Reflections from an unusual year
December 31, 2015 9 Comments
A year ago I don’t remember what I was doing. That is a function of the fact I was so ill I don’t remember anything at all; I’m glad I don’t, as what little comes to me from time to time isn’t worth remembering. The only thing that sticks is a memory of the kindness of people. I think that a year ago I was where I am now, in convalescence then. I was sick, and they received me; I was a stranger, and they fed and comforted me; I was in need, and they loved me, quietly but with a fierce determination which stemmed from the fact that they truly believe the Gospel message. I know that the internet meme about St Francis saying ‘Preach the Gospel, use words if you must’ isn’t something he really said, but it was the reality I felt then – and feel now. It wasn’t just the quiet efficiency of trained ‘carers’, it was the depth and quality of the care, which came from their knowing that in tending for me they were tending to Christ. In that there was a purity of heart which moved me then and moves me still. This was and is Christianity. They did not care about theological differences; I was a sick woman and they bound up my wounds and they cared for me.
At some point I began to get up and get about again. They were there, quietly and unobtrusively. When I could, I did some work for them, seeing that their patient could do accounts, they were happy to let me get on with it – not least when it became clear that there were various things they had been missing, and the accounts came in better than ever before. Their love had prompted me to offer what gifts I had, and they benefitted in a way they could never have anticipated. Their appreciation in turn helped heal me, helped me feel I could still be useful and of help. That being so, I did some more for them, and so love fed itself and on itself and our final state was better than our first.
On reflection, it seems to me this is how it could be if we freely give as Christ gave us love and salvation. But we are not Christ, even if we aspire to be like him, and we think – rightly – that we cannot do as he did; but can we not try to get a little closer to him? Can we not think what acts of random kindness we can do for each other every day? Even if it is only a little thing, we don’t know how much of a difference it might make to others. Reflecting on this year, where I have been the recipient of all sorts of kindnesses and help, sometimes, it has been the tiny things – the smile, the lending of a book, the offer of a coffee – which have meant the most in terms of changing my mood.
If we are to adopt a New Year Resolution, that wouldn’t be a bad one!