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hanging out with some angels…

Prof. R. J. Olembo, UNEP

robin-cook-african-american-angel-smoking-cigarette

So I thought about my brother and sister a lot this weekend. It’s not like me at all. You don’t count on people just, sort of vanishing. I’ve been talking about death since I was born, so with my Dad it was kinda different. I knew he was dying.

It was strange. We both knew and we had to skirt around these two issues – I was gay and I was making films, not money.

You know, I’m Kenyan. We’re both African men. I’ll leave that there.

I remember telling him, immediately I found out, in some London pub. This gay thing had almost totally destroyed everything, and it’s not true that you know when you’re born.

I didn’t find out until year two, University.

The steak dinner was pushed around the plate. My Dad was frustrated at the UN – nobody was fighting for the animals, the earth, everyone just wanted the Red Passport and for him to run for Parliament.

I think he was frustrated at the glass ceiling – he was trying to learn French. Imagine. I found it funny. He couldn’t stand it. And spoke French like a Luhya. I laughed. In hindsight, I wish I had gone to classes with him – he never told anyone.

As you get older as an African man, you don’t tell anyone what you’re going through for your family. You don’t even tell your spouse.

Anyway. We called it a night. In the morning, at the airport (we were always meeting at airports) he looked at me and said – if you’re going to be a pioneer, it’s going to be very difficult, and I don’t think you’re strong enough. But I see God in you, so you must go on. Do me a favor though, don’t tell your Mum.

Of course I told my Mum as soon as I saw her. She threw the Bible at me and I threw the damn thing right back – I’d just finished reading it. The. Whole. Book.

This post isn’t about me, or my Dad or being gay. It’s a post about my sister and my brother.

Lumumba never judged me. And we fought only once, in all our lives, and that after some drunken evening.

Caroline didn’t care what I did, she loved me completely and thought Michael Jackson was lucky I was born Kenyan.

Without Caroline I would never have made it anywhere. Her self-esteem was impenetrable. She taught me that who I am, is enough; is still teaching me now, that who I am, is enough.

So when she lost her baby, we cried together. It was a bitter, bitter loss. All other women seemed to have choices. Caroline had one shot at it, and lost the girl at full time. Justine was her name.

My mum says we were talking when we were born.

I can tell you the moment I knew she was dying. It was the same moment as when we split to go for University. She told me she had cancer, and I told her that she can act on the other side – that it would be OK.

We never spoke about it again. It was like when she got married. I had to step aside. Still, we were always, kind of, one person.

Lumumba took me completely by surprise. He was my Dad’s best friend.

They both died on the same day, Coroline and Joe, and that was it. I went to India and found his University, and tracked down his hospital, and sat in his room.

For all three, I did not grieve, and for that I am thankful. Death does not frighten me, it never has, I know what lies on the other side – yet I live here on this side, and Caroline is not here, and neither is Joe.

Their phones don’t work.

I bought a very expensive Nokia to use in Kampala for my sister’s wedding. Uganda was ahead of Kenya for the briefest period back then. I buy expensive phones ever since…a little too expensive.

Joe.
When I just want to take him out, I can’t find him.

So I thought about them alot this weekend. This big man, Dad – larger than life – his best friend Joe – man of the people – and my precious twin, Caro – my friend.

I thought about them, and I thought about migrants, and pictures of father’s crying, and Gaza, and Syria, and addiction, and Cancer and murder. I thought about the people gone, and those left behind, how it always, always changes everything…

I thought about these things and felt a smile.

You see: if you get it right this time, this one time, you’re going to die well, and be alright when you do.

If you can think – I am beautiful, I am free, I love you… If you can think – thank you, I did my best, I need no apologies… If you can think this way when you wake up, when you interact with the people you love, when you encounter those you don’t – you’ll be alright.

You’ll be OK.

♦pictures♦ Richard Cook at Stock Illustration  & Professor R.J. Olembo at UNEP

                                                   -words move-

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Nairobi Christmas

image

For all of you out there – a jolly good new year! This is a picture of Nairobi from a tent in the City National Park. Hopefullywe can deal with poverty and corruption and despair well enough to look after the animals for all of us. We’re trying!

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Astonishing.

 

I simply had to share.

I ask you to keep what you’re feeling RIGHT NOW, in your mind. And follow me for five minutes. Trust me.

If you’re like me, you are probably APPALLED!

