Walter – (Mysterious Happening #1) – A tale of YAG

 Family secrets and secret family – all revealed in God’s time!

OK so this didn’t begin as a YAG story.  It began on the same day of the YAG and was one of the two mysterious happenings that changed the faces of my present and of my future.  I invite you to pray for me that it be a change that stays with me forever.

This first mysterious happening began with an invitation.  Our church, the Cayman Islands Baptist Church, hosted over 30 pastors from Honduras and Cuba for a weekend of continued education and training.  It was a retreat and the visitors were hosted by church families and went to full days of training by American and Caymanian pastors (translated to Spanish) and the pastor of our sister church in Cuba (translated into English).  Two of these gentlemen were hosted by my parents and I shared a few memorable meals with them, sharpening iron with iron and refining my own language skills.  In church on Sunday the whole contingent treated us to a heavy baritone rendition of a well-known praise song in spanish and Pastor Randy introduced a few of them by name.

Enter Walter.  Or should I say, THE WalterS.  Walter Bush Snr. and Walter Bush Jr. from the First Baptist Church of La Ceiba.  The name Bush hit me like a cold water drop from an a/c unit and I turned with eyes lit up to my mom.  She was smiling and wiggled her eyebrows at me.  After service ended and our church family gathered together to catch up I walked up to a YAGgie girlfriend of mine speaking to two vaguely familiar men.  As I came into earshot I heard one of them say to her “Our roots are in Cayman but we wouldn’t have a clue as to where to look to find our family here”.  On approach the older man lifted eyes identical to mine – a rare mix of hazel and green – and I said “You must be the Bushes”.

Thus began an animated conversation with my cousins.  Mr. Walter Snr. is the image of what I have always imagined my grandfather to look like.  My mom confirmed it to me – his height, his eyes, his aura of calm is much like her father.  Walter Jr. and I spoke at length of what it is to be a Bush – the satellite ears, our unique battle as a family with compulsiveness, the addictions that our compulsiveness can drag us into, our family attachment to mutton peppers, our family recipe for our famous pepper sauce (IMAGINE!), the power of our personalities.  We were invited to visit them and exchanged email addresses and parted ways with smiles deep down in our hearts.

And now the Walters have called… on the day that I dream of handing out cupcakes in La Ceiba.

Advertisements

Cupcakes in La Ceiba? – A tale of YAG

A very REAL YAG cupcake

The story I’m about to tell you in three parts began in January.  But the cupcakes happened this weekend.  And this weekend is where I will start.

It was muddy and the river rocks were peaking sly through a slick sheen of red river mud.  I don’t know the name of the neighbourhood but I have been here before.  There are children who live on the streets here and there are some that only look like they do.  They were out in the road now in their most tatty clothing – mind you it could well have been their only clothing for all my dream would tell me.  And all I know is that I am here to help, to bring joy and talk with them and I have a hand full of cupcakes.  Light, fluffy, gorgeous creations made by one of our very own YAGgies.  But more about that later.

I look a little ways ahead up the incline of what passes for a road – or passed for a road before the river reclaimed it with her blood – and see others like me, cupcakes in hand, men and women, reaching out to the shy children.  And soon they aren’t so shy.  There is no language barrier in my dream – we are laughing and teasing with full understanding in two different languages and the children are playfully giggling.

I wake up to a Friday morning filled with corporate challenges and Very. Important. Things. to do.

But it comes back to me at 7 p.m. when the YAG meets for the fifth time.  I remember my dream and speak about it to the YAGgies and my Pastor listens carefully (and far more seriously than I expected) to my dream.  It is only when I am done and biting into a very real cupcake made by the same YAGgies in the dream that he tells me that Walter has called for him to preach a series of sermons at First Baptist Church of La Ceiba.

To understand all this I will ask you to bear with me…  there are two stories I need to tell you back from one life-changing weekend in January.  Follow along and read the miraculous tales of the YAG.

undeserving

I know what I’ve done:

bought lies on sale,

broken all the rules

ignored the wise

and followed the fools.

I know what I’ve earned:

the scorn of many.

the laughter of foes,

the whips of soldiers

lots cast for my clothes.

I know what I deserve:

to be roughly hurled

naked to the street,

blood rolling down from my head

in red streams to my feet.

In spite of all this

all the hatred I’ve earned,

all the shame I am due,

the consequences of my life,

have been carried by You.

