Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Out of the Shadows & into Glory

This is my brief tribute to Graham Ingram, a man that meant a lot to me, who not only taught me The Bible, but also about life.

Even as I write, 'meant a  lot to me', one would expect we were friends. I called him a friend, although I am not altogether sure he would have called me one - I would like to think he did.

He was eccentric and quirky, incredibly knowledgeable and a great Bible teacher....and I won't beat about the bush, he could also be brusque. Yet, from when I first met him, in a Church History Course at Bible School, I developed a soft spot and a real affection for him, and this only grew over time, as he challenged me (in a way that only Graham could!) to know and understand why I believe what I believe, and not just take what was 'dished out'.

He could get distracted during lectures, wandering into little sub-topics, but I was never bored or frustrated, because he was so interesting and his experiences added something personal to a lecture. I remember he joined us and my folks for dinner one evening at our home, and he kept us all highly entertained with stories about his life and experiences around the world. 

I remember that during the time of these courses, I bumped into him at Pick 'n Pay, I went up to him and greeted him and asked him how he was, and he barely looked at me, muttered something, and walked right on. I was devastated. What had I done to offend him so badly? This worried me the entire week until our next lecture, and I asked him, to which he just bluntly replied that I had not offended him, but he didn't like shopping and didn't want to chat. I was relieved. Honesty, is always best in my book, and I cannot tell you how much I actually identify with his sentiment!

But that was my first encounter with the brusque Graham. There were more, and one even left me in tears and wondering why I pursued this relationship, but in my heart was this soft spot that refused to harden...and over the years there were glimpses of friendship between us, that made these abrupt moments worth it.

There are a few interactions that I will never forget:

  • I invited him to come along with my mom and I to hear Philip Yancey speaking. I remember feeling a bit nervous because frankly, I felt a bit intimidated by Graham too. However, it was a really easy and memorable evening and I felt that he enjoyed it too.
  • He was always at the gym. Usually he would just acknowledge me with a hello-look, but the one day, he actually came up to me and engaged in a conversation that probably lasted close to 30min, and it wasn't a superficial one - or I wouldn't remember it.
  • Another was at his house, I used to pop up there from time to time to give him a hand with PC related things, and usually the conversation was very much kept to what needed to be done and instructions, with the odd courtesy conversation. Once or twice I tried to talk to him about cricket, because in my mind anyone that was from England MUST love cricket. Didn't usually work, (and I have found the same about Indians - they don't all watch cricket either!) :) But one day, out of the blue we just talked... like real friends.
  • Then most recently. We had (I think), already moved over here, and we were down visiting. We were having supper at the Ocean Basket and I saw him sitting and eating there. I excused myself from the table to go and say hello. I told my family that I would just be a second, because the chances are that he would look at me, say hello, and continue eating. When he greeted me by name and invited me to sit down, I was stunned. I honestly even forgot my family and had a lovely chat with him.  I am so happy that that was my last interaction with him.
Graham, I know I cannot say that I knew you well, or probably even a little, but after reading your book all those years ago, I wonder if perhaps you were afraid of truly being known for fear of being hurt. But I hope you knew how fond I was of you, how much I admired and respected you, for the walk you walked, and your desire to please God no matter what. I feel honoured to have been able to walk some of your journey with you. Usually dragging behind - but occasionally, alongside you as a friend.

When I heard you had passed on. Part of me was sad, but the other part was thankful that now you can truly be with the One who you so passionately pursued, and for whom you sacrificed so much.

So you've truly stepped Out of the Shadows... and into His wonderful light.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Back to Normal

It's the 5th January and today I am finally unpacking my little suitcase that went with us over the Christmas weekend. I just haven't had it in me to unpack. It's the last piece of evidence that My Girl has was here.  There are many clues to the fact that she was here, bits 'n pieces that couldn't fit into her case home, but it's not her.  My Man is back at work - so life essentially is back to normal.

Every time family visits it's difficult when they leave. The first time she visited and went back, I knew it was going to be tough and had mentally prepared myself, and told myself it would get easier every time - I was wrong. With each visit from family it has got more difficult to say goodbye.

