Saturday, 28 September 2013

"Dear God, I Really F'd Up!"

This needs to be said at the beginning. No. I have not lost it. And, no, I am not losing it. But, before I get into what brought me to that title, I'll share a few quotes that have made an impression on me.

"I don't do performance poetry, so the words matter." - Elka, poet 

"I may already be dead, just not typed." - Harold Crick, Stranger Than Fiction

"He wooed her with words and he won her. He had nothing but words to woo her." - Lorna Goodison, poet

"Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that's the whole art and joy of words." - C.S. Lewis

Words work. Use them. That's a belief I have long held. So much so, I started a blog in about 2004 under that title. But, I did not maintain it. It had not started "hurting bad enough" yet. I like expressing myself in writing. I like to read and widen my vocabulary. I like to meet upon new words and spend the next day working them into sentences. I have a Dictionary app on my phone and the web site is saved in my favourites. Of course, I do consult other sources, but, for a quick go to, it serves the purpose. I suppose it's every writer's or communicator's dream to use the right words at the right time. 

Ahh yes. I do have a love for words. Remember that scene in Patch Adams where the elderly woman had the fantasy about being immersed in a pool of spaghetti? That's me. Except, it's not spaghetti - or food of any kind. It's words. I have a fantasy about being immersed in a pool of words. How that would work, or look, exactly, I am not quite sure. Not thinking alphabet soupish, though. No. The words wouldn't be in a liquid. The words would be the liquid; have sufficient molecular density and create the buoyancy needed. And, every so often, I'd string just the right ones together to make the perfect sentence. Then, one perfect sentence after another...

I've experienced the discomfort and comfort of certain words and terms. Words intrigue me as they strut their denotative and connotative meanings. But, they do not scare me. I do understand that given different contexts such as cultural and social ones, the use of certain words - and the words themselves - may carry particular connotations, subliminal messages, subtexts, and the like. Certainly, if I am not around to explain why I used a particular word weighted with a generally-accepted meaning, it would be interpreted using that meaning. My decision not to use a particular word in a piece of writing, as much as I believe it would hit the nail on the head, stems from that consciousness: Would my use of the word signal a shift in conviction or belief? That sort of thing. Given my broughtupsy in a Christian home and as a result of my own Christian walk, there are words that I do not use. It's funny, really. Not funny haha but funny peculiar. The two things I am most passionate about - my walk with Christ, and my writing - have never had me conflicted. Perhaps that is because I see the one - the writing  - as a medium for the more-important other. What has caused some angst, though, is whether I have been brave enough to say what may be unpopular, but what I feel a conviction to say.

That brings me to the title. I love - as in, love - the fact that I can go to God about anything. I pray to Him about any and everything. The other day, someone hurt me. Bad. I went to God in tears. I was angry and I was sad. After weeks had passed, with nothing near forgiveness yet in my heart, I contacted that person. In short, I received what I referred to as a template apology. Y'know the kind that says stteo: "I'm sorry I offended you..." More time passed. I contacted again. This time, my language was stronger as I said how I really felt. I referred to the half-assed apology and went on about how what was done was unbelievable, especially given...everything! Then came the interruption, "I f'd up, and I'm sorry." Well, y'know, I cried. I had to pull into a parking spot - and I cried. Of course, my friends know I do not use that kind of language. But, I accepted it and, dare I say, appreciated the honesty of it very much. It touched me. The choice of word meant that he meant it. And, I knew that that was the sincere apology.

It came to me sometime after, that a person who comes to God desperately seeking His help; to be rescued by Him, and pleads, in brokenness, "Oh God, I f'd up, and I'm sorry," does not turn God off one bit. I believe that if God sees the heart - and He does - He does not recoil from the word, but draws that person closer because of the heart. I believe that, in time, in a new walk with Christ - and with the understanding of the social or cultural or whatever other -al connotation attached - the individual will come to express himself in other words. Yes, God is holy. And, I'm not saying we should all come telling God 'the f word' left right and centre. But, you get what I mean. Plus, English is just one language. People the world over pray to Him in hundreds of other languages. There are many other heartfelt taboo words and expressions in many other languages and He is afraid of none. Anyway, you catch my drift. 

