Posts tagged inspirational poems and quotes
happy inauguration day
Happy-Inauguration-Day.png

Aight. I’m just gonna speak on this once, then I’m done. This message is for my godchildren, praying folk, spiritual warriors, lightworkers, wakan women, men of magic and mastery, meditators and chanters, and for all those that have ears to hear. All of this railing and gnashing of teeth and swearing at TV screens and hyperbolic commenting on every move or action this new leader makes is not the move. More than ever, your purposeful energy and focus is needed, and frittering it away on ‘being in your feelings’ is effectively weakening our cause. Case in point: I work with a lovely woman, a godly woman who mentioned to me on our way to lunch today that she was doing the ‘Daniel fast’ with her church. I asked her about it and what it entailed and then went on my way. Moments later, we were both in the breakroom. Me eating my lunch and deep into my Facebook feed, purposely ignoring the goings-on in the room. She – along with at least a dozen others – staring at the inauguration on the TV screen with a long face and emitting a caustic comment to almost every line of the new leader’s inauguration speech. When I finished my lunch, I quipped to the others as I walked out, “What y’all watchin’?” before laughing and sashaying off to my next meeting (Yes. I said, sashay, dammit.).

Later, still intrigued by the ‘Daniel fast’ my co-worker mentioned, I googled it to learn more about it. The fast is based on the biblical passage from Daniel 1:12 which talks about eating veggies for 10 days. But looking back to the beginning of the chapter and taking the verse in full context, the larger story is about 4 Hebrew youth (Daniel being one of them) who were true to their faith and considered some of the ‘cream of the crop’ in their community. A new leader had recently taken control of their lands and had specifically picked these 4 to come ‘be on his team’ so to speak, which included learning his language and eating his food. Danny-boy was like, ‘Cool, I get it. New leaders come and go. It’s the Old Testament. Sh*t is mad unstable. But this whole eating the food thing? Nah. Not gonna work for me and my homeys. We are officially anti- that.’

inauguration-danielfast-ill-pass-obama
inauguration-danielfast-ill-pass-obama

The king’s caretaker was nervous. ‘If y’all just eat veggies, you’re gonna be thinner and ashier than everybody else on the team for sure, and that’s gonna get all of us in trouble. No way, Daniel-san. Not on my watch.”

To which Danny replied, “Just give us 10 days.”

After the 10 days were over, Danny and his 3 kinfolk were fatter and prettier than everybody else in the place, so they were left to their own devices from then on. Over time, they came to be known as the wisest men in the land and even became known for having ‘extraordinary’ powers.

Now, all mystical / spiritual texts can be taken either literally or as encoded message. What I took from that text was not a command to eat veggies for 10 days, rather it was a command to not swallow the BS if you want to stay true to your own values and grow in personal power.

Don’t consume the filth, the vitriol, the bad behavior. Refuse it. Ignore it. Fast from it. If you do not, your mind and energy will be scattered with every new occurrence, and you already know there will be plenty of occurrences. Furthermore, don’t be dismayed when some of your assumed kinfolk start supping at the king’s table. Instead, bring all of your energy back into yourself. Redouble your efforts on your work, your craft, your service. Dance your dances and sing your songs with all the windows open and the lights on. Never let them see you looking thin and gaunt, or sad or frustrated or unhappy or bitter. Support and speak life into others who are working on causes that are aligned with yours, and watch us all grow fatter and stronger.

We all have our chosen work. I am not a political person, but I appreciate and support and answer the calls of those who I trust that are activists in that arena. Those of us who focus our efforts on areas that transcend politics have a responsibility to work just as hard as our cohorts. We fail them and ourselves if we focus on the distractions and neglect our own goals and missions.

So, for all of us who are officially ‘anti-that’, today was your inauguration. What promises will you keep, what accomplishments will you count over the next 4 years?

how to make time slow down
how to make time slow down
how to make time slow down

A while back, I was talking with a co-worker about an NPR story on why time seems to move faster as we age. One explanation offered in the story was that, when we were younger, everything we encountered was new and big and significant – we’d never done most things before, or, we’d done them so few times that it all still seemed like new.

