Clearing Debris II……

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Debris

After the storm

“The tides of life are a beauty to behold on a cool spring evening but remember that like many of the elements of life, the mysteries of life can either be utterly devastating or be a panacea for some”-Ryan CC. It has been no intentional act of mine to take a summer break but in the light of recent events, I have been stretched in more ways than one and the frustration of realizing and accepting that there is so little I can do in the face of the many needs is quite a sore experience. Relieving quite a few people who were severe victims of the hurricanes has been an exercise with mixed feelings. Mixed because there are so many layers to life and when you unknowingly choose to disregard that fact, then sometimes the reminder can be quite traumatic. It is in times like these that you understand that sometimes not speaking is more of a solution suitable to circumstances rather than going full steam in expressing your regrets. A simple phone call to check on how another is doing means so much more than asking what the cost of restoration might be, wisdom is absolutely essential.

Why do I write? I write because I am hopeful that maybe just one person, whether you are going through your own storm or not; will find some strength and hope to persevere  through their storms. There are so many learning points, so many peculiarities in the experiences I have had and am still having on my life’s journey. Being a parent, I always say, is not a task for everybody most especially the ill-disciplined and those who lack self-control, because in order to give, you first of all must know what giving is and also have something to give. It is so easy to stand in your cozy den beneath the sturdy roof of your house, looking out the window and feeling some degree of pity for those struggling through the rains, battling with gusts of winds and more often struggling to keep an umbrella open while lugging your bag or briefcase around. It does not usually require an academic degree to empathize (for most people), but neither is a degree required to see a need and do something about it to the best of your abilities. It is your response or reaction when you are in the middle of your storm that to a very large extent lays out the default pattern for your choices and responses to the lives that you have been privileged to be amongst.

Taking a drive through the city, it is clear that we are on a long road to recovery after surviving Harvey and I am so grateful to see the resilience of the human spirit and the bonds of compassion that marks us as human beings . I use the word ‘surviving’ because it is about living and not about the ability to make or lose wealth. That is one of the many abilities we each have but again the degree to which it is used varies from individual to individual. It is on the basis of this that I always emphasize that just listening to someone going through tough times is always a first step in the right direction. I have all about lost everything that once mattered to me, and so that poignancy can be quite heart wrenching however the truth remains that just as synonyms and antonyms exist in words, there are always two sides to everything in life. Our definition of ourselves is usually marked by the side we choose to stand or the stance we choose to take, that is something that we either do ourselves or we are compelled to do and I wholeheartedly assure you that the latter option comes with more pain and grief.

Driving through the city, I am dismayed by the huge mounds of debris that line the lawns of homes, seen items that occupied opulent homes now confined to the anonymity of black trash bags; I have been into homes and seen the abject sorrow on faces as home owners still try to comprehend the devastation that they face. I have heard the sorrow come across in waves as friends relate their gut wrenching tales of having just enough time to grab their kids and evacuate the homes that they built through honest means. I can totally relate with that because my first house building exercise was in my late teens and I know the time and effort that went into it. I also recollect vividly the satisfaction washing over me when the house was built, the rush of joy that accompanied the utterance of the words, “Finally, it is ready!”. Regardless of how high you climb, there is always the risk of a fall but does that mean because of the fear of falling, we should not climb? Far from it, however knowing that with a climb, comes the risk of falling, we must endeavor to be careful in our climbs. Ensuring that we leave a kind word with those we climb past because they just might be the same ones who will act as a buffer when you fall. Remember to pause in today’s harried pace, and help someone along because although we each have our own paths, there will always be some intermingling with the lives of others and what we do when those situations occur is very significant.

Debris2

Clearing Debris

And because I have also been opportuned to have lost everything of material worth, I also understand the anguish that often comes with that loss. On the other hand, I have known the realization that losing it all does not translate to losing me but if I were to focus more on the pain of losing what was so painstakingly put together then I just may as well be in a court of law hearing the judgement of “life imprisonment without the option of parole” meted out to me. The cruel truth is that we so often define ourselves by what we ‘create’ (totally erroneous because everything we have is a gift from God, Our Creator) that we completely lose sight of the fact that we are all on a journey and no matter how detailed your trip planning was, you can never factor in the unpredictable events that characterize life. By our own flawed reasoning, we so often confine our lives to the tangible and give no room to the intangible, that it takes only an act of significant value to compel us to reevaluate our priorities. In the same manner, despite our skill in logical thinking and acute analytical reasoning, when the unpredictable happens and we are forced to watch in abject dismay as losses pile up, we become like the stalk of corn that is blown in any direction the wind chooses except we have our roots deeply planted in the truth of God’s Word.

