Let go, and let God

Let go, and let God

It’s been four months since my last post. Life somehow took over, I guess, releasing an avalanche of events and emotions, which are still unfolding.
At first, I thought I would write to you about what it is that’s been keeping me busy. But then I thought: each one of us is carrying their own cross. Why should my current circumstances be any heavier or more “special” than yours. So, instead of focusing on the events that have been keeping me away from you and writing, I decided to focus on the message life has been trying to teach me instead: Let go, and let God.

The messy truth

I like to think of myself as a pious person, whose faith in a loving God is at the center of her life. But I have to concede that this more of an aspiration. A wishful state. Reality is much more messy.

The truth is that I’ve spent most of my life relying on my own understanding of things. Planning. Organising. Trying hard to be and stay in control of circumstances around me. And the older I get, the more I realise just how “out of control” life is, and the harder I strive to “be in control”.

The messy truth is that, while I long for a strong faith, anchored in a personal relationship with God, I’m far from either. Though I keep trying. 

The unpredictable scares me.

I’m scared of getting hurt.
Falling sick.
Being at the mercy of medical practitioners, politicians, regulators, legislators.
The uncertainty of my decisions and their repercussions paralyse me at times. After all, how can I know for sure what the best course of action is?

There have been times in my life where I knew exactly what I needed to do. Not an ounce of a doubt in me.
Now is not one of those times. 

I so long to be able to relax.
Let go of all responsibilities.
Let go of the load, weighing on my soul’s beaten shoulders.
Let someone else take the reins for a change.

And the irony is that this is exactly what Jesus told us He would do for us:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11: 28, NIV)

A beautiful flowing colorful abstract painting and the words of Matthew 11:28-30. Bible verse to comfort the soul.
Art and design by Sharon Cummings

Life’s teaching moments

Every experience, every challenge I have been facing this far, has been trying to teach me the same lesson, over-and-over.

Let go, and let God.

Years back, when I injured my back, my doctor told me that if I had let myself fall, I wouldn’t have hurt as much. Holding on made my fall worse.

My current joints, heel and hip pain are caused, among other things, by weak and tense muscles that are not letting go.

What is it that I am so desperate to hold on to?

A life without loss or pain?

I seem to be stuck in the hurts of the past, and the hopes and fears of a distant future; when my salvation lies in the present moment of what is. Not what was. Not what can or will be. What is. 

I am now due for a dental surgery, where I am at the mercy of the surgeon operating on me.
I have no control over the risks, and I was told there are a few.
I have no control over how well my body may or may not be able to heal.
I have no control over the pain that may ensue, and the time I will need to recover.

I wished I knew how to let myself fall – knowing that God’s net is there to catch me.

In the not so distant past

There used to be a time when I could do that – let go of all worries, and just
know that all will be well.

A time where my faith and trust in God was

That was also the time when I talked to Him every day,
like one talks to a long-time friend,
a loving Father,
and He spoke back.

I don’t do that anymore, talking to him,
or at least not as often,
and I wonder why…

God’s messengers

As I wrestle with these thoughts, God sent me two messengers.

A., a catholic nun.
God had sent her my way, six years ago, during one of my darkest hours, as I grappled with burnout.
A week ago, she sent an e-mail about an upcoming Silent Retreat she is organising. So I jumped on the opportunity. In fact, I am on my way there right now as I write this post, hoping that within that communal silent space, I find the courage to talk to Him again and hear His voice. 

B., my refugee friend.
She has been struggling with financial and health issues for some time. When I asked her if I can help her financially in any way, she said:

Oh no, I have all I need! Some people complain that they don’t have enough money, or not good health. But how can I complain when I know that everything that comes my way comes from the hands of God? I am happy and content with whatever He hands me, and I trust His will and His gifts. I know He is there watching over me, making sure I have what I need one day at a time.

Her faith both shamed and inspired me.

Let go, and let God

God wants to teach me to rely on Him. Not myself. Not man. Him.

He’s telling me that all my previous accomplishments, the troubles I got out of, is not because I did it – but because He saw me through it. And, Lord knows, I’ve put myself in some pretty big messes in the past. But His grace saw me through it – unscathed. Why would He forsake me now?

