“Vineyard of Prayer“, my new painting / fav place.
Will be writing 365 verses for each day of the coming 365 (wish me consistency); a book of conversations with God. Vineyards are places of productivity, of pruning and eventually the wine of soul comfort. Where am I going with this? Unsure, but it is a call and am taking it.
After another season of lockdown, and losing more people then we bargained for, am losing all shy and doing the thing my soul loves: putting down what I really feel in the presence of God. So, blogging might take a back seat till there’s a way to breathe between new paint knives and words. I’ve been thinking on the colors of prayer:
viridian green: for me those are deadly greens. Ocean blues, and lighter tones: /like dawn after a midnight, and the Light of God reaching into me. Empty pots, far left as at the Wedding of Cana, where Christ spoke new wine into those emptied pots: ay. He saves the best for last!
Vineyards are a Pact between Soil & Gardener &Vine. It is a crushing process, rich with learning, with leaning heavy on the Vine, drawing from the source of Life.
John15: “I am the Vine, you are the branches. Vitally connected to Me,… Ask and it shall be given…”
Yes I’m asking Peace, Love and Joy for all, but not without Him- the Vine that Lifts my soul.
How long before Parks too will close down again? This Lil guy did not want to be seen, but few moments later he shimmied down that tree, his eyes brilliant with joy.
Why didn’t I give myself permission to talk to him? Courtesy- protocol. Sigh. I’ll never be able to walk past that rock without wondering if he’s ok.
As our State looks to more Lock down and vaccines, know what? For sure we have never peered closer at God. We as nations and homes, haven’t gazed deeper into each others eyes, haven’t admired nature, faces, leaves, skies, rocks, people;
As a race, we’ve not lingered as much at each other, socially distanced and all,
today as I read my Bible, the words came out and wrapped themselves around my head. “Give thanks..” And I had to stop beating myself over that boy I walked past at the Park. Gave myself permission to pray that he’s alright. Yes we can pray, right? My atheist friend ‘ll wag his head. Thats ok. In the end we will know for sure what we stutter at now.
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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Yes, our second daughter. Sits stunned Cross legged in bed, her entire person shocked, electrified; every ten minutes she goes,”Ma, how do I come to terms with this?”
We’re stunned too. Ivory, our daughter’s daughter hadn’t shown. Last week when we met at the gate, her shaggy white ears and tail all waggly with joy, she didn’t show! Though Kitsy says she did. I couldnt tell. Now what… I’m a great grandma??
Borrowing my human daughters words, “I must come to terms with all this!”
While our world battles fresh batches of this and that, life goes on.
We had to go out, we got our permit complete with ID card. This was going to be alright I said. Jeff isnt the worrying kind so he says nothing. I hate this mask, it feels like I’m dying in it. Never mind. Once inside car, who’s going to be harmed just in case we are Carriers? And who is going to infect us anyway? Raise glass, seat belt on. Jeff grins hard. He knows how terrified I am of this… not Covid but the fact that we’re driving across the city, and will meet Blockades and Security Officers. In any case we weren’t ‘willing carriers of Illness‘; we had no recent record of foreign travel, we hadn’t harvested forest animals, there wasn’t even a hint of sniffle between us, not a purr in lung…. nothing. We would not willingly trip into Containment Red Zones. What’s to worry. Though, there’s been incidents of incurring Security ill will…
We take a turn we shouldn’t have taken, we see the back of a Cop, oh no.
We take a detour, another, and get in a lane where we’re now driving straight at the Cop whose back we fled from. He’s waiting for us with ATTITUDE, with Traffic Offender- Catcher- Sass… Aha. There you are the two of you!
I sit straight, fix mask, reach for ID and Papers. Jeff casually drives closer, the Cop is not moving, his gaze steady. Closer. Please God, not in a mood for this? My heart whams in my ears. Closer still. The Cop isnt wearing mask? His glassy stare looks through us. Jeff lets out a contained roar of laughter. You don’t say! It’s not a real Cop, it’s a Dummy.
