Category Archives: The Long and Winding Road

Living life on the way: From a South African childhood to life in India and everything inbetween.

Post 206. Piece by Painful Piece

Standard

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.

IMG_6151

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.

IMG_6150

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.

IMG_6154

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.

IMG_6156

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)

Standard

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 202. The Threat of War

Standard

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 195. The caged lion

Standard

The previously spoken of study in Kalkaji had no windows and it was dark.  Tony was like a caged lion.

His study in Mussoorie had been light and bright and just a few steps away from a beautiful forest. He would spend hours walking through it singing, praying and spending time with God.  There was fresh air,  space and peace.

Now, early every morning, down on the hot, sweaty plains,  Delhi shouted, “This is what I have, now show me what you’ve got!”

The loud speakers from the nearby temple blared out all hours of the night and early hours of the morning so we didn’t get much sleep.

When we walked to our car we had to fight off street dogs.  We also had to step over the plastic-bag-food-bombs people had thrown over their balconies for the dogs.

Tony was convinced everyone was attacking him.  He got angry and frustrated within minutes of driving in our very congested, narrow market road.  Parking anywhere was an issue.  There were also days while driving that I felt everyone was trying to kill me. We didn’t just have to look left and right, we also had to look up and down.  We could never tell which direction something was going to come from.  Biggest went first.  We learnt quickly that lane driving was insane driving.  If you stayed in your lane you just wouldn’t survive, let alone get anywhere.

Traffic lights were a new phenomenon for us.  It seemed they were new to Delhi drivers too.  Red meant go, yellow meant go and green meant go.  People would be honking no matter what colour the light was.

Delhi was Tony’s battle field.

He took it upon himself to put straight everyone who broke a road rule.

One day someone cut in front of us.  Tony chased him down, got in front of him and stopped.  An argument ensued and Tony got back into our car.  As we drove off in a cloud of frustration and heat, I commented half jokingly,

“Well done Tone.  1 down, 1 billion to go.”

PS.  It took Tony five years to love Delhi.  It happened in Spring while he was driving towards Sri Fort.  The road was lined with Amalta Trees (Or Golden Shower Trees) and he saw the beauty of the city for the first time.  He still struggled, but the heaviness of living in Delhi lifted that day, and he was more than grateful.

Amaltas(1)

Post 169. Please be quiet, I’m trying to fly this plane (Part 2)

Standard

Our pilot friend, John Sinclair handed us upgraded tickets at the airport.    He said we could sit with him in business class.  He also had a first class ticket, which one of us could have.  I was too scared to sit by myself so I declined.  I couldn’t fly without holding Tony’s hand, so we all sat together.  I burnt John’s ear off the entire trip with my silly questions.  Every time there was a change in the sound of the engine, I asked him what was happening.  I asked him about the pilots and why I should trust them to get such a huge, heavy piece of machinery into the sky and keep it there.   What if one of them had a heart attack?  What if both did?  He answered patiently.

During some mild turbulence, I stopped talking and started sweating.  I wanted absolute silence.  I needed to listen for anything that would indicate we were going to crash.  John talked to the air steward who asked me to follow him.  He took me into the cockpit and left me with the captain and co-pilot.   They were happy for the company.  I was amazed to see them facing each other and chatting over cups of coffee.  It was still turbulent and I expected them to have their hands on the wheel or at least watching where we were going.   I mean, there were all kinds of things to crash into, right?  I asked them lots of questions and they didn’t laugh.  That was helpful.  My last question was, “So, why aren’t there any parachutes on these planes?”   They looked at each other and decided to tell me the truth.  “Lady, if we fell from this height, no-one would survive.”  He was so relaxed about it.  No sign of panic, just really matter-of-fact.  Then and there, in that little cockpit, I accepted the fact that if the plane crashed, I would die.  Instantly; and a weird way, I felt better.   It suddenly dawned on me that I wasn’t afraid of dying.  That was settled when I was thirteen years old.  I was just very afraid of the “how.”

I had seen too many plane crash movies.  The most recent one was “Survival.”  The plane crashed into snow-covered mountains.  There were a handful of survivors who resorted to eating those who were less fortunate.  The other movie was about a plane crashing into the ocean.  The survivors spent the night in the deep with sharks circling underneath them.  Most of them ended up as shark bait.  I hated that idea.  I didn’t want to eat Tony or be eaten by him and I definitely didn’t want to be eaten by a shark.

