Last sunday I spoke of one of my favorite organisations, The Quaker Bolivia Link, and they deserve all the extra publicity they may have got because of that. Today I was thinking about all the other people or organisations I could be mentioning in my Sunday Praise – and there are sooooo many to choose from.
But a message from a relative, which I received last night, has made me think more of the ordinary people around us, than of larger groups. I have never met this cousin of mine, as geography conspired to separate us even before we were born; our mothers both migrated to opposite ends of the earth, in the days when this meant you would probably never see each other again. I think our mothers did write to each other for several years, but inevitably this dwindled and I expect, in the days before cheap travel, neither could afford to visit the other. What ever the reason, my cousin and I, although only a year apart in age have never physically met.
Now of course, the internet makes it perfectly possible to chat to almost anyone at any time at minimal cost. And so a new message arrived for me from him last night, with some kind words and a photograph of his first grandson. A small but immensely thoughtful action, which bought me much pleasure.
And this got me thinking: I want to give praise today, not to the big organisations, but to the ordinary people who surround us and reach out to us. Our family, our friends, our neighbours. The people we work with or interact with during our day. We barely give thought to these normal , everyday actions, but we should; these are the threads of our lives, our time with friends, our support group, our fellow human beings. When we count our blessings, how often to we count the smile our neighbour gave us this morning? Too small to count? Not at all. A smile can make all the difference, it´s important; it´s these small interactions that come together to give us our sense of connectedness and well-being.
Other people, in the end , are the really only important things we have in our lives. Sure, we are sometimes hooked into the idea that a bigger house, a newer car or a great paying job would bring us pleasure, and I think they do – for a while. However, experience has taught me that the pleasure of these things is short-lived. You grow used to them, a newer model comes out, you have to work more hours to pay for them………..There is a surprisingly long list of reasons not to have these things. They can bring worry or clutter into our lives which can quickly become negative. So often people get sucked into the idea that things bring happiness, yet all of us know it´s just advertising hype/rubbish. If we were really honest, we would know deep in our souls that these are not really the things that bring us joy.
People bring us joy. The friends who help us through a crisis, the people who set up craft groups and share their knowledge with others, for free; the people who wave from across the street when we are out. Our family, if we are blessed to have one; it´s always about people. And animals. I think animals could be counted here too, they bring great joy to the people who love them.
Sure, there are people in the world whom you would rather not see at all. People who will put you down, lie about you, get their own meagre pleasure from hurting you. These are people with issues, with personality problems. Unless they are paying you for your time as a counsellor, they are best avoided. Rarely, if ever, can you change them. Time spent with them will simply drain and damage you. Seek always people who know how to love and form friendships: Look for people who will nourish your soul.
So, today I give praise for all the people in my life both seen and far away, who connect with me, support me, laugh with me. All the people who smile at me, eat with me, chat with me. My neighbours who always have time for a few words. My wonderful daughters, my friends who helped me this year through some difficult times; the people I pass each day, who smile even though we don´t really know each other. I have much to give praise for.
The last word has to go to Ram Dass: We are all just walking each other home.
Enjoy your sunday everyone,