Two Jamaican Icons and A Lifetime of Service


In 2 weeks, life as we know it, for just under fifty years – or 2 Generations –  in Jamaica, will change forever. Two Jamaicans, one in the political sphere and the other a radio personality, will ‘almost’ close out their innings in the public arena … and they will leave a gap that can never be filled – at least, not in our lifetime.

Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller, or simply, “Porsha“, will step down as President of the People’s National Party (PNP) and simultaneously Leader of the Opposition, according to reports, on April 2, 2017. Although she will remain as Member of Parliament for the South Western St. Andrew Constituency for the time being, in a Parliament that is almost evenly divided between the PNP and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), the move ostensibly marks the end of a long and colourful career in the field of Jamaican politics.

Portia has spanned the gamut of the political sphere – rising from Councillor to becoming the first female head of a political party and the first female Prime Minister of Jamaica. Those are 2 simple things that no one else can ever do again in Jamaica, because it has already been done – by Porsha! She came from the masses in a rural community in St. Catherine, and – for the people – she represented the potential and possibility to rise above our current or past circumstances and to become whatever we desire. For the women, she blazed a trail which represented the “strength of a woman” and shattered the ‘glass-ceiling’ that proverbially kept women just that inch  below the top. As a leader … don’t test! Twice the best came up against her for the leadership of the party and twice the delegates rejected them.

For the better part of 43 years (save for a small stint when the PNP did not contest the General Elections), Portia has represented the people both in the House of Parliament and in our hearts. She walked among us and with us and – yes – she hugged and kissed us. She associated with the proverbial Kings and Queens, and leaders of great nations – but she never lost the common touch. Aye, she even spoke our language, even on occasions when some of us would have preferred that she spoke the “Queen’s English”. Yes, Porsha was brought to leadership by the people, she was for the people, and she was of the people!

Indeed, her rise to power was on the backs of and with the love of the people. And, if one would fault her, it would be that she lost touch (somewhat) with the people in her last stint as Prime Minister. Mind you, this is not a political critique of her performance as a politician. There will be ample time for that, as the Historians will have their day. But, when a political leader, who is accessible to the people and listens to the people, allows her handlers to form a barrier between her and them and thereby becomes inaccessible to the people … then there will be hell to pay … and she paid it.

For my part, as with Manley and Patterson, I would have preferred that she had demitted office on a high, both as Prime Minister and President of the PNP … but many factors thwarted that and it is what it is.

Notwithstanding, and despite what the naysayers and her detractors would say, Porsha has served her people and Jamaica long and well. She has remained relevant and constant for the last forty plus years and at least 2 generations have been impacted by the fact that she lived and offered herself to serve. Hate, like or love her … one thing is certain, you could not ignore her and her legacy will live on long after she has exited this life, because she has ascended to heights hitherto unknown and blazed a trail for others to follow.

Alan “Teddy” Magnus will probably be appalled that I have linked my tribute to him to that of Portia. From what I have heard and read, he had no inclinations towards politics, nor would he want any unnecessary association with that career. But, given his acquired diplomacy, he would perhaps say “I am too small to be associated with such a great lady” and we would be forgiven for thinking that he was talking about his physical stature – enough said.

Be that as it may, Alan – better known in recent times as the “Mad Nut” (although I prefer to remember him as the “Good Morning Man”) – will hand over the microphone on March 31, 2017. The move (barring 1 or 2 episodes) will mark the end of a career spanning 46 years. Yes – let that sink in!

I am 50+, so it’s safe to say that I have been listening to Alan for – all my life. It was years later that I would see his picture (because I only met him recently and briefly as I shook his hand on the steps of the Towers in New Kingston where he was doing an outside broadcast for VMBS – don’t worry, he won’t remember) and somehow that inimitable voice did not match the small slender frame of the man. But, such is the man – seemingly larger than life – ever present and pervading.