He wants me to trust in His will for me. Trust that He has my best spiritual interest in mind. Trust that, even if something goes wrong with my upcoming operation, He is a faithful God and He will see me through. Just like he did in the past.

He’s teaching me to trust to …

… Let go, and let God.


I am now sitting in the train, on my way back home from the Silent Retreat.
I feel gifted and carried.
And I feel the need to share with you some of of what I was gifted with.

Here is what I wrote (unedited) after my first meditation time in the morning:

I am still and at peace inside.
I bask in the warmth of His embrace and comfort.
I feel calm for I know He has been guiding me through past events,
for whatever lies ahead of me,
however scary it may see,
will bring me goodness.

I rely on His will for me;
His plan for me;
not mine.
There is also a sense of gratitude and comfort in me
to be surrounded by others who share in the love of Jesus,
and long for His voice and presence, as I do.
Their community,
even if in silence,
consoles my soul and
fills it with peace.

Landscape picture over the ocean and cliffs with verses 1-2 of Psalm 18

Later on, we meditated on Psalm 18, and I chose the following verses to meditate on:

I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
my God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”
(Psalm 18, 1-2, NIV)

Ocean picture from under water with verse 16 from Psalm 18

And later on, as we were closing the day,  I meditated on the verse:

He reached down from on high and took hold of me (…)
You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
(Psalm 18, 16; 28, NIV)

At peace

I just sat there, with those Psalm words, in silence, with God.
And I could feel Him, carrying me
like a Father carries His daughter.
I felt Him around me – embracing me.
And tears started flowing.
Tears of joy, and relief,
knowing He is here, and that
He loves me. 

I can finally let go, and let God take the reins of my life.

I no longer feel the need to be in control, for He is. 

An abstract blue background with verses 28-29 from Psalm 18


I felt the need to close the loop. End the story so to speak. It’s a happy ending, although not without its set of challenges, pain and doubts.

God was faithful and supported me through my operation, and offered relief when I was most in pain. He was also faithful after the operation as I was recovering. But then came an infection, and my doubts and fears re-surfaced.

Over the years, in moments when I needed to hear God’s voice – when I needed an answer – I would go knocking at His door.
How you ask?
I would talk to Him, share with him my worry – doubts – question – fear – and ask him for guidance.
How does He guide me?
Through His word.
The Bible.
After I’ve opened my heart to Him, I would open my Bible App, close my eyes and click with my finger there where my spirit guides me:
a Bible Chapter.
a Verse.

On that day, when the infection was spreading and pain started to re-surface, that’s exactly what I did.
And His Spirit guided me to Tobit 5:13.
Tobit had been blinded and frustrated, if not somewhat bitter, over his fate. When the Angel of God came into his home one day, greeting him saying “May gladness be always with you” – Tobit answers: “What kind of gladness will be for me, since I sit in darkness and do not see the light of heaven?”. And so the Angel responds to him with verse 13:

“Be steadfast in soul. Your cure from God is near.”
(Tobit 5:13, KJV)

And so it was. Not just for Tobit. Also for me.

Mountaneous landscape with a woman standing at one edge and the inscription of Proverbs 3: 5-6

Recommended resources: 

“You will never make it without anti-depressants” she said. (part II)

“You will never make it without anti-depressants” she said. (part II)

In my first post titled You will never make it without anti-depressants” (part I), I spoke to you about my burnout and what helped me through it. And for three years, I felt content, complete, and hopeful that I would never have to go through something like this again.

All was Quiet On The Western Front… 

… until the day I found myself in London (UK), attending a Stress Management class.

Thirty minutes into the session, the building started shaking. The instructor explained we had nothing to fear – they were digging in a nearby site and all was safe. 

By mid-day, my hands felt cold as ice. So, I wrapped myself in my jacket and scarf. I was freezing, even though my fellow training participants seemed comfortable in their light autumn garments.  Throughout the day, I felt a general sense of unease, and was relieved when the day was finally over and I could get back to my hotel room.


