A Sympathetic Voice

Have you been bombarded with the news this week?

So far, this week seems to have been one of highly publicised televised interviews and sensational headlines, followed by opinionated spats and disagreements on various news programmes. It can be hard to change focus and to stay grounded, for unless one sits at the bottom of the garden in a teeppee listening to the sounds of nature (actually I would love a teepee!) one cannot avoid the news altogether. I wouldn’t want to wade in with comments about ‘that interview’ for I cannot begin to know the reasons for other people’s trials and tribulations. What has occurred to me though, is how complicated life becomes, when the need to be right, or follow protocol, or make people obey the rules, gets in the way of everyday life.

Perhaps we should all take a step back and think about the simple acts of kindness that sometimes get lost along the way – perhaps because of busyness or stress or life’s pressures. I recently attended an outpatient appointment at my local hospital, and to say I was treated with briskness is an understatement. In a procedure lasting just over half an hour I was spoken to only once or twice, and that was just to give me instructions. Just a few kind words and a short explanation of what was going on would have made such a difference and really improved my experience. I wasn’t treated badly, but I was treated with indifference. I do understand the NHS is under great stress. I used to be a nurse myself, and I know what a great job a lot of hospital staff do, but that day, kindness and interaction was lacking. Just a couple of minutes chat and a smile was all that was needed. Would that have held up the day too much?

I give the above example not to criticise but to illustrate how it is the small things in life that help us keep going and feel better. Life is short, and we need to be feel cared for and we need to treat people, and be treated, generously.

Recently, I have lost three friends from various walks of life. I have walked around with sadness and grief on my shoulders. Memories of the past have woken me in the night and I have tossed and turned, and pictured myself as a teenager once more, laughing with a friend who has now said goodbye. I have realised that all that matters is how we love, and that we will be remembered for the good things we have done, the friendships we have formed and the way we still managed to carry on and be ourselves even when facing adversity.

If only we could all cut through the wasted time that comes about from looking in the wrong direction or from dwelling on hurts that we could just let go, then we could make the most of the precious time we have.

Huge misunderstandings could be put right and hurts could be healed if those who had the power, reached out and said, ‘What can we do to make things better?’



A Sympathetic Voice

Lately it has come to mind
It is most important to be kind,
To take a moment, and make a choice
And comfort with a sympathetic voice.

In this complex world we keep afloat,
Care for ourselves without rocking the boat,
Weigh up the politics, try and do what is right,
Find something we believe in and follow the light.

But too many times, on a solitary track
Have we passed on by, and not looked back
Not knowing the difference we could have made
To the person standing alone and afraid?

And after frantic years of business deals,
With arrogant managers kicking their heels,
Would anyone look back and say
'I'm glad I acted mean today?'


L.M.H 


Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 3:3

When we love and treat each other with the utmost care and attention, the little things that bother us seem far less overwhelming. And perhaps we should listen twice as much as we talk.

A Thousand Pleases…

Kindness Matters. Always.

This is my mantra.

No matter who we are, whatever gifts life has or has not bestowed on us, we all benefit from kindness. Words of kindness can help our fears and anxieties disappear, like ice melting in the warmth of the sun.

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Lately it has come to mind – It is most important to be kind. To take a moment, make a choice, Comfort with a loving voice.’

Perhaps I can offer a few examples of kindness I have encountered.

One day last year I was sitting outside a cafe enjoying some coffee and Some welcome winter sunshine. All was quiet until a group of young men walked towards the cafe. They appeared to be in boisterous spirits, shouting and laughing. Swaggering along dressed in their hoodies, they gave off an air of arrogant confidence. They ordered drinks and sat down at a nearby table. They were loud. To be honest I felt slightly uncomfortable next to them and a little annoyed that my space had been invaded. I began to make assumptions about where they were from and wondered why they were out and about. Why weren’t they at work or college? But my thoughts were interrupted when an elderly lady walking across the road tripped and fell, scattering all her shopping in the street. Before I had chance to move, the young men next to me all stood up and dashed over to help. I followed over too, to see if there was anything I could do. Very gently one of them checked the lady over to see if she was badly hurt, and as a group they wondered whether an ambulance was needed.

It was decided that the lady was just shaken up. Getting slowly to her feet she insisted she was okay but was agitated about her groceries and handbag. No problem they said, and gathered up all her things, reassuring her everything was there. I took her over to the cafe and sat her down whilst one of the young men went inside to order her some tea.

