Broken to be shared

 

The sun beat thorough the windscreen keeping me awake while I waited in the parked car for the school bell to ring. I work with Children and had to supervise this particular child’s contact with his brother. On the radio, the last minutes of the Radio play ended followed by the news. Most of what was being reported was innocuous and breezed from ear to ear without registering. This until the story I will focus on for this rant-ish.

Two clergymen were arrested for allegedly assaulting a series of young men. I turned the radio off. Tears rolled down my cheeks.

Context

I had just come back from a weekend away ‘Exploring the call of God’. There had been teaching on ‘calling’ – that deep sense of a specific direction within which to pour our passion. Mine felt like it was to be in the church, working towards healing and reconciliation by building gracious communities.

The tears fell because I knew that dysfunctionality wasn’t something that few suffered. Something only experienced by the impoverished. It is, in fact, something that everyone must deal with. The bible says that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God’. There are no exemptions made for neither pope nor murderer. We all bear the scars of sin and sinfullness and are all in fact working out our salvation in attempting to lean on the Grace of God through Jesus.

The tears fell because I not only empathised with the young men who were allegedly assaulted, but also felt a deep sense of sorrow for the clergymen. We are all victims of sin. It wasn’t into a glowing beacon of perfection that I was being called to serve, it rather was, and is a collection of Fallible men whose hearts are directed toward good.

Depth

Jesus took the bread, and broke it. If he didn’t break it, it wouldn’t be shared. Here we see the Son of Man, who yielded himself to being broken: the bread of life, exemplifying the heart of God while teaching the solution to the human problem. None of us are whole. The more we attempt to deceive ourselves and others into believing that we are whole, the more we break them. When we do not accept out brokenness and share our pieces, we break others by taking from them. The opposite to service is abuse.

For a Christian, the core is Christ. So unless you break and share, you keep Christ hidden within and stifle light from shining, not only into your life, but into the life of others. It’s like putting a cup over a candle, with no oxygen to burn, the candle dies out. Do not harden your heart, be bold, be strong, be free and vulnerable, let Christ out and watch him pour in.

For the Church as an institution, accountability is key. What price is being paid for the lack of accountability between these two men and their fellows. Being called to serve is being called to break even further. To open your hands, and heart, and mind to those you serve. Knowing our weaknesses, and having them known, helps protect the vulnerable world we work with, but also us from temptations that the world presents. Acting out of fear, folds away the hands of love.

Confess your faults to one another, and pray for each other that you may be healed

James 5:16

I shed tears because I knew that the story would be told every half hour for the next day, portraying the church as an unsafe place and tarnishing the good work of many great friends: fathers, daughters, sons and sisters to whom the call to serve is received. It is for these, equally broken but diligent in love, servants that I wept, praying all the while that their work would not be stifled or undermined.

I wiped my cheeks with a growing determination and a prayer for continued humility within me. For that hope in Love to increase so that when the time did come – if God willed it – I wouldn’t shudder and hide.

Healing

The church is imperfect. It has imperfect people within it. It needs your accountability – so ask questions of it. It needs your input – so ask how you can help. Most of all it needs the same forgiveness it preaches. These three things will ensure it continues well in its work of healing, one person at a time.

 

Mission: As fast as the slowest person

So I joined The 2012 yesterday. It’s purpose as an organization is to help train people across the spectrum – within London – on how to live out an expressive, missional Faith. For a moment after I read the website I asked myself whether that wasn’t the purpose of the church. Then it struck me, I had limited Church to a Sunday evening, and even worse: a building. The emphatic Yes from my heart and mind in unison assured me of this as the church’s place. Rather than a palace for the holy, the Church was to be the hands and feet, hearts and ears, instruments of hope within a hopeless world. It encouraged me to see, and hear, the passion that Church has to reach out to a society whose default setting is one of suffering, hopelessness and an overall rejection of faith and the divine. It is a true reflection of the incarnate way in which God intervenes and reminded me that we all started there; at the point of despair.

My thought’s stumbled through my memory banks, marching past the devoted boy busy reading through the bible, to the angry and rebellious teenager struggling to discover himself, and finally to the young man affected by a touch to the heart from a Love he had worked hard to pretend didn’t exist. This journey back was signposted by many good people whose reaction to their faith in a missional vein allowed me to rediscover the deep longing I had for God as well as the deep longing God had for me to know Him. I recall those two young men (boys then) who took their time and were patient with me as I (drunk) tried to ridicule them for this choice that they had made: to be out in the cold sharing their faith.

