LITTLE THINGS – A POEM

Little feet constantly tagging after me,
Little hands earnestly reaching out to me,
Little eyes intently watching me,
Little ears attentively hearing me!

A bundle of joy is a blessing in disguise,
Given for some days and years for us to care,
Make it not a sorrow to tear or a curse to bear,
Help it to bloom well with proper nature to share!

Little hands must work at a good skill
Little mouth must praise Him with a thrill
Little heart must enshrine Him with full will
Little mind must seek Him for ever to be still!

Invest your time fully in raising your little one
Distracted be not in earning a name or fickle fame
Regret it you will if you run after other things
Be a true steward of the treasure bestowed on you

By Sabina Tagore Immanuel
*Pic courtesy: dreamstime.com

CUCKOO IN MY NEST

The cuckoo bird is a species that is best known for brood parasitism – the female visits the nests of smaller birds, selects eggs that match hers in colour, then replaces the eggs of the host with those of her own, laying four or five eggs at 48 hour intervals everyone in a different  nest. The techniques used for the survival by the young cuckoo are: egg mimicry (where the cuckoo egg resembles that of the host to reduce rejection by the host); removal of one or more host eggs by the adult cuckoo (to reduce both the competition from host nestlings and the danger of recognition by the host that an egg has been added to the nest) and nest-mate ejection (in which young cuckoo heaves from the nest the host’s eggs and nestlings). The young cuckoo, being bigger than its nest mates, displaces them from the nest and becomes the sole recipient of its foster parents care. 

Astounds one, doesn’t it, to realize that a bird could be as intelligent as that; or did God create them as a warning and an example to humans to guard their nest? May be so, for in life also there are many cuckoos that we need to be aware of and beware of! 

My husband works as a HR officer in a well-known firm and is in charge of dealing with employee grievances and benefits. One of his duties is to settle the affairs of an employee who dies in harness i.e. see that the pension & other benefits reach the family members. At the juniormost worker level, most often he would be faced with two women presenting themselves to be the wife of the deceased, each vociferously demanding to be the sole recipient of the benefits! 

Why? Unknown to many, the employee would have had another marriage, and thereby another wife secreted away. Ninety percent of the time, the second wife would have all the legal documents needed to prove her claims. The real wife or the legal wife would be the one who would not have the right files and documents to prove her position. Reason being that she would trust her husband fully and blindly to provide for her, to do everything right by her and believe him as belonging solely to her, never ever dreaming that he has been cheating her on the side. 

The second one would be the smart one, making demands and ensuring that she had the right backups, fully aware that one day she would probably have to fight for her claims to his property and a portion in his inheritance, both for herself and any children she would have borne. The office would have no other go except to consider both parties, mediating and dividing the benefits between the two, since legally, the second one has the right documents to prove and assert her wifehood. A classic example of a cuckoo usurping the host from the nest!

A cuckoo could be person/persons who worm their way into the family or between husband and wife, making themselves of more importance than the husband/wife/family. It could be a job that swallows up your time; it could be money or possessions that become more important than the people in the family; it could even be a position or a reputation that could have more value than a family member or a spouse. Anything can become a cuckoo if that thing becomes of prime importance and takes the place of people especially of the family.

A woman, viz a daughter, wife, daughter-in-law, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, needs to be always watchful, careful and smart not to allow any cuckoo to usurp the home. This does not mean she needs to be doubtful or doubting her parents, husband, children etc but she needs to be on high alert for signs of danger. The Bible tells us to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves– it never tells us to be naïve or foolish or gullible. 

A clue as to how to be wise to prevent cuckoos in your nest is found in proverbs 31 – one aspect of a wife of noble character is that she “watches over the affairs of her household and doesn’t eat the bread of idleness” (TNIV). Another translation says: “She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive”. 

The key to guarding your home, your family and your affairs from being invaded by a cuckoo is to be alert and watch over or keep an eye over everyone in your house. At no time can a woman afford to be selfish, self-centred or self-seeking if she wants to be a wise woman and build her home. At no time can you be idle nor can you allow your family to be so! Woman, you are the backbone of the house, the watchman of the family; you must be alert 24/7, irrespective of how young or how old you are! You may ask, why me; because God made you to be so and that’s His role choice for you!

