Dear Friends

Welcome to the month of October. It is surprising that we have reached this month so quickly, yet I would like us to pause for reflection as we consider its significance. October is the month for World Mental Health.

World Mental Health Day is an international day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. We celebrate this day on Sunday 10th October with thousands of supporters to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ lives worldwide.

In last month’s magazine, I shared that our outlook is regularly tested by the cross-winds of life itself, which also includes the testing of happiness. Our resilience is often shaped by the attitudes and responses to the daily experiences faced. Our attitudes have a tremendous and powerful influence upon every part of our lives – physical as well as emotional.

A missionary of Philippines shared how, during the war, he and his wife, ordered into prison camps, were advised to bring their personal belongings. His wife, weighing just over 100 pounds, and not all strong, carried a load of 200 pounds for five miles, a load difficult to carry following their arrival. Mannheim, a famous scientist, said that we normally use one eighth of our physical reserves, and that these reserves are only called when we employ the right attitudes. If our attitudes can help tap hidden physical reserves, then think of what our experiences can achieve if the beautiful attitudes Christians look to in the fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel are adopted. These are the words of Jesus called “The Beatitudes”. You see, the Beatitudes are “be-attitudes”, not “do-attitudes”; the doing comes out of the being.

One of my favourite verses is the third: “How happy are the humble-minded, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs!” (JB Phillips). We all want to be happy – and rightly so. The longing for happiness is a deep rooted instinct that has been built into us by the Creator Himself. The God who made the sunset, painted the rose, put a smile on the baby’s face, gave the gift of playfulness to a kitten, the companionship of a dog or other pet and put laughter in our souls – is surely not happy when we are unhappy.

Happiness is not something we make but something received. Another version of the same quote cites: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. The word for “poor” in the Greek is “ptichos” and means ‘a chosen poverty’. It implies a voluntary emptying of the inner being in order to be poor enough to receive – those who are willing to empty their hands of their own possessions and have them filled with the riches of God. Thus, Jesus’ first description for happiness is thus not to: “assert”, “take”, “release” or “affirm”. No. The first step towards good mental and spiritual health is “self-renunciation”, a surrender of our own interests in favour of the interests of others.

When we are willing to acknowledge our need of Christ and stop striving to find happiness but receive Him into our lives, then like the disciples, we have reached our destination. We return to the words of Apostle Paul’s to the Corinthians: “Apart from Him and His redemptive love as expressed through the cross and the resurrection, we would be most miserable”. Someone also put it another way: “Now that I know Christ, I’m happier when I’m sad than before when I was glad”.

We know that life is imperfect. Things get in the way, and we encounter challenges. Yet, we cannot afford to miss those happy opportunities that come our way. William Feather shared: “Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it”. And when those moments of happiness are enjoyed, we share them. An unknown author also shared: “There is a wonderful law of nature that the three things we crave the most – happiness, freedom and peace of mind – are always attained by giving them to someone else”.

Covid-19 has been a major contributor to mental health in The Claydons and neighbouring villages, hence my regular Parish messages on Facebook, but the opportunity for us to build community resistance and positively impact other peoples’ lives with greater resilience urgently remain. I hope you will also join me in sending prayers for our global families and communities impacted by World Mental Health.

Stay blessed with love.


Reverend Rickey Simpson-Gray

Parish of the Claydons