Choosing to move into a care home to be with his wife...
Updated: May 28
Author Tony Horsfall has been writing of his experiences after moving into a care home at this time of Covid-19 to be alongside his wife, who's living with cancer.
The Yorkshire-based writer, said: 'Shortly before we came to Cherry Trees I had felt a nudge from God to read and study the book of Ruth. I brought a few books with me to help, but initially my emotions were all over the place and I could not focus my thoughts. I had to rest for a while and allow myself to be carried by God’s love. Slowly my hunger for scripture returned and recently I have found great comfort in this ancient little story. It tells how God cared and provided for Ruth and Naomi in their need and desperation, and how his providential plan for them was even then working itself out in their adversity.'
If anyone was going to cope with being in a care home when there is widespread fear over coronavirus, Horsfall was certainly well equipped – in theory.
His BRF book Spiritual Growth in a Time of Change: Following God in midlife (2016) has much to say about fostering resilience.
Last year he also co-wrote a book with Debbie Hawker, Resilience in Life and Faith: Finding your strength in God (BRF 2019).
Here were life lessons in abundance, ones he's had to put into practice in recent weeks as he chose to lock down with his wife of 47 years, Evelyn, in residential care rather than be apart from her at home.
The Old Testament Book of Ruth 'has spoken deeply to our situation: "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God" (Ruth 1:16).
'It is a story of love and loss, and of the providence of God bringing good out of tragedy. In other words, it is a book of hope for anyone for whom life is hard.'
At first it was his brother-in-law who suggested Tony could also go with her as a resident, 'something I had not thought of but which seemed to be a solution – if such a place could be found. A friend texted, “I hope wherever Ev goes you can go also.” Then it worked out for us to stay together, first in the hospice and now at Cherry Trees. Where you go, I will go.
'We are living through a period of time when death stalks our land and thousands of families have felt its icy grip. Grief is the predominant emotion in 2020, and it comes in many forms, not just the grief of bereavement. Loss, and the attendant sadness, is everywhere.
'For some there has been the loss of jobs and economic security. Overnight, businesses have failed and careers been put on hold. Families struggle to make ends meet. Long-cherished plans for marriage, holidays and birthdays have been shelved. We have lost many of the joys of life like sporting events, nights out at the pub, shopping trips, meetings friends for coffee and so on. Social isolation has robbed us of our nearest and dearest and made us feel lonely and cut off. We have died many deaths.
'So how will we respond? This is a searching time of both our character and our faith. We can become full of self-pity and turn away from God. Or we can recognise in all that is happening a wake-up call to our nation and the world and instead turn towards him again in humble repentance and faith.'
Read his insights from scripture, given the couple's current challenges, in the 16 part series, 'Shelter - Reflections on the Book of Ruth'.
Read, also, BRF's Prayer Diary (24 May 2020) featuring Hawker and Horsfall's Resilience in Life and Faith: Finding your strength in God (BRF, 2019).