Being in tier 4

I live in an area of the UK that has been put into the strictest lockdown and so I thought I would write about this today.

The stringent measures are in my view necessary as the virus has a new strain that seems to be pushing infections up. But this blog is about hope and so that is not my focus.

From the pandemic has come a really strong community spirit. People not throwing their excess Christmas food bought for large numbers away. People offering to help others with their dinner, donating turkey to the local foodbank. This thoughtfulness is in my opinion not so much about the individual, but rather a collective consciousness; humanity rather than looking to one’s own interests.

I am reading a beautiful book at the moment and was struck by this quote from Thomas a Kempis:

Whoever loves much does much. Whoever does a thing well does much. And he does well who serves the common community before his own interests.

I think society is shifting towards a common interest; not necessarily defeating a virus, but simply and understanding that we are all in this together and that if I have surplus food it might help you because you are my brother. Materialism is metamorphosing into redistribution. People are looking at the long-term view in regard to our beautiful planet and how to honour our resources rather than take them for granted.

Today’s recipe of hope if your Christmas plans have been smashed is to redefine them. Can you give surplus food to a foodbank or an organisation supporting the homeless? Be creative and please share what you decide to do.

References

Fairweather, J. (2019). The Volunteer. London: Penguin Random House UK.

RIP Lewis

I am writing this as a tribute to an amazing young man who has left the earth whilst very young. He touched me and I know loads of other people with his humour and charming personality.

I am sharing this publicly as there is a Facebook page about Lewis and a memorial bench will be set up for him. Because of respect about Covid rules I am unable to attend the memorial tomorrow in Rochester so am writing this as my contribution.

I met Lewis in 2018 at a church in Margate. My memories are of someone who had a passion for life and a cheeky sense of humour. We once laughed our heads off about a place called Dargate which we said we would one day visit and have a milkshake there. Lewis commented that Dargate sounded like a funny take on Margate.

Lewis had his struggles, but he never complained. He battled on. And he taught me lots. Lots about walking on through the wind and rain though dreams be tossed and broken. So Lewis I remember you and I walk on with hope in my heart, knowing you have found your heavenly home.

Looking forward to when we meet again and I will have that milkshake in your memory.

RIP Lewis X

Acknowledgements

YouTube (accessed 20/12/2020)

Let’s change the environment by wearing rubbish

I have become fascinated by thinking about rubbish, because there is so much waste and yet also so much concern about our planet being consumed by landfills and what goes in them. So what can we do? I think we can commit ourselves to doing things differently, like this wonderful article shows us:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/c77jz3mdmezt/recycling

If we each play our part, the planet will be helped to continue to thrive and flourish. This isn’t just up to governments, individuals can do this too. I thought you might be interested to see the project I manage.

https://www.allchurches.co.uk/news/putting-the-unity-in-community/

These are just two examples of what can be done. Let’s not just chuck things away without really thinking whether they could be recycled. Pause; charity shops are now collecting again and organisations such as The Salvation Army help numerous people with free items. Maybe someone in your circle may not have as much as you and could be blessed by that item of clothing that has hung in your wardrobe unworn for several months.

Today’s recipe of hope is a challenge; find one item that you do not need and do something useful with it. Be creative and please let us know what you decide to do.

May we all help save our planet together X

Acknowledgements

BBC news online (accessed 19/12/2020)

AllchurchesTrust

The currency of kindness

One thing this year has taught me most is the importance of human kindness. I think the pandemic has been a leveller; most of us have suffered greatly this year in one form or another. People in my immediate circle have had tragedy, I have just had a bereavement which has really upset me. This year for me is memorable in that it is etched with an indelible hallmark of pain and grief.

And yet in the midst of all this, a new star shines. There is a dawning of hope; beyond looking out for oneself; beyond greed, beyond materialism for its own sake. There is a light that shines called community kindness, where those who are blessed consider the poor. There is redistribution of things that are no use to others. And I have seen a great deal of this over recent months.

Staring stark poverty in the face changes one. I have changed over the past few months. I examine myself and ask a lot of questions; am I selfish? Am I greedy? What is my attitude to poverty? What difference can I make? I think in these days it is imperative to do some soul searching.

