THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE
FAIRFIELD to BONNINGTON
A gift of light for my journey
Extract from Reflections Journal – Tuesday 29th August 2017
On Sunday evening I heard from Bonnington that I wouldn’t be able to stay in the church overnight. This was frustrating and disappointing having made the arrangements several months previously. Shuna, my host in Fairfield on Monday, had tried very hard to find me an alternative in the area but without success, so I went with an AirBnB option just a few miles from Bonnington. The Dandilion Room was a fabulous luxury – The accommodation was wonderful and the host was very generous. I very easily slipped into lounging around on the bed that afternoon, watching TV for the first time in a little over 6 weeks, and took advantage of the amazing shower – 3 times.
On my way to my overnight accommodation I took a break at Bilsington church – Bilsington is the parish next to Bonnington.
As I was lounging on the bench outside the church, under the welcome shade of a tree, I was greeted by the fabulous Charlotte, church warden at St Peter & St Paul. She was very generous with her time – listening to and talking about my journey, sanctuary and hospitality, and she also gave me this little gift to light the way to my destination
Extract from Facebook Post – Tuesday 29th August 2017
I think that my encounter with Charlotte at Bilsington was one of the most memorable and encouraging of my journey. The gift of light that she gave to me was more than the simple candle and holder that she handed to me as I left, it was the enthusiasm with which she shared her time with me, from the generosity of her welcome to the warmth of her farewell. It was a real blessing. Charlotte was an example of what I hoped I might encounter and receive as I journeyed. Not for my own sake, but as evidence that the stranger really is welcome in our churches and in our fellowships. This kind of hospitality is perhaps most costly when measured in time and perhaps inconvenience. It required of Charlotte that she break into whatever it was that she was busy doing and make space for somebody else. The light of Charlotte’s hospitality shone brightly long before she handed me the candle.
Time to listen, time to share, time to laugh, time to care.
How brightly does my light shine? This really is one of the core questions for me on this pilgrimage. What response will the stranger get when they meet me? I had travelled just 8 miles to get to Bilsington, and although it was a scorching hot day it was nothing in comparison to the journeys being undertaken by so many people across the world in these times. As I sit to write this reflection statistics from the UN Refuge Agency (UNHCR) estimate that there are currently 68.5 million people forcibly displaced world wide. That is approximately 3 million more people than the total population of the United Kingdom. 44,400 people are forced to flee their homes EVERY DAY because of conflict or persecution.
We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record.
An unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.
There are also an estimated 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.
In a world where nearly 1 person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution, our work at UNHCR is more important than ever before.
In the midst of these dark days we need to make sure that there is a light that shines brightly. A light of hope that breaks into the despair and invites people to discover a new life in Jesus. A light that shines on injustice, prejudice, hatred, greed and apathy so that it can’t hide behind overwhelming numbers and statistics, but identifies the real people whose lives are counted as valueless and says ‘You have value and worth. You are loved and cherished. There is hope’.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
Matthew 5:14-15 NIV
Will you go out of your way to welcome the stranger?
Will your light shine today?