Saturday, 25 September 2010

Gear change jolts

It is the change of gear in this job to which I have never quite got used.

Returning from a difficult Funeral to be caught by someone’s urgent and immediately demanding trivialities. Trying to settle to prayers with a preoccupation still spinning round. Finding the level for a ‘Key Stage One’ assembly in the morning and an adult cross examination about the Pope’s opinions at a dinner in the evening. Returning from a complex personnel issue as a school or college Governor to an attempt to finish a piece writing or preparation with any creativity. And today’s jolt was as sharp as it comes.

The wedding at St Michael’s was fun. Quite apart from the pleasure of the couple and the congregation, we had Harvest flowers just in place, the newly decorated walls, a glow I hadn’t seen before in the steam cleaned carpet, freshly dusted surfaces (every single one of them - the picture illustrates the necessary post-redecoration process), a lively choir, and an exchange of happy news among them - all evidence of a huge amount of generously given time.

Then the message waiting at home was that the Hospital wanted someone to come in straight away. The frequency of these calls varies with the availability of the official Chaplains and, when they do come, are most common on a Saturday; almost always the call is to a dying patient or to his or her family, or to baptise on the neo-natal unit or (most frequently, but not today) following a still birth. Although the call is always the result of a request by a patient or immediate relative, sometimes some members of a distraught extended family express quietly and understandably their hostility to the idea of God at all.

For what it is worth, I’ve never expected the words I find myself using in either such setting to be adequate to the task (which is just as well) but some of the words of blessing I did speak over the newly married couple and in the hospital were in fact the same.

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