Friday, 29 October 2010

Suffering and Death

It seems that lately there have been many friends, both within and outside the Unitarian movement that are currently either physically nursing or watching sick relatives or friends who are aware of their own mortality reaching its end. Such times in our lives fill us with fears for what is to come.

Watching someone you love suffering is a painful enough experience. Being the one who awaits their own end is often fearful, and the knowledge of leaving this life appears non-comprehensible. No words or actions can take those fears away, they are natural to our survival instinct. Very few can truly lay down their armour and fully accept the inevitable. Few of us are really that brave.

Death itself is a rebirth, a new beginning, a journey we are all destined to make. Our fear of it is based purely on lack of knowledge. We are a race that finds blackness and fear in the things we do not understand. No matter how long our race exists into the future, this riddle will never be solved, ‘what lies beyond?’

Many can relay stories of ‘being there’ at the final moments of loved ones who have taken the journey. Stories of how, those who have died, even in the most retched of agony, demonstrated a ‘peace’ which appeared to wash over them as they slipped away. These are the moments we should take notice of, for they are the only glimpse we are given of “the passage”.

Death must come. It is the eternal promise. For those who are left behind, the non acceptance of it is from Love. The sadness of death is our longing to keep the ones we love with us. While watching the suffering, which often comes before death, there is an urgency to ‘be there’ for them. All too often, the opportunity to ‘be there’ for someone is not given to us, which adds to the hurt of that person leaving our lives.

Surely this urgency, this need to ‘be there’ comes from our soul knowing that to feel love overcomes all. Being able to demonstrate with strength, laughter, tears or even silence that there is pure love for that person will make their soul rejoice even during the most painful of times.

It wouldn’t be right to imagine that in ‘not being there’ we have failed the ones we lose. The soul continues and will feel our love long after it has left the flesh, long into eternity. It is never too late to allow our hearts to speak to those who have departed.

The underlying factor of our hurts in life lay with the very thing we all seek ..... ‘love’. It is the most beautiful and the most painful of emotions and yet, without it, our race would shrivel into oblivion.

Do not be afraid to love. The ache of it is our proof of life. To accept it from others is truly a divine privilege, but to give it to others is testimony to our own divinity, giving us a worth that proclaims we are creatures of survival and we will uphold our race with an emotion that can truly conquer all.

By giving love, when our time comes to make the journey into the unknown, we will have generated enough food for our souls to make a safe and comfortable passage into the beyond.

It matters not whether we believe in God or gods or spiritual guides or nothing at all. The love we give will be returned to us in the end and, although the body is destined to fail at some point, our essence will remain.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


So the Labour party now has a new leader in Ed Miliband. Irrespective of political views we’re all now in a position to make balanced decisions when voting because this major party can now display the direction in which it is now heading..... or so we hoped when the vote came in.

It was a shame that the media decided to put more of its attention on the relationship between Ed and brother David, who also ran for the leadership. Any message that Ed tried to put over as to Labours political direction was certainly heard but dully in comparison to the more prominent message of brotherly love .... or not.

It was a very brave step for both brothers to stand against each other in such an open and public forum. Obviously knowing from the start that one or other of them would fail in their bid, they showed enormous dignity in both the battle and the result. That is where the media should have left it, but news isn’t worth reading or hearing unless it has sensationalistic value and Ed’s priorities for the future of his party were dreadfully overshadowed by cameras and microphones homing in on every facial expression and every word uttered by his brother during the rest of the Labour conference. Whether or not it was the original intention for the defeated brother to step away from front line politics, both brothers must have felt frustrated at the menial and very intrusive gaze into their relationship.

Family rivalry did not have a place in the case of the Milibands’ but the media knows too well that blood being thicker than water can sometimes turn to blood being as dangerous as poison and they spoon fed us all the intoxicating liquor.

