To Encourage You…

There are times when we need to remember to look beyond the now to the truth of what has always been. So, here are eight way to rethink, and eight encouragements for any situation.

Don’t make yourself small to fit into someone else’s plan

You will shine the brightest once you have learned how to navigate those dark places

You do not fit where you are and so that is where you belong

You can only be a victim if that is the story you sell to yourself

You have to be ready to receive the table that God has prepared for you

Being stuck forces you to get stronger to push those stones out of your way

Hard times are the best times because they challenge how you think so you can finally make real that potential that’s been waiting in the wings.

Changing your location does not solve your problems only you can decide when there are no problems only opportunities.

Your thoughts impact your quality of life

A Place of My Own

What if there was a place that was all your own? A place that no one could invade at will, order for you or dictate what you could do. Finding a place of your own is often associated with your living situation. Moving to your own place shows your independence. However, sometimes, even after doing this we still have this burning desire to have a place of our own in this world. This could stem from feeling trapped in one or all areas of our lives. So we go on a quest to find that place.

Finding a place of our own takes many far and wide and along the way, some may get lost and are never heard from again. Some try to begin by looking back. Here, they may find the past a bitter pill to swallow and end up choking on their bile. So what to do but pretend, pretend as if we have the answers, know what to do, and make a mess on top of the mess we forgot or could not bring ourselves to clean up.

So is it that it is so hard to find that place? For many they spend their lives on that quest and end up going in circles, ending up where they began. But what if (hypothetical of course) we could cut through the noise that is this world and find our place? We would have to sift through too many things that do not matter but that now dominate our minds, heart and soul. We would have to let go of so many things to recapture our souls.

Now, this leads all the way back to each of us and guess what? It was always about us. That place we are trying to find required us to properly know ourselves. Trying to find something that was never lost now that is the joke because you knew all along with that that occupying that place was inside of you. You know the answers but they are too scary to contemplate, you have the plan but you seem frozen in that same place. You know you must come to terms with all of yourself and move outside of the world created for you by others who don’t really know or want to know you.

Finding a place of your own is half the work because first, you have to know who you want to be when you find that place.

“The Road of the Dread” A Metaphor for A Time Like This

I have always felt an affinity for this poem by Lorna Goodison. It is not only the language used that phonetically reflects the Jamaican dialect, inclusive of the famous Rasta talk that created this affinity. But more importantly, it is the fact that even though this poem was written in the 1980s, it still reflects the need for us to be resilient in the face of oppressive forces, whether tangible or intangible.

The “Dread” that walks this road represents many persons, many of us, who are faced with different challenges in this lifetime. We are faced with this seemingly endlessly obstacle course of a road that we must traverse – this is life. While a great deal of the focus is on this road, of interest too is the speaker, who has obviously experienced not just hardships but poverty and injustice:

Pan dis same road ya sista
sometime yu drink yu salt sweat fi water
for yu sure sey at least dat no pisen,
and bread? yu picture it and chew it accordingly
and some time yu surprise fi know how dat full
man belly.

“The Road of the Dread”

It is clear that the speaker could be classified as being a member of the Rastafari community in Jamaica based on the “Rasta talk”, but many of us can identify with the experiences of oppression in one form or another. This could be in the physical, spiritual or mental realm. We all have felt oppressed along this road called life. In the extract above the speaker hints at passed betrayals that have caused him or her to be cautious in how they interact with others in their present and future reality. But within this very somber reality is also resilience. The resilent nature built intoour DNA, forces us to use what we have – even if it is only our imagination to weave a reality that can ensure our survival. At the end of the day working through our struggles is an act of self-preservation. To weave this world that ensures we survive we have to leave our starting point, we have to travel the road of the dread.

This archetype of the oppressed must travel this road or fail in their pursuit to survive. So he travels. Along the road there are many challenges and life ensures we are gifted with them:

for sometime you pass a ting
you know as . . . call it stone again
and is a snake ready fi squeeze yu
kill yu
or is a dead man tek him
possessions tease yu.
Then the place dem yu feel
is resting place because time
before that yu welcome like rain,
go dey again?

But, is that all there is to it. Is life filled wth snakes hiding in the grass ready to attack? Is the road littered with disingenuous persons who mean one thing when their mouths utter honyed words to ensare us into a boiling pot of vinegar? Yes it sounds a bit dramatic but we know that there are unspeakable tragedies that one can encounter on this road, so be grateful if you have not.

The answers to the questions above are also reflected in the poem: no. We see a shift of focus from all the trauma and tragedies waiting on the road that compels us to continue moving on this journey no matter how hard it may seem:

Den why I tread it brother?
well mek I tell yu bout the day dem
when the father send some little bird
that swallow flute fi trill me
and when him instruct the sun fi smile pan me first.
And the sky calm like sea when it sleep
and a breeze like a laugh follow mi.
Or the man find a stream that pure like baby mind
and the water ease down yu throat
and quiet yu inside.

And better still when yu meet another traveler
who have flour and yu have water and man and man
make bread together.
And dem time dey the road run straight and sure
like a young horse that cant tire
and yu catch a glimpse of the end
through the water in yu eye
I wont tell yu what I spy
but is fi dat alone I tread this road.

There are better days. On this journey there will be good times, when you can find joy in any situation at anytime. Where you can find hope pushing out of the soil, quivering relentlessly to thrive and flourish. When, like the speaker points out, “the father send some little bird that swallow flute fi trill me“, it is the little things that oftentimes matter and bring us back from the edge. We also see the importance of the spiritual as this “father” mentioned near the end of the poem,speaks to a creator who alone can bring us the kind of joy that will touch our souls, not the transient pleasures in this world. If we allow ourselves we too can be trill(ed), we too will have the sun smiling on us and the laughing breeze following us. All these personifications speak to the importance of taking time away from the world and finding peace beyond the physical, beyond those who would derail our purpose. Instead we need to find our metophorical stream, one that will put our minds at ease and allow us to find true peace while we are on this road.

