‘Be honest with yourself. What unpalatable truths might you be evading? When you recognise your shortcomings, do not let that discourage you. In worship together we can find the assurance of God’s love and the strength to go on with renewed courage.’
This passage from ‘Advices and Queries’, the booklet of guidance and reflection for Quakers, was read aloud by a Friend at Newbury Meeting. For the rest of the meeting I thought about that word – “courage”. I thought about the courage of my Grandfather’s brother Joseph, who was killed in World War One when he went into battle unarmed, as a stretcher bearer. Then I thought about the obvious courage of a person who is battling a terrible illness, and how we can feel enormous sympathy. And I thought about the courage of our friend Ruth who, at 104, raised a great deal of money for the Air Ambulance by walking around her estate. But then I thought about the quiet courage of somebody like my sister, who cared for her severely disabled daughter for thirteen years, and had to endure the stares of strangers when she took her out in her wheelchair. Or of a woman who is terrified of going out, but still makes herself go to the shops to buy food for her family. So much courage goes unnoticed, and unrewarded, because we fail to understand the struggles of others.