Terry Waite, 1,763 days as a hostage in appalling conditions just told us all to stop complaining: “Change your mindset”, he said, “you’re not STUCK at home, you’re SAFE at home” #TerryWaite His advice? *Keep your own dignity – get out of your PJs! Form a structure for the day. Be grateful for what you have – shelter, home, possessions. Read and be creative.”
(facebook and – I guess – twitter)
Last night reminded me what normal is right now.
8.00pm ... I was hanging out of an upstairs window joining in the applause for all our carers. Listening as many in our street were on their doorsteps doing the same. Those in surrounding streets doing the same – the “sound” of respect, affection and gratitude rippling everywhere.
8.10pm … as I walked our dog, I crossed the road – streets silent again – because I could hear young children ahead playing near the pavement. I have no wish to come close to anyone who might (unknowingly) infect me with this globally-connecting virus.
8.40pm … reading on facebook of our niece 300 miles away is posting pictures of their newborn – a new life born unknowingly into all this topsy-turviness.
And now continuing my “shielding” and living a life with Mrs Paul six feet apart and in different rooms.
Typing these words is normal in a time that is anything but normal.
You’re not STUCK at home, you’re SAFE at home.
I don’t know about you, but I find kindness is thriving right now. And yes – I see the headline stories about the “me me me” peeps – the “fuck you” peeps – the peeps “taking” entitlement – bullies then as now.
But kindness …
I am allowed to be kind. I am allowed to be gentle. I am allowed to be the better me so much more than before … I am seen when I acknowledge another, when we move apart, when I thank another for moving apart … When I wait a few seconds when – before – we would both have squeezed-by without waiting at all … When I speak gently with a harassed call-centre peep after two hours in the phone-queue … When another asks if we need anything left at the door … When Mrs Paul asks if there anything she can get when she is out at the (two hour queue to get into every) shop(s).
Little things. Small kindnesses.
I am allowed to be kind right now unlike “normal living” when these small kindnesses go unnoticed (and undone) as we hurry hither and thither.
Be grateful for what you have.
I have no optimistic outlook that says when all this returns to “normal” we will want to carry this kindness forwards. I have a view that says we will each count up how much kindness we have “given” and instinctively calculate that we “deserve” a withdrawal of “books-balancing self-centredness”. That we will again live transactionally (which is what we call normal living) …
The church will again expect Sunday attendance and tithing. Work will expect more from each employee in return for being “looked after” right now. Banks will impose severe credit checks after current government “guidance” to be more financially forgiving. Mortgage lenders will recoup the losses of all the “holidays” us lenders are being given. The government will begin to balance the books with more (decades?) of austerity (again).
Change your mindset.
Isn’t that what “being saved” really is?
Less about being rewarded for sacrificing “so much” – more about how I live right now? Isn’t that the reality we never teach? That the bible is not about the future – but about right now this second. About “changing you mindset” right now and in every moment of living.
And isn’t that a universal across national-boundaries-and-social-rules – across cultural-divides-and-language-confusion – across financial-worth-and-“stuff”-wealth? Isn’t that where kindness lives and love thrives? In a mindset NOT of transaction – but a mindset of this moment. A mindset we are seeing more and more of right now. Of courage in kindness and strength in gentleness.
Be grateful for what you have.
The more I live the less complicated life becomes. The simpler the bible becomes. The less rigid and institutional “love” becomes. This moment is a gentle place, a kind place, a loving place. Where time and stuff is of no consequence (nor religion nor being right).
I got saved and then found I wasn’t.
Not until I changed my mindset. And that’s why I no longer call myself a Christian. I don’t think the bible teaches us to be good “Christians”. I think the bible invites us to change our mindset. It is what we are seeing everywhere right now. Living in the moment.
I call that Love without Condition.