Once, on our way to Australia, we did a transit stop in Malaysia.  It was a rough ride.  I got off the plane shaking and crying.  I told Tony that I wasn’t going to get on the next plane.  I wanted him to leave me there and pick me up on the way home.  I wasn’t hysterical or loud about it.  I was just totally prepared to stay all by myself for however long it took.  He patiently explained to me that wasn’t going to happen.  I would need to get on a plane to get home to our kids anyway.  No matter how scared I was, I had to get back on the plane.

As we were flying, I heard God gently but firmly say,” If you give in to this fear,  you will affect your destiny and the destiny of your whole family.”  I fought with fear and turbulence like they were the enemy.  There was no way I wanted to give in to fear.  I knew we were called to nations beyond India.  The only way to get to those places was to fly.  I needed to win the battle.

I had to nail one issue at a time.  I had to get right down to why I was so afraid.  Only then would I be able to board a plane without being convinced that the plane I was on, was the one that was going to crash that year.

It was illogical.  It was base-less and limiting.  It was to do with self-preservation.  It was going to affect my destiny.  i just couldn’t allow that to happen.

Post 155. Territorial spirit

Standard

Image

Pic- Hike to Kedarnath

A few months before our move, the Watkinson family joined us for a hike to the Gangotri Glacier.  We had done the hike to up to Kedarnath with the Ferreiras and Jono and Char in 1996 and now we were going to the source of the great Ganga River.

From my journal:

Tuesday:

Left at 4.30 a.m.  Gorgeous drive to Gangotri.  Huge landslides and incredibly steep gorges.  Drove over a 410-foot bridge.  Awesome and scary.  Nice weather with soft rain most of the way.  Arrived at 2 pm.  The trainees were waiting for us.  Had lunch and all slept for two hours.   Woke up with such a bad headache.  This place is full of the dark side.  Little men sitting in caves and tents doing all kinds of cultic stuff.  Incredibly powerful waterfall and amazing rock formations.

Image

Wednesday:

Good sleep.  Girls in one dorm, guys in another.  Set off early for Bhojbasa.  Vasanti pulled something in her leg and was in a lot of pain.  She was determined to get there.  Hiked for fourteen kilometres up to 12,385 feet.  The guys took turns to carry Jordan in his carry seat.  When the girls got tired they went on the mules; SO close to the edge at times.  It was so good to get to Bhojwasa.  Heard mice scuttling around all night. 

Image

Hike to Gangotri

Thursday:

Found all kinds of things in our shoes in the morning.  The mice had fun while we were sleeping.  Left early for Gaumukh.  It was a challenging nine kilometre hike but not difficult. We went up to 13,000 feet.  Did a lot of boulder climbing.  Vasanti said it was too humiliating to get on the mule,  so hobbled almost the entire way.  When she finally gave in, she was healed instantly!  SO funny.  Amazing to be at the source of the Ganga.  The glacier is HUGE.  Saw massive blocks of ice breaking off and floating down the river.

We all stood on a big rock and prayed and prophesied over India for an hour.  Good time.  Really felt God’s presence. 

It was a long walk back to Bhojbasa.   I walked most of the way with Esther.  Talked about how spiritually easy it had all been. 

That night I had a really oppressive dream.  It may have been a vision because I wasn’t able to get to sleep.  I dreamt that I was thinking how easy it had been.  Suddenly, Shiva’s face appeared.  His mouth was huge and he was laughing right in my face.  He said, “It was easy because I’m not afraid of you; twelve people praying on a rock.  This has been my territory for decades. What do you think you can do?”  The laughter was loud and intimidating.  I was struggling to breathe but didn’t want to wake anyone up.

I woke up feeling really discouraged and oppressed.  I told Tony about the dream on the hike back to Gangotri.  I felt my throat closing up and I started gasping for air.  Everyone prayed for me and I was fine.  I knew it wasn’t true.  I knew our prayers had made an impact.  I knew Jesus was more powerful and that He had been there not just for decades, but from the beginning of time.

After a night in Gangotri we drove back to Mussoorie.  It was going well until we hit very thick winter mist.  It was so scary.  We could barely see the road in front of us.  Just before we got home, Tony and I saw two huge black holes in the mist.  If we had been too distracted by them, we would have been over the cliff.  When we got to our house, we were all shaken up but so happy.

A cup of tea later and we were all in bed.  As my granddad used to say, “A nice cuppa tea and I won’t need no rockin’ tonight.