Food Glorious Food

 

The-Best-Chicken-soup-30

‘Food glorious food’ ….  goes the song from Oliver Twist, the musical film about an orphan boy who meets up with a scoundrel and ends up living  in a house for boys, and thieving for their master.   In one scene this young boy has the audacity to say  “Please sir, can I have some more ?”  –  the cry of hunger down the ages.
Based on a work by Charles Dickens, it is set in London, in times of dire poverty.   Its one of those musicals that seems to live on forever in the memory.

The song makes the point of how important food is to us.    If there is such a thing as an ultimate human experience, it is the taste of glorious food.   Apart from the fact that it gives us a feeling of well- being, nourishes our bodies, it fills our souls with satisfaction.    Food is essential for us to survive, on more than one level.

While most of us eat to live, there are some that live to eat.    Have you noticed the bombardment of foodie type TV programmes.    Everyone seems to have become a cook !
Someone once asked ‘where have all the cowboys gone?’  Men use to be about the business of plowing planting constructing and mining – earning a living by the sweat of their brow – now they all seem to be in the kitchen – cooking !
Of course food is big business – big business.   Perhaps because it tantalises our taste buds, stirs our appetites, that scream for instant satisfaction.   It is psychologically and sublimely used in advertisements to get us to buy buy buy!   And we do !

The burger seemingly has become the ‘king of foods’.   We watch some of the TV programmes, and I am amazed at the length they go to to make the best burger ever.
Smoking, slow cooking meat, spiced to the hilt, sauced up and piled up with pickles and garnishes.   Some are spectacular and no doubt delicious indeed.   But the extravagance of some borders on sheer gluttony.    The world seems to have gone crazy about extravagant food.   And I wonder if we haven’t lost something in our ‘elevated status’ of living.

maneating burger

None the less good food is a delight, and healthy food is a blessing.

vegetables-colorful

Although most seem to be on the ‘food glorious food bandwagon’  it ought to be coupled with a balance and a consideration for those who do not have enough food to eat.
More can and should be done by those who can, to give food to those who go without.  We shouldn’t be so self absorbed, as to blight out the world’s hunger problem.

World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on 16 October in honour of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in 1945    At the 20th session of the FAO Conference, the idea was suggested of celebrating World Food Day worldwide.    It has since been observed every year in more than 150 countries, raising awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger.
Ref : Wikipedia.org/wiki/world food day

On another site, I read
The focus of the day is that food is a basic human right.  Yet in a worldwide of billions, over 820 million people worldwide suffer chronic undernourishment,  60% women and almost five million children under the age of five die of malnutrition related courses every day.
It is also important to note that while millions go hungry 672 million people suffer from obesity and a further 1.3 billion are overweight.
Ref : greening the blue.org/event/world-food day.

Statistics are fine, and give a glimmer of the problem of world hunger, but stats distance themselves from the real reality of hunger.
The explosion of Urban populations, because of unemployment, poor governance, migrations and such like, have brought the problem of hunger closer to the cities, closer to us, more than stats could do.      Social and rural development need urgent attention.

When unemployment hits home, perhaps more will be done in this area.
Recently, here was talk of the Banks going on strike !   The Banks striking – unheard of before !  All because of the digital technology age, that is threatening massive unemployment.  The closing of some mines, means thousands of breadwinners will be out of work.  One man interviewed said he was responsible for 16 mouths to feed in his camp.
When there is no work, there is no pay, people go hungry, and so crime will increase.
It seems an overwhelming vicious circle, that needs intervention.

One such intervention could be Governments introducing, insisting and assisting  in implementing community and home food gardens.   Active citizen participation.

The growing of healthy food.

City Food gardens

 

School gardens

 

community garden
These reminders from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations are all good and well, and bring attention to global problems, that seem to be on the increase.   But we are part of this world, even at the local level, and should keep an eye open for those who are hungry and in need.

 

cup cakes at OB

Psalm 34:8 says   Taste and see that the Lord is good.

If there is one way to know the goodness of God it is through the food we put into our mouths.   Food glorious food, it touches our souls and our senses, taste smell and is a delight to our eyes, for we instinctively know something good is coming.
So when we occasionally indulge ourselves in food glorious food, remember too,  those who are hungry,  and do a kind deed in multiply ways to ease their plight.

The next time we sit down to a hearty healthy meal,  let’s remember those who are in poverty and often go to bed hungry.   It will remind us to acknowledge and be thankful to God for His goodness to us, and to say a  little prayer   …. “For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful”.

