Tag Archives: hope

#6 ~ Let the Rain Wash Over You

Her crown of purple and gold was drenched by the intermittent tears that fell, like rapid fire, from the tempestuous faces of a fatigued crowd of underfed and overworked clouds. They grumbled their discontent each time a proposition to suspend their lethargic tantrum was presented. And so the tears fell, pooling along bitumen lined roads, washing them slick with the image of sweat, a covering that turned them from trusted friends to slimy paths that shimmered belligerently under drug induced headlights. I watched their shallow tears fall, washing over the hushed night like a damp blanket that brought no comfort but the anxiety of further ill. I thought of their cries, hollowing out the heavens with each unexpected shower, bursting over the huddled figures gracelessly, carelessly.

And I thought of how each cry was mimicked, behind concrete and wood lined walls, in the cracks of brick and ageing mortar. I heard the disaffected chorus welling up, swelling over doorposts and under window frames, trailing round fences and gates. A moaning, wailing, mournful chorus that shook tears onto carpets, and scrunched screams up in shredded sheets of paper.

I thought about how the rain was meant to wash things away, how it was supposed to beckon in new dawns lined with fresh sprays of freedom and hope. How it was meant to cover the evil that had erupted from the clods of earth and manure we built our foundations upon.

But that night, the rain was not a blanket of peace, it was not the amniotic sac that preserved what was good in this world, holding it gently until dry land was found upon which life, crowned by a white dove, could be re-born.

That night, the rain washed over a scar wrenched city, each drop a nail hammering into already broken minds, the cries of the clouds only swelling that grey matter, their rumblings covering the pitiful moans with a forecast of tempestuous weather.

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#323 ~ 7 Things about Christmas.2 – Church

The etymology of the word Christmas pretty much requires you to remember the reason for the season. Christ derivates from the Greek Christos meaning anointed, and was the title bestowed upon Jesus of Nazareth by his followers, as he was seen as the Anointed Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews who would save them from oppression. Mass is another term for the holy sacrament Eucharist, the sharing of Christ’s body and blood (Holy Communion), as performed in both the Catholic, Protestant and any other church of the Christian Faith. Put them together and you get Christmas: The Holy Communion/Feast of the Anointed.

Whether Jesus was really born on the 25th of December or not isn’t really important (theologians claim it was more likely around March). It makes sense to celebrate his birth during the darkest time of the year, and most of the Church’s calendar and Feast Days has been superimposed over pagan festivals – when better to remember the light of life than during the depths of winter?

What’s really cool about going to Church on Christmas day, even if you aren’t religious, is that it manages to actually give a purpose to the mindless capitalism that has wrecked this holiday season. Christmas is a time of fellowship, a time of reflecting on life as being one that is full of light, of hope, of goodness. Sure sharing presents and breaking the bank are also enjoyable extras, but it’s a time, in the middle of what is generally a bleak midwinter, when we can reflect on what’s good in the world. When we can actually STOP, breathe, think and remember. When we are, in a way, forced to remind ourselves who and what we love and to show them. And for those that aren’t religious and don’t know the gift of grace and new life that Christ offers, it’s a time to wonder about the mystery of life, and the power of hope.

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#294 ~ Psalm Series. 8

Do you remember, when I used to hide under the bed?

The slats were like prison bars, but I thought I was hidden from view

Cramped up against the dirty laundry and lost toys – hello Mr. Bear

But they always found me, pulling back the mattress and glaring down through my wooden bars.

Yet…yet in you, there are no holes, there’s no cover that can be stripped back

In your Word which isn’t permeable but rather impregnable

I can hide, and find a refuge…you kept me so safe…

and I know you’d do it again, out of grace.

Psalm 119 vs 114: You are my hiding place and my shield, I hope in your word. 

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#292 ~ Psalm Series.6

Like a toddler learning to walk

I stumble eagerly, impatiently

trusting you to catch me. hold me.

You wouldn’t let me fall – would you?

My cheeks are squished with my toothless smile

Arch-less feet plodding onwards

Don’t let me stumble

Not on the building blocks of my youth

or…on the deceptions that lace my future.

You wouldn’t let me fall – would you Dad?

Psalm 119 vs 133: Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let not iniquity get dominion over me

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#291 ~ Psalm Series. 5

Not stealthily through the night

but in broad daylight trouble and anguish found me

piercing like the harsh rays that shook my eyes awake.

my heart was laid barren

and depression walked in

cramping my grey matter

into contorted figures of

tremoring terror.

Your commands are my delight?

…well, they give me the strength at least

to fight these daily battles

and see a portion

of a gentler light.

