Little Moments pt. 4

Walking to work, I waved to a mother and daughter sharing breakfast on their front porch.
“Hello,” said the mother.
“Hi,” I replied back. Smiling at her little girl, I said, “Hello!” The girl was silent.
“Say hello,” her mother prompted. The shy little girl shook her head and returned to her toast. Smiling, I waved away the apologetic glance the mother sent my way and continued walking.
Just as I cleared the hedge along their yard, just as they passed out of my sight, I heard a timid but unmistakable, “Hello” weaving it’s way through the hedge branches. As I walked down the block, the hellos multiplied and grew in confidence, until, reaching the stop sign at the end of the block, I stopped and listened to the young girl saying hello to the whole neighborhood and refusing to stop until someone said hello back.

Little Moments pt. 3

 I asked Maqhawe if he was a girl. Used to responding to such questions from teachers at school, he replied,

“No teacher, I’m not girl.”

“Are you a…boy?”

“No teacher, I’m not boy.”

“Not a girl, not a boy. What are you?”

“Teacher,” he said, “I’m lion! Rawr!!”

A Day in the Life

[6:30ish]
Wake up to the sounds of the boys running around the house getting ready for school. Mazwi will sneak in some time with his cartoons if he can, so there’s usually the typical cartoon soundtrack for a few minutes, followed by a harried Mama asking him to turn it off.

The view out of my bedroom window

My bedroom with my wall of mail

Little brother, Mazwi, in his school uniform

Little brothers, Alwande and Maqhawe, dressed to the T’s and ready for school.

[7-8]
Make and eat breakfast in the ever busy kitchen. Although taken on a weekend, this picture is pretty indicative of the traffic our kitchen usually sees.

Our Kitchen

[9ish]
Head out the door to work. If the boys are still around, which is rare, I usually leave to screams of “Bye-bye Lachelle!”.

Make my way to work, walking through our gorgeous neighborhood.

Walking down my road

Just outside of my work, Child Welfare

[9:20]
At work, I keep busy helping Mary, our donations coordinator, with sorting food, clothing, toys, pretty much any and all donations that come through our door. Or helping Jill, our secretary extraordinare, with general office things – making copies, sending faxes, laminating, et cetera.

[10:00]
Tea time. One of my favorite times of day.

Tea time with supervisor and good friend, Carol. (Photo credit: Tessa Leiseth)

Tea time with supervisor and good friend, Carol. (Photo credit: Tessa Leiseth)

[10:45]
On most Mondays and Tuesdays, I make my way up the hill to Vryheid Hospital, where I play with the kids in the Pediatric Ward for a short time.

Outside Vryheid Hospital

Unfortunately, I’m unable to take pictures of the kids, since their parents aren’t usually around to give me permission, but we have a great time coloring and giggling in our own little room.

Our play room

[12ish]
Head to my good friend, Sibusiso’s, office. A psychologist in town, Sibu has hours at the hospital on Mondays and Tuesdays and our rides together back down the hill are an awesome time to catch up. He usually takes me down to his office and I walk back to work from there, after taking a short break to check in on his sister and a another of my good friends, Thembi.

View down one of the main roads in town

My good friends Thembi and Sibu, the day I arrived in Vryheid (seems like a lifetime ago!)

[12:30-4]
Hang out at Welfare, doing odd jobs, answering phones, helping out when and where I can.

[4:30]
“Knock off” and catch a ride home with good friends, Jill, our amazing secretary, and her husband, Mark. We either head straight home or stop at the local grocery store, Pick and Pay, to grab the days groceries.

The rest of the day is as unstructured as they come. Sometimes it’s spent chasing soccer balls with my brothers. Sometimes it’s spent watching TV with my older siblings. Sometimes it’s spent in my bedroom, reading, journaling, or simply reveling in the hard won solitude not usually found in a house with three boys younger than six. Sometimes it’s spent chatting with Mama and Thola in the kitchen. But everyday, it seems, there’s sunshine and someone around to talk to. Evenings are my favorite time of day, when everybody comes back home from work and school and we get the chance to catch up on each other’s days and spend time in amazing fellowship. Sometimes that’s nothing more than watching a show together or sitting and listening to the radio in the kitchen, but it’s the fellowship of a family that deeply cares for each other and that’s about the best kind there is.

My Art

For as long as I can remember,

I’ve wanted to be an artist.

But nothing set that deep set part of me alight

Nothing fanned the flame,

Only fed frustrations in beginner attempts.

All failed efforts leading to a realization

Of a different artistic strength.

I cannot draw.

So I sketch with words.

Rhythm my paints,

Word choice my hues.

I outline with nouns

Shade with adjectives

And sculpt fine details with prepositions.

Syntax my charcoal

I illustrate the scene before me.

Like clay spinning beneath my fingers

Written word flows from my hands.

Finding that sweet spot at perfect center,

My fingers dive in,

Moulding and shaping, confident with purpose,

Until my foot releases the pedal,

Until my charcoal lifts from the final stroke,

Until my brush dries,

And I step back

To drink in the wholeness

Of my completed work.

And as I consume my final piece,

I know in that deep set part of me,

Set ablaze with a passion for written art,

That

I

Am

An artist.

No End Scene

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” – John 14: 18-20 (NRSV)

While visiting fellow YAGM Elle Janss in the north-east province of Limpopo, I was blessed enough to tag along to a Young Adult’s Prayer meeting. As we listened to the message given by Elle’s host mom, Musi, I felt a little…strange.

