Where the Light Lies

Hope if a funny old thing. We manage to find it in the most unique and desperate places.

It isn’t always called Hope. Sometimes we call it Faith. Sometimes it is called Surviving.

Sometimes it doesn’t really have a proper name.

In the darkness – it is simply a facet of your being.

A glimmer deep in your soul that reaches out for life. For love. For peace. For something better.

Sometimes, it is very simply, your soul searching and reaching for where the light lies.

The light of laughter on a cool evening.

The light of joy in a smiling baby.

The light of faith in an everlasting.

The light of healing in the face of illness.

The light of enduring when faced with devastation.

The light of a God, when you know you didn’t get here by yourself.

The hope that the light will find you and love you and accept you anyway. Even when you don’t love yourself.

It is always there. Even when you see only darkness.

It is there in the people around you, the ones that are light.

The ones that are hope.

Because they are there.

And they see the you that, just for a moment, you cannot.

May the light find you.

And may you find where your light lies.

 

The Story of Me

I have a nasty habit. A destructive, cruel and mean streak that flays skin.

That damages the soul.

A habit that finds the weak spaces and places and, like molten lava on bare land, burns chaos into being.

I hold myself up to the blinding light of what I think I should be, must be, have to be, and am meant to be – for others.

Never for myself. Never valuing me. Who I am – above who others think I am.

I guess that the very act of acknowledging the glitch in the process is the first step to healing?

The story you have for me, is not the story I have for me.

And my story of me is what is important.

Today, I felt Reproach

Anyone who even vaguely knows me, knows that I believe in my God fiercely! Not your God, not the God of bibles or organized religion. Rather, the Being that I can sometimes see in my daily life. The Being that, when I don’t forget and drift too far, I can feel around me. To be quite brutally honest, it doesn’t even really matter if you believe in Him – He is my God, my Truth, my Hope. And my Peace.

I have been taking a bit of strain lately. It all started when I took the words of someone I considered a friend, and I allowed them a power that only I can give. Destructive and hurtful power. 

It got in, and it festered and bubbled and, by inches, I withdrew and internalized and added just a little bit more weight to the concrete core of self doubt that I wear like a mantle.

Without ever really seeing it head on, it twisted thoughts and brought on a sadness that was made up of millions of featherlight layers of doubt. No single layer will break you, or is even really noticeable. Each individual layer so light that you don’t even feel them settling their little tendrils of malaise into you. Until one morning you wake up, and you are tired. For no reason that you can think of. But tired nonetheless. The weight of millions of feathers and hundreds of tendrils, brought on by inches.

And the vicious circle begins.

I always get like this, when I give others a power they don’t deserve, and when I drift too far from my God. Every time, it sneaks up on me and I don’t even realize it. Until I do.

I have never been one of those believers that hears God. And I am still not. Mostly, I just feel Him as I would a feeling of warmth in the cold. Or a cool, soft breeze when it is hot. Or that full, contented feeling you get sometimes, when you just know that the moment you are in, is completely perfect. 

Today, as it has been lately, my mind was in a whirl of unhappiness. Of taking chance words completely out of context and elevating them to stinging nettles of discord. Of borrowing the worries of another day and of another person. Of spiraling crippling where to from here doubt.

None of it in my forebrain, none of logical really. But still there. Still powerful. Still exhausting.

Until I walked out the front door of the place I live, to do something as mundane as throw rubbish in the bin outside. There was no choir of angels. No voice in my head. No burning bush. 

There was an ache in my heart that had been there so long that I stopped noticing it, and then there wasn’t. In the space of a step, a thought popped into my head that was so clear and alien to that specific moment and bit of my reality, that it literally altered my entire state. 

Have I ever not provided for you, in your time of need?

I am not saying that my God spoke to me.

I am saying that….somehow… I had a thought that was completely unrelated to the train of thought and task I was, at that moment, focused on.

Somehow, I had a thought that was so profound that I felt the shift in my thought pattern like an actual weight lifting. 