Family relationships have more difficulties than the poets would have us believe. It’s programmed into us that we MUST love our family, it seems to be an unquestioned rule that family love is unconditional and that it deserves our loyalty whatever the cost. Some are lucky enough to have such without difficulty. In all honesty, it isn’t automatic nor should it be viewed by anyone as a solid expectation. We don’t have to look far to see people around us who struggle to hold together those expectations which are drummed into us.

Certainly children have to depend on family ties in order to learn the social skills required in later life. It goes without saying that a child’s innocence is dependent on the actions of the adults around them, not only on a protective and nurturing level but also such things as conversations, arguments, tolerances and other everyday behaviours which lay the ground for how they will interact with others in adulthood. Once the child becomes an adult the learning process doesn’t stop, it begins to broaden as our lessons acquire more teachers and we begin to make our own decisions on which teacher provides the best information. Making those adult decisions can sometimes mean that the values taught to us as children are not the values we want to take forward. Obviously the case with the Miliband brothers or they wouldn’t have turned out so opposite in political viewpoints.

It’s at the stage of making our own decisions that, if we still lived as part of the greater animal kingdom, we would wave goodbye to our family and face the world as individuals. None of this ‘family ties’ business exists with our animal friends.

Having a close family must be wonderful and surely the envy of all who are not part of such a strong unit but the reality is that to remain within the strong childhood bonds is rare and that the urge to drift away is with more of us than we dare to admit, and stands against all that we’re taught.

Whatever the relationship away from the cameras of the Miliband brothers, we should view their struggle to ‘smile for the cameras’ as a failing on the part of our race to accept our natural desire to move on and be who we are.

Cherish all your relationships but never force a feeling that isn’t there. Be true to yourself.
GBWY (or whatever spirit rocks your boat)

Saturday, 10 July 2010

R.I.P. Raoul Moat

I know this is probably a very controversial subject at the moment but I’m tired of the lack of humanitarian understanding and forgiveness when extreme situations occur.

There are many, this morning, shouting “Thank God that bloody lunatic, Raoul Moat is dead!” or words to that effect.

Only last month there was the case of Derrick Bird who rampaged through quiet towns and villages in Cumbria, reports told us that there were 12 dead and 11 injured. I’d say the reports were slightly incorrect. Derrick Bird’s actions left 13 dead and 11 injured, for he himself lost his life even though he killed himself.

Thomas Hamilton, in 1996, devasted the town of Dunblane, when he opened fire in a school, killing 16 Children and 1 Adult and injuring 13 Children and 3 Adults. Yet again, the newspapers and television reports mentioned him killing himself as an additional extra instead of adding him to the sad loss total.

In Hungerford, in 1987, Michael Ryan shot and killed 16 people and yet his own life was omitted from the total to mourn for.

If we are ever going to learn about the true meanings of forgiveness, compassion and understanding we need to demonstrate it when atrocities affect us as a nation.

Raoul Moat, Derrick Bird, Thomas Hamilton and Michael Ryan were all human beings. What concerns me most is that they must have been at such a low point in their mental state, they must have given up so totally on their own lives and lost all ability to rationalise, that they were drawn to take such devastatingly painful action.

Anyone who has ever suffered from Depression will remember how isolating and soul destroying it can be. All the good intentions in the world, from friends and family, cannot penetrate the blackness and, whatever chemical deficiency that causes the dark abyss, totally takes over everything that happens in life.

Some years ago, I watched a documentary where celebrities were challenged to use Public Transport instead of their cars. A certain Nicholas Parsons was using the train to get to a meeting and his train came to a sudden standstill. With time ticking away waiting quite a while without any announcement of the reason for the hold-up, Mr Parsons was getting quite agitated. Finally came the announcement that someone had committed suicide further up the line and that was the reason for their delay. Mr Parsons announced to the camera “So I’m going to be late because some idiot has decided to throw himself infront of a train.” Shame on you Mr Parsons, Shame on you! The person you describe as an idiot had reached a point where there was no meaning to their life anymore and had been compelled by the dark abyss to terminate the suffering. Hitting the bottom of “the pool of hope” does not offer any rational thinking into the consequences of their actions, it doesn’t allow for the poor train driver’s suffering, the people on the train who are expecting to reach their destination, it takes over so completely that the action is done without a world existing beyond the darkness.

