I think we are all aware of the comfort we feel when we know we are loved. And we all respond favourably to kindness when it is bestowed upon us. I read recently about research work being undertaken by The University Of Sussex, who are exploring and investigating the impact of kindness on people and communities. In partnership with Radio 4 they have set up ‘The Kindness Test’ to investigate peoples attitudes towards kindness. The head of the psychology department said:

“Recent reseаrch hаs begun to shine а light on the powerful impаcts of kindness on people and communities’… This mаjor survey аims to leаrn more аbout kindness in our lives, including how different groups’ attitudes аnd experiences differ, аnd how kindness relates to our mentаl heаlth, well-being, аnd other psychologicаl experiences. ”

This got me thinking about my family and community and their kindness footprint.
As I child living in Consett – perhaps like many others – I took for granted the high levels of kindness I was treated to at home, by my close and extended family and friends. The hot water bottles lovingly prepared before bed, the milky cocoa, the bedtime story and the kiss goodnight – after a quick pray – before getting tucked in ready for sleep; were all nightly rituals. The next morning with my clothes warming in front of the coal fire, I enjoyed eggs on toast for breakfast before heading off to school.

In our street, neighbours often popped in with a pie or scones on baking day, and shared out the vegetables grown in their allotments; while feeding groups of random children who just happened to be playing outside their house at tea time.

To me the memories are far more poignant than any monetary gifts I received, as where toys and presents may get broken or wear out, these acts will last for ever, It also reminded me of The Sacred Heart picture which held pride of place in many of my extended family’s and friends homes I visited as a child, and which I’ve noticed in Agnes’s kitchen on the television show Mrs Brown’s Boys. It has been said that:

“The devotion to the Sacred Heart is one of the most widely practised and well-known Catholic devotions, wherein the heart of Jesus is viewed as a symbol of “God’s boundless and passionate love for mankind”. [1]

The picture often has a light beneath, I’m convinced the one in my Nana’s house had a 150w bulb in it, as you could see the glow coming out of the front room window as you walked down her street. She prayed to him every day and told me that we are all loved more than we will ever know. Yet in our house we had a little statue of him on the mantelpiece in the bedrooms to remind us of the same. Later on in life while sharing Sacred Heart stories with my friends, I found out that the pictures and the statues were part of every day life in their homes too.

So, when in Barcelona over a decade ago to celebrate my friends 50th birthday, I couldn’t believe my eyes being stopped in my tracks as I walked down La Ramblas; for there in front of me, among all the other living statues on their podiums, was, The Sacred Heart in person.

As I approached the still motionless statue and moved in closer, he turned, smiled and blessed me!

Delighted and mildly hysterical with that simple act of kindness I asked my friends to capture the moment on camera!

Later as we discussed the day’s adventures and laughed about it over dinner and a glass of wine;
One of my friends remarked:

‘Do you know something; he looks so much bigger in real life!’
And I guess, perhaps, she’s right!

[1]”Opening for the Year of Priest on the 150th Anniversary of John Mary Vianney”. vatican.va. Jun 19, 2009. Archived from the original on December 24, 2017


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