June 2020

What do you value?

It is so good to see all the imaginative ways in which people are showing their appreciation of all that those in the medical and caring professions are doing at this time - for us! People also seem to be coming more and more aware of others whose services they may possibly have taken for granted - like those involved in the production and distribution of food, shop workers, delivery drivers postal worker, refuse collectors and a host of others. (I am bound to have left some key people out - apologies to them.) I am sure that the attitude of many parents towards teachers has also changed dramatically as they have struggled to teach at home. From my own experience, I am particularly grateful to funeral directors who are doing a challenging job - especially when dealing with those who have died with the Covid-19 virus - with their customary professionalism.

And it is not just with certain jobs and professions that our attitudes may have changed. People seem much kinder - or, perhaps, even kinder - to those around them. There has been a huge level of support to those in need or in apparent need, and a lot of effort has been going into keeping in touch with people. And it could be that we have each found in our lives that things which which we thought important actually aren’t, and things which we may have taken for granted we now really value.

Value is an important word. It is, possibly, only when crises like the current one emerge, that we realise exactly what we do value and what we don’t. And, having discovered what we do actually value, it will be important, once the sun comes out from behind the big, black cloud, that we make sure that we hold on to those values which we now recognise. For at the heart of all those values is the importance of relationships. So many people are recognising now the many — sometimes subtle - ways in which we all actually depend upon each other and how important not just other people might be to us but also, remarkably, how we may be important to other people. And if we could manage, once this ghastly thing is over, to maintain that realisation, then something really good will have grown out of something really dreadful. And all that will mean will be recognising that we need each other, that we want to serve each other, that we are ready to have others serving us, and that, when differences arise - as they always will - they are addressed with civility and respect not with aggression and bullying.

In John’s Gospel in the translation a bit misleadingly known as the King James version, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as the ‘Comforter’. By that he does not mean your favourite blanket: he means that the Spirit makes us all strong together. (I could go into the Latin roots, but I am sure you would rather I didn’t.) We are strong together if we have good relationships at the core of our being - good relationships with those we like and with those with whom we find it difficult to get on: good relationships which show themselves in our readiness to help others and to be helped by them. It is the mark of maturity in society as well as in individuals when we accept that seeking help is a sign of strength, not of weakness: that we are made as different individuals with different talents, gifts, abilities and personalities so that we can be strong together and depend upon each other.

It would be so good if we manage to retain as our anthem the words of that great hymn;

Brother, sister, let me serve you

Let me be as Christ to you, 

Pray that I may have the grace

To let you be my servant too