Stand and Stare

 

I had seen the notice in the newspaper and thought I would make a note to attend the cancer support group, that was to meet at the Church in the village in Durban North. .
Come the day, I had a hesitancy to go.   Not knowing what to expect, and certainly not wanting to surround myself with strangers who spoke of troubles and problems and sicknesses.   My heels were becoming more firmly entrenched in my obstinacy, when I had a sense of the Lord saying to me, with His two fingers pointing at His own eyes :  ‘Keep your eyes on Me’    So the decision was made, I had to go to the meeting.
Talk about self-sabotage  – something I will have to look into at some time !!

However, it turned out to be a lovely day.  I had a lift to the meeting, so I was free to make quiet observations along the way.
One thing I noticed as we were waiting longer than usual at a robot – ( We have power outages in our country at the moment.  It is a national crisis as our electricity generating plants are in a state of disrepair !!)  –  there was a team of municipal ladies in red overalls  weeding and sweeping the gutters in the streets.   One had a long sharp blade type cutter with which she cut the weeds, the follow-up lady would sweep up the weeds, and another two would trim and clean the pavement, sidewalk or verge as some call it.
All very proper, and although very menial it was a form of employment, so very necessary for our people.  But here is the spark that lifted my day.  One of the young ladies looked very becoming for she wore a long curly “weave” or hair piece that made her look like a career woman!   As the traffic began to move and we passed by I gave her an invisible salute, for here was a young lady holding her own, doing a days work on a  hot humid day, looking the best she can while embracing a lowly work.

The scheduled meeting was quite a large one,  and I was welcomed and acknowledged as a newcomer, and escorted to a seat with a companion throughout the meeting.
The people, mainly woman, were cancer survivors gathering to share their stories.   I sat quietly and listened.   I again realised just how good God has been to me through my own encounter with cancer.

There was both suffering and strength in the room, with an open willingness to talk about their survival journey.   There were some who had nursed mothers, fathers, brothers and loved ones through cancer.  These were  the close family members of cancer patients, (often not regarded) who go through their own particular emotional traumas when their loved ones face the cancer challenge.
Tea and cake were served and we huddled together, like mother hens, to talk around everyday normal things and events.  These are things women do best  – apart from surviving cancer !
The scheduled programme of listening to an inspirational talk on cancer was shelved as the electricity was off.  Some of the ladies spoke at random and the rest respectfully listened to their experiences.
There were one or two caregivers, who had a  wealth of knowledge and experience in dealing with this disease.  A small group from Reach for Recovery, who do wonderful support work through their volunteers, had also come to the meeting.  The leader of their group later  came over to speak to me and told me of their work.    She was an elderly Indian lady, with a red dot on her forward indicating she was a Hindu,  and had so much empathy. The love was quite tangible, as she leaned in to give me a hug to say good-by.
I came away feeling emotionally cuddled, clucked over, and ‘seen’   It was so good to be with a group of genuinely caring people.

The meeting had finished a little earlier and I had to wait on the pavement for my ride to arrive.   As the Church is right in the heart of the ‘village’ there were car guards hanging around.  The Church has a crèche, and parents were arriving to collect their kids.  A lot of poverty has filtered into this little suburban region, so there is a soup kitchen on certain days.

Methodist Church

During tea I had overheard a Church member lamenting that their church have many elderly people,  little youth activities, needs repair as its 80 years old in the making.   By today’s wealthy mega Church status it may need a boost or two, but I reckon by Heaven’s standard they are right up there with the best of the best.
It’s a place where vibrant community happens, and the church is at its centre.

I was getting a little impatient waiting.   February is our hot clammy humidity season, and we have been having particularly heavy hazy, lazy days.  I looked up and saw the bluest sky I had seen in a long time.   It was a beautiful radiant bluer-than-blue sky.

corn flower
Best described I suppose would be a ‘cornflower blue’.
I sensed the Lord giving me a wink, and knew  He was watching from a clear sky.              “Just wait”,  I thought Him say.

It was then that I saw a beautiful tan and white boxer dog, tongue panting with a dry thirst, coming toward me.  I gave a little whistle, but he turned and bolted on.   Just then a car stopped,  a lady got out and shouted to the car guard to stop and catch the dog.  For just a moment he stood a little gazed then slipped off his tattered sandals and ran after the dog.  ‘Yeah, he’s not going to catch that dog’ I thought to myself.   The lady in the car sat awhile and frantically watched the scenario unfold.
Never underestimate the power of the grapevine !   The car guard shouted to someone on the opposite side of the road to stop the dog.     She then saw the plan and followed the chase in her car.    I will never know if the boxer was re united with his mistress – I hope so.   But it was an interesting way to pass the time while waiting on the street called Community.

To sum up then, my observations of the day, was a well-groomed aspiring street sweeper,  met a cuddle of caring women,  saw a real faithful old church, spied the bluest sky ever, and watched a barefoot car guard willing to go the extra mile – a nice slice of life.

So don’t hesitate when you get the opportunity to quietly observe real life as it passes by.
You won’t be disappointed.

