Tuesday, May 19th
I remember the first time I was accused of being a 'do gooder.' It was nearly fifty years ago. But I remember my dismay at hearing someone describing my attempts to stand alongside and support someone who had 'done wrong' as being misguided. I am glad to know that the young man I befriended on that occasion went on to live an honest and worthwhile life, showing kindness to others.
In Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mental Health Foundation has chosen to focus on kindness. Its chief, Mark Rowland reflects
'We have chosen kindness because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practise to be fully alive.'
I recall singing 'Jesus' hands were kind hands' in Sunday School as a child. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul encourages his readers to serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control.
As a people, we have not been kind to those who suffer from mental illness in the past. In times past, there was little understanding of people who behaved differently or were troubled in mind. We can, however, no longer plead ignorance of the extent to which so many of us are plagued by mental disorders of one sort or another. We are, at last, recognising the need to treat such illnesses in the same way as we do physical ones. We have still to put the funding of that area of our Health Service on an equal footing with physical ailments.I hope it will not be too long before that is rectified.
In the meanwhile, we can at least offer our neighbours a healthy dose of kindness to help one another towards healing and wholeness.
Mother, Father God,
We pray for all those for whom kindness of any kind is a distant memory,
for those who long for a gentle touch,
a comforting word
or a generous act.
May we, who have known kindness all our lives,
embrace those who need us most,
talk encouragingly to those in distress,
and give unconditionally to all who we meet.
Link to a prayer for Mental Health Awareness Week from the Diocese of LLandaff