Sunday, 21 June 2015

I Remove A Thorn

On Monday, I climbed up a cliff.  Or rather, a very steep bank rising up from Newgale Sands in Pembrokeshire.  My longest-serving friend and I had just started what has become our annual Camping-in-Wales holiday, and having caught an early bus from St David's, and ambled along the beach under cloud, we were taking a short cut back to the Coast Path and our walk back to Caerfai campsite.

As it turned out, it wasn't really a short cut: just a more direct - as the crow flies - route.

Sticking to the path is often a good idea, but sometimes it's great to go off-piste.  On this occasion, it involved scrambling at times over loose shale, at times amongst pads of gorse and bracken.  In order to maintain balance, I often had to grab onto the gorse and bracken. There was a moment when  I didn't think I could go safely either down or up, and that was when Helen offered me her hand, and helped me further up. We made it to the top, and I came away with a thorn in the middle finger of my right hand.

In the New Testament, St Paul refers to a mysterious affliction as his 'thorn in the flesh'.  When I was growing up, my parents used to speculate about what this metaphor represented.  My mother claimed it was Paul's mother-in-law.  My father, some sort of unspeakable recurring temptation.

I've been conscious of this splinter at various moments all week when my finger has been under some sort of pressure.  On Tuesday, I put on my reading glasses and tried to get it out using tweezers, but my skin had already started to heal, and I couldn't reach it.  This evening I had more success using a sterilised sewing needle.

The walk from Newgale was glorious.  At midday, the sun came out and it didn't go away - just moved across our shoulders, leaving its mark in interesting tan lines.

There's nothing like being on holiday on a Monday. There's nothing like unexpected sunshine in Wales. The occasional discomfort I felt from the thorn for the rest of the week was a reminder of adventure; of fresh air, freedom, trust and good fortune.

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