Past, Present, Future

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Challenges. Changes. The Unknown. Always moving house or moving town or moving on.

A patchwork of events and places and people and faces, sewn in the golden threads of cultural diversity and misfitting and trying to belong.

The only constants: family, love and God. And words.

I wrote not knowing why or how, but writing just the same.

I was colored in happiness and delight.

I was shadowed in sorrow and confusion.

But with every cloud that smothered my sky, I knew – the sun was somewhere, near, just waiting to burst out with brightness and shimmering light.

Random memories scatter across the landscape of my childhood.

Train rides across the savanna, African thunderstorms of purple skies and silver lightning, colorful food and people with loud laughter and conversation in an Italian-influenced home, dancing and singing in our lounge, candlelit dinners in a powercut, silent moments of powerful family prayer, reading a favorite book from my rooftop perch, writing with God.

Life was a song. A story. A kaleidoscope.

~

Wonderings. Seeking and yearning for something unknown.

I live life on two levels – one is working, playing, praying, crying, laughing, loving, living.

The other part of me sinks into a much deeper realm. One that observes and ponders the life and person that I am.

I wander the mazes and corridors of my own heart and mind. It does not matter if I do not find. It matters only that I search.

My soul longs to know my own self. And in this, to know, really know, God.

How can a life be so complex? Why am I drawn to bathe in the confusion, wrestling, wondering, asking, seeking…?

I long to know, but I revel in the mystery.

Only my pen can pour myself onto paper – a portrait in ink.

Only God can read my life.

~

Glimmering. Flickering. Reaching hesitant fingers outward and upward.

Daring possibilities dance with the elusive yet tantalizing unknown.

The horizon stretches before me, wide open, beckoning.

The air tastes fresh. The breeze nudges me forward.

What lies ahead? What will I experience along the way?

I do not know. I do not care.

Before me, sorrow and death, joy and life, beauty and love await, shrouded in the secret mist of the future.

My heart beats in wild unfathomable hope.

I take a step. I pick up my pen.

This is my life, and I will live it.

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© pictures and words by Emma McGeorge

The Star

The star hung silently, brightly in the heavens, and wondered at the world below.

The earth breathed silently, wrapped in the cool shroud of night.

Yet the star wondered at the swell of anticipation that gently throbbed beneath the dusky layers, and tickled the night wind, and shook the silvery dust from his glimmering companions.

The hills and valleys slept beneath their coarse, wheaten blanket, sheep and goats scattered across the rolling landscape like flecks of white paint. The shepherds crouched around a crackling fire, talking and singing and occasionally glancing up to meet the star’s gaze.

For they, too, felt it.

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Then all at once, as though an unseen conductor had raised his baton, the men fell silent. The star followed their eyes to a far off point, higher in the heavens than himself, to see another tiny star falling out of the sky. As they watched, the star grew bigger and brighter and closer and even closer, until the men began to cry out in fear and clutch their tattered cloaks for protection.

With a silent boom of brilliance, the new star burst into the atmosphere, its sheer force of presence rippling the air like a shock wave and flinging the terrified men to the ground.

The hovering star was afraid. He knew, before the shepherds looked again, that this was no ordinary star like himself. He trembled in awe, star shine tinkling from his shaking frame, and his light seemed dim and grey in the presence of that luminous being, that shining glory, that ornament of Heaven’s throne.

Then the angel spoke, and his sound thundered in the silent night and fell gently on the shepherd’s frozen forms.

“Do not be afraid.” His voice commanded and caressed. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all the people!”

Slowly, men and star took in the unexpected angel of light. Breathlessly, they listened as he spoke.

His words echoed across the ragged little valley; words so powerful that the grass and the trees bowed in reverence, and the beasts of the field turned to listen; words so bright that the star found himself warmly and inexplicably glowing in reflection.

“Today, a Saviour has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.”

The proclamation fell amongst the awe-struck men with the impact of a beating drum, thudding its meaning in their hearts. Gone was the terror of moments ago to be replaced with incredulous excitement. They carefully glanced at one another’s shining faces, shook the dreamlike cobwebs from their fuzzy minds, and knew – they were hearing a message flowing from the throne of God directly to the threshold of the world.

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An explosion of brilliance sent the shepherds to their knees once again, their necks craning in disbelief as the whole sky lit up with the flaming presence of thousands of angels.

Celestial wings sent the North wind scampering in submission. Their glowing laughter skipped amongst the sleeping flowers and bubbled in the stream and echoed through the yawning olive groves. Their song filled the air with such ethereal beauty that it seemed the earth’s very globe would burst with pure joy.

The star wondered at the uncontained delight rippling amongst the men as they hurried to the cosy, sleeping town. He wondered at the angel’s declaration, heavy with inexpressible joy, yet hinting at future sorrow and glory – both terrifying and triumphant at the same time. He wondered at the rapidly vanishing beings of light, and at the velvet backdrop of night that suddenly felt so empty.

