A last-minute unplanned visit to the Findhorn Foundation to make a delivery has proved life changing for a 65-year-old haulage contractor from Derbyshire in England.
“You can’t believe what Findhorn has done for me,” Martyn Garthwaite says with a sense of wonder. “It has been mind boggling what has happened since a seemingly chance visit around four years ago. There has been synchronicity after synchronicity, each piece of my life slotting in like a jigsaw puzzle. And I’ve met so many kind and amazing people.”
It all started when one of his drivers let him down and he chose to personally make the long nine-hour 463-mile drive from his hometown of Belper to Findhorn, his truck laden with a huge extractor chimney for the community’s Earth-friendly biomass boiler.
From the moment he drove into The Park he was greeted with warmth and kindness from complete strangers. “I met people from all over the world and they were wonderful.” And none more so, he says, than community elder Gail Shaw, who welcomed him and invited him to share a meal with her and her husband Michael.
At the time Martyn’s wife Hilary was critically ill, struggling to draw each breath as she battled a life-threatening lung disease that confined her to a respirator supplying oxygen 24/7. “Gail gave me so much advice and was a tower of strength,” he recalls. “She told me that I was the most important person in this situation, and I became Hilary’s full-time carer. She had been given two years to live and if I hadn’t done what I’d done, she’d have been in a box. We nearly lost her twice!”
Throughout the long process of caring for his wife, Martyn started and ended each day with a reading of Opening Doors Within by co-founder Eileen Caddy. As well as sustaining and encouraging him, he was often astonished by the relevance and wisdom of the daily guidance.
“It was as if Eileen Caddy was speaking directly to me.”
I interviewed Martyn after a return visit to the Findhorn Foundation where he’d spent a week at Cluny Hill participating in a programme called Your Exquisite Body of Light, which was held by local healer Tjitze de Jong.
In one exercise he was asked to draw whatever inspired him and he drew his own two large hands with his heart in between them. The next morning Eileen’s guidance began with the words: “You hold great power in your hands…”
His wife had lost a tremendous amount of weight and hovered in the ‘window’ between urgently needing major medical intervention and being too weak to withstand an operation. While at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne they were told she needed to add 30 pounds in body mass before she could be safely operated upon.
Martyn made it his mission to help her gain weight and build strength, and he watched with relief as her weight climbed from just 92 pounds to 134 over a two year period.
Their daughter Lisa, a senior oncology nurse, and son Andrew, a mechanic, have also been an immense help along the road to recovery.
And Hilary has had a small taste of Findhorn, Martyn driving her to the Findhorn Bay Holiday Park even though she was still connected to an oxygen supply that had to be constantly monitored.
In September last year the family received the phone call they’d been desperately waiting for, their hopes soaring with the news that a pair of suitable lungs had been found to make a double lung transplant possible.
The delicate operation was performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, the surgeon Jorge Mascaro, who is the veteran of 20 Iron Man Challenges, modestly insisting: “I’m just the plumber.”
Well plumber or miracle worker, he and his team have given this grateful patient a new lease on life.
On 1 May Hilary celebrated her 60th birthday and Martyn says: “Friends were gobsmacked at how well she is. She’s now walking a mile a day and looks well and happy.”
And he sees that first visit to Findhorn as part of an awakening and transformation that has been a pivotal part of their healing journey together. “I get a tingle when I think of Findhorn and how it has encouraged, inspired and guided me – this challenge with my beautiful wife Hilary has been a test of my strength, determination and character … if I hadn’t had the strength and guidance from our Dear Lord, and Eileen Caddy’s daily prayers, Hilary wouldn’t be here today!”