The Interfaith Contact Group

The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group


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Insightful, Compassionate and Thought-Provoking Words

June 3, 2020
As dwellers of a coastal City we tend to have a real appreciation of the call and inspiration of the sea, and the sea features in the first two of this week’s offerings.
The first went viral in India. It was widely commented on when published in The Times of India; it is quite astonishing. The author is unknown; it is called I Heard we are in the same Boat. The second is very different: it was chosen by Margaret Drabble in the volume called Poems that Make Grown Women Cry. The title is Say not the Struggle nought Availeth, by Arthur Hugh Clough, and in Drabble’s own words… “this poem tells us not to lose faith.”
The third reading is a beautiful prayer by Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference. The title is We are not People of Fear. Last and by no means least, a contribution sent by David Selo, the IFCG’s Membership Secretary. It is a compassionate poem by Claudia Gould, a member of the Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue. It is called Nothing is Greater than Kindness.
Your contributions are so appreciated. Please stay in touch, and stay well and strong.
Very best wishes,
Chair IFCG


I heard that we are in the same boat.
But it’s not like that.
We are in the same storm,
but not in the same boat.
Your ship can be shipwrecked
and mine might not be.
Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal: a moment of reflection, of reconnection. Easy, in flip-flops, with a whisky or tea.
For others, this is a desperate crisis.
For others, it is facing loneliness.
For some, peace, rest time, vacation.
Yet for others, torture:
How am I going to pay my bills?

Some were concerned about a brand of chocolate for Easter (This year there were no rich chocolates).
Others were concerned about the bread for the weekend, or if the noodles would last for a few more days.
Some were in their “home office.”
Others are looking through trash to survive.
Some want to go back to work because there are running out of money.
Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.
Some need to break the quarantine to stand in line at the banks.
Others to escape. Others criticise the government for the lies.
Some have experienced the near-death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, some are not sure their loved ones are going to make it, and some don’t even believe this is a big deal.
Some of us who are well now may end up experiencing it, and some believe they are infallible and will be blown away if or when this hits someone they know.
Some have faith in God and expect miracles during 2020.
Others say the worst is yet to come.
So, friends, we are not in the same boat.
We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.
And each one will emerge, in his own way, from that storm. Some with a tan from their pool.
Others with scars on the soul.

It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, more they’re looking, seeing.
See beyond the political party, beyond biases, beyond the nose on your face.
Do not underestimate the pain of others if you do not feel it.
Do not judge the good life of others,
do not condemn the bad life of others.
Don’t be a judge.
Let us not judge the one who lacks, as well as the one who exceeds him.
We are on different ships looking to survive.
Let everyone navigate their route with respect, empathy and responsibility.


Arthur Hugh Clough

Say not the struggle nought availeth,
The labour and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.

If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light,
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
But westward, look, the land is bright.

Christian community Prayer
Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference

We are not people of fear:
we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
we are people of generosity.
We are your people God,
giving and loving,
wherever we are,
whatever it costs
For as long as it takes
wherever you call us.

Claudia Gould

Nothing is greater than kindness.
Kindness is greater than everything.
You will say that justice is greater than kindness
But justice without kindness is cruel accounting and dark revenge.
Nothing is greater than kindness.

You will say that the world is greater than kindness
But the world was built for kindness
For The Eternal made the world that it might be a dwelling for the kindness of God
And without kindness the world would never have been.
Nothing is greater than kindness.

You will say that life is greater than kindness
But the gift of existence was given to humankind as pure kindness
A bread without shame.
Nothing is greater than kindness.

You will say that the Law is greater than kindness
But God has desired kindness and not sacrifice
Ever since the beginning of the world.
Nothing is greater than kindness.

You will say that God Almighty, Ruler of Heaven and of Earth, is greater than kindness
But the infinite and uncompounded light that filled all creation at the making of the world
And lingers in it still
Is no other than the pure and undivided light of the Author of All Things.
The perfect light of kindness is God Most High.
Nothing is greater than kindness.