Tag Archive: Life


Die laaste jaar of wat was, en hou aan om te wees, moeilik. Ek is diep oortuig van my roeping om vir God in die kerk te werk. Ten einde om te antwoord op die roeping het ek oor die laaste dekade van my lewe honderde duisende rande spandeer en baie uur opgeoffer. Elke sent en elke minuut was, en is, die moeite werd. Nou wag ek vir ‘n geleentheid om my roeping, passie, en gawes uit te leef, al meer as twaalf maande lank.

 Elke tweede week wag ek vir die Kerkbode om te sien waar nuwe poste oopgaan, elke tweede week doen ek aansoek vir poste in Gauteng, in die Kaap, in die stad, op die platteland, in Suid-Afrika, in Namibië, vir vol poste, kontrakposte, en jeugwerkposte. Saam met elke dekbrief wat geskryf word en elke CV wat by ‘n epos aangeheg word, ontstaan daar die hoop dat dit dalk die plek is waar ek en my vrou op ‘n besonderse manier deel van ‘n gemeenskap kan raak.

 En dan kom die ontnugtering. Meeste van die tyd word die aansoek nie eers erken nie, so 10 – 15% van gemeentes antwoord op die aansoek, en uiteindelik; die teleurstelling van ‘n onsuksesvolle aansoek. Weereens word dit in min gevalle gekommunikeer en moet ‘n mens maar in die Kerkbode lees dat die pos gevul is. Daar waar die “jammer-jy-is-onseksusvol-maar-die-Here-weet-waar-Hy-jou-wil-gebruik-briefie-seen-vir-jou-bediening-brief” wel kom verpletter die hoop van dalk-die-keer verpletter in ‘n jammer-jy-is-nie-goed-genoeg nie.

 En ja, ons almal verstaan dat baie mense aansoek doen, en ja dat elkeen nie noodwendig die regte fit is nie, maar dit is moeilik om dit nie persoonlik op te neem nie. Roeping en teologie is nie iets wat apart staan van ‘n persoon se diepste kern nie, altans nie vir my nie. My teologie kom vanuit my diepste oortuiging, my roeping is deel van my kern identiteit, en wie ek is en wat ek doen is die resultaat van my geloof in Christus en Sy werk in my lewe. So na ‘n jaar se onsuksesvol-briewe en geen antwoorde is dit baie moeilik om aansoek te doen vir nóg ‘n pos met die wete dat dit dalk kan einde in nóg ‘n nee.

 En dan die bemoedigende woordjies, “hou net aan hoop”, “hou net aan glo”, “die Here laat alles ten goede mee werk” ensovoorts. Dit help nie, dit werk nie. Na studieskuld en lewensonkoste en ‘n gebrek aan ander werk, as deel van die werklose statistiek, is ek finansieel kniediep in die moeilikheid en die uurglas se sandjies baie laag. Moed hou, aan hou glo ten midde van ‘n oenskynlik onafwendbare krisis, skuldgat, en op straat sit, en 62 siklusse van hoop en verpletterde hoop is ‘n baie waterige soppie.

 En natuurlik is daar die ander klompie stemme. “Dit is jou eie skuld”, “jy is nie betrokke by ‘n gemeente nie”, “gaan plant ‘n kerk”, “doen iets anders”, “gaan na jou ouerhuis toe en raak betrokke by jou tuisgemeente”, “proponent is te kieskeurig” en “jy wil nie werklik werk nie”, en “dit is nou maar hoe dit is, dit is die lewe” ensovoorts. Hoe genadeloos, sonder liefde, en arrogant kan ‘n mens raak. Niemand praat van proponent, soos myself, wat aansoek doen vir kelner werk, koffie rep werk, bel sentrum werk, HR posisies en vele meer nie. Niemand dink aan die proponent wat elke geleentheid om te werk aangryp nie, al is dit soos in my geval om, op ‘n maand kontrak, in ‘n industriele wassery te werk. Die vraag is uiteindelik wat is ek, en ander proponente bereid om te doen?

