LOST AND FOUND

 

memory desert

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

flying SA flag

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 waited 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 its 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 South Africa.

Cape Town flag

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.

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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 !

Butterfly SA


DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

range if diamonds

The song says, diamonds are forever.   So is eternity.  And like diamonds much polishing makes, of an ordinary rough stone, a brilliant gem, a thing of awesome beauty for all the world to see and admire.
God has put beauty in our hearts, and when we truly see the beauty before us it takes our breath away.

I remember visiting the Tower of London where the British crown jewels are on show for all the world to appreciate.    I was enraptured by the beauty of the Culllinan diamonds (found in South Africa in 1906)  embedded in the Queen’s crown and sceptre.

crown diamonds.jpg

I remember my heart taking wings and soaring at the beauty.   It is a special memory and the giddy  feeling of awe I felt I will cherish for ever.

Botswana is a land of harsh contrasts.  It is a dry and dusty land, where mined diamonds are a source of the country’s main revenue.  I did a little research on Botswana and discovered its interesting history, and a little about the Bushman who live there.

“Botswana achieved independence from Britain on September 30th 1966.   In the 50 years since, it has become one of Africa’s success stories, though success has also involved a half a century of contradictions and difficulties.
“Diamonds were discovered in 1967, which allowed Botswana to achieve the fastest rate of economic growth in the world between 1966 and 1980.”
“Botswana has the second highest per capita income in Africa at $17,595, eclipsing South Africa’s $11,750.  Despite unequal distribution of such wealth and despite the likelihood of problems to come, it is at least a legacy to bequeath to the second 50 years.”
Despite apparent democracy, liberal ‘freedoms’ are not always protected : the attempted removal of Bushmen from the Kalahari occurred in President Mogae’s time as did the beginning of the effort to remove the San people from the west.”
Ref :  www.historytoday.com/stephen-chen/50-years-botswana

Digging a little deeper I came across the following on the Bushman of Botswana :
“Tourism is Botswana’s most important market, after diamonds.  Tourists are openly encouraged to enjoy a “Bushman experience”,  taking trips with Bushmen to learn about their hunting and gathering survival techniques and watch them perform ‘trance-dances’   At the same time, the Bushmen are prevented from hunting and the majority  are forced  to live outside their ancestral land”
Ref :  www.survivalinternational.org/tribes/bushmen

So despite its potential wealth for some, the poorest of the poor scratch out a meagre life in its thorn tree geography, where, with God’s help, only the strong, the faithful and the resilient can possibly survive.

coloured diamondslittle diamonds.jpg

 

Often the emails from Gawie are cryptic, and I have had to re-read them to really get an understanding of what he is trying to convey.
Gawie and Dina Joubert have been serving God, and the Bushmen of Botswana for over 25 years now.  It is through his emails that I have come to hear of the Bushmen people of Xanagas.

Gawie of Botswana  Diamond

Gawie, truly a diamond in the making, is a missionary to the Bushman people in Botswana.

No to long ago, an appeal went out to sink a borehole in Xanagas, with a plan to get  animal stock, and grow some vegetables, (yay !) so that the Bushmen could sustain themselves.  When water flowed from the borehole, they named it Blessing.   Water is a blessing, especially in a dry and thirsty land.

Often Church-outreaches from South Africa visit Gawie at Xanagas and bring necessary goods for the Bushmen.   One such item was the donkey-car,   also named Blessings !

 

Blessings Botswana.jpg
Such extremes – from crown jewels to donkey-cars.
Has our sophisticated world forgotten the needs of the poor and the needy ?  Is wealth and riches all this world is about, driven by insatiable greed.   Where has honour gone, where does contentment find itself these days ?   Can’t we share a little ?  Between the have-nots, the haves, and the have-yachts, surely there must be a bridge we can find ourselves on to equalise our different worlds –  just a little?

