I came across this old favourite poem by Rudyard Kipling, and just had to share these wise words with you today.
The colourful little sticker says :
“Casual Day Celebrate Diversity with Persons with Disabilities”
The purpose of the sticker serves as a motivation for the South African
public to be aware of those with disabilities, and the many kind-hearted charities that work hard to ease the life of those who know and live with disabilities.
So on the first day of September you will be excused for wearing your “takkies” to work, as long as you display the sticker you bought to support those Disabled among us. A lovely fun gesture, that knits community together.
I remember watching the TV broadcast on the Para Olympic Games held in London in 2012. Among the nations of the world there is none that can hold pageantry like the English. It was a magnificent display of courage and of hope to see those with Disabilities reach for their dreams.
Hope is intrinsic to human beings. God has designed us that way. He has built into each one of us faith hope and love. And when life happens, to some harshly, to others not so much, and when things don’t work out the way we had planned , we are still left with hope. There is always hope, that helps us to carry on regardless. And this is what we are given by those with Disabilities. They are hope-carriers.
They are a very costly gift to humanity.
Observing those with disabilities brings us to the threshold of suffering, and the age-old question arises “why does a good, loving God allow suffering ?”
Just for today, I hope we can pause, and remember those with Disabilities in our own families, in our communities, see them through new eyes, and be a little kinder to them.
The following little writing was sent to me, and I am passing it on to you. Unfortunately I cannot acknowledge the writer as I do not have a name. When I read it, it brought to me a smile and a tear, all at the same time….. and perhaps too a little more understanding.
GOD SAID NO !
I asked God to take away my habit,
God said, No it is not for Me to take it away, but for you to give it up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole
God said, No his spirit is whole, his body is only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience,
God said, No patience is the by-product of tribulations, it isn’t granted, it is learned.
I asked God to give me happiness,
God said, No, suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to Me.
I asked God to make my spirit grow,
God said, No you must grow your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.
I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, No I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.
I asked God to help me love others, as much as He loves me.
God said, Ahh, finally you have the idea.
This day is yours, don’t throw it away.
God bless you.
The blooming season has started. Spring has come before Spring should be here !! Everywhere I look I see splashes of colour that lift my sagging soul.
Outside my bedroom window the Bougainvillea has been blooming for sometime. Splashing out with tangerine petals that turn a bright pink as they mature , just plain showing off ! But it is beautiful, and just stands there in all its glory for me to enjoy.
Then around the corner into the back yard are three beautiful Bougainvillea. One a bright cerise pink, planted about three years ago, so it’s a strong plant. The other one, a soft soft creamy pink, a “youngling” struggling to be magnificent too !
Then there’s the little beautiful bush Bougainvillea, blooming in its softer shade of ‘petunia-pink’ – planted in memory of a dear sister who passed away last year.
When I look out my kitchen window, pass the wash-line, the tall wall and the hedge, my eye follows toward the sky. Over the road, on the high ridge are very tall trees, where the hadedahs have an over night resting place. And monkeys often take up a view-point of the humans below, hoping to catch a whiff of what’s for rummaging.
But climbing upon the tall trees are two shades of beautiful Bougainvillea vines, one a magenta pink and the other a reddish pink. Sparsely spread they just make such a statement for the power of colour in the vivid green of the leafy trees. A little out of place, but relentless in their climb for their beauty to be seen – just for me from my kitchen window, I’d like to think !
Beautiful Bougainvillea everywhere to behold ! But now is the season to feast the eye on what God’s handiwork has created in the realm of nature, if we would just but stop and look and see His glory revealed. Seasons come and go, as do the colourful petals of the Bougainvillea plant. Soon they will be strained, stressed and stale, but never really die, as some plants do, and then ! – and then comes the magnificent re-growth, the re-bloom. I do like their never-die attitude.
The beautiful Bougainvillea, a beauty to behold, bringing colour and joy and heralding in Spring …… and so a new season begins.
