Category Archives: Living Life

Post 206. Piece by Painful Piece

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I collected all the important looking pieces and swept the flakes into the bin.  I scratched around and found one tiny tube of Super Glue ( terrifying stuff)  and started to separate the pieces of the three bowls.

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I started from the bottom and worked upwards.   The base.  The foundation.  Where it all started.  Fix that and the other pieces should fit perfectly.   Easier said than done.

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When I was panicking that I was going to be Super Glued to a Cyprian bowl for the rest of my life.

The panic of feeling I was going to be attached to a Cyprian bowl for the rest of my life and my nails being glued to my fingertips forever was real.

I glued together one piece at a time.  Until the last piece.  That darned last piece!  It had to be filed down with my favourite kitchen knife to fit in to the only gap left.

Perfectionists would say, “You should have thrown the pieces in the bin.”  Well, I am far from being a perfectionist and these bowls are important to me.  I’m glad I took the time (the best part of a whole morning) and effort to put them together again.  No, they aren’t in the Fujisuzukikama (?)  league with gold paint filling in the cracks but they are back to being MY bowls.  (I have considered filling the cracks with gold glitter glue to make them look valuable but that may make them look cheap. Just sticking to down-to-earth real).

Ok, so… back to relationships.  Are they worth fixing or not?  If they can be fixed, why not?  Should we ignore the pain of the brokenness or should we face it full on and learn from what happened?  What happens if we try our best to fix things and we draw a blank?  What if I want to fix it and the other would prefer to discard it?

I make the call.  I call out my bravery and courage to face the truth of what happened.  No matter how painful, I need to do it if I want to grow.  I need to learn how to speak the truth lovingly and to hear it with humility and a heart that wants to learn.  When words gets angry,  I try to hear if there’s any truth in them. Just get to the truth.  It sets us free, but hurts like hell in the process.

Yes, I can overlook an offence.   Yes, I can forgive and try to forget but it’s easier when I know exactly what I am forgiving and what exactly I am needing to forget.  If I am living in Cuckoo Land only knowing what happened from my perspective, I am living in Cuckoo Land.  If I am asked the question, I will present only what I know.  If you don’t tell me how you saw things, how can I know?  I gave up trying to read minds a long time ago.

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So, yes, sometimes we can just, “Let it Go.”  But we can also talk.  We can have a deep, loving, truthful conversation doing our best to fix whatever is broken.  If we are mature and wise, we won’t add pain to the pain.  If it’s important to us, we will make the effort.  We will build up, encourage, put our relationship together, piece by piece even if it takes a lifetime.

My bowls didn’t just fly off the shelf.  I did that.  I take full responsibility.  Gone are the days when I blamed the pavement for my fall. (“Naughty pavement!”)  There was no Cat in the Hat to pick up the mess I made.  I had to do it all myself.

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The bowls are fixed.  They will never hold water,  but instead of looking pretty on my shelf, they are now homes for my baby cacti.   No extra drainage needed.  Pretty,  but no longer perfect.

There are cracks and small pieces and flakes missing, but in the words of my mother, “No-one is going to stop a galloping horse to look for those.”

Everyone I know carries brokenness.  We are fragile but we are free.  Free to fix things or to pretend nothing has been broken.

If it’s important to us we will pick up the pieces, piece by painful piece.

(I love seeing little daisies or greenery pushing out from cracks in a road or stone wall.  How robust.  How determined.  How courageous.)

 

 

 

Post 205. Fixing things (Part 1)

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I’m generally not the clumsy one in our family.  I leave that title to they know who.  I like to fix broken things.  Especially relationships.  Broken ones.  It’s really hard for me to rest until I know I have done everything in my power to make things right.  It’s really important to me.

In the past couple of days, I have been communicating with a friend who is very important to me.  Trying to fix things.  Again.  Not that they keep getting broken, but they weren’t ever really fixed.  At least from my perspective.  Even after so many conversations and tearful moments.  I was sent an article about “Overlooking Offences.”  It was an excellent article and there were some good reminders which I took note of.  I slept on it and wrote this in reply.  “Some things can be overlooked but other things can be talked about.  People have flown across oceans to make things right with people they really care about.”   Talking may be more exhausting and for a while, things may seem like they’ve gone even further downhill; but isn’t that better than just pushing stuff in and down and pretending that everything is ok?

