What’s Normal?……

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What next?


‘Daddy, have you written anything recently?’ This has become almost a chant from my daughter and it is quite difficult explaining the oft frequently encountered hassles associated with writing however it brings me much joy as I see her scribbling away (writing yet another poem) in the middle of a television show usually our attempt to catch up with what’s going on. Nope, it’s no sabbatical but it just seems the right thing to do in a world where the word ‘normal’ has become a concept to understand each new day. Just like watching the birth pains of a mother-to-be, I know that we’re yet in the middle of the birth of a new season as consternation is etched on the brows of so many, nonetheless I know just like I live and breathe, that with every season, we will most certainly emerge changed in so many ways. I have refused to write because in so many times – past and present, I have treasured the silence and the physical companionship of the few I am honored to call friends in the midst of really adverse times.

Where and how did we get here? A question I have asked myself countless times in the past and the issues are real; we have become overwhelmed by the inordinate desires of a few strategically placed individuals. However seeking to understand their thought process will just be a journey in a gigantic maze; every turn and twist leading us further into a labyrinth that seemingly has no end. I live with hope inexhaustible because of the invaluable sacrifice of The Cross and The Death, and because of that, there need not be and can not be any more death worthy of such an impact. Like the guard asleep at his watch point, we have been beset by contemporary issues that have their origins in centuries past. Issues that were never really entirely dealt with. Now they emerge from the woodwork, no longer taking solace in the darkness but strutting around in full glare, and the consequences are in play today.

I pray most sincerely for the lives lost needlessly and I have sat in silence with grieving ones as they try to make sense of a seemingly senseless situation. I know it, I have lived it, I still live it but while the end might not seem in sight, in my heart I know that an end looms but that’s not what needs to be said at the moment. I can only grieve with the hundreds of thousands, casualties of pride and ignorance. Destruction comes hastily on the heels of ignorance and the liberty which has been so casually taken for so long now is being seen clearly and the huge expense with which it was obtained. Thrust in the churning waters of an unbridled waterfall, we can only pray and act in faith, trusting that we are not plunging headfirst to our deaths even as we grasp for something to hold on to. Numbers are no longer just digits, they represent lives; lives that were paid for by the costliest of sacrifices. As mortals, we are grossly incapable of creating lives so it is a profound responsibility to treat every life not unctuously but with some modicum of respect.

Hope exists!

Dystonia; an unwelcome company reluctantly refusing to cooperate or at the very least go its own way independent of mine, yet I still have more issues beset me and I am learning new tricks even as my knees creak with each step I take, I am confident that there is purpose to it all. It definitely doesn’t appear to make any sense still but there must be hope in purpose otherwise we will be trodden to death underfoot by the rushing masses seeking to escape this unrelenting and inevitable global confusion. This truth I share as often as I can, ‘wherever you’re today, you were placed there for a reason; either to teach or learn!’ however if the intoxicating fumes of power and wealth rob you of reason, it’s an exercise in futility to think that nothing will change. Woe betide those who have lost all reason and have gotten inebriated on what they know nothing about; let those who think they stand be careful because their fall will be catastrophic.

I am glad that even in the chaos, there’s always something to be grateful for and I am grateful for a lot – for the Zoom call with all my siblings after almost 7years of ‘each man to his/her tent’, I am thankful that I am alive and can still be a friend to that one individual who thinks they’re in it all by themselves. I am thankful that God has given me friends that have transcended friendship to brotherhood, always ready to pick me up when I cry out but most importantly I am thankful that I have a God who knows my name despite being Sovereign over all things, I am grateful that not a hair on my head falls to the ground without His knowledge and permission (I’m beginning to really thin on the crown of my head…). He is The One who I go to for refuge and solace because I have since given up on trying to understand the ‘whys’. So hear me out, amidst the grief and loss and the murkiness of today’s uncertainties. I am grateful that now I can empathize more than before and act with knowledge. I am grateful for my brother who suffered a mild stroke and is fully recovered because I know illness is no small burden but like the stone skipping across the waters, there’s always ripples spreading out to those around you.

