Category: Uncategorized

The armour of God

Nan always remarked how movies took their banners from the Bible:

Armor of God, Armageddon, Judgement day, Apocalypse, …? Any other?

As we put together sunday fellowship vids, it crossed my mind how much easier it is to share core values and faith than ever before,

But too, how much more hard we are in places, as a human race. God is used to being misunderstood; we are still getting there. I am as simple a human as you can get to meet, love family, love God. No agenda. Lifes short, and I mean short. If I knew a good Bakery or store, I’d tell you. If I heard a good story, I’d share. No ones perfect, we are messy, messed. We fall, rise, hobble. We are hurt, we hurt. We are innocent and we are guilty of being human. But I’ve walked and wrestled with more angels and demons than I can say. And I’ve been loved by the Christ.

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Spin Story

My creative tribute to Dad, his Raleigh, & all the wonderful ‘challenged’ people in the world. You are my heart! May you find peace and love and joy in the truest sense of the word: and laughter! Thankyou Treadbikley!❤ (must add I’m still terrified of crossing streets. Doesnt help that I live in the world’s most tough lanes 😅)

https://www.treadbikely.com/spin-story/

Rayla Noel

I try not to stare at Jeeva and his BSA on the railway tracks at Maki Station, as the two freefall over the gravel slope in front of our gate. 
 
Jeeva has eyes in his feet, I know, but I cannot watch this. He grins in my direction, the last rays of another sun settle across his eye bones, and for a moment, there he is, a lighthouse, the light spilling off him. 
 
‘B,’ his BSA bicycle, lounges against the white wall, glistening bright red. I helped him paint it six weeks ago. My friendly neighbor ‘lighthouse’ scans the wheels, spoke, and chain with two sets of rags: one that’s wet and another for dust. He knows I’m here; I can tell he’s self-conscious because his left jaw muscle moves nervously. 
 
We met exactly a year ago when he moved in. What a noise that was, with six metal trunks labeled in Braille and not enough parking space for his ‘B!’ It took a while for us all to recognize that instead of a guide dog guide or a long cane, our new neighbor walked along with his blood-red-cautionary bicycle mate. Genius. 
 
A few weeks ago, he touched my face. When a blind person feels your face, it isn’t necessarily a romantic gesture. They want to know how you smile, and whether they can trust you the same way they trust their B’s bell at traffic lights and crossings.  

I took it personally. I’m mid-thirtyish, a graduate from India’s best arts college in Bangalore city. Jeeva is 40, maybe 45? I’m unsure. He’s of my Pa’s generation, though. 
 
Speaking of which, Pa owned a three-speed Phillip’s gearbox fitted into a Raleigh, which he rode like a teenager at 70. “Keeps me young,” he said, that rush of the wind in his ears. He was a cross between a true-blooded South Indian and a male Mary Poppins. 
 
Pa brought home kittens in that carrier basket, kicking live lobsters, and even a drake and ducklings that had lost their partner and mother in a storm. Once, we rode with Pa down Jasmine hill to the steep turn where we fell into sheep. Another time, we fell in horse dung, sliding us neatly past Mr. McFarlane’s villa, Pa’s Raleigh cycle following in tandem. 
 
Ach! The look in McFarlane’s face as he watched over his wall, mouth hung in the despair of delight. That Christmas, they invited us over, and Mrs. M.’s eyes twinkled with contained secrets. It was their last month before they went back to Perth, and the last thing he said to us was, “Oi, you girls, and Dad do a neat spin now and then, don’t ya? What were you doin’ all four of you in the seat of your pants down Jasmine hill, eh?!” 
 
Mai, my mother, pretended like she never heard a word. 


“How’s it going?” Jeeva asked. 
 
“How’s what going?” I didn’t know what to say. Would he know I have shoulder-length hair, my 5’ 4″ frame was curled like a cane divan? Or, that my prosthetics still hurt? That I’ve been in ‘lockdown’ 24 hours a day since a car accident took my feet, and my parents? That my sisters are a teacher and a doctor, and I’m an artist with oils? That last detail, he knows, since we are colleagues at APH. 
 
The evening Pa taught me to ride, I thought he was holding onto the rear of my bicycle, but he’d let go as I rode along the trail running parallel to the sea. I took a steep curve back down. I thought he was yelling behind me, but his voice was carried along with the sea winds, and my heart went like horses. “Keep going, Ray,” he yelled. His voice returns now, and again when I forget, I cannot fly. 
 
When Jeeva speaks, he has no accent; no rolling of R’s, flattening of the alphabet’s W. “We could be good together…” 

“I don’t know that.” 

“We do not know much. Y’know about everything? About an Earth spinning with zero support from any of us, just gravity, the same thing that holds us down too?” 

“Whoa, nice.” 
 
“You must be pretty. I can tell by the way you are not easy to please.” He’s laughing. If you call a snub-nosed elf pretty, then yes. 
 
Jeeva finds my cane stool and straddles it. “Do you not want to get out? We could do shorter trips first.”

It’s hard not to smile.

“We both need our groceries and vitamin D. Then, when we can, let’s work out. This is important.” 

He’s good at balancing manners with caution. That, and maybe he just wants company. 

