Henri Nouwen on service, starting small and seeing clearly

At times, we might be involved in larger things – clothing the naked, sheltering the poor, helping the refugees, visiting the sick or imprisoned, but it is always small to begin with. It begins with small gestures. Being kind to your family and the people you work with, saying a patient word, writing a card, sending a flower. Be attentive.…

Affection (1): it comes and goes

Another head aches, another heart breaksI’m so much older than I can takeAnd my affection, well, it comes and goesI need direction to perfection, no, no, no, no Help me outYeah, you know you got to help me outYeah, oh, don’t you put me on the back burner The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done Affection is great.…

Compassion: suffering with

I was reminded this morning* of the etymology of “compassion”: com- meaning “with” and pati meaning “to suffer.” It’s the same pati we find in the word passion, and sort-of related to the Greek pathos, as in “sympathy,” “to feel with.”** Compassion, like physical pain, alerts us to the presence of something harmful (in this case in the lives of…

Henri Nouwen on fear and scarcity

Fear is a pervasive quality of our lives. Fear makes us think in terms of scarcity. It makes us think “This is a dangerous world. How am I going to survive? There is not enough for everyone. There is not enough food for everyone. There is not enough knowledge for everyone. There is not enough affection and I want to…

Black History Month: the things we forget and the things we can’t see

Some things about Black History month: It is not a recent product of early-21st-Century political correctness, but has roots going back to the 1920s; It isn’t unproblematic: race is a flawed organising principle for all the reasons that racists are wrong;* It does start conversations, shed light on forgotten or hidden truths, and prick our consciences in a way that…

Time and money

I’ve been spending quite a few of my mornings running through the centre of Cambridge. A lot of it is beautiful – especially the colleges. And they’re very wealthy: the total endowment of Cambridge’s 31 colleges works out at a little over £4 billion, and their net assets run closer to £7.5 billion. There are many stories to tell about…

Who wins

… depends on what we say the game is and when (or whether) we say it ends.* *Who said that the difference between a comedy and a tragedy is whether it ends with a wedding or a funeral? See also: Champion, or Ways to Win (1)World without ends

First to the top (more wrapper than race)

Is the first kid to the top of the climbing frame the fastest climber, or just the kid who’s… Come to the park Involved in the conversation The first one to realise there’s a game on Interested in playing Standing a bit closer to the climbing frame Prepared to run and climb with the wood-chip in their shoe or down…