workers on behalf of all those involved. There’s more to come of course…we’ve a primary school concert, the Tredegar Town band extravaganza, a reception at the Senedd and that little matter of 190 miles to cover…but for now it’s time to wash the socks, count up the energy bars and double check the suncream is packed.
Have a great weekend. May God bless us and God bless the NHS!