I Built a Castle in the Sand

I built a castle in the sand
The moat so deep, the walls so grand
The towers high, the bridge at ease
The flags aflutter in the breeze

I dug the trenches with my spade
Each window ledge my fingers made
I fashioned driftwood into doors
And gently smoothed the sandy floors

The pipi shells, all smooth and bright,
Adorned the fort like brides in white
With coloured pebbles set below
Like precious gems – a polished glow

Soft satin sand so shimmery
Its diamonds glittered ebony
The paua tint a purple blue
Round mirrors of the ocean’s hue

So beautiful! So tall and strong!
The waves broke foam in joyful song
The wind picked up the salty tune
And swirled my architectured dune

Too soon the sea was midnight blue
The sun-kissed sand a rosy hue
My heart skipped home to wait the night
And come back with the morning light

diamond

As warm rays gently woke the land
My footprints tickled sleepy sand
My sandcastle awaited me –
But not how it was meant to be

In disbelief, I saw the mound
Of sandcastle crushed to the ground
Of towers fallen, walls torn down
And shells flung at the sea to drown

The coloured pebbles scattered wide
No roof or ramparts rose in pride
How could another be so cruel,
And crush something so beautiful?

My trembling fingers scooped the sand
And let the grains slip from my hand
All nature stopped to weep with me
And mourn my castle by the sea

The waves roared loud in angry pain
The wind stormed past in crying rain
A lonesome seagull cried along
My tear drops were a silent song

Brought low in heavy atmosphere
I joined my castle in despair
The broken monument a din
Of broken dreams that said ‘give in’

How long must hate and hurt prevail?
For if one dares to fill a pail
And build in love a sandy fort
Another shatters without thought

Sandcastle-crushers do abound
Heart-breakers always will be found
Dream-takers blind to mystery,
Imagination and beauty

If effort can be spent in vain
If sandcastles are crushed again
Will I still be a soul that flies?
The sun is dawning – will I rise?

diamond

I built a castle in the sand…

© Emma McGeorge

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Sarah’s Dress

The pink, glittery bauble caught my eye and froze my feet in their tracks.

Soft rose hues of fabric overlapped a darker, richer pink, and the whole ball was flecked with silvery diamantes. It hung delicately from a graceful, glittering thread, slowly turning to catch the light and throw it back in coloured sparkles.

It was a perfect match to the dress.

Slowly, I took in the tall pine, the basket of Christmas decorations on the table, and the small sign propped against the basket: “Remembrance Christmas Tree – Auckland Hospice.”

Two sweet old ladies seated at the table smiled amidst the ignorant and harried passers-by. I too had hurried past this Christmas tree in the mall countless times, but one brightly-coloured decoration had halted me in my tracks.

The towering tree stood like a beautiful and silent sentinel, its branches laden with baubles every colour of the rainbow. But what made this tree special were the little twists of paper affixed to each decoration and handwritten with a message or prayer.

Suddenly, I knew what I must do.

I dropped some change into the tin, took a piece of white paper, and slowly lifted a pink, glittery bauble from the basket. As I gently cradled the trinket in my hands, the discordant sounds of last-minute Christmas shoppers and shouted bargains became a background hum.

Yes, the little burst of colour nestled in my palm was just as pretty and dainty as the dress.

I stared, mesmerized, at the pink globe shimmering in my hands, struck by the memories that flooded my mind. Strangely, they were not grey memories of the cancer and death that had slowly taken Sarah’s earthly body. Instead, I was flooded with colourful thoughts and moments of beauty and life.

My heart lifted remembering a delightful walk around a lake with Sarah in her wheelchair. We had laughed and talked and revelled in the beauty of the scenery and the joy of spending the day with friends.

I smiled thinking of her continual and infectious laugh, and her mega-watt smile. I chuckled at our girlish escapades and games, whispered secrets, silly moments and sweet, supporting prayers. I pondered on her deep love and care for others.

With sadness, I remembered the last time I visited Sarah in the Hospice. Even then, as she lay ravaged and pained by disease, her heart ached for those around her. She held my hand in her cold, brown palm, and tried to whisper comforting words. “Are you OK?”… “It’s alright.”… “I love you.”

Sarah’s life was not long on this earth, but this did not stop her from touching hearts and blessing souls by the hundreds. Even now, when I had just thought of Sarah, I had been struck again, not by her sickness, but by her warm concern for others and her deep joy in life and God.

From her sickbed, my friend taught me to genuinely care for others, find joy in each day God gives, and live each day to the full. Sarah taught me to love life and people, and to leave many precious memories of that love…

I smoothed out the slip of paper and slowly penned my message:

“Dearest Beautiful Sarah, you and your whanau are not forgotten. Love always, Emma.”

I tied my note to the shiny pink bauble and gently hung it on the tree. A few salty tears escaped my eyes, then I quietly walked away with my last memory…

Sarah lay in the coffin, surrounded by her dearest family and friends. She was smiling peacefully, gently, free forever from pain and death, beautiful and sweet, and wearing a dress that must have been a special last wish – a pink, shimmering dress that glittered with hundreds of sparkling diamantes.