My contemporary country men and women will tell you that it’s not a “good morning” if Alan is not on RJR. As you rise out of bed, you would turn on the radio and you wouldn’t need to search – because it was already “stuck on RJR94 FM”. First, your ears would listen for that voice – that confirms the station. And then you would listen for the feature – Calling Farmers, Starscope, In the Guest Room … – that tells you the time (whether you’re early, running late or on time). And then he would stay with you through your morning chores. Many a mornings I would reluctantly turn off the radio to head through the door. This took me through Primary School, High School, University and work. And – in recent years after I acquired my car – I simply switched from the house radio to the car radio, as he travelled with me to work.

Alan has been like a member of the extended family, he comes into our homes every morning (Monday to Friday) and sometimes on a Saturday. He makes us laugh and feel good about ourselves. And – in recent times in the commentary box – he makes us think hard about some of the issues that are facing our country. I confess that I don’t always agree with his views, but I always look forward to hearing him.

How does one energize himself to get up at 3 or 3:30 every morning of the weekday for 46 years to go before a microphone – happy, sad, ailing or drunk (ooops – did I say that) – to then energize a nation to get up, dress up and show up and play a part in building our nation? It cannot be easy – yet, Alan has done it!

In a recent interview/comment, when asked – why now? He said, “I can’t make it to 50 … I just can’t! So, even if I stay on for another year or two … it will just be additional time which brings me closer to the 50 that I can’t reach. So I might as well go at 46.”

I found his statement to be poignant, because with all the charm and humour and with all that he has given to and done for us, it cannot have been easy to develop that level of work ethic and discipline and determination to show up every morning. I dare say it was not a good morning when we missed his voice on the radio – and there weren’t very many of those.

I hope our nation and especially our young people would take a leaf out of Alan’s book and find something that you love and are good at, pour yourself into it, be dedicated and constant and reap the rewards of your good, honest labour in due season.

So, 2 innings comes virtually to an end. The players had different styles and different roles, albeit that they both played at round about the same time and for the same cause. I dare say that they are even equally loved by the people and that their names will be echoed in the annals of our history. A politician and a disc jock … providing a lifetime of service to a grateful nation … who could ask for more?

To Portia and Alan, I thank you both … Jamaica thanks you!

Walk good, ’til next time …

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“Something Stinks in ‘Denmark’…”


Yes, I know that the title isn’t original, but hopefully it will appear quite apt in a moment; because there are a few things that upset me this past week and I need to talk myself through them. Besides, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with “public transportation, sluts and taxes”…

I had the decided misfortune of having to take what passes as public transportation in Jamaica this past week. Never-mind the condescending tone, as I wrote it I realized that I should give God thanks for the fact that I don’t normally have to ‘ride the bus’ because I am privileged enough to have a car. Mind you, an old car, but a car nonetheless. But, Betsy was down (what’s new?) … alternator issues this time. But, this is not about my car …

The first day I caught a Coaster in Half-Way-Tree, heading to Cross Roads. “Caught” is a literal term, because the bus was in slow roll, as the Conductor repeatedly shouted “readi one, readi one”; picking up passengers while the bus was actually moving – although it was at the bus stop. Yet, if that was bad, imagine being plied with the loud, continuous banter of (what passed for) music throughout the short journey. Yes – dance hall … and I’m not so old that I couldn’t recognize the voice of the popular, currently incarcerated artiste – but, OH MY GOD – the Lyrics. What he wanted to do to which woman and how she moved to … ok – you get the picture! But, as I processed the “noise”, I watched the teenagers (especially the girls – in their school uniforms) moving to the rhythm – completely engrossed – and I became quite sad. The impact and influence of the music was unmistakable and I had no doubt that there was nothing positive or constructive about it. Packed as we were – 5 per row – and with the noise nuisance … I missed my stop because the driver just couldn’t hear me shouting … “one stop driver, one stop”.

