Finallly, the Finale

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. The day that I say “goodbye” to my thesis “hello” to “what’s next?” 

 

What a great feeling! As no man is an island, I could not have gotten to this point without the love, support & encouragement of my friends and family – some of whom read & comment on this blog! I want to wait for it to be marked before I publish the contents of it, but I will share my “gratitude” page.  There are many more people that I could have mentioned – who journeyed with me at various points of the process.  Please know that I appreciate you too!!:

 

Acknowledgments
The writing of this thesis is an extension of my personal journey. Thus everyone has contributed to my last few years of intense self-discovery has played a part in completion of my thesis. I think of the influence of my friends in Communitas, New Orleans and IJM Kenya. Their tireless work for the voiceless and the way they cared for the “least of these” is sheer beauty.

 

I am immensely grateful for the friends who have been part of my “cheer team” through this process. There are many, but I would like to make a special mention of Ken, Phil & Monika; my St Georges Dragonz family – Kelly, Mike, Deepa, Nick; the WWHFM ladies – Laura, Fi, Claire, Lisa, Joy, Sarah, CJ, Barbara & Honour. Your words of encouragement and prayers have been incredibly valuable to me.

 

My fieldwork in Nigeria would not have been successful if it were not for the hospitality shown to me by everyone at “The NGO”. I am so grateful for how you welcomed me and were generous with your time and resources. The work that you do is an inspiration. I am blessed to have met courageous women’s rights defenders who are also sons and daughters of the soil. I salute you heartily. I also want to thank friends and family who looked after me whilst I was in Nigeria and helped ensure that nothing stood in the way of my field work. Uncle JC, Obinna, Uncle To’o and Aunty Nkechi – thank you.

 

Without proper supervision, my foray into research would have come to nought. Thank you so much Carmel for your guidance and support. I am particularly grateful for how you helped me to see the bigger picture during the times when I almost felt despair. The interest you took in me as a person, as well as my study showed me that research happens in the context of real life, not the other way round.

 

Mum and Dad, there are honestly not enough words that I can write to show you my gratitude and appreciation for how you have stood by me through all my crazy adventures, believing in me when I could not. It is because of your love, legacy and generosity that I was able to press on. Hugh, thank you for always having my back and being my sounding-board. Jess, thank you for your prayers! Chim – it takes a special person to edit a thesis in their spare time. Last and most importantly – all thanks and praise to God, for You are my ultimate inspiration.

 

Thank you!!

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Stay this way

If I could stay this way, I would.
Misty dreams of entanglement
Soft enuciations, curling and searching
Floating along the rhythmic tide.

I would stay this way if I could.
Warm empty spaces 
And lingering sighs.
Comfortable swell of exploring in silence.

If this way could stay, I would.
And Press my fingers deeply
Through the pulsations of dreams
With velvety togetherness.

I could will this way to stay.
Lightly scented melodies
Audacious yet gentle yearnings.
Unpredictable in the calm.

A Pause for Easter

I’m at that point in my thesis where I am no longer interested in answering the “how is it going?” question.  Neither do I wish to engage in discussions on “what happens next?”   I would much rather take a pause – an extended pause… Perhaps even an indefinite pause.  So that I can fix my affections to more important things like debates on social media about feminism, post-colonialism, anti-capitalism and any other –ism that ultimately will not radically alter my life, or the lives of others around me. That’s stupid.  So I won’t do that… at least I won’t quit my degree to just do that…

 

But pausing is a good thing.

 

 

As sit I in the discomfort of Good Friday and wait for Easter, I have been encouraged.  I’ve been encouraged to desist from staring intently at my navel and to question my self-righteous soap-boxing which is more often than not, narcissistic.  I’m drawn to look to the complex beauty of Cross.

 

Last weekend, I attended an amazing hui (a conference similar to a pow-wow) with so many like-mindeds.  I was in heaven.  We listened, shared, wrestled, and even cried as we asked the question “what God actually want from us?”  As well as the collective dialogue, we heard two intense messages from the key-note speaker – a barefoot man with dreadlocks.  Ok, so he’s Justin Duckworth, the Bishop of Wellington.  But that’s beside the point.

 

There were many things in his messages that resonated with me.  However, one point that he kept going back to was the transformational power of redemptive suffering.  This tied in well with a sermon I heard the next day.  My vicar emphasised that Jesus horrific, violent death was the divine way, as opposed to in spite of His divinity.  This was a light-bulb moment for me in two main ways.  First, that Jesus death was not only an act to “save me from my sins” – the personal private, not-in-the-public-sphere sins; incredibly important as that is.  Rather it is also the way in which Christ-followers should model our lives as we seek to show the world a new way.  The better way.  The way that brings the Kingdom to bear on the here and now.

Secondly, it was the call to shun the temptation to live a life that is self-serving, showy and lauding power over others.  Instead it’s the call to live a life where we don’t play the victim and seek with reckless abandon, that which is unseen today, but will be tomorrow.  The type of life that is willing to be repeatedly caught on the back-roads and along the margins, because that is where the true transformational power will be exhibited in our lives and in the life of others.

 

It’s scary.  And difficult.  But so was the Cross.

 

“He must increase, but I must decrease” – John 3:30

 

Have a blessed Easter everyone!

 

Downsize Your Dreams

Sit back a little bit and quiet your spirit.

Reign in those fantasies and breathe gently.

Be nonchalant and let not the things out there worry you.

Surrender to the numb glossy sheen creeping across your eye.

It’s more palatable that way, you see.

Much more becoming and less complex.

 

Downgrade your expectations

And satiate yourself with the small.

Enjoy the tight fit.

Learn to see the beauty of docility.

The order is already established and the hierarchy fixed.

It’s the proper way to behave.

The best outcome for you to hope for.

 

Silence those wild yearnings

And come back to earth.

Dwell within your boundaries

And be grateful for what you’ve got.

Keep your mind off unseemly realities.

Do not exert yourself, spurning the hearth

 

Shrink yourself, dear child.

Lest you be found indomitable and disagreeable

Render your passions unto simplicity

Take pleasure in aesthetic preening and feminine whiles.

The world is a dangerous place, little one.

Downsize your dreams.

I Dream in Colour

I dream in colour

Of Post-colonial emancipation

From an insatiable system

That consumes all

Crushing the skulls of those who quiver.

My scatty interests, disparate in nature

Unfocused, passionately thrashing

Leave trails of inter-connectivity

Emblazoned on my heart.

I dream in colour.

Come, Navigate With Me

Come navigate with me.
Let’s skip across the nuances
Of blurred lines and new experiences.
We can dance at the edge of reality
And aspiration.

Come navigate with me
As we move from normality
To that which remains discovered.
Leaping between the sunrise and sunset
We can sit and watch the river of dreams
Meander through the deep of our nomadic heartbeats.

Come navigate with me
And place your feet alongside mine
In the misty shadow of shifting priorities.
Together we will toast the future of hope unseen
Run our hands along the real but not yet here
Fingers interlaced.

Oh, won’t you come navigate with me?