Dear Friends

What a scorching few days we have had. It almost makes up for the holidays we have had cancelled or postponed this year. Hopefully some of you have managed a ‘staycation’ somewhere within our beautiful country or even ventured further afield.

I was contemplating what to write about this week and asked God for some inspiration. He planted the word ‘kindness’ in my mind. Well! I thought! How am I going to cover that vast topic? There must be an enormous amount of books on kindness. Maybe I should think of something else. No matter what I tried to think of, I kept coming back to kindness. Was God telling me to be kinder to people or even to myself? I realised He was serious when I was sitting outside Boots on Deer Park and a poster in the window caught my eye. It said ‘ We prescribe kindness’. Wow I thought! God is talking to me.

I was impressed with Boots; what a wonderful thing they were proclaiming. Could you go in and get a prescription? As a nurse prescriber I thought what an incredible asset I would have at my fingertips if I could prescribe kindness. I could prescribe kindness for my patients to give to others and plenty of kindness for them too. Surely it would be better than any medication.

I wondered why Boots had used this poster. After some investigation I found it came from Seb James, the MD for Boots UK&ROI. He wanted to reach out to his staff and customers during the pandemic. On 29.3.20 he wrote ‘Keep safe, keep being kind and recognise that we are all working together to get through this’. On their social media he congratulates his staff for acts of kindness such as making scrubs, shopping, prescription collecting etc. He seems to get the message of kindness; I wonder if he is a Christian.

Unsurprisingly kindness features a lot in our bible stories.  We know that kindness is one of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. ‘But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control’ (Galatians 5:22-23). The author of the book of Hebrews encourages believers to consider how they can be of service to each other and to help others to grow in faith: ‘Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another, to show love and do good’ (Hebrews 10:24).  This advice seems so relevant in these exceptional times. I’m sure we have all witnessed the kindness of friends, family and strangers over the past few months. We are reminded that the riches of God’s grace are shown through the kindness shown to us through Jesus. God demonstrated the most radical act of kindness when he sent his son to die on the cross for our sins.

Being kind often requires courage and strength. Every person deserves to be treated with respect and kindness but it not always easy, especially if you feel they don’t deserve it or they are not kind to us in return. At a recent safeguarding training session we were challenged to remember to be kind and caring to the perpetrators of abuse as well as the victims. To use the fruit of the Holy Spirit working within us.

But to live a kind life you must be kind to yourself first; speak gently to yourself and take care of yourself. How reassuring it is to know that our creator made us, exactly as he intended. Why would we not take care of this precious gift?

For my recent birthday one of my friends gave me the book ‘The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse’ by Charlie Mackesy. It explores kindness, compassion and understanding. It has beautiful simple artwork and such joyful, compassionate words. I particularly love this:

‘What do you want to be when you grow up? Says the Mole.  ‘‘Kind’’ said the boy’.

It fills me with hope. How wonderful!

It’s easy to be kind, it doesn’t have to cost a thing and its impact is measurable. Hal Donaldson (Convoy of sums it up for me:

Kindness isn’t a series of gestures –it is a lifestyle

Kindness can’t be random –it has to be intentional (it may appear random to the receiver)

Kindness doesn’t require much yet it can change everything

So be kind to everyone and especially to yourself. Wear your masks if you can, keep your distance and wash your hands often!  See you in church or on Zoom.