I have learned that as long as you focus on the debris in the aftermath of a storm, you will be unable to see the new opportunities that lie just ahead. The debris after some storms are so highly stacked that it takes only a concerted effort with winded breaths to navigate through the debris so that we can catch a glimpse of what lies beyond. Nonetheless, our navigation skills amount to zilch when we steadfastly allow ignorance and lack of vision to reign because the subsequent result is there can be no joy or satisfaction that comes from fulfillment when we are not even moving. No matter how much you love your earthly possessions, when the rot sets in and the mold spreads, when the air around you can no longer be taken in, then you must clean house or else your life tale will be told specifically to the foolish to enable them gain some knowledge. After every storm, you must clean house – get all the debris out, rip out the sheetrock, get rid of that heirloom because until you do that, you will remain stuck in an island of decay, illness and death. For those who unwittingly find themselves on such islands, a note of warning – life and growth do not exist there!

I can say that things will never be the same again because they will not but guess what, you will be different because life’s processes either kill you or make you stronger, if you choose right. Your wellbeing is not a function of the amount of insurance claims you turn in, the efficiency of the insuring company or the amount of subsidies you are entitled to. Your wellbeing rather, is a function of the foundation upon which your life is built in and where your trust is, and there is no better foundation than a foundation of faith, faith in an infallible God who has got nothing but the very best of you. You are an image created in His Likeness and ultimately for His Pleasure and it is Him alone that everything else is subject to. It is okay to grieve but why grieve if you understand and acknowledge that for there to be a beginning, there must be an end. Grieving ceaselessly over the end keeps you rooted in a spot and as long as you stay rooted, you will not move on to the beginning of better things. It is in the middle of your storms that your foundations are tested and so it is wise to be sure of your foundation because when the storm hits (and it will surely hit), you will either crumble like a pack of ornately designed cards or stand tall and strong amidst debris but with peace and faith that can never be washed away by a storm.

Remember that the treasures that count for eternity can neither be found in the tangible aspect of the world we live in but are irrefutably located in the intangible aspect of life, so it is best to choose what treasures you seek and whilst you seek, take into cognizance that it will be foolhardy not to consider a suitable storage place too.

עד ניפגש שוב, תן את היופי של ארשת פניו לזרוח עלינו!

Adios!

A Jolt in the road……

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.....the jolt changes things!

                                                                        ….the jolt changes things!

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, rather we are spiritual beings having a human experience” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Most times, very significant events are captured by an exclamation of some sorts like the popular ‘Eureka!’ to its being described in some fancy words like ‘the aha! moment’, the aim is ultimately to try and share the clarity of vision received following such an event. For those who like penning down stuff, it’s that thought that takes such a grip on you that the ability to attend to some other task is almost non existent. Expressing it is like the release that you so crave, it rids you of the restlessness of your inner being….that desire to comprehend in some form, the sudden change of events that hitherto had seemed almost perfect – just like we planned????

As a growing kid in a large household complete with 5 siblings, the house helps, relatives, pets and the frequent house guest; it was mandatory to start off the day by attending to the chore that had been assigned to you by the matriarch. One of my earlier chores was cleaning up the master bedroom which also included one of my favourite tasks – making up the bed, and there was something almost soothing in transforming the neatly folded square of bed sheet into the bedcover that spanned the breadth and width of the mattress. Smoothening out every crease, making every tuck as neat as possible, maximum concentration and the quiteness, it was almost like the bed should never be slept in because it appeared so beautiful however that was what I’d have liked as against the very essence of the whole exercise which was to prepare the bed for the next sleep in. That was what the bed was made for, the exercise of dressing it up was just a process to get it to fulfil the purpose for which it was made. If it was not slept in, I guess there would be no need to make it up and then there would be no chore of that sort again. In retrospect, I suppose that task played a role in how I deal with neatness and almost being too particular about how stuff is arranged.

