God is frustrating. As creatures in his image we yearn for control thus making trust – or faith rather – difficult. The absurdity of prayer, its necessity, the frustration of unwanted responses – silence included – add to this difficulty. All we have is the hope that within the eternal scope, the completely wise allpowerful will be true to his promises of unconditional ans unflinching love.

Calling people to him, we musnt hide from the difficulty while marketing the hope. Keeping aware of our own pain makes us sensitive to the pai mm of others. Only then can we draw near to the cross together in gracious hope.

I celebrate muamba’s recovery but likewise mourn with the many whose pain has been rekindled and highlighted in its wake.

Good reflection.

Thanks

astoryoffailure

It’s been quite a while since I wrote on here. I have surprised myself with my silence. The truth is – the quiet has been a combination of two facts-of-life: 1. Busyness 2. Complete dearth of inspiration.

Work has been busy – for which I am deeply grateful. Life as a freelancer is constantly unpredictable and I am very happy to have an influx of work, which will keep me busy and out of trouble for a few weeks.

Mostly – and this I suspect is the “real” reason – I just haven’t felt inspired. Haven’t known what to write about. Haven’t felt that I had anything to say. Fleeting thoughts have crossed my mind but nothing has taken root.

Until today.

This morning, I went to church. It was a lovely service. On the whole. A guest speaker and lots of happy faces. All was going swimmingly. And then…

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Poetry 027: Gull

It baffled me to see gulls
this far in, away from the sea.
Probably as much as it did him
to see me – a man of colour –
this far from the metropolis.

I wonder whether
He thought it a hunger –
similar to that
of my winged counterparts –
that had led me to sing
Away from ‘home’,
and not the Love
Whose white hands I cling.

© Denis Adide 2012

Poetry 026: Fruit Picking

They were the hot summer days,
The ones we favored for picking.

She smiled whenever the idea came up,
It was possibly the only thing that I saw
Would light up her demeanor.
Excited she would dance, almost glide
Her way to the car and wait beside
The passenger door.
Her strides small and quick,
Making her hips swing and hair float.
She’d never gloat but it seemed
It was gentleness she gleaned from me
As I slowly, as was my pace,
Walked toward the door and
With a smile, opened it for her.

Those were the hot summer days
The ones we favored for picking.

Radio four would carry us there,
Away from the care of a crumbling exhaust
Or the sticky clutch.
She’d sat in silence as the seconds flew
Alongside the cascading landscape.
For she had said and knew,
That in those moments the roots
She dug and tended would –
After winter had come and gone
And spring had rained
and sun had shone – bear fruit.
She watched the world without a care
Staring through opposite windows.

Those were the hot summer days
The ones we favored for picking.

The warning light flashed and the gate
To the farm, a local favorite,
Slowly swung open as the heat
poured in through my window.
She fanned her face with paper,
One of the ‘just in case cards’
She usually stashed in her glove-box.
We exchanged smiles,
Her hand resting on my thigh
I quickly pulled my trouser legs
Down over my socks and steered.
The car – a present from her dad –
Obeyed.

Those were the hot summer days
The ones we favored for picking

Her hands, whose touch I often feel
Even her absence, softly caressed
The rose red cherries that hung
From the upper branches of the tree.
With her small feet pointed
She tiptoed and stole for me
The fruits she thought were sweet.
Her lips, watered with desire,
Wrapped around a raspberry
Soft pink blushes washing
Across her happy face as she ate
Free from, work and worry,
And almost free from me.

Those were the hot summer days
The ones we favored for picking

Her eyes spoke of days without end
Fires without ash
Or burning heat: just warmth.
Her smile spoke of receding pain,
Eroded by the warm soft rain
That fell upon our faces and hands
As we stood entwined: and sold.
Her heart, like mine, sang of hope;
Our hymn of a happiness bespoke,
Spread upon the grasses,
Glistening as the evening sun
Sat in and glowed.
I couldn’t have loved her more.

