Our world has been plagued by the Covid-19 virus for 5 months, and my country South Africa has been in lockdown for 2 of those. It’s a time where we’ve all come to realise the power of words. We’re bombarded with news and interviews, opinions and statements from world leaders. Our phones ping with messages that warn or threaten or seek to inform us. We’re constantly trying to discern words that are real from those that are fake.
And, although I’ve always known it, it’s never struck me more that the words we speak or write have power. Power of life or power of death. No wonder the writer of Proverbs said:
“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” (Prov. 15:4)
Last week I thought I was finished with Leunig’s Prayer. Not finished in terms of living it out, of course, but finished in my line-by-line journey through it. Then the world suddenly became a whole lot scarier. The Corona virus (Covid-19) was declared a pandemic. The number of cases in South Africa began a steady and steep climb. Borders were closed. Flights were cancelled. Social distancing became the new catch-phrase. All my networks and groups were flooded with information and advice on the virus, and my most used emoji was the mask face because it was relevant to just about every discussion (Corona being almost the sole topic of conversation). It began to dawn on me then that Leunig’s prayer could be a blessing and an anchor when applied to this time of crisis. So, I’m revisiting it one last time as a springboard to my own prayer in these uncertain times. May we draw out a few more gems of understanding as we face these uncertain times together. Continue reading
Our journey through Leunig’s Prayer draws to a close on this, the final line of the prayer: And to let the heart create for us. It’s the line that evokes the most resounding ‘yes!’ in my soul. Yet, I believe it comes at the end of the prayer for a reason, which is that every other line before it enables us to develop and embrace our own creative heart. Continue reading
To Look Softly. As I take a a journey through Leunig’s simple, 5-line prayer, I come to this slightly obscure line. What would it mean to look softly on the world? Whereas the first line, God, Help me to Live Slowly and the second To Move Simply, were not necessarily easy to put into practice, at least I understood my goals: slow down; simplify. But this—look softly—seems a little baffling when I approach it with my intellect. I see the way I see, don’t I? Is it even possible to change the way one perceives the world? This line of the prayer tells me that not only is it possible, it is also necessary because there are places in my life where I do the opposite of soft-looking.
Too often I look hard. Continue reading
On the 2nd leg of my journey through Leunig’s prayer, I have a few confessions to make. That’s because this might be the most challenging line of the prayer for me and it uncovers some uncomfortable truths about myself.
Whereas the 1st part of Leunig’s prayer was a petition to live slowly, the 2nd is to move simply. Continue reading
Last year I came across a short prayer, written and illustrated by the cartoonist, Michael Leunig. The prayer’s shortness and simplicity allowed it to reverberate through my heart often. I remembered it and mulled over it, and eventually—when I realised it was one of the most profound prayers I’d ever prayed—tried to live into it. Continue reading
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