Well, that was the Summer holidays! I don’t think the holidays lived up to my expectations but then I’m not sure that I knew what my expectations were. I might have an idea of an ‘ideal holiday’ but fantasy and reality do not often align. And this year was always going to be different!
However, when I wrote at the beginning of the summer I did not imagine that my wife and family would be caught up in the mad rush to get home from France (she had been visiting her parents) within the 36 hours’ limit before quarantine became compulsory. Neither did I imagine that an easyrelaxing day in the Lakes near Buttermere could turn so quickly until I witnessed a major cycle crash with serious life-limiting, if not life-threatening, injuries. Some 2 hours later the casualty was airlifted to hospital while I continued to give a statement to the police regarding how the accident had occurred. If we add to these incidents the generally wet and windy weather – this was not the summer I had expected!
But we move on into September and at the end of this month we celebrate the feast of St Michael and All Angels. The text I have chosen for this month comes from the readings for that feast – Jacob’s dream of angels ascending and descending a ladder from heaven. The passage ends with Jacob’s realisation that God is with him – that God is physically in that place. How easy it can be for us to forget that God is in this place – that God is with us! Times may be difficult, the future uncertain but God has not abandoned us – God is still with us.
I was reminded of this most poignantly on the lakeside fell as I administered first aid to the cycling casualty and awaited help in the form of paramedics. I asked her various question both to ascertain concussion but also, if her condition did deteriorate, I would have more information to pass on to the professionals. I also identified myself by name and that I was a padre in the reserves. She responded to this with joy (well as much joy as you can show when in severe pain and drifting in and out of consciousness) saying that she was a Christian and asked me to pray for her. What a poignant reminder that even in the midst of major trauma and tragedy God is with us.