We laughed so hard that evening, when we were finally stopped two hours later on our way back, and another Cop asked me to please go in the back seat ma’am we need a certain distance between two….. that was so funny too. I gave him my best smile, mask and all. He glared at my cheer: what’s with her? We’re in a Pandemic. Silly woman wants to be happy.
A trick of Light maybe but Kitsy’s shoes left to sunbathe ‘3 hours’ in balcony after she went out in relaxed Lockdown hours..? Is like lit up.
It was still early dusk yesterday – tough day!- when I took this photograph and it speaks to me now as Jeff and I wake to a quiet dawn morning drink and time alone with God. ‘Your Word is a Lamp to my feet, a Light to my path…’
I came here with questions He did not answer, but a load lifts as a Smile descends from His Presence into my restless heart. ‘It is well, it is well with my soul. When Peace like a River, attends my way…’
I just need say, thankyou. Thankyou Lord.
WhatsApp’s a great getaway/ de- stresser between family, esp on days when the typed word feels easier. Don’t be fooled by all the Hearts exchanged between Kit and I 😅
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I’m sitting on Serial miracles the past week. Five doctors : my sister Dr. Olga David, her Classmate Dr. Renu (a gorgeous lady whom I’ve looked up to from my childhood) from Manipur+ 2 of her good friends and Specialist Dr. Robindro who offered generous advice …also our relative here with his own Doc., all making sure we got help for our challenged son. It’s too much to explain in a Post, but it was Kindness in a Time when that disappearing Factor is going to become an Essential Commodity like never before.
The earth we once knew fades steadily into a strange new one. Rules are changed, Strange facts become the New Face of a new Society.
Among Co- Morbities, there are the Heroes, Human salvation squads. They’re there in Hospitals, Wards: Doctors, Nurses, Support Staff, working right through New Rules, new Suspicion, new Acts of Selfless Service that come from only one place ~ Lovingkindness.
We may see death like never before: but we will also see Life if we live to love like these Angels who dare the Dark.
As I conclude this Post, Daily News Strips pop up over my Draft:
“Bangalore records highest spike in crime rate….” we’ve had Liquor Deaths, Stabbing, drunkman biting deadly snake, Bois Locker Room Net teen crimes, really??? (don’t even look it up);
an Old Order gives way to New and yet, Compassion never fails. They are new every morning. Great is the faithfulness of the Heavenly Father who hears who sees. Many questions can rise up from that one. What of all the ones dying from Covid/ Suicides/ Starvation/ Fatigue/ Aloneness….
I believe the hands of God move in the hands of one Human blessing another.
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We drive off Commercial street (Bangalore, Peninsula India), 3 pm, mid a month’s Lockdown- the streets are clutter free, we are armed with ID and saying ‘Nice!’ through the pain of losing our precious brother Sam.
Yes, he would’ve approved. “No big church service, just like he’d want it. No suit…” quiet words from his sister Dr.Prema Dhanraj, her eyes misty with love. No sad song & masses of tears. No hyper-parade of bouquets. Just a clutch of family members, though masked, distanced….
He was a Minimalist with blazing intellect & humor. He lived to love but his love was quiet, no frills. If you looked for a compliment he’d say, “Nice!” Or “Good” complete with dimpled chuckle that I cannot get out of my system and shouldn’t.
My eldest sis Thel (Sam’s wife) had a Bible that we all wrote in; she snuck this in his casket: its lid standing on Stone nearby had “I am with Jesus” on it, it stilled me. Still does.
With him, I was my unselfconscious self: was it only a few years ago, he and I mimicked a local street drunks’ brawl lasting not a few minutes? Recently his health got fragile, his shoulders had that tiny tremor, you wanted to hug him just a little longer but didn’t dare make him think you were worrying. He could read your head, know your ‘unnecessary‘ thoughts!