If we have questions, we need to be able to ask them.  No limits.  If those questions aren’t answered to our satisfaction, we need to have the freedom to ask them again; with no fear of rolling eyeballs and huge “Seriously?” sighs.  I’m not talking about being deliberately annoying, but in a mature and reconciliatory way.  Aiming at healing and deeper relationships.   I agree, sometimes we can just “get over”  things, but at other times, it is really helpful to talk things through.

I had this thought too.  If my questions aren’t answered and I’m not ok with that, it leaves me with a sense of emptiness.  It’s not as if I live in that place, but  every now and again something will trigger it off and I feel the pain again.  Maybe it’s like being an adopted child; so grateful for their beautiful adoptive parents, but empty with the unanswered question, “What happened?”  Most go after the answers and for a while, the pain is cutting.  They may even have more questions,  but at least they know what happened and they can move on.

When there is a misunderstanding or fall out, we can go one of two ways.  Ignore it and move on and away from the relationship, or do whatever we can to fix it.  If it still can’t be fixed, at least we’ll know we’ve done everything in our power to fix what is broken.

This requires bravery.  Courage.  Vulnerability.  The ability to face the truth about myself and own what I have contributed to the chaos.

Fixing things.

Piece by piece.

So, this morning I opened our curtains a little too enthusiastically and knocked down three beautiful bowls given to me by my friend Cathy from Cyprus.   They aren’t costly but really important to me.  When I saw the bits of pottery all over the floor, I was tempted to sweep them all into the bin and forget I ever owned them.  But then I thought of the letter I had just sent to my friend and I made a decision to fix them.  Deliberately.  Carefully.  Piece by piece.

I’m so glad I did.

Part 2 coming up 🙂

 

Post 204. Hit on the back of my head with an empty nest.

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I am about to turn 59 and an empty nest has just hit me on the back of my head.

I miss my kids.

I miss their shiny eyes. Perfectly shaped noses. Beautiful mouths. Their cheek bones. Their thick handfuls of colourful hair. Their soft ear lobes. Their slender talented hands and their funny feet. I have examined them all. Memorised forever.

I miss my kids.

I miss them lying on my bed. Long chats. I miss hearing their voices and watching their facial expressions. The smiles and lightness of new things. A proposal. An invention. Something created in the early hours of the morning. A song. A poem. A wire thing. A drawing. An epiphany. A new idea.

I miss my kids.

I miss their frowns of confusion, the tears of brokenness and regret. Voices raised and hard questions asked. Challenging my core. Shaking my bones. Rattling my cage. Questioning the very ground I stand upon. Tissues strewn and pillows suffocated.   Faces buried in my mattress. Holding each other’s trembling marrow. Trying to understand.

I miss my kids.

I miss their nonsense. Dancing wildly in the kitchen and any other available space. Singing. Non-stop singing. Plucking strings. Non-stop string plucking. Relentless chatter and creativity. Wrestling. Leaps of faith into each other’s bodies. Undoubtedly trusting the strong wall of love and commitment. Fortresses. Never failing fortresses.

I miss my kids.

I miss seeing them staring into my fridge. Looking into my cupboards. Walking into my bathroom. Borrowing my stuff.   Messing up my house. Hundreds of bodies around my dining table. Food everywhere. The little red over-worked espresso machine. Coffee cups piled up on the kitchen sink. Butter chicken and a cloth filled with chapattis. Paper napkins. Water fights.

I miss my kids.

I miss kissing their eyelids and the corners of their mouths. I miss folding up their ears. I miss clapping each other’s hands as we walk along the road.   I miss hearing them harmonising. I miss road trips. Car music. Kids on the car roof screaming their lungs out into the mountains. Yak milk coffee. Memories galore.

I miss my kids.

Spread out to kingdom come. Out of my reach. Too far away to hold. Their blurred faces on my screen. The deep parts of their eyes, invisible. Losing track of the built up lines of age, stress and anxiety. My band-aids are small and a kiss has lost its power. The heart wounds are beyond me. So many miles between us.

I miss my kids.

Bonded for life. Joined at the hip. Insanely loved. Etched into my memory- from birth. Day one. Every part. Crooked teeth. Larger than life ears. A brown tooth. So perfect to me. Every millimetre loved by me.

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I miss my kids.

Post 203. The Basement 2003

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2003: So, we had found a beautiful apartment for our family and a community hang out flat for weekly  meetings but we still needed a place for the whole community.

