2016 in a few words

2016 has been a momentous year. Samuel and I got married!!! mind blowing stuff…

If you had said to us a year ago we will be getting married on 22nd October 2016 considering the many mountains in our way, we would have literally said in unison ‘shut up’ in the voice of Elle Woods and slapped you, but God did it. Not trying to sound modest but God did it.

I finally conformed and pushed my dominant right brain, training my dyslexia and dyspraxia by learning how to drive, finishing the first part of my masters at Oxford, starting to professionally work, starting to build a home and pushing myself musically. I have grown in so many ways by challenging and exploring areas of my deepest being, areas I never knew existed. My soul has never been fulfilled and yet pushed over a cliff in a free fall of uncompromising faith that I have had to breathe and lay at the foot of the cross because that’s where I intrinsically belong, without having to try. That’s where I am whole.

Like Beyonce I wish I could proudly proclaim ‘I am a grown woman’, but I know I am not there yet… I still have a lot of melting, moulding, sculpturing and growing to do. I am still being pushed into deep ocean and I am still petitioning and grounding my feet firmly for grace to abound and keep me steady. Despite looking down so many times, I know my faith will keep me going because it has brought me thus far.

I am indeed looking forward to the New Year. I do still have a long list of New Year resolutions. I never fail to have resolutions because there is no harm in trying, I think the attitude of indifference and the acknowledgement of knowing you will never change is the epitome of the deadly sin that is pride.

I am human, I am flawlessly imperfectly perfect. I will rather lay by Samuel at 4:30 am than go for a jog. But I know not jogging will leave my brain feeling like scrambled eggs. So I will keep on trying. That’s all I can do, keep on doing and one day hopefully one day my body and brain will fully accept the greatness I wish and pray of it.

God is good, bring on 2017 and all its blessings and challenges.

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A short reflection on WYD

Attuned we moved in worship in the Old City.
Right from chanting whilst walking for about 4 hours per day,
country alongside country no matter how patriotic, we gathered kneeling, stretching our hands, prostrating, adoring all that is Beautiful, True, One and Good.
Be it dancing in the rain, our Beings saw and tasted a snippet of the heavenly joy desired by all.
The message to stretch ourselves to be engaged in and active with the times, to stay true to ourselves and let go of fear, allowing understanding and love to take root;
To acknowledge the past with sentiment and not sentimentality, betting and basking in the future with faith.
The Pope who met us, reminded we the young of our influence as the hope in these times. Our power to build bridges and not walls. To acknowledge the Transcendental truth of being that we are all one. Our oneness which on a microcosm was very much apparent in the Old City as we worshipped as a Universal Church; with nations sharing food together in moments of hunger and trading items of memorabilia, playing Card games such as Cheat, dancing, singing or playing football together.

The Pope with unapologetic frankness told us that we shouldn’t sit back like couch potatoes and let others tell us what we know, when we haven’t only seen but tasted and felt Thou. We were called to pick up our mats and walk, not shut ourselves off but give our all to life, fulfilling our essence beings as creators, whilst daily cultivating the Truth we know.
Indeed the Pilgrimage tested us, inspired and filled us.

And so the anticipation begins…!!

One word to describe my World Youth Day experience in Madrid 2011 is BEAUTIFUL. Massive crowds of young people from around the world, bridging their cultural differences and gathering as one Church in worship and praise. The fluidity of culture and language is striking; nothing like culture shock or a language barrier, but all together in our universality, strengthened in communion with each other, as we bear witness to our faith. Floods and floods of youth on the streets singing joyful praise with smiles, and greeting their fellow human. No boundaries in our faith, no boundaries at all. Everyone showing such grace and peace.

Reflecting on the whole experience makes me think of St. John Paul the Great’s quote “The future is in your hearts and in your hands. God is entrusting to you the task, at once difficult and uplifting, of working with him in the building of the civilization of love.” Indeed we the young are part of a pilgrim Church called to bear the force of love. No matter how small in our daily lives. And O how apparent this love was, on the streets of Madrid.
World Youth Day this year, for the second time in its history since its conception in 1984 in the Jubilee year of Redemption, falls on another Jubilee year. This time in the year of Mercy, we are called to love and love boundlessly, and be merciful because we cannot claim to love without being merciful. As a Holy Church which strives to live in the light of the word of the Lord, Pope Francis asks us to focus on the beatitudes when Jesus beckons us ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’ (Luke 6:36).

As we the young prepare for this event in this Jubilee year we must seek to be merciful with ourselves and with others. As part of the Church, we are called to look at the sinful woman who in her love, humbly sat and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed and perfumed them with her ointment. She saw herself for who she was and saw Jesus for who He is, The Merciful.

So we are asked to walk deeply in our faith, by looking into our hearts and at the hearts of others; forgiving and asking for forgiveness; understanding ourselves and understanding others, because we are a Church of sinners.

