The Feather-duster Man

 

Feather duster man

At one time the feather-duster and broom man was a slight phenomena in South Africa.  One would see him on almost every street corner.
Recently I was happy to spot another feather-duster and broom man, and my thoughts turned to the economy.  Now here was a man who was trying to make a buck, despite the fact that he really had no hope of scratching a living out of selling feather dusters.   But that was not the point, or the reality of the situation.   He most likely lived on the few pence he made for the day, even if it was just paying for his transport to town to collect the dusters.   He had decided to grab at a chance to do an honest days ‘work’ – walking the streets and selling feather dusters, but in fact he was an entrepreneur,  he was creating a career – and one day that may well become the way of the future.

I find the Street People around us so interesting.   There is the car guard at the shopping centres.   With a bit of organising, they work for a man, or company, who create opportunities for those who are unemployed.  Depending on the goodwill of the customers, whose cars they ‘guard’,  help unload the shopping trolley, courteously stop the traffic to let you out of your parking spot, and return the trolley to the shop, they can and do make a small survival living.   Most do it with a smile on their face, a polite greeting and a wave good-bye.    If you don’t have small change to give, some say,   ‘never mind next time’!

There are people who stand at the traffic lights, burnt by the sun, to beg for a penny or two.     There is a particular robot in the suburbs I ride through where a decent looking white lady, in a shoe-string top and trousers, stands unashamedly hoping for a bit of support from the passing traffic.
When I see her I often wonder what story she would tell, and why she does what she does to bring in a little finance.
Further into the inner city there are many scruffy looking young men, who, one can tell, have addiction problems.    My heart goes out to these young people.   What chance have they to make a decent life for themselves.   Life on the streets is hard, its a hell of its own.

Giving it some thought, I understand that there is a  strata in the art of making a living.
From the beggars at the street corners, to the feather duster man, the car guard, the Fruit and Veg Vendors, the Zimbabwe wire and bead weavers or  the African mamas that capture the tourist trade with their handcrafted talent  – these are those who have nanoscopic to miniscual to trickling to irregular  incomes – all trying to make a living and meet the high demands the economy makes to extract a pound of flesh from a half-loaf of bread needed to still hunger pains.
And although they may be on the bottom rung of the food chain, they form the bulk of the informal income, which if well conducted should be included in the greater scheme of the economy, with extra benefits and favour.

 

Fruit vendor SA

 

durban-beachfront-african-street-market-durban-south-africa-BFE1XF

That is just the bottom end of the economic level of any one country.     For  Poverty is everywhere.    But all is not doom and gloom.  There are the middle and upper and higher echelons in our societies, (that are far removed from the street level) – and that make a good living, and a ridiculously rich living, (those who can buy a Claude Monet painting for over a million dollars !!)   Albeit a very beautiful painting, how can such a price be justified, I ask.
When I saw this on the global news, I said to my son, just hang on to my ‘ pencil artwork’ in enough years it may well be worth a foolish man’s fortune!

I disdain negativity.   But now and again, I despair of the future.   With every societal revolution beginning with the Industrial Revolution – the discovery of steam power, electricity and the then world-widening trade routes, to the Automotive Revolution,  the Sexual Revolution of the sixties, that loosened and cracked up our moral foundations, marking the place for the perversity and confusion to come,  to the current Information Technology that banishes all geographic and financial boundaries to the nether-sphere.  And now the foreseeable future of the A I  – Artificial Intelligence,  and, even more scary the possible self-annihilating age of the oncoming Quantum-Computer !

Rich Poor sign

And its all called  ‘Progress’.   There is no doubt that much benefit and convenience (the up-side)  have been derived from these discoveries in our history.    But when I look back over these man-made wonders,  intelligentsia and innovations  – and their out-workings,  I  see more people unemployed.   Is unemployment with its desegregation the malady of our times :  no work, no money, no future no hope – more poverty and despair, riding on its wake of drunkenness addictions and depression within our societies ?