Something about how the brain registers time makes it feel like everything slows down when we’re in new situations or experiences. Likely, it’s so we can process all this new information and store it in a logical place according to our brain’s particular filing system. As we age and repeat experiences, however, the brain takes shortcuts. It no longer needs to record every minute detail of something that you’ve done a thousand times. It speeds past those familiar and known experiences, and as a result we feel like our lives have sped up as well.

But part of the beauty of being older is the accumulated experience. The wisdom that is its own treasure. Even if we could turn back the clock to when we were young and time moved more slowly, certainly we wouldn’t to lose all that precious learning and growth we’ve gained over so many years of living?

So the challenge is: how do I look through ever-older eyes with a forever-new heart? How do we make time slow down like way back when everything was new?

Here are some ideas:

9 Ways to Make Time Slow Down

Be fully present in your body. I think most of us are pretty detached from our bodies. We only really pay close attention to our body when something’s wrong with it (‘my knee hurts’, ‘I’m hungry’), or when it experiences pleasure. Most of our relationship with our body is spent in either avoiding pain or chasing pleasure for it – things that send our mind racing through time. Taking time to slow down and actually focus on how the body functions, and what it feels like when it’s being used, is essential. Active hobbies (e.g., sports, biking, walking), stretching, meditation, sex, even massage are good ways to get your mind back into your body.

Be observant. I can get in the habit of having blinders on while going about my day – walking with such purpose to my next meeting or to grab my lunch, that I don’t really see anything except for what’s directly in front of me. You’ve probably done the same. Convinced yourself you’re in a hurry, even if you don’t want to go where you’re headed (Really? I’m rushing… to work?) or you aren’t on a schedule at all (It’s Saturday, why am I mad that everyone’s moving so slow?). Instead of rushing past everyone and everything to get to your next location, slow down and pay attention to the things that you would normally pass by without noticing. Turn your head from side to side as you walk. Look up at the sky, count how many trees you pass from the train station to the office. Imagine the whole world is a ‘Where’s Waldo’ drawing, and you’re trying to see where that sneaky sumbitch is hiding.

how to make time slow down - ferris bueller quote
how to make time slow down - ferris bueller quote

Change 1 small thing. Routine makes weeks and months pass by in an indistinguishable blur. If you’ve been going about your daily life with minimal variation, introduce a little change. Take a new route on your commute. Switch your brand of cereal. Take a day off for no reason at all.

Go somewhere new. Even if it’s just a new park, a new restaurant or new area of town. Explore somewhere you’ve never been.

Learn something new. A new language, a new dance move, a new joke. Once you’ve got that one down, learn a new one.

Hang with kids. If you can’t be a kid again, be with kids again. Ask them questions, listen to them talk and engage in conversation with them like you would with any other friend. Play a game with them, show each other your best dance moves, have them tell you a story, laugh together at something silly.

Stop saying you don’t have time. I’m a big believer in the idea that what you affirm mentally and verbally, is made real in your life. If you say you don’t have enough time, you won’t. Your actions will follow your words and you’ll keep finding ways to squander away your time on a hundred things that you’ve chosen to do instead of the things you should be doing. If you really don’t have enough time to do the things that you need or want to in your life, that’s a big red flag that you need to sit down and make some difficult decisions about what needs to stay and what needs to go in your life. Ask yourself what and who you need to re-prioritize in order to stop feeling so overscheduled and overwhelmed. Or, you need to stop sweating the small stuff and change that statement from a helpless, “I don’t have time,” to a knowing, “I can’t do everything.”

Be someone new. This isn’t as un-doable as it sounds. I’m not suggesting you go fugue or check into the witness protection program, but do something that lets you see yourself as a different person. Change up your style, get a new hairdo, lose or gain some weight, talk in a German accent for an entire day, schedule some sessions with a therapist or a life coach.

Plan a vacation. Cuz, seriously, time moves at its absolute slowest in the weeks and days before it’s time for you take a highly anticipated trip somewhere.

Do you feel like time has sped up as you’ve gotten older? What other ways have you found to make time slow down?

how to give thanks for a meal
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saying grace

 

Even though I haven't been to Mass in years, I still recite the Catholic blessing I learned in elementary school before every meal.