Psalm 119 vs 143: “Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight.”

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#272 ~ Will the Sun Come Out?

Most people find their first year of University an out of this world experience. I found it a brutally humbling and disorienting experience. And now, as I sit here preparing to return, I am questioning what kind of an experience I will let it be. Part of me is excited to tread the familiar paths to lectures, to struggle to wake up in the morning, for the late night essays. I’m hoping I will have matured and grown from previous experiences, maybe i’ll even start my reading on time. Yet trepidation is also itching at my sides. I know people from my school are joining, friends from a former life, and I’m questioning how i’ll integrate with them, or allow them to integrate into my life. I’m wondering whether at last an excitement will burn deep into the crevices of my heart, whether my eyes will grow bright with expectant wonder. If the popcorn yellow hopes and dreams will come to fruition, or if a grey smudge will taint the boarders of my framed vision. Because I have to go back, I have to seize the day and make it mine; it is both necessary and important. I cannot live in a memory, but in a present reality. Yet, change…can be bittersweet. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, and I worry that I am worried.

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#269 ~ Ithemba Projects : Day 34

Sala Kahle

At some point or another, we must all say farewell. Farewell if not to friends and family, then at some point to life. Working with Ithemba Projects (and Zanini Bantwana), has at times been a harrowing experience, challenging, joyful and draining. To say it pushed me to my limits would be a lie. Rather, it exposed me to the limitless boundaries that existed within. That in fact, where before I would have given up at the slightest hint of being unwell or fatigued, here I was, on an ‘appetising’ cocktail of antibiotics, cough mixture, Sudafed and tissues, still ploughing through work, straining out songs and encouraging a waning appetite.

As a process of becoming naked, it explored the flaws, prejudice and darkness within me. How I despised those who were unwell, disfigured, and how through extreme grace, I began to see the least of the least, through, as Jethro in the Prince of Egypt professes, Heaven’s Eyes. I began to yearn to remove blood filled mucus from my creche babies noses. A patience to control my classes overcame me. An excitement to prance around gardens singing and dancing consumed me. I grew and became hopeful of life, just as Ithemba Projects desires to bring hope to the lives of the people of Mpumuza, Sweetwaters.

Three years ago I flew into South Africa and partook on what, really, was an act of poverty tourism. I spent 10 days sightseeing Sweetwaters. Glancing at the work of Ithemba Projects, gingerly holding hands with little Zulu children. If i’m honest, when I looked at the money I’d saved all year and considered buying a plane ticket back to SA, something stopped my heart. Every young Christian does Aid work in SA, it’s so cliche. Yet, the thought wouldn’t leave me.

I hadn’t entered South Africa with an agenda. I didn’t know I was being particularly ‘affirming’ in anyway. I just wanted to return to a place I had seen in a hazy dream, and really invest some time, invest my skills, and serve an organisation that I admire and respect. One doesn’t have to travel half way across the world to experience poverty, pain, desperation, abandonment, or any of the experiences I’ve catalogued here. We live in a world that reeks of such experiences.

Yet often, our eyes become focused when we step outside of our own environment, and then step back. When we begin to convert our pound Sterling into Rand, when we remember how we survived on x amount of clothes, then peer inside our wardrobes that are brimming with unworn, unnecessary garments. When we make the choice to embed these memories and experiences into our very veins, and let the focused insight we have gained, pulse through our bodies, through our very beings, and let it transform our very lifestyle.

I want to encourage everyone that has participated on this journey with me to be hopeful. I began this 5 week ‘diary’, with the statement: Ithemba means hope, and for the people in Sweetwaters, Ithemba means life. May your lives be transformed by this experience, may your lives be filled with hope, hope for tomorrow, hope for your communities, hope for the change you desire to see and create. May these experiences inspire you, and where you can, can I urge you to support the work of Ithemba Projects and Zanini Bantwana in whatever capacity you can. Either by telling people about the phenomenal work they are doing in rural Sweetwaters, by supporting them financially, or by volunteering. Their ministry is life changing, their progress forward-looking, and their vision ever hopeful.

If you have been touched by the work of Ithemba Projects, then I would love to encourage you to continue being involved in their long-term journey, by liking their Facebook Page, and by following the blog: Bridging Hope, which is run by my former colleague Stephanie, who is working this year with the charity.

Thank you for coming along with me. Keep a look out on the Ithemba Page for an article I will be writing for them.

Prayer for day 34: May God Bless and Keep you wherever you are. May Hope reign in your hearts, and may you continue to pray for the work of Ithemba Projects. For their protection, for their provisions and for their incredible journey.

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