 Die antwoord is redeilk maklik, ons is bereid om enige iets te doen, om selfs uitgebuit te word. Ons wil dien, ons wil werk, ons wil antwoord op ons roeping. Ek byvoorbeeld, en ek is seker baie ander proponent, is bereid om as ‘n jeugwerker te werk teen ‘n klein salaries. Ek is nie ‘n student nie, ek het bietjie meer opleiding as hulle en selfs ‘n bietjie meer lewenservaring, maar nietemin is ek bereid om te werk teen ‘n student se salaries, want dit gee aan my ‘n stukkie menswardigheid terug. Ek is bereid om in gemeentes te werk teen ‘n kwart of ‘n derde salaries en nogsteeds ‘n voldag in te sit. Hoekom, dit help dit gemeente, dit gee my ‘n plek om my roeping uit te leef en te dien, dit gee ook ‘n stukkie menswardigheid terug. Ek is bereid om in ‘n kerkkantoor te werk, die vaktotum te wees wat so af en toe preek, ek is bereid om die dominee of dominees van die gemeente te ondersteun, ek is bereid om meer as een gemeente te dien wat nie ‘n dominee kan bekostig nie. Ons moet ook eet, maar geld is was nog nooit die oorweging vir dien nie. En as ek nie in die kerk werk kry nie, is ek bereid om enige iets te doen wat ‘n salarissie verdien, om in die eerste plek te dien in my familie, om te sorg dat my vrou en kind(ers) versorg is, om my roeping ten volle uit te leef in die kleinste en intiemste vorm van kerk.

 En dit is dalk die grootste frustrasie om te weet wat die diepte van my bereidheid is, om my tyd en energie selfs gratis aan te bied (wat ek en ander proponent al gedoen het), en nogsteeds nie ‘n geleentheid te kry nie. En na die soveelste onsuksesvolle aansoek kom die gedagte; dalk is die enigste uitweg die keuse is tussen selfmoord of die moord van roeping. Tog is selfmoord nooit ‘n opsie nie, en hoe vermoor ‘n mens ‘n roeping sonder om selfmoord te pleeg? En dan staan ‘n mens maar op in die oggend, struikel voort in die woestyn, en gaan slaap aan die einde van die dag met ‘n terugblik wat nog ‘n dag van genade en hoop openbaar. Maranatha

‘n Jeugwerker in ‘n Afrikaanse gemeente. Moontlik is daar twee benaderings, iemand wat dit doen bloot net as ‘n werk, en iemand wat leef met ‘n liefde en passie vir God, kinders en jong mense as sy/haar kern. Ek vermoed dat net die tweede persoon werlik ‘n jeugwerker in die ware sin van die word kan wees, of soos Robert Frost sê “[The] object of living is to unite, avocation and vocation, only where love and need is one, the deed is ever really done, for Heaven and the future’s sakes.”

Ek is nie seker of ons altyd weet wat ‘n jeugwerker moet doen nie. In die eerste plek sien ek iemand wat bereid is om tyd saam met kinders en jong mense te spandeer, om werklik na hulle te luister. In tweede plek sien ek ‘n jeugwerker as iemand wat die volgende van nature doen:

  • Die beskerming van die verwondering en onskuld van elke kind en jong mens,
  • Die skep van ‘n veilige ruimte waarbinne kinders en jong mense hulself kan wees,
  • Die skep van ‘n veilige ruimte waarbinne kinders en jong mense hul seer kan deel,
  • Die skep van ‘n veilige ruimte wat kinders en jong mense help om heel te raak,
  • Die skep van ‘n ruimte waarbinne kinders en jong mense konkreet God se liefde onvoorwaardelik kan ervaar.
  • Vermoedelik ‘n ruimte waarbinne daar minder gepreek en meer gewees moet word.