When one speaks of seasons one is speaking of change. Change is inevitable, but I am reminded of one constant, found in the Book of
Isaiah 40:8 :
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
Living in the Slow Lane has its benefits. It means taking your time, going where you will, and some days can be filled with random encounters – some of which are co-incidences and some of which are God-incidences, and then having the time to digest which is which. Such is life in the Slow Lane.
Life is full of transitions. I have come to accept that I now live in a solitude cottage, in the slow lane, in the area of random encounters. And it is an exciting place to be, if you have eyes that see and ears that hear.
Just the other day I went up the hill to the big grocery store to do a bit of shopping. I noticed the pop-up stall of the Sunfield Home School that was having a fund-raising event. I remembered a friend who had a son with a disability who was in the home. Thought I’d linger, but changed my mind and went on to do some leisurely shopping.
But coming out of the store I thought I heard a voice calling to me, and when I turned there was a young man urging me to buy a sticker for Casual Day. I could see that he was disabled, yet so polite, so charming, so earnest, that I was hooked. He escorted me to the till table and said he would reserve a sticker for me, but I could also make a donation into the big box on the table, or “if you like take a stroll around the table and buy some of the handwork made by the students” …. so polite, and no pressure ! I said that I liked to shop and will take a stroll around the table. I picked up a few trinkets and came back to the till table, where a young girl with an absolute winning smile, was ready to take my money. But Mr Marketing Entrepreneur was waiting for me with the reserved sticker. I said “what must I do with the sticker?” He said on the 1st of September I could wear casual clothes and then put on the sticker. The Principal of the school was at my elbow and he explained Casual Day to me, as I obviously did not know when, or anything else about Casual Day.
Casual Day is a day when you may donate money to a disability charity, get a sticker, wear casual clothes, and so become aware of the World of Disabilities. Enlightened, I paid the girl with the winning smile for the sticker, my trinkets and gave Mr Marketing Entrepreneur the change to put in the Donation Box. He was delighted, as was the Principal, who immediately put my name on their data base.
Marketing well done, they had caught a fat fish. But the kind Principal at my elbow, told me more about the Home School and their work. As their School was in a country environment I asked if they had a vegetable garden. And indeed they do, and a veggie tunnel too. Way to go !
When I mentioned that Mr Marketing Entrepreneur, who I saw was listening, had such an air of charm and confidence, I had to turn to him to say ” You are a Super Star.” If I thought that the words were going to make an impression I was wrong. He immediately deflected the compliment to the girl with the winning smile at the till table, and said “And what about her ?” I looked in her direction and said “You too are such a Super Star”, …. and was quickly rewarded with that winning smile.
As I turned to walk off I heard the Principal say, give her a Sunfield sticker, and Mr Marketing Entrepreneur came over and pressed a tiny white sticker on my blouse that said ‘Sunfield Home School thanks you’. And he gave me a quick hug. Wow ! I walked away feeling I had been in the company of angels.
I am quite sure that there were angels standing by that pop-up stall, even if they were in the form of the Principal or Carers. At every turn there was someone who explained either the sale goods or the aims of the School. The students were not left on their own to man their stall. The support team was on the spot to assist.
But I suspect that there were other angels too – those of a heavenly feathery kind, for I had felt the light feathery brush of an angel wing as I walked away. A random encounter, and a God-incident indeed !
The World of Disabilities is not often seen in the Fast Lane. It is far to busy, to fast and to insensitive there. But those who have been on the fringes of the World of Disabilities would agree with a quote from the educators of the Sunfield Home School :
“recognise that the disabled learners have more abilities than disabilities”
So for one brief moment of the year, the first day of September, remember the Disabled, dress casual and wear a sticker that may just say “but there for the grace of God go I.”
The article on Self-esteem sparked me to take a long muse down a road named Narcissism.
So to really get into it I want to share with you a poem I wrote about my self !!!
Shades of Self
Knowing me, knowing you is a song often sung,
But do I know me?
In solitude I am so fine. And am always right.
Can climb the highest mountain, reach the height.