A couple of days ago, I was almost involved in the second rollover in my entire driving history and geez!it is indeed a miracle that it did not happen but it began just like the first one, there was that annoying jolt in an otherwise very smooth road for the last hundreds of miles. It is no testament to how far I’ve come on this journey, banned from driving 5years ago by medical experts due to dystonia but God has sometimes shoved me when I had almost given up on myself, and His grace is so evident in the very fact that I was even behind the wheels. Battling the hesitation from medical experts, turning a deaf ear to the concerns from some that it might be more of a con than a pro because of the stress involved but it’s something I’ve always loved doing (driving and road trips) and just being able to enjoy it again has been such a delight. The last few weeks have all but gone by in a blur and just when it seems like everything was going according to plan (slowly but surely)….. It happened again, I struck that jolt in the road, not because of medical fears but just something that could happen to just about anyone, I swerved to avoid an object! – need I mention how smooth the last hundred miles had been? Now it’s like my very worst fears might be realised, the road trips might come to an end and the prospect was so horrifying some minutes ago….

It’s so weird that in our world today, we are seemingly more comfortable with trusting human opinions or technology made by man when in all sincerity, these things that we are choosing to base our existence upon are creations of our hands and mind you, our knowledge is very limited. We readily turn to Google for the answer to that question that was just thrown at us, and without even stopping to consider, we are ready to run with the answer supplied by Google. Funny enough, there was no Google in high school and I barely relied on it in college but I did succeed (sure it might have made stuff easier but still ….). It is so strange how more often than not, we make the choice to run with what we consider our best plans and get so lost in it that it actually requires that jolt in the road to make us realise how feeble and limited our own attempts at making and living the best plans out are. We so quickly get so drawn into the smoothness of the road that we forget that life is in itself more of a journey than a destination, it is a series of stops and when we allow ourselves to get lost in the smoothness of some portion, we may very well miss the next exit and the entrance to the next and usually better phase of our lives.

As Christians, it is so easy to profess our faith when the going is smooth but guess what, faith is tested by trials and it is during those trials that we have to come to terms with our faith and profess it because we believe even when the situation says otherwise. One of my favourite Scriptural verse is encapsulated in the story of the three young Hebrew boys born and bred in captivity, under the rule of Babylon; what is most compelling is that they stared their own death in the face of the fiery furnace and yet their words whilst depicting the possibility of their own human fallibility strongly proclaimed their faith in God regardless of whether He came through on their behalf or not. It’s become more than just words to me on this journey, I choose to believe that my Creator has the best plans for me because I’m constantly reminded on a daily basis of my limitations (no thanks to Myoclonus). And yes it has taken yet this jolt to bring me around but I’m glad that I have come around to acknowledge that my well being is not defined by how smooth the road has been or will be, but rather it will always be defined by the gradual manifestation of His purpose in my life. I choose to enjoy the moments as they come and not flinch when it ends because as surely as day and night, seasons will begin and end.

Even as the winter winds howl, and the temperature plummets, I am reminded that this is yet another season that has begun on the ends of the previous one. And even though the prospects seem scary, I know that choosing to worship rather than worry will always put me in good stead. We have to make the painful admission that we do not know it all and our best plans pale in comparison to His purpose and plans for us. We have to acknowledge, sometimes painfully too, that He has got us even though it might look like its the isolation of the darkness again. I look back and I acknowledge how far I have come, despite the overwhelming hopelessness of some of those times and I know that the jolt is less of a deterrent but rather more of a prod in the right direction. Understand that you can only encourage yourself in Him when you are all by yourself, alone and sometimes frightened. You can only understand the wisdom of sorrowing times when you truly lose and are sorrowing, the process includes pain and pleasure but its up to you to choose on what you’d rather dwell on. I’ve gotten past the worst times, what else but better times await me ahead. There is no counsel save His that takes preeminence in my life and even though I stand alone in these times, I will stand tall and true because I know He is all things to me. Such comforting reassurance even as I face the uncertainty of tomorrow, I am truly glad for the privileges and opportunities – the opportunity to be differ ent, the opportunity to leave positive impact on the lives I’ve been blessed to encounter, the opportunity to hear people say how inspired they are and above all the opportunity to share my story and watch hope burst into flames in the life of those who had given up and those who almost had.

I can never know it all, that’s impossible but I know who does and with every passing breath (it’s quite visible these times), I choose to defer to His Will and plans because it has and will always be about Him. Nothing else matters more!

פרידה עד שנפגשנו שוב בתזמון שלו, וייתכן שאהבתו של אלוהים להיות אמיתית לך!

Adios! Continue reading