The second day I took a route taxi (from Valentine Gardens to Half-Way-Tree) … pleasant fellow the driver was, as he spoke of his love for his grandmother and old people in general. I was beginning to relax a bit, with the thought of being comfortable in a public passenger vehicle when he finally reached closer to our destination and simultaneously stand still traffic. Oddly enough, he took up his phone and – on reflective hindsight apparently in a WhatsApp group – kept on saying something like “somebody gi mi a let through, 5 minutes”. He got no response, but proceeded to take the right hand side of the road all the way from Tarrant Drive up to the square. OH MY GOD … and then he said to the group … “mi nuh get nuh response suh mi come up blind”. Praise God that we didn’t end up head-on in oncoming traffic from the opposite direction. Let that sink in…

The third morning I opted for the JUTC bus, surely this must be better — I mean air conditioned, clean and – although slower than the other options – decidedly safer, right? Oh, and this was International Women’s Day. An elderly gentle lady came to sit beside me at the back of the bus and promptly took out her book to read. I couldn’t understand why – though so late in the morning – the bus was filled with students, but that’s for another discussion. The final straw was the brazened actions of a young man sitting in the seat ahead of us. On his phone, bucked to the limit was the lyrics from – yes – the same popular, currently incarcerated artiste. The words made me cringe and I could literally see the face of the old lady grow pale. Imagine it – he had his earpiece in his hand … yet he felt it necessary to subject the rest of us to that litany of garbage. No respect, no sense of shame, nuh likkle decency or broughtupcy … And I cried inside myself — I cried for him and his ignorance and the state of our nation and the values of our young people. Oh, and it didn’t help that there was that crawling ‘teenager’ on the side of the bus … eeeewww

Is this what passes as public transportation in Jamaica? Why should this type of behaviour and music be allowed in the public space? Cuss all you want, but – as for me – his music should be banned! And this coming from a proponent of free speech. Afterall, with every right comes a responsibility.

And what about those laws which prescribe that all doors should be closed on public passenger vehicles; no one should be hanging out on the steps, music (much less loud music) was banned – they even tried to ban the preachers of God’s Word … or was it a Twilight Zone experience and I just happened to have fallen into another backward time zone?

Well, old Betsy is back up and running, Praise God … and I don’t look forward to a recurring experience anytime soon.

On another note, imagine getting a friend request from a young lady on social media … you accept … and then you receive this:

How are u. Me like u can we what’s app. Can u buy me a 200 Digicel credit to txt u on what’s app

I would have laughed, excepting that this was not an isolated episode. I have been propositioned in so many ways by young women on social media that now it’s not just annoying, but I believe it’s a social malady. The one that took the cake was a young lady randomly calling my number, admitted that she didn’t know me, but since we were already taking – would I be interested in some sex for a change. The words in italics are mine because I refuse to write hers. Needless to say that I have not answered the request above and promptly hung up my phone on the latter. However, sad as it may be, could the consequences of these random actions account for some of the horrifying, traumatic and deadly experiences of our young women? Yes, I know times are hard and they have needs, but there has to be a better way.

And finally, the tax axe fell last evening … and, with it, the promise of 1.5.  Politics aside, because there will always be a Government in place, and even at the risk of being mealy-mouthed, since I am among those who will benefit – it hurts me to think of the many Jamaicans who will not benefit, but will still have to absorb the consequential rising prices in goods and services. Yes, there were mitigating benefits announced, but not much to buffer the oncoming prices at the pumps, the supermarket and – yes – in public transportation. And what about those sin taxes; we soon can’t even drown our sorrows away.

Suppn nuh smell rite inna ‘Denmark’!

Walk good, ’til next time …

 

 

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Gender Sexuality and the Male Psyche


Ok, work with me here.

