Category Archives: nature

Kipoo… in the Garden


Kipoo was dosing off to sleep.  He felt he deserves the rest. It had been a long and tiring season last year with all the visitors trudging all over him to take one last look at his receding hairline.  Yes, his receding hairline.  He never thought it would ever come to this. He was always so proud of his wonderful snow white crown.  But now it was slowly fading away… along with all the glory of his yesterdays.  No more would he be able to stand proudly among the rest of his peers as the tallest, most handsome one, with that awe inspiring crown of white on his head.

He has been privy to conversations about his receding hairline.  Apparently the only solution is some growth activator called tree.  It is said that this growth activator was what had kept that crown on his head for so long.  Kipoo just could not understand it all.  How come that growth activator was not there anymore? He is sure he did nothing to remove it.  What had his people been doing with it?

Then he thought…. it must be Mawenzi’s fault.  Mawenzi must have become jealous of him after that incident so many years ago.  Yes, maybe Mawenzi was at fault.  After all, that incident was related to fire, and fire requires wood, … and does wood not come from tree?

As Kipoo lay on his bed, he began to recall the events that culminated in that incident, way back when… he was not so young, but certainly younger than he is now… and boy was he handsome then.

It was a time when the people in his territory were so much fewer.  As the chief, he knew his people, and he had been able ensure they took care of their environment.  Things have changed a lot since then.

Anyway, at that time he had a friend called Mawenzi.  Mawenzi was just as handsome, and just as tall.  Mawenzi was the chief of the territory next to Kipoo’s.  They were good friends, but Mawenzi had a little problem.  Kipoo could never understand why Mawenzi was always coming to him for embers of coal from his fire.  He thought it was strange, but then, this was his friend, so he let it be for some time.

Now, Kipoo has always been a patient one,  known for calmly and silently watching his surroundings and letting things be.  But after many years of this behavior, Kipoo just had to ask Mawenzi: “My friend, why is it that you always come to get embers from my fire to start your own fire?  Why is it that you cannot start your fire from your own embers?”

Mawenzi was startled, and looked down with embarrassment. He never thought Kipoo would ever ask him this question.  As Mawenzi looked down, Kipoo looked at him with concern.  “Mawenzi,”, he said, “what is it that you cannot tell me?  You make me worried when you look down like that.  What is the matter?”

Mawenzi sighed.  He took a deep breath, and sighed again.  He stood up and said, “My friend Kipoo, if you do not want to give me any more embers from your fire, just tell me.  All I want is just a little coal to take with me to my home so that I can cook for myself. Why is that becoming a problem for you today?”

Kipoo did not like this response.  He felt that Mawenzi was not being honest with him, and Kipoo was beginning to get angry.  A simple explanation would do, but instead Mawenzi was trying to make him feel guilty about not giving him something that did not belong to him.  He pushed Mawenzi harder for an answer but Mawenzi would not tell him.

Kipoo sat still and thought, “If I do not give in to him, we will lose our friendship.”  So, he decided to give Mawenzi the embers of coal, and then find out the truth another way.

When Mawenzi had gone, Kipoo followed him quietly to see what he would do with the embers and what it was that Mawenzi was hiding from him.  When Mawenzi got home, Kipoo hid, and watched Mawenzi start his fire and cook his meal. As Mawenzi cooked, Kipo became hungry.  He should also have been cooking his own meal, but was now here watching Mawenzi cook.  The food Mawenzi was cooking was smelling really good, and Kipo almost came out of his hiding place to invite himself to Mawenzi’s meal. Surely Mawenzi would be happy to see him?

But he stopped himself. He still had not accomplished his mission, and today he had decided he was going to get to the bottom of the embers story. As Mawenzi ate his food, Kipoo licked his lips… hungry.  Boy was Mawenzi enjoying that meal!

When Mawenzi finished his meal, Kipoo got up to return home.  Kipo felt that this mission had proved to be a waste of time. But… suddenly, Mawenzi stood up and facing the fire, urinated all over it! He was putting out the fire completely!

