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Paul’s life (so far!)

May 13, 2011

Having read Kate’s story, I’ll try to give a similar overview of my life.
I am older than Kate (!) and although born 6 years after WW2 ended, I can still recall lots of bomb sites, the end of rationing etc.
I often summarise my childhood by saying how grateful I am for the three loves of my life, which were taught and modelled and nurtured then – love of nature, love of number, and love of God.
We were poor by today’s standards – outside loo, bath in front of the fire, no car, TV, fridge or telephone until I was well into teenage years – but my parents managed to get us out into the countryside or by the seaside regularly enough for this to be fundamental in my life. I still stop to watch swifts in summer; I still thrill to see waves crashing on a rocky shore; I love the patterns and expanse of the stars; and as I live in Herefordshire overlooking a dairy pasture and the River Wye (I can see both as I type) I consider myself very fortunate.
Numbers are fundamental to all life, as everyone knows! I found maths at school both enjoyable and easy (university was a lot, lot harder), and “think” number automatically at times. For example, when leading a church service and inviting people to “share the peace” (greet each other in a warm and friendly – and liturgical! – manner) I will often do the mental maths – congregation of 21 – each one greets each other one – that’s going to be 210 handshakes! (For those who wonder how that is worked out try this – each of 21 people greets 20 others – that would make 21×20 meetings e.g. 420 – but me greeting Kate is the same handshake as Kate greeting me, so halve the answer = 210)
Numbers are fun! I was showing someone only last week about the beautiful patterns in the decimals of 1/7, 2/7 etc. – have a look if you don’t know this one!
And love of God. Like Kate I was brought up in a devout Christian household where prayer, Bible reading, church attendance etc. were the norm. But at various stages I have had to decide – was this just what my parents believe, or do I believe it too? And when I have looked at that question – when age 8, and age 14, and age 21, and again and again since, the answer has always been “yes, I believe”
Of course I am still – as Kate has mentioned – a scientist – and read the things Kate sends me – so I like to think I am fairly well informed on latest stuff about the universe, life, time-space etc. (I studied relativity as part of my first degree)
But unlike Kate I haven’t found the two pulling me apart – rather they enrich each other. I’ll just give one example at this stage.
I went to meet a class of 9-year-olds, and their first question was a cracker “When you stop being a scientist and become a Christian?”
I told them about my experience that very morning, on my way to meet them – I has seen a rainbow. So I told them – in basic terms I hope! – about how rainbows are formed – wavelengths, refraction etc. – stuff I really enjoy. and I then told them about (they knew the story of Noah anyway) about the Christian significance of the rainbow – which I summarised as “God always keep his promises”
I hope I showed them that as a scientist and a Christian I get double the benefits!
One more thing from me at this stage. When in my 20’s God added one more to my list of loves, from which others have grown. My wife Anne and I met at university, have been married for 38 years (nearly) and have three delightful (most of the time) children and two grandchildren. And with each addition to “my” family – Anne, then Kate, then others – the amount of love around has increased – for me, a miracle for which I give God thanks

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