Yesterday someone posted on a lovely FB site called secret Santa, about people being a listening ear for others. Immediately many people have offered their ears. This is one example. The Secret Santa site is filled with examples of people buying gufts for others.

It is my view that being on Universal Credit is not enough to live on. People need help from voluntary agencies and community projects. They need celebrities like Marcus Rashford to challenge the status quo.

Kindness doesn’t cost anything. But it really does have the most enormous impact. I have had a particularly challenging year and the kindness of others has been felt in a way that I have never experienced. I fractured my wrist a little while ago and someone sent me a card saying ‘Thinking of You’. This was so touching.

I thank all of you readers and followers. I am on my mission to write 365 posts before the end of the year. I may not have posted daily, as I had hoped, but it would be nice to have enough posts for the year.

Today’s hope recipe is to carefully consider the question how kind am I? Do some soul searching and maybe make some changes. And do one kind act today for another human. It might just be words. But words have power and can change a life X

References

Facebook: Secret Santa closed group

Hope lies in us

Child poverty in the UK is significant. There are currently 4.3 million children living in poverty in our nation. So what can we do?

I started the journey of hope thinking about myself and almost a year later I am led to feel and carry hope for others. Because when there is darkness, there is also light. And when there is poverty there is also abundance. The Message tells us:

The community where I live (Thanet), has Kent’s highest rates of child poverty – with more than half of Newington’s under 18s living below the breadline. … The data for 2017/18, compiled by Loughborough University on behalf of coalition End Child Poverty, says 35% of children on the isle live below the poverty…14 Oct 2020

This is all rather bleak. However as I said earlier, there is an antidote which is hope. Running up to Christmas I want to celebrate the hope that is transformative. So today let’s celebrate.

There is a lovely professional gentleman who regularly supplies baby milk. Another woman who sent clothes to someone she had never met. A lady in her 70’s who offers her time and petrol to collect and deliver items donated to our community project. Two friends who gathered numerous items of clothing and drove miles to deliver it. Others who offer their time to telephone people who are feeling lonely and isolated. and countless kind people who have donated toys and beautiful items for children who otherwise probably wouldn’t have anything.

This adds up. This builds up. This is a hope tapestry, rebuilding a community smashed by a pandemic. This is beautiful.

Today’s recipe of hope is to think about child poverty and please do something about it. Even one tiny action has a ripple effect and if all of us act then things will change and our children will have a brighter future. Let’s be the hope carriers for them X

References

message.org.uk (accessed 16/12/22020)

child poverty thanet Google search (accessed 16/12/2020)

Where have you been?

I thought I would write a post as an explanation of why I have been silent for so long. I know when I started the blog my intention was that I posted every day for the year. And I haven’t managed to do that. Why?

I have learnt over the year that some things are more important than others. I think of the verse in the bible:

Donotstoreup for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. New American Standard Bible. (Matthew 6:19).

So what does this verse mean? The next part is the clue to the whole thing:

 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

This time last year I had a beautiful flat. For reasons I do not wish to share I had to lay it down. And now all the rooms I carefully decorated and loved are in boxes, packed away in storage. How much did I need those things?

I have been working through the pandemic, with people, many of whom have literally nothing in their homes because their previous home was the street. I have seen numerous people queuing for food, facing the shame because shame is better than starvation. For me, Universal credit is the pandemic we are battling!

So my losses seem to mirror those of many in society who have nothing or very little. I have learnt this year that many people cannot afford milk for their babies or nappies for their children, in wealthy, prosperous Britain.

And so that is why I haven’t been blogging. Because I felt it was important to try to make Christmas better for some children who wouldn’t be getting any presents this year because their parents couldn’t afford to buy any.

So today’s recipe of hope is: Let us all count our blessings. And let us be mindful how we view material posessions because they can be snatched awy in a nanosecond X

References

do not store up treasure – Bing (accessed 15/12/2020)

My hope year

I have been reflecting a lot over recent days on my year as a first time blogger. Thank you to all of you who have joined me on my journey.

