Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 19th November 2023

Dear Friends, The government is proposing longer sentences for some crimes. Even supposing that more severe punishment was the solution which I guess is not the case, where are these Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 19th November 2023

Dear Friends,

The government is proposing longer sentences for some crimes. Even supposing that more severe punishment was the solution which I guess is not the case, where are these longer-stay prisoners to be accommodated in our already overcrowded and antiquated prisons? And where are the prison staff who might help to put them on a more positive road when they are released? It cannot possibly be a happy solution to the problem. Recently when the media were reporting a knife murder by a teenager, I felt really sad that there is so little help available with anger management. It is not wrong to feel angry, especially when we or others are suffering injustice. It is how we deal with this very powerful feeling which is a vital factor in behaviour and in promoting peacefulness. There are of course other emotions which need to be managed, both positive and negative – love and kindness, or jealousy and fear, for example. How we deal with these emotions influences how we grow in peacefulness, and surely peace begins at home rather than ‘out there’ somewhere, however much some issues are occupying our minds. Mother Teresa famously said peace begins with a smile. The Hebrew and Arabic words for peace are very similar – shalom and salaam. I always think there must be something hopeful in that.However, if we want peace in the world, it seems to me that the first step forward is to be a peaceful presence ourselves, and this is an ongoing process for the whole of our lives. It is not easy to be calm and patient if we feel hurt, neglected, misunderstood, or if we can’t get our own way. When this happens we need to find a way to cope with our feelings and express them honestly without damaging others either physically or verbally.Taking sides in other people’s conflicts also has its dangers. I don’t think I would be much good at helping others who need conflict resolution. But I do know that when we are concerned with other peoples’ conflicts, being objective is probably the most helpful attitude. How may this line of thought affect the way we react to what is going on in the Middle East? There is no doubt that large numbers of people need to be held in the Light of Love and Compassion: the exhausted peace-makers; refugees, people bereaved of family members including babies and children; aid workers; medics; those who have killed; those who have been wounded; politicians; concerned parties in other parts of the world; and dear to our hearts might be Ramallah Friends School as well as much more. Holding all these people who have the opportunity to be peace-makers in a positive and loving Light is something we can do, while at the same time acknowledging we will never know the results of our prayerfulness – a small sacrifice on our part.With my loveCaroline on behalf of the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (David Hitchin, Chris Lawson, Tim Pitt-Payne, Caroline Pybus, Theresa Samms and Nancy Wall)