We had our monthly Monday Gathering this week. It's a meditative time led by one of the community with words, music and time for reflection. We have a cuppa first and then 45 minutes of 'gathering' and then more drinks and chatting. There were just five of us this week.
But there was a lot of woe - elderly parents being ill and in hospital, a husband already with a disability having fallen, money worries, concerns about friends with mental health problems and concerns about ourselves and how we will cope with all of this. Four of us know each other well and see each other most weeks. One woman only comes to these as she goes to another chapel on Sundays.
She had been quiet - but tends to be so - but in a lull I turned to her and asked, "And how are you?" She replied that her Mum had died a fortnight ago - although she was 90 it was unexpected. Having lost two fathers (birth-father and step-father) over the last few years I had an inkling of what she may be feeling - if she was feeling anything at all. I felt a deep sadness - it doesn't matter how old our parents are when they die they are still our parents and we can't grow another one.
We could so easily have missed this significant event in her life as we were trying to be supportive of the people who had been more up-front about the current challenges that they were facing.
We must always remember to ask - in larger congregations and communities this becomes harder. We must find ways to ensure that the network that is community is effective in including everyone and then respond in a loving way.
We must then continue to remember - I was in grief for a least a year with my fathers. A friend in her fifties, whose husband had died suddenly, told me how she found the second year worse than the first. We don't necessarily need to keep asking but we do need to keep remembering these significant events and try to understand the unique effects that they have on each one of us.
Love is very much an action rather than merely a feeling.