Life Happens

 

Crowds
Life happens !
We are all different and respond or react differently in different situations.
Living life gives us the opportunity to experience different situations,  some that we would never choose for ourselves.   And through these life situations we get to know ourselves a little better – and perhaps that is the crux of the matter of life, to get to know ourselves a little better, through the hard times and the good times.

Sprouting a little wisdom here then ?

Well, taking a small overview of the past twelve months, and in particular the last five months, has given me a glimpse into the way I respond to life situations, and so getting to know myself a little better.
Having been diagnosed with breast cancer and walking on the stepping stones of a new pathway I am a little surprised how the walk through the valley of the shadow of death has brought a subtle change in me.
A cancer diagnosis becomes a death sentence, well in my mind it was so.
First the symptom then the mammogram, then the visit to the surgeon, then the results of his biopsy, then its over.  Well so I thought, but discovered that it was not over, and that I did not die, but lived !

My demise was a mental address, real and sad to me that there was nothing beyond the final visit to the surgeon.   I was in a dead-end street.
I tried to tidy up my cupboards, throw out any excess so the family didn’t have much bother when I was gone.  Get my accounts in order.  Just generally tidying up my life, with no loose ends to tie up.   I made no commitments  so that I would have no obligations.  I had no desire to be creative or work on any project.   I only did what I had to do.   I kind of gave up on my life, after all there was no future.

I put on a strong face for the family, and was very positive in the beginning. I wanted them to ease into the reality of the death sentence, as I knew it is a personal blow to come to terms with losing a loved one.   They were all so very supportive, each in their own way, and the love they carried in their hearts were revealed to me in each one’s unique response to the situation.  They each grew in stature and grace at Life’s happenings.

The hormone therapy that the oncologist had put me on was easy, apart from the tiredness that went along with it.   The tumour had regressed and I was on my way to healing.   I became optimistic that things were working out  after all.   Somewhere along the way I lost the death sentence as I began to realise that there was much wisdom in ‘taking one day at a time’ and ‘to keep hope alive.’

Then the tumour started to grow again.   The oncologist suggested radiation therapy, and I was in a dilemma – to do, or not to do, was the decision I struggled with, until I finally made an appointment with the unknown – radiation treatment !

Radiation sign

The treatment itself was not to daunting.   “Its like having a chest ex-ray,” my oncologist said.   It is however the after effects that had to be walked through, with plenty of rest, as the treatment left me drained, physically emotionally and spiritually.  And rest I did, for the best part of six weeks.   My poor immune system had been rocked by radiation to destroy the enemy within, it deserved to rest and to be nurtured, –  so to my soul.

It was during this time that I realised I had to keep my mind busy.   I was not to let this situation, this ‘ life’s happenings’,  this malady with its tiredness dominate my thinking.  I had to bring in other thoughts, and good thoughts.  I had to focus my mind on something better, a bigger story than my own.
So I took to the Scriptures, and focused particularly on a project-read, and then bring it to a conclusion by writing a summary of it on my blog.    I chose to look at the great men in the Bible.   I wrote Minding Moses and Dancing with David, and am currently working on other Faith heroes.

The  radiation treatment is still doing its work, and the tumour is regressing.  Hallelujah ! And my oncologist is delighted with my physical progress.

crossing the bridge
Having said all that I must add, that emotionally it is quite a ride too, a lonely ride.  I regard myself as a fairly stable person, and was outwardly, and for the most part inwardly, calm through each step of the way.  Although open,  I’m a private person and like to handle my own “emotional stuff” my own way.  There were days when I felt very alone and very sad for myself.   And indeed I was alone, except when I drew my strength from the Scriptures.

Cancer has an ugly face, its not a nice companion, and I did not embrace it for one minute, but I had to surrender to God’s sovereignty in the situation.  Once I did that I was at peace with Him and with myself.

I am not only on hormone therapy, but on faith therapy too.     Its a therapy that has no bad side effects, and will in time manifest only the goodness of God.   Faith is spiritual, a heavenly thing,  and is another ball game, which I am slowly learning by His grace, and with expectation.

I am still on my pathway to healing, and calling on God to show me the way.
Perhaps there is new ground to break, I hope so.   I hope to see Him working in new ways in my life – help me to attain higher ground in faith and healing, and His way of doing things.

I keep in mind, that His grace is sufficient for a new day, for there is always faith, hope and love in, Life’s happenings !

The sun comes up

One Moment Please

 

bright sunrise

‘Renewed moments’ –  is a phrase I picked up on when I read a post of a faithful contributor in my blogosphere space.

