New Year – new ‘care-fulness’

From Seeds February 2022

There has been much discussion around how to approach this new year – as a society, as communities, as individuals. People have spoke about New Year ‘intentions’ rather than ‘promises’.
Many have spoken about trying to be kind to ourselves. There has also been mention of grace – grace towards others and grace towards ourselves. What might intentions – kindness – grace look like for you or your families, friends, and communities?
Here are one or two ideas and prompts.

Showing self-compassion

Ruth Allen is CEO of the British Association of Social Workers. She recently shared the following thoughts, which are relevant well beyond the social work profession.

We have had nearly two years living and working with the pandemic. Like many of you I expect, I started the year taking stock of the impact on me, personally and professionally.

I have been trying to focus on what I need to recover from what has been a tough time, and to thrive in the year ahead. This has meant time spent:

  • Applying critical reflection andunconditional, positive regard to myself.
  • Recognising and celebrating my strengths and accepting ‘human failings’ is just another term for chances to learn.
  • Listening to what my mind, emotions and body are telling me they need.
  • Consciously changing the balance of how I use time and effort between looking after myself and taking up challenges – recognising none of us can carry heavy loads, make good decisions and support others without really good recovery time and nourishment
  • Feeling and showing gratitude to others and for all that I have

This is just my way of showing self-compassion – everyone is different and needs to find their own way. . . finding time to reflect and look after yourself and decide what is right for you can be hard.

We are living through times when worsening inequalities and social need have been exposed. We may have been exposed to health, bereavement, financial difficulties and other challenges ourselves. . . A paradox of coming through this phase of the pandemic, when there is so much to do for others, is that to keep making a difference we have to look after ourselves first.

Dear Tomorrow

Send your promise to the future. Dear Tomorrow is an award-winning climate storytelling project where people write messages to loved ones living in the future. Messages are shared now at and through social media, public talks, community events, and public art to inspire deep thinking and bold action on climate.

At you can think of a person important in your life – a friend, a family member, your child or your future self. Imagine it is 2050 and they receive a message from you written today.
What would it say? About climate change and your promise to take action to ensure they have a safe and healthy world?

Nurture connections offline

‘One thousand hours outside’ promotes ‘digital detox’. Getting beyond our screens.

It describes itself as ‘a global movement designed for any age child (or adult) and any environment’ and takes its name from an estimate that the average American child spends
1,200 hours a year in front of screens.

So – the organisers say – it’s not as if the time isn’t available to spend a 1,000 hours outside!
The 1,000 hours outside website and downloadable pack offers all sorts of prompts and strategies for reconnecting with the world around us.
It does have a US-focus, but all the ideas are transferrable to our own situations. It only takes a spark of an idea to set imaginations going.

An angry prayer

Whoever said anger couldn’t have positive outcomes? Just ask Moses or pretty much any of the Old Testament prophets.

Remember Jesus overturning the traders’ stalls in the precincts of the Jerusalem Temple. Think about Martin Luther King or Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Do we have an anger that we can turn to good use?

God, I am angry
at the loss of innocent lives;
that people don’t have enough to eat;
at the police for not executing justice;
with the very rich for hoarding wealth and then oppressing the helpless;
at the stupid military forces for making people homeless.
I am angry with the unequal distribution of resources around the world.
God, this is damn unfa
ir! Amen.

Edited from Liturgies from Below: praying with peoples at the ends of the world by Claudio Carvalhaes (2020: Abingdon) and included in the January Commitment to Life newsletter.