Feasts, sacrifices and puzzles….

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Celebrating in style…

One of my favorite genres in movies is action themed medieval films, especially those trying to reenact history. I do remember that during my growing up years, I loved and dreamed of being born then because it seemed like a good sword fight and banquets with huge boars (or any animal deemed a good catch and unfortunate to be killed) roasting over huge flames went hand in hand. However what fierce battles raged then (some for reasons unknown or lost with time), times when men and women were usually valued based on the formidability of their strength in battle – skill and brains combined. Why go to war if you could win over territories by the sheer knowledge of your previous conquests preceding you?

Approximately between 1050 – 1030 b.c, it was a tumultuous time for the Israelites as they vacillated between the era of judges; some notable for leading in righteousness and those infamous for allowing unrighteousness prosper. You see, it was really quite simple back then as it still is today – 2 options; one based on doing right by God’s standards and the other based on the opposite, the crowd pleaser. God’s standard was not that difficult to discern, much easier these days with the ability to read almost an ability that is taken for granted. I just remember the opulence of their feasts, carving up an entire hog with casks of ale flowing….cholesterol wasn’t an issue, actually they outlived us by centuries and it was definitely not because they lacked medicine (I dare opine that they actually had better and so much more affordable healthcare than we do today).

In the last 2 weeks, I’ve unfortunately been discomfited by frequent (and very painful) back spasms that I’ve been forced to unearth my lumbar belt – a wide inflatable belt with magnet inserts. There are those unfortunate periods when fashion and other trivialities go out the windows as we try to get some degree of comfort in the midst of some medically influencing torrid times. I digress because I trust that the season is over now and thus apply myself to more noble pursuits. One event during the Israelites circuitous journey to acknowledging God’s sovereignty was when their colour party (The Ark of Covenant) was captured. For anybody versed in these matters, your colour party must never be captured in battle because that in essence is who you are. However they (The Israelites) lost it due to sheer disobedience and thinking righteousness could be obtained by lavish sacrifices, just like attempting to put on a slap-on band aid on a gashing cut . Disobedience can never be wiped away with lavish sacrifices because obedience in itself is a sacrifice worthy of God’s attention.

It’s best imagined what feasts the Philistines threw with the capture of God’s Ark (not forgetting the massacre of over 35,000 fighting Israelites too….). Now nothing can be further from the truth in these words, ‘abuse is inevitable when purpose is unknown’ and so heady with the victory, the Philistines placed God’s Ark in the temple of one of their many esteemed god’s temple. What humiliation Dagon suffered in his temple because the idol was first cast to the ground in the first night and the next night after being restored, not only was it cast down but both hands and feet were cut off. Now, that situation right there is not something you can immediately restore and no matter how much mead or ale has been consumed, whatever fogs still remain are sure to clear. The Philistines knew without a doubt that they were way in over their head…..

The events unfold in subsequent pages but it kind of reminds me of times when I’ve in folly tried to combine two insoluble events together. The results are usually catastrophic and filed under ‘past experiences’ many times, and ironically till date we still make the same mistakes (I often wonder happened to learning from history). We allow the headiness of triumphs (obtained by God and delivered to us) cloud our senses and inadvertently we find ourselves on the seat of our pants, a laughable sight as we try to shake out the clouds of dust from our hair and clothes. In reality, everything around us was created and therefore our response should be a deserved reverence for The Creator but even as life zips by digitally, it often takes a crash to make us aware that the solution to puzzling events staring us in the face cannot be gotten from neither our feeble minds nor our shallow and limited understanding.

Puzzling….in our faces

For some reason, puzzles will always be a part of life’s package and regardless of how much time we spend trying to decipher them, the solution is usually right there just that we fail to see it. I remember a dear friend, with tears unchecked and rolling down, telling me a couple of weeks back, “I just got a call that my father has only a week to live!” Now that I truly can understand because that single call is one of those moments that define you going foward. Is this a storm that you hunker down and wait out or do you take it on head on? For me, that is an alarm screaming for you to pause and be sure that you’re in His Hands because in situations like that, where else can you be? Events like these will always pop up and how they transform you is ultimately determined by how you respond.

I have long learned that emotional stress is a definite trigger for dystonic episodes and so even when everything about me is itching to gear up for battle, I look down and see scars that remind me to pause, step back and reevaluate my position. ‘Anything worth living for is worth dying for!’ is not just the utterance of a mind in drunken stupor but one that should be carefully understood. Preceding every feast is a triumph but the most notable of triumphs are those gotten without lifting a Honjõ Masamune or wielding a C15 M4 Type Carbine (configured like an M4-style carbine with a flat-top upper) from Bushmaster. The greatest weapons are usually largely invisible and most often less thought of.