If you have some time on hand, visit Gawie on his blog, and be amazed at what God’s grace and love can do., and view some real endearing photos of the people of Xanagas.

http://xanagasbotswana.blogspot.co.za/p/new-xanagas.html

Or drop Gawie an email  of encouragement on :   xanagas@gmail.com

Isaiah 62:3  You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord.  And a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

Eternity is forever.

blue diamond

HOPE… catch it if you can.

peach flower

HOPE
I heard the Voice in my head say, ” why don’t you write an essay on Hope.”
What a topic !   Because hope can be so elusive, not easy to pin down, let alone examine.
What is hope ?  I scratched my head, and thought it a topic for another day.  So I put it on the back burner of procrastination.

But it wouldn’t go away. Hope came looking for attention on nearly everything I read, heard, even the people I met along the way that week seemed to shout out “I’m  Hope” look at me !   Well it seemed that Hope needed some serious attention.

I think, initially, it was while I was reading the verses in Romans that raised the whole question of hope.  Verses like:  if you can see hope its not longer hope –  but hope that is seen is not hope – Romans 8:24.
And hope, even if there is no hope –  who contrary to hope in hope believed. – Romans 4: 18
So I went on a hope hunt, and found :
We are prisoners of Hope… Zechariah 9:12
Hope is the anchor of our souls.…Hebrews 6:19
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when desire comes it is a tree of life.  Proverbs 13:12
All very comforting, rewarding and necessary to know.

Is Hope and Faith the same thing ?
We hope in something we cannot see, but is that not faith ?  Is Faith then something else ?  Now faith is the substance of things  hoped  for, the evidence of things not seen !!    A little more head scratching !!    Faith says that we call things into being as if they exist,  – but if we can’t see them, how can we call them?    What comes first, Hope or Faith – the egg or the chicken so to speak ! This is  where Desire comes in, those little seeds of wishes and wants and dreams. So is it Desire, Hope then Faith ?  Is Hope a carrier of Faith?  Well, if Hope comes from Desire, that is God-given and put into our hearts (the incubator), in the first place, then Faith must be to Believe, – the belief of the promise, the patience and the determination to see it through into existance, – into Reality.

That is for vision building, but of course, Hope can go the other way too. It can be the very crutch we lean upon when things go wrong.  On considering Hope, I came across a few Blogs that week on Hope, by accident of course!   I came a little closer to looking at, and being astonished at,  Hope.

https://unshakeablehope.wordpress.com
A man named Bill who has for the best part of eighteen years suffered with classic motor neuron disease, which is a disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for contolling voluntary muscles.  His blog is called unshakable hope !!  Need I say more.  Visit the blog and let Bill tell you his story.

Another self-improvement blog on WordPress called Dopeylife wrote a thought provoking post on Desire vs Need,  which challenged me to think deeply on Desire equals Hope, and I made a long comment on that blog, trying to figure it all out.

That very same week I, co-incidently, met Tiffy at the grocery shop. She is a lady who lives in our complex.  She was preparing to go and see the cancer specialist, who had successfully treated her for her first bout with cancer. She looked and sounded very optimistic even cheerful, and said she just hoped and prayed that God would grant her
the peace, and the joy to carry her through the next bout of treatment for this new cancer.
Hope is an eternal carrier for Life.

We cannot live without it for  Hope gives us a Future  !!

While watching a movie on Stephen Hawkins, a professor in quantum physics, who has a muscular disabling disease and lives his life crumpled-up in a wheelchair, I caught this phrase he spoke to an audience :
“Where there is life, there is Hope.”  One can only stand to humble attention, when these words are spoken by a person so crippled, yet not broken,  and living with hope.

It slowly dawned on me that Hope is only truly appreciated if you have your back against a wall and there is no way of getting out of the situation.  No way, No help. The only way is looking up to God who can make a way out, (whether we acknowledge this or not !) or carry us over or through the troubling waters of trials and tibulations. And more – give us the grace to bear it all.  Further more to that, we may never see the desired results we hoped for in the first place!  – but some may come to see something even better and far more far-reaching.  We seldom, maybe even never, get to see the end from the beginning.

I had heard the Preacher say, that Hope is one of the cores of the Christian faith.  That is true !    I remembered one of my favourite Scripture verses is found in Proverb 13:12 …
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when Desire comes it is a tree of life... and a beautiful picture of a blossom tree in full bloom came to my mind.

