I wrote the following approximately 4 years ago. It was a response to a friend’s loss. One that didn’t actually get shared with them until quite a while later.
Recently, I have felt prompted to share it with a few others, as they have experienced, and are still going through, the loss of a loved one. And for whatever reason, it has crossed my mind to post it here. Maybe it will connect with someone else…
Can anything feel right, now that this day has come?
It is right to feel sorrow, for a day such as this has come.
It is right to feel pain, for the one who you love has gone.
It is right to shed tears. As they fall may they be a balm to your aching heart.
It is right to have questions like, “Why?” Knowing no answer can really satisfy.
It is right to feel sad, it is right to feel angry, it is right, it is right, it is right…
It is right to remember the times that were before sorrow, pain and tears.
For in those times live memories of happiness, laughter, love…
And those are the memories that will help you to go on.
It is right to remember that you do not walk this journey of grief alone.
This is not a journey to walk alone.
Let others be your traveling companions as you journey through.
For in sharing the burdens you lighten the load.
It is right to remember the healing will take time.
How much time, no-one can really know.
It is right, that you take the time you need.
And in such time as is right, may it be right with you again.”
It is actually an untitled piece, but I used words found in the Bible (Romans 12:15) for the purposes of this post. They seemed like a fitting temporary title.
Interestingly, the block of verses that it is apart of (vv9-21), was given the subtitle, Marks of a True Christian. This made me curious to see what other renderings it might have been given. The bahasa Indonesia one stood out, Nasihat hidup dalam Kasih. Advice to live in love.
This morning I got to gasp out loud in wonder at the beauty of a new day.
My ears awoke to the sounds of the birds tweeting, cockerels crowing, and some faint voices going about their morning routines.
In my still not quite fully awake state, I pulled the curtains back slightly, and on seeing that it was still dark outside, wondered if I was awake in time to see the sunrise.
I scrabbled around for my phone to check the time, think I resisted checking any whatsapps and the such like but cannot be sure, saw that sunrise tomorrow is due at 5.59am, meaning I should have time to catch it today. Confirmed the whole East/West thing (not that I really know my East from my West without a gadget), rolled back over in bed and considered just staying there, but eventually got up and headed outside.
As I sat on my friend’s balcony, looking out at the hazy skyline, I could see the ends of pink tinged streaks to the right. I deduce that meant the sun would probably rise out of sight of me, but that I would still sit, pause, and enjoy the moment.
And as I sat there, mindful of the wonder of creation, musing on a few things, uttering thanks for a few things, asking for help for a few things… I momentarily looked away, and on looking back up gasped out loud.
As there in its orange-yellow brilliance was the sun peeking out from behind one of those previously pink tinged streaks.
I was truly caught in wonder and joyful delight. Like that of a child on discovering something new, or on getting something you wanted but thought you couldn’t have.
I continued to just sit there and watch its rise. Resisting the split second urge to get my phone from the sofa to capture the moment. I wanted to just be in, and live the moment. That was the thing to be captured by.
In a world where so many things are happening so fast. From the very mundane to the very concerning. It can be so easy to lose our ‘wonder’. To keep waking up each morning and miss the ‘moments’ that might be right in front of us. To not stop, and take even 5 mins to appreciate (possibly amidst much that is difficult) what there is to be thankful for.
It’s possible, that if we could do this more often, we could enter the day ahead in a better place. Better able to navigate what it might bring. Better able to show a little grace to that person or persons who are colouring your day in the worst way. Better able to just be.
I am grateful that this morning I took that time. And very grateful for my ‘gasp out loud moment’. It has started my day in a beautiful way. It has also motivated me to finally write a new post!
I hope that you get to enjoy, or get back some of your ‘wonder’ today.
Words that can be found in a scripture verse (1 Thessalonians 5:18). And also a principle that can be found in a number of idioms (wise sayings), such as:
Always look on the bright side of life.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
And there are more to choose from. In essence, what is being articulated or suggested, is that there is a positive to be found. And we are being encouraged to find it.
I remember musing on the scripture verse mentioned above when I was younger, and thinking, “Is this really possible?“. Here it is in full:
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (taken from The Message – A contemporary rendering)
I had major doubts, but eventually posited that if it was written -and written in such a way as to be a directive- it must be possible. So I decided to put it to the test.
My method was simple. When anything unwelcome, annoying, provoking etc. happened, I tried to express some thanks. E.g.
“Thank you God that even though it’s me washing the dishes again, my Mum doesn’t have to come back to them.”