‘n Jeugwerker met ‘n liefde vir God, kinders en jong mense as kern kan nie anders as om moeite te maak om die konteks(te) en metafore van die kinders en jong mense te leer ken nie, asook dieselde energie aan die dag lê om God se betrokkenheid by hulle raak te sien. Dit is wanneer die persoon God se teenwoordigheid en betrokkenheid by die kinders en jong mense as’t ware ontdek dat hy/sy sinvol met hulle kan praat oor hul ervaring van God. Dit raak dan nie ‘n preek van bo af nie, maar ‘n deel van elke eie storie, ook die storie van die jeugwerker.

Ek dink dit is die enigste outentieke benadering tot jeugbediening, een waar die kinders en jong mense gesien word as kerk in eie reg, met real belewenisse en ‘n struggle om dit altyd te verwoord. Dit lei tot die vraag wat my dryf, hoe is ons kerk vandag sodat ons kinders, wat vandag dalk 4 of 5 is, nog oor 30 jaar gaan glo? Dalk is die vraag vir my van soveel belang omdat my eie seuntjie amper 6 jaar jonk is. Dit is dus ‘n diep persoonlike vraag, hoe leef ek vandag my geloof uit sodat kinders en jong mense oor 30 jaar nog gaan glo. Die ander kant van die muntstuk is vir my, hoe maak ek my geloof tasbaar in my lewe sodat my kind en ons kinders dit kan beleef en ook hul geloof tasbaar wil maak in hul lewe tot ‘n boodskap van hoop in die wêreld.

It seems that the one constant on internet forums, at least as far as religious dialogues go, is intolerance for the other opinion. Believers don’t gladly suffer non-believers and vice versa, Christians versus Atheists, Muslims and even other Christians, and again vice versa.

Christians so often take a type of spiritual high ground, claiming to know something or at least someone that the others don’t. Sometimes they even claim to know something of someone which other Christians don’t. A subjective understanding is mistaken for an absolute acquaintance and intimate knowledge of the ultimate mystery. It seems the humbleness of the Rabbi is forgotten.

Non-believers, on the other hand, often retreat into the bastion of reason. From here they lob high-handed pronouncements, often in the form of insults, to the so called dim-witted, superstitious believers who hold on, according to them, to worldviews and other opinions that was already thrown out with yesterday’s trash.

Why is it that these forums are so often riddled by an intolerant few? I would like to venture two reasons although I am certain there are many more that can be considered. Firstly, it seems that any chest-beating is accompanied by a certain sense of insecurity, that 0.0001% of doubt that creeps in during the quiet of the night. A sense that maybe, just maybe, we are not quite as right, quite as absolute as we would like to be; a nagging sense that there might be more to the universe, the world, and even transcended, at least other, realities to my own. With all the data we are bombarded with every day, it is almost impossible not to acknowledge that the model we build and the narratives we construct does not 100% reflect Reality nor Narrative. This begs the question, is there such a thing as Reality or Narrative and, if there is, can we have objective, maybe even subjective, access to it?

It does however seem that the more and louder the chest-beating seems to be, the louder and challenging our own insecurities is, at least as far as the way we build our models and narrate our stories.

Secondly, it seems that we suffer from a good dose, maybe a severe overdose, of arrogance. We simply know. Contrary to the postulation that we might not have the free access to the Reality that we think we have, we construct from the perspective that we do not only have access to Reality but that we have unbridled, objective, and absolute access. It seems that we think that we can transcend ourselves in order to be completely objective and have the language ability to formulate the exactness of the Reality without limiting it. Of course only the I and those who agree exactly with the I has this ability. What is interesting is the assumption that we can transcend our own subjectivity at will, but that something Transcendent can’t exist.

