The colder, wintry weather brings with it challenges for our skin, especially those of us with pre-existing skin conditions and / or sensitive skin. Stay prepared and have a good moisturiser and lip balm at the ready to keep your skin healthy and soothe the abrasions and cracks that the harsher weather can cause, and stay hydrated with water to help your skin replenish and renew itself.
Just because your yesterdays may have been tinged with sadness, darkness, fear and struggle, that doesn’t mean your tomorrows can’t be filled with joy from mourning, light, courage, strength and peace.
There is someone you know or have heard of, who you know deserves a medal. A medal that they will never receive. They go above and beyond the call of duty, beyond the work that they are paid for, or perhaps for no pay at all, quietly, with regularity, motivated perhaps by deep values of compassion, faith, personal integrity or a love and concern for other people. These unsung heroes and heroines work diligently behind the scenes, receiving little praise, and yet they are the ones that remind the vulnerable that they are cared for, keep people safe, and come to the rescue in times of need. Perhaps this person will never receive a medal, but is there some way that you can encourage them and let them know how wonderful you think they are?
For as their many little and more significant acts of kindness touch the lives of others, so too your own acts of kindness and gratitude to them may make a huge difference for them to know that they are noticed and appreciated.
I wonder if there is someone on your mind right now? And are you thinking of a gesture, or maybe a few prompts could help to inspire you to find your own personal way to say that ‘thank you’ that they might otherwise not receive? Perhaps this could come by way of a card, a personal letter, a box of chocolates, a visit, a message, a telephone call, an anonymous note, a gathering of appreciative friends or colleagues, or simply a kind and gentle word of gratitude. These all make a difference.
So where, you might be wondering, does the connection with snow storms come in? Well, as I write I am somewhat ‘snowed in’ and like many others in my city, and all across the UK, I am off work due to the ‘snow day’, and the red and amber weather warnings to only travel if absolutely essential. All train services here are cancelled until further notice, buses are mostly cancelled and although I walked to and from work the day before yesterday, it took over 45 minutes each way, and the conditions are considered unsafe. That and the pain in my legs and advice from the Government, Met Office and other sources to stay indoors, has resulted in me taking a couple of annual leave days, like many others, until the storm passes.
However, walking 45 minutes to work in the snow, given that I am fairly young and able bodied is hardly a commendable feat although it may be appreciable. What is commendable are the many doctors, nurses, care workers and others who have put their care and duties towards others before their own. The snow and storms and icy blasts have brought tragedy in the UK in the past couple of days. Over a dozen people have died from the very young to the elderly due to getting caught in the bad weather. A young child of 7 died, and a man in his late 60s drowned after trying to rescue his dog from a frozen lake. An elderly woman in her late 70s was found by a passer by, frozen to death, lying near a stationary vehicle ~ it was thought that she had been confused and wandering about outside before she died. There have been road traffic accidents, and perhaps a whole host of other situations that have as yet not come to light, or to the attention of the mainstream media. Today, it was reported in the news that a Scottish care worker who was known and respected in her profession for over 15 years was found dead in the snow as she had been walking to fulfil the duties of caring for her clients in their homes. A homeless man was found frozen to death in his tent. However, in the bleakness of this unusual ‘Spring’, there has been beauty also.
Not only the sublime beauty of nature’s splendour, but also in the kindness of strangers and friends and the resourcefulness and creativity of individuals. Drivers were stuck in their vehicles on motorways, some for over 12 to 15 hours, and strangers gathered supplies of hot drinks, food, snacks and even warm milk to feed a baby and walked through the snow to bring some practical comfort and words of kindness to those who were having to spend the night on the roads. Churches and event halls opened their doors to provide emergency shelter for homeless people. Charity workers went out into the streets to let homeless people know how and where they could get help. Neighbours with 4 x 4s drove doctors and nurses to their place of work. Medical health professionals chose to sleep overnight in hospitals to ensure that there was cover, and to relieve their colleagues, and provide patient care. Children helped their parents bring food to those who were vulnerable. Neighbours checked in on elderly people who were alone in order to make sure that they were ok. Trade unions spoke up for those who were being forced to work in inclement conditions including delivery drivers and riders (as many fast food deliveries in cities are now done by people on bicycles carrying the boxed food on their backs as they ride), who are putting themselves at risk at the demands of their employers. People have been finding ingenious ideas to get around or make the most of the snow by snowboarding down streets, skiing into work or simply having an icy blast with snowball fights and sledging. Photographers have captured some of nature’s beauty to inspire others. Neighbours have helped parents with childcare arrangements and family and friends and communities have ‘pitched in’ to help one another. Rail workers, council employees, gritters and others work through the cold days and nights to clear roads, railway tracks and to get systems up and running again for the rest of us.
