Creation

You opened your locket
just for me;
two sides arched like
the waves
that rippled above the Israelites
as they marched towards the promised land.

The clasp came undone
pop
I heard you gasp
and we worked together;
hands entwined
so you could guide
that part of me to work inside.

Such a thing, a locket:
powerful, tenacious, inducing awe to the beholder
yet with an appearance of delicacy
and fragility
an oxymoron reflecting the complexities of woman;
a creation that was truly thought about
a creation to make one feel truly proud

Ezer
A thing impossible to live without
from Eden ’till now
an influence hopeless to understand;
a force that could
tear down Samson, Solomon, the greatest of men
but in its purity a force to cherish and protect.

It’s a privilege
for you to allow me
to be encased within you.

Advertisements

The Boardroom

 

There were five members on the panel. Each man stood for an invaluable asset to the company; their strengths were envied by some and revered by others. Walking into the boardroom, I felt nervous but I knew that I had a chance. The director of the group, Lay Preacher, inclined his head as I sat down to face them.

“Morning,” said Evangelist. “God’s greetings.”

“Hey,” I said with a smile.

Bible Worker tutted. I heard him mutter “that won’t do” and I immediately questioned his utterance.

“You see, Miss Phoenix,” said Missionary, “we’re looking for something special. At the moment, we’re not too sure about you.”

“What’s wrong?” I said.

“Your skirt for a start,” said Elder. “Where is it? Knee length is too high!”

I squirmed against their admonishing glare. This wasn’t an interview; it was a trial, spot lights and all.

“The thing is,miss,” said Lay Preacher, “we like humble women. A Proverbs thirty-one woman. We’re not sure you’re the one for us.”

There’s a lot of relationship advice circling the internet these days. There’s even more in church. I’m not sure what’s happened, but the recent church trend is an early marriage—I heard of one second-year university student tying the knot the other day. It’s like a mating season; everyone wants to get with someone and with it comes relationship books, DVDs, CDs and seminars. Then people start making their “list of standards”. Standards are fine, but there’s a problem when your standards make you come across as spiritually superior.

Both men and women in church have a habit of looking for their partner, rather than allowing God to choose for them. We’re limited by what we can see, so our requirements can at times be silly and superficial. There are girls out there looking for their “men of God”, always chasing after the guys who preach and do missionary work in their droves. My nature causes me to be healthily suspicious of such people, not because preaching and missionary work is wrong, but because those things are very much outward displays of piety. What are these men like on their “off” days, when no one is looking to praise them?

I have a friend who is one of those guys. He does a lot of work in church, eldering and whatnot, and he has caught the attention of a few people. When we were talking about relationships and our personal preferences, he kept on referring to himself in the plural.

“What we like is … What we’re looking for is girls who are…”

It took me almost a week to process that his usage of “we” was strange, arrogant almost. It gave the impression he was talking on behalf of an elite, exclusive company; drawing up a checklist of all the traits a Godly woman must have and screening the cream of of the crop in church. It confirmed my suspicions. When people compare their potential mate to their own spirituality i.e., looking at the situation on the surface, a problem is bound to occur.

Remember, folks:

But the LORD said unto Samuel, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”*

Shouldn’t that be proof enough to let God take control of everything? I don’t actually mind relationship advice; I like talking to my elders at church, older people who I respect and whose marriages are still intact and asking them how they would go about seeking a partner; I like talking about it with my dad, who always has something interesting to say; I don’t even mind a study on it every now and then, but this sudden onslaught of information is madness.

(Does this blog post ironically count as dating advice as well???)

So anyway, I’ve decided not to concern myself too much with all this stuff. I’m sure once you get into the right relationship it’s great, and I can’t wait for that experience, but at the moment, I’m going to take my time with it—I’m still young, after all.

So it looks like I’ll have to step out of the boardroom. It’s pretty brutal in there.

xXx

*1 Samuel 16:7

Please Remember…

…That when images of wars
and bullet-ridden bodies
appear on the news before you

…When innocent blood
is sprayed across the screen
in acts of genocides

…When the flies that feed
off the eyes of starving children
buzz rackets through your surround-sound

That God didn’t start any of it.
Remember please, to look at the One
of whom sin originates
and the poison he has created in this world of ours
to contaminate the minds
of dictators and warmongers
and presidents who can drink champagne for breakfast
whilst families hunger
on their palace steps.

 

For Dad

I remember scaling the tree trunks
that were your legs and making a game of it.
It was an expedition:
The Great Sunday Challenge.

Your lap, full of warmth,
always welcomed me.
We would read the News of the World:
there would be dark stories to know
and light cartoons for finish off
before I left you at the sports pages
so you could grumble about who lost,
who won—
and who just didn’t cut it.

Trailing behind you like
the extension of a long, multicoloured cloak,
we’d go to East Street Market for cho-cho
Electric Avenue for fish.
We both looked a sight
hunched over with the tools of Sunday Dinner
on our backs.

