Beauty For Ashes

His eyes stung as smoke-filled the room. Huffing and puffing at the coals yielded no flame. The sticks though neatly put; only added to the pain of his tearing eyes as they gave forth a thick cloud of smoke. He saw some leaves of newsprint as he squinted into the dark, and gladly snatched them – throwing them into the offending glow. The paper made to shrink and smother into nothingness in the wake of that heat but as he gently blew, an orange blaze sprung up giving forth light. Such is how life will at times present itself. It may take toll on one’s patience and sense of endurance but a warm blaze that lights the soul is sure to spring forth at an appointed time.

A tin kettle and thermos flask were cleaned as the tea came to a boil. Life had taken a heavy turn when I had been left alone with my father. The only other company was the loyal herdsman who made ‘technical’ appearances, from time to time, at the supper table or for breakfast. His day was spent in the bushes minding cattle and chopping wood with which he made charcoal. It was then routine for me to wake up by half past four in the morning to get chores done then take breakfast before getting on to my workplace. This wasn’t made easy by the fact that my bicycle had broken down earlier in the month so that I had to walk the one and a half kilometres every morning and evening. Keeping a day job and coming back home to start from where I left was taking a toll on me.

Africa rarely affords us men acquainted with housework. The older generation especially, was socialized into believing that some tasks were for men and others for women. It had never been envisaged that a man could come to a point of  no woman being there to tend to his needs. Didn’t God create sisters, cousins, aunts and mothers – the former three in abundance – so that there was always a woman at the man’s service? My generation has however come to understand and accept that for one to live he must rise above depending too much on the expected gender roles. Instead, he should see them as privileges set to help men and women appreciate and satisfy each other’s unique needs, and willingly cross the river to give a hand on the other bank.

As the only one of the ‘new’ generation in this house of three, I found myself being the housekeeper and juggling the various tasks that needed doing seemed a situation of riding a wild buffalo. Moments came when I wanted to cry loudly and give up altogether. Attending Bible Study Fellowship meetings on Tuesdays at five o’clock in the evening and going to church on Sunday morning was becoming difficult. I cried, prayed about it, but still encouraged myself to keep on going. There came moments of absolute joy but many more of despair weren’t an exception. A classmate’s words, at the time I had lost my mother over a year earlier, came to mind. These spoke of seemingly bad situations that are bound to ever come upon us:

Be persuaded that it is best for you.
Its end result is perfect.
Soon enough, you will realise that you’d have it not other way,
That God had you in mind all along.

A question lingered, ”If I cannot do it, who will? Who would I want to shoulder all this in my stead?” I know, there is a Shepherd who goes before me each moment and takes away every snare that could harm me – He is my light at the end of the tunnel. I am not alone. My desire is to have a family one day, and be the kind of man who will help out with work at home. This just may be the waiting room of that reality.

As I walked to work, I took advantage of the traffic-starved dirt road to whip out my cell phone and do my Bible reading. A chapter was done each day, by the time I got to work. I found myself offering praise and even worshipping my Lord in these moments. I learned to be a better cook, and controlling the blaze to get the food done on firewood became a thrill. Times were many when the amount of work overwhelmed me so that supper was served late but I chose to live above the darkness and rejoice instead. I learned resilience and patience and developed an attitude of joy. Yes, the situation may seem to have remained the same in spite of prayer but the attitude was a changed one. I learned to be a victor and not a victim of what valley I had to pass through. I was a victor because situations, tough or easy, taught me to look up to God alone for strength and the will to go on.

The morning may come with a smoke-filled room and my eyes may sting and get all teary. It may look like life has become as a mocking crowd but one thing is true, that out of the smoking sticks will jump a blaze. The room will be lit and the pot will simmer away. So it was for me. Though circumstances threw me deep in the rural maze, away from my social circle and away from ‘opportunity’, but God has provided. He’s brought friends my way and these have been my encourager and some have even called me up into profitable partnership. It is a friend who even got me started on a blog site. I am realising my dreams in spite of everything. Surely, God has given me beauty for ashes. Hasn’t He?

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Njeri on February 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    I like your attitude towards life. Most of this things that sting the heart come along but this is what I’ve told myself all along: if life handles you lemons create a lemonade out it. It serves you well on a sunny day n who knows you are probably making a cocktail of various juices in life n lemonade is always an important ingredient. As much as everything doesn’t make sense sometimes, it strengthens your character for future experiences, when you need to be more tougher than expected. I believe the experience you just shared has molded you into something your wife will appreciate. More so if you are dating now it’s a plus for you coz you’ll have something to spoil her for as valentines approaches. No condition has ever been permanent to anyone so take heart. HUJAKOROGEWA!

    Reply

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