Will the future hold more Street People, like the feather duster and broom man ?
But he has with him the tenacity to do an honest day’s work, with a dream of a better life.  He has hope, and that will carry him through to a better tomorrow.
So the next time you see him, consider buying a feather duster or broom,  even if you don’t need one,  you will be fuelling the future with hope !
Like poverty, dust is everywhere, and settles to grime if you don’t dust and sweep regularly.      Clean homes gather dust too !

 

Broom man
Mr Blessing Ngubane, creates hope for the future.

So support the entrepreneurs,  those ‘career creators’,  for one day, in the fast approaching robotic future,  (remember robots they don’t ask for wage increased, don’t need medical aid, don’t protest, or strike for rights, – they are the perfect employee !) …  who knows we may all have to become entrepreneurs with tenacity and hope in our hearts.

But don’t despair with me, keep in mind that the future is ultimately in God’s hands,  and He knows the beginning and the end, we just need to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us, and to consider the poor and the needy among us.

Psalm 41: 1  Blessed is he who considers the poor,
The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.

 

pink feather duster

 

 

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Transformation

 

I have been sparring with words like transformation, attainment, and ascension, ever since the Easter message of death and resurrection.  It was probably sparked by my favourite preacher Dr Mark Chironna’s often spoken phrase   ‘rising out of dead things’
The concept is shadowing me, and I constantly want to grope at it, but just can’t get a grip on it.   So I thought to let it mull and mature through the observations that come my way.

First, it was hearing the bigger picture of the Gospel pattern, which may well reflect our own spiritual progress of death burial and resurrection  (rising out of dead things)
Then the pattern increased in scope with the Ascension and Pentecost.   But still, there was no clear understanding on my part.   Still groping !

Butterfly 1      

Butterfly 2

Second, it was the completion of a two-part watercolour pencil painting of butterflies, that I did as a gift for my friend Jenny’s newly moved-in home.
Butterflies, now there is a story of true transformation.    First the egg, then the caterpillar  then morphs the beautiful butterfly – not without a struggle though !   Isn’t Nature a wonderful teacher ?
But the butterfly had to go through the process of transformation.

worm to butterfly
Perhaps these serious thoughts of seeking clarity are because I have been in a safe and secure cocoon state for some years now.   I have been a little frustrated with my ‘futility’ and my ‘redundancy’, yet the solitary has brought with it contentment and a little creativity – big pluses !   Now looming is the unknown and a suspect of oncoming change.

I turn my attention to attainment.   But I cannot get to attainment.    Besides attainment smacks of self effort, at which I am not an ace!   So I wrestle on with words and thoughts, and procrastination.
I do believe though that we must endeavour to – attain.   We must be looking to always learn, grow, expand and develop our personalities, character and lives.  Else we stagnate, become dull and boring, or even worse – stay as we are.
But I am smartly reminded, and comforted from Scripture :
You have hedged me behind and before, And laid your hand upon me.   Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.  It is high I cannot attain it.  – Psalm 139:5,6

Thirdly, I know that growing and developing is a process.  It does not happen in a day or even a year, – perhaps in a moment in time,  perhaps with just one word that brings another perspective, – but usually the processes have to sink in to bring about slow change.
Here before my eyes,  I see on the current TV news, a glimpse into our country’s political arena,  a very good example of slow change.
South Africa is in the grip of election fever, with 770,000 registered voters ready to make their mark on 8 May 2019.    The clamour of the political parties are vibrant, and their constituents all clad in colourful battle attire of T-shirts and caps.  The African National  Congress in yellow,  the Economic Freedom Fighters in red
Butterfly SAand a wave of blue from the  Democratic Alliance – all a
spectacular colour parade in stadiums for their last 
final push for political victory in democracy and
transformation – from ‘dead things’ – (if we can
only get passed the demons of greed and corruption !)

This colourful parade of politics brought to mind the writings of Dr Don Beck’s book The Crucible.   I think he was hugely instrumental in the ‘behind-the- scenes’ of the forming of a new South Africa, in 1994.    His research brought great understanding, for me,  of the developmental stages of people, organisations and even of nations, with his colour chart of psychological development, which is as follows  – and I over-simplify my interpretation thereof :
Beige  – survival minded
Purple – mystic, spiritual minded
Red  – expression  (militant anger and/or creativity)
Blue – conformity,  order  (disciplined and responsible)
Orange – competitive (sport, business, achievement)
Green –  community minded.
Yellow  –  networking, coalition minded.
Turquoise – Global minded.
Colour ?  –  suspected future development to come, is left blank.