Every suicide should lay heavy on the hearts of humanity. We must have failed them terribly to allow such darkness, even when they have affected others and I’m afraid that also goes for those who take others with them.

As for Raoul Moat, I am aware that he had just been released from prison after serving time for assault but doesn’t this mean that somewhere back in time, something changed him from being a peace loving and caring person (which we are all born as) to someone who cannot communicate without violence?

My heart goes out to the families, friends and loved ones of all those who have suffered or lost their lives in shooting incidents, but I also offer prayers for the men who held the guns, for they too were part of the family of humanity, my family, and I’m regretful that our family did not notice their internal suffering and allowed them to become so desperate that drastic action was the only route they could find. Peace be on their souls.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Observing Extended Family

Presiding over Rites of Passage ceremonies and services, you get to see the coming together of families. There is always the immediate family who hug, kiss and greet each other with familiarity and ease and then the larger extended family that shake hands and hug in a more resigned fashion, aware that they are present out of family duty.

After the ceremony, there is usually a “get-together” of some kind, whether it be a reception or wake, when there is time for everyone to socialise and catch-up with each other’s lives. All families appear to treat these opportunities in a similar way. Each family unit keeps to its own group sitting at the same table. It would seem that they consider themselves as part of the greater family by being in the same room but that is all. As if modern life doesn’t already create enough barriers to keeping family ties strong, people seem to unknowingly encourage the scattering and ultimate breakdown of the Extended Family.

Over the last 50 or 60 years, there have been some big changes in society that have challenged the loyalty of family life. Most of it shouldn’t make a difference, but sadly it does.

For a start, travel has become a modern way of life and even without the extreme of emigration, families no longer stay in the same areas. Career opportunities as well as social standing often lead sons and daughters to move length and breadth of the country meaning that previous close ties are loosened.

Despite changes in the law and medical understanding of homosexuality, bisexuality and trans-gender individuals, we are still living with the stigma which was taught to our parents and grand-parents of the evil and perversion of such people. This has often lead to families gently pushing out those who may cause embarrassment or discomfort to the rest of the family, (I know this one personally).

Finally, and probably the biggest change, is the modern desire to own our own homes, a family car and other modern consumerist items that we feel we need, which means that it’s not just Dad’s that go to work but Mum’s as well. This one is a double-edged sword because, despite the breakdown it has caused, it has also given women the opportunity to fulfil their own dreams and use their intelligence beyond household chores, making them much happier when they’re in the family home, but it has brought it’s loses to family life as well as communities as a whole. The woman of the home used to know everyone in the street, which gave a tribal feel to the area in which they lived. Children had the security of having their mother with them in their earliest years without the insecurity that must come from being passed backwards and forwards between parent and child-minder. Without the reliance on a family car, Mums were more willing to hop on the bus to visit local family (if they lived beyond walking distance) giving the opportunity for children to bond with relations and friends.

I guess, no blame can be laid on those who attend family “get-togethers” and keep themselves to their own distinctive unit. It feels safer and more secure being with people you know, where-as, even if the little grey haired fellow in the far corner is Great Uncle Harry, you’ve never met him, you know little about him so you’d feel uncomfortable about sitting with him. What if he didn’t even remember you existed? What if you had to sit there with him and neither of you knew what to say?

I may be generalising with all this, being a naturally sociable person myself I enjoy chatting to people I’ve never met before and hearing their stories, I know I’m not the only one so I guess there are still some of us who are willing to mingle and breakdown the little walls between family units (even though I can’t do it with my own family anymore), but my observations tell me that this is becoming a continuing theme that now runs through most extended families.