“I’ll walk my bicycle. You could join us with your chair?” 

He means my wheelchair. 

What a great-looking couple, going to get our greens and potatoes. 

“You just want company,” I said. 

“Yes, but not just any.” His grin is relieved; it lightens the air. 

I worked as an Art Teacher at the Association for the Physically Handicapped, which was only a minute away. Jeeva taught music, now entirely online. It must’ve been dizzyingly difficult, but he was good. 

Me? I sweat the details. How did he live with those whacked irises, all chained to reality and hope, light and darkness? 
 
Twilight steeped with the monsoon. 
 
Jeeva stood up, looking taller than his 5’10-ish frame.  

I wanted to say to him, “Maybe this isn’t all about groceries.” And, that I saw how light spilled off him like a lighthouse this evening. 

The last time I was up in the lighthouse with Pa, the coastal arc simmered blue. A low, orange door opened onto the outer lip of the black and white-striped tower. Here, winds plucked at my ears, arms, and legs. I tasted salt as I held onto the railing; it was scary, dangerous, “a lesson life taught you,” Pa said. “You need to hold onto all you can. Never stop that, never.” 
 
Jeeva stays a bit longer. He wants to talk. 

“I was born blind,” he says. “I grew up in a home for homeless boys like me. They taught us to test winds, listen for the sounds of people breathing and smiling. The air has these signals in temperature, like emotions. Like a ground that dips, swells.” 

“If you focus too much on what you cannot do, you will fall,” he continued. “It is the worst temptation to focus on how you can fall.”

He turns his face toward me for one long moment, like he can see. Then, he begins to leave, saying he’s tired and must wake up early. “Tomorrow, we are going to do this. One little stretch at a time. I will not take the Maki railway route. Instead, we will go down by the park,” he said. 

I stalled. This wasn’t going to be easy. 

“Hey, Hey! No negative spins, Ray. You take a break whenever. When—ever.” 

Fine. That sounded fine. How my ‘feet’ would take it, I did not know, but I wanted this. It was also the first time he’d said my name. 

I arrived back at my house, with its wide doors for a wheelchair, its shelves within arm’s reach.  Safe, easy. There’s a rush in my ears, the noise of negation. 
 
It will be nice with Jeeva. Maybe, one day we can take the kids from APH and go someplace, maybe a safe slope to start. 
 
‘Keep going, Ray…’ a voice calls past the spin in my heart.

What the Cross means to me

And I’d thought this Cross was a symbol of suffering: but It is more. It’s a coat hanger for my soul…. but more, more! Now and then, I’m shredded by life. Now and then dragged into chasms alone… so I thought. So we think, we humans.

We are suicidal, sick, disabled, dependent on human resource; we are hostage, we are criminal. But

You standing next to me, in me: crossing out evil, negating my dark;

You pouring words through my lips of clay,

You rinsing my hands and feet o’er and o’er; You saying words in my ears I could not have found on my own. Words like a 2edged Sword- one edge cutting away death, the other granting me life:

You, shining a trillion times x infinity- more than all our suns: Your Light stark blazen smashing every last snicker of evil, every stinkn’ shroud casting its net in my bones, in the soul of my nation, my borders, my dregs… blazing with Your light…. personified by the Cross.

This Cross more potent than Light as we know it, Its reach deadlier than sin and hell; what force can separate me from its Love nailing me to Its heart, Its Heaven, Its Immortal Vein? ….NOTHING. NOTHING. NOTHING. IT IS THE BRANDING FIRE OF GOD, IT holds my breath, my pulse my all. My all.

Yesterday I went got caught in the rain…

paddled in puddles, laughed out loud in my mask, frightened a few men in shop shelter; their eyes crinkling in mirth. The rain fell slow thick drizzle, it tripped a butterfly that sashayed across my face into a nearby lamp post. A wet dog shrugged, its ears flapping to its tail. After a long long time for a bit there I forgot the propriety of propriety and colds. My sleeves fell in my skin. No umbrella. Electric wires sparkled with drops, a pigeon with spiked head feathers waddled under and into a low shuttered shop; I felt joy like a bubble burst, and thought how they said rains are bad for Covid. Then thought to hell with it, literally. We are sick of it, yes yes do not go laid back. I shook a girls hand today at the Centre, hugged her elbow…

.. then quick reached for sanitiser, it’s cool masks my thoughts. I hate how we’ve become careful, how we are so wretched careful. We have to be, and I love how the rain for a moment baptized me in itself. For a moment there it was like before all this took our care free walks. Yesterday reminded me we can still be the same inside an earth that never changes. Caterpillars and leaves go on. Stores still sell hair clips and Tee shirts, or pineapple crush. The rain still falls puddles and silver, in afternoon grass green gaudy green by a cream compound wall and new yellow flowers. I want to say a little prayer, thankyou God for everyone as is, and for all things that we have.

Did an interview with daughter here: oh go do the things you want to. Don’t deny us the laughter, the tears, the relief of honesties. Yes, suicides are on the rise, rape and trades beyond decencies. Somewhere between all this, one stops to pray, believe, rest our hearts on the One who loves like none other. I wish you love, joy, peace.

P.S.