"Bless us, O Lord and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen."

It occurs to me that we humans are probably more disconnected from our food than we've ever been in our short history on Earth. We are more likely to consume our daily bread on the run, in a hurry, at a desk, or in a car than we are to slowly digest a slowly-prepared meal surrounded by family and friends. Often times we have no idea where the food we are eating came from, nor the name nor face of the person who prepared it. We may only give thought to the ingredients in the dish placed before us if there is either risk (e.g., allergy or religious taboo) or cachet associated with its presence.

No wonder then, that our giving of thanks before a meal is often overlooked or reserved for only the most special of occasions like, say... Thanksgiving.

I've attended my fair share of Thanksgiving dinners - with both my own family and with the extended family that I call my friends. Though the dishes on the table have varied according to the customs, traditions, and culinary skills of those present, there's been one common trait among each of those Thanksgiving meals. The prayer before the meal.

At the assigned moment, heads bow, hands reach out to the persons beside you, a moment of silence ensues before someone - usually one of the eldest, but sometimes simply the bossiest - will appoint the prayer-giver for the meal. The newly knighted - depending on their experience with such matters - will either stumble for a few moments or leap to the charge. Soon, the prayer begins.

The rest of us listen, reverently. But we only half-hear the words. We are thinking of the sumptuousness of the food spread out in front of us, we are conscious of the feel of our neighbors' hands in ours, we may briefly remember the faces of those who aren't present but we wish were there, we may feel a subtle welling of emotion at the gravity of the moment. And then, it is done. We release our neighbors' hands, and start our strategic jockeying for position in the buffet line.

At its most basic, the act of eating a meal is a purely physical experience. But a brief moment of reverence before consuming the first bite, can transform the act of eating into a kind of sensory meditation.

 

"Food is divine, a gift from God. With deep respect you eat, and while eating you forget everything else, because eating is prayer. It is existential prayer." ~ Osho

 

At Thanksgiving, the before-meal prayer is a symbolic act that says, 'this moment is special'. It reaffirms our connectedness to others, and makes us pause to think about what we are about to put into our bodies. And though most pre-Thanksgiving prayers are offered to a divine source (a fact that even my most atheist friends will let slide for Thanksgiving), mealtime prayers need not be religious, nor do they need to be reserved only for 'special occasions'.

Here is a collection prayers, sayings, and meditations that can be said before meals:

 

Thank you for the food we eat, Thank you for the world so sweet, Thank you for the birds that sing, Thank you God for everything.

 

May this food restore our strength, giving new energy to tired limbs, new thoughts to weary minds. May this drink restore our souls, giving new vision to dry spirits, new warmth to cold hearts. And once refreshed, may we give new pleasure to You, who gives us all.

"The Quaker tradition of "silent grace" before meals also works well for a dinner party with people of diverse religions and beliefs. All present join hands in a circle around the table, and are silent for half a minute or so as they collect their thoughts, meditate or pray. Then one person gently squeezes the hands of the people seated adjacent; this signal is quickly passed around the table and people then begin to eat...." from secularseasons.org

God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food. By his hands we all are fed, Give us, Lord, our daily bread. Amen.

 

For the meal we are about to eat, for those that made it possible, and for those with whom we are about to share it, we are thankful.

We celebrate this occasion with food from the earth. May it fill us with fellowship and add to our mirth.

 

What before-meal words of thanks do you give? Do you save mealtime prayers for special occasions or are they an everyday ritual?

cheers,

k

photo: A serious moment by angelina_koh, on Flickr

balm for a tuesday - a poem from rumi
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friendship-theme-photo

 

I'm away on a working vacation this week, Dear Reader. But something told me that this poem by Rumi might be something you needed to hear as much as I did today.

