Malvern. Nestling in the foot of the hills that bear its name, the town has been a place of holiday and sanctuary on many occasions. And this time was no different.
As we drove up the M5, the Malvern Hills waved at us from between the passing trees, giving greetings as if to long lost friends as we approached. We’d booked an apartment in one of the large, old houses that populate the centre of the town. The website photos painted a place of light and comfort. Four nights away. A time for rest and relaxation… or so we thought.
Having struggled to effect entry, we found ourselves in a dark, cramped living room. The most spacious thing was the high ceiling. The bedroom wasn’t much better: barely six inches on one side of the bed, less than twelve on the other. A lesson in how photos are manipulated to provide an attractive proposition.
The Devil knows how best to attack, of course. He knew we’d come to a place we loved and enjoyed. He often attacks after spiritually blessed times too (I’d just completed the first weekend as a Chaplain). He made use of the fact we’d made a mistake and compounded it with reminders of experiences I’d had many, many years ago. ‘Got you, this time,’ he said. ‘Do you remember how scared you were when you were so ill? All those times of anxiety when away from home?’ The shadows of the distant past had come on holiday with me it seemed.
Grateful for good weather, we spent as little time indoors as we could. A day each wandering around Malvern with its Priory, park and shops and then nearby Worcester with its beautiful Cathedral, river and, previously unbeknown to us, canal and locks all bringing some sense of what we do best on holiday. Add to that a trip to the theatre – our first for over 18 months.
But we knew we needed a Plan B. One that could be implemented before things got worse. One built on the lessons of the past. (Umm… where have I heard that before…)
Plan Bs are often seen as second best, aren’t they? A sign of failure. A few years ago, a well-known retail store ran the supposedly strong and powerful strapline, ‘There is no Plan B’… and how everyone watched the subsequent decline. As a country, perhaps we face the same calamity…
You may have found yourself in similar positions. Not necessarily a holiday that didn’t work out but maybe other times where the Devil attacked even if you didn’t credit it as such. Times when your Achilles’ heel was touched. Times when your weaknesses were exploited. Times when you needed a Plan B.
So, Plan B. Time to go home. A day early.
But not before going up to the Hills.
Not before three hours of living out the truth of the Psalmist’s words:
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and for evermore. (Psalm 121:1-2, 7-8)
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