“Thank you God that though that person stepped on my foot (and didn’t even say sorry) I have the use of my feet.”
“Thank you God that though I’m standing here waiting forever in this queue, I’m fit enough to be able to do so.”
And so on and so forth. Yes, they may sound a bit contrived, possibly even a bit silly. And they were definitely, initially, said through gritted teeth, and sometimes suppressed anger.
However, as time went on, my jaws loosened, my ‘thank yous’ were more easily expressed, and at some point I realised that their had been a change to my heart. A change in my attitude. Or you could also say, a change to my default setting.
Now a change like this. A change to one’s thinking, perspective, and chosen responses, can be hard to maintain. It requires some intentionality and consistency on our part. I also personally believe it requires something ‘other’ than ourselves.
A change like this can also be hard be hard because life’s happenings can be challenging. They can put our resolve to be thankful or positive to the test. And though, for myself, I feel I discovered that it is actually possible to ‘give thanks’ in all circumstances. I’m not convinced that there is always a positive to be found in all circumstances.
As I was doing earlier tonight, and have been trying to do on some other nights, I made myself find things to be thankful for. The struggle was real. I def faired better when I focussed my thoughts, and prayers, on others. Whose housing situation will most likely mean they are dealing with a way worse scenario than mine.
I also tried to refrain from being like, “God please stop the rain.” I mean, like it’s not all about me right. And rain is necessary. But I ain’t gonna lie, I did eventually go there on a couple of occasions. I mean, having seen the video wouldn’t you? And that was when it was calming down after almost an hour.
Well at least my water catching solutions are fairly colour co-ordinated! #givingthanks 🙂
So this happened earlier. My first experience of one in Jakarta. Possibly my first in Indonesia. But not my first. My first was in Tokyo. But I digress!
When it happened, I just so happened to only be clad in my unmentionables. – It’s hot here! And I was at home on a break after a long meeting!
So I’m sitting there, eating a snack, drinking my ginger tea, and watching an episode of Scandal. Suddenly, I think, I’m shaking… but it somehow doesn’t quite connect. Then I can see that things in front of me are wobbling, and out of the corner of my eye, the mirror on the wall is undeniably swaying from right to left, right to left. And I’m sat there, tray on lap, in me unmentionables! Beginning to hear excited voices from across the way, speaking over each other about what had happened.
And then it stopped. So I put down the tray, stood up, and decided I better put on some clothes. As if it happened again, I did not want to possibly end up running outside in my underwear! 😄
As I checked in with a few peeps/they checked in on me, I heard other earthquake tales that had me laughing out loud. Like this from a friend in Japan. It was her response to me sharing how inappropriately dressed I’d been. I think she beats me!
And then another friend, who felt the tremors too.She is explaining that as she ran out the office, she took her laptop.
She was the only one to do so. Why?Because in that moment she remembered she still had payments to make on it!
So why post about this? Well, because the hilarity of it -our responses not the quake- got my blog brain lit up. Which as I haven’t posted in a while, and to do so, is one of my ‘to dos’ for this week, is a good thing.
Also, while laughing about the whole thing with another friend, the question was posed,
“What do earthquakes tell you about what’s important to you?”
She laughingly pointed out that of course I would still go and get my clothes first. Even if I was going to die. And I was like too right!
But jokes aside, I think it’s a good question to ponder. When faced with the possibility of imminent danger, what would you grab for, try to save, be thinking about? Or if imminent danger is a bit difficult to imagine, think significant upheaval, or a life changing moment. Basically, an occurrence, when without much time to think or process, you need to act. It is possible, that at such a moment, things become much clearer. Some, and maybe even much of what we thought was so important, turns out not to be so important after all. And we may even be surprised by what does actual reveal itself as of primary importance.
I’m thankful, that my earthquake tales did not amount to anything serious. I’m mindful, that for some in Indonesia the effects of an earthquake in 2004, has forever changed their lives. I’m also aware, that in different parts of the world, for a number of reasons, people live their lives acutely aware of how things could change for them in an instant. I cannot dare to presume to know what they think or feel. But I do wonder, if they might have a greater measure of clarity when it comes to what’s really important.
So can I encourage myself, and you, to ponder the question posed. Even if only for 20 seconds.- The length of time the quake lasted.
This moment was captured last week. A friend and I were taking a nostalgic trip to our kampung halaman (hometown) here.
We were trying to take a ‘selfie’ by the river, and her camera kept self-adjusting the light settings. We finally thought we had got the setting right, were just waiting for the timer to countdown, then at the last second, it adjusted again!