I was absolutely LIVID. Flumexed. Flabergasted.

Just sit with it a moment.

The image is of a sitting American President.

I found this image being flashed around some Republican websites.

There have been many pictures like this – people fooling around with photoshop, now that it’s just a click away.

You know the other pictures…Hitler, The Devil…etc, on both sides – Romney AND Obama.

But this one is shocking on several levels.

This is the President of the United States of America.

This is a Black Man.

Depicted as a slut.

This is a woman stripped of all dignity – hidden within an image so hateful of the colour and gender it portrays, it defies belief.

This is a man, degraded.

The woman, a trigger.

OK, breath.

Let the anger slip off you slowly.

Let it slide off your shoulders.

And look at it again.

It is funny.

It is hilarious!

I may be getting old – but this kind of image not only was not possible in my time, but was also, un-imaginable.

Given the sheer evil invested in it, I invite you to just take a look, and laugh.

Because it is funny, not because we are ‘wrestling power back‘ by doing so.

The people wearing the intention behind the making and distribution of this image will have evil to deal with in their lives. That is a given.

But the world has moved so far forward in that grand ‘Good Vs. Evi’l battle that we’re in, that given the depravity, hope that you are standing on the right side of it.

No.

I mean really look at it.

The gait, the glamour of the keys in her hands.

It is so shockingly funny that I posted it on this page so that I remember it forever.

We are so manipulated today – I am so manipulated – by Materialism right now, that the photo is funny because – I think – the winner is actually the manner in which Obama is wearing his costume.

How skinny! How funky! How glamorous! This is a Hollywood starlet caught in the glare of Media spotlight – and I want it.

This is what I glamorise – when I lay awake at night, deep in the throes of a depression brought about by the thought that I will never be rich and famous and wanted.

After this photograph, I will never again agree that money can make you happy.

I won’t even joke about it.

The corruption of my soul from the mere sight of this image has convinced me more concretely than ever, that I am a happy man.

I am happy with my Alzheimic mother even as she forgets who I am.

I am happy with my sisters, drunk or not.

So my dreams have not yet arrived…

I am a happy man, and that is good enough for me.

Because I swear to God – I swear – that I do not want to be – that man who killed for money – who lived for money – who destroyed for money.

I swear that I will find something better to cry for, than not having been good enough

I laughed at this image because at least she wears it well.

Even Jesus would say so.

Already redeemed are those represented here – prostitutes and slaves.

Already redeemed here are the killers trading the image.

My laughter is a breeze that lifts her shoes, and steadies her gait, and attempts to defray, the shame in her depiction.

Not for me, to slay her or her makers, with Anger and Judgment.

I am happy to battle this battle and laugh, and should evil rip me to shreds and leave me naked,  happy to die a simple, happy, man.

Click here for the poem, INSURRECTION

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

I simply had to share this with you. I love you all, and hope that you are finding a way to battle life – even at the worst of times – with the best of Spirit.

At least the very best you can muster.

Paula! God knows I think about you more than you know – of course, because I haven’t been on for a while! My life has been a whirlwind – but I promise I will get to you!

I never got your gift, and didn’t have the chance to have you get mine – but I know there is rhyme and reason for everything.

I’ll get to you on email.

For the rest of you – shalom! Om Shanti! Peace!
And Onward!

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in postaday2012

 

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Am I having fun?

 

Ok

Here I am.

It’s been quite a while since I wrote. To a certain extent, I’ve enjoyed the break. I’ve never done a hundred days of anything straight through – except perhaps, college.

I was an excellent experience. It felt long, and sometimes felt like I wouldn’t make it.

If I missed a day of writing, I made it wrong, and beat myself up about it – funny…it’s my blog, my choice!

Anyway, here we are, and I’ve decided to do a whole year now. A year. Jeez. Last time I tried that I lasted two months.

It’s a strange place to be starting a years project – in the middle of the year – but it’s been a year since Caroline died, a year since Joe died, a year since Mbone and a year since Sheldon – and the next year has begun for me.

This year, I am writing. It’s a writing year. I’m writing a script, and I’m terrified. I know what it means. I know the wrestle with meaning, the tussle with writers block, the very peculiar ‘downs’ you get when it just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

I hate it.

And yet it’s time.

I was thinking about what happens when I commit to something – when down the road it starts to look like work, like something I am trying to do well and then be free off, like a task, a chore, a thing to be finished with.