We so often hear the news of terrible events, tragedies, evil, abuse, injustice and violence. However, every so often something seems to bring out the best in people and those smaller yet no less significant stories come to the fore. And yet, day in and day out, and through the night many quiet and unsung heroes and heroines including children go about their tasks with love and care and commitment in expectation of no reward. Perhaps their reward is a higher purpose and one that shines forth in times like this where they can clearly be seen to be doing it for more than just money or human applause. Perhaps you are one of those people. Perhaps you feel that you are not, and wonder if you are making any difference in anyone’s life.
Well, let me encourage you right now, that you are so significant, and your life so powerful, and each act of kindness however small is of so much importance. Maybe you are not saving lives, but perhaps a word of encouragement could result in a life saved for someone. Maybe you are not able to do the more ‘hands on’ frontline work, but perhaps you can encourage someone who is or help in some small way. Perhaps the greatest ways you can help are by prayer, small acts of kindness each day, and even through your own blog as you put something encouraging into the world for others to read and think about and share.
We all need these unsung heroes, but unsung heroes need encouragers too. And maybe, just maybe, an encourager is what you are called on to be today.
Much love. xx
February, being the shortest month, has swiftly drawn to a close, and March ~ the month in which we expect spring to have sprung ~ has promptly arrived.
However, here in the United Kingdom, as anyone who is familiar with our obsession with talking about the weather will know, spring, summer and in fact all four seasons can be a little unpredictable. At least *that* is something we can be certain of!
Here is a delightful scene for the first day of spring!
Snow and sunshine has graced the first morning of spring. However, despite how pretty this scene looks, the Met Office has declared a ‘Red’ weather warning since yesterday – the highest level – with possible further disruptions and risk to life as the ‘Beast from the East’ as the Siberian chill and moving weather patterns has been termed gives way to what the Spanish and Portuguese meteorologists have named ‘Storm Emma’, coming up from the South. Emma and the Beast! What a combination!
This gently beguiling scene veils the travel disruption, cancelled trains, hundreds of commuters stuck in airports and ‘stranded’ in their cars on the motorway for over 12 hours since last night, early office closures and increased call outs to emergency services. For a cold country perhaps we are a little ‘light weight’ when it comes to dealing with the varying forms of precipitation we intermittently face. Perhaps Canadians and New Yorkers and people from other regularly snowy countries and cities would laugh us to scorn at our inability to take such storms and snow flurries in our stride. However, the snow has brought out a brighter side to things. The crisp cold air, and beautiful natural scenes of trees and parks blanketed in white, the snow ball fights, gleeful children during their school closures and people sledging and having fun have all been something to bring a smile to the heart.
However, as much as we Brits talk about the weather, the true essence of these musings is a little deeper than the 18 centimetres of snow this city saw at one point. As the snow thaws in the sun, and seasons change, we realise too that our lives are passing, fleeting and as much as we long for the predictability and familiarity of seasons clearly demarcated as they ‘should’ be, our lives are actually often windswept by unexpected change, unpredictable events, uncertainty and consequently anxiety. We strive to pull out all the stops to regain control such as shovelling away the snows of doubt and worry, hoping that with enough effort we can clear our own paths and watch the unknowns melt away. Perhaps you are a seasoned warrior of change, or maybe a seasoned worrier with every uncertainty. Maybe you thrive on the adrenaline rush that living in the moment and embracing the unknown brings. However, regardless of your temperament, I believe that as human beings, at the core we do need a root of certainty in our lives. Not the certainty of known events or situations or happenings as such, but something even deeper and more fundamental. We need to know, deep in our souls, that when the storms of life come as inevitably and sometimes without much forecast or warning they do, that we have something to anchor to, something that will sustain us in our deepest uncertainty, and something far beyond our meagre efforts to dig out a clear pathway for ourselves.
Do you ever think about such things when life is going smoothly for you? Do you find yourselves wondering what will hold you when you are in the eye of your life’s storm? Perhaps you are yet to weather any severe or significant storms in your life as yet, but how can you be certain that you never will? Perhaps you have weathered many difficult experiences in your life and wish that the storm would soon pass and the sun would shine again. And maybe through your adversities you have gleaned great insights, or maybe you feel defeated, discouraged or broken hearted.
Your story, your life matters. It matters because you matter. But as you make your way through one changing season of your life to the next, what is your anchor? For me, through many storms, some longer lasting than others, I have found that nothing I can do can truly anchor my own soul, and the anchor which holds me, the rock on which I know I have a sure foundation in life is the Rock of Christ. Tried and tested, and found Faithful through every storm, and in the sunshine seasons of life too. And ultimately my Certainty and Hope beyond death.
What do you hold to? What or who holds you? Do you have certainty in your uncertainty? I would love to hear your thoughts, but if you’d prefer not to comment, then I hope you can find a few quiet moments to ponder and reflect upon your life, your uncertainties and what you have knowingly or subconsciously put your hope and trust in to hold you through all of life, as you embark upon this new season and first day of ‘Spring’.
Much love. xx