The resulting moment, is probably clearly captured by the photo.
When I looked up the definition of ‘Candid’, this is what came up:
1. truthful and straightforward; frank.”his responses were remarkably candid”
It made me muse for a bit on the thought that so much of our lives, or what is portrayed in society, can be contrived, posed, lacking in true openness…
A silly, yet possibly serious, example of this can be the time spent getting the right photo for facebook, instagram and so on. I’d like to know how many photos on instagram these days are really ‘instant’.
I’ll confess. I’ve been at a nice spot, or event, and have been so busy trying to get the ‘right’ shot, or ‘record’ the moment, that I’m actually missing the moment! Even if you haven’t got a confession like mine, I’m sure you’ve been somewhere behind a sea of raised mobiles at a live event.
Now, I think I’m right in saying that when I take a ridiculous number of shots (I now limit myself to 10 tries!), in pursuit of ‘the’ shot (of that sunset, coffee, me, me n my peeps etc.), that I’m not trying to contrive the right shot in order to portray some particular image of myself or my life to the ‘world’. But I do reckon that it is possibly the ‘thin edge of the wedge‘. Meaning that though not serious at this time, if not careful, could potentially end up being so one day.
This musing also reminded me of an article I came across a few months back entitled, ‘If you really want to remember a moment, try not to take a photo‘, by Manoush Zomorodi
Part of the article’s key premise is summed up in it’s opening,
People worldwide upload more than one billion images a day, preserving their memories to enjoy them in the future. But it turns out: all our photography may be obstructing our recall,…
Manoush also set a challenge of having a photo-free day,
…For 24 hours, see the world through your eyes, not your screen.
I took up the challenge. And was both more aware of how many times I reached for my phone to ‘capture a moment’. As well as how much more a part of the ‘narrative’ I felt. I was more present and aware of my day. Especially as seeing as I resisted the urge to take a snap of those things I normally would have, I took more time to take them in, and experience it.
Now don’t get it twisted, I’m not saying that taking photos is bad.- I currently have a significant number of photos on my phone and laptop which would support this! And this post itself, started because of a great moment captured by a camera.
I am though positing, that life in the candid, unscripted, moments can be some of the most joyful, precious, meaningful, and of more lasting impact. Even when with some of them comes pain.
So therefore, it is possibly worth considering what, if anything, could be changed in our current daily lives in order to make more room or capacity for them.
Be that taking up the challenge of a photo-free day, lessening some of our regular activities, delegating some of our responsibilities, being open to a bit more spontaneity, embracing being dropped off at the wrong spot by your gojek driver (as you got to try out that coffee shop you’d previously noticed, but probably wouldn’t otherwise have got to), getting together with that friend(s) you haven’t seen in an age etc.
Whatever you choose (or not), I hope that life is providing you with authentic moments, -candid and otherwise- that add to your collection of experiences and memories.
So… the previous post, self-expression (1), actually started out as the following. However, once I started to dig into the subject a bit more, it grew into what I felt was a post of it’s own. But I still want to share the original inspiration, as it is an example of how I express myself. One of my mediums is poetry…
Who Am I?
@The Poetry Cafe, August 2016
Daughter of Trevor & Carmen,
Sister to Geoffrey,
Aunty to Donovan & Gabrielle,
Cousin to many, friend to some, acquaintance to a few,
A Londoner by birth, a Jamaican by heritage…
I don’t like to be boxed in, give me room, give me time,
A product of my environment, yet still trying to swim against the tide,
Got my fears but in the words of a friend trying to, “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”
I used to like white, now I appreciate red,
I never liked coffee, now according to some I’m addicted,
Running for the bus was a no no, now I’ve been known to run 26.2…
Usually quiet, but if you hit the right button, you will enjoy surround sound,
A lyricist with pages to fill,
Acquainted with pain, restoring my joy,
Living a life prescribed, but trying to draw outside the lines,
Jack of many trades, one day I’ll master a few,
A ‘contradiction in terms’, yet easily read if you have the key,
Full of emotion, seen only by a few,
A deep thinker, a deep feeler, yet content to ‘go with the flow’,
If it matters I’ll speak, if it doesn’t, I won’t…
Love the spontaneous, but need a rhythm,
A framework to scaffold this journey I’m on,
Seeking my identity, longing to be known,
Keeping at arms length, but open to being drawn close,
A narrative still unfolding,
Unsure of myself, but certain of Him,
A work-in-progress, He’s promised faithfully to complete,