Snow? What snow???
First we had torrential rain and then the sun came out. Freezing, but snow? Pah! Admittedly it fell north of here. By about 200miles, it seems. And this country is famous for letting 2 inches of snow stop the nation in its tracks, and I think it did just that this morning. If you happen to live north of here by a long way.
So I sallied forth on the quest to buy the last little bits for my presents, and got to the shops at the crack of dawn. Empty car park. Empty shop. Plenty to buy, and no people. On a sale day. No queues at any tills either. Just moi. This, people, is a very real and worrying sign of the times. I zapped through the shop (I do like using words which clearly do not in any way reflect the truth!) and was home by 9.30am. Mission accomplished. That is the longest distance I have driven too, by the way. Baby steps. Sigh. I am the ultimate long distance driver usually. Just not right now.
I had a couple of things I really wanted to talk about...... can I remember them? Hmmmmm. What were they..... ah yes. I remember one of them now.
At house group a little while ago, the conversation turned to the church looking after its own, caring and also reaching out to the community to help where necessary. And I listened to the conversation buzzing around me, and all of a sudden, it occurred to me that the words were all very cheap and the actions all very prescribed in a sense, and I wanted to say out loud - where were you when.....? Or where were we when.....? Or where was anyone when.....? And I didn't. Because I knew I may have said things I would have regretted. So where does the accountability start?
It is so easy to say the words - we look after children in need. We look after the old. We look after widows and orphans. We look after the sick. We...... who are the we? Do I? Do you? It is not enough to simply be a part of the body which apparently does these things, and bask in the reflected glory. It doesn't work properly unless all parts of the body actually work in the first place. That means noticing. You know what I mean?
I am as guilty as the next person of saying things like....at our church "we" do a, b, or c. But do I actually take part in them? Who are the people who actually go out and do these things? I need to do more. Open my eyes more. My experiences can help other people facing similar circumstances. My strengths can be utilised to bring both empathy and understanding to some situations. And the same applies to us all.
The reason this is weighing so heavily on my mind, is that I noticed a friend sitting quietly at the housegroup meeting, not saying much at all. And as the conversation turned towards what "we" do to support each other, she had her hand almost covering her eyes. It worried me sick. She never said anything about what she may have been thinking, but something was clearly wrong. And it is. I understand how deeply it must have hurt her to listen to all the words, and she must have been thinking....what about me. I am here, and has anyone even noticed something could be wrong?
You see, we say the words so easily and generally sometimes, that we forget the individual. It is hard to say that you are hurting, or worried, or have nowhere to turn. Believe me, I know. Been there and done that. But it is even harder to sit and listen to the words, knowing that no-one considers for a second that one of those needing help is right there among us. All it takes is a call. A note. A visit. If we need to be seen, we need to see too.
I am willing to bet there are a great many people close to each of us right now who are hurting, worried, frightened. And silent. I am making a real effort to try to notice them, just the way I wish I had been noticed. It has to start with someone. One. Especially now. It is winter, it is very cold, and we live in perilous times. As Christians, this is the time to be aware of those in need, whatever that need may be.
And noticing is not enough. Doing something tangible is what is most important. Our actions will speak far louder than any words. This is as much a wake-up call for me, as it is for everyone. I can make a difference. So can everyone.
If we are aware and care enough.