Now, if you know me, you know I’m an old school gyallish [Jamaican parlance]. If you don’t know me (personally) then it doesn’t really matter – suffice to say that I rock my pink shirt because I have no issues with my ‘straight’ sexuality. That having been said – here goes…

I walk in the foyer and see this tall, brown, well-built (not muscular), fairly good looking man waiting on the elevator. He is dressed in black! I mean black shined shoes, black socks, black pants (not shine from frequent ironing), black shirt – opened at the neck, without a tie – with grey piping on the collar, and a black jacket, with fine grey pinstripes .

I am literally impressed by his attire [man I would rock that suit] … never mind that he sounded decidedly uncouth when he opened his mouth! And I never got close enough to be able to tell you how he smelled…

Anyways, we traveled up 10 floors together – for 4 of which we were alone in the elevator. And I struggled with the inexplicable need to compliment this man on his attire.

I wholly failed … I never opened my mouth.

What if he was gay … What if (God forbid) he thought I was gay?

He exited on the 10th floor and I continued to the 11th. But I haven’t been able to shake some harrowing questions…

Has society and our/my insecurities robbed us/me of my humanity to be able to compliment someone – yes a man and a stranger – on his attire? What if I was there to help this man along the way with a mere kind word as a gesture? What if my words would have made a difference with some horrible decision that he was about to make?

But I failed to allow myself to be used (of God) because I was … afraid … afraid to be labeled … to be seen as queer … to simply … be human…

Is this what we have become as a society?

Or is it a male vs female thing? Females seem to have no challenge complementing each other (even when they’re being disingenuous). Or is it a manifestation of sheer homophobia?

Whatever it is … I want back my sheer humanity!

If you’ve read this far … Tell me what you think?

Walk good, ’til next time …

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Death and a ‘hill of beans’ …


cross-on-a-hill

“WE still enjoy the longest friendship in MY life … distance and time doesn’t matter — I still hold you dear and treasure our memories!”

I wrote those words at 10:01 a.m. on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 in what had become an infrequent, but routine Skype conversation with my friend of some twenty-five years.

Yes, let that sink in … twenty-five years is a longggg time!

She had just finished chastising me (as she often did for anything that came to her mind) for being ‘missing in action’. Her nonchalant reply [although being anything BUT nonchalant] was “U should give up on some of those memories”.

We chatted a bit longer, while she shared some of her current medical challenges with her longstanding battle with cancer. And then, as she often did – she confided in me about a relational problem with a third (former mutual) party. And, as I often did, I coaxed her into releasing whatever anger or disappointment she was feeling towards the individual. Truth be told, I suspect that was the real purpose of the conversation. Because, you see, in the twenty-five years of our friendship – neither of us was ever ‘really’ missing in action from anything in the other’s life.

What’s so important about a routine conversation? Well, as it turns out … it was to be the last conversation with my friend…

Less than 2 months later her husband posted yesterday via social media:

“I thank the Almighty God Jehovah, for the life of my darling wife …, who slept away in death at 2:48AM on Friday January 30, 2015. A true warrior in the fight against cancer and an inspiration to many. A great mother and real friend. A faithful servant of Jehovah. Our lives will never be the same. Even when expected, the finality brings a new reality. Many many memories to cherish…”

I am indebted to her sister who had called earlier to share the news and, in so doing, saved me from ‘bucking up’ on the post.

Since then, I’ve spent much time in quiet reflection … and [if I’m to be entirely honest] in denial.

Her husband and son, and other family members are grieving her loss in their own and different ways. But, it is redundant to say that – I miss my friend…

A while back I came across the thought, “have you ever stopped to think how much your life has changed or could have been different, simply because you met one person?” Well, that is entirely my friend.

There is nothing that I’ve done or acquired in the last twenty-five years that she didn’t have some sort of an input in and the ripple effects continue… even to my relationship with my current partner.

And there was little in her life that she didn’t share with me … if I had any notions of being a Counselor, she certainly put them to the test … but I always had time for her.