A yellow I want you to panic! sign on wooden background.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels

Panic attack

As soon as I got into my room on the ground floor, I started having palpitations. My heart was racing. My chest was tight. My breathing was fast and shallow. I felt dizzy, and my mind was in a haze… 

I was having a panic attack. 

I tried to calm my mind. Tell myself that I was safe. Take deep breaths. To no avail. My body was hijacked in a flurry of panic and confusion. Followed by a flood of diarrhoea. I was scared. Confused. My legs felt weak. No matter how I tried to reason with my body that all was well – it wouldn’t listen. It was on overdrive, and I had no means to control it. 

I felt like I was losing my mind. 

I called my international health provider who suggested I go to a nearby clinic – but what for? I knew there was nothing physically wrong with me. I didn’t need a Doctor. I needed a comforter. 

So I called my mom. 

I told her what was happening, and she stayed with me on the phone for over an hour. Soothing me. Praying for me. Until it was time to go to bed. 

Eventually, the heart palpitations slowed down, and I was able to fall asleep. But it was a bumpy night, mainly because I was afraif of having another panic attack in the middle of the night.

The next day

When I woke up the next day, the sheer idea of having to go back to that training building made my stomach churn. So, I re-scheduled my flight for one leaving that same day in the afternoon, and I told my teachers I was unwell and won’t be coming back to class. Then I checked-out and headed to a nearby park. 

Being in nature has always had a calming effect on me. I sat on the green grass. Watched the tree leaves flutter in the wind. Gazed at the sky. Breathed and prayed. Then I dragged myself on the Tube to the airport, and somehow made it through the flight back home. 

The whole day I spent in fear of a second panic attack, which never materialised. 

I had never had a panic attack before – not even during my burnout. And the irony that all of this happened while being on a STRESS MANAGEMENT class was not lost on me!

It’s uncomfortable, but not dangerous

While I never had another panic attack, that incident shook me at my core, and I found myself falling into a mini-depression for about a month. Once again, I was reminded of just how fragile I was, and how temporary feelings of anxiety or even depression will most likely keep coming in and out of my life. The Yin to my Yang …

I went to see my former psychotherapist.

She explained to me how panic attacks work, and reassured me that they ALWAYS pass. In fact, she said that people who get frequent panic attacks are better off waiting it out rather then combatting it with medication or even trying to “rationalise” the experience as I did in my hotel room.
“When you allow the body to go through the full panic cycle naturally (also called “flooding”), panic attacks can stop after 10-20 minutes vs. hours (as in my case)”, she said. “Often, they don’t come back. And if they do, they become less intense and less frequent” (here an insightful video by Dr. Harry Barry on the subject).

I felt a huge sense of relief to know that panic attacks, while very uncomfortable, are not dangerous, and that they always pass. 

Christ Church Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand
Christ Church in Christchurch, New Zealand

An old trauma revived

As I explored with my therapist the possible reasons for my panic attack, I realised that two main factors had contributed to that moment. 

1. The shaking classroom in London had revived in me an old trauma. 

In 2012, I woke up in a hotel room in Christchurch, New Zealand, to a thundering rumble and a building that was swinging like it was made out of cardboard. I grabbed our baby daughter, who was asleep next to me, in panic, and together with my husband we ran outside. The earth under our feet and everything around us was rattling. I held our daughter ever so tightly. 

It was New Year’s Eve. 

We kept experiencing one after-shock after the other that day. Massive black stones roared as old church buildings shook. I remember feeling a general sense of panic and fear all day, and throughout the night. Thankfully, my husband remained calm and composed through it all. 

2. Counselling employees on long-term sick leave.

Working as a Case Manager and Counsellor that year seemed to have taken a toll on me. While I loved and deeply cared for my work and my clients, I had to come to the conclusion that my high sense of empathy was a double-edged sword. My inability to keep a healthy boundary between my clients’ heart-wrenching life stories and my own, was pulling me down into a rabbit hole I knew I did not want to lose myself in. 

Hard decisions were in order

I worked on my old Christchurch trauma with my therapist.

I told my counselling managers that I will not be extending my temporary counselling assignment for another 6 months. Instead, I would stop by end of year as originally planned. 