What also becomes clear at the end of the poem, is the importance of finding our community. Those who will help us up and not push us down. We need to find our people who, like the speaker has found, one who have flour and yu have water and man and man make bread together. That is when the road of life becomes bearable, not when you can make do for yourself, but when you have the support of your community. So though the road of the dread is and can be indeed dreadful, there is hope. It is a hope that will tear down those barbed wire fences that we or others place around our lives to keep us limited, that makes us smile, laugh even, as tears pour from our eyes. It is the gift of transformative possibilities, present in the seemingly ordinary and simple blessings, gems even that act as the elixir that will drive our lives. These all supported by the community that will stand with and for us.

So continue to travel this road of the dread knowing that those things that threaten us have no power unless we never realise the truth of how much power we can harness we are once we stay the course and find our community.

   The Road of the Dread

That dey road no pave
like any other black-face road
it no have no definite color
and it fence two side
with live barbwire.

And no look fi no milepost
fi measure yu walking
and no tek no stone as
dead or familiar

for sometime you pass a ting
you know as . . . call it stone again
and is a snake ready fi squeeze yu
kill yu
or is a dead man tek him
possessions tease yu.
Then the place dem yu feel
is resting place because time
before that yu welcome like rain,
go dey again?
bad dawg, bad face tun fi drive yu underground
wey yu no have no light fi walk
and yu find sey that many yu meet who sey
them understand
is only from dem mout dem talk.
One good ting though, that same treatment
mek yu walk untold distance
for to continue yu have fe walk far
away from the wicked.

Pan dis same road ya sista
sometime yu drink yu salt sweat fi water
for yu sure sey at least dat no pisen,
and bread? yu picture it and chew it accordingly
and some time yu surprise fi know how dat full
man belly.

Some day no have no definite color
no beginning and no ending, it just name day
or night as how yu feel fi call it.

Den why I tread it brother?
well mek I tell yu bout the day dem
when the father send some little bird
that swallow flute fi trill me
and when him instruct the sun fi smile pan me first.
And the sky calm like sea when it sleep
and a breeze like a laugh follow mi.
Or the man find a stream that pure like baby mind
and the water ease down yu throat
and quiet yu inside.

And better still when yu meet another traveler
who have flour and yu have water and man and man
make bread together.
And dem time dey the road run straight and sure
like a young horse that cant tire
and yu catch a glimpse of the end
through the water in yu eye
I wont tell yu what I spy
but is fi dat alone I tread this road.




Lorna Goodison, Selected Poems, University of Michigan
Press, 1993.

Do Not Waver

Do Not Waver

Those things within you
reach;
do not waver on them.

To waver is a lack of faith
teach;
yourself to stand your ground.

Do not waver
because you will falter
and all you ask 
God's gifts
will slip through your fingers.

Be resolute 
never leave you
to wander in the dark.

Let your way be lit
by a truth only faith can shine
Do not waver
in this your time
Instead choose your weapon
draw your victory line.

When One Door Closes

When One Door Closes

When one door closes
thank God.
That door means 
no more drama
no more tears.
No more of those barren years.

That closed door means
you survived
now is your time to thrive.
All the lies
have been found out
and in your mind is no more doubt,
it's time to move on.

When that door closes
you can begin again. 
You made your mistakes
no need to look back 
take that new escape
you can get back on track.

Look to the one now opened
bid the closed door goodbye
that was not the hill on which to die.
Do not linger there
before you say your amen.

Still Running

Still Running

Still running 
even when I fall
and have to crawl.
Still running
even when the bullies stand tall
and try to overshadow me.
Still running
though fear trips me along the way.
Still running
even when I'm out of breath.
Still running
can't stop
because to stop is death.

That Lesson is the true Blessing

Often times when “bad” things happen to us we question why. We feel and act like victims and may even curse the day we were born. It is not easy to navigate this life when your intentions do not bear the kind of fruits you had in mind. Too often people, like me and you, become disillusioned with the twist and turns that punctuate our lives. DIsturbances as we see them, that happen maybe when we least expect them or produce our greatest fears. There is a tendency to be angry in these situations, to feel trapped and oppressed.

So, it is hard to think that there is anything good to see in these situations much less to see them as a blessing. I have learned that hard times produce the opportunity for us to not only mature but to flourish. When we get too comfortable where we are, we may feel reluctant to “rock the boat”, and accept where we are, who we are and how we have come to be perceived as our lot in life. But here comes those lessons that say, “no this is not your final destination, you have to be stretched a little more, melted down to the liquid fire and beaten into a new shape”. We are there resistant, resentful and hopeless, waiting for it to end. By it I mean this season of hard lessons, the experience of the hard-knock life. However, it can be that our greatest strength can come from these surely hard lessons. We are forced to work from our survival and with it and toughness develops, when we choose to stick around, that can take us through another hard knock. With each of those knocks out toughness becomes more improved until we can better appreciate the hits and even welcome them because they really allow us to live life fearlessly, or with a little less fear even.

For all the things we can gain, awards and wealth, it is those difficult times, sometimes the hardest in our lives that are the real treasures on earth. It is never easy to reconcile the painful experiences that we have blessings as we have become too focused on blessings that lead to matchless prosperity. How about we shout amens for those lessons, hard lessons that lead to our blessings, true blessings not limited by a limited and our very human understanding.