Those were the hot summer days
The ones we favored for picking.

© Denis Adide 2011

 

Poetry 025: Seasons of Migration

Musing on the Exotic unknown

Looking down her naked body
I’m struck by the contours,
Rising and falling like dunes
On this, my beautiful desert.
Golden from the sunshine,
Smooth from the warm infrequent rain.
Like a precious jewel, her body glistens
In the candlelight.

My once lost love was found
In the distinct, yet fading, border
Between her skin and mine.
Like the etchings of time
Plastered on the cold concrete floor
On which our feet slowly danced,
My banner nature dissipated,
Flowering beneath it, an expansive
Array of colors – unseen but felt
In the subtle caress of navels.
With my fingers I forget the rocks,
The crowded hills, the voices of ancestry,
And with the chains of an inexplicable love
Embrace her.

I dine to die, die to rise, and rise a’new!

© Denis Adide 2010

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.

 

“The Woman YOU put here”

The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.

I decided to catch up on BBC’s Question time this morning and abruptly stopped a second after David Starkey finished speaking. It is a mystery to my why the T.V channels insist on bringing him on their shows because for a historian, he seems out of touch with the many lessons that need learning from the scoured past. His comments on race during the London Riots were bad enough and I assumed that he would have learnt something from the backlash that followed. It was with attentive ears that I listened as he pigeon holed women as sentimental and irrational (how irrational of him.)

I tried to watch the rest of the show but couldn’t, the bee was disturbed and its buzz would would only be satisfied by the hammer of fingertips on keys so here.

Supremacy is one of the biggest problems humanity faces. it is this sense within us that we are completely without blemish, and should be so in all circumstances. It is the resistance to vulnerability and the root of negative pride (the kind that surpasses the honest sense of self worth). It is the same that resists repentance – by which I mean a changing of the mind as well as an acceptance of brokenness. I will delve further into the ramifications of this later.

The most crucial part of Adam’s response to God’s question about the forbidden fruit is not the part where he blames God for his wife (A thought worth developing on its own). It is the part where he admits to eating the fruit himself. In the moment that he blames his wife, Adam ceases to act out of love for her and quite selfishly dooms her to guilt while keeping himself elevated in his illusion of innocence. Now, whether you take this story as literal or not, it is clear to see this thread of selfishness across human history. The man declaring himself as superior instead of accepting his equal capacity for folly.

Someone once asked me what I thought of women in positions of leadership and authority. My response was to ask whether they would happily be led by a woman. If yes then I needn’t respond to the first question, and if no then he/she was proud. The testament that the women I know have given for their gender is extensive and the vast expanse of wise, intellectual, Spritiual, as well as sensitive, women keeps growing. Honestly speaking, I find their potential intimidating.

So what am I saying?

If we all stop trying to be superior to each other (As the devil attempted on God). We would find ourselves in a more open and honest space where in accountability we would lead each other by serving each other. Furthermore, we would help each other lead by serving each other, and thus make each other better leaders.

The seed that led Mr Starkey to make the comments he made is sowed in all of us. My apology is to the many women who have been belittled by the result of such thought. It is a sad fact that in this day, that we glorify as advanced, lessons haven’t been fully learnt that’d ensure greater equality between men and women.

Blessings.

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 021: Unconditional

It is the wealth of continuity, un-assailed, unabated, unstoppable.  

Where can I go to hide from you?
You pursue me into the very depths
Of the heart I strive to keep away.
Where can I run? To whom?
Where is it that you are not?

The sweat on my brow testifies of you,
As I flee, it reminds me of why,
Bringing you closer as I try away.
The wind whispering past
Speaks of the swiftness with which
You overtake, overwhelm, overcome.

And even when I risk life itself to flee
The hope of freedom sets me back
Into the death of being loved.
Being Loved
Being Love
Being an Object of love,
Unconditionally.

© Denis Adide 2012

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