And that somehow, that thought was powerful enough, loud enough, grounded enough in the warm, calming, cool comfort of feeling loved, that a granite slab lifted off my soul. 

And my soul sprang a leak. A wet one. Because suddenly, again, for the hundredth time, I remembered.

Not once, has He ever failed to provide. Protect. Comfort. 

Not once, in the entire history of the seriously spectacular crap I have availed myself of and to, has He ever failed me.

Everyone needs hope. Hope for something better. Hope for their life and their loves.

I don’t need you to believe in my God.

But I really, really do hope that you have a place where you find Hope. 

Because at the end off the day, we really have nothing else that stands between us and the darkness of ourselves and humanity. 

Except Hope.

The Waiting. For Ron.

I met traumatic death young. 15 to be exact.

On a rather lovely Friday 1 June 1990, I came home from babysitting the neighbours kids at around 00h15. I went into my parents room where they were watching some late night television, said my hellos and goodnight, closed their door and went to my room to prepare for bed / sleep / oblivion. It never came.

We had just moved to CT from JHB. Both of my older siblings had already moved out and moved on. My brother already married. My sister an independent woman.

The screaming started almost immediately. My mother. The worst noise I have ever heard, to this day.

It seemed to last an eternity. I will never forget that sound. Or what I saw when I opened my parents door again. My mother had managed to get my dad off the bed and onto the floor. And, in her own mad way, was desperately … oh so very desperately, trying to get my dad breathing again.

I didn’t even have half a clue what to do. So I did the only thing I could think of. I ran out to the neighbour’s house. I remember being hysterical. I remember being frantic. I don’t really remember words. Or banging on doors. Or making sense. I remember hysteria, and then the neighbour Shawn was there.

I remember screaming. And begging.

I remember Shawn trying and knowing. Deep down. I knew too. It was too catastrophic. Too fast. Too big. My dad’s heart – it just died.

So much screaming. I remember Shawn grabbing my mother and pulling. I remember my sister, Norine, suddenly being there, when she wasn’t before. I remember our house doctor, Dr. Perold arriving. The ambulance. I don’t know how all of that knew to happen. Or why it happened. Or who facilitated it all. It just was.

I remember Norine holding my hand and we got into the ambulance.

My dad was a big man. In stature and personality. I think. I don’t really remember anymore. I remember his laugh was big. It is one of the only things I do remember.

He looked like he was asleep. I hope that is how he looked. It is what I chose anyway.

One minute he was there. And then he was not.

Because his heart broke.

And the world shattered into shards that never really got put back together again.

My dad was just shy of 50.

Now. So very many years later. I have friends whose parents are starting to pass. Their experience not quite the same as mine. To be honest, I get a bit jealous of the time they had together. The relationships and shared memories that time affords people.

On the other hand – I didn’t have to watch my dad get old, or frail, or sick really. My memory of him, from the point of view of a child, is of a strong man struck down in his prime.

Death sucks. The actual act of it. Whether it is drawn out and wasting and traumatic, or quick and nasty and unexpected and traumatic. It is mean and cruel and oh so very human.

The passing on though. The moving through the veil to the God you believe in.

That is Grace. I believe that with every fiber of my utmost being.

It is a moment when your soul, that fundamental part of you that is you, is free again. Young again. Whole again. Loving and beloved.

And that is where you stay. Where you wait. In Light and Peace.

Just out of sight. Just around the corner.

Just for a moment.

Till the time is right.

My dearest Ronnage. Just, just out of sight.

Whole.

Waiting.

I will wait.

I am not quite sure why, but today I thought about death. About suddenly passing on, with no goodbyes. No final curtains. No warning.

I thought about what would be left. What is still unsaid. What will maybe never be said. I wondered if people would say good things about me? Or if it would barely register?

I thought about the things I love. And the things that love me.

The things that I carry. And the things that carry me.

And I thought I would write this. So that it is forever. It is not meant to be a eulogy. Maybe one day. But not right at this moment.

