Par – Polperro (14.1 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 385.7 miles / Distance to Poole– 246.7 miles
Today I have been humbled by the faithfulness of one woman.
The day started with 5 of us walking and included a lunch break at Fowey (pronounced foy), where we were joined by a whole church full of folk. We chatted over the soup and ploughman’s lunch which resulted in us setting off later than we intended. This wasn’t helped by us just missing the ferry to Polruan – it turned out this short wait delayed the terror for Toby, who it would seem is not a sea-dog! The afternoon stage was completed by 3 of us, who would dispute the ‘strenuous’ grading and suggest the repeated steep climbs and descents should be upgraded to ‘severe’. All of this – the lunch, the ferry and the unexpected severity – meant that we were rather late in getting into Polperro. It also meant that most of the people who had turned up to welcome us in and share a cream tea with us, had gone home long before we arrived. Most but not all.
As we descended to the harbour there was Beth stood waiting for us. She had been waiting for hours. She was cold and tired and yet she greeted us with enormous enthusiasm and joy. And with a beaming smile she walked with us from the harbour to the church. Beth, who has got Parkinson’s disease, can find walking and standing for a long time difficult. Yet despite this she stood and faithfully waited for us, desperate to be a part of this journey. When I apologised for being late and for leaving her waiting, she graciously responded by saying, “I would have waited longer.”
I was taken aback. I could do nothing but give her a hug and think ‘wow’. I am someone who wants things instantly. I am not great at being patient and when I ask God for things, I wonder why they have not miraculously appeared before my very eyes. We live in a world of immediacy and cannot fathom why we should have to wait for the things that we want. As a culture we seem to have forgotten the value of the waiting time, the preparation, the pregnancy, the journey and we are all about the end product and the destination. Most people that is. Beth is a shining example of the value of patience and faithfulness in waiting for what has been promised. She knew I was coming, she knew that I, along with the other walkers, would appear at the harbour, and she waited. And when we did arrive she was filled with joy. God blessed her waiting and rewarded her faithfulness. I hope that the next time I find myself waiting for something that I remember the significance of the wait and the simple value of the expectation of its arrival. I hope that I have the patience to rejoice in God’s timing and the blessing received for my faithfulness. And I hope that I don’t arrive too late again, leaving people waiting hours for me to come in safely.