We all need each other was a writing challenge from, ” A Patchwork of Prayers,” a resource written in the 1970’s. The task was to find an every day item and track its journey from the beginning to the end. My eight year old daughter chose to study “bread” and the people involved:
The farmer who sows the grain.
The miller who grinds the flour.
The baker who bakes the loaf.
The shop keeper who sells the bread.
These jobs have changed significantly over the decades as a result of automation and mass production. Never the less, this exercise challenged us to realise “no man is an island” and rely upon one another in so many ways.
The Need For Communities
It is during times of difficulty that a community will suddenly pull together. The recent terrorist attacks in both Manchester and London showed the generosity of others in a crisis. Instead of fleeing the chaos, members of the public stepped in to protect others ignoring their own safety. Local people were offering a safe place for those stranded and taxi drivers waived their fees so that people could get home. Likewise the Grenfell Tower disaster has also shown that a community is not just within a local area. Material goods donated from outside the immediate vicinity have been left at the various drop in centres and once again social media has been a force for the good, and monetary donations pour in to a ‘Just Giving’ account.
In the book of Leviticus we are charged to “love the stranger” and Robin in his book, “The Virgin Eye,” encourages the reader to view our connections with others in a very specific way:
“The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself.”
This reminder to “love your neighbour as yourself”, carries such weight that God placed it as the second commandment. We love Him first and in so doing desire to reach out to others. If God has removed your heart of stone then it is impossible to ignore the plight of those in need. No longer is it a “them and us” situation for we are all part of the body of Christ.
Jo Cox, One Woman Who Walked The Talk
“We have far more in common than that which divides us”
These words formed part of her maiden speech as she stood up in the House of Commons as Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen. Sadly her life was cut short as a result of a vicious and senseless attack. The killer’s attempts to silence her had failed and her message of “hope not hate,” continues to shout from beyond the grave.
Through unwavering love for his late wife, Brendan Cox picked up the baton and “The Jo Cox Foundation” was born. This organisation encourages people to find a common link and stand together; to bury hatred between neighbours and work for peace and unity. This weekend sees the start of “The Great Get Together.” This gathering is a chance for folk to spend time with those they love and forge new friendships along the way. When we feel overwhelmed with the atrocities within the world it is important to remember, that love always triumphs in the end.
Look To Your Gifts And Use Them Creatively:
God has endowed each of us with a specific gift; it might be a practical skill, or a gift for organisation or fundraising. Our help might be in the form of sitting with another in their pain and suffering. Personally speaking I am pro-active and a “problem solver” and this form of ministry is a challenge. I want to help ameliorate the suffering and feel helpless when I cannot make a positive change, to another person’s life.
It was during a recent prayer time that I came upon a passage from the book of Job. When Job was suffering his friends accompanied him on that journey. They tore at their clothes, covered their heads in dust and sat with him for seven days and nights. So great was his suffering that neither a word was uttered.
In silence and solidarity we can “speak” to the heart of another and our loving kindness does not go unnoticed. We sit in silence when a person is grieving and when life seems intolerable. When we do this we are reminded that, where two or three are gathered, Jesus is in the midst.
Three Ways To Be The Change:
Become involved in a grass roots organisation, such as Transition City:
” Transition is a movement that has been growing since 2005. It is about communities stepping up to address the big challenges they face by starting local. By coming together, they are able to crowd-source solutions. They seek to nurture a caring culture, one focused on supporting each other, both as groups or as wider communities.”
The active have taken part in “guerilla gardening” such as planting a wildflower meadow or utilising waste land for a community allotment. If being active is an issue due to health reasons then what about learning a new skill? Depending on where you live there have been classes on bee keeping, making cheese, bike maintenance and mending to name just a few.
Take part in an online community, such as 40Acts:
This organisation encourages small steps to a kinder world. It originally began as a Lent challenge and has since expanded into other areas. Each challenge has an overarching theme, with a traffic light system of possible responses. This means that no matter your circumstances you can make a difference, no matter how small. 40Acts is activism at its best.
Look no further than your own front door:
“If you want to bring happiness in the world, go home and love your own family.” Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
This tiny Albanian nun had a no nonsense approach to life and frequently spoke out against the injustice in the world. She championed the defense of the unborn child and the sick and disabled abandoned by their families. Through it all she identified that truly you do have to be the change you wish to see in the world.
If you are a parent it might be the challenge to be counter cultural. It can be irritating to run the gauntlet of checks, before a teen leaves the house to meet up with friends. But the peace of mind knowing your child is safe, far outweighs the grumbling from said teen! Working parents have a tough time in this respect. In addition to family worries, the economic climate and job security are an unfortunate added burden.
If you are caring for a sick relative, the challenges associated with this role are at times never ending. Carers very rarely have time away from their role and burnout is often a common feature. We “cannot pour from an empty jug,” and being kind to ourselves in this regard is of equal importance. Thankfully organisations such as Carers UK are on hand to offer practical and emotional advice.
Whatever you are struggling with know that you are not alone. You have an army in heaven interceding on your behalf. We can ask for their help in our earthly pilgrimage so that we too may one day share in their glory and destiny.
May I glorify You by respecting the innate dignity of other people. Not just tolerating but rejoicing and learning from any form of difference. May I thus treat others the way You treat me.
May I be a warmly approachable person for my neighbour, in a spirit of love and service, strong, constant and reliable. How dare I aspire to be more loving unless I improve all aspects of reliability?
May my love for You and my neighbour each day grow deeper and wider. May I enjoy your presence, and at all times render thanksgiving.
Links to ponder, challenge and inspire:
This book is a worthy read and her husband Brendan does an excellent job in weaving tales from Jo’s younger days interspersed with stories from that fateful day.