Merely to follow Providence as it emerges

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

By David Jolley

This comes from work on the park this weekend. Faced with a tangle of brambles sprouting from a ledge quite high up on a boundary wall – How do you tackle them?

Well, there was a jumble of clutter – a bale of wire, several parking cones, bits of brick and a growth of nettles and lower brambles to get to them. Sorting through these we came to a pile of bricks, which acted as a wobbly step to an intermediate level before a final hike up to the top. Up there life became straightforward – brambles falling easily to the cut of hand shears.

No written plan – muddling along if you like.

On the blackboard in the office on the third (half) floor of Pavilion 12, which was given to us as the core of the Psychogeriatric Service in South Manchester 1975, we had the ‘two mottos:’

Merely to follow Providence as it emerges. Sermon On Divine Providence by John Wesley via Words Of Wesley Quotes

And In Omnibus Deus Glorificetur. Ut in Omnibus Glorificetur Deus | Encyclopedia.com

Which we took as encouragement to do whatever you are doing – being it driving to see a patient at home, or writing a form for a blood test – do it as well as you can to be pleasing in the sight of God.

The very presence of that third half floor was an example of working with Providence. I had visited patients in the long-stay wards managed within Geriatric Medicine on the ground floor and second floor – not aware that the back stairs went up another level. The plans, which were given to me for the refurbishment of those wards as the main base for a Psychogeriatric Service for South Manchester from Withington Hospital, did not mention this suit of three rooms a kitchen and bathroom. They were converted at minimal (DIY) cost to offices for the service and research teams – First Dr Sutton and his virus research and then David Wilkin, Beverley Hughes and others for investigations amongst old people receiving care in South Manchester.

It was beautiful. Some would say we made our own luck – but for sure it was Providence.

I do not see Providence as being about a heaven-determined blueprint for everyone and every creature of every second of every age but some sort of function of working together with God – not controlling but waiting – giving time and space – listening and moving on together in humility and caution – because we may need to change tack. And it might all go wrong.

Climbing up that wall – in a little way felt like a model of how we do it.

These are ‘challenging’ times all round. No place for faint hearts or prickly demands to favour a pre-determined favoured route.

But we will do it to the best of our ability. Pleasing in the sight of anybody.

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