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The Deadliest Contagion

My Article published in DOVE TALES: LITERARY JOURNAL OF THE ARTS

Pic: DoveTales Journal Resistance/ Summer Edition Aug 2020


The Deadliest Contagion: writing for peace, rayla noel:

That first time I watched ‘Gandhi’, one scene followed me out of the theater door: the one with native police and advancing marchers. Row after row, they went down battered and bloodied, and not one of them raised an arm in defense.  Martin Luther King Jr.  said it was this Salt March movement that deeply influenced his own philosophy of civil disobedience. Gandhi’s handful of salt at Dandi would change the way we read Resistance.

Shifting Plates

When I was 8 years old we lived in a rental home next to land lady Vanima’s cottage

She wore a 7 yard sari and gold anklets to underline her ‘high’ caste. How we even got to rent their place beats me, but if our shadow so much as fell across them on certain nights/days there was serious ritual cleansing that followed. Vanima would chant out loud, cover her head, and slam her front door against ills that might arrive at her from us. My mother was a teacher and my father worked a few miles away in a coastal town we visited every weekend, but on week days we had to brave our new address. Both our front steps ran together. Curiously, we shared the same walls and well—the projecting concrete brickwork over the top of well just about covered her face from ours. It was ridiculously awkward…...read more

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:)

I respect you..

…your time here, your life; it maybe far different from mine, yet here for a breath we meet, brothers / sisters in a time like ne’er before…

I respect that your presence, your heart is the physical manifestation of God; we are so alike, we are different but alike in ways too many to not remember. I respect that we walked this year together, torn, mended, healing, broken, like dawns and dusks, we like oceans and shore lines .. crashing building castles; our prints settle in an earth in a time we will never forget. We may never meet but we have, here, now, this new day. And I stare at these lines that spill me to a person I might hear from, I might not. I stare at all this with respect.

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Emotional Civilization

I’ve been intrigued by Olivia Laing’s article ‘How to be alone’, which yelled for attention in my Google search for global pulse few months ago.

E.Hopper’s Night Hawk. Net pic

***

We have been a planet of People Groups: Consumers/Givers/Sitters/ Standers/ Travellers/ Chatterers… We talked of things we knew;


now it feels like we are Letters we never knew we could write, read by people we may never see, and it all breathes close enough to be real. 


Quoting O.Lang, “The weird gift of loneliness is that it grounds us in our common humanity. However frightened we may feel we have never been less alone.” 

(Her words stand tall and stark among all our comment on life issues, ach! Things more devastating than Covid: racism, depression …after the Mr. Floyds and recent spate of suicides, oh Economic crises et al, we know better);

Lang covers Ed. Hopper’s painting ‘Night Hawk’, along with twitter’s colorless version of Hopper’s Hawk in the age of Coronavirus..’ 


Ugh but yes, the aspect of Colour draining from us as we grow 3 feet from each other and gaze at new leaf, beetle, ant for sweet newness,


this is war on wars of Likes, Shares, Claps, War on self impositions where we once screamed to be heard, known, read…


Today there’s a mirror on the wall and it edits nothing of our Global Face staring at Us like never before:  


a Stare that visits possibly once every Era.

And this. That we have never been less alone:


here I am every human, mid new madness and uncertainty:

this new Status is louder than the noise of everything else we’ve known. May we all live to look back on these times as vital chapters of Emotional Civilisation…..if we have the time to….(more) ..

In our Quest for Peace, maybe our hunger will lead us to what truly fulfills: oh, our thirst quench our aimless dissatisfaction. Maybe poverty of spirit is necessary to strip us of materialism. Maybe when we are weak we are strong. Maybe when Feet are cut away we find Wings that rise us up to new Air more varified than Oxygen. It has a new name: It breathes the breath of a Three letter Word: God. How could we step in the divine if we think we are only physical? Loneliness is a Reflector. We are the moon to a Light too strong to look at. We are met with the silence of the sun and it burns into our skin a new awareness of life as it now is. We are not in control anymore. Not parliaments, not horses and kings can decipher a pokey horned virus that has us gagging in masks and gear we wouldn’t have touched last year this time. We’ve been paintings in the wall. We’ve been silenced by the bleating of social approval, but not anymore.

I look in the mirror and see a new me, she is unafraid of honesty…. time is way too short to waste in formalities. We are more than paint and walls. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved/ loves us so wide and deep and long… it reaches through all my anxiety…

Love like that makes me need a moment alone, to just digest the Unseen. Its where we are each headed: Its Face is pure unadulterated Love. Love unlike ours’ …Pursuing, waiting, healing, forgiving, eternal & beyond the embrace of a Society that is perhaps too numbed to not be suspicious of Power like that. Choose Life or Death, Love or Hate, indifference and acceptance. How many choices have we left? How many days in which to choose…

yea may these be vital moments of Emotional Civilisation.

Rayla N.

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Those school girl days …

So I get serial visits from childhood. My mates in ‘tails & school blue. Ashok in red bicycle and forehead lock, his bright eyes lit up with mischief that time he asks Sis M. why they wear veils and wouldn’t she please lift that veil for us once please? Sis M. blushes pink red purple and glares at him through her brows but you know she isn’t angry.

