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In 1624 John Donne famously wrote –

“No man is an island entire of itself.. any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.”

Four hundred years later, those words are as true now as they were then. We are all interconnected; this is the human family and we all play a part in it, for good or for ill. None of us leave the world untouched – we all make a mark upon it in some way or other; usually in numerous small ways, but at other times in more pervasive ways.

Similarly, others in our lives leave their mark upon us in numerous different ways. They touch us – and as they do so, we are changed. Most often, these ‘personal influencers’ affect our value systems, our beliefs, our view of the world around us and of our place within it. Of course, they may do this in either a positive or a negative way.

Perhaps those with the greatest effect upon us are those closest to us, those with whom we have the greatest and most enduring contact – most often, these are family members and relatives, but it may be teachers, neighbours, friends, or any other person.

On 1st November every year, the Catholic Church celebrates ‘All Saints Day’; on this day, we think back to all those within our lives who have fulfilled the roles described here. Looking back upon the past years of my own life, I clearly percieve those whose influence formed me into the person I am today and I am deeply thankful for every single one of them.

The four women pictured above are at the top of this list – and yet there are so many others who feature on that list, too. Each of these good people gave me something of themselves which then formed part of me as time went on; each one taught me lessons in and about life; each one was generous in their own way, so that they gave me a priceless gift. Sometimes, they knew this was taking place; other times, they may never have known their influence upon me. But I did. And I remember. And I am grateful.

To all these people, I say – from the depths of my soul – ‘thank you’..

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