Yet in conversations with you, my halo dims, the varnish shifts, my layers thin.
And if I look closely I see some shades of me I did not know.
So I’ve gathered them together, my collectables if you like, to share with you.
Straight from the shelf,
Not all good-looking, theses shades of Self
There is the Wannabee, the Lookatme, the Knowitall and the Toldyouso,
The ever-present Babbler, and don’t forget these too –
The Mender, Bender and the Defender, all to often the Pretender, the Spender – and the ever ready Opinionator too.
Now, herein lies some stories, characters in tact.
Weave the threads, bring in the gold.
Let it show perhaps too,
Your shades of Self,
In your story told.
I remembered a picture somewhere of a good-looking Greek fella who fell in love with his own image mirrored in a water brook. He had met a beautiful girl, and they fell in love. But it didn’t work out because he just couldn’t get past loving the image of himself !!
Sounds a lot like the dysfunctional marriages of today ! Self-love in personalities can play havoc with harmony and happiness. And it’s not just a case of having a pretty face or a beautiful body. It’s not silly vanity, or an inflated ego, it is far more serious than that and reaches deep into the personality. Narcissism is no new thing ! Indeed its an age-old human condition wired into the human psyche. If it is not transformed, or goes unchecked, it goes to the extreme and becomes a personality disorder that has a huge and devastating impact on the lives of other people. It is a very serious condition, and almost always goes undetected by the carrier.
We all have a Self, so likely there will be some degree of narcissism in all of us. I once asked God if He wanted me to be a butterfly why did He not just make me a butterfly. I liked being me, I really liked myself, why did I have to change ? I thought I heard Him sigh a heavy sigh, but He did not answer, and just let life’s circumstances continue to flow over me. Now some years later, I get a glint of why I had to transform from a worm to a butterfly, it was so that those living with me would have a fighting chance to survive my bossy, over-bearing ways, and self-opinionated personality.
(So sorry Family !)
I have an enquiring mind, but I am not a psychologist. So to get more light on the subject and delve a little deeper into narcissism, I investigated, and came across a site that gave several Psychological approaches, or theories, on the subject. If you are interested you can Goggle https://ruveydacelenk.com/2014/12/23/narsisistik-kisilik
Don’t forget to click on the Translate button. It will give far more understanding on this very complex subject. But best as I can understand it (and that took some time !) I have come to some understanding of the Self.
In the development or construction of the psychological Self or Personality, Observations made, form Perceptions – right or wrong. A response can go up to protect the Self, or a resistance to challenge the perception. So even in our tiniest beings, – where and when most of the Personality is formed – observations lead to responses, that cause us to make a choice that helps us to deal with the emotion or feeling we have observed or experience in life.
Thus the Personality, the Self, is formed through a defence or resistance response (flight or fight), and either route can lead to a distortion – the Lie ! So construction of the Personality (through our thought-life which builds the neuron patterns in our brain) determines what we believe about our Self.
This self-constructed Self, called self-esteem – taken to the extreme becomes Narcissism. Now Narcissism constantly needs to be guarded to portray a desired, acceptable and presentable Self – which in fact can be a False Self. And come hell or high water it demands to be protected and respected, and will emotionally annihilate anything in its path that will want to obstruct it !! And in fact, in my opinion, it should be respected – (I did not say tolerated !) for it is who the person is or has become,…. and that is holy ground – the very portal of hell or heaven !!
That is, until Truth be told, that will help to deconstruct the Lies, that cause us to limp, often exhaustively, through life because we have to prop up the False Self, through fear or performance, to be made acceptable by others, who don’t really care or even matter !
So could you say we need a saving of the Self ? My answer is yes ! Because we are all created with this amazing power called the Will, our choice, our desire – good or bad.
The Will, our choice, is our ‘distinction’ from other created species, and is accommodated in the Mind – the headquarters of the Self. It is at this point of decision where we can embrace a thought or expel a thought. If, we can discern, examine or judge a thought for what it is, we can build a positive construct, if we expel or disregard a wrong thought (negative) it evaporates into a gas and is diminished ! Now that is power – the power of our Will, our choice, our decision – that plots the course of our life.