William Davis, in his poem Leisure, said it this way :

“What is this life if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare”

 

field of cornflowers.jpg

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SHARING

Kyle Kimberlin’s post Sharing is such a good perspective on writing and social media, and needs to be shared with all those who want to be writers in their own right ….. one day !
Visit this post, read it through, and be sure to get to the sentence that says :
“Make visible what without you, might perhaps never have been seen”.     It will encourage you, even clear the mist on creative communication.

Metaphor

I’ve been thinking about how much we like to share our thoughts with other people, and how that behavior has changed in the 30-plus years that I have been writing things down and passing them around. 

It’s easy to succumb to the temptation to re-post unoriginal stuff. On January 5, I shared a gif video I saw on Facebook, just because I thought it was cute and hilarious. But that was way off topic for this blog. I did it because it was guick and easy and I was restless with the fact that the blog needed content. Those are the posting criteria of social media, not creative work.

In creative work — creative work of all kinds — those who are the world’s working artists are not trying to help the world go around, but forward. Which is something altogether different from the ordinary. Such work does not refute…

View original post 1,123 more words

Extra Ordinary

 

 

ordinary ele
Be Grey and White, Faithful and Strong.

My Elephant turned from grey and white to extra ordinary.
Not so much for any artistic skill,  still have a long way to go for that to happen.
I purposely penciled in different shades of colour, just because I wanted him not to be  ordinary.

I once had a flash of insight that brought me to a reality check.  It was this.   It is in the ordinary, the mundane and in the core of consistency that strength, even meaning and  purpose lie.    It is in the normal flow of everyday things –  “same old same old”  of chores, routines, duties, responsibilities, appointments, and the general ability of being available, that make up faithfulness and loyalty and friendship that are some of the strong foundations of life.
Ordinary is an anchor !

I had not always thought like that.   I wanted to fly.  I wanted to live a full life of adventure, meaning and accomplishment.  I wanted to change the world – sometimes I still do.  Maybe that is the way some of us have been wired.  And there is nothing wrong with that !
But God in His wisdom knows best, and what is best for us.  And though He allowed me to ‘fly’, when it was my season to fly, He also gave me the hindsight to know that it was for the benefit of others, and not just for my own ego trip – which in essence it was at that time !   So it has always been at the back of my mind, fly when you can fly, but land in a safe place, because Ordinary is safe !

That is all good and well.   For some people that is enough – to be in the groove of  routine and responsibility.  It is right, and it is safe, and will accomplish a good end, an expected result. There is power in consistency !
But there are some people who are daring and want to express their personalities, their creativity, their passion, and their faith.  The Ordinary shrinks these ones, and if stifled long enough will suck life out of their expressive souls, and the expected end can be described in two words –  pure frustration !

Now frustration can be a teacher too.   It is frustration that will pile up and cause disgruntleness – a displeasure at the status quo, and this could be the breeding ground of witty inventions and innovations – a seeking of new paths and expressions.   If harnessed well frustration could be the place of new beginnings.    It could be the pivotal point for a thrust forward.   And that can be a good thing – yes ? – depending what you are talking to of course.

To go from Ordinary to Extraordinary will take big courage, big determination and a lot persistence, but it can be done.   It just takes one step of faith today, then another and another, until you see a glimmer and then the result of what you want.
Hebrews 11:1  captures faith like this :

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  

There is the Extra and there is the Ordinary – if you put them together you get the
Extraordinary – another species altogether !   Those who know their own minds, their capabilities, their strengths and their weaknesses, who set out to accomplish it for themselves,  – and then go on and grow the colourfulness of others – the others being the Ordinary.

Both are equally important, the world indeed need both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary,
But the Extraordinary are just a little more colourful – like my Elephant !!

 

my elephant
Be Big Bold and Colourful

 

Pretty Feelings

 

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.   And though beauty may be all around us we sometimes just don’t see it.
There are some days when life gets a little heavy to carry,  and the feeling is glum, then   on those days I want, and need,  to see something pretty.   I know it will help the mood to shift.

It is as if, beauty is a medicine for the soul, an antidote for ugliness – and isn’t ugliness all around us too ?
More often than not the beauty, the pretty for me, comes through nature.  Perhaps because nature is perfect, and speaks to everything being okay and in its place.

Art and Music may also have such an effect on a mood.    It can transport us on wings of beauty to other places in our souls, where we can find a soothing from the daily grind.

But we need eyes to see and ears to hear, and hearts to understand.

I came across a picture of a rose, and had an injection of prettiness.  It tugged at me and I just knew I wanted to draw the rose.  You know the feeling you get when a picture  just “speaks”  to you ?    Well this picture spoke to me through its gentle simplicity and soft colours.
So I sharpened my pencils, and sat down to re-create it as best I could.  I did not give it its full justice, but my rose does give back to me a hint of soft gentleness, and a warm sense of  prettiness.
I hope you get pretty feelings too, when you take a look at it.

 

rose

A Slice of Raw Life

 

Allow me to share with you a slice of raw life, that I encounted when I attended the funeral of Danny.  A moment when the frills and thrills of life are stripped away to a moment in time when raw life is seen in the corridors of death.

