This is the air we breathe

July 17, 2020

Sometimes

All I need is the air

That I breathe

And to love you

Do you recognise the song? It was popularized by the Hollies in the 1970s, and it was a hit for Simply Red some 20 years later.

The air that we breathe is in the headlines again this week, and, surprisingly, it’s good news. Apparently, air quality has got better during lockdown. Some have speculated as to whether high air pollution has been a contributing factor in the spread of coronavirus. But, with fewer cars on the road and with many factories closed, air quality in major cities like London and also in rural areas has improved hugely.

It’s late news in one way, for many of us have noticed the difference when walking, running or cycling. It’s great to breathe in the purer air, and I for one don’t relish returning to how things were before the outbreak.

Another song I like is “This is the air I breathe” by Michael Smith. It’s a Christian song which suggests that the more we breathe in the freedom of Jesus, the more we want to do so. It’s like our newly restored air quality: the more I breathe it in, the more I want to go for a walk and indulge in a long, slow intake of clean, fresh, unmasked air.

Sometimes it’s all we need.

And to love, of course.

James Henderson info@because.uk.com

Because Magazine July / August 2020

July 13, 2020

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Because Magazine July / August 2020

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Faith, hope and love

April 22, 2020

“The three most important things to have are faith, hope and love”. I didn’t write that, I read it in the copy of the Bible I keep by my bedside. And these three little words – faith, hope and love – have been on my mind today.

The first one came to me when I woke up this morning, too early to put the light on. As my wife slumbered next to me, I pulled up the news on my mobile and a headline caught my eye: “Coronavirus: Hope as Italy records first fall in active virus cases”. You’ve probably seen the story by now, but in a nutshell, the number of people in Italy infected by the virus has fallen for the first time since the outbreak over there started. The Italian authorities said that even though the reduction was small, only 20 fewer than the previous day, they were viewing it as a positive development. A slender hope, but hope nevertheless.

Elsewhere in Europe, there are other hopeful signs. In Germany, shops are reopening, and some school pupils are back in class. Poland started easing some restrictions from Sunday. And in Denmark there is a rush for haircuts as the lockdown in that country eases. Meanwhile, back in the UK, plans a for a ‘traffic light system’ to help Britain’s transition back to normal from as early as 11 May were widely leaked yesterday. Even though we have been in lockdown in many parts of Europe for a month or more, we are hopeful that things will come back to normal eventually.

Hope is wonderful thing and it is all around us right now, like Spring. I read a simple but profound definition of hope in a dictionary today, where it was described as, “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”.And that rings true to me when thinking about this crisis; I feel that sooner or later it will pass.

Time to move on to that second word, faith. The two words have similar meanings, for example that same dictionary defines faith as “confidence or trust in a person or thing”.1 My Bible takes it further saying, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for”.If you like, faith is an upgrade on hope. It is hope with oomph. Not just a feeling, but confidence or belief. Something we somehow know for certain.

One thing I know for certain is this: during the COVID-19 disaster, love abounds. It seems as though everywhere you look, you see examples of it. Sincere expressions of goodwill from one human being to another, from the front-line nurses putting their lives in harm’s way to save grievously sick patients, to the Perthshire village that converted an old telephone box into a help yourself larder for the needy. And the hundreds of tiny acts of kindness in between, too many to document but visible everywhere every day.

This is love in action. And when the pandemic is over, even if the traffic thunders along the roads again as before and the amount of air pollution returns to pre-Coronavirus levels – which I truly hope does not happen – I have faith in one thing: the love will remain.

I deliberately cut the opening quotation short, now’s the time to reveal the whole thing:

“The three most important things to have are faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of them is love”.3

Peter Mill info@because.uk.com

Peter is editor-in-chief at Because

1Dictionary.com
2The Bible – Hebrews 11:11 (NIRV)
3The Bible – 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIRV)

A timely song

April 20, 2020

Some songs come to define an event; echoing what’s in the heart of a nation – even a world – at a time of crisis. And we may have found a song for this global coronavirus crisis.

