they shall not grow old

The title is taken from a poem written during World War I. It was eventually set to music by Karl Jenkins. The somber rendition in the link, would have made a great sound track for my history lesson this week as I taught my students about the death toll at Verdun (700,000 men) and the Somme (over 1 million men). As we worked through the imagery of incessant shelling, gas bombs, artillery bombardments and the trenches, the words of the poem came to mind. Those who survived must have lived it over and over and over.


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Laurence Binyon, FOR THE FALLEN

World War I seems like ages ago but not death. Each time, I receive a notification about a peer who has passed on, it’s very jarring. Jarring because I guess I was sold a lie about growing up.

When you grow up, you shall be able to do whatever you want. You can do that when you are older. Be patient, your time will come. What once seemed like sage advice now rings hollow. Hollow and shallow platitudes.

Because some do not grow old. In my senior six vacation, just before, we joined campus, to study our desired courses….I received the news that a dear friend, Gordon Mulinzi had been in an accident with his family. Some members had passed away but he was still in a coma. Even after his brave fight, he passed away. What?! After the hustle of reading for our A’levels, the discussions, the winter, the jubilation over being admitted to Makerere University on government sponsorship…he will always be a vacist, never a graduate.

‘Annet has died,’ were the few words my distraught friend managed to choke out as we packed our bags to leave at the end of our university. Annet had told me about her plans to go conclude with her fieldwork supervisor. She did not return. A boda boda knocked her down. It was Annet who held my hand when I despaired of learning, she faithfully took down her notes neatly and dropped off her books for me to copy. She made sure I was always in her discussion groups so she could ensure my name got onto the assignment. She carried me to meet lecturers, so they would put a face to my name. Annet will always be a student.

Gloria, very vibrant with such wise and subtle cracks, lay on her sick bed. A shadow of her former self. Cancer. She had a baby girl and a dotting husband. She managed to get us all to laugh again, even though she herself could only manage a weak smile. A few weeks later, I woke up to a notification, ‘Gloria has gone to be with the Lord’. There will be no reunions for her. No baptisms. No graduations. No firsts for her baby. Gloria will always be a bride.

Simon, recently succumbed to COVID-19. We were appointed as managers together to lead a new imitative. I fluked his honeymoon, cause we had to go and study and he decided to carry his young bride with him. It was fun. It was exciting. There were challenges but we always cracked solutions. He loved his work. He loved taking pictures. He loved people. Ever early. Ever reliable. I retired. Simon remained. Simon will always be working.

I remember them. We remember them. More as we age. They shall never grow old.

Photo credit: Pinterest

And maybe neither shall we, in the end we are The Fallen. Carpe diem, my friends. Carpe diem.

Shattered glass

Butter fingers. Soft, tender and dreamily melting in the mouth butter. It started with a cabbage that literally flew like a missile out of my hands into next stall, knocked over a bowl (katasa) of tomatoes, rolled into the peppers then somersaulted into the carrots. The drama of that cabbage.🙄 The stall owner totally unamused, narrowed her eyes and gave me THE LOOK! (For shame). But Jesus took my shame. I quickly gathered my fingers and wits, apologised profusely and rescued the errant cabbage.

This morning I broke a glass. Well, I wouldn’t quite say that I broke it. That would imply malice and aforethought. It slipped out of my fingers. Well, not quite slipped either. Let’s say, it bounced on and off my fingers, danced onto my finger tips and as we were just getting the hang of this waltz, it slipped off. And slid to the floor, where it made the most earth shattering noise! What had been a very quiet morning, was rudely interrupted by the crash and subsequent splattering of glass everywhere. Ssshhhhh

Photo credit: Pinterest

Why can’t glass keep silent as it shatters? Why does it have to spread every where? Why are the pieces so tiny? How do the pieces get into all those hard to reach crevices and nooks? Why is glass transparent?

The Quiet returns. But my mind was undulated as all these thoughts and more started to race through it. I quickly run to sweep up the glass shards. I had to do it quickly and swiftly. Because my once happy go to glass, was now a danger to anyone who came near it. Like porcupine quills, it’s shards keep everyone far away.

I sweep the debris into the dustpan. Sweep again to get any remaining pieces . Sweep again, this time, further away, shards do fly! The last sweep brings no glass. We are done with the cleanup. I get back to putting away the other glasses.

