Thursday, 28 February 2013

"Something Far Better"

Before being bombarded with memes and somecards and man-atop-mountain philosophical posters out of the yin-yang, I had a voracious appetite for books on quotations and inspirational anecdotes. I still do. One such quote that has metamorphosed and found new life on an FB poster goes something like this: "God always gives us the best when we leave the choice to Him." Imagine my short-lived quandary, then, as I dithered between embracing this long-known gem and surrendering to the fact that it was now plastered all over a SoMe icon. I gave in, as I knew I would, and read it again. It was a reminder that in surrendering my desires to God, I should do just that. No back-tracking. Simply, trust that He knows what He's about and He has my best interest at heart.

The quote reminded me of a favourite inspirational story I read over ten years ago. As Christmas drew close, an older gentleman decided to order an item of clothing for himself using the store's catalogue. Beside each item, he realized that there was an option to check a box indicating his agreement to accept the store's replacement if they were out of his selection. He checked the box. As it turned out, the store was out of the item. And, sure enough, they sent him something else, along with a little note saying they hoped he would like the replacement.  As the gentleman opened the package, he realized that what they had sent was of a greater quality and value than his original choice. As he told it, they sent him "something far better" than what he had ordered. After that, he would do no less than check the box!

I've often thought of that story when things don't go the way I plan or think or want or work toward. After doing all I can, asking for God's guidance, I watch things go the way I'd hoped; didn't plan or better than hoped. There is no trick to this. If I believe that my life is in God's hands - and I do - then, for my mind to be at peace, I must rest assured that, however it works out, it is for my good. Now, that is much easier written than lived. But, I try. When I get yes, I'm glad. No? Not so much. I feel disappointed and I wonder and get forlorn (great word!). But, after a while, His word that's hidden in my heart that He's holding starts to ring in my ear. After a while, as the picture gets clearer, His no (and yes, too), make more sense. It mightn't make complete sense all the time but, sense enough.

I like to think that God really takes His time on some things because He is giving them special attention. It's like the thought that in the beginning - as in, the beginning beginning - for light and sea and land etc., He said, "Let there be..." But, for man, He reached down and took clay and shaped and formed him and breathed Himself into him and he became a living soul. How did I get here? Yes. So, He took His time. Just think of all those things that we have spent a long time asking Him for. He could have done it in two twos; could have had a "Let there be" moment. But, for those things that He has not said no to; that He would have us wait for, I believe He is giving them some special attention - reaching down and molding and fashioning and putting finishing touches on. His timing is perfect and He knows what He's about. We have our idea about what would be "really, really great!" His thoughts are higher. He's about something far better.


Monday, 18 February 2013

Changing Seasons and Crooked Paths

Someone reminded me some time ago that some people come into your life for a season. We've heard that before, right? In that moment, however, it was a timely reminder. I pulled myself together and quickly got out of the funk I had been wallowing in. My new-found perspective was to look back at the nice moments; chuckle again at the jokes; smile; nod; shake my head - all as I took away the good stuff and the good lessons learned.

Yes, I do believe that some people show up only for a while. If it were not so, we'd still be in touch with, or be friends with, everyone we'd ever met! So, they come and they go. They touch - and how! Some certainly make a deeper impression than others - good and bad. When you're experiencing the bad, it may seem like a lifetime. It just never ends! Or, so you think. More often than not, we do have the power to bring that season to an end; the power to change that season ourselves.  In some cases, it's not enough to say this or that will end soon. When it gets to hurting bad enough, you just have to do what you have to do.

True, there are cases in which we have little to no control over a situation. In such cases, we simply make the best of it, keep hope floating and keep working in the background, preparing for that opportunity that ushers a ready person into a new and glorious season.

When we're experiencing a good season, we want it to last and last. Truth is, a change from a good season doesn't necessarily mean that it's tilting toward bad. But, we might have it so good, we can hardly imagine it being better. A good season may change into a better season and, sometimes, it gets worse before it gets better. Sometimes. In those times, a little faith and a little patience go a long way.

