Saturday, 22 December 2012

Trekking through the Jungle

Okay, I will admit it before you get too excited: it wasn’t a jungle. It was more like a steady flow of water and rocks that made up a ravine surrounded by trees and thick foliage. So if you stretched your imagination a bit, it could feel like a jungle. Except that the wildest animals I saw were birds, spiders, endless webs, one buck and a single crab.

At first our walk just consisted of happy rock-hopping to avoid stepping in the shallow water and getting our shoes soaked. The real adventure began when it become impossible to hop from rock to rock and we had to move onto land on one side of the ravine. That would have been a piece of cake if the “land” wasn’t covered in thick bushes and thorny plants that we had to force our way through. And there was an abundance of those deceptively pretty flowers attached to thorny stems that inflict poison into your skin to produce red and slightly swollen scratches if you dare to come into their territory.

Sometimes we were forced to go out into the open, away from the water and bushes, and then had to put up with the humid sun. Then, when it was again possible, we would curve back downwards to the ravine. Once we had to climb up a small, but steep, wet rock-face since our way was once-again blocked by resentful shrubbery. Later, after we had walked awhile, we climbed back downwards, using a small, sapling of a tree for support. At one spot, we even startled a deer, which, poor thing, disappeared out of sight instantaneously. We crawled under fallen trees, along the bank while clinging onto whatever we could and, believe me, I nearly slipped several times on this venture.

Finally, we had well-earned rest on a big, flat rock where we chewed on dried mango strips and ate thick slices of banana bread smeared with butter. We sat there for awhile, just listening to the beautiful sound of flowing water and looking up at the sun shimmering on the leaves that made up the sky above our heads. We then took the road instead of the “jungle” on the walk back home, our arms and legs bearing proof of a battle with thorns, branches and mud. There is something satisfying about those scratches and mud patches though; they are the evidence that we braved and survived a trek through the “jungle”………….

All pictures taken by Jess Leigh

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Small Joys

There’s something so soothing and beautiful about rain falling gently outside my bedroom window. Walking outside in the cool night air with the full moon shining up above is bliss. Just the beauty of the sun shimmering across long grass or through leaves in a tree fills me with peace. There are so many small, wonderful joys in our everyday life that we tend to overlook. I am one of those “old-fashioned” people who love reading, poetry, art, nature and beautiful things completely devoid of technology. In fact, I believe that technology, such as computers, internet, cell phones, etc, are just distractions from the things in our lives that really matter. Technology has provided a busy life so that you never have to get bored. But maybe what it really has done is take away those important moments of thoughtful meditation, of noticing everyday miracles and of hearing God’s voice whisper through the simple things around us.

Technology has its place and I use it daily. But I can’t help but be annoyed when I see how teenagers are so dependent on it that they can’t have a face-to-face conversation without looking at their cell phones every few minutes. To me, it is so sad that we have let some things of the past go. The love of art and literature and learning and classical music are slipping away, being replaced with less important things like the latest gadgets. I mean we even have digital books! What ever happened to  the joy of just  holding a book in your hands and being able to turn the pages with enjoyment?  Perhaps I just long for the times when creative things were appreciated, and people weren’t always in a rush and cramming their days with activities. 

We, especially teenagers, need to learn to appreciate the small joys that surround us each day, the organic and natural joys.  Instead of always chatting over your phones about nothing in front of people, learn to have real, heart-felt conversations with those in front of you, for that is how you make real friends. Instead of taking things for granted or pining away over the fact that you don’t own the newest technology, look around you and notice the things God gives you for free: gorgeous sunsets, colourful flowers, songs of crickets, family, friends and the list can go on.  You may think these are just ramblings of a nostalgic girl who doesn’t sound like she’s living in the 21 Century, but I think a healthy dose of simplistic things would do the world some good.  I challenge you today to not overlook small, wonderful things, but to see their beauty and to savour it.