Month: July 2021

Words for the Hour

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          Today, my phone warned me that my storage was almost full so I set about deleting accumulated content. Then, I came to a dear friend’s messages. She was the maid of honour at my wedding almost 23 years ago. But more than that, she was someone who was always looking out for what was best for me. A gentle person, she nevertheless never shied away from telling me uncomfortable truths. She wasn’t always right; sometimes she was dead wrong. Still, the bond between us ran deep and tight.

          When I came to her messages today, I knew that I would have saved any that I wanted to keep so with one swift move, I hit Delete. Sure enough, everything went – save one:

Do not be afraid. I am your shield, your very great reward.   ~  Genesis 15: 1

          That was my dear friend’s New Year message to me this year and seeing it now, my heart was pierced. I knew God was speaking through that verse.

          I have a lot to to be anxious about. The Delta variant is wrecking havoc as far as the eye can see and I have no faith in my government to lead us through this. Last month, I also began discerning a major move in my life. While I’ve made some progress, I’m still some way from a confirmation. I’m handling my work stress so much better now – but it hasn’t made me like my job more. There are all these little hills in my life, the terrain far from smooth.

          I haven’t forgotten what the past months and years have been like. The pain and the hurts remind me to be thankful for the present gentle hours, even on days when it’s easy to forget life was so hard a short while back. And so I tighten my grip on gratitude.

          But I’ve always been honest in my writing and here, I will not pretend that I am strong and positive now. The past weeks have seen glorious, stunning sunrises and sunsets. Pinks, golds, tangerines…all the colours of joy and hope that reach out and just catch your heart each day. July has never been an easy month for us for many years now.

          But I don’t remember a July as beautiful as this one has been. Every morning for more than a week now, the angel has woken us up with a surprise in the eastern glory of the sky. All through the day, the winds sing their hymns among the trees and flowers. Sometimes, in a quick foray to my garden on a busy work day, the winds quieten momentarily as I work in the flowerbeds – only to spring forward in a sudden gust, like a little child springing a jolly surprise on his mum. And every evening without fail, someone was sure to point to the sky’s western breast where the sun painted his last words in a spill of colours we know so well yet which still startled us.

          Somewhere over the weekend, I sensed the word, Faith, being written on my heart. It was easy to skip about when the sky is painted in hope and joy, and faith was not difficult to summon then. Then, August Queen prayer came and I knew the days were about to change. On Monday, a strong wind blew for hours and sealed the sky with thick gray and white fleeces. By night, the rain poured its grief upon the land. Nourished from the beauty of recent days, we welcomed each change unafraid. Soon, however, the thick white of the clouds descended deep into my heart, and faith needed a bit more work to reach for.

Let me hear your voice, I called to heaven. Leave me not bereft.

          St. Anne heard me and gently spilled light into my heart this afternoon. Doing some writing and finding the going a bit tough, a friend came forward expectedly and shone needed light on my path. How my heart jumped in happiness! That alone sufficed and I continued working with the renewed vigour that insight often brings.

          But God was not quite done.

           In the evening, when the sky was an unyielding white, He spoke through the love of my old friend, touching the wounds I did not try to hide from Him,

Do not be afraid. I am your shield, your very great reward. 

          So, I’ve come to place His words here. To let them touch and heal and soothe any passing hearts, for even the bravest souls will meet the hour that breaks their courage.

          Here then are His words for that hour.

Shoulder To Stand On

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          Almost 2 weeks back, I felt a vague unease pass by my heart. There was so much to do then that I could not pay it much attention. Nevertheless, it hovered close by, biding its time to come forward. Later, in town, waiting in the car for one my children to run an errand, I sensed a quietening within me. Then, I felt a distinct press on my heart: someone was in need.

          Last week, there was another unexpected sign – someone in need – in New Zealand. My godparents and their families reside there. So did the family of another aunt who had passed away recently. Was it any of my loved ones? Or New Zealand in general, I wondered. I prayed. But again, work interfered.

          Still, even as I worked, one quote kept coming up,

Standing on the shoulders of giants

          Although I knew what the quote meant, I was certain that it was pointing to something else.

The giant souls we depend on to get us through our trials.

Something to do with those we rely on so much, the strong ones among us. Those who hold us up when we would fall, those who will us on when we lose hope. Who wipe our tears when the pain scales the highest walls, holding us close to their own worn and broken hearts, holding us tighter through prayers.

It is the caregiver, whispered my heart. The soul in need was a caregiver.

          On Friday, I received some good news concerning work that brought immense relief –  something big that had taken up quite a chunk of my time and attention had been cancelled. I had been locked too much within myself over that. Freed now, I flew to open my heart more to others.

          Then, a text came in and it became clear who needed me. My uncle in New Zealand. The family has faced so much over the past decades. My uncle patiently, with great love and faith, has led the way forward each time. But the recent trials they have endured have been one too many. Serious illnesses, an ill grandbaby, a business all but wiped out by Covid.

The heart of a caregiver is the biggest heart of all.

          Yet, it is that heart we often forget and that which we take for granted. Who holds a caregiver’s hand when life is hard for him, the difficult journey far from its end? Who loves her back to strength when her heart is broken and her vigour gone? To our eyes, the caregivers among us are the epitome of joy and endless grace in suffering, a tower of strength. Yet, we see only what we want to see. Hidden from ready sight is the price of a caregiver’s love. What is the hidden cost of loving and giving so much? What pains do they bear in silence so that they can be there for us? What do they keep away from us so that we can heal, so that we find our footing once again after a fall?

          The answers to each one of those questions will be varied, I know. I know something about my Uncle’s walk of fire, but every caregiver’s story, if he cares to share it, will speak to a common refrain of sacrifice, suffering and loss, endured in sweetness and silence, so that others may live on in hope and dignity.

          The caregiver cares for someone. But someone else must look out for the caregiver too. So, I go knocking on doors, to all the saints I’ve called upon, learned to trust and come to love over the years.

Help him

help him

help him

I call at each stop.

          When generous souls spare little thought for themselves, we must, for their sakes, for even a giant needs a shoulder to stand on.