Don Snuggs

The author of Lydia's dream

Being brought up in a fundamentalist family with two brothers before the war, we were at all times reminded by our parents that anything we did that was not ‘Godly’ was unacceptable.
Those things under that category were numerous ,and deprived us of many childhood delights which today are regarded as rites of passage for children.
Such things as the cinema, the theatre ,dancing ,comics or even circuses were frowned upon, and we were instead ,encouraged to read those things that were good for the soul and guaranteed us ,we were told, a safe passage eventually to heaven when we expired .!
We suffered many embarrassments ,for example we were not allowed our presents on Christmas day , had to wait until Boxing Day when Christmas day fell on a Sunday,
Firework night ,even if it did represent our triumph as a nation over Popery, again when November the fifth was on Sunday, suffered the same fate ,yes we had the bangers the previous night to the amusement of the neighbours ,who thought we’d got the date wrong. In fact to do anything representing pleasure we felt was denied us on a Sunday, not that we could have done much, being dressed in our Sunday best bought for us at great expense in those times, by our rather impecunious parents.!
We were taught in Sunday school by those of the same ilk as our parents ,the lessons designed to teach us the authority of scripture, and both the teachers and ministers of the non-conformist faiths, were treated with great respect.
In fact the minister, to we children, was God himself, and with a stern manner and voice pronounced his gospel with many incomprehensible words and listening to him on a hot day, on one unforgettable session I began to fidget as only a child can, and was taken out of the chapel, given a good smack bottom and marched back in for the rest of the service!
However as we progressed through life and learned to be ourselves and fitted in with this Godless society ,we endured taunts for our faith but learned to ignore them, being assured that it was our duty to suffer in silence and to be a ‘light to others ‘in the world..
But as I grew older ,and at the age of 14 was now at grammar school and I was learning another side to life ,that for example the world could not have been made in six days ,and if I did not believe that ,I was not going to be confined to the flames of hell as I had once been promised by a missionary home on leave from China!
As I left school with a school certificate in eight subjects, all of a good standard ,I now had to look for a job commensurate with my abilities ,but a rather narrow background to base my future life upon. Up to now I had not been taught exactly how to live ,but as a result of my home life, knew how to die!.
My father was at this time was diagnosed with malignant disease and following surgery lived only a few days, leaving my mother to bring up we three boys ,and had to go out to work.
His death was surrounded with all the practices of the church, many prayers had been said for him to no avail this struck me as disappointing, I was not really intellectually capable of understanding why this happened ,and had no concept of the meaning of prayer at that time. I could not formulate a response to some would be comforter ,who told me that after all they had done ,and he still died ‘the lord wanted him or he would have healed him!‘
However I joined the nursing profession as a student in 1949. This brought me face to face with a lot of death , pain and misery , and it also brought me into contact with caring and compassionate people.
I had assumed up to now that that these two attributes were in fact the property of those who were of our faith, and discovered to my surprise that these apparently ‘Godless’ people ,were actually more compassionate than many of the faithful I’d met in the past!
After I left the NHS on qualifying I was conscripted into national service to serve in the RAF medical branch for some years. The story of my time therein, I told in my previous book, ‘To Travel Hopefully’ ,published in 2001 by Pentland Press.
A few years later during my service ,my mother met a lay preacher at her church and subsequently married him. It turned out be a complete disaster-he expected complete obedience in all things from her and when he couldn’t get his own way ,this very ‘Godly man divorced her, and although she was guilty of no crime apart from being a rather assertive lady, was thrown out of the church!
This finished me with the non-conformist movement ,and I eventually joined the CofE which gave me the freedom to question the faith and was non proscriptive.
So my spiritual growth which had been constipated up to now, suddenly was liberated and took off, and began to grow.
So I now look with some scepticism at those who claim to be the holders of the truth. I told some insistent door step preachers weeks ago that they were right! That pleased them ,but then went on to say that ,so was Hitler, Stalin , Mao ,Polpot ,Saddam Hussein and all the rest, they knew they were right, But the only man who was right, was murdered by people like them,! That did not please them!.
So when I listened again at early communion one morning ,the story of the paralysed man who was healed, I didn’t question it ,but wondered what ever happened to a man who had that done to him .and who reported it ,and to whom ,and how did it come down from two thousand years ago for me to hear it today, so perhaps using my imagination I could tell it to present day readers.
I wrote the first chapter as a short story, but it took me over and the stories came thick and fast into my memory ,and after a lot of research came up with a tale which showed ,I hope, another side to these well worn stories that may influence others to look at them again.
But these stories were written down by somebody, first hand? or second? or even third hand,? did they change in the telling? we will never know .I took them at face value as a child, now in my eightieth year and still a believer, have found them exiting to look at with fresh eyes ,and with experience of life as it really is .
There are a lot of hidden gems therein, and when you find them, some pearls of great price!
Of recent years I have practised acupuncture ,having qualified in the art in 1983 ,but I retired when my wife died in 2006 and left me bereft ,however many of the people I treated over the years needed biblical type miracles to help them! But it’s a strange and ancient art ,and patients who had not responded to conventional medicine ,often responded to my care ,partly because I focussed my whole attention on them without ever once turning any body away.
Auguste Pare the great 17th century French physician, said that the role of a practitioner was to cure sometimes, to relieve often, but to comfort always ,the man in my story that the clever people murdered, did just that!
I remarried in 2007 ,my dear wife is paraplegic, it’s a hard life for both of us, but we are happy ,and after a lifetime caring for the sick ,I plod on still in practice, but of a different kind now.!