She was my greatest critique and my greatest supporter all in one … she believed in me even when I didn’t and she saw the outcome long before I caught a glimpse of the possibility. She taught me how to ‘get over myself’ — she was down to earth and human and she did her darndest to get me to be one too…

In the last few weeks (including today) I’ve expressed condolences to several friends and acquaintances on the passing of their loved ones. One would perhaps think that death then is routine or common place – especially since it is no respecter of persons … until it comes close to home.

My mind momentarily flashes to the Classic movie Casablanca … with so many persons dying and marrying and partying and divorcing and living —  ‘it doesn’t take much to see that [the death of my long time friend] doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.’ But she was MY friend and I’ll miss her and forever remember her.

My tribute to her – if I had to write one – is simply that she was my “real” friend and THAT (for me) was and means EVERYTHING!

I pray that God will grant enough Grace to her husband, son, mother, sisters and brothers for them to endure this season.

Here’s looking at you Pam [my “real” friend] …

Walk good, ’til next time …

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Choose or Lose | 365 to One


2015

God’s Grace

I pulled the curtain and stepped out of the cold shower on to the tile. My leg (oily from the lotion applied earlier in the day) slipped and I was heading – face first – [Oh God] into the tiled face basin sink. BUT for the Grace of God, I somehow steadied myself and avoided the impact or other injury. My phone showed 12:06 a.m. — what a way to welcome the New Year! What a way for God to remind me that He had not only allowed me to enter the new year … but He was also STILL with me!

It was a good opportunity as well to spend some time with Him. I don’t know about you, but God has a way of showing up when I’m most vulnerable — naked in the bathroom! I thanked Him for His mercies (visions of the possible catastrophe from the slip and fall were uppermost in my mind); and I thanked Him for favour and His Grace — those unmerited gifts that He provides daily [some of which I neither recognize nor remember to thank Him for]. I praised Him for His goodness and thanked Him for bringing me into another year; for the love of my family and partner (and her family); for my children; for employment and for life! And, not being one for New Year’s resolutions, I simply prayed that this year – 2015 – I would have a closer walk with Him and regain lost ground in our relationship.

I want to think that, if He can save me 6 minutes into the new year … I figure He can take me all the way through it – and beyond!

Moving Time Stands Still

Just days before, my partner’s family had their – postponed – Christmas (Sunday) dinner. Officially, we’ve been together about 6 years. As the family members arrived, I was amazed at how different the ‘children’ looked. Little ones that I had met some 6 or 7 years ago, were now young teenagers and the pièce de résistance was that … one that I had dubbed “Little Miss” was now wearing a training bra!

Ouch – where did the time go? How did they get so big? And – as far as I knew – I hadn’t changed … I was still the same YOUNG, handsome fellow I was back then. Ok, Ok — I was still the same “young” fellow … [Will anyone allow me to get away with – at least – that?]

The obvious dichotomy aside; I marvelled too at the fact that – just a couple weeks ago (well – maybe a month – it can’t be longer than that) I had started to draft a Blog entry to welcome 2014. I never did finish it – always putting it off – and now … it’s 2015.

The two scenarios remind us – well, at least me – that the time will pass anyways! Whether we put it to good use or not; whether we pursue our goals/dreams or not; and whether we recognize that it’s passing or not – the time … will pass!

The Challenge

Aye, but what is the link between God’s Grace and passing time? Just this … we’re each allotted a set amount of time on this earth … after which “it is appointed unto men once to die” [Hebrews 9:27 KJV]. It seems to me that (1) God’s Grace keeps us until that appointed time, and (2) We have a choice regarding HOW we will use the time in between. We can waste it on bigotry and selfishness; or we can use it to leave a legacy that will see a world that is better off because we had lived.

And there’s no better time than the dawning of a new year to make such a choice … With 365 days – one person at a time – we CAN make a difference!

