Thoughts on Church (Limerick)

There once was a priest who farted,
And got mad when the audience parted,
It was all going well
Then came the smell,
That emptied the church when it started.

© Denis Adide 2010


The comment here is one that rebukes the pride of both the leader and the congregation. It is a poem about the consistent flaw at the core of humanity, that is the lack of humility that creates the illusion of a difference between the “flock” and the “shepherd”. We are all cut from the same cloth and, if not for divine intervention in the work of Christ, would be doomed. This lack of humility is what leads us to judge; both from the pulpit as well as from the pews.

Church was meant to be a place to celebrate the gift of God to man, a place for fellowship and accountability: where we could come – priest and pauper – and bear our scars, weaknesses, failings (burdens) before each other: lightening the load in sharing. Somehow fashion kicked in and we all – me included – over generations have worked to hide the emergent stench. Concealing our humanity, with our fickle propensity to be indisciplined, causes pain to both the wearer and his/her fellow. Lack of openness leads to lack of acceptance, lack of fellowship, and lack of love (the language and personality of God).

I wrote this poem as a lament of the situation, a challenge to change, and also an acceptance of the stagnation caused by our human condition to the progress of the Church. In its humor I embrace my own pride, mourning in it yet celebrating Grace (God’s ability to forgive and allow communion with stubborn and unchanging weaklings). I laugh at the futility with which we try to conceal our imperfections (nakedness) from each other with steadily rotting fig leaves, hiding behind tassels (books and microphones), and then complaining at our ineffectiveness.

Picture a church where the man in tattered clothes who just walked in is free enough to sit at the front next to the leader. The woman who needs a Job is not afraid to ask. The son struggling with lust is not embarrassed to confess before the countless men who cary the same burden: the arms would be open, not just to ourselves but to the world we are called to differ from while at the same time be a part of.

Adideism: If we all accept that we smell bad, then Christ – the only perfect odour, is glorified.

Who shall be saved?

There is a fine line between
those things created by the hands of God
and those forged by man.
Light and darkness both at his name bow,
but we – fine dust – elect control.
What will be said when the LORD of hosts comes;
That metal and rubber overcame the wind,
or steel upon steel stilled lightning,
or planes harnessed the clouds in smoke,
or even the joke that fingers chose
and smote the breath of life?
will it be said that monkeys rode the sun
and an ape nailed the Son to a cross?
The clouds shall rain their words in thunder and lightning,
the earth in thistles and thorns,
the seas in catastrophe
and the sun in darkness;
Creation will bear witness against us,
there will be no refuge.

(except in the still small voice
that spoke in a ray,
sat on the cloud that with time floats away,
that calmed the seas and walked on a wave.)

Who shall be saved?

© Denis Adide 2010

Endless Love Encased in Fear

Just a thought here: the most influential man in History, walking down a street-full of fans, spotted a dwarf of sorts standing on a tree in order to see him. Instantly, he neglects the crowd and changes his plans in order to dine in the mans house. This act is scorned at by those close to him as it’s bad PR and would totally bring his rep into question but our famous man is unfazed by all that and goes on to jam in the short man’s house.

“It is not those who are well that need a doctor”

“I came to seek the lost”

“come unto me all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”

He said.

He also told a parable about a man who was robbed and beaten up. And about how the people who should’ve helped the victim walked straight by him; in a hurry to fulfill the duties of their position which, ironically enough, required them to help the needy. In the story, the man who helps the victim, is one whose life isn’t governed by duty. It is one who is free enough to see the value of life over money, breath over the work of hands, an individual rather than a cause.

There is the nugget then. Is it possible that in our ambitious thirst, we are willing to neglect the individual in order to achieve success? What is success really? Is it something that is measured in the eyes of others or in the contentment of the heart? Is it something that supersedes the gift of peace, the act of kindness, the recognition and celebration of humanity, as well as the touch of love in value?