And so with these colour dynamics one may identify, the state of mind of a person or organisation or group of people.   This is helpful to bring about or at least understand transformation, and bring solutions to problem people or groups of people.
It is not a chart of the hierarchy of successful development, merely an indication of where we are on the chart –  or in the rainbow, so to speak !
All these can be at the extreme ends or in-between on the colour spectrum.

Again, I ask, but what brings the actual transformation and development.   Well, the short answer is God’s grace, and His goodness, of course.   But I think its the seeing where we are at, and if we are willing to make a change that will in fact bring change.   Because change is inevitable.

So  presently, what is your favourite colour  ?
In my time, I have been a purple person, a blue and a green,  currently I think I am red – trying to express myself with to many words and drawings !!

Finally, Ascension, it is a high concept, that is still to high for me to attain.
I know in the Christian faith one is growing from the carnal to the spiritual.   The Spirit-filled life is higher than the physical life.
But how do you attain it, I ask ?   Again the short answer is only by God’s grace and His goodness.
But His ways are not our ways, and so the pattern of the Gospel may be helpful, as we see Jesus willingly going to the Cross, before He could come to the place of Ascension.

Like the metamorphosis of the butterfly, it does not come about without struggle, a struggle for survival, whether it be physical or spiritual.
In any one life there is always something higher to attain to.    Transformation is needed to grow into what we are meant to become.  We can reach for it, but it is God who will bring us through, by His Spirit, His resurrection power of new life, …. and in His time.

Butterflies.jpg

Care Mozambique

 

The dream of the Care Africa project, has had a little resurrection moment, and its enthralling to see it happen.

The recent floods in Mozambique drew a post from me, and the response of one of my friends Gene Jordaan, ushered in a flow of sequenced events that have enabled me to have my wish come true.

Gene was moved by the dire effects of the floods on the people, that she sprung into action and contacted some relief organisations, to assist with the logistics of getting a collection of goods to the victims of the floods.

I was able to make up a range of stationery for the school kids, vegetable seeds and Bibles.  Mission Aviation Fellowship liaze with Mercy Air who fly out to Mozambique, and deliver goods.

But amazing was the flow of events that have enabled this to happen.
Out of the blue Maxine Holm of MAF called to thank me for the donation for Moz, and it was then that I asked her how I could get a care bag to them for their ongoing relief campaign for the flood victims – where there is still a great huge need.    It just   ‘so happened’  that one of their representatives was in Durban at the time, I could let her have the care bag.    I met Natalie and gave her the bag, which she duly took up with her to Johannesburg.

Moz bag
Out of nowhere came the answer to my prayer to get a care bag to Mozambique – an almost impossible logistic for one person.   It was such a small donation, Gene’s small instigation of love,  such a small care bag, such small co-incidences, that made up the answer to my prayer.  Little miracles all in a row indeed, that almost blew the seams of my heart, to see God working  in the circumstances of life.

Furthermore, I’m told that there are Churches in Johannesburg that want to come together to plan a trip to Moz, to take goods and help the people there to start rebuilding their homes and their lives  –  the Church still working !   It’s so heart-warming to know that it is God’s love and the care of His people that makes the world a better place.
Never  underestimate the far-reaching love of God, and the effects of small acts of love and answered prayers.

Easter Sunday is about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.   It is sweet, it is pure joy and it speaks of victory over death.
May you know, first hand, many little resurrection moments in the days and months ahead, through the circumstances of your own life, and be sure of the goodness of God.

 

 

Notre Dame & the Easter Triduum

Wondering Pilgrim

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Universal horror unfolds this morning as news arrives of one of Christendom’s ancient and iconic structure’s destruction by fire. That the 800-year-old Notre Dame cathedral in Paris should fall in the days of Holy Week – the dramatic re-living of trial leading to the climax of crucifixion and resurrection – should not escape the notice of the faithful.  Indeed French President Emmanuel Macron declared, even as the fire raged, “Let’s be proud because we built this cathedral more than 800 years ago. We’ve built it and, throughout the centuries, let it grow and improved it, so I solemnly say tonight: we will rebuild it together.”

