Drawn to the Flame

She was on her way home when she first caught a glimpse of him.

He was the most beautiful little thing she had ever seen. In a world where everything seemed dulled by the ordinary, where all around her was a world colored in grays and blacks, this little being shone as a beacon of the extraordinary.

She came closer, just to watch the little one better. If she could express her emotion in words at right that moment, she’d have said it was awe she felt. This overwhelming emotion of absolute wonder mixed in with a little fear could be nothing else but that.

He was a such a jolly little being. He shone with an inner glow she had never seen in anyone before. He was smiling and merrily dancing away to an inner rhythm only he could hear. Could she hear the rhythm too if she moved just a bit closer? The little one hadn’t noticed her yet. So, she stealthily moved just a little closer.

She still couldn’t hear his song but she could see him better. In fact, she was close enough now to feel the warmth of his smile. If she moved closer would a little of his glow rub off on her? Would she become extraordinary like him if she just touched him for a second? It couldn’t hurt the little fella, she convinced herself. So she inched closer again and reached forward to gently touch his yellow head.

“Wow! That’s one huge moth but it’s a little too close to that candle’s flame. Shoo! Go away! Don’t you know any better?”

(One-word prompt: Candle)

Wishing for Summer

Summer is half a year and/or half the world away from me right now.

I live in the southern hemisphere and for those of us here, today is the winter solstice. I look out my window and see dark, grey skies carrying the weight of rain-filled clouds. I look down at myself and can barely hold back a grin at the number of layers I am clad in – my fingers and nose are the only parts of me that aren’t wrapped up… yet. That’s how cold it is today.

But I don’t need to wait half the year for summer to come around again nor do I have to get on a plane to reach a place in the throes of summer. I just need to put my over-worked imagination to good use again.

I can just shut my eyes and visualize in my head Summer’s vivid blue skies guiding to light the rich profusion of flowers in my neighbors’ gardens; I can watch my now lonely garden turn into temporary homes for birds of innumerable species; I can hear the noisy chatter ringing up in the trees and down in the burrows; I can slowly recall Summer flooding to life in multi-colour at the back of my shut eyelids.

And then I start to remember the downside of Summer – the hot, sweltering days and nights; the thirst that chases me down till I am ready to cry in surrender but my body lacks the fluids to implement my desire; the layer of skin that painfully protests my sun-exposed walk from the garage to the front door, etc. Yikes!

Hmm, I think I was under the influence of the dreaded syndrome called ‘Thegrassis greenerontheotherside’. My eyes are wide open now and I realize how much I enjoy this season that is Winter too.

So, Winter, good to have you here.

And Summer, see you soon!

(One-word prompt: Summer)

Watching the World Pass By

I have been travelling.

I’ve been up a mountain and at a beach through the course of the last 3 days and I have seen so much my head has still not processed all that my eyes have taken in. What a delightful predicament to be in!

I’ve seen rolling hills of vivid green, dotted with grazing cattle. I’ve seen lambs gambolling in large fields and I’ve seen llamas look up at our whizzing car with jaundiced eyes. I remember plastering my nose up against the window to watch when a pair of rambunctious kangaroos decided to escort us a few miles. Everywhere I looked all I saw was a land filled to the brim with life – flora and fauna.

And then, I remember driving through lands radiant in shades of browns and blacks. I saw carcasses from roadkill through my car window. We drove for ages without setting eyes on a single sign of obvious life. I saw, what appeared to be, a land devoid of life and inhabitants of any sort – until a pair of camouflaged birds took to the air.

I saw a sea frothing at the mouth and I saw the same sea gently lapping a sandy shore. I saw birds I’ve seen all my life and some whose colorful existence were a lovely surprise.

I saw a whole lot more this last weekend but what I retained from the trip was the impression that our God is an incomparable artist. What supreme imagination it must take to conjure up such opposing vistas in the head, and then to speak them into creation; to create beauty that touches not just the senses but also all the hidden recesses of the head and heart; to create hills and seas that can dwarf the cares of the viewers with the reminder that His magnificence is not limited.

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”  Job 12:7-10

Reader, the God who created the mighty mountain that I saw also created that small flowering shrub outside your window. Whom I saw in the Aussie outback, you can see in your backyard because He made them all. It helped me put into perspective the worries my heart were carrying. How does one hold on to those when every living being in the vicinity is loudly declaring His power and presence?  🙂

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.”   Psalm 145:5

 

My Imaginary Friend

I have a friend who I always adore – well, almost always. She and I – we have a special connection. She is as much a part of me as my limbs or my frizzy hair are – she’s just not that obvious to you.