Unsplash

***

Yes we got in a school mates W/A group; we see new pictures of old friends, Yesteryears tiptoe in, loud in my mental ears…

Ranjana the fabulous, first she wore little plaits then her straight black hair grew out like a sheath cut blunt to shoulder. We were 3 ft tall… she sent me little cards strung with felt tipped flowers. Then she started talking and when she did whoa…. it was interschool debate, podium glossy words: I remember thinking she’s the most brilliant girl I’ve ever..! Large dark dreamy eyes that looked beyond our little confines into a wider world waiting out there. She is our class Genius, the life of the party, still is!

Devasmita, my ‘twin’ some said for our similar dark rimmed glasses and hair, but nah. This one’s our class Beauty, and a Sport! We did Sack Race and Badminton together.(“3 leggeds..” she reminds me. What sweet sport! Now they have Fear Factor🤯😅) Deva still has pure marble like skin, laughter rimmed lips, soft brown eyes and wit that needs just few words, with sass mind you. Do not forget we’re the late 70s high schoolers. It was Sholay and ‘Yaadon Ki barath’.. Bobby, Oh Zeenat Aman at her best. Hair worn in side bangs, xxx ear hoops and platform heels simmering under 34″ bell bottomed pants.

Who wore the widest bells? Unsure. The largest starched collars…? It was somethings between Elvis Presley and Amitabh B. The guys wore swag!….oh c’mon ofcourse you did, still do. I’m amazed they’ve not lost the gloss of Pre- Man days. They were Man – Cubs, and they were/ are big brothers.

Were there in- house romances? I’m certain. They were good days, as in Innocence. ‘Dates’ were eyes looking away in corridors and sports field, hehe.

Vimal (Design & more) marries a Beauty with brains, she’s a Doc who also Motor cross country races for heavens sakes, ofcourse he would; Vim so like his Ma. Wide Bambi doe eyes, dark lashed in high cheek-boned face, pure like Gujarati ghee, untouched by materialism. On saturdays, aunty would pack dhoklas in a tiered stainless steel tiffin carrier. Haven’t you had dhoklas? Then you must. Vimal sent us pictures wherever he went in the world… pics in garden chair or mountain rides.. he remembered birthdays, yelled when you forgot, he kept your scribbles and holiday letters (mine were filled with fish tales he grumbled) threatening to use them when we became an MF Hussain, haha.

Hey my classmates are beautiful people inside out. Joyati, our very own Bong-babe soft haired long plaits to the waist, voice like a song. You never heard her yell, her shirt always white, like her socks ‘ neath blue pinafore. Glad they did not give us ties;

this was 10 kms from Coastal Odisha, humid monsoons and summers ripe with mango, oh Lassi thickened with coconut gratings, and cashew if you were fortunate. I loved the rain, especially when it fell in the Grotto in Momma Mary’s smiling face like she were doing tears of joy. Ay they were days of serious fun, and some.

Exams were the monster. For me it was Hindi, and Math. The details are deadly. I felt hounded by heaven and hell; my mates were brilliant. I gawked at their intellect, their knowledge of laws and physic, of mercury and Algae, trigonometric squigglies and theories. Who was I, why ? I wondered, but not these Mates mine they laughed at impossibilities. Vimal was it, or Bhabani…. hummed like a bee/ dropped book piles in the floor?? Oh Bhabani: school Princy actually liked sparring with him. Sis Rosalie, she had this little Maddona smile that said much when Bhabani would not tuck shirt in, he’d grin back. They did these silent half-smile matches where I suspect they let each other win. I’ve never seen anything like that since. They were 2 Gladiators, well matched… never mind the decades between them. One was a curly haired tall teenager who could not cut his hair up above ears please, simply because he couldnot, he said. Then the thing about his footwear. It hurt him, he said. He tried once or twice. It was something with his feet. Not possible to wear shoes… did he succumb finally to Sis. R? No? Yes? I cannot remember. But the memoirs of those convos curl with humor.

Here were a generation without Google, WA, & Asphalt gamers. The Net was what fishermen brought home, and Apple was still just a fruit. Phones were black creations on a side table, you went to it. You “rang” it, then you “hung up”. How you hung up determined your mental state. There were no Emojis, just physical stickers you sewed on your jean knees, or stuck on books, on bikes. Books were everything, libraries ruled. I mean ruled. ( And you didn’t know to say Rock for Compliment) …

Oh Encyclopedia sat there like emperors and their wives & children, decked in gold edged flat greens and blues. Readers Digest stared at you, vying for your eyes along with Panchatantra and Cabulliwallah. Enid Blyton though! Some of us ate her pages feeding our soul with Adventure that had nothing to do with Bungee jumping. Horror was stories we retold in verandas, some moonlit nights. Sis Rosalie did our literature …. ” ancient Mariners’ seas .. a ghostly galleon…” she knew how to whisper, how to lift her chin like a hymn being sung, then she’d stand all regal with one foot nestling in her other foot; one wrist on hip, waiting for us to shhhhlisten as we met Wordsworth, Chesterton & RK Narayan….

Surprised at the recall here. I haven’t thought of her Coleridge albatross in decades! But I’m stoked, bro as our kids say.