And, after a long soul searching, and with the support of my coaching supervisor, I decided not to pursue my second year diploma in Coaching. It would have implied flying back to the UK within four weeks, while I was still feeling shaken. Not to mention the long nights studying and writing assignments that I knew were awaiting me.

I was yet again trying to do too much… I needed to be kind to myself and set priorities.

Highlighted Bible verse in Bible Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose

All things come together for the good

This is one of my favourite Bible verses:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Did I enjoy having a panic attack? Definitely not! But it ended up being my saving grace in many ways: 

1. It allowed me to start a healing process of my Christchurch trauma. 

2. It saved me from 6 months of turmoil and heartache, had I accepted that counselling assignment extension. A series of unfortunate events led to the dismantling of that team at the end of December, a few days before Christmas. Had I extended my assignment, I would have found myself in a very unfortunate and miserable situation. 

3. Thanks to a highly empathetic school director, I was able to pass my Stress Management class remotely. 

4. Instead of pursuing another general diploma, I got to focus my time and energy on specialised coaching trainings instead, such as Strengths coaching, Gestalt coaching, Team coaching and Non-Violent Communication. This turned out to be the more appropriate and fruitful path for me, and I’ve never regretted my decision. 

5. Finally, all of the above allowed me to pursue a new career path as an individual-, strength- and team- coach, and workshop facilitator.

Once again, God had proven himself faithful and merciful unto me and my family. 

One day at a time

The old me would have been very harsh on myself – judging every one of my decisions as a Loser’s decision. A Coward’s decision.

How can you give up so quickly – what’s wrong with you? 

What do you mean you’re taking an earlier flight and dropping a class you’ve been looking forward to for months? 

What do you mean you’re giving up on your counselling dream and not extend your stay with the team?

What do you mean you’re going to withdraw your coaching diploma application – which you already paid for by the way?!

But the truth is: Not taking the decisions I took would have been the real act of cowardice.

Not listening to my body and what the panic attack was trying to communicate to me would have been foolish.

By listening to my gut, and doing what felt right deep within my soul, I not only honoured my needs at the time, but it also led me on an alternative path. A path which tunred out to be much more fulfilling than my original plan.

It’s now been three years since my panic attack, and I haven’t had another one since. Part of me worries about it possibly happening again. And I do seem to have developed a fear of flying since then… Oh well! 🙂

For now, I’ve decided to take things one day at a time – riding the waves of life as they present themselves.

Recommended resources: 

“You will never make it without anti-depressants” she said. (part I)

“You will never make it without anti-depressants” she said. (part I)

You will never make it without antidepressants.” 

These were my psychiatrist’s “words of encouragement” during our first session, when I uttered, between my tears, that I wanted to try to get through this without medication.

The five years prior to this meeting had been anything but a walk in the park.
I was the mother of a sensitive baby (then toddler) with big needs, and spent three years barely getting three consecutive hours of sleep.
My husband was going through his own mid-life crisis.
And I found myself at work sandwiched between a rock and a hard place.
I felt unappreciated, unsupported, unloved. Crushed under the weight of daily responsibilities, and, in many ways, alone.
So, what did I do? I kept going. When my friends and family asked me how I was doing, I would paint a big smile on my face and say: “I’m OK.”

But I wasn’t. My soul was weighing heavy with pain.

At some point, my body, heart and soul decided to take over the reins. If I was not going to pull those breaks and change something, they were going to do it for me. I found myself crying all the time; incapable of making the smallest of decisions; overwhelmed by everything.

Cooking. Noise. Music. TV. My own child.

The simplest of tasks, like sorting my books or shopping at the nearby supermarket felt like a mountain waiting to be climbed.

Source: quotevill.com


Reaching out

My family doctor said I was having a burn-out and needed to be hospitalised. “I don’t want to be away from my child”, I sobbed.
“I understand, she is still little”, she said. “You may want to consider a day-clinic then. Here’s a sick-leave note for your work. And here’s another note for your health insurance”.