I have a similar feeling about Christians who express their grief on losing a loved one. Years ago, a lady I knew lost her only son in a vehicular accident. It tore her up. Another lady, this one I knew to be a Christian, lost her son after someone shot him. She became angry with God. Grief-stricken, she questioned His goodness; how could He have taken her son? How could He have allowed this? I understand that some persons - including Christians - will say that that is not an appropriate reaction. But, I believe that God is not frightened by our grief. He can see it coming. And, surely, different persons handle grief in different ways. But, for someone who directs her anger to God, He must see it coming, doesn't He? He does not recoil from her harsh words, does He? I believe that as she turns to Him with tears streaming, nose snot running, chest heaving in sobs and hands flailing as she thumps His chest with "How could You?! How could You?!" that He leans in to her and puts His arm around her and, yes, maybe even cries with her. Then, as she weakens under the burden of grief, and becomes too drained to fight, He scoops her up in His arms and carries her.

I am thankful that God sees the heart. And, His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. Just sayin'.


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Putting Down Roots

Almost twenty years ago I came across a neat little story about the bamboo and the fern. The fern was planted the same time as the bamboo seeds. In a short while, the fern began growing in all its green an sprawling glory. The bamboo, on the other hand, showed no signs of sprouting. Not in the first year; not in the second. As a matter of fact, it was not until the fifth year that it started growing! Then, within months, it towered over the fern and all the other plants around it. What was happening all those years? It had been putting down roots.

I like that story. It reminds me of a Jamaican proverb: "Everybody pot nuh boil same time."  I get it that some won't embrace the sentiment. They might think if nothing is happening then you might need to find yourself on another road. I read something today to that effect: Just because you've been on a road for so long does it mean it's the right one. I choose to embrace the wisdom from the bamboo story. For, just because you do not see something happening, does it mean that nothing is happening. And, each person has that gut instinct that says whether it's time to fold or keep at it. Hey, if it's your dream; your passion; your love, that is definitely the right road. Keep at it. It is - as you are - a work in progress.

Now and again I get to witness a work in progress - tangible work that you can reach out and touch. I like to see buildings being erected - from foundation to ribbon-cutting or moving in. I just do. Maybe it stems from the whole heap o' construction projects my father had me involved in growing up. #swingbucket :-) So, anyway, when I saw the clearing of the property in Oakville for the new multi-level parking garage, I became excited. I took pics. Turns out, as I sorted this evening to showcase, that I took many. Here are a few, taken with BlackBerry Curve and PlayBook. I say that almost as though I have to make an excuse for the quality. Sigh. It is what it is. The Curve doesn't take excellent pics - mine doesn't even have a flash. Speaking of BB,  the company had so much potential at the start, eh? Now, they're cutting staff by 40 %; looking for a buyer...? I really hope this Canadian company will bounce back. Ok. Where was I?

Yes. The multi-level parking garage started in 2011. I don't quite remember which month, but, these pics start at December 1, 2011. Judging from where it stood at that time, I'm thinking work had begun sometime in summer 2011. Yes, I could look it up. But, why let the facts get in the way of my memory flow? Tee hee.

Thanks to excellent work by those construction workers, we now have a fine specimen of a 6-floor parking garage at Oakville GO station. When the garage finally opened in December 2012 - and, I parked there on the day of the first good snow (I think it was the day of that last pic) - it stood as a testament to something that, for almost a year, had been putting down roots.

