A Letter To My Friend Seeking

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Dear Ijay, 

I am a firm believer in the need for people to unravel themselves. And this is true of every sincere person I have known.

We all get to a point where we pull things apart, sometimes by accident. In our soul and mind, bit by bit we spread all our pieces in a bid to know ourselves, to understand the ‘why’s’ without any demanding interference and this is good.

This sort of chaos unfolding is common when you have been stifled all your life. You are longing to know  – ‘Is my life being defined by what I have been conditioned to be?’, ‘Who am I really when no one is pushing me?’. So somewhere in the midst of this ruckus there arises a suffocating need to either free and continue to conform or be free and allow yourself transform, into who you truly are.

I have had to unravel this scroll of a life for myself too and I am still unravelling. Like the best kind of book with a climax and downfall every good story should have, I have gasped, laughed out loud, I’ve been shocked out of my wits!, bawled in frustration, been enveloped in cruel drowning silence. I have screamed loud enough for the quantum world to hear (into my pillow that is) and breathe a sigh of relief with my salt stained face. I have found my unfolding to be painfully beautiful in its honestly true and  deepest form.

Ijay, permit me to share with you what I have learned.

It was never my conditions that defined me, it was always who I chose to be, freedom isn’t free. After all said and done, constraint still posed an essential companion.

Knowledge begets responsibility and where knowledge is a full head, responsibility is an understanding heart that knows when and how to act.

There are truths that resonate within this stubborn blood and bone I peel away from my soul day by day. It is beyond social conditioning, unravelling this way brings me face to face with the perfection of intricate and carefully thought out design. I did not just fall out of the sky neither am I a mere miracle of Oduduwa in the sense of a tale. No.

I was formed from a spark of light in the dark watery depths of my mothers womb, where egg and sperm collide. This effect must have a cause, my perfect design daily combated by jealous imperfection screams of a perfectly covert designer.

It is why no matter how much I call myself god I have never been able to spell it with a big G. or have you?

I could never lie to the multiple layers of prickly cells underneath my skin. something of a truth has been weaved into my DNA. I cannot deny me and with this singular act of adrenal rebellion, I have learned the touch of peace.

It is cool and calm but it does not always put us at ease. When things started to change inside me, the world around seemed to align accordingly. If my heart hated it then I didn’t want it and there went my taste for addiction.

My Dear Friend, do not ever let anything stop you from unravelling. It is a necessary piece in this puzzle called life. There will be beauty and pains, you must experience fully. Unravel without the biases, without the trends, pay no mind to the hype elaborately expressed beliefs of  people (especially on social media).

Listen to the dirges of your body, those dreary songs that beg for more and lead to no end. Drown them out by listening more to the yearnings of your heart. Learn to sit on the ground, legs curled up beneath your core as you separate truth from the lies, the feelings from the facts, the assumptions from whats real. Don’t ever be afraid of this process, all of creation is on your side.

Soon you will cease to be ashamed of being naked, alone at 3am in front of the mirror. You will learn to say sweet things into your eyes because you know there is someone beautiful within, who is desperate to meet you.

In all of this Ijay,

I pray you fall. Deeply in love with the process of seeking and finding.

I pray you fly. Far above the noise of the earth.

I pray you’re unafraid. Of knowing you have a beginning and an end and maybe your end is endless.

And  if you find that you are eternal, know that it is okay to be all this and Forever.

 

With all of Heavens Love,

Msray 

 

 

 

 

 

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Glimpse Of Glory: The Forever

As I sank deeper and deeper into sleep, awakening was a bright vortex beyond my reach. I screamed as I fell but my voice wouldn’t come out. I looked down and I saw their eyes huge and sinister now,  a million and one hands stretched out to grab me “No please let me go”, all I heard was laughter, screeching loud laughter, then voices, they wouldn’t stop speaking.

I could hear them all at once

you are of the grave, of this grave you are!”,

“who are you?”, I tried to make out the words but nothing.  I was limp, a ball of lead , noodles for limbs, I could sense my heart beat weaken, it switched from a steady thump thump to a silent thud and then a restless ease.  In that moment I stopped breathing.