My health insurance said it was a depression. Hospitalisation would be the easiest, they proclaimed. “Easiest for whom?!”, I wondered. A day-clinic stay, they explained, would involve a whole set of bureaucratic procedures which may take months. “But I want to be with my family”.

They didn’t care. Procedures come first.

I knew deep inside what I needed… and I knew I was not going to get it through State agents or health institutions. I needed to muster whatever energy I still had left in me and build myself my own individual web of support.

My initial emergency helpline, to get me through life one day at a time (sometimes one hour at a time), were my parents. With God’s grace, they moved from Egypt to Switzerland, two weeks after my mental collapse, into the apartment literally next door (same building, same floor). Say what you will, but I know I have God to thank for this nothing short of a miracle.

My second helpline was my psychotherapist, who was a wholesome, supportive and compassionate soul.

But my health insurance agent struck again: “We can’t pay for a psychotherapist. We only recognise psychiatrists”.


A big mistake

So, I left my trusted therapist, and poured my heart out to my new psychiatrist so she can tell me that medication was my only way out.

“They’re not a big deal”, she said, handing me some pharmaceutical pamphlet. But I knew from my counselling work that this wasn’t true. “I don’t want to take antidepressants” I repeated. “They often don’t work or act as a placebo, and they can have nasty side-effects. I want to try to do this without medication”.

“You will never make it without antidepressants.” she asserted.

I left her office gutted, feeling even more down than when I entered her office, dragging my lead-heavy legs back home.
She wouldn’t even look me in the eye. The whole time I was pouring my heart out, she kept looking at her watch. 

Upon my second visit to her office, sensing her uninterested gaze upon mine, I mustered all my courage and said:

“I will not be coming back here anymore.”

Her eyes widened: “Oh… that’s quite a surprise”. Really?  “I was counting on us working together over a longer period of time”. No, thank you! I’d rather use up my savings than be at your and the health insurance’s mercy.

Source: Pinterest, saved by Bloom Taliercio


Carving my way out.

It took me four months to regain a new sense of balance.

With the loving support of my parents, the compassionate ear of my therapist, with my husband and daughter by my side, encouraging friends who forced me out of my shell, and my faith in God.

I knew I needed a daily structure of some sort, so I don’t sink in the shifting sands of my muddled mind, wallowing in old miseries. So I read up on what type of activities clinics do, and created my own schedule, guided by what inspires me, gives me energy and a sense of purpose.

Feeling alive & creative

I started exercising in the morning.

Took up a painting class. And one of my friends coaxed me to sign up to a dance class she was visiting. Both of these activities allowed me to give form and colour to my pain and the hope I had within me. It was cathartic.

Re-igniting old passions

I started writing children’s books again, and joined a wonderfully supportive critique group online.

And honouring my love to learn, I joined all kinds of online courses on a variety of topics that interest me. Parenting courses. Writing courses. Coaching courses. Psychology courses. Happiness courses. Through these courses, I was able to connect to fellow students, their experiences and stories. Some of them have now become dear friends.

Gaining a new sense of purpose

I volunteered a couple of hours a week with the Salvation Army in the kitchen, serving lunch to school children and washing dishes. It felt good to be part of a supportive community, while feeling “useful” again.

Food for the soul

I researched silent retreats in my area, and found a beautiful home for nuns that opens to the public for silent days of prayer. So I joined them, and have been going there ever since. Contemplating. Chanting. Reflecting. Praying. Spending time in nature. Simply “being” in the silent warmth of other yearning souls. Seeking peace.

I joined an elderly church group for Bible study, whose members filled my heart with love and companionship, in the only way 70-year olds can.

And I created a “sacred” corner in my room. I covered my shrine with a cloth imprinted with Jesus’ picture, holding a benevolent look towards me. And I placed on it pictures of people I love, memorabilia that transposed me to a happier time, a cross and my Bible.
This corner became my retreat every morning and evening. I prayed. I cried. I talked to God about my pain. Reproached Him for allowing my suffering, begging Him to take it away.

He did,

But more importantly, I know today, more than ever, that He guided and supported me through it all, so I can use that pain to metamorphose my life to what it is today.