 

Ten years ago I was 19…

Time is ticking to the 29th anniversary of my arrival, hale, hearty and hungry, into this world.  This is probably bigger for me than my 30th will be because it is the tenth year anniversary of my adulthood.  Ten years ago I started university in a country far away, I started drinking, I fell in love for the first time, and I began to make important life decisions like where I should place my faith and what career I should pursue.

Over the past ten years nothing has gone to plan.  My 19 year-old dreams were so pure, so untainted, and my will to fulfill them as they were was so strong and my wisdom complete.  But I learned that no matter how much I tried, no matter how resolved I might be, no matter how hard I worked, things would never happen the way I expected them to.

A man’s heart plans his way,   
      But the LORD directs his steps. 

Proverbs 16:9

In the last ten years I almost died twice.  My first love and I fell apart, and so did the second love, and the third and so on.  My body lost its lithe athletic look in illness and I have fought daily to get it back.  I have seen loved ones die, have tested my own faith, and have battled bitterness.  In the last year alone there have been many mistakes and much sadness.

I wonder, what would my 19 year-old self think of who I am today?  Would she be disappointed in where I am?  There are things she would be proud of, certainly.  My financial independence, my career changes and successes, my choices in faith.  But would she be proud of my visits to bitterness?  My frequent alcoholic beverage intake?

Over the next little while, as the day approaches, there is a lot of self-examination to be done. What can I do to make that 19 year-old proud of me?  Where have I surpassed her dreams?  Where have I failed her?

I owe it to her to get it right – it is her life too.

Promise Season

a little promise in the sky…

Most islanders having grown up in devout Christian communities will have a memory of the Rainbow song.  It went a bit like this:

A Rainbow is a promise in the sky
There’ll never be another flood where all the people die
When Jesus comes to take us home with him on high
A Rainbow is a promise in the sky

The little things we were taught as kids stay with us don’t they?  Ever since I was a little kid, every time I see one of these pretty boys I sing it in my head.

Sure, I’ve learned the science behind the rainbow and how light on water works.  I understand that in rainy season there will be more of them than in dry season.  But somehow the lesson sat there and the sight of them makes me sing and makes me smile and makes me remember.  They are like an omen, a reminder.

And they always show up when I need them.  I remember a few years ago I was saying goodbye to someone very dear to me and the day that I hugged him goodbye at the airport I walked out to my car with tears in my eyes and there it was – a rainbow.  I also remember being very scared about a very big career move I was contemplating another year that I looked up every day for several weeks to see a promise in the sky smiling down at me.
Perhaps I only go into crisis during rainy season?  I should keep this in mind, maybe I can plan for it better.
Today I woke up to a battle.  I have many challenges to face and have many fears to conquer.  There are things that weigh on my mind with the heaviness of a herd of elephants.  I slipped on my flip-flops and hooked up the dogs, armed the system and tucked my phone into my pocket.  It was full light and there was rain water in puddles in the driveway and sweetening the fresh air.  I needed to drink deep and steel myself for the day.  When I turned the corner around my building I looked up to see a little wink of a promise.  It was slow to appear but shone clearly through the power lines.  As I walked to the gate it lengthened and the colours got bolder, lending me a boldness to answer truthfully the questions I would be asked today.  I walked in circles pulling the dogs even when they wanted to stop and do their business staring constantly at the sky.  It grew wide at the base and rooted itself in the bush across the street, spreading out like a long trunk into the sky.  As if God wanted me to really get the point.

No matter what, Bushy, I will be there.

Bolder and wilder with the promises of God

iTime

Every person over 25 will remember the first computer they ever saw.  It may have filled a room or a corner of a room.  The youth of the era will remember the evolution of the games from Pong and Snake to Worms and now Angry Birds.  You will remember being tickled pink the first time you solved a computer version of solitaire and watched the cards flow in a fountain… a very, very slow fountain.  Some will remember the black screen (or even the blue one!) of DOS.  Or perhaps you will reember the whole briefcase that was the first mobile phone, the rumours of cancer, and the snowball effect of technology growing and growing and catapulting us through the past three decades.

Despite getting an earlier start, technology in the past two decades has hurtled forward from the “computer room” and the brick phone that could only make calls within its coverage area to the ability to open the garage door, start your car, order coffee and complete the document you will need for the 8 am meeting on the same device and in the space of five minutes.