If not, tuck it somewhere safe for a rainy day. ;-)

 

come on sweetheart let's adore one another before there is no more of you and me

a mirror tells the truth look at your grim face brighten up and cast away your bitter smile

a generous friend gives life for a friend let's rise above this animalistic behavior and be kind to one another

spite darkens friendships why not cast away malice from our heart

once you think of me dead and gone you will make up with me you will miss me you may even adore me

why be a worshiper of the dead think of me as a goner come and make up now

since you will come and throw kisses at my tombstone later why not give them to me now this is me that same person

i may talk too much but my heart is silence what else can i do i am condemned to live this life

~rumi

 

cheers,

k

"...the universe is unfolding as it should"

It's crazy the things that you remember from your childhood. When I was a kid, I spent alot of time at my grandparents' house. My grandmother - an incurable pack rat (due to a recessive gene I'm sure I inherited) - always had these interesting things around the house that life_lessonI'd 'meddle' with, keeping myself entertained for hours. One of them that I remember quite clearly was a little metal trashcan that she kept near her bedside. By itself, the trashcan was nothing remarkable, but what had me so enchanted with this dinged up little waste receptacle was the poem that was written on the side of it. While my grandmother was otherwise occupied around the house, I'd often climb into her bed and lay there with my head hanging over the edge, reading the poem over and over again, pondering the words, falling in love with the simple rhythmic quality of them as I recited them in my head, and quietly mouthing the poem's title - which to me, seemed like it might have been some ancient incantation - Desiderata.

Of course, them were the days before the Internet, so I didn't have any way of finding out what the word 'Desiderata' meant, but even as a kid, the meaning of the poem was clear to me. This was a simple set of words to live by, a way to remind oneself of what was important in life, to make sure that you didn't forget what was really real.

I was having a conversation this past weekend with one of my friends and mentors, and, as we often do when we talk with each other about life and work, we both shared our feeling that there's this sort of nagging question inside of each of us, "Are you living the life you're supposed to?" Since turning 30, I've found myself asking that question more and more often, and being less and less satisfied that my answer to myself usually amounts to: "Well, yeah. I think so."

And so it happened that this Monday morning, as I'm sitting in front of my work computer, slightly chagrined at the work week ahead, the question popped into my head again, but before I gave myself the same lackluster answer, the image of my grandma's little trashcan wavered for a moment in my mind's eye. I opened another browser window and typed in the search term 'desiderata'. After reading the familiar words, I realized that, if my life were spent emulating just one lesson from the poem, then my answer to: "Are you living the life you're supposed to?" would be a confident and satisfying, "Yes."

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

cheers,

k

chickens aren't eagles

Look, brother farmer. I believe that eagle laid a couple of eggs. Go get those eggs of hers, bring them down, and put them under one of your setting hens. Then, when the eggs hatch, those little eaglets won't know who they are. They will think they are chickens, so they won't fight back and bite you. They won't claw you. They will be peaceful and calm because they won't know who they are.

 - from, "The Eagle Story"

Of all the fantastical things that people often wish they could do, why is it that so many people wish that they could fly? It occurs to me, that maybe most haven't considered that flying is something of a solo activity.

A bird cannot fly if it's carrying another bird along with it. Even when mother birds teach their young to fly, they don't pick them up and take to the air with them. They wait until the chicks are old enough, and then they kick them out of the nest.

If there's one thing that I'm sure of, it's that I - and everyone else - was born with wings (not literally, of course). But despite that knowledge, I've often been frustrated at my failed attempts to fly as far or as high as my vision allowed me to see. Upon reflecting on some of the times when my flight was cut short, I realized why. Too often it was because I was trying to carry someone along with me who hadn't yet gotten the hang of their own wings or learned to fly for themselves. They'd see me swoop by and yell out from their perch, "Hey, that's cool. I wanna do that too! Can you teach me?" And in my well-intentioned naivete, I'd cry out, "Sure  thing. Just hop on my back and I'll show you how I do it!" But soon after they'd hopped on, we'd both begin to descend rapidly, tumbling and flailing helplessly against the sky, until one of us had to separate from the other so we both wouldn't end up hurtling to the ground below.

The lesson to be learned from this is clear: If you want to fly, you must let go. If you want to go higher and farther than you've ever gone before - in your religious faith, in your career, your personal life, or even your workout - you can't carry along someone else with you that isn't capable of doing the same thing. And if you want to ‘teach' someone else - your husband, your friend, or your child - to fly as you may or may not have already, you will have to do three very difficult things. 1) Make sure that they're ready, 2) give them a swift quick in the ass, and 3) be prepared to watch them fall for a bit, before they get the hang of it.

