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Passionate Leave

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 6 April 2014

Some years ago when I was serving a church elsewhere there was a woman who was in her late fifties and was just for the first time learning to read.

She’d grown up in a children’s home and the good things in life came late to her. She worked at the local hospital taking meals around the wards on a trolley. She was no oil painting but at 40 she married an honest man and her mother-in-law became the mother she’d never had. So her mother-in-law’s death was a terrible blow to her.

She told me, ‘Sam, I spoke to my supervisor, and I told her the situation, and I asked her for a couple of weeks’ passionate leave.’ I looked at her and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The idea of a couple of weeks’ passionate leave with this particular gentle woman was a bit much for my imagination.

Of course, she meant to say ‘Compassionate leave.’ She’d just abbreviated the language of HR leniency. But she was beautiful and right and I was stupid and wrong. A couple of weeks’ passionate leave was just what she needed, to recognise the love of God poured into that precious relationship she’d found late in life, and now lost.

It’s two weeks until Easter. It’s the time known as passiontide. I wonder if it’s time you asked for a couple of weeks’ passionate leave. A couple of weeks to reflect on how you might become more like her, pouring yourself into the love of the sick, the tender, and the dying: and seeing in them the face of God.

Revd Dr Sam Wells