How the season is unfolding - An update from Bishop Lee

First published 11th May 2020


While out cycling in January, Rt Revd Lee Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon, came off his bike after hitting a patch of black ice. He broke his femur. He needed a five hour operation on his leg and now faces the slow process of recovery.

Bishop Lee, who had been due to start two months of Extended Ministerial Development Leave this month, has been reflecting on his experience and shares an update on his progress:

I knew that breaking my femur was a big deal. The thigh bone is the largest in the body and difficult to break. This usually results from something traumatic, such as a collision with a car, not a low speed fall onto icy tarmac. I have been told not to put any weight onto the injured leg and been given a Zimmer-frame to get about. After 6 weeks I am now adept at hopping around on my right leg with the left kept a few inches from the floor. It is surprising how draining this can be even though there is limited space for me to negotiate, principally my ‘suite’, the toilet/bathroom and the kitchen.

As mentioned back in February, being able to look out on the garden through French Windows is a great blessing. Not only is it good to see the wildlife and the first signs of Spring, it is an antidote to the sense of confinement. The coffee table has exceeded ‘Peak Get Well’ messages so these now extend to a console table and sundry other horizontal surfaces. Liz and I have been truly overwhelmed by the lovely cards and messages which continue to arrive. We are so grateful for your love, kindness and prayers.

There are two people who embody not only the care and prayerfulness, but also the wisdom I have received in those messages. The first is Clarke French, the Rector of Holy Family Church, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. My Office had made contact with Clarke’s Church when we were seeking advice on travel and accommodation recommendations for my time at Duke Divinity School. Clarke and his church members not only offered a place to stay in their church complex but went out of their way to help me. Clarke volunteered to meet me at Durham airport and members of the congregation sorted options for equipping me with a bike – and you know how the latter would have ministered to me!

Since my accident Clarke has kept in touch and been praying regularly for me. What he particularly has helped me hear and receive has been God’s word for me simply to rest. At one level this is obvious and the reason I have been signed off from work. I have found my energy level very low and unpredictable, which should not be a surprise. But having expected to be able to read, reflect and perhaps to write while ‘resting’, I have had to learn to truly embrace rest and not to worry about making time ‘productive’. My body – and this soul-friend, have been helping me lean-in to doing nothing and sleeping whenever I feel the need.

The other person I want to single out is Mary. Our friendship goes back to my days as a Curate in Woodford Wells over 25 years ago. Mary, a medical doctor herself, has had far more than her fair share of health challenges to overcome, including in very recent times a really difficult run of them involving hip surgery. In an email to me she shared some words a prayer partner had said to her just a few days earlier: “Being fallow is not the same as being unfruitful”. These words have resonated deeply with me and become ones I am returning to for reflection often.

The wisdom of God which has come from Clarke and Mary is freeing me to embrace being fallow. It feels like something Christ has wanted me to discover for a long time. I hope it may bring a blessing and potentially be an antidote for you or someone you know.

Bishop Lee

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