The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

I had organised online to pick up a prescription and went to the dispensary to collect it only to be told that there had been an error online and the prescription wouldn’t be ready for another two days. Please come back then. But the trouble was I wouldn’t be able to – and quickly working out all the possible options and with Charlotte away, I knew that it was a problem to solve now because the next time I could deal with this would be in a week’s time. So I asked for the prescription. I’d take it and have to filled at a pharmacy.

6 visits to 5 pharmacies in 4 towns later, I had the prescription filled! Who knew in England that a phar-macy can’t open if it doesn’t have a pharmacist in it? Two pharmacies were closed in the middle of the day. Two pharmacies didn’t have the medicine in stock. And I had gone way past the frustrating and annoyed (wasting time) stage as I was simply chuckling to my-self about how the past few hours had turned out. Ok, I had used one of the trips to do a visit to one of the police stations I look after as chaplain (never let a chance go by). And yes, standing in the queue at the end with other people outside the pharmacy waiting for the prescription was good to chat. But it wasn’t what I had planned for a simple 20 minute trip.

But life is like that.

The question becomes, I think, how does one process it, understand it? What story do I tell about it? There are lots of angles to this story I could say. The world is out to get me. The dispensary is not as efficient as it should be. The NHS is under heavy strain. God is having a laugh at me – a bit like a cat toying with a mouse. The demons are at work poking me to get me frustrated and angry. I am stupid. I should have made a scene at the dispensary and not left until I had my medicine since it ‘wasn’t my fault’. I probably could make a go at any of them and you might be able to think of more aspects to my telling of what happened.

Often in times like these I think of the medieval demon, Titivillus. He was the story behind the mistakes that the scribes made in the medieval manuscripts. How frustrating would it be back then to make a mistake in a manuscript! (It reminds me of the occasional photo one sees of painted signs on roads – such as one outside a shcool! 😉 ) Today in the UK we don’t have demons around so much in popular thought. But whether there are demons in your reality or painful bureaucracies or corrupt social systems – all can be used to diminish our personal responsibility for our behaviour – we all have to find ways of dealing with life when things don’t go as we want.

That is where having God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is so marvellous because he makes it possible for us to take each moment – the planned, the unplanned, the things we think are good, the things we don’t want to go through – with his promise to be with us and to bring good out of all situations. Not all situations are good! Of course not. Most moments in life can be improved but we can still go through them with a perspective that we are not puppets on anyone’s string, that we have choices about how we behave, and that God is already here in the situation and calling us to remember that he loves us and that he can guide us to the best way of responding to each situation.

One might say that the Gospel is medicine to help us live well in each moment of each day and forever. GS