To anyone that reads this. To whoever needs this. To whoever.

Please take care of the things I love. The places and people that have been important. Love the creatures that have kept me warm. The beings that comfort and give me life.

Please care for the things I leave behind. The little things, that matter to no one but me. The shared moments that form over a lifetime.

Please be kind to yourself. In the going about of your life. I have been so hard on who I am, that sometimes I have forgotten to be who I am. Never make that mistake.

Please believe that you are stronger than you thought. No one survives this world with their perfection intact. That does not make you any less perfect.

Please believe that someone, somewhere, loves you. Here or not. Aware or not. Alive or not. Someone, something loves you. Gives you Grace. Hopes for your Grace.

Please remember to breathe. And enjoy the things that really matter. For too long, I missed the little things. The fluffy things. The hopeful things. The pure joy of the breath. Don’t let a moment pass without finding a joy in those little things. In the breath of life. The breath of a friend. The breath of hope.

I have always loved you.

If you ever doubted it, I miss you.

If you ever thought you needed it, I forgive you.

I hope you forgive me.

Please believe that I wait. We all do. When that time comes.

I will wait. For all the things that I love. And all the things that I have ever loved.

I will wait.

I saw Hope today.

Today, I saw Hope.

I have already seen Grace and Faith in Town. Both of them Gifts that could so easily have been missed and overlooked.

Lost in the busy and the noise and the life that we live. Lost in the numbness of humanity.

Today was much like any other day. I got up, fed the things I love, drove the farm roads to work.

Today, I categorically did not feel like going to gym. From the moment I woke, I fought my own head.

“It’s cold.”

“It’s too early for this today.”

“I am so tired.”

“My ankle is sore.”

“My back is sore.”

“I have a sniff, people in the office are sick, I am probably well on my way to another session of cortisone / hospital.”

“I don’t want to.”

Sometimes, the thoughts in my head win. Sometimes, I fall back into bad habits and negative ideas and a uniquely twisted reality that is all mine, finely crafted from years of being way harder than I need to be on myself.

Precision honed to be cutting, demotivating, devastating and soul crushing.

There it is.

“I don’t want to.” Because what is the point? I have been doing this for a month and a half. And I have not lost 1 kilogram. Because everything is weight to me. And weight is everything to me.

“I don’t want to.” Even though I can climb a flight of stairs faster now, than I did a month and a half ago.

Even though I love it and it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something.

Even though every step is a journey to better. To healthier. To stronger.

I don’t want to. Because today it was just hard. Hard to be positive. Hard to be kind to myself. Hard to be motivated. Hard to be me.

Every step into the office a fight to convince myself that I am worth it. It is worth it. Get up and get going.

I am not sure why today was so hard. It just was.

Even when I was sitting taking my takkies off at Redemption Fitness Centre, my head was still at war with itself.

“You know you are probably getting sick so why bother?”

“You know you will fail in the long run, like you always do, so why not just give up?”

“You know you look especially large today and all the beautiful people are going to stare at you right?”

You get the idea.

And don’t get me wrong. None of these are formulated thoughts that run through my head. These are all just dark and oppressive snippets of thought, accompanied by the overwhelming weight of sadness and desolation.

I sat in the stillness of my heart and my mind and looked into the darkness that lives so very close to the edge of my soul, and I thought about letting it engulf me again. I thought about failing again.

Instead. I stood and looked out into the lit darkness beyond the windows. I thought about my path and who I am and where I am.

Again – none of it consciously formulated into structure. Just snippets of an idea and a feeling of light. Of potential calm. Of cleansing tears.

A moment in a moment where the dark of my soul fought the light of my soul. And I found a bit of Hope.

Hope for better. Lighter. Love. Laughter. Joy. God. Peace. Family. Strength.

Hope for me. For who I am. Who I have become.

Who I will be.

Hope. Just for me.

Sometimes God lives closer to you than you think.

I saw Grace today.