Of course, not every person with ‘wings' has been told that they have them, or believe that they work. And not surprisingly, those are the people who never get too far of the ground. Is it any wonder that we call those folks, ‘chickens'?

cheers,

k

your dreams are your legacy

two generations They are telling you that you are growing older. Becoming less and less useful by the day. They – as they always have – are lying. My (now former) pastor spoke often of the rise of the so-called Davidic generation - the next flock of youth that would take up the reins from the older ones. Some would say that this new flock, this Davidic generation would render the older ones impotent, irrelevant. But where do you think the young ones get their vision? If the older ones are not there to guide the youth, where do you think they will go? What did old Jesse say to little David that imbued him with the courage to slay a giant and become king?

What words did the elderly Jacob say to Joseph that allowed him to survive slavery and become the Pharoah’s most trusted advisor?

What family lessons, personal histories, successes, hopes, failures were passed down from generation to generation, on and on until the time when a frightened young girl named Mary became pregnant and gave birth? And those same dreams that had been whispered since David was a child came forth from her lips and settled on the ears and in the mind of this unexpected, unexplained gift – this child of hers, this bearer of light whose message would last for thousands and thousands of years.

What might you say to your own little lightbearers?

Whisper your own histories to your little ones. Turn them into bedtime stories that you tell them every night until they know them by heart:

“Once upon a time there was a little girl who wanted to be a ballerina…” “In a faraway place a long, long time ago, a little one just like you wanted to speak to the animals…” “There was once a boy who dreamed of being President…”

For every child is the incarnation of the dreams of his father, the realization of the hopes of her mother. Your hopes, dreams, and wishes are your children’s legacy. Do not deprive them of this.

Dream big, hope huge, wish infinite. When your children grow they will become the giants you once imagined yourself to be.

cheers,

 k

the elect eleven

elect_ladies7.JPGIn a previous post, I mentioned that a girlfriend of mine got the inspiration to start a ‘sister circle’ in 2008. She’s named the group the ‘Elect Eleven’ – so called because there are eleven of us who will meet each month for eleven months to participate in a variety of activities from book discussions, to community service, to creating financial strategies and dream boards. The purpose of the group is to provide a safe, supportive environment for us all to share our successes, fears, dreams, frustrations, ideas and insights in a way that women – especially Black women – don’t usually do, unfortunate as that is. This past Saturday was the inaugural meeting of the Elect Eleven, and I say without any hesitation that I feel abundantly blessed to have been invited to join such a dynamic group. Each of us is different – there are single women, married women, entrepreneurs, teachers, vegetarians, wine enthusiasts, shoe fetishists – we have our unique personality quirks and come from varied backgrounds, but we all share a common spiritual bond and a strong faith in God that is a more tangible link than any other could be.

We began the gathering by sharing a little bit about ourselves – hometown, occupation, interests, etc. – and spent the rest of the evening getting to know each other better over several glasses of wine, some very tasty dishes, and lots and lots of laughter. We ended the evening in prayer, each one of us taking turns to offer up our intentions for the group. Listening to these women pray was a profoundly powerful and emotional experience. As each woman spoke in her own prayer language, the rest of us added to her efforts with quiet ‘amen’s and ‘yes’es until the air in the room seem charged with such a spiritual intensity that I literally had goosebumps by the time we finished.

elect_ladies5.JPGMany thanks to Cheryl and the other ‘Elect Eleven’ for a wonderful evening. I look forward to exploring the places we’ll go together.

cheers, k

When one door closes...