The Power of the Mind

By the way, a friend recently scoffed at the expressed grand new year’s resolutions of so many on a popular social media site. She queried the difference between 11:59 p.m. on December 31st and 12:01 a.m. on January 1st. I glibly commented that “the mind is a powerful thing”. But the statement was/is profound! Through different spheres the concept recurs and explodes! The Bible, in Romans 12:2 [KJV], says: “be … transformed by the renewing of your mind“. The 16th and famous United States President, Abraham Lincoln, is quoted as saying: “Your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.” And the South African anti-apartheid activist, Steve Biko, in the movie Cry Freedom expounded: “Once you change the way people think, things will never be the same!”

In short – what you think and act on … matters!

Happy 2015

As we usher in the new year, I want to repeat my oft-quoted annual phrase to friends and family during this period:

“I wish you sunshine on your path and storms to season your journey. I wish you peace – in the world in which you live and in the smallest corner of the heart where truth is kept… More I cannot wish you, except perhaps love – to make all the rest worthwhile.” Robert A. Ward

I hope you have an amazing year and … Walk good, ’til next time …

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Transcending Christmas


Christmas-Candles-HD-Wallpapers-4

He laid on his back and twisted one way, then the next … struggling to find a seemingly comfortable position amidst the dirt and gravel that was part of his ‘work station’. A scrawny looking fellow, with gray hairs at his temples, and badly in need of a dental bridge. He knew I was coming to see him, but expressed displeasure that I had arrived while he was in the middle of having his ‘drink’ at the nearby bar. Yet, despite his unassuming appearance, his skills as a mechanic/electrician [whether drunk or sober] were legendary and I had eagerly sought him out to fix a problem on my old car.

As the evening waned and the natural light faded, he struggled some more to connect the wires beneath the dashboard, as he tried to fix the problem with my brake lights. Having little success, he asked to borrow the flashlight on my phone … and then he said the most amazing thing I’ve heard in a long while: “Oh what a difference a light can make!”

My Spirit leaped within me, because my thoughts went beyond just his literal ability to now SEE what he was doing and effectively complete his task … to the spiritual realm. Isn’t this what Jesus represents as He came into the world? (John 8:12)

Unknown to him, I moved away slightly and started praising God in my spirit and marvelled at how the Lord can touch us and remind us of His relevance and presence, even in the simplest things.

It was a poignant reminder too, and timely, even as we celebrate His birth … His entrance into the earthly world — so that He may be our Light and that we may have Life ‘more abundantly’.

I confess that, as I grow older, I have mixed feelings about Christmas. Yes, arguably, it is still my favourite time of the year … but not for the same reasons as before. I have long ceased to put up the Christmas tree and lights at my home. And, since I live alone, I hardly do the cooking and the baking that (yes) I once did. But, I still look forward to greeting people that I hardly know … [met a charming old man under his “whites” yesterday, who shook my hand and blessed me with his greetings – all because he remembers that that’s what he was taught to do as a child *smile*] … and I think more of my family and loved ones.

This can be a stressful period for some too. Those with little money to buy the presents they wish to give; the ones who have lost loved ones who were a special part of this time for them; those who are alone – though possessing all that they materially want or need; and those – maybe like me – who reminisce on time past when Christmas was more about the smiles and the greetings and the love that we shared as a family, community, and as a country.

I think perhaps, the Grinch was right when he “puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then [he] thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas … doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps … means a little bit more!”

And that’s my challenge to you today! As you go through the merriments … sharing time, food and love with family and friends. Perhaps you could spare a moment, a thought, a gesture for those less fortunate. Wave a greeting to your neighbour … yes, that same one you haven’t spoken to in a while because of some silly misunderstanding – the details of which you can’t even remember. Call a family member that you haven’t spoken to in a while. Take a meal to that elderly man or woman whose children didn’t bother to stop by for Christmas. There are so many little things that you can do that won’t cost you much … except your time and a heart that cares.

