When I was Parish Minister in Perthshire some years ago, part of my work was giving spiritual care to the patients at Murthly “Mental Hospital” ( as was its designation in these rather politically incorrect days)
I had never been this kind of Chaplain before – and some stupid folk said to me, before I started there, “watch your back!” and other such nonsense.
On day one, I turned up at this large Victorian “asylum” set in beautiful grounds – it was summertime and, if memory serves me well, a gloriously sunny Friday afternoon.
Into the darkness and coolness (or did I imagine a chill about the air) of the main building.
No training; no orientation – unbelievable in today’s NHS climate of people centred care and holistic consideration.
Just up to the reception desk to introduce myself and to be given a large set of old-fashioned keys and the instruction: “turn left and that’s your first ward; lock the door after you’ve finished and the next unit in just down from it” and so on.
Having never encountered before folk with such an illness, it was with a degree of trepidation and apprehension that I turned the handle on the door of that first ward.
What and who would be behind that door? It creaked open and do you know what I found?
………PEOPLE. people just like you and me!