Garissa Attack – The stories that will never be told, they can only be imagined

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shatteredWe all go to college. Not all of us get out of college. For some its because death they pass on. I went to college too The first time I heard of a student die, I cried a lot. I cried for the parent who expected to receive the son a graduate but receives a coffin instead. I cried for the mother whose hopes had died with the death of this child. I remember how the student died. He was swimming, just a few metres from where most of us were as we took a refreshing swim in Lamu having had a tiring day of touring the Island. He was swimming then he was gone, swallowed up by the Indian ocean.

Every parent sends their child to school for many reasons. For a country that is struggling in building its economy, its mostly about a better living for this child. My father always encouraged us to work hard in school so that we could have a better life. He took us to school. He struggled to keep us there. He whipped us when we disappointed him with poor grades or with behaviours that would threaten our admission. For all that struggle I am. I thank God for that.

For the parents who sent their children to  Garissa University College, their dreams were varied. Each parent has a dream with each child. All those dreams have been cut short. Stories have been told of how it happened. Gruesome pictures have been circulated. Frustrations of identifying one’s loved ones have been narrated. We have all expressed our anger,, which is justified. We have prayed and lit candles. For consolation, for repose of the souls.Amidst all this, there are stories that will never be heard. Stories of parents who will weep the loss of their children for the rest of their lives;parents who have lost their sole hope in family breadwinners, of parents who will walk with their children as they try to relieve the trauma and hope to God that someday they will be strong enough to forget the sound of a gunshot, the smell of fresh and drying blood, the sound of a dying friend, the sight of a lifeless body, the screams that will be etched in their heads. No one will hear of how life will become of all the families of the victims as they live each day mourning their beloved,not because they have not mourned enough today but because every day will be a journey of saying goodbye all over again. The readers will never know of the finality of burying a child. We have hopes and reams and the things we wish to do, and the promises these children represent, but it is all gone. We will never hear of the journey the wounded will make in struggling to forgive those who murdered their kin, their struggle to let go, and the questions they ask themselves that will never be answered; the what if they were still alive… candles

They are not dead those who still live in the hearts of the living. And true to that, those who are gone will forever live in our hearts. I lost a brother when I was eight years old, or there abouts. I once asked my mother of it has gotten any easier, and she said no. The child remains alive in her heart, she will forever remember those last moments when he breathed his last (sob sob)… These parents mourn their kin, their beloved. They will mourn them for the rest of their lives.

I always say that when you loose your beloved, you should remember the moments you sent with them, the memories you made, and that is what should remain in the heart to help us smile through the tears. The whole world is mourning these children.While we may not have lived with these children and may not have memories to help us smile, while we may not have the right words to even take away one drop of tear from the faces of these parents, guardians, brothers sisters, hope for the country at large, while we can not even begin to fathom the pain they are feeling, or the frustration they get to go through with every dawn of a new day, or the hopelessness they feel; while we may not even know what to do or say; we may surrender it all to our loving father in heaven. When all is hopeless, He is our hope. I wish all those affected Jesus. May He be with you, be your strength, be your consolation, be the answer to all those answered questions … Like Henri Nouwen said, I will be “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing…”. I cannot do all this in person, but I go down on my knees and pray with you. umoja

The 7 day #BibleChallenge…. Day 7

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Love is the greatest  1 Corinthians 13:13;
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Romans 13:10;
Love does no harm to its neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.

Love is the greatest, and will forever remain the greatest.

