Is there any hope?

Autumn is over and winter about to begin. Autumn was a time of change and bold colors…. a time of beauty and preparation for the cold months ahead. In autumn we have a foretaste of the cold, dark months to follow. Winter brings dark mornings, biting winds, misty days, drizzly days and very wet days. Trees are naked and bird’ songs are heard less. Winter is a time for drawing inside and keeping warm, of snuggling up with a blanket, sitting by a fire with a good book; a time for hot meals and rich soups with warm friends.

The cycles of seasons can teach us much. Autumn being a time for preparation and letting go, and winter a time for drawing aside and within. A time for reflection. Winter teaches us about the dark and difficult times, how to be at peace with them to learn their meaning.

The power of winter is the power of emphasis; it emphasizes the essence of life. Without the external ornamentation of leaves, flowers, and fruits of the growing season, the plant is just bare essence: a seed, with its potential deep inside. For us, winter is a time of self-recollection, when we can go inside to that place where we are unadorned essence. We can use the energy of this season to more deeply discover the essence of self. 

Winter is for us, as it is for all of nature, a time for internal work: meditation, containment, concentration, and the storing of our energy. We use this season for rest and the filling and maintenance of our reserves, gathering strength for the times ahead. Abundant reserves within give us courage and strength of will. Allowing ourselves to simply be still and quiet, we are restored and find new wisdom. Living in a society of continual striving and exertion, we expect instant results and immediate answers. But nature has another idea: everything to its season. Within nature are already all the answers, we just have to be quiet enough to listen and be empty enough to be filled. (adapted from Dr. Selena Fairs)

As we are reminded in Scripture “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10, “In turning and rest is your wholeness, in quietness and trust is your strength” Isaiah 30:15

Rather than being daunted by the coming winter, let’s use this time for rest and reflection, to face our darkness, and build our reserves for the power that will burst from us in the energy of new growth in the spring.

All good, you may say, but what about the millions of people, all over the world, that don’t have this luxury, not a roof above their heads?

Every night across Australia, more than 105,000 people are homeless. Two out of three people who are homeless are under the age of 23. Domestic violence and a lack of affordable housing are the biggest contributors to homelessness. Other major contributors are poor mental health, family break down, debt, poverty, lease expiry, violence and abuse, chronic gambling and substance addictions, leaving state care, or leaving prison, or army. We met all kind of them. Although homelessness service provision has grown and the emergency departments do extremely valuable work and many go far beyond catering for the most basic needs of food and shelter to offer a broader range of support they play as short term solutions.

So what is the role of our church in this mission of saving the lives of people experiencing homelessness; did we learn that by blessing others we ourselves will be blessed? My hope was that by looking at those unfortunate people my focus will be taken off my own worries, concerns and circumstances founding that the key to getting more out of life is to give more. I’ve been privileged to discover many projects in different countries, now even in my country of birth Romania, and have seen what great hope has been brought to thousands of people by the dedicated efforts of workers and volunteers (I’ll mention just two of them). I have been truly blessed by people who have little in terms in possessions. In their poverty I have witnessed real richness of spirit. They don’t think about the future, but live for the day at hand. We are so rich by comparison, fat through our greed and consumed by dreams of tomorrow. Have we defended our hearts to the hurt and the needy? An old Sanskrit proverb say ‘Yesterday is already a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision; but today well-lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.’ 

The vision of ‘Life and Light Foundation’ Bucuresti is to help abandoned children and young people in difficulty and to train them for an independent life.

It is easy to be skeptical about the effectiveness of foreign aid and wary of its ambassadors, but too often this can be an excuse to ignore the problems. The hope that these true warriors give is a testimony to joy and peace that have been found by many people living in truly hostile conditions, through the generosity of those prepared to look past themselves.

One of my latest question is how then, most of the ones thinking they received “God’s calling for ministry” are heading for Australia, America, or Western Europe…. only, where the big money is, just to sit at the pulpit and in the pastoral office.

