On Giving What You Want

The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” – Coretta Scott King.

There was a time in a distant past, when I was an eager churchgoer. I had recently moved to a big city, and had neither relatives nor friends living close by. So, I took to a church in my vicinity as a way to socialize, and with the hope of finding like-minded people.

At first, attending Sunday services was both a curious and intimidating experience. The curious part is that I actually enjoyed the services. The intimidating part was that everybody seemed to know each other, personally. I felt like an outside.

Yet I turned down every invitation, from the friendly members of the congregation, to stay for tea after services. I suddenly didn’t feel like a chit-chat. I was always making excuses, too precious of my time. For someone who was there to socialize, I was doing a bad job at it. But some members of that community never gave up, and one day I finally gave in and stayed for tea. Till this day, I remain in touch with a few close acquaintances I made from that exercise.

The moral of the story? I learned from that experience, and other similar ones, that you have to give what you want to receive.

So, the question is what are you giving to others, in these uncertain times?

note: This piece was inspired by Rosemary’s post on the value of community.

Nourishment of All Sorts

It takes courage to say yes to rest and play, in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol. ~ Brené Brown

1. A little escape into nature

During this summer break, I stuffed a rucksack with essentials and headed for the trails. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I needed to unplug, literally, from days of Zoom. One of the greatest rewards was this swan family. A swan, in the wild, seldom comes this close to humans but this family kept us company, gliding to and fro our camp all the time we were there.

2. “The things I want to know are in books…”

And that’s why I always make time to read. I set my reading goal for summer at five books. But I’ve already covered eight, and without counting poetry chapbooks from small presses. I’ve also reached my entire year reading goal on Goodreads but I ain’t stopping now. Anyway, one of the books I read is by H. Henneburg. My conversation with this amazing poet is coming up, in due course.

3. A small can of paint can do wonders

There’s been a whole lot of talk about baking during this pandemic. I confess, I’m not much of a baker. I simply don’t have the patience for it. But one way I destress is with a can of paint and brush. I just love painting. In fact, I’m that kind of friend who is always willing to help you paint your walls. 🙂 So, I’ve also been busy painting garden furniture anew.

4. What I’m listening to, right now?

Neo-Soul. I’ve been particularly listening to Maxwell, of late. Flashbacks of friendships, places and activities linked to his music from a different stage of my life have inspired some writing. Time will tell if these autobiographical memories are rich and textured enough to share.

5. The art of dining well

…and keeping good company. I’m always grateful for the opportunity to spend time with friends. In keeping with my travel reads, I tried some new dishes. By the way, if you’d like to try out some African cuisine, you can peruse Sophie’s rich recipe index from A Kitchen in Uganda. And if you are health conscious, Jan at The Low Carb Diabetic is got you covered. Please visit these blogs, you’ll learn more than just an ingredients list!

Now over to you, what creative outlets do you enjoy as a way of rest and play?

Occasionally, I share five random things I’m reading, watching, doing, listening or thinking about. I love hearing about your days, too.

On Finding Clarity

I stood in the middle of a chamomile field wondering why there were flies all over my flowers. Then it occurred that every living thing has a role to play in the ecosystem. Flies have always been here, and going about their business of either feeding on the plant or helping pollinate the flowers.

I’ve always associated flowers with bees and butterflies; beautiful things. On the other end, flies conjure up images of pests, dirt and rot; ugly things. As I looked at this combination of flowers and flies I realized I had two choices, to either let flies be or clean up plant debris around the flowers.

It’s been a very busy first half of the year, for me. On top of the upset caused by the pandemic and workload, I also had this persistent sense of unease; a vague dissatisfaction I couldn’t pinpoint as I pretty much enjoyed things I was doing.

Unhurried in the countryside, I had all the time to observe, think and investigate all different kinds of flies; their movements, behaviour and intentions. One of great interest is a crane fly. I learned that even though an adult fly is harmless, larva on the other hand can stunt growth or kill a plant as they feed on the roots. With that came clarity!