Thought for the Day: Monday, March 30
On Sunday I was putting together a little Monday morning assembly for the Prep children, whose parents might appreciate something to distract them for 10 minutes or so from the daily grind of living on top of one another, and I thought that the theme might be one I should share more widely.
In Monday Prep assemblies throughout Lent we have been thinking about ‘Walking in another’s shoes.’ The idea was to spend a few minutes at the beginning of the school week reflecting on people whose lives are very different to ours, but who might have lessons to teach us.
So we began by looking at a Kenyan woman called Faith, whose community had recently built a sand dam (they’re interesting things, sand dams – look them up if you’ve never come across them before); next we reflected on the life of St David and his simple lifestyle, then Abraham, who in later life was asked to up sticks and leave his home for good, and most recently Adam, to whom God said ‘it is not good that you be alone.’ All these, I hope, gave the pupils food for thought.
In today’s latest episode on the same theme, I take a look at a character the children have probably heard of: Robinson Crusoe – a man who surely has something to say to us about how we can survive this time of isolation (if you wish you can read the whole article at airshipdaily.com).
There were several ideas from the novel that I thought the children could try and adopt at home, e.g. writing a journal, which was something Crusoe started soon after he reached his desert island; or learning from our mistakes, as Crusoe did when he hollowed out a large canoe to sail away from the island only to realise after he’d made it that it was too heavy for him to move down to the sea shore (‘I was obliged to let it lie where it was, as a memorandum to teach me to be wiser next time’); and how about simply gaining pleasure from learning new skills (‘No joy at a thing of so mean a nature was ever equal to mine, when I found I had made an earthen pot’).
But what caught my eye especially was the final comment in the article recording a remark by G.K. Chesterton about the novel. I really do think this could help us in our own isolation to properly appreciate the everyday things that surround us, in the same way, that Robinson Crusoe delighted in the simplest of objects he was able to salvage from his shipwreck; this is what Chesterton says (and why not try out the exercise he mentions on your own little island, which is the place you are inhabiting at the present moment, to see whether or not it is able to bring you some small consolation): ‘It is a good exercise in empty or ugly hours of the day to look at anything, the coal-scuttle or the bookcase, and think how happy one could be to have brought it out of the sinking ship onto the solitary island.’
I wonder what object might become the subject of your contemplation?