It stuck a little, and as I thought about it I wondered if it is an accurate phrase, can a moment be renewed ?
A moment is a moment, it comes and it goes.   And if you want it to linger you sit very still or else, like holding water in your hand it just flows on, away and the moment passes.
It is a time when you are very present ‘in the moment’, and become aware of more than just yourself and where you are at in that particular moment in time.
Moments can become eternal.

Moments can become milestones.   It is a time when you acknowledge that from that moment something changed.   Change-moments can be both terrifying and sublime.

images (6)
Recognition frame moments, and can happen in an instant.   The moment you become aware you hit new ground.

Moments can be refreshing, bring relief and laughter –  that change perspectives.

Moments can be enriching, if you recognise them when they happen.    Are they little signs along the way of life ?   Signs we often miss for all the hurry-scurry in life and its demands.

But can moments be renewed ?  I think yes, for where else do we keep our moments but in our memory.   So they can be recalled, and relived and re evaluated in an instant.

Aren’t moments wonderful. ?  They come they go, and they live on.   It is up to us to recognise and capture them so that we can put value on them.

And when all our moments are gathered together, they make up the patchwork beauty of our lives.

Savour your moments, polish them, strip them of their uglinesses, frame them, and appreciate them, they are little gifts from God.

So take one moment please, be still, and cherish the moment.

three butterflies

Pearls of Wisdom

Pearls of wisdom

I have a pink polka dot covered book that I have titled ‘My Collection of Pearls of Wisdom’ in which I have written down the clever things other people say or their knowledge and insights.  Other people’s treasures are at times to valuable to just discard, and thus my collection – but then I am a word-hoarder at heart.

I rediscovered the following, written in 2016 by Julie Wick, who is a Los Angeles based reporter and editor , and thought to share it with you.
I believe that we here at WordPress all have one thing in common, we want, and do, write.   And this post is on writing and telling stories.   I hope it will spur you on in your writing, to further explore your soul, and the talent at the end of your very own finger tips  !

“Stories are our prayers.   Write and edit them with due reverence, even when the stories themselves are irrelevant.

Stories are parables.  Write and edit and tell yours with meaning, so each tale stands in for a larger message, each story a guidepost on our collective journey.

Stories are history.   Write and edit and tell yours with accuracy and understanding and context and with unwavering devotion to the truth.

Stories are music.   Write and edit and tell yours with pace and rhythm and flow.
Throw in the dips and twirls that make them exciting, but stay true to the core beat.

Readers hear stories with their inner ear.

Stories are our soul.   Write and edit and tell yours with your whole selves.
Tell them as if they are all that matters.
It matters that you do it as if that’s all there is.”

Now go write something.   String your words of wisdom together, like a pearl necklace for the world to wear !

Pearl necklace

 

Waiting Rooms

 

I had to get up earlier than usual so that I could travel the distance and arrive early for my appointment at the oncologist’s waiting rooms.
The invader had returned.  And so I had to go through the process of assessment, markings, being escorted to the other building where registration,  x-rays and scans were done for more markings and measurements.    All done professionally and regimentally with precision and courtesy.  There were other patients waiting their turn, and so I had to wait my turn too.   But the waiting for me was not an inconvenience.   I love to sit and observe the passing parade, whether it be in traffic, or in the waiting rooms of life.

I  remember being in this place before, when I had to come in for the original scanning process at the beginning of my cancer challenge.   Strangely the whole building, the registration, the waiting-foyer all seemed much smaller than I remembered.

That very long corridor which I sat in waiting for the radiographer to call my name, was not so long now.
Long corridor

It still had the beautiful seascape paintings on the wall, but somehow it was not so daunting.    I wondered why.
Is it that memory shrinks the environment.  Or is it that when one is fearful of the unknown that everything seems bigger and a little overwhelming?
It is like when you return to your childhood home, or school, that everything now seems much smaller.   An interesting phenomena.

There were three others waiting for their treatment, and so I had a chunk of time to pass.
I read a magazine. And then scrutinised the paintings, thinking how I could perhaps re create them when I started my drawing again.    And then I thought to use the time to write.  I had brought my notebook with me.    All I saw was the blank wall, literally and figuratively, nothing creative would come to mind.

Gloom CloudBut what I did see was the cloud of doom hovering over the other patients’ heads.   There was a sense of gloom, and a sense of duty in the corridor as the clinic sisters hurried along with their work.   But even they seemed to have the gloom cloud over them.