I was so thankful to a friend of mine here who messaged me and asked if I wanted to go for a walk yesterday. If she hadn't I probably would have stayed in bed.  The day before I rearranged furniture - you do what you need to do to make it easier, until it is.

To make it worse this time, a lady who has become really special to me, is leaving after 3.5 years here. She is heading half way around the planet, to more snow and cold, on their new adventure, and I am so happy for them. However, I have said this before, I know in my head that as long as we are here, I have to hold friendships with open hands, because more often than not, people leave. I have heard people say that if they are here on contract work, or may leave, that they just don't invest time in friendships because it's a 'waste', if you have to leave. I cannot see relationships like that, for me it is just that they become deeper, faster because all time is like on fast forward.

Anyway, I am waffling now, just because I am sad My Girl is back home and I am sad my friend is going. It's OK to be sad about stuff - I won't ever pretend that this part of this adventure is without pain, some of it is really blimming difficult.

Aaannyyyway, it snowed a bit, the sun has come out and I want to go for a walk before it melts.

French starts on the 12th and then things will feel normal to me again.

Have lovely days people.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


A short and sweet post to invite you to join me in this years challenge of writing a minimum of 500 words a day, inspired by a prompt you receive via email.

Click to find out more about it on FB or the website.

I have only done 3 days but I must say that even though I am not a writer, I am so enjoying the process of imagining / thinking and writing the story. Here is my site, The 500 Challenge, just FYI:

I also have a "500 Words" Tab on this Blog for a quick reference.

If you decide to do it too, please share your blog with me, so that I can read your take on the prompt! It's really fun to see the differences we have.


Monday, January 2, 2017

It was about NY... then it wasn't.

Happy New Year!

FB timeline memories are really great for reminding us of moments in the past. I do quite love this feature. I compare New Years Day here to back in SA. It's summer back home and really nothing like summer here.
My Beach in SA on 1.1.2017
(Photographer unknown - taken from FB)
Along a road here on NYD
It's fascinating that the world is so vast and contains so many incredible landscapes and moments that can just fill you with such a sense of wonder.

It's so multidimensional. A bit like God, I suppose. We tend to view him through the eyes of our experience of church or religion - and what that has taught us about him - and yet may never have experienced him for ourselves.

Some may have experienced him as cold, monotone and distant and wanted to keep their distance from him, and others experience him as warm, vibrant and peaceful. 

The truth is that even if you are keeping your distance from him, he doesn't keep his distance from you no matter your experience. You may just not recognise his persistence in getting your attention, whether it's through a sunrise or a frosty tree. 

He is known and yet remains a mystery - it's one of his most engaging qualities!

(OK... This post is not really going in the direction I had planned - nonetheless, I will leave it, and write the post I was going for another time.)

Wishing you all a year filled with wonder at the multidimensionalness
of the Creator of the universe, and Lover of our souls.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Things I Sing at 04.30

Woke up this morning at 04h30 and starting singing (in my head) these lyrics...

"Stop Thief! Stop Thief! Not another lettuce leaf will you have
Radishes and parsley, carrots and baby peas, each and every thing belongs to me,
not to you, but to me..
If I catch you, you will die then you'll be rabbit pie,
supper for me wife and I.
Stop Thief, Stop thief!"

Followed by...

"Why do I do it?
What is the cure?
My brothers and my sisters find it easy I am sure,
No-one believes I'd like to be good,
nevertheless, I would.
I think a halo would suit me....
dangling over my head,
and when they behold me,
they wouldn't scold me.
they'd say 'Well done' instead!
Why do I do it? Why do I do it? Why do I do it?
Because it's fun!"

It took me all of 5 seconds to remember where these songs came from, but how weird to have them pop into your head at sparrow-fart!

Does anyone else remember chilling and listening to Beatrix Potter on a record? I loved Peter Rabbit, and the first song was Mr Mcgregor singing as he chased Peter out of his vegetable patch, and the second was Peter singing after he escaped.

Gosh.... I loved those LP's with The Tales of Squirrel Nutkin and Jemimah Puddle Duck and Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. I am amazed that after at least 40 years I still remember them - and that with no prompting and at 04h30! Such amazing memories.

Living here now, with forest squirrels and hedgehogs and foxes, I can see how she must have been inspired to write them.

