The kindness of strangers can make all the difference. Mostly, to people you’ll never know it’s made a difference to.
Last week I chose the hottest day of the year to drive to Birmingham and give a talk with 3FF* in a Muslim-majority school. I spoke to two different primary school classes about being a Pagan. A humanist and a Shia Muslim also spoke. I can’t speak highly enough about the school administrators’ hospitality. It’s Ramadan, so almost everyone there was fasting, but they provided us with an absolute feast – fruit, sandwiches, cake. As we were leaving, the headmaster gave us gift bags with sweets and English copies of the Qur’an. Absolutely wonderful people.
Both the classes I spoke to, with children aged 7 and 8, were so interested in others’ beliefs, and the things we all have in common. Their questions were amazing – thoughtful, philosophical, deeply probing. Both classes asked me a lot about my personal experiences, including with the gods I honour. Lovely stuff.
A little girl in hijab saw me after the presentations. She and her friends were playing at a computer, and we had a quick chat about my talk. She said “Do you like being Pagan?” I said, “I love it. Do you like being Muslim?” “Oh, yes!” she said, and we smiled at each other. I love interfaith work so much.
What with it being the hottest day of the year, and me still not being 100% well after a fibromyalgia flare, half way through my three-hour drive home I was feeling a bit unwell, and had to drive home really slowly and practically needed lifting out of the car at home. May Manannan of the Wanderers bless the service station workers who pumped my petrol for me, on the way home. It’s a service they offer for disabled people, and I usually feel too guilty to take it up, but this time I was just so grateful to have help. The kindness of strangers comes in all sorts of varieties.
The following day I did a little spell for the bees – a wonderful idea that Jake had, for those of us who couldn’t get to the ‘save the bees’ demonstration at Downing Street that day. (The demonstration was successful, incidentally!)
I did the work, which mainly involved offerings to St Gobnait and the land spirits, in front of the open French windows – sitting on the threshold. In the middle of it, a bee flew in and out of the windows three times. The first time, he buzzed around the table a bit. He was a honey bee. Wish I’d got a picture of him. This will have to do, instead.
The Bee Woman (her name may change or get more specific, or it may not. I think that’s up to her) has been calling me. Fire and will and the doors to the Otherworld. Things are moving and changing, and I love it. Happy summer, all.
*By the way, 3FF is really keen to have more speakers, of any religious or non-religious persuasion, but especially Pagans, and especially ones within easy reach of Birmingham! Their name is a legacy – they now work with people of all faiths and none. Get in touch with them (or me) if you’re interested!