This is the first Easter in 45 years that I will not be conducting services, leading people through the darkness of Good Friday through to the radiance of Easter Sunday. Over those four decades, I have become aware of a deepening consciousness that Good Friday is not marked…

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The Servant King

 

cross-crown-thorns

 

Reflecting on the Easter story, Graham Kenrick’s song The Servant King came to mind.
Jesus is the Servant King.   He came to show the way, to serve, and not to be served, and yet He is the One  ‘who flung the stars into space’.

The words of this song bring a magnified perspective of Jesus. I hope your will ‘see’ it too as you read these beautiful words of worship this Easter season.

The Servant King

From heaven You came a helpless babe
Entered our world, Your glory veiled
Not to be served, but to serve
And give Your life that we might live.

(Chorus)
This is our God, the Servant King
He calls us now to follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the Servant King.


There in the garden of tears,

My heavy load He chose to bear,
His heart with sorrow was torn,
Yet not My will but Yours He said

Come see His hands and His feet
The scars that speak of sacrifice
Hands that flung stars into space
to cruel nails surrendered

So let us learn how to serve
And in our lives enthrone Him
Each others needs to prefer
For it is Christ we’re serving.

The Easter story is a story of God’s love, almost unfathomable.  It is for all mankind and for all generations.
It brings us in touch with suffering and sorrow, and softens hard hearts.
It breaks the chains of guilt and shame and offers healing, wholeness and the abundant life.
Isaiah 53:5  releases the understanding and meaning of the Cross of Christ, and by faith, it is ours.

But because of our sins he was wounded,
beaten because of the evil we did
We are healed by the punishment he suffered
            made  whole by the blows he received.

      Red rose

 

 

When the Floods come.

 

The south-east corner of southern Africa, Mocambique, parts of Malawi and Zimbabwe  have been severely beaten by the worst floods ever remembered in these regions.
This year, the rainy season brought with it devastating floods.   Cyclone Idai came destroyed and dissipated.
The city of Beira in Mocambique was hit hard with about 90% of the city wiped out !    It is almost unthinkable the devastation caused by this cyclone.

Many people have lost their lives and it has been said that about 3 thousand have been displaced, and have absolutely nothing to their name.
Some were caught unawares and ended up in the branches of trees as the muddy flood waters swirled around them.  Some had to wait five days for help to arrive.   Large areas were inaccessible for the water covered the earth.

 

Flood Mocambique.jpg

These were the snippets of news that came in sparsely as we waited for more information on the aftermath of this catastrophic cyclone.   Even still the whole picture is not yet seen, and only the news agents who are able to air scout the region have a better understanding of the vastness of the real situation.
Apart from an immediate muddy future, there are the diseases of cholera and malaria that accompany flood disasters that have to be contended with, the sick needing immediate and urgent attention.   This apart from ongoing food and fresh water supplies needed for the people to survive this calamity.

It has been a hard and devastating blow for the people of Mocambique, and my heart goes out to them.  I decided to make a small contribution toward some form of relief, but  waited for the right connection.   That was when I received an appeal letter from MAF – Mission Aviation Fellowship, who do Christian aviation relief work, internationally and  particularly so in Africa.

Maf plane

MAF are making a small difference and according to their letter work alongside Mercy Air, who rescue people, deliver cargo and put in many hours of flight time to bring relief to the crisis situation.    Here is a brief paragraph from their newsletter :

“We have been conducting survey flights and working with Mercy Air to deliver, food, tents, hygiene kits, family kits and other items from Chimoio to Beira for use at the Internally Displaced People (IDP)  Camp for those stranded by flooding.   There are still people stranded on roof, turfs of land and trees.   Please continue to pray for the many people displaced by this crisis, especially those that may still be stranded somewhere.   ….”

Should you want to know more of the work of MAF you can read at  www.mafsa.co.za

I responded to their call for donations, but felt it was such a miniscule pinhead gesture in a flooding of overwhelming problems and needs.  The feeling of inadequacy and futility surfaced, and I was glum.