Thus, maybe it is time we should all heed the call of the ancients and the contemporaries, from Confucius, The Buddha, Jesus Christ, Florence Nightingale, Dorothy Day, Karen Armstrong, and The Dalai Lama that the mark of an adult person who lives with happiness and contentment in his/her skin, one would be able to argue, in her/his own faith, is the ability to live with the Golden Rule, with compassion. And if you are wondering what this rule is, here it is in its positive form: Do onto others as you would like them do onto you, this might just lead to dialogues where we listen to others and really hear them, rather than construct what they are saying from our own preconceived ideas.

The new Pope urged the faithful to translate the sacraments they received into their daily life. It seems this is a message that all of us, at least those of us who think of ourselves as followers of The Way, need to heed. The one criticism of the Church, both the institution and the believers who form it, that cannot be ignored is the way that confession and lifestyle seems to be two different things.

It seems that the majority of the Church’s energy is spent on getting members to belief in a certain way and justifying to others, believers and non-believers, why their way is the correct way. In this system formulation, the correct words, standard creeds, finely crafted dogma, and traditional confessions are of the utmost importance. The mind and reason becomes, not only the home, but the fortress of belief and the power structures of the church; the stewards of the fortress. The sad part is that the verbal-war, that is constant waging between every possible tag you can imagine, has grown toxically stale.

A world, in the midst of severe suffering, complex trauma, losing every last shred of hope, is in desperate need of the faithful making real the very essence of their faith; G-d who so love the world, that had so much compassion, that G-d-self became part of the suffering. It is where the faithful starts to venture out of the fortress of belief into a thirsty and hungry world, urged by the core of the sacraments to live according to faith, that the verbal-war becomes an irrelevant nuisance. It is where honest pilgrims daily live from the source that ground them in the reality of G-d, that a glimmer of hope breaks through and differences in dogma and creed is transcended.

It is long overdue that the faithful realize that living out a confessed faith is much more important than confessing it absolutely right.

I wish I could promise you prosperity, wealth, and health. This, however, is not my privilege. What I can promise you is more fragile, more vulnerable, more humanish.

I promise you, my Love, that I will always be human with you.

That when things are going well, I’ll laugh with you.

When things are going not so great, I’ll cry with you.

When you feel alone, I’ll hold you.

When you need space, I’ll grant you as much as you need.

When you need support, I’ll be there to cheer you on every step of the way.

When we experience the dizzy heights of life, I’ll celebrate it with you

And when we struggle through the valleys, I’ll hold your hand no matter what.

I promise you, most beautiful of woman, to make you part of every part of my being.

My strengths and my weaknesses.

My fears and my hopes.

My joys and my hurts.

My tears of sorrow and tears of joy.

Ultimately the only thing I can promise you is a lifetime’s journey together with you.

I promise that I will undertake this journey with you with honesty, authenticity, integrity, compassion, and love.

 

In the original Afrikaans

Aan Maretha: ‘n Troubelofte

Ek wens ek kon die volgende belowe, voorspoed, welvaart, en gesondheid. Dit is my egter nie beskore nie. Dit wat ek jou kan belowe is meer broos, meer weerloos, meer mensig.

 

Ek belowe jou Meisiemens, dat ek saam met  jou altyd mens sal wees.

Dat wanneer dit goed gaan, ek saam met jou sal lag.

Wanneer dit sleg gaan, ek saam met jou sal huil.

Wanneer jy alleen voel, ek jou sal vashou.

Wanneer jy ruimte nodig het, ek dit jou sal gun.

Wanneer jy ondersteuning nodig het, ek jou elke oomblik sal aanspoor.

Wanneer ons hoogtes beleef, ek dit saam met jou sal vier.

En wanneer ons valleie deur worstel, ek heeltyd jou hand sal vashou.

 

Ek belowe jou, mooiste mens, om jou deel te maak van elke deel van my wese;

My sterkpunte en my swakpunte,

My vrese en my hoop,

My vreugdes en my seerkry,

Van my trane en my lag.

 

Uiteindelik is al wat ek kan belowe ‘n leeftyd se reis saam met jou.

Ek belowe dat ek die reis met eerlikheid, opregtheid,  integriteit, deernis en liefde saam met jou sal reis.