Sam wasn’t big on ceremonious religion but had this Respect for God, a thing you didn’t mess with. It was the way he lived, careful, caring, sensitive to detail. You didn’t hide things from God, if you needed an occasional peg you had it in His presence. I remember asking him for a taste of his cigarette, I was 21. He choked laughing then gave me one: “Try exhaling that, k?” That was fun. I’m rambling. Running from memories I want to chase away, but they’re larger than life now.
The last time we spoke (10 days ago?) was an accidental Group-Call my second sis Li made via our sisters’ WhatsApp ‘Mermaid’ Group, yes mermaids 😅, don’t forget we girls grew up on beaches, (once on a sand dune we’d daydreamed of being mermaids, hehe! The name stuck).
So Li called and Sam picks up phone instead of Thel. Li : “Now who’s this low voiced man on Mermaids saying, ‘Hellooooh!?’”
He chatted generally and about how good he’d been eating the past week; Thel walks in,” Uh ohhhh? Sam’s on Group call with …who?”
T ‘s her bubbly self, “This is a first group call of this, Haha!”;
she & he had become one Entity with shared polarities; how good they were together with their 2 fabulous sons Anudh & Akash: a treat to watch the four of them – each maddeningly independent, ferociously loyal to the other…… oh brilliant even to detail of when to add chillie to sizzling roast, steak!
The last thing he said in individual byes to Li and me….. “Bye Rayla!” His voice strong and cheerful. “Bye Merman, Sam.” I replied.
Offstage while we waited for the next Event at a local Fund raiser…how can I forget his guitar doing the Beatle’s Crybabycry:
with no Lyrics, I worked my own non-word- stylized-gibberish. He called it Russian. We did this very seriously, Thel streaming tears down her cheeks hurting from laughter…
Thel & Sam’s gorgeous sisters: I could write reams about his three illustrious sibling, each serving Humanity like only they can: Bravehearts – bravenow, as the Pastor wraps our small service in a Silence that somehow feels right. I cannot find a word good enough for it. Silence can be reverent gold. The sky rumbles for a second, gentle winds settle in the family tree under which the few of us huddle, forgetting Covid.
Death is where your sting, oh grave where your victory? Here we are immortal for the Love that binds us together across continents via Videocalls coming in and familial Love thicker than blood or the sadness of Now.
Next to him, in engraved marble- lies the Stone of his first son, the most beautiful baby boy I had ever seen. He lived 5 days. 36 years have gone by.
Now as they lower his daddy’s mortality into the same earth, there is this silence of a family held by things best described as Peace that surpasses human understanding.
Marriage turns strangers into family. Sisters in law become a beautiful kind of sister: we admire their eyelashe and feature not just exterior but deep within. It turns our lives around to learn from each other through the years. I write this realizing how much we’ve been blessed by Sam’s presence, nah entire families, cousins, nephews, nieces….wish this post could cover also friends that became family because of Sam.
What can one say but go back and forth.
I could never count well enough even at our Scrabble board fights. He a Chartered Accountant / Sultan of Sudoku non par would cheerfully shudder. “If you try to, y’know? Maths is basic. Idiots.” His grin included all non-mathy people with me + tolerant brotherly kindness lending a generous taste of what it was to ever have a brother.
“He’s not here, no Thel?” I whisper. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
“No Ray.” Her voice is level.
I draw strength from her, admiring her straight firm back and calm doe eyes. Sitting down somewhere among family Stones, I am unable to tear my eyes from the candles and flower petals all around, the air softening with dusk and with the Presence of Comfort; with the presence of each other softening from sorrow. Tomorrow we’d be able to take this. Maybe not. Tomorrow would have its share of challenges. New ones? I don’t know.
As we walk back past more names and dates and symbols of Love and Departure, we walk close. Life was/ is short. I want to love without barriers and protocol.
We move past high ornate stone gates; the Caretaker and wife watch their children play with a plastic bat and ball, all safe- distanced from each other.
Somewhere a koyal calls.
It will rain tonight. You loved it cool Sam, but you’re not here.
You’re with Jesus.
