I wonder what small acts of kindness you have received in the past few days, or you have been able to offer to someone else?
A few weeks ago, my husband and I enjoyed a week in Kent. We explored the Cinque ports and the seaside, visited Canterbury Cathedral and the Roman museum there. But a place I was unprepared for was Dover Castle. It is probably the biggest castle I have ever visited, and it has a commanding position overlooking the English Channel, which explains why it is England’s longest serving fortress. Built by Henry II and used as his base while in England, it was expanded during the Napoleonic Wars, with a series of underground tunnels used to provide accommodation for the soldiers and officers stationed there.
These tunnels came into use again in the Second World War for military operations including Operation Dynamo at the end of May 1940, when soldiers stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk were surrounded by enemy troops and needed to be evacuated quickly.
The Admiralty sent warships and destroyers to take the men off the shore, but they were easy targets for enemy bombing, The government hoped to evacuate around 40,000 troops from the beach to safety, but because of the flotilla of ‘little ships’ that answered the call for help, over 338,000 soldiers, British and French, were safely brought back to Britain. Pleasure craft, fishing boats, lifeboats, anything seaworthy and shallow enough to get to close enough to the shore so that the solders could wade out to climb on board, responded to the call for help and saved the soldiers. What appeared to be a humiliating defeat actually raised the morale of the British people and showed their resilience and determination in difficult times.
That image of a flotilla of ‘little ships’ often comes to my mind when I hear about random acts of kindness offered to those in need. Whether it is responding to a call for help from a neighbour, or a gift to charity, or a national tragedy, it is the acts of kindness from ordinary people that make such a difference. That kindness, that empathetic response, helps to hold society together and make the world a kinder place.
Deborah James has raised more than 5 million pounds from donations from members of the public towards research into bowel cancer in the last few weeks as her life draws to a close. Her blog over the last few years has encouraged many other sufferers, and her courage in being open about her illness has raised the profile of bowel cancer and her fundraising towards research will help others suffering with the same illness in the future. People have responded to her situation with acts of kindness in the form of monetary donations.
At the Christian Aid service at St Mary’s Knighton, on 15th May, the speaker talked of his recent visit to El Salvador to see how projects funded by CA were going. Local people thought that the money from CA had come from the British Government and were amazed and moved when he explained that the funding came from ordinary people in churches across the UK, putting their donations into an envelope once a year.
Perhaps all those CA envelopes are another ‘flotilla of little ships’—small acts of kindness and generosity that are our response to God’s generous love to us?
Often generous acts are done quietly—a bunch of flowers on the doorstep, home-made food taken to a neighbour, a coin or two in a collection box. But each act of kindness done by a follower of Christ shares the love and mercy of God with someone in need. So, I wonder what small acts of kindness you have received in the past few days, or you have been able to offer to someone else?
“So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith” Galatians 6:10
Rev Kate Cook