It was performed at the end of the One World: Together at Home concert yesterday evening, an ensemble of over 100 of the biggest names in music. Lady Gaga called it “a love letter to the world”.

The stand-out performance captured my attention and curiosity more than anything else. I’d heard the song before; it had been sung by X Factor contestants on both sides of the pond. The closing song, The Prayer, was sung in a collaboration between Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Andrea Bocelli and John Legend.

Originally written for the 1998 film Quest For Camelot, its most poignant lyrics open the song:

“I pray you’ll be our eyes,

And watch us where we go

And help us to be wise,

In times when we don’t know

Let this be our prayer,

When we lose our way

Lead us to a place,

Guide us with your grace

To a place where we’ll be safe.”

The words resonated. Maybe they did for you, too. Many interpret these lyrics as spiritual, sung to an unidentified subject. It’s a prayer for guidance, hope and safety in a world that is uncertain and dangerous. A fitting prayer for a time like this, bringing comfort to the uncertainty and fear so many of us might be feeling.

At a time when we may be facing job insecurity, concern for our loved ones, or risking our own lives to help others, praying may have crossed our mind. To ask for guidance and safety.

But it can be difficult to know what or who to pray to. Or even how to pray. My friend, who’s not religious at all, posted on his Facebook, “pray for our PM” when Boris Johnson went into intensive care. I decided to reply to the comment that I would pray; I then added a few more people to the list.

For me, I learnt to pray from a suggestion given centuries ago. It was the suggested prayer from Jesus in response to his followers asking how they should pray. If you are wondering how to pray or who to pray to, I leave this link to the suggested prayer from Jesus for you to explore.

And maybe in praying, we will be guided by his grace to a place where we’ll be safe.

Richard Fowler info@because.uk.com

Richard is editorial assistant at Because

Waiting times

March 4, 2020

“Thank you for your patience. You are number 18 waiting to speak to a receptionist. The current wait time is 20 minutes 15 seconds”.

Don’t you hate that kind of message? You need to see a doctor, you’ve left calling the surgery to the very last moment, and, now, you’re left hanging on at the end of the phone only to find out, when you do eventually get through, that there are no appointments left for the day. And, so, you decide to try again the next morning.

It’s frustrating to wait.

We’ve all heard alarming stories about people waiting to be seen at hospital A&Es. The pensioner dumped for hours on a gurney in a lonely corridor, the ambulance arriving 6 hours after the emergency call was made, the child neglected when she needed emergency treatment. They may be exceptions, but they grab our attention, and we don’t want it to happen to us or to our nearest and dearest.

I read a story once about a man who was beaten up by thieves and left by the side of the road to die. It’s the story that was the inspiration behind the Good Samaritan movement, and it was told by Jesus Christ. Two people who had the power to help him saw him lying there, and they made a decision to walk on by and do nothing, not even to call for help later. Perhaps they were afraid for the own safety – had the robbers really gone? Or, were they prejudiced in some way? Or just too selfish to get involved? What happened next was unexpected. A foreigner, a transient worker perhaps, an immigrant if you wish, was passing by, saw the wounded man, and bandaged him up. The stranger then transported him to an hotel for rest and recuperation, and he even paid the bill! Quite a story. The victim, though, had to wait unattended, probably for hours, until someone chose to help him.

It makes you think, doesn’t it? At least it does me. Are there people I could help, but I don’t? I’m too distracted, I don’t care enough, life is too busy anyway, let someone else do it. It may just be a little thing like a get-well card, flowers to say you care, an encouraging telephone call, a smile, an anonymous gift, but I can’t be bothered. Or something bigger, but will I make the effort?

Let’s grab the chance to help others when we can.

What are you waiting for?

James Henderson info@because.uk.com

Because Magazine January / February 2020

December 16, 2019

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Because Magazine November / December 2019

October 29, 2019

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Because Magazine September /October 2019

October 1, 2019

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Because Magazine July/August 2019

June 28, 2019

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May 1, 2019

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