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Feather's Miscellany: Change And Unchange

...Indeed, the whole world has changed; and nearer eighty now than seventy, I can see more clearly history turning its pages slowly before my eyes than ever I could as a younger man. I can look back and see my part in it and my home town’s patch on history’s landscape...

John Waddington-Feather tells of the changeless centre point of his life.

I have a much valued and much loved old friend who has lived in my home town, Keighley, all his life, and who updates me constantly about the changes taking place in it. Like myself he went to university and he is very observant. For invaluable work in local studies in the region where he lives he has received well earned civic and academic honours.

Unlike my friend I left Keighley many years ago and have travelled widely, settling in Shropshire to work and bring up my family. But I still love Keighley, my boyhood home, and in my mind I still live there. Its streets, its parks and recreation grounds, the moors above it, its church down Lawkholme Lane are all still as real and solid as ever they were. They will always stay the same and never change, embedded in the ‘Keighworth’ of my novels and short stories.

But ‘Keighworth’ is not Keighley, for Keighley has moved on like the rest of life. The town was changing even when I lived there as a youngster, and it has gone on changing. Indeed, the whole world has changed; and nearer eighty now than seventy, I can see more clearly history turning its pages slowly before my eyes than ever I could as a younger man. I can look back and see my part in it and my home town’s patch on history’s landscape. I see it through the perspective of old age and that is one advantage of old age – that, and acquiring a modicum of wisdom over the years perhaps.

Which brings up the whole business of change and how to cope with it; for change is accelerating all the time and there seems to have been more change in the last century, when I was born, than in any before it. Much of recent change is due to computers. They have revolutionised our way of life, but I must confess I don’t know much about them. I’m using one to type in this article but that’s almost about as far as my competence goes. My grandchildren are far more adept at working and understanding them than myself. Indeed, my daughters thought that the age of miracles was on us again when I began using a computer at the age of sixty eight! Now through my computer, I receive written replies within minutes by e-mail to correspondence across the globe which would have taken days, even weeks, only a few years ago – and cost a fortune in postage.

Through all this change one thing has remained unchanged from a very early age – my faith. My belief in God and Christ has remained constant, though it also has developed. My concept of God at seventy six is different from when I was a ten year-old choirboy in Holy Trinity Church, Keighley; the church where I had my first encounter with God and dimly began to be aware of Him; moving outwards from the church and seeing God and Christ at work in the world outside. Gradually I also began to see that God was inside me, a God I can communicate with, a God I can call ‘father’, as well as being an external God.

So you see, my faith was no Pauline revelation, but a gradual realisation that there is a presence working in my life I don’t fully understand but perceive dimly.

Now past my threescore and ten I feel that presence more and more strongly the older I grow. It is unchanging, always there. In faith I believe I will know more about that presence when I have left this present body and assumed my new one after death.

John Waddington-Feather ©

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