Danny was merely an acquaintance.  I had met him very briefly a few years ago.  But he had shown a kindness to my son, had gone way out of his way to give him a lift back home – and for that reason I had decided to attend his funeral
Apart from being kind, Danny was also a very unlikely saint, but a saint nevertheless.
I knew very little about him, except that he had had a very hard life.
So it was with intense interest that I listened to the eulogies of some of the people who had been influenced by his life.

The Pastor spoke of how he had known Danny for a short while.  Had spent much time, in the last days of his life with him, and learned that Danny’s whole life was nothing but rejection.  He had known rejection so well.  He had grown up as a child being a beggar on the streets, and found his food in dustbins. He became a drug addict, and ended up in a Rehabilitation Centre.
When he joined “normal life’ he took Kelven under his wing, gave him a home, a safe haven, and an education.
Danny had a Prison ministry, but  when he was approached by the Correctional officer to temper the gospel message, Danny gave it up, as he was not prepared to dilute the Gospel of Jesus .

The lady from the Compassionate Hands Shelter, spoke softly but gently about Danny.   How she had been an addict and on the streets, wanted to take her own life, then met Danny – an unlikely helper, who walked the walk with her through her pregnancies.  Today she is free from drugs, is raising two children, and helping to run the Shelter – all because Danny took the time to love her unconditionally through the hard times.

Kelven, Danny’s ‘adopted son’ spoke briefly.   But those of us listening to these testimonies of his life,  were all choked up, because of the emotions that ran so deep in Kelven.   Kelven spoke of how he had been in prison, and when he came out, it was Danny who took him in, and gave him a home.   Five times he had tried to commit suicide,  but it was Danny’s strong and unconditional love that pulled him through those moments.  Danny’s strict and sometimes harsh ways never faltered at loving him.
“He never judged me, he just loved me unconditionally”  were Kelven’s final words on Danny.  I think if some of us could sob out loud we would have done so, but being polite restrained the 100 tears that wanted to flow at such a love, and to comfort Kelven.

The lady from the Bible study group said that Danny may have been a rough diamond, but that they understood that some of his crustiness was just a protection from all the pain inside him.    He was a student of God’s Word, and loved to share his knowledge with all who would listen.    And he made time to listen to those who needed to speak, he made time to be available to those who needed to talk.

It was a simple, but beautiful service.   Full of respect and dignity for one of their own, who knew the hard life of the streets, at rehab and shelter centres – the places where life in the raw occurs.
There were many people at the funeral, for one who was so humble and almost ‘insignificant’, but so great in the work of the kingdom of God.  God’s ways are not our ways, that’s for sure.
There were people from different walks of life, but particularly from the many broken lives, who knew and loved Danny.
Jesus was one of the esteemed dignitaries present at that funeral.  This was so evident when hands were raised in praise, as we sang and cried through that beautiful song – Great is thy Faithfulness, – words that broken lives attest to so well.

It was a humbling experience, tasting life in the raw.  Being in the company of those who had to face God through their own personal hell.  Being in the invisible presence of God, where everyone and everything is diminished to its own insignificant smallness.  Where love permeates the room.

It made me think how easily we tend to overlook those who are destitute and battling life at the raw edge.
We are so consumed with materialism, pumped up with pictures of the ‘good life’ wanting the niceties from life,  that we become oblivious of any other kind of life, little realising that  ‘there by the grace of God go I’

A timely reminder from a life lived strong with unconditional love, a life lived through God’s love.   May his tribe increase.
Rest in peace Danny.

Red rose

Threads of the Fabric

 

needle and threads

Somehow the newness of this year is still with us.   After Christmas and New Year there is this feeling of the lull lingering on before the year really starts revving up.  Perhaps it’s that the up-country visitors are still with us, or perhaps its more parking spaces at the mall, but there seems to me to be a reluctance to the start of the new year.

I have been keeping my ear open for a word of encouragement that may cement my year into a theme or a thought to follow through, or that may become a thread of what is to come.  Or perhaps just to note it, so that as the year progresses I am reminded where the year began.

What I have heard is this : joy, newness, adventures, expectations, and just recently intentions.      These are some of the threads that make up the fabric of life.
Threads I just love, as I am sure you do too ?
Sure there may be some glum days ahead, but as my previous post said … ‘Hold that thought’  and I will,  endeavour to hold these fun words, these thoughts, in suspension till I encounter them throughout the coming year.

Dr Mark Chironna, one of my favourite preachers, spoke on 1 Corinthians 13:13, which says
And now abide Faith Hope, Love,  these three;  but the greatest of these is Love.

He paralleled ‘these three’ like this :
Faith  is  anticipation
Hope is expectation
Love is intentional
Of course he expanded greatly on this.   He went wide and deep, and brought much insight to this favourite Scripture.

I gave it some reflection, and thought that it would dovetail beautifully into my new year.
These three threads – all forward-looking components, are good strands for happiness and for good mental health.

Choose Faith,   and apply a mind-set of anticipation.
Choose  Hope,  and apply  purposeful expectation.
Choose Love,  and be intentional in giving it away.

Why not weave these threads into the fabric of 2019,  and make it into something  colourful and memorable.

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