Dedicated to my beautiful friend, Sarah, who embraced God in person on April 19, 2010.

© Emma McGeorge

 

Actively Waiting

Waiting.

Immediately, one pictures a damp grey station where tired and gloomy passengers hover in limbo between trains. Or a drab doctor’s lounge with broken toys, brown curtains and magazines that were old in Abraham’s day. Or just a feeling of agitation with no satisfactory result.

*sigh*

What is waiting? It is a time in which that which we are expecting or anticipating has not yet occurred. It is a pause in the process of something. It holds frustration, uncertainty, often loneliness.

At some point in our lives, and likely more than once, every one of us will encounter this moment of “not happening”. Most of the time we will have no choice but to, well, wait.

So here I find myself in this exact situation. I am waiting. Of course, there are many things for which I am waiting (in fact, it seems that they often overlap each other, so that I am always waiting for something).

Previously, my waiting consisted of metaphorically twiddling my thumbs, or watching an event with hawk-like tenacity until it finally happened. Yet a thought recently struck me, when I had resigned myself to waiting yet again on something that was beyond my control of time, events and the universe in general.

What would it look like if I chose instead to “actively wait”? And what would that mean?

For me, it meant purposely turning my waiting heart towards God, and deliberately choosing to seek Him more, include Him more, know Him more. And to know that God knows. He knows that I am waiting. He knows that I am yearning. And he knows that, just around the corner, there is a faint but very real glimmer that will shed a whole new light upon that for which I am waiting.

So here I am. I am waiting.

But I choose not to wait idly. I choose not to be bored, or weary, or trapped in that grey and dreary station. I am not throwing my hands up in despair. I am not flitting off to another queue.

I am actively waiting. I am seeking and learning and growing and just – just living!

And suddenly, waiting is no longer a swear word. Or a dreaded task at which I cringe. Or a tiresome tick of the clock that I face with resignation.

Waiting is a new experience.

Waiting is an opportunity bursting with possibility.

Waiting is a time in which something is definitely happening.

Me.

© Emma McGeorge 2013

Impersonal Humanity

Impersonal (adj.) aloof, distant, remote, detached, isolated

Humanity (n.) people, human race, civilization, humankind, persons

Travelling on the bus to work one morning, I am struck by the efficiency of the new ticketing system. All that is required is the swipe of a plastic card upon entry, and again upon exiting the bus. No queues on this chilly winter day – no fumbling for coins, no loose change, no printed ticket. It also requires zero interaction with the bus driver.

From my perch on the first row, I watch with interest as the morning crowd boards the bus. I immediately observe a marked difference between the up-to-date passengers who utilize the new Public Transport System, and the unconventional passengers who pay in cash.

A young woman bounces on board, backpack slung over her shoulder and earphones firmly in place. She flicks her card at the digital scanner then swishes down the aisle to find a seat. She need not spare even the slightest glance for the older gentleman sitting behind the wheel; he is simply a robot of convenience should she require assistance. A gorilla in a tutu could be driving the bus, and she wouldn’t even know it.

Next in line is a teenage boy. He casually steps on board, greeting the driver with a grin and a $5 note. “Morning.” The driver returns the grin and the greeting, punching in the numbers on his cash box. “Howsit goin’, Mate?”

Transaction complete. They nod to one another, the boy receives his ticket and change, and meanders down the aisle.

Less than half a minute has passed since the teen stepped on board. His interaction with the driver was brief; but in that fleeting moment, each acknowledged the other as an individual who was both capable and deserving of a personal greeting. This vulnerable and “inconvenient” act required a tiny portion of their time and effort, yet each accomplished the very thing convenience has trained us to shy away from – they connected and engaged, human to human.

What did this young man lose? 20 seconds. What did he gain? Personal humanity.

I sit back in my seat, awed by the simple yet profound truth of what I have just witnessed. With one act of “personal humanity”, albeit unaware, this teen blew into flame a softly glowing ember of reality that is too often snuffed out by our expedient and fast-paced living – the reality that each man is a unique and living soul.

Advancements teach us that everything we purchase or utilize in day to day living is made all the more “user-friendly” if we can access them with little or no human relation. Really?

An automated ticketing system may be more desirable than a shuffling queue, payment in cash, and the receiving of change and ticket. Yet how many of us can say our day has been brightened by the greeting of an eftpos machine? Or that we’ve exchanged smiles with an automated card scanner? Robots and machines efficiently deliver the goods; but if we are not careful they will rob us, intelligent and sensitive beings that we are, of the opportunity to deliver the good.

What if, instead of blithely skimming over a person, we were instead to take a moment to pause and interact with the tangible soul?

To connect with another human soul is to connect with our own humanness, and to glimpse, even for a moment, the stark truth: the machine may be easy, efficient, and convenient, but the human is complex, in-depth, and irreplaceably real.

© Emma McGeorge