Perhaps we should feel grateful that there is still the sense of duty that brings the individual units into one place for the hatches, matches and dispatches of life. I can’t help feeling that something is being lost but we’re a complicated race and it’s difficult to make a positive decision on whether this seemingly new way of living is balanced out by the increase in our communication facilities. Perhaps ties will improve again once enough years have passed to ensure that even Great Uncle Harry is on email and that we know the entire extended family in type or text format making it all the more exciting when we meet on family occasions.

I wonder.

Sunday, 13 June 2010


Surely every home has a junk room? What about making your life even more complicated and doubling up the junk room as an office? If I said that only 4 months ago, if you walked into the “office” in our house there would only be a clear way from the door to the desk, which is about 4ft. In the event of wanting to open the window, climbing boots and rope would be handy items to have. The cats loved it, there was enough paper, C.D.s and videos to play with and hide under that on rainy days when they didn’t want to go out, there was still the office in which to have an adventure.

The problem with a junk room, is that when you decide that “enough is enough” and want to smarten it up, there’s always the problem of where to put “the junk”. Every flat surface was already piled high and this was made worse by our mistake purchase.

Years ago, when Pat and I first moved in together, there were loads of relatives and friends who said they would come and see us and so we thought we were very “forward planning” in purchasing a Bed Settee. Guess what ....... not one of them turned up LOL. When we’ve moved house, the bed settee has always moved with us, heaven knows why we missed opportunities. That bed settee has only ever been used by the cats not only for them to sleep on but they took to trimming their claws on it too. It became an eye-saw and nuisance from almost as soon as we’d bought it. Too big and heavy to get rid of ourselves it became part of the “office pile-up” and had paperwork, books, more cds, videos, even photographs, an old record player and (the list is endless) anything which wasn’t already floating around the floor went on the settee. There was no complaint from the cats as this all added to the adventure playground.

The room was really an embarrassment. We’ve never decorated it since we’ve been here, which is now 5 years. Previously a nursery to the previous couple’s 2 year old son, it’s painted baby blue and has a boarder running round the centre of the walls with animals and baby words on it. Our Joshua (one of the younger cats) discovered that, if he stood on the back of the settee he could remove the baby boarder (obviously not to his taste) however he felt it needed the striped effect as he’s left a foot gap between each rip. Shouldn’t complain, he’s obviously been hinting it’s time we decorated.

This weekend, we finally got rid of the cumbersome item of furniture!

My God! I can get to the window! If I wanted to I could even do celebratory rollie-pollies round the floor! I immediately introduced the vacuum cleaner to the large area of carpet that hadn’t seen daylight for 5 years.

There now remains a book case, a filing cabinet and a cd rack and, of course, the desk, all of these items will be staying, but the room looks bare and empty in comparison to its previous state. This is when I get the urge to visit the local Wickes store and purchase the much needed tin of paint. Once the room is decorated we’ll furnish it properly and ensure that it doesn’t go back to its old state. This could be a lovely sunny room and I find it quite relaxing painting walls once I finally get started. Gotta buy that tin of paint! Watch this space .......

Sunday, 6 June 2010


You know those Sunday afternoons when there’s nothing on the t.v. and so you wander over to your video collection and see if there’s anything you haven’t watched for ages. Yesterday, was one of those days. Feeling too lethargic to go out anywhere, and the weather was drizzling and unsettled, I wandered over to the Webster collection for something to watch that would lift my mood.

The film that “bounced” out at me was “Educating Rita”. Hadn’t watched that in years, so, in the DVD player it went. My expectations were that I would find Julie Walters character as amusing as I had the first time round and that my sympathies would be with both her and Michael Caine’s character Frank, but what I found was that my own life has changed somewhat and that the film meant something different to me this time round.

I’m presently waiting to apply for the Ministry. Although I already serve my chapel in a role which reflects a ministerial position, I am not trained and do not hold the level of knowledge with which a congregation are entitled to be lead by. This month is the month the application forms come out, apparently. Perhaps it was not a good idea watching the film I had chosen.