So it would seem that the forming of the Personality, the Self, or the Soul can form self-distorted constructions (neural pathways) that can, and will manifest eventually in psychological development or disorders, and even deviant behaviour.
What I have gleaned from Psychology is that there is more, much more. In dire cases, the Self or Personality can fragment or split (sometimes necessary for surviving the hurt, shame and pain of trauma), can dissociate itself and form other “selves” or personalities, display patterns of obsessive behaviour, self sabotage on inferiority or insecurity, or roar and rage in smouldering silent angry rebellion. Anxieties and depressions are almost the order of our modern societies. Could these be signs of the True Self wanting out?
Well that is my understanding and opinion, and I suppose I am entitled to it, because after all I’m just a recovering narcissist !
But wait there is more, this distorted Self is not the True Self. So how do you get to dig out the True Self from all the cacophony of voices, distortions and misconstruction. Perhaps then an exercise in the deconstruction of the distortion – the Lie, is a place to begin, enter the psychologist, the healer or the Truth.
After wracking my poor brain on the theories of Psychology and narcissism, I asked myself what is the truth of the matter. So I turned to the pages of the Bible, the book of wisdom, – by the way a must read, – to look a little deeper for the soul and for the spirit. I came across some of these Scriptures that told me that indeed we do have a soul and a spirit. Of course, in Theology there is more, much more than just the psychology of man, in fact a whole magnificent story unfolds of the restoration of Mankind.
Psalm 139:14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
Proverbs 18:14 The spirit of man will sustain him in sickness , But who can bear a broken spirit ?
1 Thessalonians 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless…..
So, as humans we are made up of the body,the soul, and the spirit. Three engines, if you like, that should function in harmony. The body we know, the soul is taking a little longer to know, and the spirit (the subconscious) which is almost unknown to most. The spirit is very important, because it is here where The Lie operates. It hides itself, like the coward it is, – so undetected, can continue to reinforce even entrench more lies, with invading thoughts, false belief systems, false identities, deviant behaviour, in fact all things devious and deceitful, that cause immeasurable torments, sadness and sorrow in the soul, and play havoc with our happiness and our lives, and the lives of others, especially those near and dear to us.
The Truth of the matter is that we are made in the image and likeness of God. God is love, and God has a will. His will is His desire. We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made because, like God, we too have a will, a choice, a desire, that operates through decision.
We carry, in us, the original blue print for Love and for the good, the lovely, the honourable, the pure, and all the value and virtues of goodness. So when we have to make a decision, when we have to make a choice, it should be for the good, for the love of the Self, because our original Self is designed in our Creator’s image. That’s good self-esteem, and ‘narcissism’ at its best !!
That’s what our souls long for, the magnificent Self.
But of course we do not know this when we are tiny tots, rebellious teens or ambitious adults, growing our personalities. So we just develop along the lines of survival, need and greed to feed the Self. That is unless we come to know and accept the love of God, through Jesus Christ, Who loves us with an unconditional love, (warts and all) and wants to set us free from the Lie, to be who we really are – our True Self, in Him. His task is the task of unique restoration, as we are all the same, yet each one so unique in their personality. We find this out when we search the Scriptures that mirror and reveal who we really are, and what lurks and is hidden beneath the surface in our souls.
But where do we begin ? The key is Christ, to accept Him and invite Him into our hearts and our minds, to read His Word, the Bible, and by reading His Word a transformation begins to take place in our thought processes.
Romans 12:2….. , but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Now we are lining up our thoughts with His thoughts, His Will – His desires, which are good and favourable toward the Self, (for we are His workmanship, His creation) , and our decisions will become positive decisions that will be for our good, our development and for the prosperity of our soul, and our lives.
Jeremiah 29 : 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
It is however necessary, to implant the Word of God in our hearts.
James 1:21 …. , and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
Is this all just religious talk. The answer is no, because this is what the Word of God, has the power to do, – it is a game changer !