Have you ever been in that place where your dreams are more desirable than the nightmare you’re  living? Well I was there, its called Death.

     I sank into oblivion, I know this because the voices, they grew distant as I got sucked into a whirlpool of memories.  Floating through the uneasy swirl I saw my mother. Her beautiful skin soft and sweet against the golden rays of sun.

I stretched my mutilated limbs to touch her but my limbs passed through the mist of floating swirls, a teardrop left my eye and floated towards another memory of her, the dull calm sunk me deeper into folds of empty unknown, until slowly, steadily, I let go.

***

“….and oh the joy that floods my soul, something happened, now I know He touched me and made me whole…”

It was the chirping of a blue robin perched on a stalk that woke me up, my crusty eyes struggling to adjust to the light that pierced into my cold flesh warming me sweetly… the sun!
I smiled as I rubbed a moist palm over my face, I burst out laughing! hands! I had hands! my joy could not be spoken in words.
I wriggled my toes as I stretched myself towards the sky to take in the full beauty of the morning,
Satisfied with the feel of the soil, dug deep between my toes.

Such bliss, such glory.

————————————-

~Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it is alone.~

To Be Passed On.

Msray
© 2018

GRAVE: The Begining

The day I died, was the day I went to prison.

My life had just begun, or so I believed.  It was shocking to me when I found out that i’d be serving time, being me, my obvious crime.

The cell had black grainy walls, tightly compact . Grains below, grains above, I could not see the sun, I could not see the clouds, my cell was very dark.

The grainy walls were porous. From time to time food and water were passed down to me though the narrow holes.

I spent my first days looking up, I was scared and confused.

Why wasn’t I enough? why was I here? who keeps feeding me? where is my mother?

Day after day the cell walls grew tight around me. I could not push anymore! wet faced, and exhausted from trying, I looked on, feeling my hope’s of freedom ebb away.

” this might just be my destiny, maybe I should wait and see,” I thought to myself. Days passed.

I know this because I steadily watched the transitions of night and day through the cracks in my wall.

I could hear crickets outside. One time I tried to whisper to someone lurking around the walls, I was very hot and I longed to feel the wind on my skin, to feel the light of the sun deep in my pores, so I whispered and I waited but no one came.

One day, I sat in my cell and looked around, I never really noticed those grainy walls, they seemed to have faces with shut eyes, they were sleeping.

Horrified, I ran to the middle of the cell and starred at the walls around me, all sleeping faces, then as if on cue they began to wake up, one right after the other, yawning and clicking their lips in reckless abandon.

They seemed calm, their eyes shone in unison,

”Look Lads One of Us!”, they were excited. I couldn’t understand this because I knew where I had come from, I was not  one of them,

”My skin is fair like the morning sun and my eyes bright as crystal waters, I am nothing like you!”, I replied with borrowed confidence from a lender I could not fathom.

They all starred in amazement, sheer mockery.

”You? of the sun? then what in Earth! are you doing down here?!”, they stressed the word Eaarrth, as though it was a hidden joke among themselves and burst out laughing. Their voice was loud and eery, like metal scratching on metal surface. It was horrifying, I couldn’t take it. I wanted to cover my ears but I couldn’t , it was only then I noticed I had no hands.

”Look at him, he thinks he is fairer than us, little does he know that he is of the dust  and back to the dust he must return, silly boy” they spoke as one, yet it seemed as though they thought differently, it was the most unusual conversation I had ever experienced,

”I am not one of you! I am only here for a time and I will be out just as I came!’. I tried a second time, But their cackling held me down like strong arms placed on feeble shoulders,

” Look at yourself before you claim to be distinguished, before you argue with eyes that really see you for what you are…”

I listened to them, for the first time in the cell I looked down, down from the opening, down from the walls, down at myself, I was brown, like them. A pool of tears formed underneath my eyes and stung my throat,

”No! this isn’t possible, I have always been fair like the morning sun”, my tears fell in uneven streaks leaving trails of despair on my now decaying cheeks, ”I am not one of you”, I said in limp defeat as I sat on the ground, and cried bitterly.