I stumbled further into this sense of calling that I have felt to be involved in facilitating reconciliation between people and people but also with God. What would I, drawing from my own experience, as well as what Jesus said and did, put as the core of missional thinking. That was when this phrase emerged.

“As fast as the slowest person”

It stood as a call to never neglect the individual. This is a condensation of many things that I have been taught over the years like:

John Peters (St Marys London) said Church was a bi-product of discipleship (thoroughly paraphrased). The vision had to be people, and even more importantly, a person, in order for the edifice to stand. Looking at the bigger picture could at times make us forget the victim lying by the side of the road as we trudge on toward the temple (The good samaritan).

It made sense. The slowest person would ask the most questions, require the most patience and love. In actual fact, they would represent us, for even with the bible before us, God’s love demonstrated on the cross, his resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit we still have questions and the Father is ultimately patient.

I’ll stop here before this turns into a talk.

Be sure to check out the 2012website as well as adding @the_2012_ on twitter: join, share, and get involved.

 

Solitary Confinement

If the wicked didn’t flourish then the choice to do good would not be under such scrutiny and I wouldn’t understand the well within my conscience that Love eternally refills.

D. Adide

So it’s been a short while since my last post. If I’m to be honest, I have been witnessing a battle between my deflated ego, my heart and my mind. The three, swords drawn at each other, have been in unrest since the realisations that I alluded to in the last post: The Pangs of Desire. The result of this war is a sentiment that, until now, I have been unable to kernel.

Some call it the man cave, that space where we – from time to time – have to disappear to in order to recover (or rediscover) the senses of self necessary to rebuff the challenges the world sets. It is that desolate space where you see yourself in all your complexity. The space where good and evil feast together, morality and immorality grey, selfhood and external influence interplay  betraying yet portraying who you are to the seeing eye. (Worth a mention here the great difficulty in actually quantifying how the idea of selfhood arrises. The more I contemplated myself the more I realised that the self I was watching was a reflection, an apparition even, and not the ‘I’ that was watching. It’s an almost Hegelian multiplicity with the other constantly emerging.)

Deeper and deeper into the recesses of my own desires and thoughts I found myself treading. The abyss never ending: so much so that the distance back to the surface seemed closer and best of all more appealing. It was then that I came across the image below.

(Take a moment and scroll down, have a look, then scroll back up)

I am comfortable being confined in there because I know now that I cannot rescue myself. I lack the language to battle the sense of reticence, neither can I avoid the tug to silence. Worst of all, I do not yet fully understand what the man in there is trying to say and as his character is still an enigma to me, I fear setting him free. The reality though is that, it is I who is trapped and not he. The world is small in comparison to the grounds he Lords. This I know because when I shut my eyes and visit, he always takes me to a new place with immeasurable beauty, each surpassing the last.

NOW TO SPEAK ENGLISH

The desire that had been plaguing me, to unleash the deamon within and quench my conscience, first seeming bad, proved to be a very good lense on my character. Where I thought that my actions were governed by a fear of their consequence, I subsequently found that it is Love, and not fear that governs my choices – especially those that involve the welfare of others. The only person I am unable to properly serve is myself, and that is because I am broken and am unable to resist pandering to my own depravity. I am fully capable of resisting the selfish surges when the outcome is pain for others. Love – that complex diety – guides my hands but like Paul with the thorn in his side, keeps me grounded. If the wicked didn’t flourish then the choice to do good would not be under such scrutiny and I wouldn’t understand the well within my conscience that Love eternally refills.

 

Love Fearlessly, to whatever end!

 

The Pangs of Desire

This has been quite an interesting two weeks, thus my silence. I have encountered a whole host of people who are either unaware of the ill they do, or are aware and ignore the voice of conscience. Ok, I wont stand here and judge like I never disobey what my conscience says or even claim to have never caused any harm by my disobedience so take this toasted lament with a pinch of salt, a hint of pepper and some Marmite (which I hate by the way).

You are always righteous, O LORD, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?

Jeremiah 12:1

The question that has been marinating in my heart is this. Do the wicked have no conscience or is its voice dimmed?

In my own life I’ve found it quite hard to make a cup of tea for myself without offering one to whoever was around me. I struggled to eat the last biscuit in the pack, and used to buy two chocolate bars so that when asked I had one to share. I try to do what I can to be a positive in people’s lives. This is quite difficult as my desire is to serve myself, thus wrought for others seems vain. My conscience however, loud as a drum, kicks in and wrangles with my self-centeredness whenever I turn away from serving others.