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Fixing up The Basement

After months of viewing some awful places, we found a big basement in E-14,  Kailash Colony.  It was a mess but we could see the potential. We got in there and fixed it up with fans, lights, toilets, a kitchen and lots of plugs. We painted the wall blue and it was arty and colourful. Josh did some graffiti on it to liven it up. It was then that we started our Friday Night Coffee Bars.

 

CCC (Capital City Church) was full of musicians and creative people.  The Ugandans kept it noisy and lively.   Duke, Mark, Ronnie, Alan and Barbara came with their incredible stories of life in Africa.

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Those who were locked into one genre were stretched.   We were every genre.  An American group taught us Four-Square dancing, someone else taught us couple dances,  all kinds of people took to the stage whenever they wanted to.  Originals flowed and we were amazed at the incredible giftedness of the young people in our lives.

Our power supply was a challenge and we needed a generator.  Someone suggested we have a “Mad Hatters” night to raise some funds.  The hats were crazy! They were too good to keep in the basement so we went into Kailash Colony market to show them off.  We invited people to come back for coffee and quite a few followed us.  Some kept coming week after week. The hats were auctioned and we made over Rs 30,000!  Most of it came from the visitors who had come off the street.  It was an amazing night.

 

Then there were Bingo nights, movie nights, table tennis, darts, carom, UNO, Scrabble and Open Mic nights.  They were all big hits and Friday Night Coffee Bar was the place to be.

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When someone had a birthday they would bring a cake or sweet meats to celebrate themselves.  The worship times were celebratory and many encountered the love of Jesus and His community.  There were those who loved us before they loved Jesus.  They were part of the community and attended everything for years before crossing over.  We never pressurised them or tried to convert them.  We loved them and they loved us, then they loved Jesus.

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We learnt the importance of having fun.  Lots of it.  To be unreligious and down-to-earth.  To love unconditionally, all who walked through those doors.  To build a culture of honouring all people from all backgrounds and cultures.  To bless the community through great entertainment and a good, clean environment.  To give strangers a place to rest their weary heads after a long week of intensity in the capital.

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While we were underground, we were very visible.  Hundreds of people walked into “The Basement”.   There was always someone to sit and chat to and of course, always Vinod’s famous coffee* to enjoy.

*Even “coffee snobs” loved Vinod’s steamed milky coffee.  We never let on it was BRU; the cheapest coffee/chicory available.

 

Post 202. The Threat of War

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In June 2002,  the US embassy put out an advisory for all foreigners to leave India. Pakistan was threatening to drop a nuclear bomb on Delhi.

The thought of leaving our community was horrible.  “Not even an option!”  Tony made some calls to our relatives who advised otherwise.  They felt it would be irresponsible of us to not think about our children.

We made some emergency plans which in retrospect were quite silly ones.  If a bomb was dropped, there was no way on earth we were going to be able to drive our car from Delhi to Mussoorie.  We couldn’t even drive to our local market on a normal day without getting stuck in a traffic jam.  The panicky pictures we painted in our minds and to each other were all horrendous and futile, bordering on comical.

We lay awake wondering:  If we left the country, when would we ever get back?  What would happen to our Delhi community?  How could we abandon our family?  Could we take them all with us?  What about our kids?  They were our priority.  We were torn.

The threat came and went and came and went..  and with it our fear.  Love for the community grew.  Were we going to run away like hirelings? No.  We were shepherds. Our kids were our first sheep and we never wanted to put them in danger.   We were also in love with the “community sheep” who would have been harassed and helpless without a shepherd.

The test was real.  Would we run away at the first sign of trouble?  Would we pack up our things, head for a safe, foreign land and leave behind those who had no option but to stay?

One night as we lay in the dark, peace descended on us.  We decided we would only go if the Indian Government demanded it ( and even then, we wondered how we could camouflage ourselves without looking too much like Peter Sellers in The Party 🙂

The kids each got a new backpack with a few emergency items, which they kept on their beds.  Within a couple of days, the snacks had been eaten during midnight feasts and the bags were used for storing things.

“They” say, “Most of what we fear never happens.”  I have found this to be very true.   Fear can be paralysingly real.  It has the power to control.  It has the power to stop us dead in our tracks.  It disturbs our peace and limits our ability to experience freedom and love.  It affects our destiny.

We decided, after much turmoil and stress, to grab fear by the throat and hold it against the wall.  When we looked it in the eye, we were surprised at it’s timidity.

It’s fear.

PS.