She is my Imagination. She came into the world all wide-eyed and curious when I arrived, and kept educating herself all these years. But what fascinates me the most about her is this weird ability of hers to be in two places at the same time. She is never far from me but she is also always travelling. She taps into the memories of all that I have ever read or seen or gathered, and she goes visiting the people or places there. When she gets bored of all that, she makes up imaginary worlds and visits those as well. So cool!

Each of us are born with our own strengths. The older we grow, the more our strengths grow with us. They watch us figuring life out and internalize those life lessons themselves to share with us when next we are in need of it. And then at some point during the course of our lives, and if we are lucky it’ll be early on, they turn into assets. They stop being silent spectators gathering information and turn into our strongest allies. They want to see us break out of mediocrity and into the realm of the successful.

Imagination is one my strengths. She watches over me as I sit in front of a blank screen and whispers encouragingly to get me to move my lazy fingers. She knows when I am at a standstill (I think I make it a little too obvious when I start banging my head in frustration on the study desk.) and pulls out some hidden gem from her repertoire of experiences and flings it into sight. I grasp it gratefully and run with it.

Of course, she also has a nasty sense of humor that I do not appreciate. Come on, highlighting strange noises and creepy shadows in the dark immediately after convincing me to watch a horror flick is just not funny. We really should have a conversation about that – she and I.

What do you consider your strength, Reader? Ever felt grateful for its presence? 🙂

(Word prompt: Connected)

The Lock of Hair – A Last Reminder

It’s barely 7 a.m and she’s already awake.

If you saw her right now, you’d see only that smile of hers, the one that could rival the sunshine outside her window. You wouldn’t know she had a difficult night. She doesn’t care about that. Her gaunt body clad in once-fitting pajamas and her little bald head will barely be noticed in the face of that gorgeous grin – all because it is her 10th birthday. She made it to the double digit!

She knows today’s her day – and not because of the dreaded illness. She’s glad the doctors let her come home. She didn’t like it at the hospital. She likes her room and all the toys she collected and filled her room with through the years. She would have liked to have friends over but her mom told her infection could be a problem – so no friends. But there will be lots of phone calls today – all happy ones to wish her and not sad ones checking up on her condition. She likes happy calls! Then her dad is going to sing her a special song, one he made up just for her. Her mom is baking a huge cake and her little brother is going to be less of a pest today – he promised.

Oh and there’s the gifts. She hasn’t a clue what to expect. No one has breathed a word about her gifts to her yet, not even her brother, and she’s always been able to talk him into spilling. She spends a couple of minutes wondering if she’s losing her touch but then convinces herself it’s because he’s not permitted to spend a lot of time with her. He could pass on some germs to her too.

Her little body is already tired but she’s promised herself she’d do all she could to eke out as much fun out of the day as she can. There’s so much happening today. Why can’t mom just come in with her breakfast and start the day officially already?

Down the hall is another room. Behind the shut door, Mom and Dad sit huddled together on the bed. Dad holds in his hand a lock of their daughter’s hair – vividly black and intensely smooth. It was one of the first locks to fall after the chemo. They know now that this lock, some videos and some cartons of photographs are all they’ll have of her when her birthday comes around next year.

No words are spoken there but the room is loud with the interplay of emotions. But those emotions will remain locked in that room when Mom and Dad step out with painted smiles on drawn faces to celebrate their daughter’s special day.

 

*Dedicated to the courageous spirit of all those who fight the battle with cancer – either as a cancer warrior or the family member. Also in memory of our little niece who fought bravely till she was called to be with the Lord a couple of weeks ago.

(Smooth)

Through Eyes of Red

I love my life. What’s not to love?

I enjoy travelling and I get to go everywhere. There is no palace, no suburb, no country, no continent, I have not visited. You think you’ve been to places? Hah! If I were a photographer and kept notes of every place I’ve been, you’d see I was the pro.

I love to meet people – babies, teens, adults and the elderly, I enjoy them all. Most people I meet are quick to embrace me. Often, I arrive at a place because I’ve been invited. So, rarely am I ever turned away.

I have a job that I absolutely adore. Sure, it may seem weird to some, but I’m okay with that. I am confident in myself. I like the way I look and am always en vogue – the swirling mists of red that wrap me in a warm cocoon no matter the weather comforts me wherever I go. But I wish you could see the real me. Unfortunately, often when I visit one of you, you are so distracted with yourselves and your imagined grievances, that you don’t actually see me.

You do, however, know me by name. I am Anger.