We all sat outside the cafe together, our chairs pulled round one table in a companionable circle. Soon the lady was smiling and feeling better .

She looked up at one of the lads. “Why, I know you! You are Jenny’s son from the next block of flats to me! I haven’t seen you for a long time! It’s young David isn’t it?”

‘Young’ David smiled and looked embarrassed. “Yes that’s me.”

“Well I’m blessed,” said the lady, who’s name was Molly. “How you’ve grown! I’m so pleased to see you.”

We all chatted for a while and then David offered to walk Molly home. Off they went arm in arm, the others following behind. David promised to tell his Mother he had spent time with Molly and suggested Molly came round to visit sometime. Molly smiled such a sweet smile as she waved goodbye to me. An upsetting fall had had a happy ending.

I went inside and ordered another coffee. I thought about the boys and their kindness to an old lady. I realised one thing. It was not my business to question how anyone passes the time of day. And it was the last time I ever made assumptions.

In this complex world we keep afloat, Care for ourselves without rocking the boat. Weigh up the politics, Try and do what is right, Find something we believe in and follow the light.’

I remember having to start a new school when I was thirteen as my family had moved house. I was crippled with shyness and it was a very distressing time in my life. I joined the school at a time when everyone had been there a while and had settled into new friendships. They all had their allocated seats and knew the routine. Break-time was miserable. I lurked around in the changing rooms as I didn’t have friends to hang out with. Sometimes after my father had dropped me off at the school gates I would watch him drive off and then I would turn around and walk the three miles home again. My parents were worried about me but at a loss about what to do.

I knew somehow I had to get used to going to school. Gradually some of the other girls started to include me in their circle and the days started to improve. It would take a while until I felt that I belonged but the person who really helped me was my English teacher. Mr. Walker was a kind and thoughtful gentleman who took an interest in me. He made me welcome and took time to concentrate on my work. He taught us good values and good manners by example. He gave me good marks for my essays! He instilled in me a lifelong love of writing. He remembered my name, even when we met by chance years later. Mr. Walker had a class full of pupils but he took the time to be kind to a young, timid girl. He must be long gone now, but I have never forgotten him.

   ‘Too many times on a solitary track Have we passed on by, and not looked back Not knowing the difference we could have made, To the person standing alone and afraid?’

Kindness often comes at times when we least expect it. A random stranger smiling and opening a door for us. A passer by giving us change for the parking ticket machine, or, as happened to me recently, a waitress who was so kind to me after a rough day she brought tears to my eyes.

No matter who we are and whatever our circumstances, we all have times we feel alone. We struggle to understand what is going on around us, both in our own small world and the big wide world too. Most of us have times when we feel lonely in a crowd; days when we wonder literally what this world is all about.

On Monday my elderly father was rushed to hospital with a sudden infection – he had gone to bed perfectly okay the previous night and the onset was sudden. When called, the paramedics were very professional and efficient and realised he needed to be hospitalised and so we were soon waiting in the emergency room of the local hospital. The immediate care was good and the staff did their best. It was very, very busy though and the staff had their hands full. The unit was overflowing and there was stress. In the midst of it all I heard a lone voice asking for help – ‘please help’ and again, ‘please help! A thousand pleases!’. It made me think that when we are at our lowest the basic need in all of us is to be shown some kindness. And the person was helped. And shown compassion. I’m so thankful there are people who do their best in tough conditions and who are not just motivated by earning money or by fame, but who are just there to make a difference to someone’s well-being and who are doing their job the best way they can.

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‘After frantic years of business deals, With arrogant managers clicking their heels, Would anyone look back and say: “I’m glad I acted mean that day?”’

One last word.

Some days I can get out of the bed the wrong side and feel grumpy. We all can. These are the times when it may be harder to summon up a smile or be polite. After several cold calls interrupting me on the telephone I can feel exasperated. Or maybe it has taken what seems like hours to be served at the checkout. Or perhaps I have been stuck in a long queue of traffic. These are the times I take a deep breath. These are the times I remember life is good. These are the times I tell myself I have today. I am lucky to have today. I am lucky to be able to walk around freely. I am lucky to have a phone I can take a call on no matter how irritating. I am lucky to have some change in my purse. Therefore I will try and cope with my day and whatever it brings. And I hope I will be kind.

What are your thoughts on the healthcare system? In the Uk we seem to be at crisis point although the present government disagrees. As a former nurse and someone who has worked for many years in the NHS system and believes in it wholeheartedly, I hope to see change and more resources before we lose it forever.