We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spirits and principalities.Ephesians 6:12 (paraphrased)

Recently my pastor has been teaching on ‘breaches’, which he’s defined as a sort of spiritual door that is opened or closed based on an individual’s actions and choices. As I understand it, a breach is analogous to spiritual cause and effect. With each thought, choice, or action you make, you create an environment that either welcomes in or shuts out a certain spiritual energy or principle that corresponds with that thought, choice, or action.

doors_breaches2.jpgAs he’s talked more and more on this topic over the past couple of weeks, I’ve grown more intrigued by the notion and have started to examine the areas in my life where I have created breaches based on my actions, and to determine if they are the types of breaches that are beneficial to me. As I performed this self-assessment, I recalled an incident that occurred a couple years back during my annual doctor’s visit. My doctor is a traditionally trained M.D. but she’s also a holistic practitioner. On this particular visit she informed that I had fibrocystic breasts – a benign condition that is evinced by small lumps in the tissue. She did her doctorly duty by handing me a pamphlet that explained some of the dietary causes of the condition. But she nearly surprised me to tears when she said quite pointedly, “I often see this in women who’ve had their heart broken”. My first reaction was, “Hell, doc. Who hasn’t had their heart broken?” But I had to admit to myself that I was currently in a rather emotionally damaging relationship that I was desperately trying to make work because I'd never gotten over the failure of a previous one. All the diet changes in the world wouldn’t have fixed that.

We often have the tendency to see things in black and white – only looking for causation on the material or physical plane. E.g., 'I got sick because I didn’t cover my head when I went out in the cold'. 'I lost my job because my boss doesn’t like me'. 'I can’t save money because I don’t earn enough'. But if we were to examine our situations from a spiritual context, we might begin to see that there are breaches – both good and bad – that we’ve created that are actually the root cause of our situations. We may even find that there are inter-generational breaches that were created by our mothers, fathers, grandparents, etc. that remain open because no one in our ancestral line ever made the change that would reverse said breach. What we see on the physical plane is merely the manifestation – the ‘fruiting body’ – of the spiritual forces we’ve welcomed into our lives.

Once you take the time to be honest with yourself about the thoughts you’re harboring, the choices you’re making, you may find that the real reason you can’t save money is because you’re stingy with giving to other people when they need it. Perhaps you got sick because you’ve been harboring bad feelings about your neighbor. In essence, there may be some healing or therapy to be done that simply can’t be found on the surface or over the counter.

Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut… Revelation 3:8

After I had completed assessing my own ‘breaches’, I found that there were quite a few problem areas that I needed to work on – some un-forgiveness I’m holding on to, some commitments that I haven’t kept to myself or others – that have opened the door for unwelcome energies to take up residence in my spirit.

To start the process of healing, I spent some time in deep breathing and meditation. I spoke the names of all the individuals that I was harboring resentment against (including myself) and said simply, “I forgive you”. I called each of those unwelcome energies (fear, overindulgence, worry, anxiety, cynicism, etc.) by name and firmly told each one that there was no place for them here, and then called each of their contrasting energies by name and welcomed them in. I ended with prayer and by reading a few Bible passages.

Even though I know that one self-therapy session is not enough to change my life forever, the process of going through that exercise instantly made me more conscious of the connection between the state of my spiritual environment and my physical environment. However you choose to begin your healing is up to you, just know that it is a beginning, just one of many doors that you have the power to open or close as you see fit.

cheers,

k

in due time

Recently, I took a much-needed trip to Runaway Bay, Jamaica with a group of twenty or so friends to celebrate the birthdays of those of us who turned 30 this year. On our second day there, we were antsy to get off of the resort to get some souvenirs and to experience more of the local flavor. Fortunately, we ended up making a resort-buddy who’d been there several times before and was nice enough to arrange and pay for a local driver to take six of us shopping in nearby Ocho Rios. As we prepared to leave, we confirmed with each other that we should spend no more than a couple of hours shopping if we were to be back in time to get dressed for a planned dinner with the others in our group. Our driver arrived on island-time – i.e., almost 20 minutes later than he had promised – so we were a bit peeved that we’d have even less shopping time, but figured we’d still make a go of it. The driver dropped us off in a bustling marketplace in the center of Ocho Rios, agreeing to meet us back at that exact spot in an hour and a half. the six of us split up into ones and twos and went off in search of our souvenirs. Needless to say, the time passed quickly, and as my shopping partner and I made our way back to the pre-determined meeting spot, we could tell there was trouble brewing.  Amidst the hustle and bustle of the market, the other four girls in our crew were all too easy to spot. Each of their faces was painted with frustration as they moved anxiously among the parked vehicles and other shoppers. When we got close enough to ask what was going on, they informed us that our driver was nowhere in sight and that if he didn’t show up soon we’d be late for our dinner back at the resort.

