Some nights I wake up breathing heavily, paralyzed from fears realized in my dreams. Images of ravenous dogs, a pale man with bloody eyes and hair like fire standing by my window, men attempting to rape me and cryptic messages from the spiritual world taunt in the moments of expected rest. Some I forget after I have awoken and others follow me around like an unsolved puzzle. Even though these are terrifying to experience, there is one I am even more afraid of. It doesn’t find me asleep but leaves me trembling with my eyes wide open, taunting me with every tick of the clock. It’s the nightmare of living a wasted life.
Tales of a Dead Man
I was at my desk reading a book when a co-worker came to sit in the lobby. As the receptionist from time to time, I now expect persons to drop by to just relax. The lobby is usually empty with sobering music in the background, probably it is the comfort of the chairs that feel like arms when you sit. Sometimes people just need a break, I understand that. Contrary to my trouble-maker friends, I don‘t see people as patients. I see them rather as my own self simply in a different form. I think, “What would I need in this moment? A voice of reason, rebuke or comfort? Or probably just an ear?” It gets easier overtime in telling which is required. It comes through connecting with the person.
I usually entertain a conversation when they initiate. More often than not, they have something on their minds. It’s interesting that when things are loud on the inside, we seek silence on the outside.
I have a particular friend that only comes to keep me up to date with what’s happening in her life. Another comes to hear my views on relational things. Generally, the males ask me about my beliefs (spiritually or otherwise), they seem to enjoy debating ideas. (Yes, I believe Christians should have healthy relationships with the opposite sex.)
On this particular day, one of my friends (she is older so, not sure if I can call her that) was there for quite a while before she said anything. I should have known she wanted to talk. She made the usual grunts and moans when there was something pressing her. But the captivating book had me close to tears, I didn’t pull away until she just said, “Mi tyad yuh see.” (Translation- “I am tired”) She had never told me this before, being usually quite rested. She then reminded me of a funeral she had to attend over the weekend. I asked her about the details and she told me how awful the experience was. From the church arrangement due to the corona outbreak, the tributes, to the 5 month old baby who would never meet their mother to the burial ground proceedings. She mentioned something else which I won’t disclose and we started talking about her nephew that had recently passed. She described to me how heartbreaking it was and how grieved the community had been.
He was a role model, starting out with a small board house and then built himself up to erecting an extravagant house on the hill. But that wasn’t what really impacted me. She told me of his service to the community, how he cared for the elderly at his expense mentally, physically and emotionally. She spoke so passionately that I would have sought to meet him if he were still alive. He did all of this without so much as a title, national recognition or a massive amount of funds. Immediately a light went off in my mind. I have dreams of helping others. Dreams of being of service to fellow human beings and his story kicked the guts out of every excuse I had in my books.
I know you have dreams, everyone does. A chat with the guys on the corner showed me that. Sometimes our dreams don’t unfold as how we would want them or at the right speed. That’s okay, I understand. I know the frustration that comes with aiming to make strides to accomplish something only to be met by a curve ball. This guy, didn’t wait for the perfect opportunity, he did what he could now. Don’t let the lofty heights of your goals stop you from starting or even finishing the climb. This sermon from Martin Luther King Jnr. was particularly encouraging to me. (I wanted to just take a clause, but my God you would have missed the meaning!)
Martin Luther King Jnr. (January, 1929-April, 1968)
“…So many of us in life start out building temples: temples of character, temples of justice, temples of peace. And so often we don’t finish them. Because life is like Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony.” At so many points we start, we try, we set out to build our various temples. And I guess one of the great agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable. We are commanded to do that. And so we, like David, find ourselves in so many instances having to face the fact that our dreams are not fulfilled.
Now let us notice first that life is a continual story of shattered dreams. Mahatma Gandhi labored for years and years for the independence of his people. And through a powerful nonviolent revolution he was able to win that independence. For years the Indian people had been dominated politically, exploited economically, segregated and humiliated by foreign powers, and Gandhi struggled against it. He struggled to unite his own people, and nothing was greater in his mind than to have India’s one great, united country moving toward a higher destiny. This was his dream.
But Gandhi had to face the fact that he was assassinated and died with a broken heart, because that nation that he wanted to unite ended up being divided between India and Pakistan as a result of the conflict between the Hindus and the Moslems. Life is a long, continual story of setting out to build a great temple and not being able to finish it.