And when you’re finished, remember that Christ is the reason for this season. Yes, the debate continues on whether this was the actual time of His birth … but the essence of the season is that HE CAME! He came to bring light to a dark world; to give hope to the hopeless; and to bring Salvation to all who seek it.

Will you help to share and spread His light today?

Merry Christmas to you and yours and may you have a blessed and prosperous 2015.

Walk good, ’til next time …

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There WE go; but for Grace


griefI stumbled out of bed as the sound of the alarm pierced the early Saturday morning silence. It was going to be a long day, with lots to do – but first, I needed coffee.

I already knew there was none in the apartment, so I headed to the house shop – 2 gates down.

She sat on the makeshift bench that encircled the tree just outside the shop and seemed far away in her thoughts. In her mid-fifties, by my estimation – though well or appropriately dressed – she seemed to have the world on her shoulders.

Honestly, at that time and without my morning fix, I was NOT in the mood to be sociable. But, as I almost robotically maneuvered my way, my Spirit – for some inexplicable reason – pushed me to reach out to her. “Morning,” I said, as I tried hard to muster a smile. From far away, mechanically she answered, “morning”.

My imposition was short-lived as the shopkeeper, who had apparently gone to empty garbage, stopped and smiled at her and said, “ah how yuh so quiet”. I didn’t hear her words; but I noted his echo of them: “ohhh, ah tideh yuh ah bury yuh madda?”

He chit chatted with her for a bit, noting the rising levels of crime within the community and lamenting that the perpetrators were mostly youngsters with no regard for life.

We left her sitting there as I followed him into the shop area to get my coffee. Being the ‘village lawyer’ [every little community has one] he looked around furtively, lowered his voice and whispered to me, “ah fi har 9 year old daughter heng harself down the road last week”. My heartbeat quickened and it was then that my mind comprehended what my Spirit had discerned.

I asked him if they knew why? Did she leave a note? Was it because of her grandmother’s death? I guess I felt I had the right to ask him all those questions because, after all, he was the village lawyer! But he had no answers or additional information. All we both knew was that she was carrying the heavy “load” of the deaths of her mother and daughter — burying the mother that day, and making plans for the daughter for the near future.

It is the natural order for children to bury their parents! But, even so, I can imagine and remember the intense grief associated with burying a father or a mother. And, in a perfect world, no parent would ever be called upon to bury their child.  But, this is not a perfect world, and natural and unnatural things occur every day. Today, for instance, this woman would be called upon to bear the “load” of both.

As I walked back to the front, she rose to hail a passing route taxi. For some reason, she looked in my direction and our eyes met and locked for what seemed like an eternity. I smiled at her – a smile that seemed as if it came from the depths of my soul, conveying so much more than words could ever say in a lifetime – and said, “ok”.

She paused – just for a moment – and then (to my surprise) she smiled back at me – a smile that crinkled the corners of her eyes – and said, “ah rite” as she quickly disappeared in the now waiting taxi.

I can’t tell you exactly what happened in that moment. But I can tell you what I believe happened. Have you ever been hugged by someone – just when you needed it? Well, that was it! I believe that God used that moment to send His reassuring love into the heart and mind of that woman through a simple, but caring smile. I believe that that smile (not MY smile) was enough to take her to the next point on her journey.

As I got back in and while the water boiled, I spent some time in prayer. Thanking God for (still) being able to use me and asking Him to provide sufficient strength for that woman to endure.

And then it got me thinking … we’re all going through something! Some of us just handle our challenges better than others. But our journeys are made that much harder because often times no one seems to care. No one understands. And worse, no one wants to understand. We have all been to that point of “no-where” at some point in our lives – exactly where that woman was Saturday morning. Indeed, we could be where she was now – but for the Grace of God…

I challenge you today: allow God to use you and be kinder than you have to be to the next person you meet – because a gentler world begins with you and me.

Walk good, ’til next time …

 

 

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