Eventually all the necessary scanning preparation work was done, and I had to return to the oncologist’s rooms again.
Now more waiting.   But here was a large TV screen, and South Africa was playing India in the Cricket World Cup.   I watched for a while, but lost interest, so decided to inconspicuously observe  the other cancer patients instead.   And though the waiting room was light and colourful with flowers in vases and the TV screen there was an air of travail in the room too.   It was as if the people’s problems were very present in the room with them.  There was a certain amount of gloom in the room.     And understandably so, cancer is a serious problem, an  almost insurmountable problem, with its own sense of burden and invisible gloom. In some there was a resignation to the suffering of the disease.   In others there seem to be a bearable tolerance of the inevitable.   We were all wrestling in our own way with the fate that had befallen us.
There was a certain gloom, but there was hope too.  Treatment of whatever kind meant there was help, and the people in the medical and healing professions, who have great expertise, also  have important caring attitudes that carry the cancer patients through in times of illness and desperation.  Kindness is a good companion in the healing process.

I came away with further appointments in hand, for ongoing treatment.   But somewhere  in the waiting rooms, I had resolved not to pick up on the gloom, but to rather look on the soaring side of hope,  and choose joy when gloom wants to press in to order the mood of the moment.

soaring eagle

But those who wait on the Lord,
Shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 42:31

The Comfort of Gentleness

 

It is in times of great distress that comfort is needed, but can be overlooked because of pressing action and immediate needs.
It may take special insight and compassion to know that there is need for comfort to be given for a soul wrecked by crisis and trauma.
Soul comfort needs something soft and gentle, whether it be a kind word, a knowing look or a fleeting touch.  Comfort is a gentleness given when the soul is bruised, frightened or crushed.
Gentleness has a wordless language of its own.  It is a conveyor of love.

This became evident to me as I read Gene’s story of her major endeavour to collect soft toys for the children of the recent Mozambique floods.   Her main purpose was to bring a comfort to the children who had gone through this traumatic event, where all had been lost.     And though the immediate and practical needs were huge with regard to shelter, clean water, food, clothing bedding and such like, there was also the need for comfort of the soul, (not often recognised as a need) – but that can bring about an assurance that despite it all, all will be well.

It was her insightful compassion that sparked me into action to get my small Care Bag of Bibles and vegetable seeds to Mozambique, which happened in an amazing string of events.     Gene’s endeavour was met with more hurdles, logistics being the main problem.   Nevertheless she persevered  and has now finally been able to bring her mission to completion.

Here are a few photos of the soft toys she collected, some made by ladies of a local needlework group who wanted to make a contribution,  her own handcraft of little kids bags and collections from other generous sources.   These will all find their way into the hands of various Churches and given to the children of Mozambique as a token of comfort and love in their loss.

Moz teddie bears

Moz toys

Moz Kids bags
To me Gene’s thoughtful gentleness is a spark of inspiration, and may her tribe increase !
It reminds me of a song we use to sing :

It only takes a spark to get a fire going,
And soon all those around will warm up in its glowing
That’s how it is with God Love,
Once you’ve experienced it
You want to love, you want to give  
to all who are around.

 

campfire-dancing

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.

Car guard Urban
Meet a man called Urban, the friendly Car-guard,  at a local shopping centre.

There are the Car-guards at the shopping centre.   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 end from the beginning, 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

 

 

Can a Leopard change its spots ?

 

IMG_0529 (1)

 

My somewhat lopsided Leopard, with all its intricate and significant markings, took me ages to complete, and finally brought me to this question  :  Can a leopard change its spots ?

This questions reminded me of a sweet Bible joke,  –  and a play on words that has the
power to make me smile.
Before I share it with you I have to set a scene from our history for you to understand my little joke, –  and some of our nation’s culture tensions.

We have 11 official languages in South Africa !   One of which is Afrikaans.    The Afrikaners were part of the forge from European nations e.g. the Dutch, French and German, who all had their reasons to set sail for African shores in the distant past.
In the wake of the discovery of gold and diamonds, the Anglo-Boer (the war between the Afrikaans farmers and English soldiers )  –  scraping through a crippling drought, famine and poverty, the Afrikaners were instrumental in establishing a firm foundation, and set infrastructures in place for a nation to emerge here at the southern tip of Africa.  Of course, not perfect, they have made huge mis-judgments and mistakes in the development of our people, that have their result in our very present day super sensitive racial tensions.

Butterfly SA

We are a very complex and diverse nation, evident in each of our 11 cultural languages with their own histories, before we even get to the collective history – which is still unfolding !!