Hebrews 4:12 The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged-sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The Truth, and only the Truth will make us free to be who we really are, and destined to become.
We are complex, us human beings, but with the help of God, and when we begin firing in all three engines of body soul and spirit – can be magnificent in our inward parts, no longer deceived or broken, or functioning out of deficit or the Lie, but made whole, in the right image and with a healthy, life-giving self-esteem.
Narcissism is nothing more than Pride – the very thing that caused Lucifer to lose his place in heaven, and raise hell on earth !
Narcissism is identified in the Greek fables. In the eighties it was labelled Self-esteem, and is found in the Trolls of today’s world we call Virtual Reality – the Internet and Social Media.
We are in the age of consumerism and humanism. The era of ‘the selfie’ ! Progress and development are accelerating. We can reach higher, farther and faster on any level. We need to take care that in our humanism we do not lose our humanity. We need to hold onto a belief system that puts people first. Today’s advanced technology may well pave the way for our younger generation to go into a kind of emotional isolation or “flight mode” – desperately seeking purpose and attention, trying to escape from the gaping holes in their souls. Or is it just sheer ignorance of the Truth about the Self, – the Truth that actually keep us real and mentally and emotionally grounded.
Perhaps its time for change, from face book to face-off to face-to-face, where real interaction with real people help us to see ourselves a little clearer with warts and all. A getting to know the real me, the real you, – and that will take a whole lot of courage because emotional pain is almost unbearable, and will distort any image .
Bring out the mirror, take on Truth, get a little more honest, a little more humble, a little more real, then, observe the personality bloom like a sweet-smelling magnificent rose, for all around to enjoy.
So lets boot out nauseating narcissism, give the selfish Self a big shove to make room for others – and bloom where we are planted in the garden of humanity, – or even too in the cesspool of life.
1 Peter 3:4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
Do you know how sometimes you cherish something, neatly tuck it into the folds of your memory, and then overtime it gets lost ? Something triggers and a gentle flutter lets you know, although vague, its still in there somewhere.
That’s what happened to me recently when someone wrote of a poem I learnt at school many years ago….something about an Arab (?) – and a tribe !! So I went searching and found it again, that special poem I had tucked into my memory as a keepsake to cherish.
Joy ! You know the feeling you get when you find your misplaced keys, just magnify that by 10 ! It was as if someone had struck a resonant cord on a big bass guitar that vibrated through my soul, sheer delight!
The poem was written by Leigh Hunt in the 1800’s and not regarded as any great literary feat of the time yet here it is, 200 or so years later still giving insight and delight. That surely must be a mark of the extraordinary ?
Little snippets about the poet., – from http://www.poetryfoundation.org
Leigh Hunt was a centre figure of the Romantic movement in England in the 19th century but he was not, as he wished to be and knew the was not, one of its great poets.
He was a master of mood and atmosphere. Rather than having depth and passion, his poetry is imbued with the spirit of cheerfulness, which make it pleasant but not great.
He devoted his entire life to literature, writing several volumes of poetry, many essays a handful of plays and a novel, as well as making other literary contributions as a critic, editor and encourage of young writers.
Abou Ben Adhem first published in 1838 is a simple poem bearing the theme that to love man is the same as to love God. It also includes the line used as Hunts epitaph. “Write me as one who loves his fellow man”
Here for you to enjoy is the poem that I had lost, and now is found, and speaks so simply, yet so profoundly on the priorities of a life well lived. Like me, I hope it will settle your soul and let you know that in spite of everything going on around us, all is well.
ABOU BEN ADHEM
Abou Ben Adem, (may his tribe increase),
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold :-
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?” – The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord”
“And is mine one?” said Abou “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel.
Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still, and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow man”
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo ! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.
Happy Birthday South Africa !
Today you are 23 years old. How you have galloped into the future, creating history at a rapid rate.
If Life is a stage let’s take a front seat together and have a look at the South African play before us.
