The Papal Visit has come and gone, and I suppose many of you watched on the television the events taking place in Edinburgh and Glasgow in mid September. It was amazing to see the crowds in Bellahouston Park and along Princes Street as the visit unfolded.
A few days before the visit, I had been driving on the M8 between Edinburgh and Glasgow and on the M73/74 around Glasgow and the overhead gantries which display messages for motorists had these words:- SEP 16. PAPAL VISIT. CONGESTION EXPECTED. PLAN YOUR VISIT.
This of course referred to the fact that the roads in and around the venues would be busy with pilgrims making their way to Bellahouston from all over Scotland. In fact, I had texted my friend Mark Cassidy, who used to be priest at St Anne’s to say I had not seen him on the television coverage from Edinburgh. He replied that he was on a double decker bus on the M8 and to keep watching! But mingled with the pilgrims would be just as many trying to go about their daily business and attempting to avoid the gridlock. (Our son Andy had a more circuitous walk to work from his flat in Tollcross in Edinburgh to the office off St Andrew’s Square that day, but he made it!)
In life, too, there can be a lot of congestion, and sometimes even with planning we end up where we do not want to be. In the current economic climate and with the cuts which were announced a few weeks ago, I am sure that we all know someone, or some family who as a result, have ended up somewhere they never expected to be through no fault of their own.
But even without these reasons, life takes us to places where we might feel congestion. Bereavement, illness, marriage, parenthood, accident are only a few of the ways that congestion comes into our lives. I would imagine that if we all looked back we would recall that we have taken a few right turns, one or two wrong ones, and have come up against a few dead ends.
There have been the times of joy and laughter, and continual blue skies; there have been the times when the going has been tough – and we did not know which road to take; times when we have wept and grieved, seen only grey skies and storms, and so we could go on.
However, when we do look back, have we not also recognised that the everlasting arms of God have been supporting us, even if at the time we have not recognised that? Has there not also been encouragement and support from friends and family? God has not deserted us in the past, and will not in the future.