You dangle down
Amongst the throng
To act upon
Provide for each
We heed a call
You dangle down
Amongst the throng
To act upon
Provide for each
We heed a call
Crouched, huddled, humbled
Cowering in grief and loneliness
Hunched over, enveloped in darkness
Afraid, ashamed and alone;
Albeit desirous of great comfort, forgiveness, connection,
Emancipation, peace, deliverance
And yet, I hear a voice.
Soothing, inaudible – yet not.
Distinct, definitive, refreshing
Dare I turn?
Dare I look upward?
Dare I risk vulnerability?
I can no longer live in fear and uncertainty.
This is not living.
Standing, turning, reaching
The Voice is Light, and Rock, and Mountain Height
Where the eagle rests,
Out of reach of any who would prevail in the valley
Still the voice calls.
I am drawn, but I cannot reach.
I breathe afresh
Deeply, drawing in refreshment
Expelling all that would hinder
I call aloud to the Voice, the Rock, the Height above all.
Desperate, pleading, repenting of all that has been my own;
All that has left me entailed to the dark of fear and shame
I am lifted up,
On eagle wings,
To lofty peak,
In crevice rest.
Untouchable by darkness
I see the Light shine on me.
The warmth of wings – of comfort
The security of Rock – fortress
I sleep in peace
Nourishment is sweet
No fear of abandonment
The Voice, ever present
Only when He has prepared me
Shall we go on from here
The Sustainer and the sustained
Can’t we all be united
Isn’t that just what You want?
Don’t let me be divisive
Make me patient, and patient a lot
Remould my heart with compassion
Cause persistence and patience and truth
To be my dominant features
Submissive and gracious as Ruth
Bring together all of our families
As with Ruth, You brought three to one
May we lead, submit, love and serve
As in You, when surrendered, we have done
We know there is change in our future
This can plainly and clearly be seen
But as for how and when and who it will be
You’ll reveal as each step becomes need
Cause our hearts to seek You as one people
By Your Spirit as one move ahead
In Your power and grace and provision
By one vision and purpose be lead
As the star-netballer verbally reduced the newcomer to the conceptual size of an ant, most of the team stood silent, one or two joining in on occasion. Taunts of weak throws, missed goals and no understanding of the rules issued forth from the star-player.
The newcomer sank lower and lower in posture. She would never measure up; never belong or be valued by the other players. Though she excelled in biology, was a marvel at chemistry, and astounding with physics, she could see much joy and affection beneath the veneer of criticism in the players. She longed to be part of the fun of the game she enjoyed, and the fellowship of the team.
A tall, well-composed woman walked onto the netball court, toward the group of girls. The taunting and verbal abuse grew more and more quiet, until silent, at the approach of the woman: elegant, yet humble in appearance and manner. The browbeaten newcomer to the team remained in a subdued stance.
The woman entered the circle of girls and, taking the star and the newcomer by the hand, drew the two girls into the centre. All were silent.
The woman gently but firmly declared to the star-player all she knew of the this one’s desire to head into the field of medical research; of the expectation and push of the girl’s parents to excel in sport above all else; of her sense of insignificance within the course of her own life; and the bitterness welling up from within as a result.
The woman then softly and definitively declared the value and vital contribution the new-comer had to offer the team; her innermost desire and knowledge of interdependence, unity and teamwork; her experience, insight and understanding of healthy relationship.
In response each of the two centred girls expressed their envy, each of the other, and their desire for relationship, acceptance, mutual value and unity – to be a team.
Throughout the remaining seasons and school days this team became family. Wholly accepting of, and committed to each other. Not for the status of the team, but each one sought the best for each of the others. The result being that each one’s personal, relational and aspirational needs were met…and the team became the most admired in the district.
And who was the mysterious woman? As she walked from the group of girls on that day long ago, her name was sought. The most unassuming of the team members declared, “That…was Grace.”
I do believe there is absolute truth. I do not believe that I comprehend all of it, but desire to process through all thoughts, ideas, programs, systems etc. that I may come across and check them against that which I believe to be true, have observed or experienced to be true.