I better explain a bit of background here. I have no academic qualifications at all, in fact, I left school with 6 lousy CSEs which, now, aren’t worth the paper those results are printed on. Although I’ve held some pretty good working positions, they have always had to be worked hard for. I’ve been an Office Cashier (including Jaegar, Regent Street), Building Society/Bank Manager (depending on which point in time you’re considering), Store Manager, Mortgage Adviser (complete with stage 1 FPC passed first time) and an Analyst. Sadly, even my FPC is now worthless.

I didn’t get on with school at all, in fact, I hated it from the time I started (aged 5) to the time I walked out the school gates for the last time (aged 15). No, it wasn’t anything to do with “having a problem with authority or discipline” as my favourite teachers were the ones everyone else was afraid of, for some reason, but these were usually the best teachers, not only could they control the class, they also made sense in their explanations and I always did well in exams when they had been teaching me. Doing well, back then, wasn’t always a good thing. I did well in Maths under a very good teacher so I was put up a grade which meant joining another class with a different teacher who I did not understand, who wasn’t patient or willing to explain himself and so I never got any further. Are you catching my drift here?

So, my past, on an academic scale, is zilch.

In order for me to become a Minister I have to get a degree (no, not university, although that’s what I originally took for granted). I’ll be expected to study at my own denomination’s college (luckily it’s in Manchester) and my degree will be issued by Chester University (although how that works is beyond me). I’m officially middle-aged, and that I’ve got no academic background is scary to say the least, in fact, I had avoided ministry on that basis for the last couple of years.

Why am I doing it? I read a book which I bought for someone else as a joke, believe it or not, it was entitled “If not now, when?” It was aimed at the over 50’s and I purchased it as a gift for my partner for her 50th birthday. It was only the fact that she was already reading another book and, you know how it goes, you see a book sitting there idle, you start to thumb through a few pages, find yourself reading the odd paragraph and in the end I admit, I read it before my partner got her hands on it.

Although I’m much too young to be considered as the age group this book was aimed at (cough, cough), the book pointed me in the direction of “if there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, then stop making excuses and do it before you end up regretting that you didn’t even try” (or at least that was the message I got). Without going into any more detail on the book (although, if it’s still available, I highly recommend it for those at the latter end of their working years and beyond. Author, Esther Rantzen), I knew that Ministry was what I really wanted because I wanted to serve the Unitarian community to the best of my ability on a worship level and I wanted to improve my academic record, both pointed to ministry.

Back to yesterday, I watched that film and I was Rita, accept, I don’t have her cheeky and sometimes bolshie characteristics. Education is one of the areas where I have very little confidence in my ability. Rita excels in the film, she becomes the person she wanted to be and even passes her exams with distinction. I ceased to be Rita when she started to understand the literature she was reading and found the film was scaring me into wondering “What the hell are you thinking of Shammy?”

I’ve got loads of different fears all rolling round my head now. What if I don’t even understand the questions let alone give a good enough answer? What if I am “thick” and that getting a degree is really a laughable dream? I’m unemployed (having been made redundant over a month ago) and have not looked for work (or claimed any benefit) because the dream was my aim. What if I’m using precious monetary resources on something that will never happen?

Sometimes I wish there was someone, a parent or relative, that I could call on to talk these things over with. My partner is so supportive that sometimes I wonder if she just tells me “You can do it” because she thinks she has to. Much as I love her for it, the fact that I feel like that tells me I need someone who hasn’t got a vested interested in my success. I even mistrust the opinions of my Unitarian friends as they too have an interest because the denomination is crying out for Ministers.
Times like these I wish I had parents or relatives with constructive views, someone I could go to who could talk things through with me.

I could, of course, read the book again, but I doubt it would hit the same chord second time around.