If He was right about what He said concerning Himself then: the richest man to have ever lived, put his riches aside, the most powerful man to have ever lived, put his power aside, and the most satisfied being to have existed, tasted hunger – and even death – for the individual. The individual became the cause, the ambition was toward the bettering of the  individual, and success was in the contentment in the knowledge that no penny was spared in aiding the victim of the Robbery (humanity) through the recovery process, even to the point of guiding them home.

Why then is it that the words such as ‘Ministry’ and ‘Purpose’ have replaced the words such as ‘service’ and ‘love’? In my experience, the general concern for the widows, the fatherless, the hungry, and the homeless has dimmed. Success isn’t measured in the contentment of knowing that you have served, rather it is sought in the advertising of that service: the more people know what good I am doing, the more successful I am.

The silent one died serving in a forgotten part of a huge ancient empire. He did all He did away from the limelight yet the world in time recognized the tremor of His treading feet. History is still mesmerized by his words (for which He was once nearly stoned and eventually crucified).

In real terms, the model He left behind wasn’t the blue-print for a successful business – though that is what it has been, and continues to be used for -, it was the map to the soul, the cooling fan to the tumultuous core at the heart of the human problem. He gave the secrets to controlling the storms but in neglecting the individual we fan the flames rather than douse them.

The tiger backed into a corner will fight his way out; irrespective of the thorn in his paw, he would maul the help. Hurt people hurt people. However, there isn’t a man who isn’t flesh. If we look inward, we will all see the scars that make us who we are, the skeletons we hide to make us who we would like people to see, the smiles that mask the tears that fall in the quiet of the night, the tingling skin that yearns for a touch but is afraid to reach out, the inner child we locked into a sound proof room whose banging on windows behind the curtains we’ve raised, and we’ll all recognize the exhibition we would love to end. That’s because we are all flesh and blood, sweat and tears, and endless love encased in fear: constantly thirsting.

Love more, fear less for all is flesh: put your best foot alongside your worst it will quench your thirst for love and make you Love’s instrument.

“Go into all the world”

“Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, so you do to me”

“Love God, and Love your neighbour (the robbery victim, the short fraudster, the receptionist, the caretaker at Church, the boy at the back with the fitted hat, the beggar in the underpass who smells of urine, the father/sister/brother/friend you’re angry with/afraid of ….”

He said!

For my part, my heart is still wrapped in fear. I am still trying to peel away the layers of fences and masks as that fierce love that pierced in, slowly trickles out.

The branches

I spent the latter half of today with an eight month old baby in an office that was eighty percent female. You would have thought it a nightmare, to have all the swooners pass by and take their fair share of the baby’s chuckle. It was however, a lot of fun because he was great company to have. Unlike the rest of us there, he was open, unguarded and honest about how he felt. He farted when he felt like it, cried when he felt sad or deprived, laughed when he found something funny, and never once hid his desire to learn new things. I ended the evening, on my way away from the child – someone else was going to look after him now – comforted away from the anxiety surrounding my own children (potentially on their way via stalks from heaven): it seems the biggest swooner of the day was myself.

The comfort however, was twinned with an aching heart. There was a thought emerging, a concern for the millions of children who – in that very vulnerable phase of life – are left to endure extreme hardships. It felt in my heart – and this is the image I had – as though the adult hidden inside that small body was being pounded out of shape by the various circumstances that the child was forced to go through – circumstances that we, society and their parents, are supposed to shelter them from. There was a sorrow for the abused, neglected, forgotten, as well as murdered children. This sunk me and almost brought me to tears – I didn’t cry though, I stopped for a minute to compose myself, tears didn’t seem becoming of a tall, hooded, black man.

To all the parents – potential and actual – think on this. I heard it said somewhere that we are possibly the only animals that require others in their species to survive for the first ten or so years of life. Nearly all other animals can survive on their own after the first year. We however require assistance for much longer. That level of fragility is one that we should look to cater for and cradle with as much love, affection, and care as our human potential can muster. It’s far from a question of instinct, our brains are more developed than the rest of the animal species: there is the depth and wealth of love that we must tap into and discipline ourselves in the acknowledgement of our weakness, with a view to change or seek assistance. It takes two to conceive but more than two to parent: we are all hollow in some areas, knit the web that’ll cradle our children.