Christmasses provided the last patch of the year
for the Jackson Quilt: a patchwork of fun
family
friends and food.
You were the weaver of it all and I your apprentice:
we would prepare the day before, you and me,
skinning kidneys by the sink and gutting fish
or marinating meat.

Childhood innocence left me in a bubble of ignorance
but I was an astute child and I was aware.
The knowledge of it hit me like the stench of rotting food.

The fabric of our quilt began to fray
long periods of neglect left it with moth holes and stains
the stitching unraveled and in its wake were
long silences
cold dinners
muffled shouts behind locked doors.

God stepped into our lives and assuaged some of the pain
but He was unable to stop the schism
that left me with two houses to bounce between.
I always returned from yours with precious cargo:
cakes, sweets and crisps—the Health Message a distant blight in our future.

It’s funny, though, that now I’m grown
I still come for you with an expectation
rifling through your jacket pockets for buttermints
or an eclair.

My reliance on you for everything
keeps me young and candid in your eyes.
I see this most when I talk to you
about boyfriends and husbands;
the act of leaving your nest for good.

But when that time does come
I know for sure what I will seek:
a provider, a protector, a friend,
a man of God—

—someone just like my Dad.

xXx

 

(I’m performing this at church this coming Sabbath. It’s poetry night and the topic is LOVE: romantic, parental, divine, whatever. There’s another two that I may perform, and I’ve already uploaded one of them (Mr Right.) the third one will be up shortly)

Women in Ministry

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this topic. I think I’ve spoken a lot about the gender inequality in religion and as the state of the world deteriorates we’ll inevitably get more sexism and chauvinism in church. We know that religion is a hotbed for tradition and with this tradition comes views that are not only ridiculously Functionalist but also dangerous.

For example, people love to blame women for the current state of marriage in the church, because we rebellious women aren’t submitting anymore and we want to be “independent”. Since when was independence a bad thing? Unless everyone’s getting their moral lessons from Destiny’s Child songs then an independent woman shouldn’t be a problem. Like most things, the phrase has been twisted to mean an angry black female who emasculates all the males around her, when it should really mean a woman who can fend for herself. I was listening to the radio once where driving instructors were describing their most difficult students. Several of them mentioned that there was an influx of women in their 60s and 70s learning to drive for the first time; an age where their reflexes are slower and it’s much harder to pick up new skills. Why? Because all their lives they relied on their husbands to drive them everywhere, leaving them without transport once they were widowed.

I was watching a live online Bible study about relationships and the topic of submission came up. Once again, rather than clearly discussing and empathising with the women that had been beaten physically, emotionally and spiritually by their husbands because of a warped interpretation of the word “submit” and their husbands subsequent omission of the command for them to love their wives as Christ loved the church (and gave His life for it), everyone just went into rants about rebellious women. One bright spark actually said:

Are these problems a result of the women’s rights movement going too far?

I beg your pardon? So should we start taking rights away from women, then? Because we’ve been given too much? I wanted to pursue this comment, and maybe if I did I would have been given better clarification, but it was Sabbath and I didn’t want to get into an argument. After all, I’m trying not to be so hot-headed about the issue and I’ve been asking God to hold my tongue on this matter.

Not surprisingly, these views have been used to dictate to women what they can and can’t do in the church. I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but I think I may make it my mission to find out this month. I’ll do some study on it and write my findings, making sure to seek God for counsel and wisdom throughout : )

There is no denying, though, that God loves women and he has called them into service. The best example I can give for this is in Matthew 28:

 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

(28:1,9,10)

The first evangelists were women. It’s one of the most powerful moments in the New Testament, and such a privilege.

God gives messages to women as well. There’s Ellen White, for example.

I wanted to start studying this topic because I read this blog post earlier, and it made me wonder why there is such confusion surrounding the matter. We’re all supposed to be convicted and influenced by the same Holy Spirit, so why are there so many hurting women in church, left to feel inadequate and excluded? We’re all part of the same body and thus, we’re all needed.

(I just discovered that blog today; it’s nice.)

So it looks like along with my weekly study, not only am I studying the book of Jeremiah but now I’ve got this subject to do as well! You can’t have too much Bible study, I suppose…

xXx

 

Mr Right.

I knew not where to look
to find Mr. Right.
I made a list of all the preachers,
the Bible study workers,
the guys with nice cars
that gave lifts to older members
the ones who dressed nicely
and let women go first.

It didn’t work, though.
And confusion ensued.

“I feel like,” I said.
“Everyone is together.
Marriage and babies
Young, exciting love.
I know Ecclesiastes
I know there’s a time for
Everything.
But when is my time?”

Then I saw the truth.
Like the under belly of a whale:
smooth and serene on top with
scabs and boils underneath.
The guys who preached on Sabbath
and swore murder on the Sunday;
The Bible studies that were used
for elopements under sheets.
The cars that had housed
drugs, guns and plastic heels.

I saw then that I was seeking
a superfluous thing:
Hiding in a prefab when
a Palace stood ’round the corner.

For now I’ll wait
and learn to love myself again
because my Mr Right
is there.
With a Kingdom just for me.