Be still.

be still

but not the stillness
of muffled voices
of gagged mouths
of fearful eyes
of frightened souls
and dead bodies

not the silence
of the compromise
decided by the one that is stronger

be still

stillness in the hearts


quietly reaching out across self-imposed borders
across generation-imposed borders
at first gently, then firmly
reaching out
to transform into sisters and brothers
they may touch

be still.

Everywhere – yesterday, today, tomorrow.

When We become
‘I’ versus them

When You become
not the other, but the stranger

odious things happen,
cross the barrier
from mere thoughts
to barbarious acts

It is not
We – Them
I – You
Muslims, Jews, Christians,
Buddhists, Atheists, Pagans

We are ONE human family
holding hands in solidarity
reaching out
to whomever we see

my heart cries out
at so much senseless violence
against my sisters and brothers
mothers and fathers
aunts and uncles

May there be
– this is my prayer

May there be
peace on earth
an end to violence
love for all

May we see only the faces
of brothers and sisters
when we look at those around us.

Healing, please!

Have I experienced a miracle of healing in my life?

I’d say both yes and no.

I’m not hiding from anyone that I’m suffering from what is called “moderate to severe Rheumatoid Arthritis”, together with Sjogren’s Syndrome – it’s been many years now. I had a stroke a couple of years ago and still some problems that come from that, but I have found ways to work with that, or around that. Taking meds daily, and self-injecting immunosuppressants on a weekly basis has become part of my routine.

Now if God would just shake his magic wand and heal me, that would be awesome! But I don’t think it works like this. Not that I don’t think that God can’t heal – that thought is far from me. But if He did it every time somebody got sick, there would be no more ill people in the world. Illness and disease are (sadly) part of this world – but sometimes, some people receive special grace, freely.

Nevertheless, in accordance with Scripture, I did have the elders from church anoint me with oil and pray for me; I asked, and they graciously did so, and God in his grace met me, right where I was. He did not heal my chronic diseases, but He made me another gift.

I felt his presence and his love surround me, and his peace calm all my worries and fears. I felt God close to me and comfort me, his peace was so soothing, literally like balm to an aching heart, calming all the “Why’s?” and “When will the pain end?”

Now I have experienced healing in other parts of my life, concerning my past. It is both spectacular and not. I’m saying that it is not spectacular because there are no blood tests to confirm it, or no broken leg that is miraculously mended. But it is spectacular because I could have ended up so differently to now.

From my youngest years on, I have been abused, beaten, insulted – and some of it on a daily basis. I have been raped a couple of times. I was hurt and distrusting, especially towards men, and had no more self-esteem, and no confidence in myself and my capabilities and was on the way to developing –or already had- some eating disorders.

It took many years, much gentleness, patience and some frustration and anger to be able to let go of this shit, and also to forgive myself (because, in some weird and warped way, I had turned much anger against myself unconsciously) – to let God heal me, bit by bit. God doesn’t force, doesn’t impose. He was there when I was ready, never condemning, always loving.

That’s why I answered the question about the miracle of miracle with both ‘yes’ and ‘no’, because when talking about miracles of healing, many people think about physical healing.

Not that this disease is something good, but I have learned certain things through it. I learned to live day by day, in a good sense: take each day as it comes, and accept it as a gift from God. I learned be more patient – with myself and others; I learned a couple lessons about serenity and tranquility, and trusting and relying on God, and always staying positive:

Life is a gift to be cherished; it is something I want to remember, every day. To be grateful for what I have, and see every ray of the sun, every drop of rain, every song of a bird as a smile from God. There is so much beauty around me, if I only care to open my eyes and my heart; so much love – and even more if I share it.

dark light

When the darkness is thick
so thick you can grab it
like the darkest night
like tar and pitch dripping away from wood

don’t curse the darkness

Light a candle
light a light

Small as it might be
light it

Light a light
of love
of hope
of tolerance
of understanding
of truth
of justice
of hands reaching out to the one standing next to me

As the flame of the candle
flickers and dances
painting shadows on our faces
in turn we all look
with stripes
or without
all human
all with equal worth
equal dignity
created equal

Let me take your hand
and walk by your side
let us hold the candle together

Like you,
I am
jewish, muslim, christian, black, white, red, yellow,
handicapped, able-bodied, queer, straight,
female, male, weak, strong – and everything inbetween.

Sad times in life?

I have recently read an article where someone had to deal with the loss of person close to them, that they didn’t understand why sad things happen to wonderful people, and that as believers we shouldn’t ask these questions for fear of questioning God’s love & power.

This statement touched me deeply. In the past, I have also seen bad things happen to wonderful people, or even lose people dear to me.