It’s stressful.

Yet at the time of committment there WAS a reason.

Am I having fun?

When I’m afraid that I’m going to fail, when I am afraid to try because I am going to fail, when I’m afraid to fail so i don’t start – I’m not having fun.

I realise I have not ‘been having fun’ for a long time.

That in fact, I can’t remember the last time I ‘was having fun’.

So that’s what I’m doing this year, everyday, on this blog. Each entry will begin with the question – Am I having fun?

I want FUN to bring FREEDOM to my life, and FREEDOM in my life, bring with it, a sense of FUN.

Now that I’m HAVING FUN…am I having fun?

Onward.

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The lie of me

 

So there has been some time between my hundred days of meditation, and today.

How do I feel?

I’ve been thinking about who I am, and how I construct myself.
I find that I’m an amalgamation of many different lies.

At least, that’s how I feel about myself.

You see, I’ve been anxious for a while now, a low lying anxiousness that registers beneath every waking minute. I am slowly getting through a small book called ‘The Power of Now”

In it, concern with the Past and the Future is the lie that we live everyday, the lie that takes me away from the only moment that matters, which is the Now.

With the Brahma Kumaris, I’ve been learning about Karma, and the suffering I go through as a result of my past actions.

At Easter, I learned about the un-conditional forgiveness Jesus’ death on the cross offers me.

These three notions clash and clang – and sometimes come together – when I think about Justice and Injustice in my life.

Sometimes I can see how Mercy has removed me from consequences of action that I deserved.

Sometimes I feel that I am being punished for some wrong-doing that I have not had the courage to correct.

Sometimes I feel that God cannot affect what happens in the material world…that I cannot understand how the truly awful things that happen to people – who I cannot see, nor claim – can be ‘because they deserve it.’

There are things in my past that I am struggling to be free from.

At the moment it is a financial debt that I find myself in, seemingly, completely out of my control. Taking responsibility for this situation is very difficult. It is as though, looking back, some demon struck at my most vulnerable moment.

I am frustrated and angry because I feel that at these moments, I should be able to count on the protection of God. I am reminded of Footprints in the Sand. (origin disputed)

Yet I find myself in chains and handcuffs with the refrain in the background that I have only myself to blame and can expect resolution to come only from myself.

It has pervaded my every waking moment and drained me of the joy of life and the freedom of being.

And so, that is my past, affecting in a very real way my present.

My future is shrouded in uncertainty. For many years now, it has not been clear to me, where I’m coming from, what fruit has been born by my choices and what opportunities lie ahead. I find no meaning in what is happening to me at the moment.

The other day I was thinking about love. I am so very grateful to have found a man who wants to walk with me, a man whose word I trust. But what do I know of love? What does it feel like? Here I am, and I have someone who can distract me from myself enough for me to find freedom when I’m with him, and yet, is that love or some selfish, mis-guided ecape from life? I love him for what he gives me, who he makes me feel?

Anyway, here I am.

Tired of looking at myself and seeing only need and weakness.
Confused by the lack of fulfillment in my life.
Startled by how afraid I am.

Still, I remain a child of God, and stumble forward even in this fog, clear somehow, that I am accomplishing something, sure that I will feel the Sun and proclaim it to be warm.

I pray that my needs will be met. I pray that mercy with come, that grace will be with me and that faith will hold.

I pray.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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when I’m rich…

when I’m rich…

A different world from mine…kayole main street, Nairobi Kenya

 

Ha!

After all this time, I’ve decided that this is my personal blog!
I started it as a postaday 2011 blog, alongside my poetry one when I found out that it’s impossible to right a poem a day.

Only now do I realise, after my 100day meditation here, that this actually IS my personal blog!
When I started blogging I was so caught up in the cycle of writing well, posting good stuff, reading it online and getting comments.

It’s hard work!

I NEVER would have thought that I would write a ‘personal’ blog – you know, when you’re submitting to directories – PERSONAL BLOG!

Who reads them?!

Now I discover I have an oasis here.

Anything goes. Write – not write. Whine, whinge, break a chair, be utterly obscene (so for all of you who have gotten used to it being a spiritual write here, hold your horses!) be me, for me.

Only now just realising that. Smile.

This morning me and Simon went looking for a school in Nairobi.

our duka where we buy milk and bread

An internet friend of mine has people in Kenya and I’m going to find them!