This time they said nothing, they simply watched me, countenance tranquil, a knowing smile on their faces I could feel it. They had me where they wanted me. They had me in defeat, But they never said a thing, they simply stayed still watching me sink. Soon after, I grew weary, eyes sore, soul torn I did what I hadn’t done before,

I closed my eyes and fell into deep sleep.

TO BE CONTINUED…

(13th September 2018)

Msray
© 2018

Our Love

Our love tale started like soaking cannabis in hot water. I took a sip. You did likewise. The sole of our feet got baptised in this fever that got our tummies beating the African drums. We looked each other in the eyes, we found dark universe surrounded by a red sea. We could see what love is all about; two heads that one is better than. We felt like screaming but the fear that the onlookers would tag us mad forced us into each other’s arm.

You could hear my heart beating. It was not the Jazz you love. My heart made music, the kind Mozart made. You said it made you dull. But that was my whole life. I tried to let my eyes speak volumes of poetry anthologies but all you heard was words poorly knitted. You smiled. Not the type of smile you decorated the sky with the first day I stood before you as a stuttering child, fearful but determined to let you know that butterflies only visit your garden.

I prayed we never recovered from this euphoria. This state of having the moon constantly using our name in the lullaby it is singing. I told of the symphonies composed by the crickets and frogs ( hiding in the near by bush) in our favour. You said I was silly. Not that kind of silly. You meant that I stole your heart with my madness. I was happy. At least, someone has finally got me in the list of men who parade the face of earth with careless abandon of what lips would say. You were the earthquake my soul yearned for.

That was when you told me of a fairy land. I was the ragged prince and you the princess living in a mansion of a castle. You told me that I was the male Cinderella. I agreed. You made me to be born again. It is no metaphor. You turned me to a suckling praying that I will forever remain at your breast…

(C) Symolean

Let’s Pray

I was breathing heavily.

I made my choice already, I kept mute.

“So no one is a Christian here?” the man holding the gun shouted.

I was dead silent, with my head lowered and my eyes shut.

“You are all a bunch of pretenders and liars” he said laughing sarcastically.

“You don’t know God; you don’t even believe he exists” he said.

It was a Sunday morning. I was well dressed and ready for service. I looked through the mirror as I knotted my tie. I adjusted my trousers and stretched out my body.

“You look good” I said to my reflection and he smiled.

My smile was short-lived when I remembered what my mentor said to me few days ago.

“God wants to test you” he said. I knew I had not been the most serious of Christians but I worked in the protocol department in the church, I gave my tithe and offering, I did most of all that was required of an average Christian. Yes, I did. But I think I got the gist. Being average wasn’t what was expected, but that was me, at least for now.

“Brother Dele, Good morning” a voice greeted as I locked the front door to my room. I turned to reply. It was Funmi, she lived in the room across mine.

“What’s up Funmi, Happy Sunday” I replied smiling.

“Are you not ready? Oya na let’s start going” she said adjusting her skirt slightly.

We walked out of the compound together. The Church wasn’t very close to where we lived, as it wasn’t easy to find an Anglican Church in this rural area, most corps members just settled for any living church in the area, but I had a thing for Anglican Churches.

Not long, we arrived at the church. I took one last reassessment of myself, and walked in with satisfaction.

I opened the western door and was confused. It was so dark, I looked back to be sure if I was sane and there was no door again, like the darkness had moved. I seemed to be in the middle of it now.

I reached for my pocket bible, hoping to feel safer as I clutched it.

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” I whispered silently, my legs shaking, my arms trembling.

Then a light came on. It wasn’t very bright but it felt much better than pitch darkness.

I thought the worst was behind me, I didn’t know I was in for a treat today.

A huge figure walked into the light, a man. I couldn’t see his face clearly but he had a gun in his hand.

He was saying something, but I couldn’t hear him. He seemed to be getting angrier, he kept moving around but within the light, and then He stopped.

He pointed to the dark, not towards me. A young lady walked out immediately, she was shaking, begging for her life.

“Please don’t shoot me” she begged.

“I will surely shoot you, except he passes this test” he said.

I started trembling. I somehow had this feeling that I was the one to be tested.

What kind of test is this?  I thought to myself.

Aiiee! She screamed as he cocked the gun.