As a young girl or daughter, you must be vigilant to see that your heart is guarded from developing inordinate affection for anyone outside your family, especially of the opposite sex. Women have a weakness to trust anyone who shows them a little affection; teenagers especially need to be careful when you feel that someone outside your family understands you better than your own kith and kin. It’s a dangerous age when you feel you first enemies are your household members and thereby become an easy prey to sharks on the prowl for victims. It is at such times that you could become entangled in drugs, sex and prostitution because you have become entangled in a web of deceit. The best way to guard yourself, teenagers, is to love, respect your family and keep them informed of all your things. They are your safety net; if your family also cannot be trusted, find a trustworthy older woman in church to oversee you. A cardinal rule: NEVER CONFIDE IN SOMEONE OF THE OPPOSITE SEX!

As a wife, be alert to the needs, moods and upheavals in your husband’s life. Watch over his health, his dreams and aspirations, his growth and take care to be there for him. Learn to be his best friend, the one he turns to when he is upset; do not push him away with your nagging or your quarrels. I still remember a time when I was very puzzled by my husband’s behaviour every morning, just before he would leave for work. Normally an equable person, (a contrast to me!), he would become visibly agitated and tense and quarrelsome every morning. At a loss to this change in him, I took time, late one night, to slowly draw him out to talk and found the reason for his irritability: One of the secretaries in the office, who was assigned to him to type out all the official documents related to his portion of the work, had talked him and other officers to allow her to leave early, as she was pregnant. Being sympathetic of her condition and being considerate of her, they would also see to it that they would all finish their work so that she would be able to type everything out and go home early!

This put a strain on all of them, especially my husband who would cut short his lunch hour to hurry and finish his work. This lack of rest and the hurry burry of having to finish early made him lose his health and thus his irritation. When I knew this, I was rightly indignant and pointed out that for a woman, pregnancy is part of her life and not a disease. It is to be taken in the stride of life and doesn’t need excessive mollycoddling. Sure if she was sick, it was okay to accommodate her for a day or so; but to do so for all her term was not acceptable. She was sponging off on the goodness of the men of the office and had become a cuckoo in our relationship with one another – he was more concerned of hurting her rather than of hurting me! I put my foot down and insisted that he become reconciled to the fact that it is expected of her to remain until closing time – she is paid for it! Thereafter his irritation vanished and everything was right with us! Just a case of being alert to a cuckoo situation!

Remember prevention is better than cure and that it’s better to be careful than to weep later. Many a wife has lost her husband to unscrupulous women and other relationships because she was not aware of nor noticed the changes in her husband. It need not be a woman who may lead a husband astray – a wrong friendship can entangle him in unnecessary financial deals, debts etc.

It goes without saying that a mother has to have eyes all around to watch over her kids – two will not suffice! At every stage in life a mother must be aware of the needs and the silent or unspoken aches of her children, especially in their teenage years. Mother, beware if your teenager or collegegoer talks secretively on the phone, or walks out of the room to speak on the mobile. Be careful if they chose isolation over being part of the family, if they seem dreamy and in a world of their own – it means there is something in the offing. Do not get excited or excessively emotional and tear them apart but just be on the lookout. Go often to their school, college to look to their growth, attend every parent teacher meeting, get involved with their activities, invite their friends over and be a friend to them. You must be the one to teach your child the intricacies of life; be so open that they share their intimate things with you. They should be able to learn from you and not others – in short be their friend and defender.

As a grandmother give love to grandchildren and do not try to be their mother. Never put down their parents before them, but back their parents up when they discipline their children. Be the one your grandkids love to run to when they feel their parents do not understand them; pet them and teach them, especially godly things. I still remember my grandparents for the stories they used to tell and snacks they would surreptitiously give me which my parents would not! 

Not only does a woman need to be alert and keep an eye on her household, she needs to keep a watchful eye over herself too! In this age where women work outside the home, we must be extra careful not to get emotionally entangled with anyone. Do not allow the thought or feeling that a particular person in your office understands you more than your husband/parents/family. When you compare another person to your husband, you will feel the other person is better for all your husband’s weaknesses are exposed to you. You have seen the other person only in the office and do not know him intimately and so feel he is better. GUARD YOUR HEART and keep everyone at one arm distance from your heart. No other person should know your heart except your husband; you are a closed book to everyone else. Never share your heart’s secrets with other men; with women it’s okay but be judicious to prevent gossip!

