Chaplain’s thought for the week
Revd Tom reflects on gratitude, Harvest and YMCA Exeter
This week we’ve celebrated Harvest Festivals in both the Junior and the Senior Schools, and so we have been reflecting on the importance of gratitude. Harvest is linked to gratitude because it is the time of year when we consider where our food comes from. As I remind our pupils each year, the time when farmers bring the crops in is an excellent moment to think about the fact that food doesn’t miraculously appear on the supermarket shelves. It can help us to pause and reflect on the many ways in which we are blessed with good food to eat. Not only this, but we also might consider the very many other blessing in our lives, too.
Positive psychologists have noted how important gratitude is for our mental well-being and the ways in which it can play a role in making us happier. There is real wisdom in the old advice to ‘count your blessings’: rehearsing the good things in our lives increases our positivity. Psychological studies have found that grateful people tend to be higher in positive emotion and life satisfaction, but lower in negative emotions such as depression, anxiety, and envy. What’s more, they suggest that grateful people tend to be more empathetic, forgiving, helpful and supportive of others.
This, of course, is where giving to others at Harvest time comes in. As we recall how blessed we are, we can’t help but be aware that there are others who are less fortunate… gratitude motivates us to give to others as it makes us inclined to share the goodness in our lives.
I have been really impressed with the work of YMCA Exeter, especially when I visited their main residential centre at St. David’s Hill last summer. The staff are wonderful people and the accommodation they provide for vulnerable young people is excellent. For this reason I have made them my Chaplain’s Charity for this academic year, so any donations for this worthy cause would be welcome throughout the year. I will send them a cheque with the final total at the end of the summer term.
In Chapel this week, they explained to us that they are a Christian organisation whose aim is to help any young person (16-29) who is in need, regardless of their beliefs. They told us that they help with accommodation, enabling further and higher education, finding employment, providing youth clubs, working with ex-offenders and offering many health and wellbeing activities.
They were truly delighted with the scale of the donations from the Junior and Senior School: the space in front of the altar is packed with bags and bags of food! This will be used by the YMCA in their cookery classes and will go directly to the young people who need help. I am really grateful to all who have donated.