Father’s Day without Dad

As Father’s Day approached this year—the first without my Dad—I found myself warily circling my emotions, sometimes backing away, sometimes drawing in closer to examine them. Facebook hasn’t helped with its perky little ‘memories’ that pop up every morning: three years ago we were all having coffee at Second Cup; a year ago, lunch at CCJ. Continue reading

Voice in the Garden

Darkness wraps around me like a cloak, forcing me to slow down on the uneven path to the tomb. Still, I’m grateful for the lack of light. Too many hostile eyes have watched us lately. Too many mocking tongues have hissed insults—first at him, then at us. At least now, before sunrise, we walk unseen and unhindered.

I think back to the strange darkness that had cloaked the land as Jesus hung on the cross. The tongues had stopped their mocking then too. The very people who had shouted Crucify! had slunk away in fear, allowing us to edge closer. Close enough to hear Jesus speak his dying words. It is finished. Continue reading

A Publishing Conference like No Other

It took me a long time to decide to attend LittWorld, the Christian Publishing Conference recently held in Singapore. As the deadline for registration drew nearer I balked. As much as I love expressing myself through writing, the publishing process has been stressful for me. Even on the writing front I wasn’t doing well. I was questioning whether writing was truly for me, whether I still had something of value to write or even the skills to do it. I journalled at the time: I feel like a little floundering boat, my sails flapping uselessly, not going anywhere. Continue reading

The Perfect Prompting

My fingers are stiff and cold as I tug at another slimy strand tangled in the net. “A whole night of fishing and all we catch is wretched seaweed,” I groan.

When my brother doesn’t even grunt in reply, I look up. Andrew’s hands have stilled on the net. He is looking down the shoreline, towards Capernaum. There seems to be some commotion there, for I hear distant voices and, shielding my eyes from the glare reflecting from the sea, I can make out a throng of people. Continue reading

Murderer in the Crowd

“Today I was to be crucified.”

I instantly regret the words as the old merchant looks up, his gaze moving uneasily over the long scar slashing my cheek. Yet I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Something about the vast blue sky makes me want to shout ‘freedom!’ and the shrieks of children chasing each other makes me want to laugh out loud. I long to point out to all the unseeing passers-by how the morning light is shimmering on the temple walls above us. After weeks of near darkness, nothing has ever looked lovelier. I’m free! I would shout it across all of Jerusalem if I could. Continue reading

Longing

Today I sat still long enough
to notice a bee steal kisses
from a host of willing petal mouths.
To hear the veld beat
with the rhythm of cicada drums.
To sense the shadows shifting
on a pallet of green and gold.
To listen to my heart pounding weariness
and feel the heavy yearning in my bones.
To touch the flicker of longing
that asks:
What if? Continue reading

Words to Start the Year: The Trite and the True

Yesterday and today I have been bombarded with New Year messages.
There were the sickly sweet…
The inspirational…
The religious…
And the funny.

I passed a couple of them on and added my own cheery New Year’s Eve celebration pictures and wishes onto Instagram , Facebook and Twitter.

But if I’m completely honest, the common words in these messages—prosperous, successful, joyful, bright, healthy, peaceful, blessed—have felt rather trite this year. Sure, they tumble off my own lips with as much ease as everyone else’s but even as I passed them on, a little nay-saying voice in my head whispered, “If 2017 was so tough, why will 2018 be any better?” Continue reading

Ashlyn’s Journey and Victory

Last week was our final school prize giving. I admit it – I might have wiped away a stray tear or two, especially in the first part of the evening which takes place in the classroom. Here, each child receives a ‘character award’. Being a Christian school, this is an area valued as much—if not more than—the academic side. I like that in a school. A lot.

Then it was into the hall, packed with high school students, teachers and parents, to honour the academic and sports achievements of the learners. And there something remarkable happened. Ashlyn was awarded a silver academics badge and then went on to win two subject trophies (Computer Applications Technology and IT).

My youngest daughter, whose schooling—and childhood—has been marked by a struggle with mental health issues including Asperger’s, anxiety and depression marched onto that stage, beaming proudly. This somewhat belied the ‘humility’ part of her earlier character award, but nobody was holding it against her. Most of the teachers there and many of her peers knew the long journey she’s been on.

Reflecting back on that moment, I realise that what I felt was far more than parental pride. That moment on the stage wasn’t just a great academic achievement. It was a victory. Continue reading