Friday, February 23, 2007

Ashes to ashes

I must say that Ash Wednesday was for me a very deep and spiritual growth point. When I placed the cross of ash on the forehead of the worshiper's with the words, "From dust you came, and to dust you will return," it turned something inside of me. The power of that truth called mortality. Coming to terms with our tangible nature is the cornerstone of spiritual health. It said to me, Get down to basics. Get down on the ground and humble yourself before the living God your Creator. Stop all your pretentious self-confessed wisdom and your high and mighty ideas of the world and how it should be run. Stop with your self-righteous parading and throw yourself rather into the hands of a God who brings about results as God desires. You are not going to change the world. God is going to change the world through you. If there is to be any judgment it will be God who passes judgment. All I ask is that I may be saturated with the nature of God as I love people to the point of death. May that be my only measuring rod, my only scale of justice, my obession, and cause for self evaluation.

Friday, February 16, 2007

To be a cat

The cat lies heavy on the sill in one silent piece. A slight twitch of the whisker now and then in daydreams he sleeps. Out of this world until the feathered kind flies kamikaze into hard see-through glass – splat. The evolution is electric micro seconds of raised fur. From sleep to stealth that cat jumps and is on that bird to kill. I love watching the cat. He is so good at being a cat. He needs no soothing remedy to get to sleep, a bedtime story or Horlick drink. There is no need for an “Idiot’s guide to kill a bird” for him. He is one piece is that cat. He is just marvelously – a cat.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Earthworks in Mpophomeni

My car sweeps left into the small town of Mpophomeni not far from Howick. Leaving now the sloping valley on my right that looks towards the southerly more lonely part of Midmar dam. Surprised by the giant Poplar trees that line the streets to this typical South African township I make my way toward the Masibumbane Mission. The regal entrance provided by these soldiered trees is green subterfuge, for where they lead you is no palace, no proud verge, but scholars with plastic bags instead of leather satchels, derelict buildings, and half a population dying of HIV/AIDS. These trees don’t lead you to the grave-side which is right at the back of the town, out of sight. For this you need to ask the people. They all know where it is, it is their weekly church, their temple, their tomorrow. There are no stale, stuffy church buildings here, with hard pews and irrelevant sermons. Instead the hallowed ground is freshly turned as if a farmer wants to plant a thousand mielies. To this soul-soil and its 6 foot tributes, they sing their wet hallelujahs to the air. The so called privileged are not at ease here. The poverty is an assegai pushing in and out of the heart with every breath. There is no stopping the blanket of guilt that settles about the soul. The spine tingles with regret. For what you do not know. The selfish inclination is to think that you can change it. To what? To tight skinned plastic surgery or middle class mediocrity. It lives in and by itself, it is Mpophomeni and its inhabitants are its champions. Not me with my academic platitudes, my bourgeoisie Jesus and its undying love. It is not easy driving down that Poplar street. I come for what I do not know, but one thing I do know. I must.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Returning to spiritual places

I returned to a place where I had been challenged by God to enter the ministry. It is a Christian drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre called “Shekinah,” about half an hour drive outside Pietermaritzburg. The place was unusually green from what I can remember. The weather has been good to it. It is a typical red brick farm house dating back a good century or so. It’s steep walled verandah circumnavigates the high ceiling rooms and old ceramic baths. Beneath are some ad-hoc flowers trying to grow in a garden that depends on how well the guests (patients) are participating in the programme. It is run by a man who believes in the impossible. In this place you have to believe in the impossible. How can the habits of a fifty year old alcoholic be changed? How can the grip of heroine be broken from a young mother who has lost everything? But, it is the impossible that God thrives in. It was in this place that I found the God that met the least of human life. And it is was to the least that God meant the most. Walking around the property, looking over the river where I had once baptized young converts I was flooded with memories of those who had crossed my path before. Those who I had met some seventeen years again. It was good to return. I had been invited to share a word or two, a meditation, a prayer, a story of hope for those who would listen. It confirmed the journey I chose sometime back when I knew the hope the God-man can give to those who are thirsty for answers.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Today’s potential

There is great hope in knowing that every ounce of work I do for God I sow potential life. Who knows what the plant will turn out like? That is not in my domain but in the one who formed it all. What farmer knows the outcome of a crop she sows day and night into upturned soil? The work is divine. The drudgery, a divine goal in itself and not a means to an end. Too often it is seen as the slog before the results, the part that must be done, the chore in order to achieve - but who knows maybe it will result in failure. Who cares about the results when you know the potential of the seed. All people are worth the effort. All work done for the glory of the Creator is worth the effort. Not one seed we hold is without hope, all have the budding joy of becoming. Help us plant just because it has potential, not because we can predict its future.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A knowledge that can heal

To know God and to be known by God. That is the cornerstone of religious society. The journey of humble self disclosure and the fervent desire to embrace another’s admissions. God’s heart is not as invincible as you may think. The story of a much loved son wasted on the hills where things become nothing, betrays the notion of a steel hearted God. Knowing God is not just an awe in higher beings, respect for cloudy mounts, and a numb delight in sunlit thrones. There is a God to be know behind the cool exterior, a God with a past, a sad story to tell. To be known is the other half. The daily banishment of pride that holds our world in dark locked cages. To unlock the deepest secrets and anguished moments that lie as cargo in dank bilged hulls. The strength to drag to light the sticky hurt and sting. To open ports and hatch for God to see the mildewed crippled pain. In this religion, in this exchange the heavens touch the sinners stain. Two stories, one in friendship bind the Universe explained. A pain shared, a knowledge won, is this religion with a holy one.