Category Archives: friendship

Poetry around the table

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Thursday nights are community dinner nights at my church, St Peter’s Mowbray in Cape Town.

Friends and strangers sit together around tables, those with beds to sleep in and those who sleep under bridges or by the train station. Strangers become friends. Community forms. And amidst the struggles and fights, people feel dignity and warmth. We hope.

One Thursday we decided to write poetry and draw with some of our friends and it went down surprisingly well.

I provided prompts for poems and paper and pens and people engaged and shared what they had written.

I am 

– by Maureen

I am a streetwise kid

I feel very sad because I sleep outside

I want a better life

I wonder what will happen to me

I fear death because I don’t know what will happen to my children

I hope to get a better life in the future

I try to become a better person

I believe I can come right

I dream real love will come my way

I am streetwise.

 

I am 

– by Tash

I am me

I feel like the world is my playground

I want peace for all

I wonder what life after death looks like

I fear loosing a loved one

I hope that God blesses all of mankind

I try to stay positive even when things and life seems impossible

I believe that I will reach my goal of making a difference in someone’s life for the better

I dream of a world without violence, hate, greed and destruction

I am someone who believes in change.

 

I am

– by Hassiem

I am lost in the world

I feel happy

I want a good life

I wonder what will happen to me this winter

I fear God, no one in the world

I hope for a better life

I try to get me a home

 

Homeless

– by anonymous

Cold and hungry,

Wet and tired,

Food, more food,

Will help,

Kind people,

Cruel people?

 

Wet Reality

– by Zach Stewart, Aged 14, member of St Peter’s Mowbray

I’ve always liked to believe that

Life is like a rain storm.

And you can stand in the middle,

Shivering, and getting sick from the cold,

Or you can be that “weird” person,

That, in the rain, takes off their jersey,

Accepting the cold

While running on the banks of rivers,

Shouting, “FREEDOM”.

Two options I thought, but,

A forgotten reality too.

That reality sits under the bridge, in the rain

While the swelling river bites at its feet.

It prays for an end

To the eternal cold, but

A gulp

Or a smoke from it’s cigarette,

Between. Each. Word.

It’s heart beats slower

Bum… Bum… Bum…

A banging in the back of it’s head,

Or a voice,

Hollow, and reassuring.

“Drink, drink, drink. The cold will go away…”

 

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Overflowing love and infectious joy in a prison

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love behind bars

My friend in Cape Town is an inspiring example of intentional love: sacrificial and overflowing. She carries joy with her everywhere and tells a story in her new blog about taking that joy and love right into prison with her and the impact that had. I want to share her story with you here.

About a month ago I walked into a coffee shop and the barista asked me, ‘Where do you come from?’

I responded, ‘I’m from here, why?’

He smiled and said, “Because you’re smiling like a European on holiday. Locals don’t walk around looking that!” We both chuckled; I grabbed my coffee and moved on.

I didn’t have time to tell him why I was walking around with this look on my face. But I have time to tell you…

My friend Sarah proceeds to tell a wonderful story about visiting her friend in prison, encouraging him and speaking life over him to the point where their joy and life spilled over into those around them. You can read the rest of her story here… I highly recommend you take the time to read it, such an inspiring story and mental image that goes with it.

Holy Ground

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This poem is related to a previous post about simply being present with those who are suffering.

Blood

So much blood

And a precious bundle in carefully folded bright blue cloth

Through the mess

I see my friend

My sister

Who I love deeply

She smiles and says she’s so glad I’m there

She clings to me

A safe arm I guess

A privilege to stay with you, to not rush away

To hold your hand tight

To stand with you

Through the shock, weakness, questions, pain, tears, grief

Nowhere in the world I’d rather be than right here.

A holy moment

The three of us,

You, me

And this tiny tiny baby

Red and not yet fully formed

Yet with perfect little finger nails

As you name your baby

And release his spirit to God

As you weep and I hold you

I am humbled that I’m allowed in

To be this to you right now

To show you love, tenderness, care

To give what isn’t my own to give

Nothing draining from me

To be a channel

Simply a channel

To be available.

Holy ground

And we both know it

God is here, with us

I can feel it

Your bed attended by angels

I sing over you gently

Peace abounds

Strangely peaceful

Unnaturally peaceful

Supernatural peace, in fact

A gift from Him.

 

All poems and original writing on this blog are Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2013

Simply being present

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“How about this? How about when someone is before us, a real, live person, suffering, we be a person?…in that moment, when they are feeling their humanity so acutely or they have shown themselves to be a regular person like the rest of us, how about we surround them with the grace of being seen, being heard, and simply being loved?”

comfort

This is a brilliant piece by Sarah Bessey, which expresses something I so strongly believe in. The art of simply being present and being human when someone is suffering. I also love this post by Kathy Escobar about being ‘with’ and alongside people.

This is so hard to do. Everything inside us feels we should give some answer, some wise words, but usually there is none to give and if we try we just sound insensitive and trite. But what the person often needs is just other people walking alongside them, being present and being themselves. Some companionship on a dark road even if few words are spoken.

When a close friend of mine’s mum died suddenly, I felt maybe I should go and be with her. But everything in me was fearful. I didn’t know how to be with someone in such suffering. What would I say? Persuaded by a few friends to take courage, I decided to simply jump on a train and turn up, just the day after the tragedy. I stayed with her for a few days and then returned for more time later that month. It was easier than I thought. Lighter than I’d thought. I was just coming to be with her, not to offer answers or solutions, as I had none to offer. But I could offer myself: a shoulder to cry on, a friend to walk with, a praying presence in the house and a helping hand for the practicalities of living that have to continue, even when you feel the world should have stopped. And it was received and appreciated. It made a big difference to her and her grieving. It was a huge lesson for me that just offering myself is enough. I learnt that I carry peace within me because the ‘Prince of Peace’ is in me and so I can walk into a situation and inject peace and hope into it, often without even trying. That may sound arrogant but in fact it’s the opposite. It’s the realization that I have both nothing to give from myself and yet everything to give because of who is inside me.

But I didn’t always know that was the thing to do. I learnt the hard way. Another close friend of mine lost her mum a few years before and I mistakenly thought she didn’t need me or want me around. I was wrong and hurt her deeply. That’s one significant regret in my life.

Another situation happened more recently when a friend of mine who lives on the streets near my home had a miscarriage. I went with her to the hospital and simply stayed with her, prayed with her, held her hand through the pain, grief and bloody mess. It felt a huge privilege. We both knew we were on holy ground. We could feel the presence of God, bringing peace. I wrote a poem about that experience which I wasn’t sure whether I would share on the web but maybe I will. Watch this space.