So,  now I’ll talk  “pictures” to tell a little story of Hope .

why me tree

The Why Me tree, with outstretched arms to heaven, in a cold and barren land.

Pruned treesThe painful wounds of pruning, sealed up with a healing balm for protection and healing.

peach blossom branch
Beautiful  full budded blossoms, bursting into bloom, making a splendid show, announcing  the cold barren winter is over.

imagespeach blossom

                                                                            Proverbs  13:12
  Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when desire comes it is a tree of life.  

peach blossom

Ah,  there it is,  the new fruit, for a new season!  Is this the reason  for Hope ?

peach fruit.jpg

The Fruit.  Delicious, delightful, delectable and plump, ready-to-eat peaches,  basking in a sunshine day, just waiting  to be picked  for our pleasure.

blossom twig

Hang in there, little Twig.  You’re part of a beautiful tree, in a very big orchard, created by a loving, caring and wise Gardener, who knows your seasons well, and what’s best for the fruit bearing trees of His orchard.   You are not alone.   Bloom where you are planted.

Peach blossom orchard
We have been intrinsictly wired for Hope.
Hope comes through spoken words,  that blow on the gentle thermaIs of the Wind, or even through written words that can give birth to pictures, to concepts and plans, to life, and the eternal life hereafter.

Hope is elusive, catch it if you can… it will carry you through whatever season of hope or despair you are in, carry you on to faith, and a desired end.

God says :
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.       Jeremiah 29:11

light peach blooms

The Day America Listened.

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It was my son, who said how wonderful it was that the Pope had made himself so visible in today’s world and how he influences the cause for the Poor and Needy.   So, when the TV announced that the Pope was going to address the American Congress I decided to sit on my couch to watch and listen to what the world’s most prominent leader had to say to America, the greatest nation on earth.

I was quite composed until I heard the slow gentleness of the Pope’s voice greet, and meet America, with the strong resonance to patriotism – for Americans love America ! There was a move in the spirit of the hearts who listened, as they all became very quiet, attentive and began listening to his every word.    And then I noticed the struggle
the man with the green tie was having to surpress his swelling tears, as he recognised the momentous moment in America’s history. The Speaker of the House, John Boehner appreciated the moment, the man, and the day America listened !Free-shipping-3pcs-lot-76mm-3-World-Map-Foam-ball-Earth-Globe-Stress-Relief-Ball-Atlas

It was then that tears began to flow down my cheeks as I saw a man touched by the Spirit of a holy man.  And if it were that I were not alone,  I would have howled, for it was those tears that gave me the surging hope…. that  man, as he listens to what is good, and gentle, and righteous, and moral,  is touched and moved to tears, even suppressed tears, declares that hope for Man is alive, and that God was watching, and listening too !

Surely such an address must have been written from the heart of the Pope, for it captured so ingeniously what he stood for, what he hoped for, what he subtly chastised for, without actually stating out loud the errors and contentious issues that the new modern society claim as their rights.  How subtly he addressed America on so many different levels, but never accusing or demeaning.   A lesson for politicians clamouring for power, to learn and to practice.
I for one, would love to be able to write with such subtilty and innuendoes, skirting yet penetrating the social issues of our times. To my mind it was a brilliant piece of writing, so graciously delivered to listening hearts.   It is only Love that can do that !

Even as a listening World, we should embrace much from his address to America for all the issues are global issues.  The Pope practises what he preaches, and his most endearing quality, to my mind is his refreshing humility, and his mindfulness of the preciousness of Life, and of the Poor.  This Pope may well leave the legacy of  bringing man back to our humanity. For in the race for fame prosperity and power we, on this side of the history scale, have for all intents and purposes, lost or misplaced our humanity.  All life matters, even that of the Earth, and we all need to respect the dignity of life; and each other.   A little humility will go a long way.

It was indeed a moment in our time, that may make for a better world, if we would just listen… and hear…. and do.

God bless America as she listens ! download (3)