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Be Kind - Ted Le RIche Trumpet Article
Monday 30th March 2020
Although we have no Easter Trumpet this year, Ted had written this article so it seems fitting to post it here. A small taste of what we are missing.
Trumpet Article for Easter 2020
"In a world where you can be anything, be kind." Caroline Flack's last plea
Since January's Christian Unity Service St. Luke words about St. Paul's shipwreck on Malta (Acts 28.v2) have stayed with me, "The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold." It was the Maltese people's unexpected kindness to St. Paul and those shipwrecked with him, that even now seems so relevant.. Or to quote from Robert Burns' poem 'A Winter Night', "The heart benevolent and kind the most resembles God." More recently, there was the account of 3 teenage girls who gave a homeless man seated outside Tesco's in Widnes, a parcel containing a blanket and a number of items plus a hot drink. A passer- by witnessed the rough sleeper’s grateful tears. 'Good Samaritans' revealing 'God's face through a human face.'
When I follow the 'Way of the Cross' the compassion of Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus to carry His cross, and Veronica wiping the face of Jesus move me to be more mindful of another's needs. During the Corona virus outbreak opportunities will arise for each of us to show neighbourly concern by acting responsibly. Pope Francis' words in Bari in February prompts us especially in Lent "Let us choose love, whatever the cost, even if it means going against the tide." (cf. Romans 5.5)
A moving passage, I came across recently, highlighted the importance of understanding and learning about kindness and caring: "Walking into the hidden world of care, and getting to know the paid and unpaid workers within it, taught me more about people's remarkable strength and grace than I could have learned otherwise. As I sat in the day room, watching the tenderness with which Natalia held her husband's face and the relief it brought him, I witnessed the genuinely therapeutic power of love and kindness. This wasn't easy kindness; it was bald, tenacious and powerful, a force to be reckoned with, surviving even the bleakest and most arduous of conditions. Care is the opposite of hatred, exclusion, prejudice and selfishness. It's a very ordinary act of extraordinary compassion that just about anyone will give themselves over to when the unthinkable happens to someone they love." Marina Kemp in 'Nightingale', published by 4th Estate.
To recall what a philosopher once said "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit."
However, today, as parents and grandparents, we may be tempted to discourage kindness, seeing it as weakness in a cut throat and fiercely competitive world, where even the youngest girl and boy needs to learn to stick up for themselves. Traditionally, families and schools have encouraged girls to be kind and caring (preparation for motherhood), and boys to be strong and ambitious, but for boys qualities of kindness and caring are (wrongly I believe) seen as unmanliness and not to be encouraged. Instead what counts today is the achievement and personal happiness of each individual. Doesn't this show our occasional adult praise of kindness and caring to be something lukewarm at best? Are we just too busy to nurture kindness, leading to caring less and helping less? Are we as adults and young people growing less likely to feel concern for those less fortunate than ourselves - and less bothered by seeing others treated unfairly? (Provided of course that it is not us on the receiving end.) . This leads to a general decline in human kindness as concern for other people surely promotes supportive relationships and helps prevent depression. Both of which contribute greatly to academic and career success as well as strengthening our long term relationships.
Psychologists distinguish between two paths to popularity: status (which comes from being dominant and commanding attention) and likeability (which comes from being friendly and kind.) and compassionate. We can ask ourselves how we, as adults and young people, treat others, and how we make others feel. This gives us a good basis for developing friendship with others, not just with those who have similar values. After all as a philosopher once said "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit."
A driver, for developing qualities of kindness and caring, can be found in the words of Thomas a Kempis quoted by Jack Fairweather in his book ' the Volunteer', the true story of Witold Pilecki the resistance hero, who at great personal cost, infiltrated Auschwitz concentration camp. "Whoever loves much, does much. Whoever does a thing well does much. And he does well who serves the common community before his (or her) own interests."
Ted Le Riche