“Listen, If you are a Christian here, come out now and I won’t kill her” he said. He raised his hands up making a signal, and the lights fully came on. I still couldn’t make anything of this place. I could see other people too, but everyone was too busy shaking and trembling.

“If you are a Christian come out, or I kill her” he repeated. It was strange, I recognized the clothing of the girl he was holding.

Was it Funmi? I asked myself. I hoped she wasn’t the one.

I was breathing heavily

I made my choice already, I kept mute.

“So no one is a Christian here?” the man with the gun shouted.

I was dead silent, with my head lowered and my eyes shut.

“You are all a bunch of pretenders and liars” he said laughing sarcastically.

“You claim to know God; but you don’t even believe He is…” he said.

“No” a voice interrupted

“No, you are wrong” he continued

“I am a Christian, a Child of God” he said walking towards me. His clothing was very similar to mine; I was just waiting to take a closer look at his face.

He walked up to me and halted. I couldn’t believe my eyes; like I was seeing myself standing in front of me.

My jaw still dropped, I shivered slightly as I tried to speak.

“Ho-how is this…?” were the only words I could mutter. He leaned closer to whisper.

“Your reflection” he said with a grin, and continued walking toward the man with the gun.

The man changed his aim, pointing the gun at me, my reflection rather.

“Oh, bravo” he said clasping his palms in sarcastic appraisal

BOOM he fired

My heart skipped a bit as if fell to the ground. There was a ruckus as everyone scattered around

“He misfired, Who does that?” I thought to myself.

“Nobody move” he shouted, firing another shot in the air.

I tried to stand, I couldn’t move.

Argh I grunted. It felt like I was hit with a hammer. I looked at my chest and saw my shirt soaked in blood. My vision became blurrier, my head seemed heavier. I had no control over my body anymore. I dropped to the ground again.

Everything was fading fast, I could see a bright light, I could feel it, I was going. I could hear someone calling out my name faintly.

“Dele, Dele” the voice called out faintly.

The voice grew louder and clearer.

“Dele, wake up” the voice shouted.

“Jesus” I shouted as I sprang to my feet. I was sweating and panting like one who just wrestled the devil. I touched my chest and heaved a sigh in relief.

I turned around and it was my wife.

“Honey, you had a nightmare? What was it?” she asked with worry in her eyes.

“Funmi, it was really serious” I replied still trying to catch my breath.

“I think God wanted to show me something. We will talk about it in the morning”

“Let’s pray” I said, holding her hands.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.prayer-e1522104184118.png

Incline Your Ear. 

“Come out from among them and be separate…”

As a child growing up in an African home, one of the times I swallowed advice with open heart and ears, were those moments where I had “disgraced my mother outside” by eating the food offered to me at her best friends house! And having endured the swift pulling of my “disgracefully hungry mouth that has never eaten jollof rice and chicken before” once her friend walked back into the kitchen, I would then silently nibble the now tasteless food anticipating the beating I was going to get at home.

On those rare occasions I can remember, my mother would call me to her room! And just when I walked in, hands crossed, full bladdered and pulse dead, she would say.  

“Sit down, let me talk to you.”

                          ——————-

Why do you want to eat from the world My child? Blending in trying to be a perfect fit? 

What can she offer you that isn’t Mine? The cattle on a thousand hills, the stars and seas.

Do you  really trust in Me? Is My promise, My  gift not enough for you?

What more must I give up to make you see? That if the world finds pleasure in you, it is because in you she doesn’t see Me.

Why are you afraid to stand alone? Why do you cry to Me and grope for answers elsewhere. 

Have I not loved you with an everlasting love?

Come my child let us reason together. My plan is not to leave you in despair it is not just to soak you in trials, but to cleanse and purify, through it all I will always be there. 

In the fire before you come, in the fire to see you through, in the fire as you grow from glory to glory, It is I! I promised! Have you forgotten? Truth CANNOT lie.  I know how it ends, it is why I Am here. 

