Now that 40 Acts is over I have stopped regular blogging- though, to be honest, I stopped regular blogging when we went away with the Cycle Club, a week before Easter. (more about that later) I also stopped thinking about “doing” the Acts, although I still received the emails while we were away. But like I said in my last post, 40 Acts wasn’t just about doing 40 Acts in Lent, and then stopping being generous. It’s about changing attitudes and mindsets. And I think I’ve seen a little bit of a shift in mine – there have been various “incidents” where I’ve initially taken one stance or started to behave in one way and then stopped, and thought Is this what 40 Acts was about?
I do still want to try to complete the Acts I didn’t do, but it will be gradual. I won’t worry about it every day…but I’m left with
32 : ANON: Anonymous generosity can often be the most fun and freeing. No need for explanations, no expectations of grand thank yous: just a simple act of kindness.
I have a plan for this one, but it needs to wait until half term is over in the UK.
33: HATS OFF: You’ve got a brain the size of a planet. Your shirt matches your eyes! You’re so good with numbers/animals/children/words/taxidermy! It’s good to let folks know why they’re great. Go and pay them a compliment today.
This is quite tricky – I’m worried that my compliments sound sly or patronising. But I am trying to thank people sincerely when they help me. In fact that reminds me of a Thank You I want to do over on FB. I was asked to prepare the Communion table during the Eucharist today, and there was one young acolyte who was very helpful & calm when I went into frozen rabbit in the headlights mode when something didn’t quite go as planned. So Thank You to Malaya on the Christ Church FB page.
34: INCLUDE: Invitations are the fun bits of mail that come in the post, once in a blue moon, in amongst the bills. Everyone likes to be included and invited, so extend a warm invitation to someone today, especially to someone who doesn’t normally make the guest list.
This is about inviting people round for cups of tea and so on. Oo-er. I will shift uncomfortably in my seat. Not sure if I can do this one. Not sure how to do this one. I’m going to have to wait for inspiration.
35: BUOYANCY AID: We all live in the centre of our own narrative, but it’s helpful to remember that everyone around us has their own story too. It has highs and lows, and sometimes those lows are seemingly invisible. Today we’re each going to be a lifesaver for someone going through a tough time at the moment. Ask their friends and family what that person needs instead of asking them, and be sensitive to the person’s privacy and dignity.
I really wasn’t sure about this one, when it came up…What could I do here? But I was out shopping later on in the week and saw the guy who is often begging outside Lidl. Mr FD is a bit dismissive, but I always think he seems genuine, with his sign saying “Looking for work: will do anything”. So, being sans Mr FD, I asked him what he’d like me to buy for him, and he asked for “Bread…milk…anything really…” So I bought some bread, and milk, and biscuits, and a ready meal. Then as I handed over the bag, something inside said “Talk to him…” So I did. If you’ve read these 40 Acts blog posts you’ll know that I’m not too good at talking to people, but I think I said something like “Where are you from?” and his story came flooding out. I was there for about 10 minutes, as he told me about his family, about his children, where they were living, how difficult it was to find work… I only made noises, or asked a leading question for him to speak more. Yes, he needed the food, I don’t doubt that, but I think, at that moment, he needed someone to acknowledge him, to speak to him and to make him feel visible. I hope I did that.
36: WILD CARD: Today you get the chance to play your ‘wild card’. It’s the act we left a big question mark over so we could let you—the 40acts community—give us direction. What you told us was (1) there were some acts you went all out on and would love to repeat and (2) there were some you bailed out on and would like another chance to try. The Bible is full of people who received second chances, and even third and fourth chances: Peter, Jonah, Mark, Samson, David, the list goes on.
So that gave us an idea: let’s make today the day of the Second Chance. Another chance to embrace the challenge you loved or another chance to step up to the one you missed first time round. So seize your moment– this is your second chance.
Earlier on in Lent, the 40 Acts team asked us to give suggestions for the Wild Card Act. I suggested something connected with the Refugee Crisis, and gave them the link to Socks for Refugees, an organisation I support. I really, really hoped that this simple organisation would be publicised across the 10,000 40 Activists, who would send socks galore to the group. It wasn’t to be… but my Wild Card is to buy more socks than I probably would have done, and to send them off.
But while we’re talking about second chances, let me link to the wonderful Rend Collective’s “Second Chance”
37: TESTIFY: Our testimonies are often the best advertisements for Jesus. You don’t have to have a perfect life. You don’t have to have all your ducks in a row. But being able to articulate how God changed your life is generous because it offers someone else hope. It says to them, ‘If he can do it for me, he’ll do it for you too.’
Still to do. I imagine that it will be via FB, but I’m not sure
…but what I have done today is reply to another FB post. Attached to another heart rending article about the death of refugees, including children and babies, was the comment “Is there a God?”, followed by numerous “No, there isn’t” comments. So I posted:
YES!!!!!!!!! There IS a God. Sadly there are bastard people who don’t give a shit about others but there is a God. Who is in the hearts, minds and souls of every person (Christian, Muslim, Jew, agnostic or atheist, of any or no religion) who cares for others, who reaches out to help, who weeps over the death or diminishment of another. I don’t blame God for this awful situation; I blame humankind. But it is also wonderful humankind who are trying to help, who are sacrificing themselves, giving all they can, to do something about it.
38: WASHDAY: Today is Maundy Thursday, the day when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. It was a simple act that said so much about service, humility, love and much more besides. So in the spirit of that, prepare to get wet.
Not sure how to fulfil this one…Perhaps I will try washing our windows, which always seems to fall on Mr FD. I suppose the fact that, at our friend’s party over the weekend, Mr FD and I did a heck of a lot of washing up, might count…
39: HUMBLE: Humility is necessary for both forgiving someone and apologising. Don’t let your ego stand in the way of reconciliation and freedom today.
I think this is what I’m trying to focus on after 40 Acts. When Mr FD and I have a “discussion”, or when there’s something I feel he should have done that he hasn’t (or hasn’t done, that I think he should…) I’m trying hard to let it go. It’s not “me” who matters here. I don’t always have to be seen to be “right”, I don’t have to argue my corner every time. If it was Jesus who hadn’t turned the lights off for the umpteenth time how would I react? (an interesting thought…!!)
40: SACRIFICE: Lent is usually marked by giving up: chocolate, TV, social media, whatever it is—we ‘sacrifice’ those everyday pleasures as a discipline. But how much of a sacrifice have we made? How far should our sacrifice go? Today – as Lent concludes and we look forward to the new hope that Easter brings – we’re turning it up a notch. We’re going to ask you to commit to a life of sacrifice; beyond just simple abstinence. It’s time to reconnect to the ancient view of sacrifice, to offer up our very best to God. The kind of sacrifice which opens our hearts and minds to a life of true generosity.
As I said at the beginning…40 Acts is for Life, not just for Lent!!
And a quick update (upon which I will write more another time) on Act No 8 “Dirty Cash”
I said I would save 2€ coins and then start a Lend With Care account. Well, I’ve just counted, and I have 31€ . For the mathematicians amongst you who spotted that if I was saving 2€ coins only 31€ would be tricky to make, I can tell you that I popped various coins into my Space Piggy Bank! This 31€ equates to just under £25. So I’ll be starting that off in the next few days.