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I have learnt to Mission when I am walking through Town. Head down, don’t look around, don’t look like a tourist.

The faces I pass very much a blur. Then again they are meant to be. I try my utmost to miss the long desperate stares of the homeless, the destitute, the beggars and the hopeless. This is not something I do with any kind of conscious thought. It is just the reality involved with moving around a city or town in the age and time we live.

Many of them with an out of control drug problem. Most of them with some serious mental illness issues. Too few of them completely harmless.

Today I passed a homeless soul early in the cold sunlight, wrapped in a blanket rocking back and forth.

I didn’t really register him. Or her. I don’t know. I Missioned.

Today I passed a vaguely homeless looking man, older, face lined.

Today, for some reason, I Missioned and then I stopped and turned around.

I registered the pipe, the satchel, the old but clean clothing. I realized that the older man was probably one of the many low income workers making their way to work. Or perhaps he was one of those folk that travel to Town and pass their day watching and walking before heading home.

Today, I saw something that profoundly touched me on a level that I don’t quite understand. Or perhaps I do. It reminded me of what it is to be Human.

It was the oddest thing that I have seen in so long that for a moment sound faded away into nothing and time slowed just a little.

Reaching out and in, this clearly poor but gentle gentleman laid his hand on the shoulder of the all too faceless beggar.

Said a few words.

Reached into his satchel and offered an orange.

And sat next to him.

I don’t think I have ever seen more of God than at that moment. When a stranger touched that filthy, forgotten, helpless, cold soul. When he touched the untouchable. When he reached out to someone I don’t even register on most days.

When all the compassion of one Soul reached out to another, and didn’t see filth, dirt, madness. He saw a Soul worthy of his time. His love.

Compassion, Love, Humanity, Empathy – it is all free. But so many of us find them an expense we are not willing to shoulder.

In reality, all we have in this world is the gift of human contact, sometimes in the midst of desperation.

I know I saw the gift of Grace today – in the face of a stranger.

It is perhaps the most important thing we come into this world with.

And I hope it is what I take out with me.

I think I saw God today.

Gastricly Speaking

So 2 years ago give or take a month, I had a gastric bypass.
Basically I had my stomach (internally) made smaller and a whole bunch of intestine bypassed.

A whole mess of people have said that I should have done it the ‘old fashioned way’ and a slightly smaller mass of less polite people have flat out said I took the easy way out .

And every single one of these people are thin. Maybe not supermodel thin, but thin none the less.

So here is the answer to them that they cannot seem to understand.

1. Fat runs in our family. I know that sounds like a cliché but, and it is a big but, that doesn’t make it untrue. We go back generations and on both sides of a familial line. 90% of my gene is fat. The other 10% is my red hair… 🙂

2. I did try it the ‘old fashioned way’. And it worked to a degree. But no matter how many mountains I climbed (please note, fat does not mean unfit), how many small meals I ate, how much I went to the gym, the weight only went down so far and then plateau became my best friend.

3. I got sick somewhere in all of number 2 above and got put on a whole banana boat worth of cortisone. Sjoe I was so swollen my lips split open. For those of you who don’t know – cortisone = swollen and usually = heavy duty weight gain.

4. At my biggest I was 170kg. People who didn’t understand the illness and what cortisone does to you, judged me continuously. Friends and strangers alike. I cannot begin to describe to you what weighing that much, being that sick and being judged does to a self-esteem. It is probably easier to just say there was no self-esteem.

5. I got the gastric bypass to save my life. My life. Very important and often misplaced words. My life. The one I have to live. The one I inhabit and make my own. My life.

I have lost 70kg and I want to lose another 30. However, if I don’t that is fine too. Because along the way I realized that I don’t need to be thin. I need to be happy. Free from caring what others think of me.

Alone in my space and at peace.

That is all any of us need. So the next time you feel a need to pass judgment on what you perceive to be ugly, deformed, disabled, fat – just stop a moment. And be alone in your own space, at peace. And afford that gift to others.