Porthcothan – Newquay (11.1 miles)
Distance from Minehead – 191.5 miles / Distance toPoole– 442.3 miles
I have spent today in a cloud. Unlike the fluffy balls of cotton wool that they look like from an aeroplane, clouds are actually just made up of tiny droplets of water (or ice for the cloud geeks amongst you).
I set off from Porthcothan in cloudy and rainy conditions, which, unsurprisingly, got significantly worse as I climbed up onto the headland. In the cloud with me were a herd of cows – which I only noticed shortly before I walked into one! Visibility was so poor that on several occasions I found myself following what I thought was the path, only to end up at the very edge of a high cliff. Retracing my steps I tried another path. It was difficult to discern where the cow paths were and where the walkers path was. To be honest I was scared. I am a fairly experienced walker and I am certainly familiar with poor visibility weather conditions (coming from Bodmin Moor you learn quickly!!) but I was on unfamiliar territory, I was cold and wet, and my maps and compass were little use with no visible points of reference to help.
Eventually I found my way to a National Trust place at Bedruthan Steps. Here a lovely man let the sopping wet Toby and I into the café (despite dogs not being allowed) and when he heard what we were doing, he gave me a free hot chocolate! It may have been a small and simple gesture, but it made my day. It helped me to face the fog and wind and rain once again and set off on my way towards Newquay.
Mother Theresa famously spent her days serving the people of the slums of Calcutta. Having visited these slums I have a great deal of respect and admiration for this humble servant of God. When asked why she bothered when her efforts were a mere drop in the ocean, she replied that the ocean would be less without that drop. Basically the ocean comprises of lots and lots of tiny drops. Just as a cloud does. On its own the individual drop may seem powerless, but take it from someone who has come into contact with lots of individual drops of water today – add them together and you end up getting very wet!
I ended the day in Newquay with a great ecumenical welcome committee at the house of Rachel and Mervyn Mitchell. Recently, on a trip toIndia, Rachel delivered a whole batch of brightly coloured pillowcases to The Leprosy Mission hospital at Dayapuram. This simple gesture not only brightened up the wards, but also gave the patients a sense of pride and worth as they spent time in hospital.
It struck me that on their own these small and simple gestures, such as Rachel’s pillowcases or the café-man’s free hot chocolate, may seem nice but ineffectual. But when you add them together, when we all do small random acts of kindness, then theKingdomofGodis truly at work in this world – and that is no small thing!
So my challenge to you today is to do a random act of kindness to someone– preferably someone you don’t know, and see how it brightens their day. Then keep doing them. It takes a while of being in a cloud to get truly soaked, but once you’re wet through you stay that way for a long time (no matter what the label on the fast drying trousers says!) and in the same way it will take a while for all our random acts of kindness to change the world and impact the lives of others, but when it does it will be a change worth having and one that will last for an eternity!