LoveI have a belief that if we loved and loved truly, then all the evil we see, the betrayals, the bloodshed, the fights, the wars, the hatred, just to name a few would all be history. If I loved my friends enough, I would not speak behind their backs unless I am speaking praises, If I loved my neighbour, I would not shed their blood, I would not rape their daughter, I would not sodomize their son, I would not steal their belongings; If I loved enough, I would not corrupt the nation of its wealth, I would not grab public property and claim it as mine, I would not organise a group of gangs and make them kill each other; If there was enough love, then we would all live in goodness, looking out for each other, no one would go hungry or thirsty or naked; no one would be in prison, no one would be struggling with letting go of years of bitterness held deep in our hearts for wrongs done long ago,…

But that is a perfection that we have to daily seek. It is the perfection Christ seeks to teach us each day. As humans, we are weak, we have to constantly seek to be perfected by Christ. Our journey of faith because a continuous search for perfection, which by the grace of God, we shall achieve in eternity.

1 loveIt is easy to love those who love us back. Our ultimate test of love, is when we have to love those who we believe do not deserve our love. May we, in this moment remember the crucified Christ, who in spite of our imperfections loved us enough to die on the cross and keeps loving us…

The 7 day #BibleChallenge…. Day 6

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We are all called to be kind. And like one wise man said, kindness is a language that the blind can see, the deaf can hear and the dumb can understand. It is easy to be kind to those who are kind to us It is easy to show goodness to those who are good to us.It is very easy to reciprocate love. True Christianity however calls us to go beyond that which is obvious. Luke tells us in the Bible to Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 

True Christianity requires us to do to others as He did for us. While, we condemned him and mocked Him, he cried for us; while we whipped him till he bled, he prayed for us; while we nailed him on the cross and jeered till he breathed his last, he forgave us. He tells us “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful”. 

Be kindIt is easy to wonder how we can be this, especially when we are really wounded. Kenya is a bleeding Nation at the moment, how now can we love those who brutally shot and cut short the lives of our beloved children? How now? Isn’t this verse making a mockery of our emotions? Flip side; how many times do we ourselves wound those whom we love? How many times do they bow down, swallow their pride and tell us,  “I forgive you?” Are we so special to deserve forgiveness?

Luke 6:37-38:- Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you…

God have mercy on us and grant us graces to actually be kind, very kind, especially when being kind is hardest…

Article 33:- Footprints in the sand…

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Many times, we meet people, who walk in and out of our lives in different capacities; teachers, friends, neighbours, watchman, boyfriends, spouses. Many at times, some will touch us in a way that we will never forget. They may be there for a short while, or for eternity, but the impact they leave makes us different people eternally. They introduce an attitude that we never had before, and make us wiser, stronger, kinder, learned, and better human beings. Many of us have probably come across the following poem at one point in time…

“One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD. When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it: “LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”The LORD replied: ‘My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.’”

Taking stock of our lives we can sometimes see ourselves writing this poem. Problem comes in realizing how exactly God carried us on his shoulders. Many of us don’t even take stock of our lives and we miss out in this realization. Many still do take stock and instead of realizing the blessings behind the sorrow and low moments, carry the pain much longer than when supposed to. This makes us miss the lesson, miss the blessing, miss the Graces but mostly miss the realization that God really does carry us through the tough times. Missing this realization makes us fail to be thankful for the tough times.

I remember the early months of last year when I walked into a clinic for a regular check up on my ante natal clinic only to be told “madam, I hope you are aware that you are not going to home today”, my reply was the obvious, “you are joking, right”, and the stern worried doctor says, “no, which hospital do you want us to admit you”… There followed a serious of denial statements to the doctor and a very firm concerned doctor whose resolve could not be changed, which was in the end good for me. I left his hospital with an admission letter. I felt very lonely at that moment. I remember walking to the casualty of the hospital I was to be admitted to and sitting at the entrance wondering what to do next. I made one phone call and wrote one text; phone call to my friend Agatha, text to my friend doctor. All I know is after that, things seemed to fall in place, like a puzzle had just been solved. I still got admitted for some time and was put on bed rest for a month before baby came but everything was to be fine. My heart was at peace. Fast forward my story a month later, baby boy came, but I got slight complications with my episiotomy and I was in so much pain I could barely do anything for myself. My first house help was a darling. She did her job excellently and I can confidently say, she did beyond that which I paid her to do. With all the dramas that they come with and with all we know, I had a perfect girl with me, nurturing my baby and I to good health. I saw, and still see the hand of God through all that. I was probably in my lowest most helpless state, but God carried me through it all, literally on His shoulders.