He wondered at a single, shining tear that a departing angel silently brushed away.

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When the star looked down again, he found a young mother bathed in his gentle light. Curled up in the entrance of a rough, wooden abode, she cradled a child to her breast and peacefully hummed a tune of love, a harmony to the angels’ shimmering melody. A young man sat beside her, his arm around her waist, her head tucked into his strong shoulder.

The darkness reverently held its shadows back from the babe; the night wind whispered to the watching cattle that grazed inside the little barn.

The mother held her son close and softly kissed a tiny hand. She did not look up to see her wonder reflected in the silver face of the star above her.

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The star hung silently, brightly in the heavens, and wondered at the world below.

The earth breathed silently, wrapped in the cool shroud of night.

The star basked in the wonder of anticipation that gently throbbed beneath the dusky layers, and tickled the night wind, and shook the silvery dust from his glimmering companions.

And, as the galaxy drifted on, the night tinted its cloak with grey. The first sparks of light peeked over the horizon, the mighty sun began to rise, and the wondering star quietly slipped beneath the golden sheen of dawn.

 

The Star © Emma McGeorge, 24 December 2012

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Needle

Why do I write?

I pondered this question once whilst admiring a friend’s beautiful embroidery.

Sewing, it seems, is a key ingredient to a well-balanced woman. Crochet for gifts, quilting for one’s family, mending and patchwork to hide the inevitable marks of childhood, stunning works of art captured in a swirl of thread – this is one skill that no self-respecting young lady should be without.

I am self-respecting. I am not, unfortunately, a seamstress.

Please know that this is not for lack of want or trying. In fact, I used to host rather grandiose visions of myself competently mending children’s clothes, stitching fun and creative home-warming items, making gorgeous gifts, and adding my own fashionable flair to any outfit.

The problem is that things are so much more plausible in my head – my mind’s eye is so much sharper than my needle-threading eye.

For some time, I sported an embroidered sewing kit, multiple spools of thread, 3 thimbles, a pair of mini scissors and the all-important “quick unpick”. Because there is also something to be said for NOT hand-sewing a garment to the skirt you are wearing at the time of said sewing – much unpicking required…

So I may not be too handy with a needle and thread, but surely I can wield some import in the kitchen? I’m a whole half-Italian for goodness’ sake!! Buon Appetito, si?

The problem is that things are so much more plausible in my head – I too easily get trapped inside that head, with my imagination cooking up a storm, but sadly failing in the context of the storm that is actually brewing inside my neglected cooking pots.

I have been told that if I stopped stirring ideas and started stirring pots, I may not burn quite so many a promising dish.

Some of the lessons I have learned, always the hard way, are as follows:

– turning on the oven goes a long way towards cooking a meal
– stirring the rich homemade pasta sauce too vigorously can give it the tendency to leap out of its confining pot
– a little cornflour and water can fix anything
– a little cornflour and water cannot fix anything
– it is never a good idea to toast the cord of the toasted sandwich maker inside your sandwich. Especially if it is not your toasted sandwich maker, or even your kitchen.

Sadly, it seems that all Nigella Lawson and I have in common is our firm belief that “Whitakers’ 5-Roll Refined Creamy Milk Chocolate” is indeed the best kitchen paraphernalium ever invented.

So, back to my original pondering – why do I WRITE?

I must note here that I do not write because I can’t cook. Or because I can’t sew. I can do both (‘Struth! Would I lie to you?!). It just takes a more concentrated effort, and the strength of will to be present in the here and now.

No, writing is not an effort to prove something.

So, why DO I write?

I came across this recurring question not too long ago in a book about, of course, writing, and tried in vain to think of some sparkling, witty reply. Some profound sentence that would capture the inspiration and beauty and power of the written word, in a perfectly crafted sentence with cadence and flow.

But not having a pen in my hand severely impedes my thought process, and it took me some time to stumble across part of the answer, knowing that the whole answer is still a mystery that I chip away at every time I pick up my pen…

Why do I write?

Because there’s something profoundly inspiring about the light strength of a pen, the quiet anticipation of a blank page awaiting my next move. True, most of the time I am not quite sure what that next move will be – but the magnet of the written word, the flow of words from heart to page is unstoppable.

I write when I am happy, when I am sad, when I am angry at injustice or delighting in goodness, when I know uncertainty, when I know fear, when I don’t know anything except to write.

I write for the joy of seeing pen and paper kiss.

I write for the peace of my soul, knowing it needs this outlet of expression. I write for the pure delight of others. I write for the wonder of shared words that heal, bless, provoke, inspire, love.

I write because I cannot NOT write.

What is something that you do, for no other reason than the fact that you do? What greens you? Shines you? Reminds you that YOU are YOU?

If it’s sewing, please know that no needles or threads were harmed in the making of this pondering.
If it’s cooking, please know that I am currently rostered to cook only once a week, so that our pots are given 6 days of rest.

© Emma McGeorge 2013