Friday, 7 November 2014

Bonding the Inanimate


As DJ in chief sitting shotgun, I naturally was deeply engrossed in my present duty. Pulling 1000 kilos of cement in a trailer behind our cruiser, we were going to build a foundation for a school in a nearby town, Chingoma. We traveled a dirt road outside the property of Riverside Farms; there was an electric fence to our right and trees and a hill to our left. Beyond the fence lay a vast plantation of banana trees. We had just picked up some kids and were bringing them to the nearby village. Cruising at a pretty decent speed for that kind of terrain (about 40km/hr), the ride was not out of the ordinary. Upon coming to this part of the road where everything was super sandy, I'm still looking at my phone trying to get a good tune to play. All of a sudden we start drifting, I thought, "nice, very nice, this is good." Then we just keep drifting pretty soon we are approaching a full 180. Im thinking, "okay maybe lets pull out of this." My friend driving, I could tell, was freaking out. He was struggling and doing everything he thought possible to get back in control of the now recalcitrant vehicle. But no control was given. I looked up to see that fence on our right approaching. And there we went. This was not a graceful message of cruiser and fence, no! We ploughed through that fence and all the electric line that was there. The bonding experience of both inanimate entities was amazing, we demolished the fence and kept flying forward. The cruiser started taking out banana trees left and right, well three big ones that is. Then, and only because the ground was raw mud, we came to a stop. I will not repeat my friends initial and only words to the situation...he then jumps out. The electric wires were caught all over the trailer and cruiser. It was a colossal mess. So I hoped in the drivers seat, put it in 4wheel drive and pull out, slowly. It was then that we realized the trailer had come unhitched and thus led to us not being able to control the vehicle. Sitting there I thought of how epic that just was and felt bad for the guy driving. But it was all good in the end. 
Sometimes life's greatest crashes or catastrophes are it's best lessons to cope with the present. 

Colour Peace

In moments of pure serenity, when the sun sinks slow, and the colours are bright; when the soft breeze cools and the painted grass is churned; when still waters run free to places unknown, it is these moments of purest peace where we see who we really are or who we really wish to be. Could it be that these moments were what we were made for? What we were originally made to thrive in? Moments of inner peace so intense, the soul knows nothing but this peace. It was in this moment that I sat, I watched.
A rustling noise had wrestled sleep from my mind. Sitting up and gazing through the tent screen revealed a sight I had longed to see. The great hippopotamus. Yes, Africa is full of hippos. But to see one in all its glory traversing the ground I traverse, that was my wish. And there in the peaceful stillness of the morning she stood. Leaving no thought to worry, she seemed to enjoy the early peace of morning light gently painting the grass she ate.
With the hippo being a mere ten yards or so from the tent, I did not dare move. I could only watch and soak in what was given. A moment of peace, this hippo had it. There was no concern for the upcoming day, no longing for a better life or wonder for food. As the sun edged the blackness of night away, the hippo gracefully slipped back into the stillness of the water. As though the life on dirt represented an abundance or hardship, she sought refuge in the stillness of the river-never to appear until dusk reigned again.
Peace? Where has it gone? A creature destitute of reason or any intelligence higher then how to eat and procreate, initiates a life more abundant with peace then I. Could it be that a world gone astray has given a peace that we think sufficient, and in turn we expel the true peace of the soul? Slipping into the still waters of the morning the hippo reflected the image of peace that to often slips from my mind into the peaceful waters of a forgotten past.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

White Washed Tanks

Like a dark cloud looming over us, the day had come after six weeks. The anticipation had built the expectations to far exceed the task that was actually supposed to be accomplished. We had always heard whispers in the wind of this job, and now the day had arrived when the order came down-clean the water tanks. Clean the water tanks! Yes, this means that we would have to squeeze our bodies into multiple water tanks and clean them. 
I braced myself against the forrays of a drinking water deluge. Positioned for what possible harm may arrive, I peered into the inner blackness of the tank. After moments lasting eternal seconds, I jammed my entire person into the the cavernous tank, dropping into a deep four inch slim of river residue. 
Bucket by bucket, the mud was raised from the floor of the water tank. (If I had ever been tempted to disregard the warning to not drink the river water that came from these tanks, I now faced no such temptation.) Not only was the tank under the influence of a continuous layer of muck, the whole contraption had been baking in the ovens of hot African sun for many months. Without a doubt, the temperatures in that oversized water tub exceeded that of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. A combination of constant work and extreme temperature caused sweat to erupt from all available bodily pores. 
It was around this time when my friend who was helping me from the outside asked my opinion on scorpions. 
“Have you ever seen one?” 
“Yes. Why?”
“Is there one on the pipe right above your head?”
“What do you know, there is the most painful one in Zambia, right there above my head.”
“Yeah, it stung me.”
This was not the most ideal situation possible, yet no one died. Alas the whole incident caused the man to go to the clinic and we could no longer clean water tanks. 

Another simple day in the simple life of an African adventure. 