Today I say that all I need, all I’ve ever needed was and is still ‘You, Lord!’ and amidst the indefinable moments that’s all you need too because there can be no life if there is no hope. Regardless of where you are at this moment, all we need is Him. I say this despite those who think of me with scorn or those who treat or have treated me with varying levels of insouciance, I can’t be the perfect person no matter how hard I may try so kindly tolerate my idiosyncrasies (you don’t know the journey I’m currently on). If you see a need, you can do something about it; give less thought to the size of your actions or whether they’ll be appreciated, just do what you need to and move onto the next life in the ladder of lives we each are honored to come across in our life journey.

Remember that even in the valley of dry bones, hope lives and all we need do is cling to that hope because He knows your every hurt, and circumstances be damned, He is most assuredly actively involved in the affairs of man which inextricably encapsulates all of the issues which plague you and me. Time like everything else can be contextual or seen from a perspective so know that His delays are by no means denials, it would be much more lighter when we succumb to His call and leading. There’s hope eternal and it exists only in Him. Even when I don’t see or feel that He is working, He never stops – the very same applies to you too!

עד שניפגש שוב, אני מתפלל שפרצופו יאיר עליך לטובה!

Adios!

Staying True…..

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Staying True

In a few weeks, we will be saying farewell to 2017 and ushering in, with bated breaths and the hope of better things to come, a brand new year. And again as usual, many journals, note pads et al will be whipped out so that the annual yet publicly unrecognized event of New Year Resolution writing will begin. For me, it is a time of evaluation, assessment and preparation because what future will there be to look forward to if we are still perplexed as to our purpose here on earth. Has the dystonia been cured? Nope! Are there new proven medical approaches towards ending this relentless battle with dystonia? Not to my knowledge but the ultimate question I ask myself is “what was there to be thankful for?” And my answer is, much more than I anticipated because it is really not about if my eggs were scrambled right or my account balance is quite ‘attractive’, it is about realizing that I have been through 365 days and still standing.

I recently unearthed my quotes book from one of my many traveling bags, brown and well thumbed, ink slightly fading (thank God I used red and green ink) and the first question my daughter asks me is, “Daddy, can I keep it?”……..Uhmmm! Of course not, you have more writing and reading materials that I had at your age but in that brief exchange, I can truly be grateful for the prayers answered, those pending and those that I received when I didn’t ask for. It is weird when people are taken aback at how leisurely I handle some stuff but then there is always a back story, and it is within those stories that life lessons are passed down from generation to generation. I am not a witness to any man-made life transforming physical attribute, the emergence of an Adonis or the perfect being but I am and will be a witness to the countless things that we take for granted because we are in our carefully carved out comfort zones.

I am thankful for the many friends that have passed through my life, some still there for the long haul while others have moved on as their life purposes direct them. I want to without permission talk about the relationships that have left indelible marks on who I am becoming and as I write I cannot help but marvel at the laurel, awards, certificates that bear my child’s name because she represents the next generation and whilst there is breath in my lungs, together we will journey for as long as I can and even when the wagon wheels fall off and I am unable to put them back on, I know that there’s help just around the corner. One thing I do not mind telling her everyday is that she is not an option but a priority and I am thoroughly stoked that we journey together and when the time comes for her to leave the nest or for me to transition to grander lodgings, I will proclaim that I do not have any regrets.

For me, regrets are an admission of not being able to retrieve a learning point from every experience and like I tell my few friends, I have seen more than my fair share of curved balls. And so it is not about how hard the balls hit but what they made me acknowledge even as I move on. Photography will always be a hobby of mine and even though it is becoming increasingly difficult to engage in it as much as I would want to but the stories that my pictures tell are worth lifetimes. It is in the brief or prolonged encounter that I have had with the lives that I have been greatly privileged to meet that make me truly say I have no regrets and to a great extent, I have stayed true to who I am, which is just another way of saying that I have tried to walk the paths laid out and defined for me by God. He truly is the bane of truth and no compelling discourse will change the foundations upon which I have built my life.

A couple of weeks ago, I drove through the night with tears cascading down my cheeks because no matter how many tough storms you have been through, the reality is that each storm actually reveals layers that you might never have known existed. And I have learned that even when you are down, you will always find strength to reach out to a friend who is desperately in need. In my opinion, there are those people who for some unfathomable reason are unable to grasp how important they have been to me and so it is not uncommon to tell people that I love them just for who they are. And so the tears were for a friend who is counting down the days to a miracle or to a transition to loftier dwellings. I have since learned the futility of asking why does it seem that bad things happen to good people because I have also realized that it is because those events are suited for a particular cadre of people, who do not even know their own strengths and so inadvertently it is not so much about bad things happening but the evolution and growth of truly unique individuals.