I am going to find Peter Rabbit and have a quick listen before French Class.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Interspecies Communication

I saw this on Facebook a while ago and I loved it. I found myself thinking about it and watching it over and over again.  I think it was a combination of feeling as though I was there, in that forest, since it feels so familiar, and the joy I get from photographing various fungi that I come across...

However, I think what gets me is what he says between 1:05-1:17 and then again from 1:45 to the end.

Sometimes when I am in the forest and I see a deer or a fox or even a bird, I silently say "Hey, don't run away, I just want to look at you...." and I wish that they understood me.  I watched a butterfly the other day unfurl its mouth(?) and begin to suck the nectar from a flower. It was so beautiful and so delicate, and I wished I could say to it... "Gosh, but you are so lovely and so clever!".... and hear it answer back modestly, "I know!" (You will probably think I sound like some kind of freak... but hey, I don't care really.)

Our language is insufficient for "interspecies" communication, 
but I would like to think that perhaps the Author conveys the messages on my behalf!

Along my walks there are always three places I always physically stop at:
  • My Watchman (a huge rock formation that looks like the profile of a man), 
  • My Fantasy tree (that always reminds me that God is known and yet remains mysterious), 
  • My #ivy&me tree (which is my reminder of how God sees him and me) 

Today, I felt physically ill and sobbed like a baby when I noticed that my Fantasy Tree had been chopped down, probably this weekend. I feel as though I have lost a friend. I feel as though the forest had lost a member of its family - there is just a big stump left and nothing more of this neon, mossy, gnarly, whimsical tree to remind me of the mystery among us.

This is all that was left of my tree today... and no doubt the rest of the trunk will follow soon. **

I know people will say that it was old and dead and that it needed to come down, or that there are more trees so, move on.

And I will move on, but not today.

Today I just want to be sad that my tree is gone and I wish I had the language to say how sorry I am in "forest-speak".

                                             * * * *

 **  16/10/2016:  
A tree update: On further inspection with My Man today, we noticed that a very young tree next to it was missing its top. We have decided that it is possible that the tree blew over, damaging the one next to it on the way down. He also pointed out that it's unlikely a woodchopper would climb the trunk and chop it off there. It would have been done at the base. So I have decided to believe that it fell from natural causes. It feels better that way.


Monday, September 26, 2016

(Mis)adventures of Language

Language lessons are a wonderful preparation to ask questions in the language of your new country, because let's face it, there are questions you will want to ask, like:
  • May I have a glass of red wine?
  • Where is the toilet?
  • What time is the bus to Kirchberg?
  • Do you have this in a size 39?
  • Would you like to go for lunch this week?
  • May I have the bill?
After a semester or two one can totally ask questions to your hearts content!  However, nothing and no-one can prepare you to answer one in response to any of these.... or even to understand the answer!  

For example - If I ask "Do you have this in a size 39?" the reply could be "If you want it in a different colour, then yes." I have apparently mastered the art of a blank stare, and they look at me with such sympathy and switch to English. This horrifies me because I know I won't ever learn like that.

On the weekends, when My Man and I walk the dogs together in the forest, we often cross paths with a lovely elderly gent who is clearly out for his walk too. He always stops and has long chats with both dogs (not us, other than a greeting), and gives them dog treats that seem to always be available.

This morning I was walking Tigger alone, and I happened to bump into him. He greeted me and then said something in French. I was not prepared to be spoken to, and didn't quite get it, I said 'Pardon?' and he repeated himself and I worked out that he was asking where the other dog was. I managed to put together 5 words and he seemed to understand. Then we wished one another a good day, and carried on along our merry ways.

As I walked, I replayed the conversation in my head and I was so annoyed with myself because I realised I could totally say "My other dog is at home. Together, they are too strong for me. This afternoon I walk the other dog."  I could have said all of that (Except for 'strong'...I don't know what that is, but that's easy to do with arm gestures).  The grammar may not have been 100% but it would totally be understandable. Why did I freak out and think I couldn't reply?

It's being unprepared I suppose!  Frustrating, but it will come. Persistence!

Speaking of which, my third semester of French starts on Thursday. Yippeeee! I am so looking forward to it. 

Have a lovely week all you beautiful people.