Even in ministry, be careful not to be close to other men in the ministry. Your prayer partner should be somebody of the same sex and never move closely with anyone, even a pastor! A pastor is also human and so be careful not to imply anything that you don’t want to. Many a minister’s ministry has been shattered because of close counselling of a woman parishioner that led to stepping beyond limits. For counsel, always seek women leaders, elders and pastors or a pastoral couple. Many a woman minister has compared her husband to another minister or co-worker in the ministry with disastrous results. Not only will you hurt yourself and your family, but you will drag God’s name into the mud.

Woman, do not be a cuckoo nor allow a cuckoo to usurp your nest. Be sober, be watchful and be a blessing!

*Pic courtesy unsplash.com

WASTING OR (IN)VESTING SHUTDOWN

Shutdown, lockdown, rollbacks, cutbacks, layoffs and retrenchment are all dreaded words in the job market and industry circles. These indicate a loss, ruin, bankruptcy, failure, default, liquidation and debt. The current lockdown or shutdown is unique and unlike since it is not a result of any of these. It is an action that has been dictated and mandated as a consequence of a pandemic. However, in a way it can be said that it is not so dissimilar since there is loss here, the loss of the greatest resource on earth – human beings!

Shutting down for isolation or quarantine, and destruction are two sides of the same coin since one is the contraposition of the other. One warrants the other and one is the outcome or preventive measure of another. For example, evacuation is the last natural response or counter-measure to a flood or fire or storm, inevitable when all other efforts fail. It is done to preserve human life from becoming totally extinguished or extinct. Even though it is a moot point whether human life is worth saving, it goes without saying that human beings, made in the image of God need saving if not salvaging!

This period of lockdown that keeps extending and lengthening is aimed at saving people, not money or land or animals or plants or even the environment. It is an all-out effort to save the great and best resource of all. So to complain or crib against it is unreasonable and actually inhumane. If we haven’t seen and realised this, we would be cribbing about the measures being taken to sustain and preserve human life!

Having said that, it is time to run a reality check, to determine if we have realised and accepted that these measures are to prevent the extinction of the most endangered species of all at this time. If we have figured this out, we would know what to do or occupy ourselves with, during this confinement period. We have been restricted and contained at home, letting go of all that we once thought was needed and important for life. The question is how have been handling this enforced isolation and quarantine!

If you have been sulking and whining about being confined at home unable to go out, or putting tantrums and throwing your weight around, or needling those around you and venting your ire on them, or chafing at delays and being restless about the extension of protocol, then you have lost out!

If we are wise, we would use these extended periods of being shut up:

To recover health
With time to relax and rest, catching up on sleep would have been your priority. Weaning your system off junk food and indiscriminate eating, you would have started a regime of healthy wholesome food, proper hydration and regular exercise.
If you haven’t, you still have time. Start now!

To build and repair relationships
You would have used this time to spend time with family, getting to know them once again, grasping what makes each one tick, etc. You would have repaired breaches and built bridges in relationships, restoring those you may have lost. You would have forged new ones since you have time to talk and enquire, using the pretext of the pandemic concerns to your own advantage in this aspect. You would have tweaked your daily and weekly routine to include giving attention and showing concern for your spouse, playing and teaching your kids, put in place family activities and caught up with senior citizens in the family.
If you haven’t, you still have time. Begin now!

To learn and pick up new skills
You would have taken this season to do things you have never done before and maybe identified acumen you never realized you had, such as cooking, tailoring, painting, gardening, writing and such like. You would have picked back up a hobby you had in your school or college days, something you didn’t have time till now and enjoyed doing it alone or along with your family. You would have gone online and learnt something new, maybe another language acquired another degree or certificate may be, taken a new training, attended a workshop etc.
If you haven’t yet done it, start now!

To enjoy solitude and develop the art of meditating
Instead of being stressed out, you would have realised that you now had time to sit down and have a quiet conversation with yourself, with nature, in the quietness of the night or the early hours of the day – something you didn’t have energy or time to do because of a busy schedule. You would have learnt how to handle silence, listen to a song, heard sounds around and silently noted the rhythm and flow of life around.
If you haven’t done it till now, you still have time. Start now!