Keep hope alive

I know first hand, what a torrent of feelings you experience when you are told that the medical issue that you have persistently battled with is not going away. It almost seems like a black hole has just opened up in front of you and is desperately tugging at you but what if you refuse to give in and just fight. Sometimes every other person will tell you that it is pointless to do however remember that people did not give up on you, and so even if it’s seeming like your twilight has come, remember that the choice is ours to create memories that will not be so easily forgotten. Even when you are being pummeled and the obvious option is to just give in, remember that there are lives around you and regardless of the time of day, hope is like a little flame that shines through the darkness that seemingly grows in magnitude every day. I may not be as mobile as I used to be however when I realize with stunning clarity the countless privileges I have received, the least I can do is to pay it forward. And so even when it hurts to smile, and you can can barely get up from your bed because the slightest pain causes you to break out in sweat, when it seems like curling up in the fetal position looks quite appropriate, let this fact not escape you – there’s something you can still do.

More often than not the battle of life rages in the mind and so its not about how many iron man competitions you have participated or how many marathons you have run or your ranking in obstacle races, when life hits you – the battlefield rages in your mind and yours only, and as long as you do not give in to the wilting of the mind by focusing on the horrifying monster in front of you, you can still be a beacon of hope. Hope that you live is hope that heals and you may have been written off by people but in the fullness of time, God always comes through on your behalf. That is a message that you must share because in all reality the world is increasingly becoming like the Dead Sea but the sliver of hope that you hold, the little spark of kinder can light someone else’s candle and so that in itself is a purpose and one thing I know is that one of the greatest gifts you can ever have is the opportunity to finish strong. Refuse to let the circumstances around you – the hair loss, the painful torquing of your spine, the inability to keep food down, the weight loss etc do not let them define you because I know you and I have loved every moment I spent with you.

Those moments where your laugh rang out, when your eyes twinkled in mischief, when your company was the only thing that kept me going – there is more than enough for me to treasure you forever. And when you hear that the chemotherapy is not working and your life is reduced to the slowly running out sand in the hourglass, stay true because you may not have gotten all the gifts others take for granted but you still have time to share the tale of a walk with God or the life transforming event that has over the years given you the grace to press on. When the finish line looms ahead, be thankful for being able to run this race, be thankful that you chose to be you because that is who God made. We will never in all entirety have all the answers but there is a certainty that cannot be questioned and that is you were made for a purpose. Cancer may be wreaking havoc in this fragile body but I am glad that I ran alongside with you, I am glad for the sacrifices you made but above all I am glad for the love that we shared, the conflicts we had, the disagreements etc because I can say that I lived amongst angels. This for me is not an eulogy and yes every loss requires grieving however I choose not to dwell on the inevitability of saying farewell because we part today to meet again in a place where sickness, stress, loss, sorrow cannot dwell.

As the night star shines brightly, that is what you will always be to me – an angel, a bright star. Like the balance scale, good will always triumph over evil and even if we do not experience the victory physically, we know without an iota of doubt that there is a future that awaits us where treasure that cannot be defiled by man lies in store for us. A place where man’s opinion does not count, where there are no pity parties – that is the ultimate hope that we have, that’s something that no sickness or nightmarish conditions can take from us and as long as we breathe, every breath is an offering of thanksgiving to a Creator whose best cannot be grasped by our feeble minds. And when the breath ceases, we know for sure that the finish line has been breasted because it is not about how far but how well. Today is a day that I am thankful for and despite the inexplicable relapses that have plagued me in recent weeks, I am still standing and obviously not on my own strength (heck I can barely walk 500 feet without stifling the cry of agony) but on The Source that is inexhaustible, for that I am thankful.

“The great miraculous bell of translucent ice is suspended in mid-air. It rings to announce endings and beginnings. And it rings because there is fresh promise and wonder in the skies. Its clear tones resound in the placid silence of the winter day, and echo long into the silver-blue serenity of night. The bell can only be seen at the turning of the year, when the days wind down into nothing, and get ready to march out again. When you hear the bell, you feel a tug at your heart. It is your immortal inspiration.” – Vera Naz

פרידה עד שנפגש שוב בתזמון שלו עצמו

Adios!