Each Other’s Shoes

Hello,

What strange times we are living in.

I haven’t written for a while because to be honest there has been so much happening I haven’t known where to start. Probably like you, life has got in the way, big time. 

It’s strange isn’t it how everything ticks along in the same old way for ages and then all of sudden, things happen which can leave you feeling wrong-footed and unsettled.

A little like the weather…. another beautiful sunny day today, but step outside and the sunshine belies a bitter cold that transports you to seek shelter once again in the Winter coat you thought you wouldn’t see again until December.

Amidst all the uncertainty I am trying very hard to cling to that Easter message of Hope, but sometimes that is easier said than done.

I was working in Bristol a couple of weeks before Easter. Bristol is one of my favourite places and I love visiting….the sun was shining and it was good to feel the bustle of the city once again. But then the news of the Westminster Bridge attack broke and the dark forces of terror reached into our lives again. Lives shattered and families torn apart through cruelty and evil. And the awful knowledge that this would not be for the last time. 

Where will it all end? And how can we respond to such hatred?

The answer was seen in the seconds after the attack and this is why there will always be Hope for our world and why Love will always be so much stronger than hate. ( sorry if that’s a bit cliched, but it is factually accurate.) 

The immediate aid given to the attacker who had just carried out the attack, cared for in the same way as the innocent victims.

We saw again the coming together of strangers sharing in a sudden shock and grief but united against the enemy of hate. It is all about a Common Humanity, made greater through an experience of suffering.

I’ve been thinking about this over the last few weeks and it has taken me back to 1983 and the day of the Harrods bomb. I was at college in London and to get extra money I had a Saturday job in the Ravel shoe shop in the middle of Oxford Street. It was always horrendously busy and I was probably the worst assistant ever. ( I could never find the left boot to match the right one in the mountain of shoes in the back, so I would very often hide in the store-room until the customer left the shop), but anyway, on this particular afternoon, all was normal, until there was an almighty bang and a great swathe of people came running into the shop. 

It wasn’t long before the police arrived and told us to stay inside as there had been a bomb. The shop was stuffed full of what seemed like half of Oxford Street and the doors were closed and each of us was fearful that perhaps there were other bombs nearby. But I remember the closeness we all felt to one another. People actually spoke to each other and barriers between us were non-existent. It was a shared humanity in the face of terror and a realisation and acknowledgment of suffering. And a thankfulness, that this time, we had escaped….. there but for the Grace of God.

The same feeling after the London Tube bombings of course, when people on the tube would actually look at each other and maybe even speak! And in many other situations when people, in a split second, realise that life is too short for division and hate.

And so, I wonder why we can’t embrace our Common Humanity at times when we are not fearful?

We are, many of us, frightened and uncertain now for many reasons….. as well as the terror threat, there are loads of issues to make us unsettled….another general election, Brexit, the refugee crisis, the Middle East and the persecution of Christians and minorities for their faith….. our response to all of these issues should prompt us to remember our Common Humanity. That it shouldn’t just be there when faced with adversity. 

Let us try to understand more about the sufferings of others and extend that hand even when it is difficult. Just today we’re seeing more deaths of refugees crossing the Aegean in search of a better life and even if they reach safety, that better life is very often a life of destitution and poverty. 

So, let us stand in the shoes of others and feel their pain and then step forward together. (sorry, another cliche.)

If we can do that, I think it shows that the Easter journey of suffering and Love will give us all Hope to endure whatever else life has in store. 

Thank you for reading this…….. here’s a photo of the bluebells in my garden and also of a chocolate cake I made yesterday…. it actually rose!


Donna.

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