English class. Nothing says ‘class’ like a 2 hour film split into four different study periods. 21st century curriculum found us at our wits as we swerved every likely opportunity from the old age textbooks and mundane reading tasks. It was one thing to sit and act half interested on a Friday morning. It was another when your English periods constituted of a silver screen delectable plugged into a 40inch cube (no flat screens, just flat walls). The 2002 classic- About a Boy- tugged on our humour switch as boy meets girl played with our pre-teen psyche (watch it for yourself). It was not the heart drenching romance nor the witty edge of Hugh Grant that carved a memory in my young mind. No. It was the words of an old age poet that have since transected the fabric of our time echoing the heart beat of our societal norm: No Man is an Island (John Donne, 1624).
“Our strength finds meaning in the strengthening of another”
Growing up in Africa has strung pieces of this truth through the threads of our budding culture and humanity. In the grand scheme of things, community has offered a plethora of meaning and sanity. Seldom times do we glorify solitude and individualism. Our inclinations gravitate along the rivers of Ubuntu gently stretching across its tributaries along the terrains of our hearts (I am because we are). Their wedding is our wedding. Their funeral is our funeral. Their money is our money (can I get an amen?). Each part of the world has embedded this mantra in various degrees and tones as Sister Sledge stirs our souls with her old age classic “We are Family” whilst the late home grown Everson Matafale infused the unified message along his reggae tapestry: “yang’ana nkhope yako; yang’ana nkhope yanga; timango fanana (look at my face; look at your face; we are the same). Admittedly or not, we need each other. Our delicacy finds refuge in the delicacy of another. Our strength finds meaning in the strengthening of another. Our love finds its culmination as those around us enter into its courts. There is no me without you. There is no you without me. There is no I in team-except with God?
“Catch the foxes for
I remember getting a phone call. The words that followed edged a sword through me: “will you share your heart at bible study?” To be honest, my heart was the last thing I wanted to share. I felt the guile and vomit that seemed to latch on mercilessly as my knees buckled at each attempt to run after the one thing I thought I knew: God. If there was ever a time I felt ‘appointed and anointed’ it was definitely not then. I looked at the corner of my bed and picked up the Bible that was neatly packed in the corner. As I attempted to patch up what was left of my spiritual life I stumbled across an old age love story: Song of Solomon. I sat there. Gritting my teeth, I listened. I sighed a few times. Mid-way through the words and pages I came across something I had never quite seen:
Groom: ‘…Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along. For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers have already appeared in the land; the time has arrived for pruning the vines, and the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. The fig tree has ripened its figs, and the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance . Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along.”
Groom: “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes for us, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards, while our vineyards are in blossom.”
Song of Solomon 2
It was not the flowery description nor was it the ineffable gushing of love struck emotion. No. It was the words. It was disposition. It was the sure acknowledgement of “us”: the groom and the bride; God and His people. She was no island. Though held by the fortitude of many like her, she knew, with a sure anchorage of hope, of her groom (and ultimately, of her God); that she was able to catch the foxes for “us”; that she,Htogether with Him, was able to tend to the vineyard that belonged to “them”; that her walk with the groom was not merely her walk, but “theirs.” Before the Lord lifts us from our pits, He comes to sit with us and empathize with our pain and struggle. He knows the eerie pangs of the shadow of death. He knows the merciless fury of the darkness that lingers; He knows the savage cravings that tug at our desires edging us further from the Lord. “Our” walk with the Lord has never been a journey of solitude. Not once does He sit on His thrown as He gambles away on whether we will make it or not. He walks with us. We walk with Him. We walk together. And with Him, we catch the foxes; with Him we conquer all creatures that seek to ruin the vineyard that He is growing for “us”; with Him we bask in His ultimate goodness as clouds bow down to His eternal spring. So I dare you, next time the foxes come out to ‘play’, do not fight them alone. Fight them together.
PS: “We” have caught a few
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”- God (Hebrews 13:5)
At His Feet…