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The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group


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Readings of Beauty, Vision and Compassion

April 8, 2020

Self-isolation has brought profound changes to many of us, and our lives. The positive side of the pandemic is now being widely considered, despite the growing sadness we feel for those affected. Today it is this positive side we have considered with these readings. The first poem is the widely praised “And the People Stayed Home’ by retired school teacher Kitty O’Meara.  We have also included a prayer for Carers, a wonderful piece by the late John O’Donohue on the Beauty of Woundedness, and a lovely Baha’i quotation.


Kitty O’Meara

And the people stayed home.
And read books, and listened,
and rested, and exercised,
and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being,
and were still. And listened more deeply.

Some meditated, some prayed,
some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant,
dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again,
they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images,
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

Anthea Ballam

Let us give thanks
To those that know compassion
Carers, nurses, doctors
Gentle and kind
Volunteers and cleaners
Serving people near and far
Adults and children
Old and young
Female and male
Let us give thanks

May we honour
Those that show no fear
As they stride
Through the valley of death
Sweeping aside dread
Bringing comfort to the timid
And strength to the vulnerable
Envoys of the highest order

Let us applaud
Those that care for us all
Support them throughout the world
Shout out in noisy praise –
Blow whistles –
Clatter and yell –
Broadcast in sound and spirit
Praise and honour all they do
Today, tomorrow and beyond
As we confront invisible forces
The daunting unknown
From a place of isolation

John O’Donohue

The beauty that emerges from woundedness is a beauty infused with feeling; a beauty different from the beauty of landscape and the cold beauty of perfect form. This is a beauty that has suffered its way through the ache of desolation until the words or music emerged to equal the hunger and desperation at its heart. It must also be said that not all woundedness succeeds in finding its way through to beauty of form. Most woundedness remains hidden, lost inside forgotten silence. Indeed, in every life there is some wound that continues to weep secretly, even after years of attempted healing. Where woundedness can be refined into beauty a wonderful transfiguration takes place. For instance, compassion is one of the most beautiful presences a person can bring to the world and most compassion is born from one’s own woundedness. When you have felt deep emotional pain and hurt, you are able to imagine what the pain of the other is like; their suffering touches you. This is the most decisive and vital threshold in human experience and behaviour.


Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony,
with friendliness and fellowship. He Who is the Day Star of Truth beareth Me witness!
So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.