When I’m writing, I’ll be going along fine, and then I get stuck and need to mentally change gear for a little while. So while I write I also have Facebook open, and pop across to see what friends are doing and saying.
I love to look at people’s photos – especially the photos of Plain-dressing friends. It’s always a ‘whoopee!’ moment when Katie Troyer has posted some more pics from Pinecraft. I am so enjoying Sarah Burrell’s v-log. I love Anna Cory’s cheerful and positive spirit – her posts are good to read. My friend Elizabeth Bullock-Rest always leaves kind and reflective make-me-think posts. Quaker Jane never speaks up unless she has something wise and sane and kind to say – and there are many more whose thoughts bless and cheer me.
Then, there are some posts that chill and depress me. I am no fan of the satan-spotters – people who have more to say about the devil than they say about the Spirit of God.
John Martyn, a folk singer from Hastings where I live, wrote a beautiful song that said: “I don’t want to know about evil, I only want to know about love.” And I second that. I am not interested in satan. I see no value in thinking about satan. We had a chorus that was very popular when I was a new Christian:
Towards Jesus is where the eyes of my soul should be focused. When I get it together to do a little exercise with the Wii Fit, I love the balance games. What I’ve noticed is that good balance is led by my eyes. It’s where and how I’m looking that makes me keep or lose my balance. Same applies in my spiritual walk. If I keep my focus on what is beautiful, kind and generous, that’s how I’ll walk.
I also get a bad feeling from friends who post against things – whether it’s hate posts about people who have done something wrong, or posts denigrating political leaders, or posts criticising the celebration of Christmas and Easter, or posts making judgements about the private lives of other people – or any other Christians-Against-Everything misery posts; that turns me off. What my old Badger described so well as ‘Plainly Wrong’ posts! :0D
To create good in the world begins with a kind and encouraging attitude. It is nurtured by fixing the eyes of the spirit on what is holy and pure and loving. It’s also encouraged by doing as Max Ehrmann said in his poem Desiderata: ‘beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself’. For you, too, are made by God to flourish in the sunshine of kindness and the dew of mercy.
Today and yesterday I had the pleasure and delight of several hours of the company of my grandson Mikey and his mother, my daughter Grace. Grace and Clay (her husband) and Mikey do not always find life easy, but they practice a daily discipline of gentleness. Their home is a place of kindness and hospitality. They try always to be understanding. At Christmas time, a favourite among Mikey’s gifts was the little brightly-coloured plastic whirligig his aunties gave him. What was a joy to me was to watch him rushing happily round the room making sure every single person had a turn at blowing his whirligig – everyone included, nobody left out. At eighteen months old, ‘thank you!’ ‘you’re welcome!’ and ‘here you go!’ are among the first phrases he has learned to say.
On Sunday as we sat down together to eat, for the first time in his high chair he had reached the stage where, instead of squidging the food on his plate, he carefully ate everything with his little fork, taking trouble to do exactly as we were all doing. He wanted to be like us, to do what we did, to be the same as us, to be one of us. Grace and Clay have exercised immense patience in bringing Mikey up to know gentleness and understanding, reassurance and kindness. No smacking. No harsh words. No leaving him to cry. No mocking or belittling his mistakes. Just encouragement and love. As a result, already they have a little boy who delights in loving others, who is cheerful and trusting and confident.
Grace told me today of something that Clay had said, which I thought so wise I wanted to pass it on to you:
“If you want to create evil in the world, Step 1 is to pick on a little kid. There is no Step 2.”
Thinking of all the clinical research that has been done on anti-social and cruel, psycho-pathic behaviour, I would say the evidence is with him all the way.
Building the Peaceable Kingdom begins with unconditional love of the children we know and the children who, whatever age we may be, we still are.
Cheerfulness, patience, gentleness, loving-kindness, encouragement, understanding, forgiveness, and a sense of humour. If we keep busy with these, and focus on the loving heart of God, we shall not go wrong, we shall find our way home.