How does God carry us on his shoulders; He brings people in our lives to make the baggage we carry light. I know all of us have looked back and said, I wouldn’t have made it through that time without so and so’s help. I could not have hacked it if my mom had not called me every night to give me words of inspiration. I could not have made it alone. I came through because my friend came to see me daily, hugged me many times, held me in her arms when I cried and gave me loads and loads of words of encouragement. When Christ made this promise in John 14:16, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you”, he meant every word. But how many times do we miss the grace of his presence just because his ‘helper’ is not packaged the way we would want him to be. How many times do we refuse to be carried because we are afraid to admit we need help? How many times do we sink in the pit because we are afraid to take the offered hand? When will we stop believing that we can do it on our own and let people help us through? I must admit that this world has brought forth the notion that we should not trust each other, but I also believe that the angels of God are the people we interact with every day.

All of us have stories to tell. No matter how much tears we shed when we tell these stories, there always is the light in the story. The cab driver who gave you a ride when you dint have a coin to your name when you tarmacked, the matatu driver who understood when you told them umesanywa, the kind relative who came to stay with you just because you needed someone to be with you, the darling friend who prays with you when you don’t have the strength to pray for yourself, the loving husband whose presence never wavers, whose support, no matter how weak he is himself, never falters, that friend who cheers you on as you pick yourself up… All Christ, carrying you on His shoulders through the angels he sends your way.

The other question is how many times do we actually go out of our way and help those we encounter in the name of Christ, that is, not taking the glory for ourselves? A Roman saying goes “We should give as we would receive: cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers.”An old lady of about 70 walks to you at Holy Family Basilica on a Saturday morning and u are walking out from the adoration chapel, rushing to run an urgent errand and asks you for the direction to some place, instead of giving her many directions that include many right and left turns that will leave her confused, you walk her there yourself and proceed on your way to wherever you are going. In the end she tells you, ‘May God remember you when you get to my age’. What a nice feeling. How many blessings do we miss, just because we are too busy to be kind? Take time to visit and talk to your friend who has been unwell, praying for someone diligently (yes, I have learnt that the most selfless thing I can do is pray for someone. Most of the time, prayers are a selfish but very intimate way of presenting our wish list to God, ranting to him because things are not going the way we want them to, giving him thanks for the great things happening in our lives…me, me, me… So if among this selfish needs and intimate moment you can bare yourself, and bring in someone else and bare their needs too, that is kind, very kind), smiling at that man in the gate, giving a complement, saying thank you ( I recently discovered it tears me up), giving to the needy etc.  What do we lose by being kind? Off the record, we shouldn’t be kind because we want blessings; we should be kind for kindness’ sake.

There are so many kind things we can do, not even necessarily going out of our way. Anyhow when you learn to be kind, acts of kindness become a norm, and it won’t feel like you are going out of your way any more. It’s just being yourself, doing what you are supposed to do diligently and hardworkingly. If you are a friend, be a true friend, if you are a colleague, be a good one, if you are a classmate, be a classmate, if you are a partner, be a partner. Do it well, and in your doing, you will end up being the miracle someone needed to see her to the next day. By doing, when the other party takes stock of their lives, they will remember that at one moment in time, God carried them in His shoulders through their interaction with you. As Kevin Heath says, “Wherever there is a human need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference”. mabegaI have ridden on the shoulders of great people, great because anyone who lets you ride on their shoulders have a greatness in them. I am probably what my friend Agatha calls a spoilt child of God. I pray that I can be that shoulder for someone. May we be those persons, those persons who ensure that only one set of footprints appear in the sand when the troubles come in the wake of those we encounter…

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