It’s strange when I see you sometimes enjoying falling under my spell, even when I am not actually casting one. I really only want to do my job well – prevent you from bottling up your emotions. I only want you to stop wearing a mask of diplomacy while your insides are twirling in hate. I want you to step up and talk it out, to solve what’s causing you to feel the anger. But you all get so involved and distracted by my presence that you forget there is a healthy balance. You aren’t supposed to drink me in like the choicest wine and imbibe in violent outbursts. You give me a bad name!

I am just trying to do my job – to see you talk a problem through with your fellow human, to escort you through the maze of emotions you feel when faced with betrayal and other negative emotions. But let me reiterate, I am NOT one of them. I am here for your good, but learn to respect my presence.

Learn, humans, that everything in life should be in moderation. So accept me when I visit you but also learn to know when to stop using me as an excuse – your actions are your responsibility, not my fault.

(One-word prompt – Angry)

Photographers Rock!

‘A picture paints a thousand words.’ It really does!

It’s not the beautiful that usually catches my eye. It’s the different that usually does the job. And there’s nothing more beautiful or different in my eyes than the work of some talented photographers. You have the ability to stop people on their tracks, to appreciate and admire, and to feel a thousand other emotions with the timely capture of just one moment. What a talent!

I don’t have the gift many of you photographers are blessed with. I could’t record the moment I saw a huge, old, banyan tree – the one that had numerous roots growing from its branches reaching down like tentacles to grab at the closest patch of earth. I couldn’t convert to film the exact moment a stray beam of sunlight lit to brightness the first amber-hued leaf floating away from an autumn-struck tree in my backyard.

But, tell me, how do you all do it? You and I may be looking at the same scene but we aren’t seeing the same. It’s like your physical eyes see the present and then your mind’s eye is at work, seeing the absent. The blankness is not empty to you, but it’s the space where the next movement will occur. You see the pattern of the wind in the breeze tugging on your winter jacket, you notice the direction of the sun in the shadow accompanying you – you connect the dots in your head and, somehow, you anticipate the next step in this dance that nature is on and you are ready to have it sealed for eternity in your camera.

I haven’t learnt to anticipate the unknown. I haven’t learnt to appreciate the beauty of the absent and anticipate it… not yet. But I see you at work and then I see your work, and there is no shadow of doubt in my mind that you have an internal filter that makes you special to those of us who appreciate your work. I can write pages on what I saw and the readers will only understand one point of view – mine. They will comprehend my point of view, my feelings, my answers to solutions, etc – and either agree or disagree. But you – you can make people see more than just what you saw because most well-taken pictures are open-ended. People can make up their own stories to your pictures, their own psyches will provide their reactions with absolutely no hint from you. All I can say is, “Good job, guys!”

And before I sign out, honestly, how do you feel about selfies? Hey, I just had to know! It’s all about learning another’s point of view. It’s said to be educational. Hah! 😛

(Word-prompt: Blank)

The Mysterious Rumblers

Silence reigned supreme.

I tried to think, to use my logic to figure out where I was and what I was doing there but the silence was so deafening and distracting that I couldn’t keep my thoughts organized. Even my own breath sounded muted and soft, as though I were listening to it from across a great distance.

I tried to distract myself from the dearth of sound by focusing on my sense of sight. However, that seemed to be an error in judgement as well. All the land from my feet to the farthest horizon was dry and arid. The evening sun threw into prominence the desert surrounding me. A dry wind blew gently and silently by, wrapping me in clouds of dust and sand.

Now all of this was extremely weird but what startled me the most was that, I wasn’t afraid. I was all alone in a deserted land with nothing in sight, or sound, and yet, I was not scared. I felt curiosity but no fear whatsoever.

And that’s when the rumbling started. Quick check! Nope! Not my stomach.

The rumbling seemed to come from afar, like a thousand bees journeying together. I fervently wished they weren’t bees. Soon the rumbling grew in decibel and momentum. It seemed to be coming all at once from all directions.

Should I find a safe place to hide? Should I try to make a run for it? But I knew there was no time. I didn’t really know where to go either. And then escape was no longer the predominant thought in my head. I could now see the first of the rumblers.

They were still quite a distance away but flying closer by the second. They looked like bees for a few seconds – black and flying and not exactly buzzing but making a noise, nevertheless. They were quickly closing in from all directions. And then, I got my first real look at the rumblers.

Words… that’s what they were! Countless words flying across the distance, alive and coherent – and still, not in the least frightening.