I also made it a ritual to walk to a beautiful nearby Catholic church every day, sit inside the shrine (there was nobody else there), and read my Bible. It filled me with a sense of peace and calm, to visit my Father’s house and read His word in perfect stillness.

“Mon âme se repose en paix sur Dieu seul,
de lui vient mon salut.

Oui, sur Dieu seul mon âme se repose,

se repose en paix.”

It was hard! 

Please don’t get me wrong. None of this was easy! Getting myself out of the house to get to any one of those activities was excruciatingly hard.

Part of me just wanted to crawl into bed and never have to get up. I felt like I was being sucked into a dark cold hole, a bottomless pit. It’s scary when you are taken hostage by your own mind… and you don’t know how to make it stop or how to escape it. But I had to try… Whenever my mind wondered away into a dark alley or headed towards a cliff, I would either:

Get busy – with ANYTHING – reading, going to my parents’, cooking, exercising, taking a shower, …
I would repeat a Bible verse over and over again. These were my favourite:

“Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For your thoughts are not of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23, Berean Literal Bible).

“The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1)

And Psalm 91.

One thing was certain, whenever I fell into one of my “dark episodes”, I needed to keep on moving. I needed to dust myself off and find a way out. Wallowing in that dark spot was not an option! For I knew if I did, I may end up losing myself in a “no man’s land”, with no return ticket.

Finding allies

My parents were critical allies for me, as were my listening/empathy partners. If you are curious what a listening/empathy partner is, check out this article and this one :). While the context of these articles is parenting, the principles explained can be used in any situation.

My husband was also of great support to me. It was difficult for him at that time to support me emotionally (he had his own “shit” to sort through, as he would say). But he was my rock: caring for our toddler pretty much single handedly; taking all necessary decisions so I didn’t have to face its oppressive pressure; and pushing me to get out of the house…

I don’t think I wanna go to the dance class today, I would mutter, curling up on our living room sofa, sinking deeper in my dark well.

“Of course you’re going! You love it once you’re there, don’t you”?

Yes, but I’m not sure I have the energy to get out. And it’s cold, was my excuse.

“Get dressed and go. You’ll love it. HY will also be there. And you don’t need to worry about K. (our daughter). I’m here”.

With a big sigh, I would lift my heavy legs off the couch, and drag my lifeless body out of the house.

But once I was in the dancing studio, HY would greet me with her big smile and we’d chat. And then J., our dance teacher, would show up, armed with his enthusiasm, positivity and, let’s face it, an incredibly toned body!
After some chit-chat, he would play the most heavenly music by Max Richter, while guiding our bodies to express themselves in a way that gave wings to my soul. Tears often came streaming down, as I gave shape to my pain and released it through movement.

I felt alive again, quickly wiping away my tears lest anyone notice.


Re-building my world

It took me four months.

They were the hardest four months of my life. But I made it out of the pit.

One day I woke up, and those emotions that laid so heavy on my chest felt all of a sudden lighter. I started to feel joy again. I started to make plans. I also knew I needed to make some changes in my life, starting with my job. I needed to learn to let people in. Give myself permission to share my needs and say “no” or “later”.

Little by little, I re-built my world… a new world… with a new sense of purpose and confidence that all things will work together for the good.

I still had ups and downs.

Some days were better than others.

But all in all, I knew I was on the right track, and that I will make it. Not because I’m especially strong or special. Sure, I refused to give in to the voice of despair thundering in my head, and I reached out for help. But I was also fortunate to have compassionate people around me, willing to support me, challenge me, and push me when I needed a push. And most importantly, my Faith in God and His healing words, helped sustain me as I re-built my world.

Brave – Winnie the Pooh and Piglet.
Source: Pinterest, saved by Marie-Louise Jaeger


Moving on

It’s been exactly 5 years since my burnout. And I pass by that psychiatrist’s office every day on my way to work.

