Ordinary and extraordinary

Out of the blue, late one Friday night while I was munching on some mediocre food, sat in the dark outside a chip shop in Abingdon, came a text from a former girlfriend, letting me know she was seriously ill in hospital.   

Words of advice of an American friend - known only online and not in the real world - had been on my mind for some time: "Led by God. Always respond."   So, I went to the hospital at the first opportunity, although this was not to be until late the following afternoon, after a night of waiting and work and a day of broken sleep.   

Hospital visits are not easy, because they inevitably carry with them on approach memories of lost loved ones and oblige us afterwards to look our own mortality in the face.  To my great surprise, however, this visit was later described as brightening up her room when I entered. 

There is a discombobulating floor numbering system in the John Radcliffe Hospital, where you enter and exit the West Wing from floor LG2.  Pedestrian routes through the building itself are confusing and counter intuitive.  But there are glorious sunset views to be had from the glass walled staircase. It is almost as if you can reach out and touch the very edge of Heaven itself. 

Sundays for the believer, are special.  They are said to be a day set aside to be kept holy, for worship, fellowship with other Christians and to be not so much concerned with the cares of this world.  

In the all-night taxi driving game, the cares of this world are ever present and the boundaries between one day and the next are not so clear cut. Life on the taxi rank in Abingdon town centre is unremittingly tedious during the school holidays, where the majority of time is spent waiting around in a long queue of cars with the part timers, double parked, edging up one by one, as one fare paying customer appears every hour. 

On Sunday mornings, I often don't even make it to church, due being exhausted after two successive weekend nights of waiting and of work, until gone four o'clock in the morning. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Thank goodness eternal salvation is not dependent upon physical attendance at church. 

Three times that weekend, I thought someone else would have responded to a request for Communion to be brought to the sick in hospital, but by Sunday evening it had not.  So, I put a call in to the Rector at my church and was moved when she responded within the hour. 

In a lifetime of church going as a fit and healthy man, communion in hospital is not something I have ever experienced before and it was a humbling experience. 

Holy Communion is both ordinary and extraordinary, every time it is celebrated. There is hope in the son of God, present in the bread and the wine. There is always hope.