18 May 2024

A Tribute to My Wife

An unusual topic for a blog, but Ruth’s story of recent years is one of overcoming severe adversity and going on to flourish. Her timing was impeccable as I have been severely ill myself lately, and while providing me with exceptional care, Ruth also led the recent Meditation Teacher Training for which I was incapacitated. 

So this week, another great story of transforming obstacles and suffering into strength and service, but first

         Thought for the Day

   So I encourage you - bow eagerly to love. 

   Follow its humble stirrings in your heart. 

   Let it guide you in this life 

   And it will bring you safely to eternal bliss in the next. 

   Love is the essence of all goodness. 

   Without it, no kind work is ever begun or finished. 

   Simply put, love is a good will in harmony with God.

                            The Cloud of Unknowing

Many of you will have read Ruth’s blog posts recounting her extreme health issues over the past 3 years. (links below) First severe chronic back pain, then totally debilitating long COVID. It is important to recount the long COVID not only depleted all her energy and created multiple tough physical symptoms, it also induced what is called organic brain syndrome. It was like the virus created an autoimmune reaction which meant her body attacked itself, and even worse, her mind attacked itself.

This left Ruth extremely anxious, hyper-reactive, fearful of everything; feeling paranoid and remote from all around her – including me much of the time. To make matters even more difficult, being trained in psychological medicine and a dedicated student of the mind all her life, Ruth was aware of these changes in her mind, but remained unable to override or significantly change them.

The long COVID lasted well over a year, and not surprisingly took a toll. While for me it was actually a pleasure to be able to care for Ruth and help her to stay out of institutionalised care – as was recommended to her by 3 different psychiatrists, unfortunately some others around her found the mental illness challenging.

Here we need to observe the difference between how our community tends to relate to physical illness or injury, compared to mental illness. 

When someone breaks a leg for example, pretty well everyone finds it easy to accept the injury.

We take it on face value and treat the person affected with compassion.

Mental illness can be tough. 

Often there is the sense the person affected is “weak”; if not their mind would be working OK. 

People with mental illness can behave and say things that can be outright confronting, yet often we fail to see through their words or actions and instead of responding to the person with the compassion and consideration they warrant, we take what they say or do both seriously and personally.

For me, while some people were exceptionally caring and supportive, the reactions of some around Ruth during this time were quite disappointing, and it happened again as she went through another turbulent time coming off the medication taken during the latter stages of her illness. 

Anyway, Ruth is now medication free, and really well both physically and mentally. What a delight. 

My turn! 

Early this April we both developed COVID for the second time while staying on the NSW Central Coast. Ruth had a very minor episode; I was completely flattened and slept for two days. Soon after we needed to travel home by car back from which further debilitated me and triggered a weird functional bowel obstruction. Acutely ill, from April 16th, the next 16 days were spent in hospital. Did not eat or drink for around 10 days; sustained on a drip. Lost a lot of weight, totally debilitated and generally danced close to the edge once again.

Now amidst all this, Ruth and I, along with our dear colleague Murray Paterson, were scheduled to lead the first of our scheduled Meditation Teacher Training programs for this year from May 6th – 10th; a couple of weeks away. 

I had spent many months previously compiling a comprehensive, 180 page new manual for this program, but as it was just completed, was yet to share it with Ruth and Murray. 

So we needed to decide. 

Cancel the program and disappoint those booked, or rely on Ruth and Murray to learn and deliver the program in short time. 

Ruth did not hesitate, and Murray was keen. So we advised those planning to come off the changes and the training went ahead with one drop out and one new person joining. Ruth was confident with her regained energy and newfound inner strength and confidence, she and Murray could do it.

And so they did! 

Remarkably, and as a tribute to their previous study and practice, the two of them delivered the program and received rave reviews from all those participating. Ruth and Murray’s capacity to accomplish this with such a short lead time, was very heartening to the course participants. Quite amazing really. Happily, the detail in the manual made it possible for them to understand, learn and deliver the material to a high level in a short space of time. The trainees found this very encouraging for their own aspirations to teach.                        

                                                                                           Participants practicing guiding meditation 

We will be presenting Module 2 of this year’s Meditation Teacher Training in November when the focus will be on teaching a Meditation and Contemplation course. I may even be fit to help by then :). Also, the plan is to repeat the basic Meditation Teacher Training next year, as well as delivering another module where the focus will be on Meditation and Guided Imagery - see the website for details.

But now for a bit more context. I was released from hospital the day before this recent training began at our old Yarra Valley Living Centre. So I was still severely debilitated and barely able to get out of bed. Great place for convalescing, and the Brahma Kumaris who are now running the Centre were very kind and attentive to me, but Ruth carried the bulk of my care, along with presenting the program. How amazing was that!

I did manage to put in a cameo appearance on the last day but was still deeply exhausted by the time we made it home. Now, happily, a week later, steady but slow progress is being made and this is the first day without a real down time.

So this recent illness has been very tough, but so heartening to be with Ruth as she comes fully back into herself; in fact, quite clearly she has emerged from her own tough times with a new strength and inner confidence. 

What a delight! 

What a joy! 

The power of love in action…



1.     The Gawler Meditation Teacher training – May and November 2024

2.     Ruth’s Back Pain, Long COVID and Recovery – Part 1 – Back Pain

3.     Ruth’s Back Pain, Long COVID and Recovery – Part 2 Long COVID begins

4.     Ruth’s Back Pain, Long COVID and Recovery – Part 3 – The Nightmare and the Recovery