Kipoo was livid!  “What?!”, he thought, “Is this what Mawenzi has been doing all these years?! Putting out his fire and then coming to beg me for embers from my fire?! Surely Mawenzi knew better than that!”

This upset Kipoo too much. A hungry man is an angry man they say, and without thinking, Kipoo got out of his hiding place and confronted Mawenzi.  Kipoo was angry, and Mawenzi was angrier still.  Mawenzi could not imagine that his long time friend had the audacity to sneak up on him and peep into his home like a thief.  There was an altercation, and then a fight.

Kipoo was too angry to remember that this was his friend, and eventually he picked up a big stick and smashed Mawenzi’s head with it.  Mawenzi’s head was shattered.  Gone was that wonderful crown of white on Mawenzi’s head.  Kipoo stepped back, waiting for Mawenzi to come back at him, but, wounded, Mawenzi could not fight any more.

Kipoo left Mawenzi’s home triumphant, he had won the fight, but he had also lost a friend.

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Now, many years later, Kipoo’s hairline was receding, and soon he would end up almost as short and ragged as Mawenzi.  How would he, proud Kipoo, stand up among his peers again?

He turned on his side and thought: “If only, if only someone would bring back enough of that growth activator called tree… if only…”

As Kipoo fell asleep, he prayed that God would bring more growth activators so that the crown on his head would grow back again.  He would be ever so thankful. “Maybe God will guide those people who are visiting me to see my receding hairline to do something… “, he thought, “maybe they will bring more growth activators to him… maybe… just maybe…”

Come… Walk with me in the Garden.

 

Copyright © 2014, Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved.

 

Kipoo is the local pronunciation for Kibo Peak of Mt Kilimanjaro.  Mawenzi is the second tallest peak on Mt Kilimanjaro.  The incident between Kipoo and Mawenzi is an adaptation of a folk tale of the Chagga people who traditionally live on and around Mt Kilimanjaro.

Growing for Life … in the Garden


Sunrise and a new Life ... In the Garden

Sunrise and a new Life … In the Garden

There are no elephants around me these days….nor are there any giraffe. The closest I can get to any wildlife are birds, squirrels and bats. Of course the domestic animals are always there… to remind me of the fact that I am in human territory now… the goats, sheep, cows, pigs and … yes… those pesky little geckos. The bats squeak so loud I have learned the sound they make, and I can now differentiate between the geckos and the squirrels. I never thought I would ever come to know the sound of a gecko… or a bat … but there you go.

This brings me to the various perspectives we have in life. So much of our life perspective depends on the environment around us, that we become part of the surroundings without ever knowing. When the environment teaches us that something is good, we accept it… because it is the norm… or perhaps because it is more the norm (or safe?) to do what the society does in order to be accepted by it.

Yet, often, that very environment, that very society that we use as our sounding board for what is right and what is wrong, can be the source of our failure, the reason why our lives are more difficult than they need or ought to be, the reason for us to end up losing our souls.

When I was living in that little corner of the Garden with all the larger wild animals, I only saw the big ones… yes, I noticed the smaller ones and tried to learn something from them as well, but they just could not match the larger ones in stature and obviousness of their presence. I could see them clearly… they stood out in front of me large and clear, and so I took my lessons and joy of the beauty of God’s creation from them. Thankfully they had positive lessons to share.

Yet, little though they may be, the little ones have lessons to share too. I still struggle to see those lessons since they spend so much of their time running away from me or being in my way at the most inopportune moment, that I find I do not learn from them… like we often find the lessons from God to be perhaps?

As I watch the squirrels run and chase each other from tree to tree and along the fence, I realize that even though they are wont to digging up my yet-to-germinate seed from the ground in this little corner of the Garden (much to my frustration), they are still God’s beautiful creation …much loved by Him… and they know how to play.

