We have been beset by some serious illness in my, now virtual, office of the Diocese in Europe. This is not Covid-19 but other things. Ammi, the 22-year-old son of one of the staff lies in hospital in a coma following emergency brain surgery. His Pentecostal mother, Grace, is arranging hourly prayers and this week he squeezed her hand to confirm he could hear her and in defiance of medical wisdom as to his condition. ‘Ah yes,’ Grace told the medics, ‘but we have been praying – you might want to join in.’
Another member of staff was rushed to hospital and did not take a phone charger. With the help of the chaplain I was able to go there and deliver a charger for her very old phone though I doubted it would work. Rev’d Samuel told me ‘we plugged in the phone and it lit up, it was as though you had brought the light of Christ to her.’ I disputed this saying it was the only thing I could do. I asked Samuel how he was managing as practically the only visitor in the hospital. He replied, ‘I just walk around talking to people. It is mostly about football as many don’t want to talk about God. But that is fine – that is what God is calling me to do and it makes people happy and better.’
Small things can make a big difference.
Many of us have been crazily busy and doubtless somewhat stressed in these past few months. Archbishop Justin Welby had words of comfort for me with a group of colleagues on a call last week. Speaking on zoom from an enormous chair in a wood panelled room, he told us of a Bishop he met in the Democratic Republic of Congo who was dealing with war, ebola and famine. When asked how he coped, the Bishop told the Archbishop: ‘I do what God enables me to do and leave him to deal with the rest.’ Archbishop Justin encouraged us to remember the verse in 1 Peter; ‘Cast your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.’
So, with that thought in mind, I am taking a couple of weeks off.