In our journey through life’s seas, prioritizing is a skill best learned early. Storms are a certainty however our preparation prior to the storm cannot be taken for granted because very many people define success as opportunity meeting preparedness. I define success as being thankful for where I am today and the liberty of making the right choices. Chance befalls us all, choice differentiates us and so taking time to realize how significant our choices will be to a great extent defines how much merriment awaits us ahead. The success of our journeys is a combination of controllable and uncontrollable events and the choices we make.

Enjoy the journey and try to get better every day. And don’t lose the passion and the love for what you do.” – Nadia Comaneci, and remember that “he/she is no fool to give up cannot be kep to gain what cannot afford to be lost” – Jim Elliot.

עד ניפגש שוב, תן אהבה שלו למלא ולשמור אותך!

Adios!

The Flip Side…..

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Age, my dad once said(still hear him) is a matter of the mind. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. Now that I’m on the back end of my race, I appreciate the wisdom within those words however reality bites just when you think you are all alone. It’s the wee hours of my birthday and it’s quite surreal because the silence of the night can either be unnerving or welcome. For me, it has always been the latter and the ticking of the clock reminds me that time inevitably continues its passage and with its passage comes the realization that being alone is not always dreary or boring. I do apologize for the long break however writing without a suitable device can be a turn-off.

I have absolutely no regrets because every time life tries to make me accede to regrets, I choose instead to see a learning point. My life sometimes feels like a hospital corridor, busy during the day and as the day winds down so does the traffic till eventually it is just devoid of human presence. The flip side is not the predictability but rather the incongruous relationship between the interaction that occurs during the day and the silence of the night to muse over. So much to muse about and quite a lot probably still left to do however I’ve learned that life is best lived when you acknowledge that all we have is a collection of moments. Some seized hurriedly, others like the fermenting of wine gradually but surely assuming shape and content.

Contentment is one of those words that should not be used lightly because you can put up a facade resembling it and yet without an iota of doubt, you know that much effort can be applied to things that really do not matter. The worst thing a man can do to himself is convince himself fo believe in a made-up lie. Does the sun cast its warmth and glow on a select few? Do the stars twinkle for just a select few? No, it is our choices in response to the fluid constants of life that determines how much we are committed to being purposeful. Does time and the light of day wait for the man who slumbers all day? Undeniably, he who chooses to toil at night most likely has his own reasons.

I am thankful for the lives I’ve been blessed to encounter. Grateful for the opportunity to empathize with those who continuously battle the demon hordes of sickness, pain and death. To every season, there is always the start and the finish. Where you decide to stack your chips is a choice you have to make yourself otherwise you face an absolutely horrifying life of trying unsuccessfully to make sense of the choices you inadvertently allowed others make for you. I made my own choices and true, not all were right however I did it my own way. There is truly beauty in brokenness and as long as I put the brokenness in retrospect, I can focus on the beauty.

For me, this is a new year and today as always, I reassess and reevaluate, not for lack of activities but rather to ensure that I am still aligned with my identity and purpose. I know that there can be no darkness without light, so I choose to look for the light even when the darkness threatens to overwhelm me. It will never be about how far but rather how well and with that in mind, I choose to wear myself out as against rusting out. No man, to the best of my puny knowledge, has had it all nicely put together like a rubic cube. Regardless of the roughness or smoothness of my path, I choose to make it a path well walked and with every new day, I choose not to give up. And when those times come again when I’m all alone (because they must surely come), I can encourage myself by saying, “I did it my own way!”

Adios!

Leaving Footprints…….

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leaving footprints

Footprints…

You must stick to your convictions, but be ready to abandon your assumptions’ – Denis Waitley. What are your convictions?

Phew! It has indeed been a long period of re-evaluation,reminiscing, re-education etc Every new day should truly be treated as though it may be your last because, hey! it could be. Over the last 4 weeks at The Wood, we have been looking at the subject of ‘What kind of footprints are you leaving behind?’ and I remember experiencing my first snowfall (ironically I stayed up all night because the forecast was for sometime in the wee hours of the morning), sneaking out of the house in my new pair of snow boots and just taking a walk in the snow – funny that right now, I for one could do with some snow. Oh my, the excitement of seeing the footprints I left behind; and it strikes me how funny it is that regardless of enthusiasm or the passion to learn something new, we are all leaving footprints behind. Life in itself is a journey that we all must must make.