One I am thinking of particularly is the death of a very special person last fall. He was one of those people who win you over instantly, and we had a few things in common; he was a pastor and had become a friend. I hadn’t known him for many years, but he made it feel like we’d known each other for years, being one of those people who make you feel good and appreciated – just the way you are. We had been talking about the possibility of me coming to his church, either just for a service, or maybe even preach there, and I was looking forward to seeing him soon again at another church leaders’ meeting.

But it never happened since he was killed in a car accident. He was going by bike and was hit, leaving behind his wife and children.

His sudden death shocked and touched me deeply. It didn’t shake my faith, but it shook me. I cried a lot, and was sad still a long time after. I still am, though in a different way than last September. He continues to be an example and an inspiration for me. His life motto and preferred Bible verse was from Psalm 73:28 “But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.”

When I got the email at work informing me of his death, I was under shock. I couldn’t believe it. It can’t be true! And then, the question ‘WHY?’

I know that the question “why?” won’t get any answer – but it is a normal, human reaction. We want to know why something happened, in order to give some sort of sense to something that doesn’t make any sense, to calm or grief and our pain, to somehow know that the death, the suffering was not for “nothing”.

Asking “why?” doesn’t question God’s love or power –it is an expression of our humanity, our humanness, our grief, our being in a desperate situation to which we don’t know an answer – a pain that we want to end.

God is big enough to hear our Why’s, our deepest feelings and frustration, our anger, our fear, our desperation. He created us and knows us – He can take it all.

Just look at the Psalms. All the feelings that have been expressed there by people in all sorts of dire situations. Take Psalm 22…

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.

We don’t exactly know what kind of situation the author is in, but it must be very hard. Whatever has happened, or is happening, it is beyond his (or her) understanding. They feel like God has abandoned them or at least, is not answering their cries. And they express it to God. All, everything. No holding back. Only honesty.

Being honest, asking why, and expressing our feelings to God doesn’t mean we question God’s goodness; and even having moments of doubt simply means one thing: we are human. Even doubt can be an opportunity to get to know God in a new way, and to let go of certain beliefs, or to re-assess our belief system. All these things lead us, if we permit it, towards a greater intimacy with God as we permit him to meet us and touch us right where we are, re-assuring us of his presence, his promises, his being with us, his love and his grace. Jesus suffered pain and death, and thus knows what they mean to us as human beings. Emanuel – God with us. If we let him, God weeps with us, grieves with us, and goes with us through the healing process.

19But you, Lord! Don’t be far away!
You are my strength!
Come quick and help me!
20 Deliver me from the sword.
Deliver my life from the power of the dog.
21     Save me from the mouth of the lion.
From the horns of the wild oxen
you have answered me!

22 I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
I will praise you in the very center of the congregation!
23 All of you who revere the Lord—praise him!
All of you who are Jacob’s descendants—honor him!
All of you who are all Israel’s offspring—
stand in awe of him!
24 Because he didn’t despise or detest
the suffering of the one who suffered—
he didn’t hide his face from me.
No, he listened when I cried out to him for help.

He knows the reason why, though I believe that in the face of evil, ultimately, there is no such question as “why?” These things are not part of the plan of God, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11), but they are part of life in this world here and now. But we have a definite hope that one day evil – that which does not make sense, that which is ultimately absurd- will be overcome and have no place when the heavens and the earth will be made anew.

What the Bible tells me

The Bible tells me
love your neighbor as yourself

my neighbor
the nice person next door
and the noisy young couple with the scary tattoos living the floor above
the old lady and her little dog
the young man who sometimes looks a little lost
the gay couple living in the next house
the grumpy funny smelling little old man from first floor
the lady that looks a bit too revealing for the taste of some
the girl in the wheelchair on groundfloor
the family who has a baby with down syndrome
and the arab family who moved in recently

love them all
love is patient
love is kind
love speaks no evil
love does not hurt
love is there
in action
in words
in gestures
in smiles and prayers and open hearts

The Bible tells me
love your neighbors, and
pray for your ennemis,
bless them all

to bless – bene dicere, say good things
that means
do not speak ill of them
do not persecute them
do not take their rights away
don’t strip away their dignity
see them as equal human beings
turn them into neighbors

The Bible tells me
to love myself
with all my flaws,
despite my flaws and imperfections
for I was created in the image of God
– as were neighbors
and ennemies.

Miracles, all around

The last three weeks have really been brutal. I’ve been on painkillers every day. Damn that Polyarthritis. Can’t take ibuprofen anymore since it kills my stomach even at tiny doses, and the  paracetamol doesn’t really do the job. Every morning it takes 3-4 hours until the stiffness and swelling in my fingers is gone but the pain lasts all day and by now is excruciating. 

Nevertheless, my choice is to stay positive : I always take one day after the other, always hope that maybe the next day will be better, always see the present day as yet an opportunity and a gift. God had given me this one life with all its wonders and all its beauty, and it’s up to me to open my eyes and see them  – they are all around me. I’m grateful for that.