The reading for the day was a passage from Mark 6 in which Jesus returns to Nazareth and is met with such intense unbelief in his home community that it’s worth Mark’s time to write it down, one of two Gospel writers to do so (Luke 4). It’s a small enough event with no large incidents of note, really. So why it left me feeling so unsettled is, at the least, confusing and at most is down right illogical.

Until we factor in that this was the Wednesday directly following Easter Sunday.

Just three days prior, we had celebrated the rising and ascension of Jesus. He died, God’s incomprehensible sacrifice was paid, and we all awoke to new life Easter morning. Somewhere in all of that, Jesus left the tomb, appeared to his disciples, and then ascended to heaven.

Crucified.

Risen.

Appeared.

Ascended.

End scene, roll credits.

And then Mark 6. Jesus is now living, breathing, and preaching? But he ascended, right? He left, right? He peaced out, said adios to the disciples, and is now lounging at the right hand of God, with, I hope, a stiff drink and his feet up after a grueling couple of days. Isn’t he?

The answer to my unsettledness came a few weeks later. Watching the gospel channel with Baba, a common occurrence in our house, a preacher came on that didn’t seem to be entirely genuine. Baba scoffed and said, “We want real passion. Real, not pretend. That is where Jesus is.”

Jesus’ life wasn’t a movie, wasn’t a novel you just can’t put down. There was no ending. To his life on earth as a human being, maybe, technically, yes, there was an end to that, but he didn’t just leave. He didn’t pack his bags, throw up a pair of deuces, and leave. There was no ending. He continues to live within the world, in every sunrise, in every child’s smile, in every hug from an old friend. Every time a hand is reached out to someone in need, Jesus is there. Every time a shoulder is offered to cry on, Jesus is there. Every time voices rise up against injustice, greed, violence, discrimination, Jesus is there. He comes when called with real passion, comes to comfort and heal. And that is the Jesus we celebrate on Easter morning, that is the Jesus we praise every Sunday, the Jesus we pray to, the Jesus who lives on in the world. He’s not always obvious, not always noticeable, but he’s around. He never really left.

Writing

For me and for many YAGM, our year has been about discovering many new things, both those easily found in our new homes, and those less easily discovered as they lay deep within ourselves. One such discovery of my own has been a love of writing and the spiritual rejuvenation it offers.

Writing unmakes and creates me.

If forced to define, it is spiritual,
Fingers flying across keyboards or bound pages
As a spirit not entirely my own works through me
Spilling words and thoughts and images
Into works I don’t feel I can completely own as mine.

Before the first letter,
That exhilarating beginning,
I feel new,
Inspiration fanned into a flame roars through me
I cannot sit still
My hands must move
And I am lost in the trance of creation
As my reality is taken over by
Something wholly other than and yet entirely me.

Words fly from me,
Their genesis a place deep within my soul
That even I have rarely explored.
They come, uncalled, gliding to the surface,
Demanding to be heard
And I do nothing more
Than heed the call.
Awash on a wave I cannot understand
I must simply ride
Until breaking upon the sand,
I raise my eyes
And look upon a changed world.

After that last period,
Final sentence,
I feel emptied, drained, hollowed out, used,
As I feel the spirit, the inspiration,
Settle down into embers
Awaiting the next stoking
But never completely extinguished.
I lay there, spent, unsure of what has happened
But knowing that I am changed.
And in that change, in the consumed hollowness,
I find a spark.

Little at first,
but it becomes
the next fire.

To My Children

The following poem/reflections stem from ongoing conversations between myself and many of the 2013-2014 South Africa YAGM crew, conversations about empowerment, self-identity, and our future families.

Dear ones,

You are loved.
Do you know that?
I have not yet looked into your eyes
Or felt your hands wrapped in mine
Or held you in my arms
But you are loved.
I love you.
I haven’t read you bedtime stories
Haven’t dried your tears
Haven’t chased you around the house
just to hear you laugh.
I haven’t, not yet.
But I will.
Because you are loved.

You are beautiful.
Do you know that?
I haven’t met you yet
Haven’t wrapped your hair around my fingers
Haven’t watched your smile dance across your cheeks
But you are beautiful.
To me, you are stunning.
I haven’t seen your eyes, your nose, your toes,
Haven’t glimpsed your dreams, your loves, your soul.
I haven’t, not yet.
But I will.
Because you are beautiful.

You are smart.
Do you know that?
I haven’t listened to you sing, read, act, or laugh
Haven’t seen you create, puzzle, or reason
Haven’t seen you interact, deduce, or learn
But you are smart.
To me, you are ingenious.
I haven’t seen you manipulate your father and me
Haven’t watched you play in worlds of your own imagining
Haven’t witnessed your capacity to learn.
I haven’t, not yet.
But I will.
Because you are smart.

You are powerful.
Do you know that?
I haven’t heard you talk about your passions
Haven’t seen your eyes light up for something larger than yourself
Have no ideas about what will make your heat beat faster
But you are powerful.
To me, you are like a wave.
I haven’t seen you take the hand of someone in need of it
Haven’t seen you fighting silent battles
Haven’t seen the span of your heart.
I haven’t, not yet.
But I will.
Because you are powerful.

You are amazing.

You are extraordinary.

You are loved
Beautiful
Smart
Powerful
Amazing
And so, so much more.
I hope you know it.

I can’t wait to meet you.

Love,
Mom