We are always in one place or the other, often where we are in the dark and need light. Or we are in the sun’s glare and need some assurance.
It has been one of those times for several people in this season, last year with COVID-19 and this year, with a million and one deaths. By the 6th of January, I had already lost a cousin, Hembasoon. We are a close knit extended family like most African families are and our cousins are more of siblings to us, so you can imagine how hard it hit. I had seen her on the 3rd of January, a Sunday. The story of my getting to visit her against all odds, late at night, is story for another post. Then, three days later, God called our charming sister home. That was the beginning of the news of several others, some who I knew personally and others who were close to people I know. Some, just people I know from far. Three parish pastors who were part of key moments of my childhood and life, and others. A few weeks back, my elder sister’s sister-in-law died in an accident. My close friend lost his father-in-law… And all these just sudden deaths. No preparation. So, yes, it has been a very interesting year. We have also had loads of news about kidnappers, evil so-called herders, unknown gunmen, etc etc…
It has not just been these issues, we are still coping with daily life struggles like the falling Naira, COVID-19 and other ailments still slaying… but through it all, God has remained true. We have survived and are still here, despite what pain there is. We have hope and there is so much happening that we do not know of, which I KNOW will make things far better. I have great faith because I have seen very very dark days that I came through that has made me know that even though the night lasts long, light comes at day to make all things bright. The sun shines and we move, trying to do our bit slowly but surely till we too become of the earth like all those fine people before us.
I wrote a poem several years ago that appeared in my debut poetry collection, Bring our casket home: Tales one shouldn’t tell (which will be re-released online soon) titled ‘If the sun wasn’t so mean’… I wrote the collection mainly as a reaction to and reflection on the passage of one of the pillars of our home, our dadi, Mr. Charles Ayede. This poem was part of it, and was also a reaction to a poem written by my close friend, Ify Margaret Osuji who had a very bad bad day. Her poem was titled ‘The sun with claws’ and then there was another untitled one. I will search for them. I know though that I wrote this poem and it got me thinking of how, the sun is so much to us. How it promises us much despite the heat it brings – and if you live in Nigeria in places like Sokoto, Yola, Minna, or Makurdi at certain times of the year, you will be able to relate – and discomfort, we need it for so much.
I have gone through some troubled times and I have fought with faith, tried to understand much, made mistakes, fallen, and been in the dark too. I wish I could say I was past all of these and would have no issue again but I know that it is part of life. My joy is the sun still shines and it pushes every darkness away in its wake. Sometimes, this light could be the news of you breaking through, of your mother escaping death as mine did a few days back, of healing from an ailment, of a friend getting married (Chinenye on my mind here and Onyi too), of another birthday of a loved one you witness (Jennifer and many others here) or a landmark one for someone that you and family are thinking of…could be silly things that make you giggle…could be children, your children, friends or siblings or friends or a stranger…or even something as small as you having food on your table, of having somebody around you, of even knowing that even if you lose all you will still have God loving you and making all things far more beautiful than you ever know. It could be restoration of just about anything. Like that Elevation Worship song, ‘Million Miracle Miracles’, there’s so much and just so much, we cannot count them all. But it helps to concentrate on the good to appreciate the beauty that remains, no matter what. Always.
Wherever you are, whatever it is you are going through, there are miracles around you, things that if you open your heart you will see. Celebrate these and even if the sun bites some times, know that through it, we can find healing. Much as you can, be the cheer to make life smile. Be the sun to take away the dark wherever you are.
IF THE SUN WASN’T SO MEAN
If the sun wasn’t so mean
you would not know the beauty of the moon’s grin
If the day wasn’t so harshly bright
you would not consider the soothing of the night
Death stretches out to capture our pearls
to teach the adage forever sells
that you value what you have
in the finite space blessed by the one who did us all carve
The sun is mean if you miss its grin
The day is harshly bright if you forget its light
wonders and continuous wonders
that transcend the confines of our mere thoughts
Life’s lesson is best captured in its strife
Its beauty in the emptiness of its duty
To death, a deferent departure from this earth
Dawn’s fullness through a day till dusk and then morn
If the sun wasn’t so mean dear
There would be much to fear
A deathly chill – need I say the rest?
Enjoy the sun – it hurts but know through it, we are blessed.