I am thoughtful of wanting to give credit of any thought or process etc. with its point or person of origin, but I also find as I go on that I am a complex mix of all I have listened to, observed, learned from in some way. The older I get, the more difficult it is to say where thoughts and actions had their origins. Ecclesiastes in the Bible says that their is nothing new under the sun; we ALL are a mix of where we have been, what we have heard and observed, and our own individual stamp.
Your work will always be “out of” what you have somehow come across and “into” what others will eventually come across.
Thus dont’ be afraid to borrow the best and grow from the borrowing…The best artists begin by being influenced and end up influencing…
It is…finding others who themselves have found others who in turn have found still others, joining humbly and hungrily with this vast community, then seeing the difference that individuality has made all around you and praying that you will end up making enough difference to warrant your citizenship in the same community.
I want to borrow from you. I hope that you will borrow from me. I will endeavour to attribute to you what I have gleaned. I hope you will attribute to me that which you have “borrowed” from me.
I desire to be part of a humble, hungry, vast, community. Ubuntu from my African friends, grounded in Samvedna from my Indian friends.
There once was a crocodile farm that had two swamps for the crocodiles to enjoy; one great big one, and one teeny tiny one (that a frog barely fit into).
The crocodile farmer had two beautiful crocodiles who loved to lay in the sun beside the great big swamp to get warm. When they got too warm the two beautiful crocodiles would slide down the bank and into the cool murky water to cool off.
The two beautiful crocodiles loved their great big swamp; they loved sharing it together; they loved it when visitors to the crocodile farm came to look at them from over the fence.
One morning a truck drove up to the gate in the fence, which kept the crocodiles in and the people out. The two beautiful crocodiles, lying in the sun, didn’t move, but kept watch to see what would happen.
The gate opened…and two more crocodiles were taken out of the truck and left inside the fence, with the farmer’s two beautiful crocodiles. One of the new crocodiles was very similar to the two beautiful crocodiles, almost the same size even. The other of the two new crocodiles was HUGE! ENORMOUS! Very Impressive!
The two beautiful crocodiles thought it would be great to have the HUGE! ENORMOUS! Very Impressive! crocodile in their great big swamp with them. They thought that visitors to the farm would love looking at them even more with this HUGE! ENORMOUS! Very Impressive! crocodile sharing their swamp.
But the first-of-the-new-crocodiles was a bit skinny. The two beautiful crocodiles thought he didn’t look strong at all and also thought it was best if this one shared the teeny tiny swamp with the frog.
The HUGE! ENORMOUS! Very Impressive! crocodile enjoyed sunning himself on the bank of the great big swamp and sliding into the water when he got too warm. The two beautiful crocodiles were very glad he was in their swam, surely the visitors to the farm would love seeing two beautiful crocodiles and one HUGE! ENORMOUS! Very Impressive! crocodile all together.
The first-of-the-new-crocodiles enjoyed being with the frog. They became great friends. But this crocodile couldn’t enjoy the teeny tiny swamp. There wasn’t even enough room or water for the frog and definitely not enough room or water for the crocodile. Some times the first-of-the-new-crocodiles became so hot that he got sick because he couldn’t slide into the murky water of the swamp to cool off. But the frog would sit beside him and they would share stories together about all the swamps and farms they had lived on and about their families. They were very great friends.
One day the crocodile farmer brought some visitors to look over the fence at his crocodiles. The visitors watched the two beautiful crocodiles and the HUGE! ENORMOUS! Very Impressive! crocodile sunning themselves on the bank and sliding into the murky water. These three crocodiles heard them saying how much they liked being able to see them there.
Not many visitors looked over the fence at the first-of-the-new-crocodiles and the frog. But they were happy being friends and the first-of-the-new-crocodiles began to sing while the frog jumped a dance to his song.
When the visitors to the farm heard the first-of-the-new-crocodiles sing they moved to his end of the fence to listen. They loved hearing the song and watching the frog dance.