Today we pause to honour a man.  He was someone who made a significant contribution to where we are today and was part of the step by step evolution of technology.  Isn’t it a cute coincidence that a man who created a Leviathan of a company employing millions and kicked life into every single industry throughout the world employing billions and billions of people would be named Jobs?  The world watched in shock as he stepped down from the driver seat a mere six weeks ago.  Yes, even giants get sick.

When the news of his passing came to my phone by email (regrettably not an iPhone) my first thoughts were did he really give himself enough time?  Did his wife have enough of him in those six weeks to sustain her?  Did his loved ones build memories in those last few days?  Did he, Steve, have enough time to himself to come to terms with his future?

Today in my humble little orchid corner with my coffee cup in hand I thank God for my blessings.  My family is intact, my food and shelter provided for, and I have at least the illusion of the promise of time.  Time to see my tomatoes grow, to watch my parents mellow into their golden years and my siblings fall in love and prosper, to crowd around plates of tajaditas with the Bushlings clan and to write thoughts and stories, memories and wisdoms, and to touch hearts and lives.

What will you do with your Time?

Trust the Glue

Each one of us over millenia have reflected a distinct and unique part of the Light.  We are each created in God’s image and yet we are unique.  Every one of us is a mirror created to reflect His identity, his Light, in flashes of lightning, mellow sunrises and passionate sunsets.  He is like the sky and each of us a tiny sequin.  No two sequins reflect the same picture and the sky is so massive that there will never be enough sequins to reflect it all.  This is the basis of a Christian’s identity.  Whether or not we believe God called us into being or that there was a Big Bang, or, like me, believe that God’s enormous voice called out a Big Bang, it is not how it happened but what happened that ties us together.  We found ourselves here.  Reflectors of His image.

Then came imperfection.  Like a hammer it shattered the mirrors into shards and pieces.  Now there are little bits of the image cracked apart by black emptiness of holes, scars and craters.  Some have fewer or smaller pieces than others.  But all are cracked.  Each crack hurts – the edges are sharp and jagged.  The pieces come into conflict with each other and the pieces of one slice into the creatures around.  This is the brokenness that is the basis of Christian sorrow.  The horror that salvation saves us from.

Grace was born.  The glue born of the Light that stuck the pieces together.  The stem cell that generated new pieces of mirror in gaping cracks.  The solvent that rinsed the tarnish off the pieces and let them better catch the Light.  The healing balm that erased the pain of jagged edges.  This is the Christian salvation.

We are mirrored beings cracked and broken, reflecting light in places of darkness.  Some consciously choose to shed their pieces, succumbing to the will of the deep, moving like the demons and tearing off the pieces of others’ images.  Putting out their light.  Their reflection.  But never ever destroying the Light.

Then there are others, torn between light and dark or simply oblivious to the battle of the two.  Blinking and turning they now reflect and then they don’t.  They are unaware or reckless to the knowledge that they are a mirror designed to catch and explode in beauty, in the Light.  Their pieces are neglected, tarnished, and dangling by an edge to the image.  Some yearn to be beautiful and pure without knowing how.  Others have no idea that they aren’t.

So fragile are we and so beautiful our pieces that we cannot begin to comprehend our own complexity.

And then there are the Children of the Light.  Caught up by and addicted to God’s love.  Coming out of the dark, some are drawn out by a glimpse of a sunbeam, others by a lightning storm, others still by simply opening their eyes to dazzling brilliance all around them.  All are cracked.  All are in some state, each a unique state, of disrepair.  In the Light the glue goes to work, the solvent begins to rinse, and the stem cell is planted in the heart.  There is healing and pain is attacked and prevented.  The pieces no longer hurt as they did and the sharp edges of others cannot cut through the glue.  The process is intense, life changing, image changing, but first and foremost it is heart changing.

So fragile are we and so beautiful our pieces that we cannot begin to comprehend our own complexity.  Much less so is our ability to grasp the complexity of our God and our Light, bigger than the sky that two eyes alone are unable to fully see.  So unique was each original purpose and destiny and so unique is our damage that we cannot begin to understand the extent to which we are broken.  Our own brokenness is a mystery to us… how then can we expect to understand, decide on, and judge the brokenness of others?

But even more mysterious is our gift of Grace.  The one thing that is never changing, never tarnished, never dark.

We are but pieces of glass yearning for the Light.  Our wholeness depends wholly on the glue.