Thursday, 30 June 2011
But it was obvious that this was the last thing on Theodore’s mind.
“Ah … welcome Padre” he said with a grin on his face like a child wishing to share a secret or surprise.
“How nice to see you once again! Let’s go to the library, I have something there I wish to show you. I’m sure you’ll like it what?”
The priest followed the millionaire through the large entrance hall and down the corridor towards the library.
“Here … what do you think?” said Theodore as he flew open the library doors and entered the spacious room.
Father Ignatius said nothing at first; wondering what it was which was supposed to interest him.
“Over there … just by the window …” said Theodore “they call it a treadmill. It’s a brand new contraption which is all the rage in London you know.
“Apparently, in London they have these in hospitals to give people who’ve been somewhat poorly much needed exercise. I wouldn’t be surprised if some day some enterprising person wouldn’t have these machines in a hall somewhere and charge people to use them.
“I might think of doing it myself perhaps. Meantime, I bought myself one … want to try it?”
“What is it exactly?” asked the priest hesitantly.
“It’s an exercise machine old boy …” enthused Theodore, “that bit down there is a continuous belt which goes round and round automatically. It’s electric you know. You switch it on, stand on it, and walk … Here let me show you.”
Theodore jumped on the treadmill and walked slowly for a few minutes before switching it off.
“Simple … isn’t it? You can walk for miles without leaving the house!”
“But, why would you do that, when you have such beautiful countryside around you?” asked the bemused priest.
“Aha …” replied Theodore still excited about his new acquisition, “with this machine you can walk at any time, day or night, in all weathers.”
Father Ignatius smiled.
“And what’s more …” continued Theodore, “you can march to the sound of bagpipes … I switch on the music first and then hop onto the machine.
“Doesn’t go so well to the sound of classical music of course, but I have plenty of records of military bands marching to the sound of pipes and drums. Takes me right back to my days in the forces … don’t you know!”
“I’m glad you found something to help you exercise …” said the priest quietly.
“One main drawback though …” Theodore went on with a frown on his face “It’s very cumbersome when you’re holding a glass of whisky whilst walking. I tend to spill most of it all over the place. Good twelve years old single malt too!
“I thought of putting the whisky in a small bottle and using a straw to drink … but it’s difficult putting ice cubes in the bottle. Unless you crush them first of course … what do you think?”
Father Ignatius was at a loss for words. After a moment’s or two of silence he said, “It’s good to have some physical exercise to keep fit. If only we could also encourage people to have some spiritual exercise!”
“What do you mean?” asked Theodore.
“You know …” said Father Ignatius putting his hands together as if praying, “more time with Our Lord is good for the soul.”
“Well … I go to church on Sundays, Father. As you know all too well!”
“Yes … of course. But I also meant more time in silent contemplation here at home. Reading the Bible perhaps or some other Christian book. Or visiting church more often … or our Prayer Group meetings … or …”
“Oh no … definitely not that!” interrupted Theodore, “not your Prayer Meetings with people waving their hands in the air and speaking in unintelligible incomprehensible words. My wife Rose has been to the Prayer Meetings and told me all about them …”
“Yes … she’s often there.” said Father Ignatius, “she doesn’t wave her hands about nor speaks in tongues … Yet, she takes part in the singing and prayers. She wouldn’t continue to attend if she didn’t get any benefit from it. Why don’t you join her sometime?”
Theodore said nothing as he poured two large glasses of whisky. You could almost hear the cogs turning in his mind.
“I’ll attend with Rose on one condition …” he said finally, “You walk for a minute or two on this treadmill and try it out. I’ll hold your whisky for you!”
And that’s how Father Ignatius gained another member to the weekly Prayer Group.