But what does this teach us about our environment, our perspectives and the ruination of our souls? Much too often the loudest noise in our community or in society takes up our greatest attention. Much too often the loudest sound comes from that which is not rooted in the truth of God. Much too often, because the noise founded on falsehood is so loud, we think that the majority are in agreement with it, and that in order to survive, we have to conform to it. … and so begins our journey into darkness in spirit.

Yet, if we stood still for a moment to truly understand what the noise means, its implications for us, our society and our relationship with God, and whether it is teaching us a good or bad lesson. If we stood still and took the time to find out whether those closest to us really agree with the loud noise or are also silent victims of the noise … silently shaking inside and wondering when, if ever, someone will come to rescue them from this falsehood.

All I know is, that God sees, God hears, and God rescues those who turn to Him, whether in this life or in the next. And so my friends… a loud noise is sweeping the Garden today. It is loud and abrasive, and brings with it the end of life, in faith, in wisdom, in health and in the very essence of creation. I urge you to join me… choose life today…. chose life in marriage… and in the womb … as God created us and commanded us to live.

A sign of Life ... in the Garden

A sign of Life … in the Garden

Come … walk with me in the Garden.

Copyright © 2013, Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved.

Free falling … in the Garden


Now that I believe that I am in a safe place, I realize that I have been in free fall for the last 18 months or so. I wish I could say: ‘like a cat that has jumped off a tree branch, knowing where it is going to land and how, and confident that it will land safely’ … but I can’t.

The free fall I am talking about is more like:

Woa! Woosh! Oh no! That looks like quick sand! Bang!  Ouch! That hurt! … where am I going?  Why does it feel like I am heading nowhere? … or somewhere not very nice? … oh! thank God! … that looks like a rope … God has thrown me a rope to save me!  Thank You God! If I swing out towards that rope, I will be carried safely to a safe place….

Aargh!  that burns! I am too heavy to carry myself… why can’t I hold on to the rope? I am falling!  God help me! …. Oh… I have too much baggage from the past?   I need to throw it off? ok… Now when did I let go of the rope again?  Ok, there it is, let me swing towards it and try again… ok, maybe if I hold on tight I will be able to carry on safely this time… no! No! I can’t hold on, what is going on? I am still too heavy!’

So I learned to throw off the baggage from the past, the baggage of materialism, the baggage of village-centric superstition, the baggage of independence and self reliance, the baggage of pride, the baggage of trying to be part of the world, the baggage of being holier than the world… the baggage of fear, the baggage list seemed endless… and so I have reached this place.  I am not sure what other baggage I still have on me, but I think I am close to landing.

And as I cling to God, I know I need to throw off all unnecessary baggage so that I can be lifted up high enough to see and get to that safe place where God is taking me… A journey with less baggage and during which, and at the end of which I can be better able to obey God and do all He wants me to do in my daily life.  A journey with that much less baggage that allows me to be ready to receive those blessings that God has in store for me. Meanwhile, I shout as loud as I can to those around me about how great a lesson God is teaching me and how wonderful the experience of being lifted up by Him is, when I resolutely relieve myself of so much unnecessary baggage.

Do you feel like you are falling?  Is it time you got rid of some unnecessary baggage and held on to God instead?

No, it is not going to be easy, you are likely to encounter scratches, bruises and hair raising moments.  No, there is no shortcut.  No, you will not be able to sleep your life away, you will still have to work hard from day to day for your daily bread.  Holding on to God, just means that you put God first and so do your best at doing whatever you do in uprightness, so that God’s name is glorified.

It is hard to hold on to God when your hands, heart, mind, life are chock full of so much baggage.  I am so glad God has shown me to throw out all that baggage.

Wanna join me?

Come … walk with me in the Garden.

Copyright © 2013, Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved.

Out of focus … in the Garden


It was another Sunday afternoon. It was the beginning of the year and was rather warm… no …hot!

