When a perfect storm hits A&E
A hospital overwhelmed, patients on trollies even along the entrance corridor. So this lunchtime we pick Cliff up to visit Mary following surgery on her fractured elbow, relieved to hear that her condition is much better than we first feared following her fall on Monday. We take with us the prayers and best wishes of our church family along with get well cards and messages of support. She is in good heart.
It's about 40 miles to Santa Cruz, to the Hospital de Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria along the only motorway in Tenerife. It's not just the NHS overwhelmed. I understand that the problem here has been an outbreak of pneumonia. "It was like being in a war zone," Mary reflected.
It seems any health care system is in danger of being overwhelmed by ‘a perfect storm.” And it is too easy to criticise our NHS when everyone turns up at A&E at once. However, just imagine being turned away by a private hospital because you are covered by the wrong insurance company - as happened to Mary.
We need to remember that the NHS is founded on profound Christian values - care for everyone, whoever they are, whatever their situation, wherever they may be. No one is ever turned away, such is the value that God places on each person. Lepers are touched, beggars are welcomed, tax collectors invited in.
Farewell to John and Joan, Matt and Jackie and little Reuben - safe journey. Hope that Manchester airport is open. I have just told Matt that I feel like a war correspondent with his battered Remington typewriter sitting at the back of the bar trying to get his report through - such is the quality of this internet connection, the slow running of my iPad and the bustle of people about me in this bar.
So often I hear parishioners tell me, as they recover from a life-threatening condition, how wonderful their care has been.
For hard-working staff, committed to the care of their patients often in trying situations are upheld in the ethos of Christian service. Of course, we are all sinners prey to status seeking and personal ambition. Like the Church of England. But those values are just as valuable, so to speak. And so we need to affirm those medical and support staff battling on through this year’s winter crisis.
“Joy can only be real,” mused Leo Tolstoy, “if people look upon their life as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.”
And that just not just apply to those in public service, whatever their department. It applies to us all - to see Christ in each customer, each passenger, each colleague.
For as Jesus himself taught “'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:41)
This was the verse Mother Theresa reflected on while she was in hospital in 1983:
Jesus is the Hungry - to be fed. Jesus is the Thirsty - to be satiated. Jesus is the Naked - to be clothed. Jesus is the Homeless - to be taken in. Jesus is the Sick - to be healed. Jesus is the Lonely - to be loved. Jesus is the Unwanted - to be wanted. Jesus is the Leper - to wash his wounds. Jesus is the Beggar - to give him a smile. Jesus is the Drunkard - to listen to him. Jesus is the Mental - to protect him. Jesus is the Little One - to embrace him. Jesus is the Blind - to lead him. Jesus is the Dumb - to speak for him. Jesus is the Crippled - to walk with him. Jesus is the Drug Addict - to befriend him. Jesus is the Prostitute - to remove from danger and befriend her. Jesus is the Prisoner - to be visited. Jesus is the Old - to be served.
May the Holy Spirit give us all this vision, this way of seeing each other.