Tag Archive: Kenya


Carrying bricks

When I spent time in Kenya in 1992, I was exposed to many things that people in the developed world would find uncomfortable.  Outdoor toilets, 48 people in the back of a minivan, food that was unrecognisable and the like.  It didn’t offend my sensibilities much, since after living on a sailboat you get used to living without things.

One image that I took away from this time involved the taking of supplies back from the towns.  In the rural areas, women often are asked to go to the nearest town to bring supplies back to their homes.  Sometimes they have to carry large amounts of weight.  They are strong to be sure, but they cannot carry what they have in their hands.  So, they’ve rigged up a system to carry what they want.

They have this long leather strap that attaches to a thatched mat.  The strap goes across the woman’s forehead and it helps her to pull what is behind on the mat.  It’s amazing really, a grown woman can pull somewhere 2 1/2 times her weight.  It’s weird that men aren’t asked to do the heavy lifting, but that’s for another musing.

Anyway, one day I saw a woman heading back from town carrying a huge stack of bricks, a  big bag of mortar, and a few tools.  She had her entire body’s weight thrown into moving this huge stack of things.  One step, one step.  It was excruciating to watch.  I kept thinking in my mind that if she would just drop a few bricks in a pile, it would be easier.  Perhaps she could drop bricks every so often so that she could make two trips…

People in life do this to themselves.  As we try to make it through our lives, we pick up so many things to care about, to obsess about, deal with, etc.  Kind of like this blog is.  I’ve picked up so many things in my short life, and I can’t seem to move anymore.  So, we have to drop some bricks.  Bricks that represent attitudes towards our shortcomings or weaknesses.  Bricks that represent lies that we believe that keep us from living lives based on truth.  Bricks we need to put down so we can become the people we’ve been created to be.

The more things that we pick up, the harder it is to strain against the load behind us.  Our pasts often colour the way we see the world, and they often fashion our actions… and more importantly reactions.  To make it through our lives, we have to be diligent about taking the things we need to… the burdens, pains, joys, struggles…  To have God redefine our priorities and give Him those things that we cannot carry.  To drop a few bricks and let Him deal with them however He wills it.

So, that’s what we temporary people do.  We have to learn that some things are permanent, and others are temporary.  Yet, all things are to be put in God’s hands… carry the bricks that are given to us, and don’t make things harder by picking up a few here and there on our own.

So… when was the last time you looked at your load?  Looked at what you’ve been lugging around?  I have to get rid of these things that keep me from being the man of God that He called me to be.

I have to learn how to carry bricks all over again.

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Gone too soon

It’s funny how soon we discover when we’re young how far from sturdy this world is.  Even with the sense of invulnerability we grow up having, it never seems to pull the wool over our eyes long enough.  We hate to have our vision blurred even for a mere moment when the world seems to be passing us by.  When I went to Kenya in the early 90’s, a good friend of mine gave me some music to take with me.  I have always used music to mark my life, special occasions and happenstance… and whatnot.  One of the songs that came with me over the Atlantic was a song from a very popular artist called “Gone too Soon”.  Most of the time we think of this song in reference to how fragile life is, and how cruel life sometimes seems to be.  But, over the last few days, I’ve come to recognise that innocence is the first casualty of growing up.  For most conscientious people nowadays, the struggle between children growing up too fast and the reality of instant everything seems to contradict one another.  Children grow up so fast… and as they reach out.. to pull the wool over their eyes, as it were… it happens earlier and earlier in children’s lives nowadays.  It saddens me to know that when we’re young we’re prewired to want to become grown-up.  To get to do what the adults do… etc.  Over my years I realise that I’ve fought that with my whole being, in all sorts of ways.  I hate to see the lights go on in the children’s eyes that I see everyday.  It means that little by little they lose that wondrous and amazing gift of innocence.  My innocence was gone way too soon in my life.  Do you ever feel like yours was too?

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