They are church people and are visiting a school for orphaned AIDs children.

We live in different worlds.
They run this school in the slums – and I can’t explain to you what the slums are in Africa.

Anyway – me, white boyfriend, little pink car.

We live in different worlds everywhere on this planet – we can be so lost in our own that we don’t realise, just next door is a whole new world.

There are Scientists, and Engineers and Architects, and

getting ready to leave…

Artists, and Single Mothers, and Drivers and Cleaners, and Stars.

Everybody is a whole new world.

Then there is Poverty and near poverty, there is Stuggling to keep up with the rest, there is Rich, and there is The-Bills-Are-Paid-Pay-The-Man-in-Black-in-the-chase-car.

But all these people, all these lives are the same. They want to be respected, they want to feel that living is worthwhile, they want to live and have fun and die happy.

That’s all.

Kayole is a long, long way from what I know. It is congested,

our estate

hot, dusty, noisy. It is a foreign land in my Nairobi of leafy surburbs. Not that I am rich – far from it.

But in the land of the poor, a dollar makes you a very rich man…and I have two.

us walking!

MUM’S BIRTHDAY!!

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Love Potion

 

 

I hate to admit it.
But I feel something.

I feel little bits of a deep peace, every now and then, at the oddest moments.

Every so often I understand that everything will be alright and that this is the big change I’ve been waiting for. I’ve zoned out the last couple of days, on the internet. I don’t think it’s a good thing necessarily – it’s so fake because you make up the experience that you’re having by choosing what you are looking for and then accessing the places you think you will find it.

I like to argue on Reddit sometimes. It releases something in me – it allows me to air my made-up views over my made-up positions on whatt is happening around me – on Syria, and Tom Cruise and marijuana, and Gay marriage.

I can fight with people who I think are being silly or intolerant or abusive.

I dislike being ‘someone’ else though.
Even on the internet, where i make up the rules of my ‘self’ as I see fit, it’s become impossible to lie outright.

Anyway, in those moments where everything seems like it’s going to be ok, I am aware of myself and my surroundings just as they are. I am aware of time moving, being gone forever.

More and more, I feel a certain energy to do things, because I feel meaning in being able to do things, now.

I hope it lasts and expands.
I am still very much aware of this terrible self conversation I have.
I don’t like it, I’m tired of it, I’m in the process of changing it.
I want to be free of myself – and I will be.

It feels like I’m drinking a love potion.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Jesus Flashing!

 

Firstly, Happy Independence day all you Americans!

Ya you have stuff to get better on and – for one, re-elect Obama – but seriously, for whatever else you have been blamed, YOU are still here, YOU are still leading, the world would be a far worse place without the DREAM you are now responsible for – the dream of BETTER for all, the respect for every human being on earth.

Ok, so I’ve had a lazy week so far, feeling funny posting outside of meditation, and deep matters, and internal battles.

I’m watching Duets and I’m amazed at how people are blessed with voices!

Simon found the above package in a dim corner of his house. I couldn’t believe it! Jesus Flashing! It must be at least twenty years old.

Why would anyone buy something like this?

And yet, deep inside I can feel the sheer devotion coming off it.

Jesus number One.

Jesus Flashing!

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Day One Hundred: What does God say, How do I hear him? Gay in Church

 

 

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence [sic] of their error which was meet.” Romans 1:26-27


I’ve had an uneasy week.

 

Today I went to meditation in the morning…learned about Discernment and Humility.

Discernment is how we choice between this, and that, between understanding humility as pride, penalty or power.

It is the ability to understand the situation and to choose between what is available, what is right, or good or helpful.

I was late getting to church.

 

As I was driving in, I noticed the security guard at the gate.

I crept into the large tent that serves as shelter and took a chair right at the back.

I had been thinking about giving and money, and having and not having, and had my offering out of my wallet and stuffed into my back pocket.

The American pastor, handsome in a rugged way, but in his sixties – white hair…punctuated movement – was saying something about preaching to the Gentiles, about Pauls message to those ‘outside’ Christ.

 

I got up, went back outside and chatted with the Guard a while, and then asked him if he’d accept my money.

When I got back in, the American pastor was telling us that the American Ambassador to Kenya had resigned.

The reason was a clash with Obama’s ‘administration.’

It turns out that Pride was celebrated in Kenya last week, as it was elsewhere in the world.