I want to be Rita, but is what I want realistic? That’s all I want to know. I guess I can either find out the scary way or not fill in the application form.

What was the message I got from Esther’s book? “if there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, then stop making excuses and do it before you end up regretting that you didn’t even try”. I think I’m gonna have to repeat that into the mirror every morning until the application forms come out.


Tuesday, 18 May 2010

One thing at a time

I’m one of those people who like to help everyone in that I keep saying “yes”. Up until a few weeks ago, I was doing a full time job of 37 hours not to mention trips to Edinburgh, writing services and preaching on a Sunday, studying for the Advanced part of my Worship Studies Course, trying to keep a house clean and tidy and supporting a disabled partner with the blues, not to mention various tasks I’d taken on from Chapel and various Unitarian committees. I love having plenty to do, being needed, and making a difference, so when there’s anything that needs doing that I believe is right, my hand is up and volunteering.

Was I really surprised when, a few months ago, my doctor signed me off from work; the reason on the sick-note given was “Burn out”. I was off from my full time job for 6 weeks. I kept on with everything else because most of it was to do with Chapel and I desperately needed to keep my spiritual side alive and kicking, a bit like a “comfort blanket”.

My situation has now changed somewhat as I was made redundant from my full time employment at the end of April, supposedly leaving me 37 hours free to do all the other things I’ve been doing in a more relaxed timescale but within days I was wondering how I ever managed to do a full time job because my days are still chock-a-block, although, I have to admit, I don’t feel like I’m chasing my own tail anymore.

Today, temptation stared me in the face again. Out of the blue, some weeks ago, I received an invite to the NSPCC Volunteer Conference. I’ve been donating to Childline for some time, as this has been the charity closest to my heart for at least 20 years. Childline is now part of the NSPCC but still runs under its original name. I went along hoping to find ways of continuing my support now that my financial position has changed, with no employment income.

I would never describe myself as particularly maternal but I cannot abide cruelty to Children or the idea that a child may not have anyone to turn to for help and has to suffer alone. There I sat today, being given statistics I already knew but suddenly, being spoken from someone else’s lips became more poignant, and scenarios that I wanted to repel and yet I knew how true they were and I sat there mentally thinking of what I could do to raise more money. I guess that was the whole point of the day, but I tend to take things as personal tasks and that’s where I go wrong every time.

I’m gonna be brave here and state, for everyone to see, that Childline would have changed my life immensely had it been around when I was a child and I will continue to support it for as long as me and they exist but I’ve got to sit back. I will find a way of still raising money or donating but I can’t do it in the big way I would like but I can make sure I bring it to peoples attention as often as possible. It takes just £4 to answer another call to Childline. If everyone donated this amount just once a year, we could ensure that all children had the support and guidance they may need desperately, and whether we like it or not, that could be the kids in our own families.

As for me, my partner now has to be at my side to knock me down to Earth and stop me taking on things that stretch me beyond reasonable ability. I don’t want to make myself ill again, but, I don’t want to let go of the things that matter. Guess I’ll have to learn to take one thing at a time and make the small things count. Does that sound like a solution to you?

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Democracy vs. conscience

It’s Election day, the day we, the public, go to our local polling station and vote for who we feel will run our country responsibly and reliably for the coming 4 to 5 years. Since I became old enough to vote, I’ve fully believed in the system we have here in the UK, and I’ve fulfilled my democratic right to vote with my own sense of responsibility and, to a certain extent, pride in being part of the system, but this day, this election, I am struggling with my choices. The Polling Stations are open but my conscience troubles me.

Following the Expenses Scandal, that hit the headlines a year ago and then the following programme regarding Lobbying, this Spring, my trust in our politicians has been crushed, totally.

It seems to me impossible or extremely naive for any MP who was not involved in the expenses scandal to say they didn’t know the system was being abused. This means that either way, my trust is gone.

I live in a constituency that has no Independent candidate, so how can I vote and keep a clear conscience?