Fortunately, there was a slight breeze rustling the trees and giving the impression that it just might be cool.  It was quiet .. except for that distant sound of a praying group that seems to be playing the music rather loud … and the cockerel that seems to think it is morning every 10 minutes… ‘wake up! … it is morning! .. time to get up and do something! … let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go! … he seemed to be saying.

Only it was now 4:30 in the afternoon and in fact the day was almost done.

Something seemed to be wrong with the cockerel’s body clock … rather like ours goes off sometimes.  Yes, those of us who want to just keep going, never stopping for a break, never stopping to spend some me time, never stopping long enough to recognize that the time to go has past, and it is now time to take a break.  And much like the cockerel drives those around it crazy, so do we, with our insistence on the urgency of the matter as though it were in fact a life and death issue… when to others, there are more important things that matter.

The cockerel was clearly not understanding what was happening in its surroundings and was giving a false alarm every 10 minutes or so.  It sounded confused, and many simply wanted it to shut up.

Are you like this?  Are you focusing on the wrong things in your surroundings and life?  Are you looking at the big picture or are you only noticing that thin ray of light coming through the cracks, and feeling the pressure to do something about it right now!  Are you constantly putting yourself under pressure, sounding the alarm for action lest there be certain failure in getting your daily bread?

Or have you instead stopped for a moment… just long enough to recognize that it is God who gives? Have you stopped long enough to recognize that running longer and putting yourself and others under pressure  more and more does not necessarily allow you to reap and enjoy those benefits you are running so hard to receive?  Are you losing sight of the vision … the real reason why you are doing what you are doing… to live a better life?  Have you stopped long enough to remember God, pray and even recognize the blessings that He is giving you already?

Yes, hard work pays, and is necessary… but so is some rest… just enough to allow you to re-focus on the right things, pray to God for guidance, and gain the wisdom and strength you need to forge ahead successfully, peacefully and in harmony with your environment much like the wise old elephant strolling peacefully through the Garden.

Young elephant on the age-old path - in the Garden

Young elephant on the age-old path – in the Garden

Come … walk with me in the Garden.

Building … in the Garden


It has been a long while since I lived inside that little corner of the Garden where the elephants roamed and the wildebeest held sway.  With many beautiful memories to be recalled, I look back and thank God for that opportunity.

I now live on another little corner of the garden … where the people roam and the birds hold sway.   A place where the beginning of my stay in the previous little corner of the Garden is refreshed in my memory… the days when work was done in a boiling hot container, finding the right staff was a nightmare, and the workload always seemed like the Himalaya mountain range… big and never ending, and well… almost insurmountable .  The days when a reprieve from the office container was in the form of a night in a tent … only a cloth away from the most ferocious of beasts… who may or may not spend a night outside … right next to the tent.

Yes, those days were sometimes terrifying, often exhausting, almost always thrilling. … and here I am again.  Only this time, I am more comfortable… in a house, not a tent, in an office building, not a container.  The only similarity between now and then, is that it is another beginning… when no one knows who you are, nor understands what you are trying to do… when the toil seems never ending … when getting the right team together seems a near impossibility … when the nights are spent wondering when the dream that started all this will all come together and become a reality… and the days cannot begin soon enough, yet sometimes come too soon.

I was recently asked about my life by a person I am just getting to know.  I completed my resume in about 3 or 4 sentences.  When I was through, he smiled and said: “You are a builder, you like to build things.”

Huh! I responded that this seemed true, but I never really thought of it that way. I have for  a long time asked myself why I always felt the need to torture myself by starting over and over again.  It suddenly dawns on me that when I felt that the project in my previous little corner of the garden was complete and only needed minor improvements or enhancements here and there, I actually lived in fear of … wait for it… boredom!  I actually lived in fear of repetitive continuation!  Yes, I rather leave that to someone else who has a passion for fine tuning the building. I rather go ahead and start another great and beautiful building.

