Tag Archive: Faith


My Dad and I have this discussion every now and then.  It’s silly and serious at the same time, as are some of the very best kinds of chat…

It begins when I tell him what an amazing person he is and how I think he’ll go straight to heaven (without passing Go, without collecting 200!)

He responds with typical humility, firmly assuring me that he is far from being the incredible person I see him as.

True to say, I’m biased but I continue anyway…

“… but Dad! You’re the kindest, most loving person I know… How can it be that you STILL feel as though you don’t love people enough?”

“It’s easy to love your family”,  he says, “even an evil person can look out for their own. It’s loving those we DON’T know that makes us saints”.

His eighty one years, the depth of his faith and his gentle, funny nature mean that I ponder his words long after he’s spoken them. They echo through my mind as I rip open the mystery parcel. A taped up cardboard box of beautiful gifts has interrupted the bleakness of another day in the hospital; a box sent halfway across the world by someone I don’t know, but who reads this blog and has intuited enough about my character to send presents that delight me.

I don’t take any kindness for granted, but I have come to believe that kindness shown by a stranger is a very different kind of exchange, an experience that can’t be replicated or simulated in any other situation.  It’s this type of kindness, love, that is so often woven into classic tales: the mysterious being who appears at the right time; the unknown benefactor in Dickensian stories; the God like figure in folk tales.

Why the inclusion of these characters and their acts of kindness?

Because they move us, they warm us, they melt us.

More than this, the kindness of a stranger possesses  a unique power: that of transformation.  Hence age old stories of Matthew the tax collector, of Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge, Pollyanna, Jean Valijean in Les Mis… Literature is littered with bad – characters – turned – good  by an act of kindness, because people love to have their view of human nature restored. How often do we hear someone sigh happily as they use that very phrase? How many times do people use the term ‘heart warming’ to describe these kind of scenarios?

Perhaps it’s the simplest answer to some of the world’s toughest problems. Perhaps the kindness of a stranger can combat some of the hardness and cynicism that grows in secret places; seeds of despair and cynicism sown and planted almost without us noticing. Maybe if we all vowed to impact at least one stranger’s life within our own time here on earth, the world may seem a different place to those who threaten it most.

Guilty of my very own brand of cynicism, sentimentality isn’t a trait I’m most likely to be associated with. The mysterious box of gifts though, was like a torch beam cutting the darkness.

Valorie. Thank you so so much for bringing spring to my hospital room. Thank you for such thoughtfulness and generosity. You act of kindness inspires me to pay it forward… If you’re reading, please know how touched I was by it all.

I wear the earrings even as I type, a cup of Tanzanian coffee next to me.
x

Hole-In-The-Wall-God?

Although I rarely mention it in my writing here, my faith is one aspect of my life which I think would fundamentally change the very essence of my being were it to completely disappear. In truth, my spiritual journey, much like my therapy journey, has been a challenging mixture of blindness and revelations; of soaring and stumbling; and of denials and acceptances.Image

 I’ve been in places of unshakeable certainty, unable to understand how anyone could ever question such a tangible God. In later life, there have been times when I’ve swallowed bitterly as depression and the weary despair and fatigue that accompanies it, flecked inky pools of indifference and doubt across any conviction that I once had.

At this point on the journey, I stand on a different mountain, overlooking a very different landscape.
A part of me draws some strength from the inner sense that God stands with me.
This acknowledgement of ‘a higher power’ seems to play a crucial role in recovery. AA refer to the ‘higher power’, as do a range of other successful addiction recovery programs; the theory being that as human beings, we are often weak willed and for all our good intentions, cannot free ourselves from the power of ingrained behaviours and habits. We need to draw on a strength that is not ‘from’ us, but is outside of us.

A part of me worries as I consider how God is referred to in the 12 step programs.
Does it not all sound a little bit ‘God-as-hole-in-the-wall’ ish?
I’m not sure.

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What I do know is that right now, I find myself knocking on heaven’s door morning, noon and night, asking for supernatural strength with which to fight the Anorexic howling which coarses through my mind interminably.
I pray as I sit down to eat my snacks, my meals and as I battle the urges to spit my food out after chewing it.