This moreover is a world full of people who can be ungrateful, and utterly selfish with no regard for their neighbour’s wellbeing, and seemingly get away with it. This makes the whole turn the other cheek thing tough; not because the other person is relentless but because deep down I wish I could get away with doing what they are doing. This is at the core of my complaint. It is such a devastating lens focused onto my own depravity: that it isn’t against the wicked that I lament but a desire at very center of my heart to be one. I genuinely love God and would like to think that my actions in line with His will are rooted in a love for Him rather than a fear of my actions’ consequences. But that root isn’t as straight forward as I find as similar a mystery as is the nature of Grace at the core of my desires.

I honestly do wish I could get away with half of what I have seen people do this week and am – like Jeremiah – complaining about it. At the same time, I know how harmful selfishness can be and am – in a small part – grateful that I know I wont actually get away with it. It doesn’t stop it being painful to witness, neither does it make doing good easier.

Our faith is difficult one. I suppose if you aren’t grappling with it constantly then you’re either almost in heaven or most certainly angelic. It’s answer to the pangs of desire is to ask us to pursue someone else’s: God’s. This doesn’t stop them from being pangs. I suppose the idea of ‘carrying a cross and following Jesus’ is this sense of doing something difficult for a cause that transcends our own. It’s a noble thought that like a drop of water skims the surface of a furnace almost mocking the hope of dousing the flames.

Evidently I am in complain mode so I will not put my positive thoughts. (Out of disobedience because I hear and feel the answers to my complaint: take what you will from that.)

 

 

 

Poetry 019: The Seat

I often wondered if the world in darkness shone for itself. Maybe it is we, who look but never see, that are blind.

D. Adide

The Seat

A poem about a blind poet

Seated, he heard the foreign sounds
Of passing cars, of children, of hounds,
Of planes sailing through the clouds
Of silent moments, and of crowds.
The wind through the leaves whistled
The bamboo heaved along with the thistles
Distant worlds in torrents neared
But window blinds blocked out the mounds

Seated, he thought to find the nouns
For subtle smiles, for tickles, for frowns
For faces floating from the downs,
through greens, through forests, and through towns.
Deep within old cinders glistened
He strained his heart so it would listen
And the world without in torrents neared
But window blinds blocked out the mounds

© Denis Adide 2011

Poetry 018: Talitha Koum

“Go” He said. With weighted measure we
Obeyed. With sword, bow and scepter our siege
We laid. In decadence we hewed out our footholds
In the foothills of grace’s dismay. With hands,
By architecture tainted, this earthen town we laid.
In thick steel our gates we made; their outward
Arrows sharp as gazes. So high the walls
We chose erect that the early breeze, once
Composed abated. The mighty streams, whom
Once in spring we bathed, in anxious zeal
Rose we and tamed; life we chained in hymns,
And winds to whom once in song we’d yield,
Chose we assail.
Was it for this, Accented Verb,
That the dream you fearlessly sowed within,
Turning even from thine own to share
In garment and kin, so vigorously denied
Yet still in song enchant, to reap deceit?
Look at your lands: barren and boldly fruitless.
In feeble might the sands, enriched by winter’s
Edifice, declare the winds immobile, the seas
Empty of power, the sun a stain, and seasons
Mortal. In haughtily chorused anarchy slayed
The voice which in their hearts you laid. Look!
These pews for joy, fill with hearts reticent,
These words for peace, impress the beasts intent
So we the coven away from peace repent;
Relenting rather into dirges’ cadence:
In songs for poise and praise we’d rather sleep.
Weep! For deep in time’s chains we choose
Our keep; a citadel from unfurnished bricks.
Her glory cursed slumbers windless still.

“I sought your hearts, knocked and waited as
You built these stone altars for yourselves.
Heaven is my throne, I dwell not
In houses made by human hands.
My spirit thus shall not contend with man,
For in wicked stain his heart is full versed.
Oh Jerusalem! City of grace and might,
For how much longer shall thy watchmen sleep?”

