The last few weeks seem to be full of people complaining about what they want to do and can’t do, what they want and can’t have and so on. We have so much to be thankful for. As many of you know I love social history research and have spent some months this year looking at orphans and disabled people living in orphanages and the workhouse. My grandmother who was born in 1890 was terrified of having to go in the workhouse even though they were no longer in existence in the 1950s. Life in the workhouse was hard. If you were disabled in any way and your family could not look after you then you went into the workhouse. Women who had illegitimate babies often ended up in the workhouse and were often classed as feeble minded. There was no Social Security, no Housing Benefit and no NHS. Houses did not have running water either for a long time and many families shared some form of toilet in a yard. Life was totally different then and has changed greatly and for the better in many cases although we still have homeless people.
So what can we be thankful for? We are alive of course and most of us have everything that we actually need to live a reasonable life but there are still many who live in poverty and the current situation has brought this to our notice. If we have plenty then we can share with others, toys for children, food for families and so on. But in this century no one should be without a roof over their head or without enough food and clothing. Many of us are in a position where we can do something to help but it needs changes to the law for some things to get better. Volunteers do wonderful work but that work should not be necessary.
So be thankful for what you have and offer help to others less fortunate and find ways to make sure that it doesn’t happen to you or your family or those that you know. When employment is in short supply and money too then think how you can help to make life easier for others. Would you want to be in a position where you had no food or clothes and had to camp outside under a blanket in the cold and snow?
I don’t know what happened but all my writing just disappeared so I shall start again.
If you use social media then you may have hundreds or even thousands of friends but are these really friends? At one time you could organise your social media friends into groups so I had a craft group, a healing group and a group of close friends. I’m not sure you can do this nowadays. But what is friendship?
I like this definition I found; ‘Friendship for most people is a combination of affection, loyalty, love, respect, and trust. The general traits of a friendship include similar interests, mutual respect and an attachment to each other, and in order to experience friendship, you need to have true friends.’ This definition represents how I feel about friendship.
For me it is important to be able to have deep discussion with my friends, to share with them my thoughts and feelings, to cry with them and laugh with them. I want to help them to achieve their goals and of course this all works vice versa.
So what about the other ‘friends’? Some of these might be people I see regularly but do not have that deep connection with them, others are just acquaintances. A true friendship can last many years even if you don’t see each other very often. I have friends I meet occasionally sometimes after many years but our conversations carry on as if we had only seen each other the previous day.
So I am grateful for those true friends that I have, with whom I share my feelings and thoughts on a regular basis. They have supported me and still do, through times of stress and upheaval. I hope I do the same for them.
There is another star in the sky this week. A wonderful loving person has left us for pastures new high above. She was a wonderful mother, sister and friend, not only to her family but to many others. Always ready to listen, to support and to hug, she will be greatly missed by so many. She made such a difference to many lives and her legacy will live on as we all face the challenge of her absence.
The words of Kahlil Gibran in his book ‘The Prophet’ come to mind.
‘For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered? Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.’
If you follow a spiritual path, does this help you through the bad times? It is a question often asked by some and discussed by others. I know that my spiritual path has helped me through difficult times. There was a really bad time several years ago when I often thought that if I did not wake up in the morning it would be fine. But, something helped me through this patch. Was it the thought of what I still needed to do with my life? Was it the thought that others would be hurt? Whatever it was, I came through this bad patch much stronger and more able to cope when the next bad patch arrived.
I hear of young people taking their own lives and find this very sad. We are failing our young people, we ignore them and do not listen when they need to talk. Our communities have long gone due to the lack of work around our home areas so people move away and leave behind their families. Some families split because of arguments and feuds and leave the most vulnerable of the family members without support. We need to look at what community really is and how a spiritual path can help. I am not talking about God in this spiritual path but the way we live our lives and see the connections between us all and our landscapes and those that live on it. A good community supports every one when in need and this is sadly lacking in our current world. Think, listen and support should be words we use in their widest sense. Listening to someone who is hurting is a way of healing and it is free to all of us. Taking a walk in nature is healing too and can bring peace to troubled minds. But it is not that simple I know so please do what you can to help those in need.