Sometimes I wonder if life is like cleaning water tanks. How many moments are spent cleaning those things which should clean us? Should not something change with the tanks? If we must clean our sources of cleanliness, then it may be time to find a new source. 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Reminiscing Africa

We live Africa.
Breathe the air
Heart Beating Africa
No time to spare
Life’s moving on in Africa

The harmonica's twang blended with the melodious flow of a mandolin creating a most glorious tune. The day fell asleep early, as usual in that country side, creating a serene backdrop for the glorious tune. The tune was carried by three young men, eager for an adventure in the newly visited land of Africa. A common sight in those first days, three boys jamming to random blues tunes in the cabin, provided amble entertainment for all who passed. A passing moment was not the only which was graced by those melodies. The trio walked up a nearby hill and began to play for an elderly gentleman. They soon discovered that this man was not only an ordinary gentleman, but was the previous ambassador from Zambia to USA. The trio was ecstatic. The night crept on and the trio went to their respective places of rest. The Sabbath had been good, and good day thus ended. 

Friday, 29 August 2014

First Day in Africa

Africa. The word that has never ceased to leave my mind since December of last year. Now I am in it. Bathing in the reality of its all surrounding presence, there is no escaping the present here. Is it what I expected? I can not remember what I expected. It is like a surreal dream that I am finally realizing is a dream no more. No longer will I see my friends, family and others on a regular basis as previously was done. Saying bye to those I left was more difficult then hoped, but for every gain is a cost. 
Arriving at the location, Riverside Farms, there was displayed a picture of supreme simplistic beauty. The first creak of the door revealed a light so pure and was filtered through the serene Zambian landscape. I knew I was in the place I was called to be. 

We did not do much anything today except realize how jet-lag really feels. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

None Left Behind

The chill of the night began to edge its icy fingers across the faces of all present. A boy was seen struggling in the arms of a young man. His struggle was one for freedom and liberation. He struggled for freedom, not from the arms but from life-he wished to die. The young man held on to the boy, pity was in his eyes. There were no words of remorse, condemnation, or anger spoken to the boy, yet the boy fought for what he wanted most. The boy began to curse the young man. He cursed the place were he was at. He cursed life, and he cursed God. His heart was scathed with the embers of hate, and love was drained away. The boy screamed again and again that if only given one chance he would experience love. No, not the love of the heart, but his love of death. All across the surrounding area echoed his cries, his curses. All around heard of his want to go back in, find a bed sheet, and die by it around his neck. The young man held him tight that evening saddened at the sight of such misery. The young man was saddened not at the cursing of peace but by the ignorance of peace. No longer had the nights icy chill only crept on all present, it had crept within the boy.

Peace is not the knowledge of a better life, it is the inward reality of a better life now. Wishing for a better tomorrow never brings a better now. There is no tomorrow. Humanity searches for peace and finds desolation. Every attempt to find peace in a better tomorrow is another bed sheet around the neck. There is no better tomorrow. To curse the present is to live a curse. How long will humanity wander in the wilderness of want when pastures of peace are all around? 

The chill of the night was then shattered by a wisp of calm. Providence saw it fit to place serenity in the house of distress and serenity destroyed that house. The boy surrendered that night to the force of peace. He did not always remain in peace after that, but who does? His disposition even worsened after a time, yet in that moment no one was left behind. That is, peace left no one behind. All had that inner changing of the heart to be content with now; peace, the satisfaction of embracing what is now and realizing that tomorrow is but a dream.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Conversations with St. Brown

To Elijah, the voice of God was not something he had to guess about, it was not a relic of past events, he knew the voice of God like he knew a friends. After all, his name did mean, "my God is Yahweh," and he believed that he was the last remaining worshiper of that God. However, when threatened with death by the one he once defied, he ran. He came to a mountain and searched for the voice of God. There on the mountain, Elijah witnessed great manifestations of Gods presence. He had just seen these very manifestations not to long ago. On Mt. Carmel, there was fire, and God was in it; a great storm and God was in it. But now, where was God? He was not in the great storm, or the earthquake or the fire. Elijah was trembling in the stillness of godlessness when the silence was pierced by a still small voice. And at the sound of a low whisper Elijah wrapped his face, and God was in the whisper. 
        During finals week a friend, who I call St. Brown, sat me down and said, "Does God ever speak to you?" I acknowledged that He did. St. Brown was unsure of how that happened. "But does He actually? How do you know it is not just another feeling?" It took a little while to ponder this idea, and it troubled me. Yes, I knew God spoke to me, but how would I ever explain how I felt. The voice of God is an intensely personal experience and cannot be simply put into words. St. Brown went on to say, "I have concluded that God does not speak to humanity, because of sin He cannot. In place of His voice, God has left a roadmap to lead humanity back to Him, the Bible, and by reading we will one day hear the voice of God again." How was I to explain to him that an experience with God cannot be confined to words? That until someone really experiences God, he will never understand God? 
        We all have experienced God. There is not goodness apart from God. I do not have a perfect image of God, and I do not always hear or listen to His voice. We often search in the great manifestations of life's events to hear God, but most times, He is not there. In the storms of sadness, the earth shaking moments of unexpected tragedy, or the fires of pain, we search for God; in those moments we wish to hear His voice. However, it is in the stillness of the mind, the personal indwelling of a whisper that God is often heard. Sometimes it is so quite we miss it. His voice, a whisper so low, yet a peace so sweet. How was I to explain this if St. Brown had never felt it? Sure, I have never awakened to a low voice parting the skies and talking to me. I have never heard God speaking in an empty room to me as I would hear a man speaking to me in an empty room. But God is not man, and He is not limited to the ways man communicates. 
So instead of trying to argue, I concluded with a simple line. "St. Brown, I know I hear God's voice. I am sorry you do not, but I am content. If you are at peace with where you are at with God, then stay there, but if you are not at peace, search for His voice and you will hear Him."