Tag: hope

A letter to my daughter on her first day on Earth

My dearest Elizabeth,

Today is your first day on Earth. Today you breathed air for the first time, and moments later I got to hear your first scream. I held you in my arms when you first opened your eyes, and for the first time you fell asleep in my arms.

I wish I could keep you like this always, safe in my arms and sheltered from all the ugliness in the world, but I can’t. You will grow up, much sooner than I want you to, and come face to face with the hurts of this world.

Your mother and I did you a disservice in a way, bringing you into this world, as it is a crazy and terrible place. It’s a world where people believe it’s okay to hate others just because they look, think or believe differently than you. It’s a world where people put themselves first, without a thought of how their actions might hurt those around them. It’s a world where greed and dishonesty is rewarded and integrity only brings you trouble.

It’s a world in which you will be hurt, and as much as I want to protect you from it, I know I’ll never be able to. I’m just not strong enough.

I might even cause more than a little share of the hurt you will experience in your life.

And for that I apologise.

But I want you to know two things of which you can be certain:

First, I love you. I love you more than I have words to describe. I only met you a few hours ago but I already know that I can never stop loving you, even if I tried. I can’t protect you from this world, but I will do everything in my power to try and do it anyway, because I’m your father and that’s what dads do (the good ones, anyway, and I really hope I’m one of those).

And second, this world is an incredible place. I know, I know. A moment ago I called it…I think my exact words were “crazy and terrible”. But at the same time it’s also filled with beauty and wonder.

You were born on a Tuesday. We drove to hospital in the early morning hours with a full moon overhead, and the sun shone brightly in a clear blue sky all day long. A couple weeks ago I spent an hour watching two eagles circle over our home. It has mountains and forests and deserts, and I can’t wait to introduce you to the sea.

On the day you were born someone stood for what they believe in, sacrificed for the sake of others, spoke out against injustice, followed their dreams.

A wise man once named the three greatest virtues: Faith, Hope and Love. If you cultivate these in your life and let them shape the way you view the world, it will never beat you down. Not for good, anyway – you’ll always be able, and more importantly, find a reason to get back up.

I only hope you can see these virtues in my life in the brief moment in time we have together.

I feel like I should end with some profound advice, but I’m pretty sure in the coming year you are going to prove that everything I thought I knew is complete poppycock, so let’s leave advice until next year. (Assuming you’re not the one giving me advice by then.)

Love, Dad

So long, 2015

I started 2015 unemployed and in bed with a fever, and mused that things could only get better. That turned out to be somewhat prophetic, though I missed the bit about things first getting worse.

But things getting worse was probably the best thing that could have happened, because it convinced me to give up.

I will remember 2015 as the year I gave up. I gave up on further academic studies. I gave up on a career and a dream. I gave up on what I believed (and to come degree still believe) to be my calling and in the process gave up a significant part of myself.

Conventional wisdom says winners never quit. I say conventional wisdom is an idiot. A well-intentioned idiot, but an idiot nonetheless.

For quitting freed me up to try something new. And it has paid off beyond my wildest dreams.

With little more than an hour left before I bid 2015 farewell, I look back and have to say that this was a great year. As awful as it started, and as discouraging as the first two thirds were, the final four months have surpassed my wildest imaginings.

As I told my colleagues when I wished them a happy New Year earlier, for the first time in many years I’m excited about the new year. Between my new job and the new adventure of fatherhood lying ahead, I can’t wait to see what 2016 will hold.

Happy New Year. I’ve a feeling it’s going to be a good one.

On choosing me

My sister and I were very much church brats growing up. We weren’t pastor’s kids, but my first ever friend (and, for a few weeks in the fourth grade, fiancée) was. My father was head of the Sunday School (by second grade it was my job after church to run across to the school whose premises we used for Sunday School and unlock the classes before the others arrived) and organised all the church youth camps while my mother cooked for them. My first bee sting was at one of those camps.

The second Wednesday of each month was spent playing on the church office floor while my mother received the offerings collected by the deacons during home visits the previous week. Sunday mornings I sat with my dad among the elders, and my sister sat with my mum in the choir gallery.

This is going somewhere, promise…

Howdy, 2014

This morning as we enjoyed our first cuppa of the new year, I noticed the wife’s a bit teary.

“What’s the matter?” says I.

She responds, “I’ve just managed to finish one year, and now I have to do another one!”

One doesn’t think of it like that, does one?  Once the partying is done and the hangover has subsided, there’s another whole three-hundred and sixty-four days lying ahead in which to push and fight and grin and bear it and fail and get knocked down until you no longer want to get up.

It’s enough to bring one to tears.  But there’s also another whole three-hundred and sixty-four days lying ahead in which to be kind and show compassion and take risks and have adventures and tell stories and make art and laugh and love and learn.  Another year in which to give hugs and hold hands and make friends and be amazed at the wonder of this universe in which we live.

That’s the year I’m wishing for you all.  May 2014 take you on the wildest ride of your life and leave you completely changed come its end and may you look back three-hundred and sixty-five days from today and say, “Damn!  I wish I could go again.”

Happy New Year!

P.S.  We’re headed to the in-laws (again) tomorrow (apparently they have another snoek needs cooking), and I’m foreseeing another lack of internet over there, so if I don’t respond to comments, please don’t take it personally.  The first book review of 2014 will still go up on Friday and I’ll be back by Monday for the year’s very first Song Title Challenge.

A Tale of Two Funerals

It was a beautiful day, it was a terrible day.  It was a day of celebration, it was a day of mourning.  It was a day of great joy, it was a day of deepest grief.

There were two funerals in South Africa on Tuesday.  One was for a great man who had touched the lives of millions.  He had passed away at a ripe old age, having achieved in his lifetime what he had set out to do.  He died peacefully in his bed, surrounded by his loved ones.  And while we are all sad that he is now gone, Tuesday was marked by a spirit of celebration as we remembered a man the like of which comes around perhaps once in a generation, if we’re lucky.

The other funeral was for a mother and daughter who were violently ripped from this earth in a senseless accident on the highway.  Their deaths were sudden and unexpected, their lives incomplete.  There was no celebration at their funeral.  Instead, there was wailing and sobbing, and the daughter’s former colleagues singing hymns as the coffin descended into the Earth to remind her loved ones and themselves that God was there, even if it didn’t feel like He was.

I attended the other funeral.   Continue reading “A Tale of Two Funerals”