I didn’t know that.

 

It was celebrated and the American Embassy paid for a whole series of events.

 

The Ambassador, the Pastor is saying, is a ‘born again’ Christian, and that sometimes God calls us to stand by what we know is right – so he resigned. On Friday.

 

After the sermon, he took his place outside the tent, by what serves as the entrance. He had to pass right by me on the aisle to get there.

I stood up as church was dismissed, met him at that ‘doorway’, and shook his hand.

He has big hands, strong palms. They are warm.

I shook his big, warm hand firmly enough to get him to really look at me and said,

“This is my Church and I just wanted to tell you that I’m homosexual and I’m here.’

People were backing up behind me, wanting their turn to shake his hand – there had been loud grunts of approval and vigorous nodding of heads during his sermon.

 

Then I walked away.

 

You know – for me, the questions remain.

I have been homosexual (out) since I was twenty.

I was ‘born again’ when I was twelve.

I understand the discord.

 

My father was a good Christian and it wrecked our relationship. What else could he have done? How terrible it must have been.

When I learned who I was, I tried to kill myself.

 

Good Christians everywhere are asked to choose between what the bible has to say and what their hearts are telling them.

It’s an impossible position.

 

I get into my car, wave at the smiling security guard letting me out and drive way.

On the road God says to me…discern the Truth.

 

I buy two meat pies from the supermarket on the way home, certain that Simon will be hungry.

 

Thank you all for having walked with me One Hundred Days

This is the last post in the series.

 

May God be with you all.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Day One Hundred – And can it be? – Paula Tohline

 

 

“I sought the Lord,
and afterward I knew
He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me;
It was not I that found, Oh Savior true,
No! I was found of Thee.

Thou didst reach forth
Thy hand, and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea;
Twas not so much that I on Thee took hold,
As Thou, dear Lord, on me.

I find, I walk, I love,
But, oh, the whole
Of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee!
For Thou wert long beforehand with my soul;
Always, Thou lovedst me.”

(Anonymous, c. 1904)

And so, 100 days ago a gentleman from Kenya, and a woman from the USA, began a journey.  We each had been moved to seek God through Christ, and to form a deeper and more personal relationship with this Savior in Whom we believed, but Who we felt we did not know as much as we wanted or needed to. We began with the season of Lent, and marked our way to Jerusalem and to the Cross with our prayer, meditation and introspection and occasional written communication.  But we ended up sharing something neither of us expected – we shared ourselves with one another in a way neither of us had done with another before, and as such we became fast friends, a brother and sister of the same Lord we came to love more each day as we experienced our walk down the long dusty road, with Jesus at our side – our Paraclete – laughing, chiding, reproving, but more than anything loving us in ever more wonderful, enlightening and intriguing ways.

We also discovered, to our delight, that because we lived in such disparate time zones, each day and each night was extended. We made arrangements each evening to meet one another at the campfire, at the close of each long day. At the fire, we were weary or rejuvenated, happy to listen to Jesus as He opened up the scriptures for us; and  sometimes, quietly sitting off to one side, removed a bit from the fire, we would spend time in solitude going over our struggles or triumphs of the day.  But the thing is, we SAW each other.  We each know what the other looks like, the sound of each other’s voice, the shape of each other’s smile, the tone of our own frustrations and anguish, and the sound of each other’s laughter.  What a miracle was granted us when we made a rather impulsive decision to take this journey together. We have had dreams that meshed and were interwoven, one with the other.  We have both come to believe that we will meet, face-to-face one day.  We shall have no trouble recognizing one another.  We are connected, related, brother and sister.

And can it be that our journey now has ended?  I think not.  I believe it has really only just begun – but we shall perhaps be taking different routes to our mutual destination.  We expect to meet occasionally and share a poem by the campfire.  At times, our routes will be parallel, and sometimes, I imagine they will diverge and take us on separate adventures.  No matter. Because of our 100 days, we are forever connected.  And whether we meet on this side of eternity or the other, we will meet, face to face, and we will strike up our conversation exactly where we last left it, and Jesus will be there with us, and we will laugh, and we will understand fully what we have only been able to dimly perceive, each through our own cloudy mirrors.

God be with you, always
Blessing you all with the abundance of enough. . . 

Paula

 

♦photo – http://justinweight.blogspot.com/2011/02/footprints-in-sand.html

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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