In that moment, I realized I could vow to never touch a glass again. I could make it public. I could even get accountability partners. I could give away all the glasses I have and replace them with all this trendy almost but not glass things. I could even sit my children, nieces and nephews down and lecture them on the dangers of glass and implore them to stay away from glass. Why? Because glass is dangerous. It shatters.

But then who sits and wails over a broken glass. Who calls their friend for comfort over a broken glass? A broken glass is replaceable and life it goes on.

Well, my dear reader, so it is with every other failure. Yes, it may seem like the world is coming to an end. It may seem like without this opportunity, you have reached the end of your road. Shame. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Not so.

Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is. The way you cope with it, is what makes the difference.

Virginia Satir

Because you carry around a mental image of a picture perfect life, failure will rattle you to your core. Take time to mourn your broken glass. Gather up the shards so you are not bleeding on people who didn’t hurt you. Pick the lesson and dispose of the debris. Soul debris takes a while to unravel, like pieces of glass hidden in the crevices, you keep finding bits you didn’t know we’re there. Trust the process.

When you are ready, put the rest of the glasses away. Or better yet, pour your favorite drink and savor the taste of goodness.

Never Enough

The Myth of Retirement. Part II

‘You need to save for your retirement,’ became the clarion call for all of us to move to the start of the rat race! The statement by itself maybe right but all information is filtered through the lenses of society and experience.

I finally got round to watching The Greatest Showman and observing the P.T. Barnum, it was like looking into a mirror. He finally lands the deal of a lifetime,Jenny Lind. You know that deal that we are all praying and looking for. The one that will propel us further up the societal curve and land us closer to retirement. The context of retirement in this case is included in an earlier blog. So, he lands this deal, in the form of a tour. And off he goes, he leaves his circus, his family, his wealth and pursues the deal with all his heart, nothing shall stop him.

Your salary is never enough to give you, the retirement you want: the pina colada sipping by the beach- kind, the golf playing by the ocean- kind, the house on acres of land- kind. Armed with this knowledge, we became deal (a.k.a some ka money chasers), what was trending? Could it be sold for profit? What kind of margins would it bring me? If they were good, they were added to the job. In addition to my employment business card, I added another and another and another. If there was money 💰 clinking into the pocket, it meant it was working. Not so?

Well, not quite. The insurance sales man, all dressed to kill, walks in and teaches us a new thing, it’s called life insurance. The compounding effect is unbelievable. Yes, we must do this! What does it entail? More money! So back to the drawing board, how much longer must I work to achieve this? How much more money must I squeeze out of these margins? That’s when, the walls came crumbling down, all these clinks in the back were not money. They were chocolate covered stones. At least there is chocolate, let’s continue!

Back to the rat race! But it was never enough. Doors continually opened. Doors continually closed. Time remained finite even when I dared to defy it. The sun set at the same time and rose at the same time. Every morning carried a work load from the previous day and the day before that and the day before that. Yet, still, each day came with it’s own work load, ‘a woman’s work is never done,’ I quipped and carried on.

Lying on that hard hospital bed, with a canula attached and the whole clinic looking for what was wrong? I slowly came to the realization that this would never work. Either I was going to die trying or simply die. From where I lay, there were no pina coladas, no golf courses, no home baked goodies, just endless white ceiling.

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
John 17:3 NKJV

Eternal means never ending. If I have eternal life, I have never ending life. It means that if my life is never ending, I need to live it better. I need to make better choices. It gets better.

Jesus Christ continues to say that life is about knowing God, the only true God and knowing Jesus Christ. Knowing, like knowing knowing? Or knowing like knowing? 😂😂

Thank God for the Greek word, ginóskó that is more definitive. To know experientially, first hand. Like the intimate knowledge of a husband and a wife. Wow.

Repeat it again.

So you mean that eternal life is not living forever and ever. It is, because God is eternal. Knowing God will take you through to eternity.

When Mary, the sister of Martha met Jesus, she decided that her singular purpose in life would be to sit at the feet of Jesus. Her sister, Martha even complained to Jesus about her workload and Mary not lifting even a finger to help, Mary did not bat an eyelid. Being seated is a position of rest, she rested. She found such delight in knowing Jesus that she was the only one privileged to prepare his body for death. Her very expensive perfume (worth an entire year’s wages) was nothing compared to the joy she found using the perfume to anoint his feet and body. This same Mary was the first person to meet the risen Jesus. Jesus Is Enough.

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41‭-‬42 NKJV