In the midst of it all

“Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.  And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”  Kahlil Gibran

 

You stand in the midst of it all. Your heart is in your hand.  The world is gaping at it, poking it, examining it and ridiculing it.  Blood is dripping from muddy hands, hands that dug deep in the midst of it all.  You are vulnerable, exposed to the point where heartbreak is inevitable.  Of course you can choose to put your heart back in your chest underneath your ribcage, safely where it belongs.  Away from exposure.  Because holding your heart in your hand sucks the life out of you, the very life that is muddy.  The life that is excruciating and unfair.  The life that, many times, leave you in utter disillusionment.  But, at the same time, the beauty and realness of it take your breath away.  Two sides of the same coin.

Tuesday morning finds us at the Botanical Gardens. My daughter and I walk through the gardens with my friend who is the chairperson of the Pretoria Stroke Support Group.  She got involved in the group after her husband passed away from several strokes almost a year and a half ago.  Her little son attends school with my son and we became friends.  The gardens are infused with many elderly people.  As part of the ‘Help Seniors’-initiative, many groups come together for a corporate event such as this morning’s.

“What does ‘senior’ mean?” my daughter asks.

“Well, that is how we sometimes refer to people who are older than us,” I try to explain.

“Oh, like you, Mommy? You are older than me so you must be a senior.”

I laugh. “Yes, indeed, you are right.  Mommy definitely feels like I’ve become a bit older in these past few weeks.”  Tears have a way of creating wrinkles that wasn’t there before.

We walk with and past many ‘grandpa’s and grandma’s’, as my daughter puts it. The ladies are dressed to the nines, the men walk upright; those who had strokes have a little shuffle in their steps.  Some walk alone, others in groups, here and there is a couple who asks for a selfie to be taken of them.  The couples are in the minority, I observe with a heaviness in my heart.  Otherwise, it seems as though these people have no care in the world.  For this morning, the vast gardens are their playground, their haven.

Afterwards we all sit together in an enclosure. The jaffels we are given to eat are tasty and fresh and we drink tea and coffee from proper glass mugs.  No polystyrene, thank you.  Only the best for these people, AVBOB must reckon.  As the organiser of this event and one of the biggest funeral companies in the country, they are probably hoping for a new policy or two or three.  Speaking of which, I can’t help but overhear many a conversation between these elderly people that revolves around death and funerals.  It’s the most normal thing in the world to talk about this, apparently.  No fear, no cowardice.  Instead, a healthy expectation about this is evident, amazement, even.

“I still have two grandmothers and two grandfathers,” my daughter proudly tells the woman sitting next to her.

“My, but how lucky you are!” the lady says.

“AND, I still have one great-grandmother. She lives at the sea and she is veeeeeeeeery old.  But all the others are in heaven already.  When I go there I will get to see them.”  Little children and elderly people definitely have in common the fact that they talk openly about things such as death and heaven.

Then comes the music.

“Golden oldies that will definitely give your age away,” the singer remarks. The songs bring along ecstasy and nostalgia.  Some dance, some sing along, others sway from side to side.  As my daughter happily dances along, I notice many of the people looking at her with longing in their eyes.  I wish I could put myself in their minds for a little while.  Are they thinking of days long gone by, maybe missing a grandchild who is overseas or elsewhere?  Who knows?

Then it is time for a game. The first person who recognises the song and puts a hand up gets a prize.

“You, the lady with the glasses on!” the singer exclaims when a lady’s hand shots up.

“But we all wear glasses!” the lady next to me bellows and many others join in the laughter. Their fearless sense of humour is refreshing.

Many ladies take out their crochet and knitting work. One is making little flowers for an artwork she is working on; another is making a blanket for the Stroke Support Group’s winter fundraiser.  The man sitting behind me talks about his children in Canada and another lady is making it her duty to entertain my daughter.

Does all of this mean anything in the end? I don’t know.  Is it for me to decide?  No.  But is it beautiful, being in the midst of it all?  Most definitely.  This is life.  This is people with their hearts in their hands, exposed and vulnerable and dependant on the love and care of others.  I’ve come to learn that this is the most beautiful thing in life to be a part of.

I involuntarily think about a precious little girl who is now in heaven, but whose body is buried under the ground. I think back to the end of last year when I was basically told by the people who decided about the little girl’s life that I became too involved and overstepped too many boundaries.  I think back to my dying grandmother and my little daughter who climbed fearlessly onto the bed next to her while it happened and touched her.  I think of the lady who covered my brother with a blanket and stroked his back as he slowly but surely took his last breaths.  I think of my friend who decided to make it her calling to take care of rejected, abandoned and abused children.  I think of how I have come to learn that the emergency rooms in our hospitals are bursting with children who are abused by their parents and the doctors and nurses who struggle to keep them alive.

Maybe the secret to living fearlessly is to realize that we are completely dependent on the love that God shows on earth through others, how big or small it may seem to us. Maybe the secret to living abundantly is to position ourselves in the midst of it all and to never, ever look back and say, “Maybe I should have loved more…”  To get our hands dirty while holding our hearts in them.  For it is only there where we learn what love is.  It is only there where we can truly see the heart of another person.  It is only there where we can fully understand what life is all about.  I believe that it is worth every heart-breaking minute.

You stand in the midst of it all. Your heart is in your hand.  The world is gaping at it, poking it, examining it and ridiculing it.  Blood is dripping from muddy hands, hands that dug deep in the midst of it all.  You are vulnerable, exposed to the point where heartbreak is inevitable.  Of course you can choose to put your heart back in your chest underneath your ribcage, safely where it belongs.  Away from exposure.  Because holding your heart in your hand sucks the life out of you, the very life that is muddy.  The life that is excruciating and unfair.  The life that, many times, leave you in utter disillusionment.  But, at the same time, the beauty and realness of it take your breath away.  Two sides of the same coin.

May this be where we are found, in the midst of it all.

And that is all I need to know now.

 

 

 

One thought on “In the midst of it all

  1. Incredible. Speechless.

    Ek voel of ek ook daar was en elke detail beleef. Jy skets ongelooflike prentjies met woorde.

    Dankie vir hierdie blessing!! Ek wag vir jou boek wat gepubliseer gaan word 🙂

    Xx

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

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