Surely, the system was developed on the principle of who I “trust” our country’s future with? My right to vote was not given to me with “which thief would you prefer” in mind. Those who fought so hard to give us the right to make such important decisions on our future must be turning in their graves at the utter destruction of their dreams for democracy.

I’m left with a problem, if I don’t vote I have to live with that knowledge for at least 4 years and will not have the right to complain if things go “belly up”. If I do vote, I have no choice but to put my X against someone I don’t trust and that surely defeats the object of the whole exercise?

My conscience is in turmoil and yet the hours are ticking away. What will I do? Which course of action is truly right? I have to decide quickly and it’s not easy.
May God be with me in my final decision?

Monday, 26 April 2010

Waiting for a new life

I've always believed it right to work for an honest living, ensuring that I deal with such work reliably and responsibly. To be able to pay my own way in life through honest hard work, I believe, brings a sense of self respect which is a vital human need, however, I now find myself at a point in my working life I never expected to be.

Over the last 29 years, since leaving school, I have been in continual full time employment apart from 3 months, when I was last made redundant and took the opportunity to move from London to Manchester. I obviously had to complete the move before I found another job. Now, I find myself facing another redundancy.
The thing that makes this so much different is my desire to enter the Ministry and serve my Chapel and Congregation.

I am unable to begin Ministry training until at least September 2011 and my current employment terminates at the end of April 2010, but I already do ministerial duties as Lay Person In Charge, a post I acquired earlier in the year.

Over the last few months, my heart hasn't been in the work I'm salaried to do and I find it a struggle keeping my concentration to do the honest days work that I believe in so much. I constantly have Chapel, Pastoral Care issues, Course work (for my Lay Preacher studies), and service writing on my mind.

As my day of redundancy looms ever closer I feel less able to do the work my employer expects of me and I'm haunted by guilt.

There's only a few more days to go, then Chapel can have my full concentration without the day time job interferance. Perhaps then the dent in my self respect can repair.

I have spent seven years of my life with a pretty good employer and colleagues I've become quite fond of, most of those seven years have been enormously enjoyable. I hope my lack of enthusiasm for the work and my desire to be elsewhere, that I now feel, won't tarnish any memories for either myself or those colleagues I will shortly be leaving behind.

At the end of the day I guess this is one of those occasions where heart is definately ruling head. Roll on April 30th so that I can get both back on the same path, for my conscience tells me I am not handling this well.

Remembering Jiminy Cricket's words and the basis of Unitarian belief "Always let your conscience be your guide".

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Learning to Forgive

I stand in the pulpit every week and talk about forgiveness and understanding, so it seemed only right, this week to put my words into action when someone I called a friend displayed animosity and betrayal towards me in order to get their own way.

It hurt, of course it did. Perhaps I should have challenged them, or displayed the same negative attitude to them. Perhaps I shouldn’t speak to them again, turn my back and shut them out, but what would I gain?

It’s important to display the behaviour I preach to others and matching their behaviour would make my words in the pulpit meaningless, so I chose another path. I allowed myself to hurt at the same time as asking myself why. What were the circumstances that made them forfeit my friendship? Having spent several days trying to think through the whole scenario my hurt has changed to sympathy, and my friendship remains.

A few years ago, I attended a lecture where it was demonstrated how all negative actions and feelings stem from one thing ... fear. When breaking down each part of my friends behaviour, I realised there was a lot of fear in their actions, making it all the more important for me to show the love, understanding and forgiveness that I talk about so often in worship.

I realise this is a one-off, it may not always be so easy for me to keep my own emotions in check while I fumble through the hows and whys. I only hope that I never forget this experience and at least try to put it into effect every time I feel victimised or used, angry or betrayed, so that I don’t let my own fear inspire an action I will later regret.

Every human being wants and deserves love. Give it! The cost to yourself is short-lived and the rewards can be beautiful for both yourself and others.
May your God be with you.