At the start of the blogging hope adventure, I set out to explore what a life with hope looked like. And I have learned many lessons along the way. I promised to be transparent and I think I have stuck with that-you have followed the ups and downs of an amateur to the blogging world.

So what are the lessons I have learned? As it comes towards the end of the year, I acknowledge that I didn’t manage to post every day as I had hoped. But I posted most days. My aim now is to have 365 posts by the end of the year, so some days I will write two or perhaps even three.

I had an accident in October and fractured my wrist. I then made the decision to not put myself under pressure to type one handed each day. I was really struggling enough without added things. Somehow everything is harder with a cast on. But great news-my wrist has healed and I am free of pain!

So I learnt that even if you don’t reach your goal, that is okay and you can perhaps go round the mountain in a different way. And it doesn’t mean you have failed. The biggest lesson about Hope is that she keeps on trying and is ever encourging. If you fail and fall then you can simply get back up and try again.

This might sound extremely simple and possibly trite, however sometimes a perfectionist streak can lead to all or nothing black and white approaches to life which are extremely unhelpful. I think hopefulness is consistent and just rides the undulating curves of life.

Today’s recipe of hope is to do a hope review of this year? How is it for you? Have you lost hope? Are you more hopeful or is there just a glimmer? And take some time just to sit and think, or walk and think. It does you good X

Team kindness

I have been watching a series on Netflix called The Queen’s Gambit. It is a beautiful production about a female chess player. There are many lessons in the show, which is well worth a watch.

One thing I have been thinking about recently and links with the series I have been viewing, is teamwork. I have been collecting items for our forthcoming Winter Shelter for the homeless and have been really touched.

Today a lady brought in beautifully packed and sorted clothes. She had them in suitcases, so they didn’t look like rubbish. And the other day someone traverlled miles, having collected items for people they will never meet-kindness from a town far far away.

These donations will go to the shelter which is opening its doors on Monday. People will have lovely clothes to wear and kindness will embrace them. Swapping a pavement for a freshly made bed, they will be tended to and compassion will flow.

And it is a team. A team of kind humans making the world a better place. The project I manage is growing exponentially and I couldn’t manage without people helping me; collecting clothes, volunteering, befriending others. And it has a big impact. People change when kindness is shown.

Today’s recipe of hope is to think about the human team you play for. If it is your family unit, play well. And if it is just you, join another team. Volunteer your skills, help others. More than ever we need one another.

X

References

A glimmer of hope

Also posted on Hope 2018

When life is tough what do we do? Dig deep into our hope resources. Sometimes people face horrendously difficult times and all there is is a glimmer, a flicker of hope.

Life has its ups and downs and as someone who has faced many painful times, especially this year, I understand what a glimmer of hope looks and feels like. I have been stuck in a cast for a few weeks now, not driving or going very far. My hopes of writing daily blogs were scuppered because much as I love writing, typing one handed is a bit challenging.

But the glimmer of hope has been that I have my faith, I have health, I have a wonderful job and kind family and friends. It won’t be this way for ever, just for now.

Hope waxes and wanes. Hope fluctuates. But that is life. Being hopeful is an attitude and a choice.

Today’s hope recipe is to choose hope even when she seems a distant memory. Let us choose to find her beyond this pandemic with all its limitations. X

Generosity

As I shared yesterday, I have been wrestling with a deep dark question: am I greedy? It is so easy to become greedy without realising it. In my view, the opposite and in fact the antidote to greed is generosity.

Generosity is having open hands. I watched a lovely film yesterday (The Christmas Drop), which encapsulates generosity. Being generous of spirit is a true friend of hope.

So what does this look like? I think it looks like this. On the Clothes shoes helpline there is a page called Secret Santa where people post their needs for hygiene boxes and so on. And other kind people give. And it looks like someone having collected items from their friends to give to complete strangers who are homeless and live miles away (hope you are reading this). It looks like someone giving their rucksacks away because they did not need them for work. It looks like people doing acts of kindness that form a big picture of hopeful help outworking itself in practical ways.

Today’s recipe of hope is to watch The Christmas Drop. And to set yourself a generosity challenge. And please share with us what you are going to do X

References

(accessed 15/11/2020)

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