See more of my posts on fear.  Yes, I’ve had issues 🙂

Post 168 and Post 169

 

 

 

 

 

Post 201. Floccinaucinihilipilification

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Floccinaucinihilipilification:

Why Rajkumari?

I had seen thousands of homeless, desperate women dressed in smelly rags

So often in a worse state than Looli

Is it because they all had their hands out and Looli didn’t?

They demanded everything and anything as if it was their right

But Looli demanded and expected nothing

Her only demand was to be left alone and to have peace

Is that what made me go after her?

There was a nothing-ness about her

We could gain nothing from her and she wanted nothing from us.

It was there that the two arrows met

She found love and so did we

All selfishness left

We lived only to see her safe and at peace

Away from danger and evil people.

Suddenly our lives and entertainment seemed shallow and unimportant

Nothing was more important than to see improvement in her

Signs of hope, a new smile, to hear a clear word from her

Sad, stiff mouth.

O God! How many more like Looli?

I want to know but I don’t want to know

I want to see but I don’t want to see

At all! At all!

To see would demand total unselfishness

A total surrender of our whole family.

If we want to see justice done

It would mean spending our lives on behalf of the poor

So, don’t show us everyone Lord,

Just show us OUR Loolis.

The ones you want US to love

The ones you will work it out for.

And thanks for loving me in my state of nothingness,

Just as you love Princess Looli.

PS.

The loveliest, longest word in the dictionary was taught to me by my dad when I was 8:  I mastered it when I was 9.  More than the challenge of the word itself, I was fascinated that such a long word could mean nothing…

Flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication: Definition:  The action or habit of estimating something as worthless.  A state of nothingness.

 

Post 199. Losing Lata

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Lata was a small, friendly, charismatic young lady in her mid twenties. She was full of energy and talked a lot. She talked a lot about her life of hardship. It was very hard.

She was born in Bombay, never knew her father and had a hardworking mother who gave her to a family member who brought her to Delhi to work.  She went from one domestic job to the other and learnt near- perfect English from the foreign families she worked for. She arrived on a Sunday morning at Madhur Milan and made friends quickly.  Her life had been traumatic from childhood but she had found life and hope in Jesus.

When Santaram died, she offered to help us. We took her on, excited that she was a believer. Lata was amazing to have around and did everything so well and so fast. In the evenings she would sit in the girl’s room doing their hair and they would do hers. She became part of our family.

After about 18 months something started to change.  Lata was getting intense and manipulative. We noticed she had started to complain and her peace had gone. We heard from our security guard that she had started visiting a guru lady who “wasn’t good”.

We left for Australia to attend a conference feeling slightly concerned about leaving the kids with her. Louise Bulley was also staying with them so we thought it would be fine.

We had been away for a few days when we got the phone call that Lata had “lost it”. She had started having demonic manifestations in the kitchen and was laughing loudly and mocking the kids right in their faces. They said she would leave food cooking on the gas and fall on the floor, writhing and throwing pots around. They were so scared. When Josh and Andries came to help, Lata ran up onto the roof, screaming and shouting and wouldn’t be pacified.   When she finally calmed down, Andries and Brenda took her to their house to see how they could help her.  The next day she jumped off their first floor balcony breaking a leg in the jump.

After some tests at Vimhans Mental Hospital, she was diagnosed as being bi-polar and a manic-depressant. We knew there were also some unhelpful spiritual things happening in her life and that wasn’t a good combination.   The police got involved and insisted that Lata sign an affidavit clearing the Lindeques of the insinuation that they caused her to jump off their balcony. It was quite a task. She was manipulative and pretended not to know what we were talking about. It took quite a while for her to sign, but she did.

We arranged for her family from Bombay to take her home. We encouraged her to keep taking her medicine and told her she could come back when she was better.

Within a week her family called to say she was refusing to take her medication and that she was back in Delhi. We saw her a few weeks later and could see that something just wasn’t right. She had lost touch with reality. She blamed us for everything and wasn’t grateful for the help, medical treatment or anything else that had been done for her. It was difficult.   We loved her so much.

That was the last time we saw Lata but our landlord saw her a week later, sitting cross-legged on the pavement with her hands in the air, singing and shouting at the top of her voice.

Lata, the little lady with the big compassionate heart, had helped so much with our Looli. Now it seemed that she, like Looli,  was also lost.

PS.  I have never stopped praying for Lata.  I sometimes find myself looking out for her on the streets of Delhi;  hoping that one day we will find her.

Next post: “Loving Looli” : With a photo of Lata and Looli 🙂