Surprise kept me rooted to the spot until the Words had surrounded me. They treated me like the eye of the storm – I remained untouched and unharmed while they zipped around me, rumbling their discontent. They sounded like unhappy children complaining about some mishap that had happened to them. I felt almost maternal – wanting to ease their worries but I hadn’t a clue what they were complaining about. That is, till they took matters into their own hands.

The first of the Words flew up. I didn’t know what to expect and threw my hands up to shield my face. The Word flew right into my outstretched hands and disappeared. Pfft!

And I understood! These were my Words – the ones I should have penned but never did for lack of time and numerous other reasons. But now they were making their unhappiness felt. They wanted to be in the real world – not in the depths of my creative mind drying up from lack of use. They wanted to be born into the world of books. They wanted out!

So, I let them out.

I woke up, grabbed my pen and paper, started to write and watched as more and more of my Words came to life on the sheet. They slowly disappeared from the temporary home of my mind and into the permanent home of the pages of a book.

Countless words in countless books they now reside – happy and content.

(Word prompt: Countless)

The Grain Representing Home

Any scientific minds reading this post?

You would affirm, I’m sure, when I make the claim that science has progressed to such an extent that an in-depth analysis of the smallest item at a crime scene is sufficient for the provision of case-breaking clues. (Well, what do you know, CSI episodes have something to offer to a conversation after all. 😛 ) It’s mind-boggling to realize that something as inconsequential as a wrongly present grain of sand at a scene can be analyzed and can aid in gaining the composition of the ground it hails from and, as a result, the original location of that grain.

It brings to mind the fact that as that grain of sand, we can be far away from home and still carry within us the qualities that declare to the world our real identities.

Nope! I am not talking about human factors that act as distinctions like ethnicity, color, race, etc – not the way our misguided human eyes choose to label people. I am referring to the way our Creator would see us – through eyes of wisdom and kindness. Will His eyes still see the goodness, honesty, generosity, etc, that He initially installed as a part of each of our make-up, those qualities that represent Him and His kingdom? Are those qualities still within us that can make the world sit up and say, “She’s/He’s different. There’s more than meets the eye with them.”

We were put here to be the aforementioned grain of sand i.e., to behave as an anomaly – to stand within and yet apart from the world. However, if we are ‘analyzed’ today, will our characteristics declare to the world our real home? Will our composition reflect our Father’s traits?

I guess self-analysis is the way to go. All the best with that!

(Grain)

Dream a Little Dream of ‘Eden’

I remember.

I remember waking to the first rays of the sun gently caressing the undulating leaves of the tall tree outside my window.

I remember looking around me with a smile and knowing it would accompany me all day. It just felt like one of those days.

I remember looking across the room at the new painting I had ensconced on the wall the previous night.

I remember walking up to it and sighing at the wonder of it. That painting was, to me, the best example of utopia.

Each brushstroke told a story. The colors and movements were so vivid and life-like, I could almost feel the breath of wind rushing from the trees and running into me. I was sure if I listened hard enough, I would hear the water gurgling its merry way down the hill. But the painting was more than just what the eye could see. I loved it for the promise it offered of the perfect world.

It spoke of a land where humans were innocent and free of evil designs. It conveyed the hope of a home we could yet achieve where chaos and terror didn’t reign supreme. It revealed a world where animals roamed free and weren’t hunted to extinction.  It created a dreamscape where the horizon was a stunning union of the earth and sky, and not one of smog-filled skies. It embodied the best of man and nature, and the anonymous artist had rightly named it ‘Eden’.

I remember lifting my hand up to feel the picture, and wishing I had the power to transport myself into it.

I remember feeling the rough patches of paint on the soft pads of my fingers.

I remember looking at the frame housing the painting and wondering how the wood came to bear so many scars. Did the frame have to win battles to protect this hidden Eden – this last reminder of what once was and could be if we, humans, just found our way again?

I remember feeling the prick of a sliver of wood from the frame…

And waking up!

I remember sitting up in my bed and looking eagerly out the window for that first ray of sun. All I saw was the struggling joy of a morning sky already dampened by the smoke of exhaust pipes.

I remember looking across the room to the wall holding up my painting. All I saw was an empty wall looking blankly back at me.

I remember my dream.

I write it down for you today. The painting may not have lived to see reality but the hope of it will exist as long as this word picture remains to speak of it. So, people, spread the word. Tell the world of what can be.

Remind them so that, even if not in our generation, the next one can see this dream of the perfect world come to fruition.

Remind them that long ago and far away a dreamer had a dream, and she dreamed of Eden.

(Word-prompt: Dream)