To the rest of us ‘adults’, here is a thought. Why is it that as we grow older, the things we lose are the very things that kept us happy? I was shocked at my dishonesty when close to tears I turned away from view and took a few breaths: the image of composure was one I was desperate to keep; as though weakness was somehow an inhuman trait. What happened to the nakedness of out youth: the tears and laughter, the dependency and honesty, the vulnerability that made us carefree, and the peaceful sleep. In my experience, they are cultured away by the rod of pretence. The more we learn deception and pretence, the more we mask who we are, using the tools to our freedom to hide our scars – when our scars are the marks that make us uniquely beautiful.

I yearn to be attached again to that child inside, to be free again; attached to branches of life: unique and yet part of something bigger. Happy and honest, that’s the aim.

Adideism number one.

“Love fiercely, freely, and without compromise; but begin with yourself”

Marcus Aurelius


Last Sunday I spent 50 pence on a little old book. It was sitting neglected on one of the shelves at the National Trust Head office building in Swindon. I was unaware what was in it when I picked it up and thinking it interesting added it to the five or so other old books I was going to buy; you never say no to a 70 year old book going for 50 pence.

Here is an excerpt from the first page.

“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offender’s ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense but as a fellow-creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in ht is disregarding. Nether can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; fr he and I were born to work together, like a man’s two hands, feet, or eyelids, or like the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature’s Laws and hat is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction?”

Reading through a couple more of his Meditations I found myself wondering what my meditations would paint. I thought it worth a try and added to the list of projects a collection of thoughts. Until it is done, I’ll share the most profound ones in this book with you from time to time. Not bad for 50p.

Sailing Against the Wind!

Here’s a thought! Power has made it possible to sail against the wind: man no longer respects the tide or the changing currents and thus doesn’t hesitate to zip past in his motors. Gone are that days of hope, surrender, tranquility and the peace of contentment. Constant is the plague of MORE! And BETTER! That drive us past appreciating what in essence are gifts.

So here we stand:

Power denotes an advantage, advantage – a gain, a gain – a loss (energy is neither created no destroyed but merely transfered from one form to another), loss – a looser. To sail against the wind is to stand against nature itself. We have broken Her (natures) borders at our own cost: flying over and motoring through her spaces to conquer time, the one true gift we have. In the rush we’ve ignored the beggar in the underpass at baker street station, walked past the homeless man desperate to sell copies of The Big Issue, changed the channel when the Oxfam add came on, and on hearing things such as Third World Debt, turned off the Television – tomorrow is a few hours away and we have to work (until we drop apparently) to eat.

Do not let ambition stop you hearing the whispers in the breeze, or pride will float you past your heart!

Can you tell my age?

My friend Lawrence came to visit me a while back and having searched through my iTunes had found series after series of Lectures and speeches with peppered Hillsong albums (For the Unaware Click here for a sample) which admittedly (and evident from the most played counts) I hadn’t really listened to. I was somewhat embarrassed to admit that my fancy for hip-hop had faded and couldn’t find a valid reason as to why they hadn’t quite made it into my collection. Instead there were a few tracks from Keane, a Snow Patrol album (which I am in no way embarrassed for enjoying from time to time), Jahaziel, and the Truth.

It was sad to conclude then that my liking for popular music had diminished. I think in the  middle of assignments, working, and trying to navigate my way into a secure state (Freedom from Facebook), I had lost the thirst for the next best gig. Dying beside that was the hunger for T.V which was stabbed in the heart by an endless stream of keep-you-glued-to-the-screen-so-we-can-advertise programs. Even the great love, football, was weeping in the snow of the harsh winter of neglect alongside the acoustic guitar I hadn’t touched for a quarter.