However giving it some thought,  and after reading MAF’s  appeal letter and having seen other TV reports,  I realised that the very swift response from the South African Defence Force,  World health organisations, aid and medical agencies responding to this disaster, – there was also a flood of goodness flowing to Mocambique,  not in murky waters, but in the crystal clear water of goodness and mercy, care and love, in the practical form of very needed rescue and relief supplies.

The South African government has pledged a sixty million rand donation, as well as other wealthy businesses and foundations giving funds toward this crisis.   May this open the stream of funding that can help rebuild this nation.
But not only in monitory terms, but in necessary supplies of food,  water, hygiene items, and my heart’s desire, school necessities like pens, pencils, crayons, books, Bibles and vegetable seeds for the growing of food for an ongoing food supply.

May God bless Africa, the ongoing rescue and relief work, especially Mocambique, its people and its regional neighbours Zimbabwe and Malawi – at such a time as this.
Please pray continually,  for after the aftermath of the devastation the help and aid agencies will leave and a great work of  rebuilding and normality will have to be hewn out of the muddy mess.

My heart took wings, and I realised there is still so much good and goodness in our world today – despite the horrors that get the limelight in the news coverage.
Even the in ugly face of calamity there is some good, and I reckon we should always look for the good in every situation of life  –  for it is there, and often in life-changing abundance too !

May goodness rule in the calamities of life, but when the floods come, keep in mind these words from

Isaiah 59:19

When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him

 

seed shoots

 

The Messengers

the-pigeon-post

 

Down the ages messages and messengers have always been crucial in conquests and the winning of wars.
I think of fast runners, who were sent to convey important messages to kings or enemies in the duration of conflict.
During the Roman times, pigeons were used as messengers.  The rider on horseback was called in to swiftly take messages to far off places.  And the Stage coach service that carried passengers goods and letters.

bike-blog-postman-cycling-001

Then came the postal service and the trusty postman on his bicycle delivering  good old-fashioned and personal snail-mail.

Now we have the internet and email  – trillions of messages, information and advertisements sent at a 1,000 times the speed of persistency.

internet globe

The messengers have come a long way in a very short space of time !

But I want to bring our attention to the unseen and hidden messengers.
I have been reading up on hormones !  Yes, mysterious, sometimes troublesome, often incomprehensible hormones, and have discovered that hormones are hidden but very important messengers too.
I  would like to share with you what I have gleaned from my readings and my impressions of the work of these hidden messengers.

Before I continue, I must mention two other attempts at understanding anatomy, and at the same time make a humble confession of my prolixity.    When I stumble onto something I tend to go fetch it at length.
You will see fine examples of my prolixity in my previous posts
From Menial to Magnificent, when I discovered the wonders of the circulatory system of  blood, and also in The First Line of Defence, when I groped for knowledge of the Immune system and nutrition.
I am trying to curb this inter-twining writing style, but until then please bear with me, as I try again to be more concise on the subject in question.

But to the point of this post then …. finally !

I have read different approaches to the subject of hormones so that I could piece the writings together for more clarity and understanding.

Again, we have come along way in a relevantly short space of time, in the knowledge and understanding of the human anatomy, as I gleaned from the snippets taken from Dr Alan L Gillen’s book Body by Design  ISBN: 0-89051-296-5  Publisher : Masterbooks

Hormones – the body in balance.
In 1902 the British physiologist Ernest Starling discovered hormones.   Historically (1923) he was also the first scientist to use the metaphor of wisdom in the inward parts to characterise the body in balance….

……   he spoke about the regulation of body processes, their adaptability, and the contribution of hormones that integrated signals and provided balance through feedback.
For his epigraph, Starling chose a verse from the Book of Job  38:36|
Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts.

…….. Walter Cannon coined the term homeostasis in his book The Wisdom of the Body and built upon Starling’s theory of homeostasis : when he described this as a condition of uniformity that results from adjustment of living things to changes in their environment.
He described detail physiological mechanisms for this coordinated regulatory balance.

….Physicians have long recognised that the body must be in chemical balance to stay healthy.   If one chemical variable in the human body gets out of balance, then disorder, disease and even death may result.