So, a change for the better may mean someone coming into your life.  It may also mean someone leaving your life. It mightn't look like it, but, so it is. Hindsight is 20/20 and only then does it become clear that it was for your good. I've come to understand and accept that. (Hey, no loneliness feels as bad as being miserable hurts.) My hope in those cases is that I have touched their lives in positive ways. I've often prayed thanking God for the doors He opens and for the doors He closes. Years ago, I came upon a Bible verse - Isaiah 45:2, "I will go before thee, and  make the crooked places straight..." God does that for me. Even now, I am about to enter a new season - totally His design and favour!  On February 7 this year, for the first time, I "discovered" another in Ecclesiastes 7:13, "Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight, which He hath made crooked?"  And, although I'd often given thanks for the closed doors, the fact that He makes paths crooked intentionally, put so many things into perspective. He does that for me, too.


Friday, 8 February 2013

I'm Not “Back-to-Africa” Black

I’ve had this poem in mind for a few months now.  Recently, sis asked whether I’d yet penned it. So, in time for February’s first post – and, please don’t get me started on how I really feel about Black History Month – here is:

 I’m Not Back-to-Africa Black 

I'm not back-to-Africa Black 
Now and then I still hear talk of
“Black people going back to Africa
But, in that event,
Who would help me pack?
Moving is not an easy somet'ing
I should know.
I've moved to and lived in and worked in 
Three different countries now.

A whole heap of arrangements would need to be made 
And, quite frankly,
To call a spade a spade
I am way too comfortable
To go through all that hassle.

Remember “Seven Miles of Black Star Liner”? 
Who took into consideration the amount a wi who 'fraid o' water?
And would probably suffer from sea and other sickness
On the way to wi Modda
Then what?

Although things and times have changed
Maybe plenty still holding on to that dream.
More power to them. I mean that.
But, for me, that's not my scene.
If more of us were to be honest
When faced with the question?
From the comfort of our Diaspora homes
We would say no to repatriation.

Don’t it?

Some may argue that my not wanting to go back is backward
That's okay.
No point in trying to convince them it's my choice
It's not up for discussion, anyway.

But, let me pretend for a second
That I were at all up for the journey
That I were at a crossroads
And someone was there to usher me.
I take it we'd be flying in
With people at the airport to meet wi.

My preference 
For residence
Would be Kenya
Near my son, Thoya.
If not, then west, in Ghana
Some friends from there 
Used to say they know somebody 
Who I fava.
And then I met their friends and
After the pre-amble 
They too told me that they knew people I resemble.
My response was always, 
"I have that kinda face."
Apparently, I'd fit right in  if for nothing else but like-countenance.
I wouldn't necessarily feel outta place.

But, I'd jolly well have more than
Like-countenance going on
What exactly would I be doing on the continent in this year of our Lord?
Would I be expecting "Mama" Africa
To take me under her wings?
Would she owe me anything?
Or, would I be expected to "bring back” something?

Would she even recognize me 
The offspring of those that left?
Beyond my look-a-likeness and skin colour
Would I be too bereft
Of pertinent sensibilities and a certain sense of self
Having only an idea of Blackness
To which I am supposed to properly relate?
But, having not had the “appropriate” experiences –
African American and such –
Just can’t?
Africa of yesteryear is, in many ways, no longer.
And, not if, but when,
She realizes I don't quite fit in
Like her other children
What then?

For both our sakes I'd have to seriously consider
Back to the Diaspora.


(By the way, friends’ pictures of Ghana
Look like places in Jamaica
The… Step-Motherland?)

I’ve been influenced and shaped
By myriad frames of reference
Raised by parents – and the village
Standing on the shoulders of those strong enough to stand tall – 
And, even those whose backs bent a little –  
Under pressure.
To whom much has been given
Much is expected.
I don’t have to go back
To give back.

I am not back-to-Africa Black.
I am here
And, thanks to modern technology
Geography is now history.
Born in Jamaica
Living in Canada
Relating to my son in Kenya

Blessed by the Almighty. Jah.