Uncle Will

“‘He that followeth me walketh not in darkness,’ said our Lord. These are the words of Christ, by which we are taught how we must imitate his life and virtues if we wish to be truly enlightened and freed from all blindness of heart. Let us make it, then, our constant practice to meditate upon the life of Christ.”

I just came across a tiny (just over 4inx2.5in) copy of The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, and those words form the very first paragraph. The book came from the residual estate of Uncle Will some years ago (not really my uncle, but that’s another story). Of course, this is a famous book in Christian circles, and I even have a paperback copy on my bookshelves, untouched for many years.

The thing about Uncle Will was that he was an essentially good man – very devout and proper, but always cheery and often exhibiting an impish sense of humour. Some found him ‘churchy’ and pompous, but the more I got to know him the more I understood that foundational goodness, a positive example to us all.

On reading that first paragraph of the book, I was suddenly struck that this was literally what Will had tried to do throughout his life – to follow the example of Christ – and with much success. Thomas à Kempis was one of his guides along the way.

Not so many people are drawn by such devout Christianity these days, but it is clear that its fruits can be rich indeed. I recall Will with great affection.

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One thought on “Uncle Will

  1. Will was my uncle, married to my dad’s sister, so he was my uncle by marriage. He was always full of fun and entertained me as a child with magic tricks – he even had a proper magician’s table covered with a black velvet cloth, and a magic wand. He could be a bit proper and serious at times, but he was always kind, generous, sang happily as he did the washing up, and he had a deep respect for others, regardless of their race or religion. He served in the army in WW2, at one point considered becoming an ordained priest, and was somehow imbued with a genuine goodness of spirit which shone through. He was basically a happy man. I can see the twinkle in his eye and hear him chortle with delight even now. If he was meditating on and being influenced by the life of Christ, his life – and the lives of those who knew him – were certainly enriched by this.

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