Nah and we didn’t stoop to auto correct, hey what was a Comp? Lap tops were exactly that. Tops of laps. Here we hid lil notes,

Paper slips that horrific day .. when we didn’t know the name of an Island. But Bhabani. He knew. Ofcourse, he was Guru General Cool. Did he wear a lil ring on little finger? Unsure. But he knew name of that Island; how he spelled it was his own. None of us recognized the name though Ms. Shameem did. She hid face in her white dupatta wrapped around one arm: “You people…” she shut her eyes carefully inside pale pink coral glasses, knowing we had all carefully copied out Bhab’s version of ‘Sacremento‘. Then she slow- swung in my direction and said in sorrow, “You too?”

2 things here. I was official Church Mouse, as decreed by Class officials, not just because I was quiet and shy but too, my existence represented the church in all its forms- my mom was Mrs.David the gentle woman with guitar and songs of Jesus- I had sinned. We had also done Ceaser’s famous Et Tu Brutei… I felt like a murderer of trust. Uh.

Net pic.

We had seen worse days. The time we wrote in the walls of our class with raw mango: were we angry about something? Sure there was rage to follow: Sis Ro. standing there in the grounds by St.Vincent in marble looking down on us as we stood socially distanced from each others elbows, oh spread out for Primary and Pre- primaries to see and know. The eastern Indian sun never fell so harsh and long, food in our lunch boxes curled with waiting… other teachers tut-tutted, we examined our shoe’s buckle and lace, our socks and knees, we pondered on the sand. I forget if we had to clean up classroom before or after this Runway show, but we did. Aye, ‘Ratilal (our tall aristocrat) refused to partner with his broom’, someone reminded us this morning. It should’ve been a great video, but those days ‘viral’ was only a flu’ and ‘U tubes’ lived in Chemistry labs; though now we have memos in our chips inside,

dearest Lord God, souvenirs of such days You made…

You made Shailaja and how come she doesn’t change one tiny bit, her head held high on a neck that’s still slender like the rest of her: a Princess still with that same peace about her, as if all the changes around do not matter. Patsy, she has that quality too, she… our nightingale and abs.charmer, now a teacher herself …. we were “Little Women” together,

with Sis.Margaret scowling at the gorgeous Alpana Watwe for not liking her green and red costume. “And hasn’t God made red flowers with green leaf?!” Sis M. rallied. (Alpana flushed: didn’t she know she’d look great even if they gave her a sack to wear?!) I worried about my ‘necklace’. It was a pale pink large pearly thing I got from where I’ve no recall. My role was Hannah the maid, in this great black velvet dress from costume wardrobe; it reeked of mothballs and damp wood… now I thought it needed my pearls. Sis M’s ferocious black eyes went through my skull then she burst into laughter; she nodded at my odd pearls.

I still wear it inside, a Reminder that we are what grew us. Teachers like Ms Brenda D’Coutho too, not just fairytale pretty but respectful. I wasn’t a star student, but no one laughed. If they did, it was friendly fire. It built. It did not break your back. We learned the simple things. Oh Sujata, our Ms. Joy. Today she is a Wizard in a Tech world, the first time we saw her she was in little red ribbons. Today I saw a pic of her in stylish grey crop and sweater looking like a Desi Hollywood Halle Berry, just wow .. she’s designed Helicopters?!

Here we are decades later. Yesterday Ashok Lohia actually now a grown up and ace Businessman thanked me for helping him draw his bio practical book cockroach, and I teared up thinking how the core of us never changed.

Shailaja : “Change is inevitable but
all look good. And there is that special something about everyone which hasn’t changed. 💕

Ranjana: “Yes that something special…that only an old friend can tell!”

I could say some more but the words want to stare at each other and just say thankyou. Thankyou my mates, for still being there.

Stay precious, stay blest.

RaylaRN

P.S.

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The incredible power of pain

I’m staring at an impossible formula here: the child was alone his entire life from the time his parents left him to when he was found later by more tormentors. Then there’s the story of a young girl in further trauma one wouldn’t wish to detail. All of this towers over the mess in my brain this morning as I mull over few incidents that got me all raw. I see another article about a woman who braves all kinds of home fires to find her identity in God.

My reading today is in the Song of Songs: “Set me as a seal over your heart..” the Good Shepherd replies,”Let me hear your voice my turtle dove. The winter is past, it is now time to hear your song.

Oil painting, RNoel.

***

Rejection is rejected here in His vineyard where He grafts her into His care. I cannot think of a better way to describe the act of a prodigal heart returning to Love. Returning to the act of accepting oneself again: one’s renewed self.

Physical abuse, trauma, hurt, pain….

If you’ve done a little homework like I have these past months, oh even looking into my own existence, you’ll come to the conclusion that Loneliness is perhaps the most rampant ailment in our societies wherever we live… in shanty towns or Penthouses. And yet..

that very loneliness draws me in to His Vinepress like never before. Like never before I see how True Love crushes out then endorses human bruise and frailty with His banner. The lonelier I am, the more I see His light. Darkness itself pulls to the Light, have you noticed?

Have you noticed how evil cringes before Love? Have you gazed with forgiveness at Hatred? Have you hugged a person who taunts you?

That said, Pain is a strange child of loneliness and circumstance. It can be a great guide, sent from the tenderest yet most trafficked portal of heaven.