(I have this image of a boat, like the Elves have in Lord of The Rings, packed with all my favourite characters sailing away. With Pingu having an argument with Fabio Capello about tactics as Wayne Rooney translates, and Jack Bauer and Daniel Craig (as James Bond of course) having an old western stand-off, and Simon Cowell busily laughing as Dr Who and his assistant struggle to get their Phone booth on board. I have a thriving imagination. Anyway back we go)

Over the years, I think, I had somehow developed into quite the bore. It was somewhat troubling that my wife had 98% more music (of which 80% is hip-hop) more than me. Lawrence left me with the thought that I had to somehow rectify that glitch in the Matrix so I tuned in. It was both enlightening as well as disappointing. I found, contrary to how it all was when I stopped; everything sounded the same (it all sounded like Dizzy Rascal – whom I still hadn’t forgiven for the Newsnight Fiasco). Music had changed and I was no longer down with it. There was no Tupac, no Common, no Lauren Hill on MTV. What was constant on kiss was the kind of music you’d dance to but wouldn’t listen to while you travelled. It was all much faster and noisier than I remembered, and to add to my frustration, the first show I found that was worth watching (Luther) was cancelled due to poor ratings.

(I have to take an aside for this one! People really amaze me. How can such a brilliant piece of art be silenced while Britain’s Got Talent survives? I can only accredit it to mass ignorance. I’ll stop here to avoid a libel case…)

So here I am, having trawled through iPlayer, surfing Youtube for oldies to possibly purchase on iTunes. The best I’ve found so far are below…

Tupac – Until the End of Time

Hearless Crew – Heartless Anthem

4-1 is a spanking!

And so they lined up, the best that the country had to offer (or in this case the manager – deluded or not). Each man carried on his sleeve the hopes of an entire nation. His skill with a ball, mettle, and stamina were the ink and tip which over the course of an hour and a half of exertion would write a new chapter for the pint drizzling multitudes, who were simultaneously on the edge of their seats, hands on heart, singing “God Save the Queen”.

Retrospect is the critics abode: I make no apologies. The hyphen between kick-off and the final whistle, disallowed goal included, spoke little of English skill or – especially in the case of Gareth Barry – pace. It rather told the story of an efficient German machine, steered by a young midfielder by the name of Ozil who almost effortlessly disposed of what was once refereed to as the ‘Golden generation’. Tainted that night was the patriotism and pride painted by the numerous flags suspended across the stadiums, bedrooms, shops, and cars. Though God saved the Queen, it was not her but dejection that reigned in English hearts.

How does a side represent a nation if it cannot, even on paper, defeat the top four sides in it’s league? How do you justify Michael Carrick – the best English passer of the ball – not setting boot on grass throughout the campaign? Or an unfit Gareth Barry, a goalless Heskey, a recovering Ashley Cole, and an indisciplined Glen Johnson receiving call ups over West Brown, Agbonlahor, and Michael Dawson? Inexplicable thus the inevitable and despicable outcome.

Like the rest of the football lovers across the country, I stay hope, hide my dreams for another day, and wait patiently to see what other disaster will be painted over my kindled delusions. World class? Nah!

This is the true result. The burden we all have to carry for next couple of years (or more)!

Sad times indeed!

Ecclesiarch and Others

I have just finished uploading the available collections of poems. Thought to share this one. Feel free to check out the other collections on the poetry page.

This series of poems is a collection of prayers and thoughts. They carry within them the steppingstones on my theological journey. I will keep updating as the volumes grow. Feel free to comment or give feedback.

List of selected poems in collection:

Found by Africa on the Tube

So I leave Uxbridge on my way to Regent Street to get my Brother’s suit fitted for my wedding. While on the platform at West Drayton station waiting for the FGW train to Paddington, I notice an elderly man. He was black and I remember thinking he looked like Nelson Mandela. He had the hints of grey as well as the sunken eyes that told of vast experiences. There was something about him that drew me to make conversation but my sunglasses were on, that and my bright green jumper made me feel lost. You can’t approach a Mandela lookalike dressed like that.

This man intimidated me, because he represented what I had began to – and probably already had – lost. So I kept my sunglasses on and put my hood on. Picking a seat on the furthest end of the carriage I spent the journey staring out the window, sorrowful and yet determined to hide my discontent: never away from the gaze of the man, he was two seats away and within sight … Read more

© Denis Adide 2009

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