"Thank you, Danielle O'Shea, my friend from County Carlow, Ireland, for giving me permission to use a photograph of your daughter Matilda that was taken five years ago when she was aged three years. Her captured image is a perfect companion to accompany the words of today's thought.
Whether a child is a boy or girl, most of us recall those happy days of childhood and family life, playing our part in those simple things that pleasure us a lifetime. Can you recall the times we picked apples with our little hands so that mum could make an apple pie, or occasions when you hunted country lanes for blackberries which your wizard mum stirred with her magic wand in the cooking pot and turned into a lovely jam which tasted better than any shop produce ever could? And, the magic of it all, the thing which took an everyday family experience and turned it into something memorable that we would take to our graves, was made possibly by one thing only; by ourselves being part of the production team.
And so it is with life when we are able to turn happy moments of our childhood into unforgettable memories of old age. It is only through our active involvement with our loved ones and our world that our experiences become more meaningful to have, richer to recall, and far more pleasurable and memorable than they otherwise would be. Just imagine how much we miss out on when we remain mere observers, clapping from the sidelines, unprepared to roll up our sleeves and get involved with the world around us!
Deep down, we all know that the best and most fulfilling way to help oneself is to help others and that what we give out we get back in spades. We know that the most enduring way to 'become' is to 'belong' to something greater than ourselves; our universal family. Ask not, 'Who is my neighbour?' Is he/she the person who lives next door, or the house down at the bottom of the street; or perhaps someone who lives in the next town, the adjoining county, another country, or across the sea at the other side of the world? If you know he/she is there, then they are your neighbours and part of your universal family. And should they come knocking on your door, it is no less than common courtesy to open it and bid them welcome. Only those among you who bid them, 'enter' shall never find the Gates of Heaven closed.
Between 1989 and the present day, my writing, book publications, and charitable works helped to raise over £200,000 for charitable causes. While I have often been the one credited with this achievement (having being the front person and writing dozens of books), anything I did could not have been done without the help, support and involvement of thousands of others working away quietly in the background and giving of themselves unselfishly. I learned very early on in my charity fund-raising career, that given the choice of raising £1000 from one wealthy donor or having 1000 poorer people each give £1, it is far better to opt for the latter course. The reason was simple. Whereas the rich person's involvement would probably stop after they'd passed on their donation, I knew that I could count on the 1000 poorer people who gave their £1 to remain involved with the project and committed to it until the overall aim had been achieved.
It was as if they understood that the greatest thing one can give is their time and effort; a portion of oneself. Paradoxically, it was as if they instinctively knew that the best way to find their finest self was to lose oneself in their service to others. The single thing understood by all good people I ever met, is that everyone counts and everything we do in life matters; every action touches another and no feeling is immune to hurt. And when it is the good and generous in us that is played out through our dealings with another, a chord of compassion is vibrated that is capable of stirring humanity for the rest of eternity.
Ask anyone the things they remember doing with their parents and family or to recall their happiest childhood memories when they were growing up. Their answers will be remarkably similar. It will always be the simple acts of family sharing they were involved in that will prove to be the most enduring. This sharing will be the thing that reminds them of those early childhood years when they were the apple of their parent's eyes and God's innocence, made flesh." William Forde: November 12th, 2016.