‘We are guilty of many errors and faults, but one of our worst crime is abandoning the children, neglecting the foundation of life. Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made and his senses are being developed. To him we cannot answer, “TOMORROW’, his name is “TODAY”.’ (Gabriela Mistral, Chilean Nobel Prize winner)

                                                     ‘Friends for Life’ Vacation Village Cralovat Children Camp

Let me tell you a story I just read in the Salvation Army magazine last week:

This is where “Mouse” – Morgan Wayne Perry – lived. And Died. Mouse’s son, Brad, holds the grandson he never met. It’s still hard to believe Mouse is dead. I first met Mouse 30 years ago when I worked in a Youth Refuge for the Salvation Army. It was a tough place – and got tougher when Mouse arrived. He was a short kid, but aggressive, as if to say ‘Don’t mess with me’. You might remember Mouse from the news reports. He’d set up ‘home’ under a bridge. That’s where he was attacked and killed. Mouse was just 42. The horror is that’s the average age people living on the street die. In their 40s. When I look at the photo of Mouse as a young man, it haunts me to know Mouse never met his own grand-kids. So many people living on the streets lose touch with family – yet every person I meet is someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister, mum or dad. You’ll see that when you read the note from Michele, Mouse’s sister. It’s still hard to believe Mouse is dead. Yet when you know what he suffered in life, you can see why he ended up on the street. Tortured by his step-father as a child. Bashed with a cricket bat. Sexually abused by an uncle. I didn’t know though that as a new father he’d found his three weeks old daughter had died from cot-death.

Let me tell you about my brother….

“Morgan use to call himself Mouse. When I left Melbourne, I said to Morgan I’ll take some video of you. He was living on the streets, so I didn’t really know when I’d see him again. My fear was I’d get a call one day and someone would tell me he’d died… but I never expected to hear he’d been killed the way he was. It was like a dream, because I had trying to find Morgan. When we were young , we were scared of our stepfather. He was a monster to all of us, but particularly to Morgan. I felt bad I didn’t go in and help, because I still see Morgan’s face looking at me and screaming and it was just horrible, horrible. How did this happen to us? How did this happen to Morgan? I want people to know Morgan had a family who still cared about him. When I visit Morgan’s spot I want to stay all night and talk to everybody, because I feel close to Morgan here. I miss Morgan terribly, he was a loving brother with a kind heart who will never be forgotten.” Michele Perry

We go on Friday night to the city to “feed the poor” as my grand-daughter says. I saw this shrine and and I couldn’t stop crying. It’s only when you meet someone, and sit down with them with respect as an individual, and really listen to their story, that you can truly help them find healing, and bring hope where it’s needed most. I love especially the young people who are willing to be involved in this kind of work coming every Friday to help, because I think this responsibility now lies on their young shoulders to carve a life for the needy. Samuel Johnson once said: “We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop that makes it run over; so in a series of kindness, there is a last one that makes the heart run over.” And believe me young people you can make friends even there.

It’s winter in my heart, my sacred space, and now reflecting on the the past I feel I didn’t achieve as much as I would like to. Although I always believed God put people in my way and wanted to lead me towards a whole different path sometimes, I didn’t understand that the biggest reward one can get for working on what He loves, is maybe just a huge smile and I could have hundreds of them if I would just listen to His voice. But I did understand now that we do not inherit the world from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children and the three great essentials of happiness are: something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for. This is why I still love to work with the children and youth in our church. The Bible says: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever. “(2 Corinthians 9:6-9)

‘The real measure of our wealth is how much we’d be worth if we lost all our money.’ (J. H. Howett)

The big disadvantage of extreme poverty and serious mental disability is a life-destroying tragedy. As people with no much access to healthcare and basic hygiene can often find their minor aliments progress to what could have been avoidable disability, many are then faced with rejection of communities in the form of being left out, harassed and even banished for their condition. Please help us in breaking this vicious cycle at least with your prayers and change the world. ‘No one can change the world, but you can change the world for one person.’ (George Hoffman)

“There are three things that remain – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is LOVE” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

We can make a difference, as we are part of the universal Christian Church, who’s message is based on The Bible’s teachings and who is motivated by love for God and humanity.