Where better for this event to take place than the home of St. John Paul the Great, the Pope who entrusted to us the youth, the World Youth Day Cross. He is a role model of such mercy. Whom in his humility and love for our Father, helped to end the communist rule in his native land and the whole of Eastern Europe; strove to bridge differences amongst the different beliefs and faiths in our world, emphasising our humanity above all; forgave and showed such mercy to the many people who tried to take his life. Saying after visiting one of his attackers in prison, “What we talked about will have to remain a secret between him and me. I spoke to him as a brother whom I have pardoned and who has my complete trust.″

So the excitement and anticipation begins; and with all this in mind we march in our numbers travelling far and wide to experience World Youth Day.

 

 

War

What is this we fight for and against
We fight and fight until there is no fighting left
To prove a point
To protect
To conquer
To affirm
Ambition’s capability
What is this we do to ourselves
You do to you
I do to me
Senseless destruction
You do to me and I to you
Tearing my soul apart
Tearing my life apart
Shredding all that comes in the way
Breeding anarchy in its path
Looting, smog, blood and pain
Death at it’s slithering wake
Bringing greatness to its knees
Devouring everything in her path
The tormented with nothing
Do you not know that the evil men do lives after them
In the rare moments it clears the smog within
Who wins in the end when we are all gone one way or another
In brutality or in peace
Who will win
You will think we will look above and beyond to make all things in harmony thrive for all
Focus on our impending extinction as a species
But we fight for and against

For the good of man

We: Whoever identifies with the concept

 

 

There seems to be this real sense of empathy we lose when we prosper-a deep sense of understanding the struggles people who are not as blessed as we are, go through; and thus are not as motivated as we are. Even those who once had these desert-dark-nights-of-the-soul experiences seem to easily forget.
We keep a certain calibre of friends-friends of a certain standard because we do not want to be reminded of our past, as we never want to return to what once was.
“Show me your friend and I will show you your character.” We easily forget the fortunate situation which brought us where we are.
God knows there are numerous people out there, who because of whatever reason, whether financial or otherwise; do not have the sky as their limit.
In my nothingness I found everything. No human to please, no standard to live up to. Understanding that it is by grace that I was able to wake up this morning to write, pray, do my Pilates, shower, eat, and get out of the house on time to make my day worthwhile.

A friend from the Caribbean once told me, ‘Jennifer, if I had my family here with me I will take some of the risky decisions you have taken’. This was after I had given her a long advice on what work she could do, with a degree as hers and certain lifestyle choices.I am so blessed. My biggest blessing being my family, because God have I taken some risky decisions!
Sometimes we fail to realize majority of the human race are trying; making the best out of the situation they find themselves in.
We all have different backgrounds, different life experiences and different life expectancies. We are completely exposed to different scenarios. We filter our experiences in different ways. With our different brains, our different genetic makeup and different learning styles. No two human beings are the same or will ever be the same no matter how similar or how much we try to be similar. We can try to assimilate to abide by the rules to keep the peace. By not staying true to ourselves and still abiding by the common law for the peace, for the good of our community and society do we not harm ourselves? Understanding the complexity of our ever changing selves equips us with the peace and kindness to take people as they come. By denying our humanity, we fail to accept others as they are.

God has a sense of humour!
I remember when I was younger, I used to say ‘I don’t do old people’; Lol the stupidity! I thought out of all the jobs out there, I just could not see myself working in a residential centre which houses and cares for people with special needs and the aged.
After working in a bar and completely hating it despite the tips, the discounted drinks and food, I found myself applying for a part-time job as a Carer; and the rest they say is history. Four years later, I totally do old people. That, and being a special needs teaching assistant have been my means of income throughout university. Working with the old and less-abled in conventional terms, have been one of the most fulfilling experiences. The fragility of humanity drawn so close. The numerous stories about how lives were crashed so suddenly. An old lady who was once a fitness instructor and had climbed all the highest peaks in the world, dropping a heater on her feet during a house-move at the age of fifty; a farmer, a son of a Lord with a twenty- six year old wife and two twin girls, getting a stroke at the age of thirty; a sixty-year old man who had lost his wife, and only had one son in the States, waking up one morning and not being able to physically get out of bed. Spending time with these, made the impermanence of lifestyles conspicuous. The intrinsic need for us to be loved and cared for.
I just needed to surrender myself to this that I blocked myself to. By blocking myself to the old and less-abled which is a part and parcel of every life story I was denying my humanity. I was denying myself, limiting myself. Not surrendering myself to my humanity.

“Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (John 21:18)

Wise words.

Learning to take people as they come is not an easy task. Appreciating we are all on different life journeys, at different stages can be challenging. We have every right to stimulate others with our life styles, inspire and advise. It is a grave sin to not share one’s experiences and prevent the atrocities of history, be it at a micro individual experience or a macro society experience, from repeating itself. But the challenge being to concentrate our energies in bettering ourselves and appreciate all of humankind. Helping and realizing that people are indeed trying and that life is too delicate and transient to rise ourselves on a pedestal and forget our humanity.
That, it is all a blessing; the good and the bad. It is by grace we do what we do.