Kindness In Jersey

The New Testament lists nine fruits of the Holy Spirit. Bang in the middle – the fulcrum upon which the others balance – is kindness. I am in a retreat cottage at St. Brelade’s Bay on the sunlit island of Jersey. St. Brelade’s Church has just hosted a Kindness Festival. It included lots of Christian things, but they removed Christian terminology. Instead they celebrated and demonstrated a hundred aspects of kindness.

The parish of Lymington, in UK, has kindly invited me to lead a leisurely retreat for them here: ninety minutes input on Celtic spirituality in The Fisherman’s Chapel every morning, a splendid meal in the Methodist Biarritz Hotel every evening; snoozing, swimming, spiritual direction or walking every afternoon. And meeting up with Community of Aidan and Hilda Explorer Gladys Renauf. The parish church of St. Brelade has kindly given me a week’s use of the retreat cottage it owns, and even more kindly has allowed my sister Sally to have a hard-earned holiday in it.

Neighbours have splendid houses and gardens, but even their Keep Out notices are kindly. Above next door’s entrance is this sign: ‘Vagrants cannot, tramps must not and gentlemen surely will not trespass.’

A young man tells me that his fiancee’s father is slowly fading. He has worked for a charity in Asia. ‘None of my Asian friends’, he tells me, 'would send their aging relatives to a home – they care for them within their extended families. I want to do that over here.’ So with great kindness he spends several nights a week with his future father-in-law.

The Rector and his wife, departed for a holiday in Spain after photographing the unusual full red shadowed moon at 2.0 am. They are kindly to three dogs who remain cared for in the Rectory, and to prisoners on remand who help with the upkeep of the grounds.

Yes, there is much wealth in Jersey, but bankers sit round the same restaurant table as bakers and law-breakers doing community service. Food banks and collections of harvest gifts, with generous contributions from the Waitrose supermarket, are taken to the refugee camp at Calais. Jersey Churches Together has just met and called on The States (Jersey’s Parliament) to welcome refugees.

The Fisherman’s Chapel is on the site of a cell established by the saint Brelade, also known as Branwalader, in the fifth century. We recall the Celtic heritage of this place, and some famous Celtic blessings, especially this one: ‘May you have a kindly greeting for everyone you meet.’

Posted at 23:41pm on 1st October 2015
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