Attend to Awe

I’m linking up again with the other writers at Lisa-Jo’s Five Minute Fridays (a flashmob of writers who write on a prompt). This week’s word: Listen….

Five Minute Friday

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There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.
― Howard Thurman

I am currently living in the tension of wanting and waiting to hear His voice. Not only do I desire to recover direction for my life but I also long for the intimacy, beauty and adventure of life with God. I’m in a funk. I feel as if I am responding to the pulls of a careless puppeteer. My days are full of activity but my heart is restlessness and dissatisfied.
Yet all is silence.

It is tempting to believe that I need to figure this out for myself. As part of determined action I read, talk to Him and ask myself questions: What do I hope for, dream about, pray for, purpose in my heart to do for my remaining days? What are my deepest longings?
Silence.

A spiritual guide suggests “attending to awe”….. And so I notice the dappled light on a leaf, a screaming child, the marks of tires in mud and as I do I listen to the smallest of whispers in my spirit, and my heart is called out to worship. For a brief glimpse I know l am alive and that my own story is interwoven with the “great Romance”. In ‘attending to awe’ I experience His love and know He has not forgotten me. In quiet and simple moments there is hope and peace. Not answers, but a deep conviction to wait and not rush to self-initiated movement and action.

Even if it looks and feels as if another pulls the strings…
even if I cannot hear Him…
I am believing in faith,
He is still in control in and through me…
And so I rest in the waiting,
attending to awe.
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Remembering Alan Paton’s ‘The Discardment’

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In a few months we’re moving… to a beautiful new home, with a wonderful view and lots of clean, white space. In the meantime, we are clearing out cupboards and giving away things we no longer use or want. Having a practical personality and having moved countries twice and homes seven times (this move), I am not controlled by huge bouts of sentimentality….therefore getting rid of “stuff” is relatively easy for me.

Nonetheless there is a tension within …

One of our school set-work poems “The Discardment” by South African literary giant, Alan Paton, still haunts me. It is a brilliant work of words that shaped my social consciousness and influenced my heart towards political activism. Studying it at school changed how I thought and eventually how I acted as a person in apartheid South Africa….It came to mind while I was writing my 5 Minute Friday post on the 17th May: Cry the Beloved Country.
I have wanted to share it ever since…..

The Discardment
We gave her a discardment
A trifle, a thing no longer to be worn,
Its purpose served, its life done.
She put it on with exclamations,
Her eyes shone, she called and cried,
The great bulk of her pirouetted
She danced and mimed, sang snatches of a song.
she called out blessings on her native tongue
She called out to her fellow-servants
To the strangers and passers-by
To all the continent of Africa
To see this wonder, to participate
In this intolerable joy.
And so for nothing
Is purchased loyalty and trust
And the unquestioning obedience
Of the earth’s most rare simplicity.
So for nothing
The destruction of a world.

Chameleon Children

2013 Chameleon Children 1 One of our wonderful, intelligent, conflicted Third Culture Kids recently said something that confirmed for me that we have chameleons for kids!!

In that moment, I realised that they were guarding themselves and pretending to be exactly the same. I was both appalled and relieved. My gut response, as I watched in silence, was both to whimper in pain (knowing that what they portrayed was not the whole story of who they are) and yet almost simultaneously I was comforted that they were giving the ‘right’ answer (that they were honouring the lives of those around them and were not introducing complications that their peers were ill equipped to understand).

My reaction surprised me. I have always been able to acclimatise. I see it as a gift. I enjoy understanding the intricacies of lives that are not like mine. I happily bend and try to fit in. This God given ability has allowed me to move more easily between cultures and groups. Being able to empathize with others by moving into their situations has allowed my life to have a richness that I am grateful for. I have wonderful friends in many different places and situations. Furthermore, I think my ability to modify my preferences has meant that I have probably not known the same degree of loneliness that I might have if I was less able to adapt.

Yet watching one of my children do just that, shocked me….

And I’ve been mulling over my reaction ever since….

The problem is that fundamentally my man and I made the choice to lead this life
but our children’s lives are now riddled by complexities brought about by our decision.
We didn’t know it would be like this….
….and even if we had,
I don’t think we would have necessarily made a different choice…

It’s painful because I know (not just intellectually) that their lives are forever influenced by the reality that they are kids without a singular home culture…
Yet, I remind myself…
This God allowed….

I now know that no matter how good they get at ‘fitting in’ (and they already do that with differing degrees of success), they will never fully be ‘belong’ or have one national identity. Part of what defines them (and what is hard to watch as a parent), is that they have spent their lives being the minority.

This is the reality that has shaped them…
It is both a blessing and a curse…

We are proud of our kids’ compassion, desire to serve, stick-up for (and perhaps finally work among) the marginalized in society. They are mature individuals with strong voices, each one of them. Brave souls that are sometimes seen as strange, who know what it means to stand outside the circle and yet who have got up and are moving forward believing, like I do, that this is the life God ordained for them … and that, like all of our lives, our deepest pain and hardest experiences often get used for the greatest Glory! Nothing is wasted.

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Imagining a Different Life

Late again, I’m belatedly linking up with the other writers at Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday (a flashmob of writers who, for five minutes, write on a prompt without over editing, backtracking or worrying too much about getting it “right” AND then go on to encourage others who have participated)
This week’s word: Imagine….

Five Minute Friday

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Wet wheels crossing …and we’re back….

With both familiar and foreign eyes I take in the warm and welcoming surroundings of our South African home. Moving across yellow floorboards I stand to look out on a garden rich in quince hedges, roses and wild olives and I wonder what it would be like to live only in this reality…..
To know no other homes, no confusion of goodbyes, splintered friendships or different time zones, to never know the complexity of my multicultural life…

I try to imagine the simplicity and slower pace such existence would allow…
…and for a brief moment the idea appeals….

Before the reality and the loss such a choice would impose, sinks in….

And so, standing quietly hand to glass pane, I give thanks – for the opportunity this life has afforded me – rich in different cultures, landscapes and friendships…
Full of tension, complexity and loss…
But always pointing me towards the need for dependency on Him as my Identity
and real place of rest.

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