Is it for this that we now dream as hope,
Rooted deep in sightless depths unknown,
For breaths, as light though gone, were once our own?
In action sowing seeds away from rain,
With hearts content and minds commenting vain.
If walls we measure, then therein none’s contained
For weight of wrought. And all shall slumber lest
The heart is, once more, kissed. It is no less,
Away from the promise of deathless wist proclaimed,
And feet from breathless walks now found maim,
That from thy love to mountain peaks we fray
With limping hearts and conscience in dismay.
Whisper not for silence less assails.
Wretched hands what violence though avail.
Guide thy tongue from haughty vein oh soul!
And set thy sights on ancient heart’s abode.
We built these walls of sorrow high and steep,
And hiding in our laurels didst we sleep
In plundered halls as barren widows weep.
Our golden courts with haughty windows speak
Testing justice, resting in deceit.

“Oh Jerusalem! City of grace and might,
Thy line of measure mine alone shall be,
Thy walls a flame that I alone shall keep,
Thy hearts a seed that I alone shall reap,
As breath and life are mine alone to give.
For I gave you hope, and hope chose you to smite,
I gave you peace, but war chose you recite,
I gave you mercy, judgement chose you rite.
I saw your darkness, and chose to give you light,
But light fought you and chose to sleep in night.
Daughter of man! In sleep I would have left you,
But mine own hand of love would not forsake.
Though in the hymn of wretchedness you set,
The seeds I sow I once more will collect.
Talitha Koum!”

© Denis Adide 2009

Poetry 011: Invisible

Invisible

I called them my own; and said they’d know me
Yet all I’d seen was by the flickering head-lights
As the car sped through the forgotten roads
That led away from the city’s concrete shores.
My eyes, as did the slowly emerging stars,
Twinkled over the darkening moors.

I saw their backs, burdened with belongings,
Strained by the weight of the journey ahead;
Arched like the oldest branches of a willow.
Their faces, sudden with the passing light,
Cascades of dust caked, tearless visages;
Uncertain but fearlessly walking into the night.

As the sun ran and hid – for his job was done –
Their faces, like their dusty footprints, vanished.
The roads, once full, had gradually emptied:
I suppose in the darkness, light assailed.
What stained my thoughts were the random apparitions
That with the singing crickets ushered in the night.

My mind wondered as the thoughts of home
– For I was home but in some sense away –
With its paved pathways and streetlights,
Busses, trams, trains, pubs, and corner-shop cafe’s,
Malls, multistory car-parks, greens and squares,
Loosened the snares for slumber’s wake

And then, emerging from the darkness, a child.
He, in tattered garments, pushed a red wheelbarrow.
His bold head and small frame ample to the chore;
I caught a glimpse of his unwrapped sole
As the driver slowed down to avoid a pothole
Then sped off past the pair of tired limbs.

For nights I studied the little red wheelbarrow
With its tiny rubber wheel and worn out handles;
All that was within its burrow was rust,
And the many scars from years of use.
He’d however, like the city and my name, faded
Past the speeding car back into the dark.

I called them my own; and said they’d know me,
Yet all I’d seen was by the flickering head-lights
As the driver slowed down to avoid a pothole.

© Denis Adide 2010

On Invisible

The idea of a sestina and it’s somewhat enclosed space, the six quatrains and final tercet, greatly interested me. I was, at the time of the assignment, reading through Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which is a frame narrative. This couple with frame that the form provided inspired me to write a narrative.

On one level, this poem is about the character’s loss of/search for identity. Being from the “moors” and yet living in the city, the character’s perceptions of himself as well as his sorroundings are challenged on this car journey. The contrasting of light and dark as well as the natural and the constructed were to highlight this search within him for that core – internal individual – that was apart from what he had grown to experience. That all he sees in this more natural world is by artificial light was to highlight the futility of his search. I tried to make it such that his ‘own’, including nature here represented by sunlight, would not know him. He would thus, like the boy with the wheelbarrow, be left invisible in the darkness of a constructed reality.

Moreover, this poem is also about the great divide between the developed nations and the undeveloped nations, the imposition of ‘civility’

with it’s disregard for what, in a sense, took place in the darkness, and the resulting struggle for national as well as individual identity. Again here I chose to contrast the darkness and the light, submersing the images and concepts that they develop into the earlier mentioned discourse on identity. The child pushing the wheelbarrow

, a symbol of development, disappears into the night: a highlighting of the unseen struggle to adapt to a different, and new, way of life for many. The child’s ambitions to be a part of modernity are here carried.

This poem is also about the invisible children of Northern Uganda (thus the title) and the effects of post-independent conflicts on the younger generations.