To assess and gauge your shortcomings
As your body began recouping with rest and relaxation, as your feelings and emotions began streamlining, you would have understood the mistakes you have been making, especially in relationships. You would have noted your misdeeds and found yourself wondering why you had to be so insecure or short-tempered. You would have vowed to change and become a better person, as you weighed your actions in the past and thought of how you would behave and treat others once this period is over.
If you haven’t at all, there is still time. Begin now!

To count your blessings and be thankful
Most of us have a roof over our heads, food to eat, a bed to sleep and a family that also has all these things. We have been truly blessed, especially in the light of the many migrant workers who have been stranded and trying to make their way home by walk. They have to depend on the courtesy of others and have to wing their way through life depending on the mercy of strangers. We need to count these things in our lives and be thankful to God for gifting us all things needed to exist in a comfortable way. We need to be grateful for this time to unwind, destress from hectic schedule and grace to spend moments with our family.
If you haven’t taken time to be grateful and prayerful, begin now. There’s still time to do so!

To look forward to new times and reset yourselves for a new normal
This season is so providential because we have been given the occasion to pull back, recuperate, reorient, repatriate losses and refocus for the future. Never has the human race faced such a time as this and given such a great opportunity to make amends and reorganize. It is the season to restructure our lives and set our direction according to a new normal, for life is not going to be the same.
If you haven’t thought through things, estimated the new future, sat down with the family and planned for the days ahead, don’t worry. Just do it now!

To value life and align your every priority towards preserving it
We need to understand that life is all about people, about saving and serving others around us. We need to cultivate generosity, weed out selfish narcissism, looking beyond what is of use to me and mine. We need to look past what belongs to me, what will benefit me and make every effort, as much as we can, to protect, preserve and progress life.
If you haven’t ever done it, this is the time to do so!

To understand the connectivity of humanity
We must understand that we are all part of humanity and share the same space in time. We are all brothers and sisters by virtue of being part of the human race, living in the same era in history. We need to accept and acknowledge that we are our brother’s keeper, and therefore responsible to do as much as we can to make life easier for those within our reach.
If we haven’t learnt this valuable lesson, it is time to do so!

To acknowledge the chain reaction reality of our existence
We need to seriously consider the impact and effect of being a part and parcel of the valuable flow and cycle of life. We are not living isolated and remote from others in society. We cannot afford to be estranged or detached from the community we are placed in. This pandemic has made us intensely aware and sensitized us to the domino effect and contagion impact of our existence. What happens in one remote corner of the earth will gradually but surely spread and seep into the economy, health, sociology, culture and politics of every other part of the world. We are all in a web of relationship and so cannot avoid or protect ourselves from this chain-effect.
If you have lived life as though you are the only one and that the whole world revolves around you, now is the time to change!

COVID shutdown time is a time to invest in and rethink many things! It’s a time to sit down and evaluate your life, something you may have avoided doing because of the busyness of life and the mechanical way of existence!

COVID lockdown is a Godsend, a gift from the Almighty to stand still, take stock, realign, restore and refurbish life as a whole. It is the blessing of God, a pause and reset time, a boon to be able to assess and zoom in on the essentials, weeding out the debris and extra burden we have as a species picked up on our way to what we thought was progress!

The question as we face lockdown 5.0 is: what have we done in this time and how have we used it. What have we, as individuals and families contributed towards saving and sustaining the sanctity of human life and livelihood. What are we going to do to conserve and perpetuate the human race, preventing its extinction!

The real question is: Have you been wasting or investing in and during the COVID protocols!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com

A MULIEBROUS ROGATION

Lord, help me always be,
A simple woman of God,
A true child of the Most High,
The trusting apple of His eye,
The quiet joy of His heart.

Lord, help me ever be
The wife of my husband’s core,
The desire of his abundant love,
The enrichment of his pious state,
The treasured crown of his entire worth.

Lord, help me always be
A strong mother of stable faith
The right citation of their lofty hopes
The standing anchor of their thoughts
The ardent blessing of their willing words.

Lord, help me ever be
The supportive pillar of my home
The vigilant guardian of its base
The prayer covering of its place
The essence of its grace

Lord, help me always be
A woman of your word
The channel of your wisdom
The reflector of your light
The wonder of your works!

                                                                                       © Sabina Tagore Immanuel