Because of the Anglo-Boer war,  before our recent history, there had always been a sharp cultural tension between the Afrikaner and the English-speaking people in the land – mainly due to the war.    The ‘Boertjie’ a nick name for the Afrikaner and ‘Rooinek’ for the English were at times intentionally disparaging toward each other. One particular aspect was that the ‘Boertjie” often got his tenses wrong when he was forced to speak English.
Perhaps that’s the reason why some of my writing gets its tenses wrong  – a kickback from my ancestry !!

images.png Smiley face    Now let me tell you my little joke, emanating from that part of our history.

Adam and Eve were walking in the Garden of Eden, and Eve had identity issues, with questions.
She asked Adam if they were English or Afrikaans ?   Adam scratched his head unknowingly and said he would ask God.     So the next day when they met in the cool of the evening as was their custom,  Adam asked God if they were English or Afrikaans.  God gave Adam a penetrating gaze and said in a soft wisdom “Adam my son, you are what you are”
The next morning over an apple crumble breakfast, Adam told Eve he now knew the answer to her question.  Eve sat forward, for she had an inquiring mind and liked to gather knowledge.  “We are English” Adam told her.  “And how did you come to that deduction” asked Eve.  “Well” said Adam, ” I asked God if we were English or Afrikaans, and He said  ‘ Adam you are who you are‘  – well now, if He was Afrikaans He surely would have said Adam you is who you is.”  –  (smile now)

Language,  and culture make up identity.   I think that mindful language will not easily offend, and a little humour can go a long way in today’s global racist climate.  We need to laugh at ourselves more often – and that is easier done when you have an understanding and an acceptance of your own place in history, whatever that may be, your identity,  and your own unique story, for we all have stories to tell.
History clarifies that we all come from a race and cultural group.  And History will always reveal the bias of past governance.  Taking the high ground of hindsight is easy, and demanding justice has its place.   But we can’t truly go forward, looking in the rear view mirror.  We need to get into the gear of forgiveness to take us forward to fulfil our potential and our destinies, – or stay as we are, and wait until time heals or new adversaries surface !   History has an equalising effect.
I came across a telling quote recently,  it read :  We are all products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it – Rick Warren.   Well said.

With worldwide nation-shifting currently going on, the world is in a state of cultural and racial flux. We all have our own cultural perspectives, because we are all diverse.  We would be wise to heed sensitivity and by the same token avoid a victim-mentality.  After all we all have our own distinct and different spots, so to speak.

Identity, is not only language and culture, but character too.  Character is based on values, ethics and morals – and choices make character.
In my little joke, God in His wisdom said : you are who you are,  but we are not expected to stay that way.   Through moral values and decisions we have opportunities to become more, and this can and will influence our character, identity, even our destiny.
Perhaps it is not just the social economic poverty, which is huge, but moral poverty that is the true cause of the ills in our societies today.

Attitude is telling, and shines through the filtered light of our varying  societies.   An often used quote is  : Attitude is everything.   I agree with that.   It’s the place in life, where courtesy and respect begins or ends, the difference between being civilised or barbaric.   I like to keep this quote in mind : Courtesy is the first rung on the ladder of civilisation. (source unknown)

‘Ubuntu’  is an African term that can take on different connotations  e.g. community caring, kindness, courtesy, respect for each other.   This makes all the difference to our attitudes in our societies.
My interpretation of Ubuntu is  –  Love your neighbour as you love yourself.

We can change our spots by changing our minds, and our attitudes and sprinkled with humour can even help to change the spots of others.
So even when we humorously retort  …..’  I is who I is ‘  ….. we can change !
If we stop to think about this, it is applicable on many levels, –  socially, psychological and spiritual,     As a man thinks, so is he.  Proverbs 23:7

I found my leopard in the Bible, Jeremiah 13:23 where it says : Can an Ethiopian change his skin, can a leopard change its spots ?
As the chapter also speaks to idolatry and  pride – eeek ! –  I had to pay close attention, because my spots can so easily reveal my pride too !!   It is something to think on.

My spots are my spots, but if I allow God’s goodness and grace to change me, my spots, wrinkles and blemishes will change into a thing of beauty, that helps me see the beauty spots in other people.  That kind of transformation is good, essential and eternal.

In today’s super sensitive racial climate, may my leopard serve as a reminder for us to love our neighbour.

Ubuntu,  my friend  Ubuntu !

Butterfly SA

 

 

 

 

 

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