Pain can guide us to better understanding of each other, it humbles, it clothes, it Graces. Pain can be sweet and it can empower. It sharpens intuition, it is unafraid. When pain rules, a person loses shy. They Deliver. Pain’s features are true. In pain we say it like it is, we are shed of fear.

The little I’ve had of it, has made me who I am: a little less of me, a lot more of the world within us all. We cover our true selves with masks of this and that but inside we are people with sensitivities waiting to be addressed. Pain addresses. It shears, sheds. It sets apart, it shifts gear.

In pain a human’s velocity changes. They morph. They lose formalities. They… we change: we face the day differently.

These past 2 months I’ve heard stories of some brave humans who walked out of the carcasses of yesterday into utterly new creations. And every tale was one where they found the peace, the acceptance of God which smashes human slavery to each other.

When in pain, humans don’t fake it. This peace cannot lie. It is beautiful to watch, breathless beautiful to learn from.

The little pain I experience in my own life pales next to the stories of those who’ve suffered criminal injustice and risen again as Jesus did. Yes the incredible power of hurt, of loneliness…. and all it can do to re- arrange us:

we misunderstand its uses. The more I live, the more I see why God allowed portions of pain. Without it I’d never have understood what it feels like to become unafraid of mortal concerns. The power of pain has given me a freedom impossible to describe in few nice words but I’ll try:

  1. It frees you from social approval
  2. It lifts your thresholds of tolerance
  3. Pain/ loneliness helps you see yourself as your best human Confidant.
  4. It shuts out other noise and you hear that Still Small Voice.
  5. Aloneness… leans the human soul to the supernatural. Some turn to the dark, others to the Light. Yes, there are grey areas that anesthetize the process.
  6. Pain and her mates show us our inner strengths/ disabilities. Tough. It gets tougher to meet our own personality; some of us may dull that pain with drugs and other comforters. Or we walk away.
  7. Stay here longer, you are free of human recipes for fulfillment. No wonder monks, sanyasis… go to caves and trees to find the truth about everything. From Newton to modern thinkers. .. silence is a great mirror. It reflects the Light of the World. Here no darkness dare crush the human spirit which is the physical heart of the Living God.

I can go on.

But today I apologise to God for misunderstanding some of His most powerful gifts.

….

Rayla Noel

Text- Prayers

Today I prayed with Marija- Serb/Russian- she in an empty church (Prague), me here in my Indian Lockdown. We could not talk: Marija had a cough and is much better though still cannot speak. We text- prayed, in a beautiful silence.

Where Marija prayed today with me and her phone.

***

She is a gorgeous girl with a heart of gold; a classical pianist. A star all by herself and as we pray she introduces me to the whole new world we all are in: a world that has crept closer than ever before in a silence that reeks with fear and need: a silence that demands to be filled. We pray for her friend Serg. who is recovering from the worst: for the little children in her classroom and others even here. We go to the altar of an earth keeling; we have no words enough. We have no pride left, no ambition and self. We are as one, muted, stunned into new needs. Has Heaven changed? No.

Thankyou Marija for this.

***

It is the same light in Czechoslovakia that also will fall here a few hours from now. We all still spin around the same sun. It falls on us all the same way; the way it fell for centuries.

Emptied pews, memoirs of finger prints and feet that went through these places; tears, laughter, weddings, babies, christenings, flowers, sermons in candle lit shadows rising to the rafters like hymns;

now they are wooden witness to Marija’s whispers as she kneels for her Prague and my India and all our nations and friends and peoples….

…varnished mahogany(?) gleaming in the flash of Marija’s phone. I’d asked for a few pictures. We have never personally met, but she is blog friend and fellow prayerer at Haven Fellowship.

There are angels in marble here and there in life, in cathedrals and parks. And there’s us. We aren’t angels, we are real time people with lungs and whispers. So we pray for each other; for employment issues and food, for healing and cure; for peace and the knowledge of the saving grace of God that knows no death.

M.& I finish praying but I realise the prayer must go on like a back burner, even though we say Amen via WhatsApp and go on to dinner here. Monsoon is good this year maybe; there’s a rose bud in our balcony. New sapling from forgotten pots; like prayers they lift their stems to a laden sky. No we didnot see any Neo-comet. We saw a family of parrots in gaudy green & blood red beaks. Everything looks like prayers to me. Everything seems to be asking heaven for its Saviour:

as I write this it’s all I can think of. Yes I’m praying for us all, that more than life and death we will experience the Love of God that transcends our very need for mortality. And that He will make a way for us to feel for each other in prayer. In the end it’s the most powered possession humanity owns.

(Below: Marija, playing WayMaker).

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. ” John 3:16. The Bible.

Till

Till the sun goes down, another day. May it bless to bless. Ceaseless in Grace; the race is not to the swiftest, the test is endurance. The best of us are those who love. The best even celebrate suffering. Often alone. And most with God. For He lets the sun rise again…

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What happens when people pray

The day my mother walked out of her skin, she breathed once twice then her hand in mine grew cold, that day Eternity walked close in my narrow space. Was it co-incidence that rays streamed from a room ventilator to where she lay, her last breath so unlike death?