December 2011

December 2011

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

August 2012

August 2012

August 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

October 2012

October 2012

December 2012


Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Opposite of Love

Jamina was a pretty little girl. She was her parents' pride and joy; the pearl of their existence. She was, for the most part, happy. Now and then, there were days when she was a bit anxious, wondering what it would be like to discover more of the world. She lived an extraordinary but sheltered life under her parents' care. Her parents had money and ran a very successful real estate business. One day, shortly after her eighteenth birthday, to Jamina's delight, her uncle paid her and her parents a visit. Jamina's parents had a lovely house in the country side and it was among the fairest of the lot. People loved to visit and Jamina's parents always enjoyed entertaining guests - when they could squeeze it in. This visit, however, was not a typical visit. Little did Jamina know that her uncle and her parents - his sister and her husband - had been talking about her for months. Her uncle had finally convinced her parents to let Jamina go to live with him just outside of the big city. He knew how to take care of her, he'd said. He did not have as much money, but he loved Jamina and knew that, with him, her life would be full of adventure and prosperity, he'd said. Although Jamina's parents were well-off, they also wanted Jamina to be on her own - in a manner of speaking. They knew they were far too busy to give her the full, well-rounded life that she needed. And she, too, had convinced them that she wanted to enter the world of work, instead of continuing her education. She would do that later on, she'd said. Jamina's parents let her go with a heavy heart. But, her mother made it clear that she would be keeping an eye on Jamina from a distance. And, with many good wishes, her parents let her go.

For the first few years living away from her folks, Jamina tried to find her footing in her independent life. Yes, she was under her uncle's supervision, but, he respected that she needed room to grow. He introduced her to his close friends; co-workers, and their children - many of whom were about Jamina's age. She had found a job at a bank and was earning her own money! Her uncle impressed upon her that it was important to be a good steward and encouraged her to make use of good opportunities. Everything was not perfect, but, they were fine. She loved her uncle and she trusted that he had her best interest at heart. She kept in touch with her parents - but barely. If anything, she knew how to reach them.

When her uncle perished in a fire about two years after, Jamina's marriage to Lopaj was only one month old. Lopaj had asked her uncle for her hand in marriage. Her uncle had made Lopaj promise that he would take care of Jamina. He did. He would take care of her, he'd said. He loved her and would do anything for her, he'd said. Her uncle's death dealt Jamina a hard blow. It took her months before she was able to begin to allow herself to enjoy the marital bliss everybody had raved about. For the most part, she was back to her normal self. Life returned to her chocolate cheeks and her gait and beauty oozed confidence.

But, the bliss was short-lived. In Jamina's mind, it had lasted only days. Too soon, she realized that Lopaj was more in love with the idea of having her as his wife than he was with her. He had a smile that could melt a woman and he was far more educated than her. In time, she felt smaller and smaller, wishing more and more that she had kept in touch with her parents. She hardly heard from them now. And, the two or so times that her mother had visited in over ten years, they hardly knew what to say to each other.

Lopaj bragged about bedding her; he ordered her around; he showed her off to his friends and, at home, always demanded more and more - more sex; a cleaner house; more attention. Within six and a half years, they had five children. One day, as he ordered her to bed, she said no. Jamina noticed that he literally did a double-take. The thrust and burn of his stare hurt her long before the pain she felt from his forced penetration. And, that day, he took a particular delight in making it all the more violent. For the duration of that ordeal, she screamed in the pillow, her body convulsing with pain and rage. The time after that, she cried. And, the times after that, the fight having long fled, she simply lay there and let him. It was incredible that Lopaj actually enjoyed doing what he did to the woman he claimed to love. But, the smile on his face was always there when he rolled off her each time. 

It became more than rape. Over and over, after each ordeal, Lopaj tried to convince Jamina that he loved her and that, soon, she would come to enjoy it, too. She would see. But, Jamina could not see. Jamina had known love. Shortly after she had become "independent" under the loving care of her uncle, Jamina had known love. But, what could she do? Her only hope was in her children. And, even then, not in all of them. When they were old enough to "have sense," it was clear that the children had begun to take sides. As adults, two of the them stood defiantly with their father; two, lovingly, with their mother. Out of sheer frustration, the youngest, who was on Jamina's side, went to live in another country.

Jamina heard from her daughter sometimes. From her adopted country, she wrote imploring her mother and her siblings to stand up to Lopaj. Every letter rang with a more urgent call to demand that he treat her better; that what he was doing was the opposite of love. Finally, she promised to come home to take action against him.

Jamina sat at the kitchen table, hands trembling, as tears streaked her cheeks. She held the pen against the paper while the ink made a huge blot. She tore that leaf out and tried again. Her reply to her daughter was short: "Why bother? He is too powerful. What would be the point?"

Her daughter never replied.