Woodrow Wilson dreamed a dream of a League of Nations, but he died before the promise was delivered.
The Apostle Paul talked one day about wanting to go to Spain. It was Paul’s greatest dream to go to Spain, to carry the gospel there. Paul never got to Spain. He ended up in a prison cell in Rome. This is the story of life.
So many of our forebearers used to sing about freedom. And they dreamed of the day that they would be able to get out of the bosom of slavery, the long night of injustice. And they used to sing little songs: “Nobody knows de trouble I seen, nobody knows but Jesus.” They thought about a better day as they dreamed their dream. And they would say, “I’m so glad the trouble don’t last always. By and by, by and by I’m going to lay down my heavy load.” And they used to sing it because of a powerful dream. But so many died without having the dream fulfilled.
And each of you this morning in some way is building some kind of temple. The struggle is always there. It gets discouraging sometimes. It gets very disenchanting sometimes. Some of us are trying to build a temple of peace. We speak out against war, we protest, but it seems that your head is going against a concrete wall. It seems to mean nothing. And so often as you set out to build the temple of peace you are left lonesome; you are left discouraged; you are left bewildered.
Well, that is the story of life. And the thing that makes me happy is that I can hear a voice crying through the vista of time, saying: “It may not come today or it may not come tomorrow, but it is well that it is within thine heart. It’s well that you are trying.” You may not see it. The dream may not be fulfilled, but it’s just good that you have a desire to bring it into reality. It’s well that it’s in thine heart.
…On this morning, if I can leave anything with you, let me urge you to be sure that you have a strong boat of faith. The winds are going to blow. The storms of disappointment are coming. The agonies and the anguishes of life are coming. And be sure that your boat is strong, and also be very sure that you have an anchor. In times like these, you need an anchor. And be very sure that your anchor holds.”
What Can You Do Today?
Maybe corona has delayed your plans a bit. Maybe even if the virus wasn’t a pandemic, factors would have still held you back. With social distancing and workers being sent home, we have extra time on our hands. I am encouraging us now more than ever to bond even more closely with each other. It is high time we look up from our own plans, schedules, meetings and let every man look on the business of his neighbour, figuratively and literally.
Here are my tips during this season:
Spend some Serious Quality Time with God
Don’t waste your time (and I say this with not one bit of humour), as these days might be your last. Catch up on your reading of the scriptures. You can research the topic you have been wanting to know more about. Pray earnestly for yourself, your family, neighbours, this nation and the world. I personally believe God is just giving us a vacation to get closer to him.
Do some Honest Reflection
Ask these questions;
Where am I?
Where am I going?
What is God’s directive for this season of my life?
How will you improve yourself and those around you?
Visit a Neighbour
If the virus hasn’t been identified in your community, visit your neighbour. Even if you have nothing to take along with you, show your face, whether virtually or physically. Encourage them during this period. If they are alone and elderly help by taking out the garbage, cook a meal, give them medicine and call to check on them. Above all else, the Word behoves us to serve God by serving each other. Your neighbour might just be in need more than you can imagine. I encourage that use wisdom and much caution in doing this.
Take up a Hobby or Perfect it
Do some reading, painting, voice training, writing, drawing, blast some music (if it doesn’t offend your neighbour), talking, (this is for my mother and my dearest extroverts), composing, etc. Whatever it is that you enjoy, do more of that. Do Not Sit in the house and panic over every update on the news. Some of which aren’t even true. Give room for the peace of God.
Be Cautious in all your Dealings
Ensure you wash your hands or sanitize, eat healthily, stay active and rest. Laugh with your family members. If you live alone, call up some friends.
Follow the Directives of your Pastor/Bishop
Some church service methods might change, that doesn’t mean we lack faith precious. Church services need not only to be hosted at ‘church’. If you disagree, then we have a greater problem to tackle.
Tell Me Your Experience
I will be home (gladly) for the next seven days. I need not tell you that I will definitely enjoy them. I saw a meme, and it resonated so much with me. I think I will add it below. See you on Friday for an all new post in the Engraved Series. Things are getting interesting. Read the last post here. Please feel free to reach out to me during this period (firstname.lastname@example.org if you don’t have my number). How are you? How is the family? How are things in your neck of the woods? Remember, you are precious.