One story strikes a chord within me – the story tells of a man who felt he had gotten the short end of the straw, and as the days went past, he had become a constant fixture at the local tavern in his misconceived notion of drowning out the woes of life. Ignoring his family, he would make a beeline for the tavern from the coal mine and most times, he never recollected how he made it home. Many who had tried to intervene felt it was a thankless task and so he usually was left alone. Until one ordinary evening in winter as he made his usual trip to the tavern, he heard some noise behind him and needless to say that curiosity got the better of him. Turning around, he saw his young son all bundled up in his little winter clothing, with head bent and face all screwed up in concentration, walking towards him – each tiny stride in the deep snow made with such an effort that he could not help but call out to his son. On hearing his father call out his name, the little boy lifted up his head and stretched out on his tiny face was this huge beam of excitement, accomplishment and satisfaction. “Daddy, see me! I am following in your footprints”….. With tears coursing down his bearded face, the father wordlessly reached out and lifted the little boy into his arms and that was the very last time he was seen at the tavern or with liquor.

Even as I write, I know that this story resonates within you. Many of us unwittingly choose to forget what we have in the face of life’s harsh lessons, huge mistake!  Sometimes we get so carried away with our ‘problems’ that we fail to realize that we are headed in a particular direction and even if we are so consumed by the situation or present circumstances, one thing is inevitable – our destination and direction is always marked by our footprints. We may have become so overwhelmed by the circumstances we are in, that curiosity does not even get the better of us anymore and so we fail to realize and acknowledge that someone could very well be following in our footprints. I recall learning the importance of leaving good footprints in the sands of time as a freshman in high school, and through weekly recitals at the very least, the words of that beautiful poem (A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) are ingrained in my heart (specifically the 7th verse)….

‘Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
 And, departing, leave behind us
 Footprints on the sands of time’

Does this memory alone stand out so much that it has become a barrier that cannot be breached by the mistakes and errors that we are oft to make? The answer is a definite No! Over the years, it has lost the status of just being a recital of words for me but has gradually metamorphosed into a conviction. The knowledge, acceptance and constant meditation on the fact that my identity has become ensconced in the Identity and Will of a Loving Creator has evoked the transformation of those long learned words into a living part of who I am today. Do the limitations of my earthly body, frail in itself change the truth that I am also leaving footprints? Do the unrelenting battles with a rare medical condition deprive me of my footprints? In all earnestness, my footprints are even more obvious and distinct with my staff.

As each day, newly birthed, is presented to me – I make the choice that regardless of whether I have a million followers or none at all, I choose to leave behind footprints that lead to a destination where hope, love, joy, grace and peace abound. The going has definitely had its share of hard knocks and will still experience some more but the choices I make today have their consequences in my tomorrow, so like any blessed person (we all are, even if we do not acknowledge them), I have realigned priorities and trudge on strengthened by the hope that someone after me will have a less wearying journey. That is all there is to life – what have you done for that person whom you may never meet to make their own journey better? Are we all wrapped up in the self delusion that life is all about what I can get from it? The very fact that you are where you are today is a result of someone else’s sacrifices – your parents, teachers, friends (of-course the good ones) and what an awful shame it will be that we spurn these sacrifices in a foolish attempt to assuage our own selfish needs.

My father always repeats these words ‘no man is an island‘, and putting that phrase in conjunction with the undeniable fact that there is just one of you in the entire universe with a unique gift, talent, skill – just maybe then we are able to catch a glimpse of the big picture. We all have been created for a purpose, and that purpose will always intersect with some other person’s and how shameful it will be when and if our spot at that very significant moment is glaringly absent and empty. Today, we can do something! Disregard how insignificant it might seem to you, I can wholeheartedly assure you that it is very significant to someone else. Or have you been repeatedly kicked down and are on the verge of ‘doing no more for nobody’? Or you might already have made that selfish decision, just remember that you are where you are because Some-One loved you so much that He willingly gave His all for you, in addition to the countless unknown and un-celebrated individuals whose footprints you have followed.

Get out of that rut (even if it has become very comfortable), self constructed or not, and do something that today and even in hindsight will be truly beneficial to someone else. You can begin leaving good footprints today, it is never too late to begin again. And whilst you are at it, remember “Love sought is good but given unsought is better!” – William Shakespeare

ייתכןשהרוחות תמיד תהיה לטובתך עד שנפגשנו שוב!

Adios!