After the farmer and the visitors left, the two beautiful crocodiles had a think.
They thought that the visitors liked seeing that they were beautiful; and seeing the HUGE! ENORMOUS! Very Impressive! crocodile; and enjoyed hearing the first-of-the-new-crocodiles’ song; and were amused watching the frog dance.
So, the crocodiles and the frog all decided that they would share the great big swamp because they each were special – beautiful, HUGE!, musical and funny.
They all became friends and they all had visitors come to see and hear them at the crocodile farm. Which made the farmer very pleased.
His comments directed my thoughts to other individuals and groups whose communities and families may or may not approach them, or may unintentionally offend or wound through ignorance.
Social media and other communication mediums are replete with those who have endured war, abuse, rape, disability, pain, physical and mental illness, job-loss, moral and financial bankruptcy, child-loss, widow-hood (I could go on), all looking for others who have shared in a similar experience and/or a place to be heard and valued.
My simple hope is that we each would take an interest and the time to discover what another’s experience has been like, and share our own experiences so that someone else may not feel alone in theirs. Talking about our lives is healthy for the speaker, the listener and our social connections. Not talking, asking or listening only breeds our sense of isolation, negative identity assumptions (of ourselves and others), and disconnection from each other when we all have a desire to belong – somewhere.
What a wonder,
Loved of father
You loved him further
Embrace you, I
Our love from on high
Of children, cherished
No affection diminished
Precious this gift
Times together are missed
Longing for Home
All together we’ll roam
Me and my other mother
So, I’ve already said that I believe when Building: Foundations First is important (or restoring). Walls and boundaries for protection are also very important, and perhaps necessary before the building is complete.
There is always a need for a relatively safe place, especially if rebuilding after a trauma (earthquake, emotional upheaval) or battle (war, personal attack). A rebuilder needs clearly defined boundaries to keep threats at bay or from which to see a potential threat coming and prepare to defend. Clear boundaries also give direction as to where one’s responsibility for building lies and , consequently, what it might be that one will be responsible for.
We each are responsible for building and rebuilding what is our own, but it’s healthy, resourceful, and community-minded to seek out those who can be trusted to assist with establishment and ‘border protection.’ If we are starting from scratch, we’re possibly in unfamiliar territory; there may be others who have built with similar intentions as ours in the past. Making use of successful methods and standards is better than ‘reinventing the wheel.’ If, on the other hand, we are rebuilding after battle or trauma we may be in need of a ‘kindred spirit’ to help define where the boundaries need to be and of the stuff they could/should be made of.
It’d be nice to think that everyone was supportive of our building efforts and goals, and that everyone understood or had the same goals and commitment that we do. But that is rarely, if ever, the case. This is fine, because the world is a much more colourful and beautiful place for its diversity. When looking for someone to help stand guard or instruct us as we build, we want to look for someone who can see into what we’re about or is at least desirous of supporting us in our building goals even if their’s differ. As we begin to build we must also be on guard ourselves, so that when our enlisted scouts give the call we battle/defend together.
Sadly, some will actually attempt to compromise our building, or even prevent its ever beginning, or destroy what has begun. Sometimes this occurs with open defiance, other times with deceit and false offers of assistance. The fruit usually tells what sort of tree you are dealing with. Look for the fruit, it’s not usually difficult to spot and recognise true support amidst covert opposition. ‘Kindred spirits’ are good at helping to recognise the kind of fruit you’re dealing with as well.
A friend recently informed a group of us that ancient Roman shields could be ‘locked’ together during attack so that the group could be better protected beneath the rows of shields. Gather a group of kindred spirits, supporters and experienced builders to ‘lock shields’ with you as you build, especially if you’re re-building! Set your boundaries, understand you goals and values, and start to build.
One day soon you can sit back and look at the beautiful fruit of all your imaginings, creativity, effort, and community – in fact, take moments along the way to recognise the early fruit as you build…rewarding.
Thanks again to Ezra and Nehemiah for re-building guidelines.