Ramadan has been quite tough for the Islamic community in the Northern hemisphere this year. In the further regions of the Scandinavian countries some people fast for 23 hours. In Brighton today the sun rose at 11 minutes past 5 and will set at 3 minutes past nine. That’s a long time to fast on an on-going basis, and on some days it was longer. When I went to a wonderful Ramadan dinner at the beginning of the month the sun set at around 20 past nine, and I was very aware of how long the fast had gone on for. A group of people from diverse faith backgrounds gathered at The Dialogue Society and we talked about fasting and its effects;the Turkish muslim community both hosting and attending this wonderful evening explained that fasting was not so difficult for those in the habit of doing it, but it did give them an opportunity to think about people elsewhere who don’t know where the next meal is coming from, and empathise with the world’s poor and starving, of which there are many.
Experience is a great educator. I’ve been having a lot of weird problems with my hands of late. The pain taught me that people who lose a hand, or an arm, or suffer serious rheumatic problems have a dreadful time. We take our limbs for granted, but when they play up and make simple things like doing up a shoelace or buttoning up a shirt a challenge, ones thoughts immediately turn to the old, frail and disabled who must contend with such problems on a permanent basis, and that is humbling.
I realise that I feel the same way about my home. Ever since I was young, and had a little control over the space I occupied, I have always wanted to honour the space I was given, knowing that it was just blessed luck that allowed me to have a roof over my head. My house is a celebration of what a home is about, and probably has far too much stuff in it, but it is very, very loved. It’s loved because the alternative is unbearable. Homeless people are increasingly visible in Brighton and Hove since the Tories came to power. I know that so many of my friends and associates have met up with this problem on a daily basis, either through circumstance or choice, and feel increasingly helpless. Some have sought to find homes for those encamped on their doorstep, others have tried to feed the homeless. It is a shameful indictment of our society that this tragic situation has become so prevalent. The best and most compassionate words written about homelessness in Brighton come from Andy Winter, Chief Executive of Brighton and Hove Housing Trust, a man with extraordinary compassion and insight, who has made a massive difference to this City, and the lives of many, many people. He is unique. You can find his amazing blog… as follows.