I wanted to grieve, but light stared down thru that ventilator and all I could do hear was the peace of our father, in heaven. My ma was not finished, she had just begun, this amazing woman I saw pray-

when I was little and prayed long prayers. people were afraid to ask me to pray. I trusted God with every detail. We had no secrets. No privacies. I remember them all choking with laughter as I asked the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob to walk thru our little house by the sea and bless bless everything… from packets of chicklet chewies sent by aunt Rosie from Bahrain &, asking Him to bless all of us even our panties, I said in fervent prayer on my 3 year old knees ..

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***

It is funny how a child can walk thru that wall between God and humanity, without shadows of doubts, but as I grew I was afraid- of those shadows, they – became a kind of god. Those shadows in the valley of defeat. They are neat I’m telling you- they are sweet- they are cool chill and teach us to be afraid. I was a child and now am grown. And I have seen us die everyday in all kinds of rooms. We have seen us pray all kinds of prayers.

Tenderly guide us‘ my mother would sing after she prayed -her voice quivering. I wondered why her voice did that quiver- every single time she prayed? Was she scared of Yahweh- was it something He said? Sometimes she’d go quiet as if listening in the silence to her God, as if He were saying secrets in her ears and she’d weep these tears…..they shone her face. she was crying not sad- these were tears you tear when theres things you cannot recover from.

These days when I pray I have no sensible words to ask . The wall between Him and me is a lesser mask, theres no stiff jaw rule no regulation but as the moment begins, I’m searching heaven ……in the quiet/ that begins when I open my soul there’s a silence. The silence of heaven- and something begins I have no words for but I will try… something asking me if I truly love him.

I say yes and He God of heaven, says if have love, then I will pray not for bags of rice and health of my children but for my 1.20 billion…..

yes! I tremble in reply but He isn’t stopping. In the silence He weeps and the sound of that is an ocean on its knees, in Gethesemane, for humanity. Come closer, He says. I look and see, calvary. I cannot move but He reaches within me/

His feet flowing crimson past nailed sins… ” it’s all for free-& hard to believe … I’ve paid your price; not just an Indian 1.20 billion but a planet full . Death has no victory nor the grave. Why are you all so afraid?” He asks, His eyes full of the tears- of heaven: Tears you tear when theres things you cannot recover from.

And I see what I never understood before –what happens when you pray. Like that time with my Ma…when

when heaven walked close in my narrow space. And light stares down in the face, of our valley of the shadow of doubt shhhl

in the silence screaming in our ear; not life nor disease nor hunger nor fear can stand

the most sacred request of all: the God of heaven asking us to pray for All His children…for each other. What can separate us from that kind of love? We can..

we who will not stop to pray for each other/ But Eternity walks close in these walls between us …..a space growing closer than e’er before. And I hear its deafening silence in my ear, won’t you stay awhile with me and pray?

It is a question I cannot recover from/ it is, a voice from heaven. My human selfish dark could ne’er produce that light streaming in from windows of heaven/ like that day my mother walked with Him who now looks in, at our lives -He’s asking in a silence we may be in….

Won’t you step out of your own skin & pray for another? Not in the distant future but Today….

It is time

To hold on to the good in us. To remember mercies and love. And faithfulness. It’s that time to practice peace. And pray like we believe prayer works. It does. Everytime we healed, someone prayed. Everytime our heart of stone melted, it was someone praying. Someone changing the stone of us into a pleasant pasture. What a tragedy that we believe drug- related elation, rather than what made us. It is time

Net pic.

***

..to rest, lean on the magnitude of true Love. I have lived a while now. I’ve seen good and bad and ugly. In you and me. I have eaten nice days that melted down to garbage. And I’ve been kissed by green pasture still waters, my soul has tasted of the Lords goodness and old fashioned as it may seem to someone’s intelligence, darling all our intellect cannot even begin to explain the goings on of mortal breath.

Yep. It’s time to pray. To know God is there here within the arms of our screaming need; Lord heal our lands, our diseased core. Why we fear death is because we know there is more beyond these days, & all our material ways. ‘Neath clothes and head and shoulders & knees & toes, we are creations made. We are more than bags of bones descended from ape and tapes of theories. We are more than doctrines and philosophies. In the core of your pillow you know, you know… in the stark of night, you look out your window asking the meaning of it all, and you know there is more. There is your beautiful mind and it will not die in a box. It leaves into territories we must seek now before late cannot get later.

It is time beloved, to not just pray for life but that also in death we will be safe. We are more than corpuscles and conditional peace. What are we, what is man, his woman, her child: do we know?

In the core of the night with stars, we wonder twinkling star shining bright, what you are…? Just dust. We are more. We write and deduce, we think and celebrate. We justify and keel. We are storms and wars, deciders of things we negate, but this:

a little piece of virus has us running like rabbits into our holes where we beg grace. Our theories and kings, all our horses and men, cannot put us together again.

In our distress we become murderers. Killers of decency. Not just now but thru’ history we read that when we are pushed beyond limits we are limited in our morality. Then we know there is good and bad. If there is good there is a Source. And it’s not us. There’s evil and there’s a source and its not us.

Something made a nice man a demon.

Something made a terrible man an angel.

