First of all, let me say a huge thank you to those who have been looking after the church and especially the Sunday services for the last month. I was really in need of an extended rest after Easter, and you have provided that for me. I would love to say that I have made a full recovery. Sadly, that is not the case.

What is the problem? Many years ago, at theological college, I suffered an injury while cross-country running. As a result of that it seems that scar tissue from the damaged hamstring somehow became entangled with sciatic nerve. The result is that when the hamstring is stretched, the sciatic nerve gives me real pain.

I was advised by a doctor 30 years ago not to stretch it. That was good advice, and the pain reduced quite soon after that. I have lived with this problem all my time in Haydon Wick. Running became impossible but walking and rambling were not a problem. Following a back injury in February, things took a real turn for the worse. There was a price to pay for those years of not stretching. Bending became very painful. Simply picking something off a coffee table was a challenge.

I have a long-standing hip issue – who knows why? – which has not helped with sleep. Throwing all my weight on the other leg also created problems in my knee. So I am living with quite a lot of issues.

We don’t know the long-term future holds. But, it looks like I am going to have to accept the limitations that have suddenly become part of my life.

Being off for a month has given me the opportunity to come to terms with things I really didn’t want to come to terms with. The future is going to look different. We were planning this August to walk from one side of England to the other finishing at Robin Hood’s Bay. That has had to be cancelled. And of course, retirement is likely to be different from what we had imagined. Everything seems to have happened so quickly.

Through St Luke’s Hospital for the clergy, I have the opportunity of seeing a consultant next month. He should be able to advise me on the future. However, as the fundamental sciatic problem has been around for 30 odd years, we probably have to be realistic. However, things can change, and it’s important not to let go of that hope.