Come to Me my child, I see your burden. The one you hide and still cry out “holy”, the one you justify by a thousand good deeds, the one you silently blame on others as though their absence will set you free, open up your heart, show Me where it hurts, I Am here to heal you, I Am here to deliver. This journey was never meant to be for one man alone, let me guide you, let me keep you, let me literally change your heart, lighten your burden, let me do My part. 

It is for this purpose alone I came to this earth, this purpose alone makes me suffer long. If you will only dare to lay All down and turn to me All the pain, the despair, guilt and shame, expectations, beautiful lies, dreams and hopes, good and evil, the mixtures of this tree that creates necessary evils. 

I Am Life Source, I will Sustain You. 

It is not my wish that you stand in Egypt and claim CANAAN’s promises with your lips alone, I Am not with you in Egypt to prosper you in her ways but to bring you Out! I will journey through this wilderness with you, this dryness in your soul, you will never be alone, you win because I won. I walk with you through this valley until we both come out One, I Am not ashamed, I Am not disgusted, I Am not tired, I have come that you might have Life. 

I Love You

It is True

Will You Trust Me?

The Gardener

​The flowers stylishly laid on it’s bed in patterns of colours, in their different shades which makes you feel that you are actually in the paradise called Eden, was one of the things that made him to take gardening as his new found love. He would be content to water those flowers every blessed morning he wakes up and prune them to maintain this picturesque view, and should weed try to compete for the manure he would religiously feed the flowers with, he would make sure that they don’t live to share their experience with any other. He promised himself not to live and see any of the flowers wither and even when he would get choked up with activities to the extent that he would not have time enough to pray for himself, he would still pray that this article that has so much enchanted him would remain the food for the eyes of all that would one day come across this great work spot of his. He never saw the drudgery of routine associated with such work as

a threat to the hope he had built, he didn’t even think of drought season as a challenge and a fight he would still fight to keep his cherished plants alive. In his schedule was no time for feeding and rest, he never envisaged health challenges as one of the things that would stand  between him and his flowers and of course, people’s opinion of him would be the least in the ladder of things that would dissuade him from being a humble flower lover or gardener in a more common parlance but that was all an assumption that failed to stand the test of time. He was found sinking, distracted, angered even by the unresponsiveness of some species of flowers that had overgrown their lifespan and withered even though he did all he could to keep them in his garden for just a little longer. He could still remember how he killed some of his flowers in the bid to help them reach greater level of growth through wrong method of fertilizer application and it got him miles away from the hope he once  rode on. He saw all these metamorphosis take place and that’s what actually turned him to this great gardener he now is

See

The morning, cool and convenient enough for a park. Buses parked in order of arrangement as passengers grooved in. There I was, patiently sitting in an opened bus void of passengers. Straight towards me came a young girl, couldn’t be more than ten years. Saliva dripping from her mouth, wet hands bagged a polythene bag as she begged. Her voice, faintly blocked and salient and her hands stretched horizontally. 
Perhaps,a sort of childhood illness or an accident or maybe a birth abnormality could be the reason for the saliva dripping mouth and voice quality loss. 

Away from me she went, towards the market lined up with shops. With same pose and similar gestures, she begged as she strolled down hawkers, buyers and passers by. Quite noticeable were her feet. One of it, swollen and partially bent towards the east. Lifting both legs was an obvious difficulty for her. I hoped silently, maybe, just maybe, she would find succour.

Even closed eyes see the needs and struggles of these not so fortunate children, but attitudes towards them becomes a choice we make. 

Every child deserves more than just existing or surviving, but really living. Sadly, comfortable living is unheard of for such kids. A beautiful future is only actualized in their day dreams. Their reality and major concern is a means of surviving daily, securing head spaces at night and food eaten enough to hawk the next day.

You can lend that hand of love. Hospitable hands of faith for their survival. A heart so big to accommodate hawking children and young adults. A heart that sacrifices for the needs of a child who daily dreams of the classroom, but finds himself hawking from sunrise to sunset each day in sweaty rags. Tomatoes and pepper sold in the morning, vegetables and fresh fish takes it’s turn in the afternoon, while banana and groundnut rounds up major sales in the evening. 

Let your heart see the tears and unspoken dreams of these young ones. And may your heart stretch your hand to meet their needs.

  • Michelle Okonicha