Geskryf deur Fourie Rossouw

 Jy moet regtig lief he.
Delete jou junkmail folder gereeld.
Opgradeer jou anit-virus program.
Hou jou besig met goeie goed.
Nooi jou buurman oor vir ‘n braai.
As jy die sypaadjie voor jou huis se gras sny, sny jou buurvrou s’n ook.
Moenie opgee nie. Byt vas. Doen wat God van jou vra.
Wees opgewonde oor al die nuwe moontlikhede.
As dinge rof gaan, staan sterk.
Praat gereeld met God.
Help waar jy kan.
Deel uit wat jy het.
As iemand iets lelik aan jou doen, moet dan nie dink jy het ‘n rede om te skinder te nie.
Sommige mense is hartseer, ander is gelukkig. Leef altyd met deernis en empatie.
Moenie so windgat wees nie.
Luister vir ‘n slag.
Moenie jou swembadwater in jou buurman se groente tuin laat afloop nie.
As jou buurman ‘n poepol is, moenie jy dan ook een wees nie.
As dit vir jou moontlik is, probeer om van almal te hou.
Laat God worry oor hulle wat jou te na kom. Laat jou woede staan.
Maak vrede. Vergewe.
Wees ‘n geniunely nice teenoor hulle wat nie van jou hou nie. Niks is meer irriterend as dit nie!
Moenie dat die donker jou baas word nie.

Wees die donker se baas deur in die lig te lewe.

It’s cold, very cold. This might be stating the obvious but I think that somehow we miss how cold it really is. As the cold front settles in and the effect of winter is clearly visible on frosted window panes and heater sales, we seem to be absorbed in how to stay warm. The result, we forget how cold it really is.

But maybe it is worthwhile to open ourselves to the reality of how cold it really is. This morning, stepping out of the house unshod was a real challenge but at the same time a real reminder that there was a bunch of people sleeping outside last night. Walking to the car barefoot in sub-zero temperatures reminded once again how privilege I am; a warm bowl of soup, followed by a warm shower and a warm and comfortable bed to spend the night.

At the same time the frost was biting at my toes I wondered how many people spared a thought for those who are not so privilege, for those to whom going barefoot is not a choice but the only reality. How many of those who laid siege to shops in search of heaters decided to invite a little discomfort into their own lives in order to gift someone else a little more comfort in theirs?

Traveling barefoot in the freezing cold I am constantly reminded, and made acutely aware, of how selfish (wo)mankind can be. Even as we talk about compassion and espouse self-sacrifice, we seldom dare to venture out of our comfort zones in order to make a real different of those who truly suffers. Indeed we are willing to help others, as long as they make some effort to help themselves and also only as long as it doesn’t really affect our own comfort.

Maybe the time has come that we choose to leave our shoes at home or to leave the heater switched off for one night (at least Eskom will be happy) or use one less blanket for a night. It might just be that we wake up the next morning with a little more gratitude which might just lead to each one of us doing one little thing that will make a big difference in the life of someone not so fortunate. And if we don’t, I venture to say that deep down there will always be that niggling feeling, that idea that we are not the great people we think we are, that we are indeed self-centred fools who are bend on our own destruction; at least we will be destroyed whilst being warm and comfortable.

Coca-Cola would like us to believe it is as easy as opening it, the faithful (seemingly from a diversity of different religions) would like us to believe it can be attained by confessing it, afaithful would like us to believe it is a case of not confessing it, the producers and retailers would like us to believe it increases with consumption and the naturalists and greenies would like us to stop consuming in order to truly gain it, the moralists champions the life-long commitment to a person of the opposite sex as the doorway to a lifetime of it and the more liberal finds it in the diversity of multiple connections. Whatever the answer, it seems that there are many different answers to the question and that these answers are directly linked to the underlying philosophy of the person that answers the question. The question of course being: What will bring us lasting happiness?

