Monthly Archives: December 2016

The “Between Times”: A Creative Breathing Space


I like the “between time”; in between Christmas and the New Year. I regularly work this period and, somehow, it gives me a chance to reflect. It is as if the pace of work slows down a bit. There is still work to be done but there also seems to be time to breathe.

With the rush and pressure of Christmas over, there is, dare I say it, a sense of relief around. And because of that breathing space there are new opportunities.

And so I had just walked into the brisk air outside the main entrance, heading for somewhere else, when I rushed past an elderly lady shuffling in on her own. “Just keep going” said one voice. “See if she wants help!” said the other. I asked if she needed an arm to assist her, and she did. “Who are you? The arm assistant,” she asked. I assured her that “arm assisting” was what I did best but that I was also the Chaplain of the Hospital.

Her appointment was down the longest corridor of the hospital and, as we ever so slowly made progress, she told me about herself. She told of her diagnoses of Parkinson’s Disease and macular degeneration. She mentioned her family and their care for her. She spoke about deciding that now was the time to give up her home and transfer to sheltered accommodation.

And I thought what a courageous, inspiring and determined lady she was.

Having reached our destination, helped her book in, and made sure she was OK to get back home, I said my goodbyes.

I know it’s not a huge thing but it lingers with me now. And I’m so glad I listened to the one voice and not the other. Maybe that is what the breathing space of the “between time” offers to us.

By the time you read this, that time will have come and gone. Welcome to 2017! Happy New Year! New hopes, plans, dreams, possibilities. And so it all kicks off again.

But maybe, once in a while, we should allow ourselves to drift into that breathing space again; we never know what we might discover.

Mary, Joseph and the BabyCatcher – For My Midwife Friends


You will know that Midwives are amongst my favourite people. And so this Christmas, with the Big Day approaching, I thought I would pay homage to them. This is especially the case because my Granddaughter Emilia was born last year at the marvellous Meadow Birth Centre at Worcestershire Royal Hospital and is soon to be one year old. In fact, the miracle of her birth has made me look at things in a different way. Sometimes that is what it takes.

And so I found myself wondering if Mary, the young woman with child (so far from her hometown with an older husband) had a midwife. The Bible story makes no mention of one, but in a community where social networks were close knit, surely someone came to this young women’s aid.

But where should we look?

Well it so happens that there is an ancient text called the Protevangelion of James which says that Joseph sought and found a Hebrew midwife. And here is the passage itself:

9. And the midwife went along with Joseph and stood in the cave [where Mary was about to give birth]
10. Then a bright cloud overshadowed the cave, and the midwife said, This day my soul is magnified, for my eyes have seen surprising things, and salvation is brought forth to Israel.
11. But suddenly the cloud became a great light in the cave, so that their eyes could not bear it.
12. But the light gradually decreased, until the infant appeared, and nursed at the breast of his mother Mary.
13. Then the midwife cried out and said, How glorious a day is this, wherein my eyes have seen this extraordinary sight!

It fact you can see her in the icon below.


There she is in the bottom right hand corner bathing the new baby.

And it got me thinking. How amazing to be the midwife whose hands and skill helped Jesus to enter the world and who gave comfort to Mary. How amazing that her hands were the first to touch this precious child.

A Midwife in the right place at the right time: at (for Christians at least) a pivotal point in human history.

But then I thought of my daughters Midwife Lucy. Helping her through labour. With her skill and hands. Her hands which gave the first, albeit brief, human contact to baby Emilia. So I want to join in with the words of this Hebrew Midwife: “How glorious a day is this wherein my eyes have seen this extraordinary sight!”

It’s funny but I don’t know many jaundiced and cynical midwives…I guess there are some but I haven’t met them at my hospital. I have met skilled staff who, even on their difficult days, catch something of the miracle of each new birth. And so to my friends Nick, Judi, Louise, Bryony, Lucy, Norma, Pam, Renate, Davidica, Deb, Rachel, Mel, Trudy and so many many more that I could name, I thank you. You are special people with special hands doing a special job.