So now that I know what one of my passions is, I can recall asking God for direction on my life, and over Easter the answer came.  But, if I am a builder, what exactly should I be building?  Teams is one of them… i really enjoy building teams that function well.  But more and more, I find myself attracted to building a business that is a source of joy to all those that have anything to do with it…. and that can be a business in almost anything.  Yes, now I find that instead of fighting the challenge and asking myself why I put myself through it, I should embrace it, because it is what drives me!  Step by step I know I will find a way through anything with God’s grace and saving help.

I thank God for showing me a part of myself I had not recognized, and pray that you who read this will find your answers from God as well.  Are you asking?  Are you listening? Do you already know?  Share with me how you found out and let others know the many different ways to peace in God’s great and beautiful Garden.

Come … walk with me in the Garden.

Copyright © 2013, Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved.

Jumping Hot … in the Garden


I woke up to another day of sunshine. The sun always shines here except on very few occasions.  Sometimes it is so hot that I can only compare my experience to being in a cooking pot.  Yes, a cooking pot.  Parking your northern zone model vehicle out in the sun  in this corner of the Garden will definitely result in a burn on your hands and back.  The steering wheel is burning hot and so is the seat.  I actually  had someone jump off the seat today, all the while begging forgiveness for jumping out of the car when offered a lift.

Knowing what to expect, I sat gingerly… then put my hands on the steering wheel carefully… keeping my door open while my prospective passenger danced a jig around the car looking for a seat that was cooler.

Fortunately they did not seem to notice how hot the air was inside.

As I carefully turned on my ignition to allow the AC to begin to run, I tapped softly on the steering wheel to begin to get used to the heat… I was going to have to drive off soon and the sooner the vehicle cooled down the better.  No … don’t ask me about my back….

I finally drove off with my passenger seated in the back left, still exclaiming how the jumping around did not help, but thankful to have been helped out all the same.

… and so we both got to our various destinations, having experienced what God’s beautiful sun can do in my new little corner of the Garden…at the foot of the rooftop of Africa.

The freezer or the cooking pot… which would you prefer? 🙂

Come … walk with me in the Garden

Copyright © 2013. Ophelia Swai.  All Rights Reserved.

When you think you know what God wants you to do … in the Garden


The afternoon was hot as usual … the continental music playing on the iPod rhythmically.  The smell of rain came too late… the rain was already coming down.  Some thunder was rumbling in the background… and a deep breath of fresh air was in order. Ahhh.

Yes, it was a wonderful Sunday afternoon.

Much had been done that year.  Much work towards a goal that seemed to never arrive as deadline after deadline passed.  Definitely with progress, but not as much as expected.  Maybe I had too high an expectation.  I wanted this phase of the project to be complete soon so that I could work on the next phase … the more exciting phase… where the real work began… where the idea either came alive, or crashed to the ground and reminded me once again that I am a mortal human being.

Yes, I was sure that what I was doing was right.  That God would be happy with the path I had chosen for my life and I prayed I would succeed in doing that which would glorify His name in my endeavors, in my own small way, one little bit at a time.

But in the back of my mind, I understood that my contribution to the fulfillment of God’s purpose for me in life was not defined merely by my wishes and desires, but guided by the will of God and His workings in my life.  I had learned this before… that when we think we know what God would want us to do, we need to think twice and pray for guidance.  Often, His will is quite in another direction… often, His will for each one of us is right within our grasp.  You are maybe even already doing it, but don’t consider it anything special.  But the way in which you put your heart into it and your love for others in it, makes it your special sacrifice that God loves and is happy with.

Using your gifts to survive and Glorify God - in the Garden

Using your gifts to survive and Glorify God – in the Garden

Are you looking for what God wants you to do?  Look around you.  The answer is right there in front of you… use your talents and do the best you can in God’s light, lovingly and earnestly.  See how God works through this.

Do join me in God’s beautiful Garden … pray that God will guide your paths to the fulfillment of His unique purpose for you each day of your life.

Come … walk with me in the Garden.

Copyright © 2012, Ophelia Swai. All Rights Reserved

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