Implied in the question is that such a thing as lasting happiness does indeed exist and all we need to do is to find the start of the correct path towards it, journey it with commitment and persistence and at some or other time, we will arrive at the source of lasting happiness. Maybe the challenge lies in the assumption and not in the diversity, and sometimes even apposing, answers.

It might just be that in the uncritical acceptance of the existence of lasting happiness, and the assertion that every person, and therefore myself as well, has a given right to happiness, we are excluding ourselves from the very thing we seek. The view that happiness is something that can be achieved and the moment it can be achieved happiness is turned into the result of a doing function. It puts the Self in control and constantly asks an evaluative question about every moment; is this, what is experienced, truly happiness or is there something greater?

Maybe the first step towards understanding lasting happiness is the acknowledgement that our reality is often filled, or even that the default setting of our reality, is a place of unhappiness; that happiness, especially lasting happiness, has an Other-worldly quality to it. C.S Lewis famously writes that joy “is the serious business of heaven” (Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on prayer). Thus it might just be true that in search of lasting happiness we are not in control, because we are searching for something that does not essentially exists to be grasped.

This acceptance that happiness is not something of our doing but rather a state of being, might open whole different perspective on lasting happiness. An acceptance of life as it is, an openness that much of who we are, are marked by honest struggle, by hardship and challenges, by hunger and thirst and by the realization that everyone around us is faced with the same reality, might be the change of perspective we need to see the Other-worldly. Maybe it is when we surrender our desperate quest to find a mythical happiness, that we find a much more down to earth, even fragile, but ultimately a lasting, happiness.

By Listener

(Dan Smith)

 

We’re all born to broken people on their most honest day of living

and since that first breath… We’ll need grace that we’ve never given

I’ve been haunted by standard red devils and white ghosts

and it’s not only when these eyes are closed

these lies are ropes that I tie down in my stomach,

but they hold this ship together tossed like leaves in this weather

and my dreams are sails that I point towards my true north,

stretched thin over my rib bones, and pray that it gets better

but it won’t won’t, at least I don’t believe it will…

so I’ve built a wooden heart inside this iron ship,

to sail these blood red seas and find your coasts.

don’t let these waves wash away your hopes

this war-ship is sinking, and I still believe in anchors

pulling fist fulls of rotten wood from my heart, I still believe in saviors

but I know that we are all made out of shipwrecks, every single board

washed and bound like crooked teeth on these rocky shores

so come on and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief

and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach

come on and sew us together, tattered rags stained forever

we only have what we remember

 

I am the barely living son of a woman and man who barely made it

but we’re making it taped together on borrowed crutches and new starts

we all have the same holes in our hearts…

everything falls apart at the exact same time

that it all comes together perfectly for the next step

but my fear is this prison… that I keep locked below the main deck

I keep a key under my pillow, it’s quiet and it’s hidden

and my hopes are weapons that I’m still learning how to use right

but they’re heavy and I’m awkward…always running out of fight

so I’ve carved a wooden heart, put it in this sinking ship

hoping it would help me float for just a few more weeks

because I am made out of shipwrecks, every twisted beam

lost and found like you and me scattered out on the sea

so come on let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief

and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach

come on and sew us together, just some tattered rags stained forever

we only have what we remember

 

My throat it still tastes like house fire and salt water

I wear this tide like loose skin, rock me to sea

if we hold on tight we’ll hold each other together

and not just be some fools rushing to die in our sleep

all these machines will rust I promise, but we’ll still be electric

shocking each other back to life

Your hand in mine, my fingers in your veins connected

our bones grown together inside

our hands entwined, your fingers in my veins braided

our spines grown stronger in time

because are church is made out of shipwrecks

from every hull these rocks have claimed

but we pick ourselves up, and try and grow better through the change

so come on yall and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief

and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach

come on and sew us together, were just tattered rags stained forever

we only have what we remember

 

from Wooden Heart Poems, released 06 July 2010

Music Video