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May we seek and find Him more today, than ever before. May we touch His Wounds and never doubt again. May He step through our walls, our locked doors; may we experience His Passion in new ways, in our roads to ‘Emmaus‘;
oh that same power that raised Jesus the Christ from the dead, be our Dew and Manna today.
So, no random wheeling around my city. No touching other Humans, Malls, or Theater, stay in!
I’m basically a hermit, but when asked NOT to go out, ah the urge – the urge to watch sunset from anyplace else but here. And where are we these days: an entire globe @home?
My own window fills ~ with papers, books, younger elbows, easel, plants;
I wonder what life is like for you. We learn new words like Social Distancing, we stall some die hard 9-5 habits, dawn walk, handshake, warm hug, oh do not even whisper words mask & sanitizer to me🤧😷🤒.
All across Italy people are turning to music in an effort to beat boredom, socialise and keep their spirits high as the country battles Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus. Video: David Dunne.
In the minutes before six o’clock, Jessica Phelan climbed the stairs to the roof of her building to look out over her Rome neighbourhood. All day on social media, a hashtag had been trending: “sonic flashmob”, spreading the word that something would happen when the clock struck six.
Phelan saw neighbours emerge at balconies and windows, from apartments where they have been living in isolation under government orders to curb Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus, which has been killing more than 200 citizens a day in Italy’s overwhelmed hospitals.
“People started waving to each other, calling ‘ciao, ciao’,” Phelan recalled. “A bunch of people started whacking tamborines, people had maracas. It was just noise at first. But then somebody started singing Bella Ciao.”
The “sonic flashmob” or “flashmob sonoro” began in Rome with the 18-member street music band Fanfaroma …
“We were saying on our chat group, what will we do? How can we play?” said the band’s saxophonist Luciano Belvilacqua. “Then someone said, ‘let’s go out and play on our balconies’.”
“It was madness, it was like New Year’s Eve,” he said.
Similar initiatives flowered spontaneously in other cities. Clips of apartment buildings producing impromptu choirs lit up social media over the weekend.
Songs of resilience that recall difficult times of the past are finding a special resonance. At noon on Saturday, one Bologna neighbourhood filled the with sound of applause after a resident broadcast from their window the Evening of Miracles, a song that recalls the town squares filling with people again after the second World War.
Comedian and musician Francesco Cicchella changed the lyrics of the traditional Neapolitian song Luna Rossa, or Red Moon, to tell the tale of the masks, disinfectant, and solitude of life under quarantine.
“Let’s make this go more viral than the virus!”he wrote on Facebook…
“We are trying to make this period of quarantine less sad, a bit more fun,” said Cicchella.
Children can call a telephone number to be told a story. Theatres stream drama. Opera house the Teatro Regio di Torino, founded in 1740, began broadcasting performances of Verdiover YouTube. The Museum of Modern Art in Bologna is publishing videos from artists showing their work….botanic gardens launched virtual tours…..
“The theme is ‘what you see from your window’. Perhaps we have more time to take notice of things, now that we are all shut in our homes,” Sanzo said.
“You need to respond in some way because otherwise people will feel too alone. Going onto the balcony to sing with other people gives you courage,”Belvilacqua, the saxophonist says.
Windows locking in on our lives, and perhaps more than windows..
I’ve read this somewhere: that we each have a Stairwell running from the roots of us to a zone above our present time, our present tense…… routing us to Things we cannot know exist even just moments ahead.
My Ma had a song about that. “There’s a stairway that winds up to heaven, and it takes but a moment to climb. It’s a stairway of prayer and you’ll find it, anywhere you may be, any time.Whenever I pray I climb a Stairway….“
Don’t you wonder what the past few weeks may be preparing us for: how a Season like this one could re-route you, me, all of us through to healthier or otherwise, co-existence in our respective communities?
Who knows how this will all pan out, but let’s please not let one Window stay shut, not miss one Step if we can. Tough call, but we are a Tougher Generation than we dare suspect. Did I just say that?