I did a quick mental assessment of the situation – if we were late, we’d be late. But we’d still have dinner when we got there, we’d only miss a part of the festivities, and we’d all be together. As I considered the relatively low impact of our predicament, the other girls continued scurrying about the vans in the market in a frantic search for our driver or any other driver that could get us back to our resort.

By now our little group had begun to draw attention from some of the gypsy shuttle drivers in the area, and I could see two of the girls engaged in conversation with one of them who’d taken notice of us.

By now our little group had begun to draw attention from some of the gypsy shuttle drivers in the area, and I could see two of the girls engaged in conversation with one of them who’d taken notice of us. They soon came over and reported the news: “This guy says he can take us back right now for $15 each”. Before I could adequately voice my shock that we were seriously considering forking over $90 for about a 10-mile trip, two of the market security guards approached us. “Ladies, are you looking for your driver? We know him. We can get in contact with him for you.” A flurry of patois then ensued between the two guards and the driver, an older gentleman. I could only make out about every third word, but it was clear he was not pleased that the guards were cutting in on his action. While one of the security guards continued trading invectives with the older guy, the other one began dialing numbers on his cell phone. My friends and I were literally caught in the middle. Seeing the opportunity to land a fare slipping away from him, the older gent turned to the two in our group he’d first spoken with. “Okay, I’ll take you now for $10 each and tip.” They quickly accepted and jumped into his van, motioning for the rest of us to do the same. By this time, I think we were all well past the point of frustration, so to keep the situation from escalating any further, we filed into the van and left the guards standing there holding their phones.

As our new driver pulled out onto the road, he gave us his take on the matter. “Those guys were calling one of their friends – they just wanted to make some money off of you.” So the guards were a couple of hustlers…great. I couldn’t help but think that the older guy’s intentions weren’t necessarily the most honorable, either. I mean, he hadn’t exactly acted out of a sense of charity – he wanted to get paid, too. I sat in the back of the van, fuming over what I considered to be an absolute affront to my frugality and common-sense. Basically, we’d agreed to give this guy $60 (plus tip) for a trip that’s equivalent to going from the Atlanta airport to downtown. I heavy-sighed and leaned my face against the window next to my seat.

The road back to Runaway Bay took us past rural scenes typical of the islands – goats and barefoot kids running around unattended in front yards, young men walking or standing on the side of the road drinking beers or selling fruit, middle-aged women toting parcels balanced on swaying hips or atop heads. As each scene rolled by, it simultaneously calmed me and made me really ponder the events that had just unfolded. I was struck by the contrast of the scenes passing by the window and the previous scene of me and my friends at the marketplace. I compared the anxious looks on my friends’ faces to the faces we passed – these people were all moving somewhere, yet they looked like they had all the time in the world to get there. Then it hit me, they had something we did not – patience.

Phrases like ‘no problem’, ‘everything irie’, and ‘soon come’ are the default Jamaican responses to most issues that arise. Each of those sayings not only conveys a sense of inherent patience but also faith that things will work out as they should if you just step back and let them. If you insist on getting an immediate result – you’ll usually get it. God’s answer is ever ‘yes’ – he may let you have what you want, but it may not necessarily be the best that he has in store for you. When he allows you to have the best, it will usually be the very last thing that comes along (i.e., you always find what you’re searching for in the last place that you look). Patience and faith go hand-in-hand: if you have the faith to ask, then you should also have the patience to wait for the response.

For the rest of the drive I meditated on times that I’ve let my own or someone else’s impatience get the best of me – and what the results of that were. As we hopped off the van back at the resort, I found myself humming the chorus to one of my favorite Outkast songs: “just keep your faith in me, don’t act impatiently you’ll get where you need to be in due time"

In Due Time Video

In Due Time lyrics - Outkast lyrics

 

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Father, today I pray for increased patience and strengthened faith. I possess the knowledge that you are the source of all things and that my birthright is eternal and uninhibited access to that source. Help me to have more than just an intellectual understanding of this birthright, remind me to act it out as truth in every thing that I do, in every word that I speak.

cheers!

k