I spent most of today at St. Martin Hospital in Caen, where my wife was having an outpatient procedure–for which all went well. I had hours on my hands; but only the busy lobby or the hospital café offered space to sit. Outside offered the Normand rain. Despite its noise and rush of people, I chose the lobby. All through the morning, in addition to driving my wife to hospital and getting checked in, I had been thinking about, praying for and corresponding with a dear friend in England who was in a quandary about accepting a priest-in-charge post in the Church of England. Her messages were not sounding like someone keen to embrace a new ministry. As the decision had to be made today, I offered to listen and, if desired, offer feedback. I received a ZOOM link with the next message.
Ah, ZOOM…love it or hate it, it has saved jobs by making remote working possible during the Covid pandemic, has kept friends and family connected, and has provided not a little amusement! Electronic communications aren’t all bad. And in this particular instance, it transformed a noisy spot, next to the escalator, in the middle of a large hospital lobby, into a God-spot. As ambulance drivers asked ambulatory patients sitting near me if they were awaiting transportation home, people entering the hospital behind me checked their temperatures, cleaning staff came along to tidy up after messy humanity, my hard chair became a sacred space of love and concern, tears and questions, frustration and mental wrangling. It was nothing if not an act of divine grace that I was able to tune out all of the potential distractions!–not least my proclivity for people-watching!
But there were were, in God’s hotspot–she in England and me in France (and my wife in the operating theatre!). What had promised to be a backside-numbing four-hour wait was transformed into a holy time of mutuality–in the least likely of spaces. And so I proclaim with Jacob, after his night of holy wrangling: “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven!”