Dr Alan Gillen says …   “Indeed, the Creator put wisdom in the inward parts (Job 38:36)   This wisdom is evident in the process of homeostasis : balance, order, regulation and chemical feedback.
It is the Creator who has given understanding to the mind of man as he has discovered the laws that the Creator set in motion in the human body.

In the Endocrine system its glands and hormones we find a plan, purpose and design to maintain our health and wellness.

 

The next  illustration     (ref : clickmypicture.com/functions-of-endocrine/)
crisply and simply displays the positions and functions of the glands that make up the endocrine system, that houses these chemical messengers.

 

functions-of-endocrine

 

A little reading done at  http://www.ikonet.com/en/visualdictionary/static/us/hormones
gives a clear and brief description of the body’s hormones :

Hormones : the body’s chemical messengers.
The human body secretes and circulates some 50 different hormones.    A wide variety of these chemical substances are produced by endocrine cells, most of which are in the glands.   The hormones then enter the blood system to circulate throughout the body and active target cells.

The Endocrine system tightly linked to the Nervous system, controls large number of the body’s functions :
metabolism,   homeostasis,  growth, sexual activity and contraction of the smooth and cardiac muscles.

The Endocrine system is composed of 9 specialised glands.
The endocrine glands : the pituitary, the thyroid, the four parathyroids, the two adrenals and the thymus,
and the number of organs capable of producing hormones include the pancreas, heart, kidneys, ovaries testicles and intestines.

The hypothalamus, which is not a gland but a nerve centre, also plays a major role in the synthesis of hormonal factors.
The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland  are the control centres of the endocrine system.

The Endocrine system is linked to the Nervous system, which regulates our feelings, our emotions, our internal universe.   One act of kindness can release a chemical called oxytocin, they call it a love hormone.   Some say that the four basic emotions are Love, Fear, Joy and Sadness,  with all their derivatives.  The stimuli (data) from our outer environment is processed and messages sent to cells for responses and reactions to interpret the situation .   So hormones get to become very personal now.

The Nervous System is an orchestration of mystery and wonder, but to simply understand how the mechanics of it works I now refer to  David R Hamilton’s book Why Kindness is Good for You.  ISBN978-1-8485-178-2 Printed and published by Hay House SA (Pty) Ltd.

How it works :

Neuropeptides
The way it works is that chemicals known as neuropeptides are continually manufactured in an area of the brain known as the Hypothalamus.   From there, many flow into the Pituitary gland and are released into the bloodstream in response to our thoughts and emotions.

….  Another way to think of it, less colourful but slightly more accurate, is to think of the neuropeptide as a space shuttle.   For it to dock onto a space station, which would be the cell for this analogy, its docking port has to be the same shape as the docking port on the station.    When it docks, an astronaut could walk into the space station and enter new information into it computers.

In the same way, a neuropeptide fits into its receptor and passes information to the cell, entering new instructions into is ‘computer’, which, for this analogy, is the DNA.   So some of the information activates or deactivates genes.

 

There is of course much more on hormones, but sufficient for now, or else I will be guilty of information overload.

The hidden but honourable hormone is so necessary in triggering messages to cells to maintaining our body maintenance (homeostasis)  for on-going orderly health and well-being in our bodily forms and functions.

So,  hooray for hormones, and now you know part of the reason why you are so much more than just a pretty or good-looking face !!   We are talking walking miracles  precisely designed and engineered –  and infused with wisdom for health and well-being!

But the most important message is to discover, to know and to appreciate God’s wonderful Mind in the design of the human body, and the miracle of how our bodies function in complimentary harmony to keep us healthy, happy and sane.
There are hidden messages in the Bible that reveal the wonders of His Mind and of His created works.  If we would but just go and read about it, how astonishing will the revelations be that He has for us, to then become for us the secrets of wisdom.  (Job 11:6)

Amazing in design, by an amazing Mind of an Amazing God – is the human body.    We can only but stand in awe and in wondered reverence of His crowning creation – which is you … and me.   Hallelujah.

So …  we are pretty and awesome, and that is Pretty Awesome in the grand scale of hormones, would you agree ?