In 1994, though through a crucible, you were born free from the oppression of your previous history. A history that for all its intents and purposes nevertheless framed you for a better future for all. A new day had come, a new government, with new policies waiting on the horizon of the unknown. But one thing was sure, it was a delightful day of release, an expectation for some, and a dread for others. Different worlds had to come together, different histories had to fuse, different cultures had to find a way to live side by side. A tall order indeed ! – an order without a script to follow.
The honourable Nelson Mandela South Africa’s first president, set the vision in place, one South Africa for all, and all for one South Africa. The dream box was opened, and the dream floated out of injustice and into the potential of a new nation. Honour and respect were the order of the day. Even the World at large recognised its significance and regarded its highly prized Constitution. All was well, and Nelson Mandela graciously stepped aside for the next president to continue the legacy, and forge the future.
The honourable Thabi Mbeki South Africa’s second president was a man of vision too. Perhaps a little short in statue, but certainly long in vision. He saw the African Renaissance, not only a re-birth of a nation, but also of the African continent. His vision was the faint rumble of a new African-ism emerging. Whatever that entails and holds the future, in time, will tell.
Seemingly South Africa was just exiting racism, was another ism coming ? And who will be waiting in the wings of the World’s stage to influence, manipulate, access and conquer the people, and the resources, of this new nation on the southern tip of Africa.
Before the uncertain future cleared there was an interruption, and a new president pushed and jumped onto the stage for a part in the Play, and for a big slice of the wealth cake !
Mr Jacob Zuma the third president of South Africa, was by all accounts not a man of vision. Although jovial and charming, was for a time just the face for the ruling party. Leaders, good or bad, are important. Ordinary citizens like to look up at their leaders and feel secure, some even idolizing them, especially so in Africa. Mr Zuma swayed many with his charm, and then exhibited extreme cunning at staying in the power seat. He may well have just succumbed, to the irresistible call for greed, always knocking at the door of power.
I suspect, however, that being exposed to the global stage, and the greater forces in the power-play arena Mr Zuma was influenced by the dark agendas and concealed plans and visions of the greedy power mongers in a world of economics, politics and power.
Not only had the dream box released the potential of a new nation, but along with it came out the vile of politics, power-play and corruption. And although severely distasteful, I dare say necessary, for we all at some stage, have to have the courage to take a good long look at ourselves – face to face, to see the good and the bad that lingers in all of us, whether on a personal – or national level !
I don’t doubt that time will tell Mr Zuma’s story in more detail. Perhaps his best contribution to the South African story is that, by default, he exposed the resilience of the South Africa society, and its fervent need for true justice, and its ongoing striving for honour and integrity in its leaders, and in its people.
The South African Constitution Court bears clear evidence of this, and has proved to be a strong foundation-stone of this new democracy.
South Africa you have thrived on exciting and exhilarating politics these past 23 years, as the ghosts of the past have come out of your closet., and as new and entertaining players have taken to the stage with their own particular agendas, brands and personalities.
And then there is the unseen , unheralded band of caring prayer warriors who have kept the nation close to the heart of God, and under His wings South Africa has stood the test of fiery trials of corruption… and of state capture! Keeping vicious wolves at bay !!
So a caring, colourful and vibrant nation indeed you are becoming, South Africa.
But I would go as far as to say that South Africans have, these past eight years been over politicised, and have overdosed on politics ! Is it because there has been a leadership vacuum ? And of late just crisis management badly managed, halting economic development and resulting in the prospect of more poverty for the poorest in the nation.
Because of this you certainly have been stunted in your nation building, and the actual release of that people potential waiting to capture a future of progress and prosperity, for all.
For now, you are a nation on hold so to speak ! But time moves on, and the tide of politics will change, then a new day will break. When you revert to the original plan of one South Africa for all, and all for one South Africa, then that indeed will be a time to celebrate a true freedom – and a good future together as one.
Happy Birthday. May God continue to bless you as a light to the nations, and in this present world of political, economic and social turmoil.
Happy Freedom Day !