Get a little closer, listen to my breath. Tell me the source of that and I’ll tell you the source of what draws humans together in the presence of a crisis. There is a Power wider than the girth of the earth spinning on an axis at her tummy. There are polarities geographically, spiritually. We have tasted the bitter dregs of evil and we have sniffed a sniff at some good. We have accepted the powers of Ugh but we are suspicious of God because He wouldn’t like us nestling with Him with all our horns and tails on.

We hate the idea of a Christ that upset the grave. “Bah humbug!”

We suspect His love that spurns evil. We would believe every other, not Him. Though we thoroughly blame Him for all the evil we invited in our living rooms. I’ve done it too.

But it’s time. Time to wipe our glasses and shed embarrassment at being created. The grave has no shame. That last word belongs only in this fleeting land of human existence.

..

Raylarn – insta.

New every morning

Refresh my soul, let the doors of you, open to Peace. Let everything within breathe Grace. May our mind lean on Him whose mercies never fail, they are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. Greater than all my bounteous lack. His power in my weakness, oh the fact of that. Not I but Christ in me, not the dark, but the Light in me. ReNew every morning soul, stay blest.

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**

Earth Buds.

To all new moms and babes unborn

To the new dads and pulse of pitter-patter running thru’ your heart already.

To spaces in you owned by scans in your lives, in these uncertain days, ah the joy of that beat-beat-beat in the wombs of life,

Dedication to my darling Samanths & A.

***

In the swelling toes of our Dance, in the tender belly of our Song that throbs in the placenta of Divine Touch,

Aye we are Watched o’er, we are grown everyday, we are Babes ourself in these Rooms as we wait: Rest. Receive days of Grace.

Pitch perfect Prayer for July

I tried to pray today, it was like going to a store and not wanting anything any more except a counter that could take requests for giving. Giving thanks.

RNoel

*

In all the recent Mayhem and Jittery June Viral chaos, the centre of me sat down to stare at another month for all of us. Suddenly the things that used to scare me don’t anymore. How come? The people that used to taunt, seem to have lost fang and fuss. Now how?! I don’t know. The rabid need for money seems to have bitten off it’s own head. Sure we all still need the MO but something’s changed and we’re a little less orthodox about our own goodness. We’re all a little more orthodox about our own littleness. We are maybe more crazy and yelly 😅 if that’s a word. We are kinder, if that’s possible. Those who never spoke now speak. The insanely noisy have become quiet. Me, I begin to pray and end up speechless. I remember my Prayer List last year this time. How I’ve changed, haven’t we all?

July, how’re you going to be? Will I be pretty, will I be rich… here’s what he said to me.. que sera sera… if you remember that song.

Meanwhile our 19 year old heals in new ways. The hyperaction you see in below video has decreased way more than we thought possible. He’s still pitch perfect, and a crazy guy for calender memory. And a whole host of things.

Am grateful for the tremendous healing he’s had over the past month. We’re able to play like we used to, chat .. .

He actively hates Covid for the restrictions its imposed on our outdoor lives but home has become a more beautiful place with its quiet surroundings and green. Our lil gardens grow with the rains this monsoon; trees fill with new kinds of birds. Yeah I am speechless this July, with deep need for better days yes, but also gratitude for the million gifts we may not even know we were born with.

This July I’m praying we will know and use our gifts well. What a tragedy to not notice the stash within us.

This July what’s my personal Pitch

The language of Anji’s place

Three rooms in all, and one for her well stocked food place; it is antique and new every morning even now with only a few sitting in. Some ask for her pickles, others pack a lunch of tomato rice, boiled eggs oh anything Anji may have. Somedays it isnt much at all. Yesterday she had garlic bread and home made sauces you want, you really want. It is like her- spiced just right, its essence rich with simple things.

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***

after lockdown we look more at the simple things and less at the complicated, say?

Anji has lived a simple life, nothing changes now for her. After her husband passed and her kids moved on, it’s been a quiet life. People who go by her Place know she isnt competitive, she looks at your face with a smile; and if you’re not happy she knows it. You get an extra helping.

She is different I guess; also has violet eyes and tiny curly brows. Must’ve been a ravishing beauty, oh still is. Her Ma was from Spain, her Pa from Zimbabwe. She speaks all our languages dont ask me how. Some people are gifted with more than the tongues of angels.

As another day begins I’m lingering on the thought that our homes speak a language we may not all recognize but others can.

Compromise

He took it and took it, then he didn’t. The last time we met he showed us his telescope with Saturn rings and Jupiter all in his panelled rooms with fresh flowers sometimes, and a dog named Bin. He ate sunflower seeds and loved the colour yellow. S.J was your regular above average looking superman that fixed bicycle tyres and switches. He baby sat your kids and took out your trash. He was handsome and brilliant, he talked to you as if you were gorgeous; he wasn’t a flirt, he was nice, dependable. When SJ walked out his terrace and died of depression they said, he was not compromising anything anymore, he just couldn’t take it nor fake it. We’ll never know, but as more and more people get nooses and poison concoctions, more people fall to depression and even heart attacks, I’m wondering that we cover our sadness with the laughter we ache for. I wish we could talk out loud, ask for help. I wish. I wish.

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