And when I do, part of me wonders how it would be like if I were to walk up to her in her office and say:

“Remember me? Probably not… Five years ago, you sat here and told me that I would never make it through without antidepressants. Well, here I am to tell you that I did!
Just because you wear a white coat, doesn’t mean you know it all! You sure as hell didn’t know me!
Curiosity and Humility can go a long way.
Listening to your patients with genuine interest can go a long way.
Exploring with them the resources they have in themselves and around them can go a long way.
Showing up as a genuine human being can go a very long way.
Please don’t ever doubt the resourcefulness of your patients again, no matter how desperate or “broken” they may seem. Your job is to lift them up, not crush them down!”

Maybe one day, I will. Meanwhile, I’m just gonna keep on moving.

Recommended resources: 

Where do I belong: Ode to a chaotic world

Where do I belong: Ode to a chaotic world

I wrote this poem – Where do I belong – in a moment of deep sadness, feeling a sense of loss – lost in the world we live in, the values it espouses, the fears it harbors – loss of where to fit in. And so I dedicate this poem to all those who, like me, are searching for meaning in a chaotic world.

Where do I belong

Where do I belong
if not with Thee.

In a world of tumultuous
persistent flow of
information that carries
no knowledge,
no substance,
no creed.

A world of chaos,
Where the deafening silence
of disconnection pervails.
Where compasses swirl around
in infinite confusion,
for haven’t you heard?
North has been cancelled,
striken from existence,
relegated to superstition,
for who needs a North,
when every man is his own
a world of as many true Norths
as sand on a beach.

Where do I belong
if not with Thee.

In a world where
anything and 
where there is no right or wrong
but only subjective truths,
where liberalism, once an
aspiration, an
has become
the most tyrannical wave of all,
to judge, blame and shame,
nothing but BABEL all around, 
endless sounds of
nonsensical discourse,

A world where we believe
only what we see,
where scientism and materialism
rule the day,
where our mind
our brain,
our personality pure genetics,
a set of chemical interactions
that can be set and 
where man’s search for
is but a futile attempt
to fill the space till the
inevitable advent of our

Where do I belong
if not with Thee.

My soul stands here before you
in endless sadness,
in pain,
mourning the loss
of our divine humanity,
our celestial compass,
our true North.

Man, as his own master,
is but a myth,
a lie,
we are masters!
We’ve mastered
the blind leading the blind.

there are those who
inspire us,
those who mastered
mercy, and
but how?

Could it be that they
the unseen,
act as a
reflecting the light,
the beauty,
serenity, and
of a North outside themselves,
Thy true North,
that only hearts,
not minds,
can see.

Not where, but whom do I belong
if not to Thee.



New Year poems for a new beginning

New Year poems for a new beginning

2020 has been one strange year to say the least. So, in the spirit of last week’s Christmas poems, I thought I would share with you some of my favourite New Year poems as we welcome 2021

And I’ve also included a beautiful song by Voctave entitled This is My Wish / Let there be Peace on Earth. The lyrics, which I have added for you, are not only beautiful but also very suitable to our time. 

Happy New Year!

May God shower you and your loved ones with His many Blessings!

And may 2021 be a year of…
… Renewed Relationships,
… Social Closeness (not distancing),
… Hope &
… Inner Peace! 

Poem 1:  NEW YEAR

Another year is coming to a close.
We can forget our troubles and woes.

For me, this year was tough.
It brought many emotions, was tearful and rough.

Now another year is approaching fast.
Let’s hope it’s a New Year with love and health; let’s hope it’s a blast.

May all of your dreams come true
And you find peace and love in all that you do.

May this world know the gentle sound of a hush.
May it calm all its anger and slow its pace from the rush.

May we all hear the sound of joy
And push away all that hurts, all that destroys.

The New Year I hope will be good to us all.
Care and calm, a helping hand when we fall.

Listen more, slow down, and say I love you.
Stop for a moment; take a breath, take in the view.

Appreciate your family; tell them you care.
Do something exciting, a thrill or a dare.

Enjoy all that the New Year may give.
We have but one life, so let’s learn to live.

It’s a New Year, a brand new start.
Always remember, live and love from your heart.

Wishing each and every one a year to behold,
And may it be full of wonders for you to unfold.

Love, hugs, and kisses too…
A very happy New Year from me to you.

– A poem by Sandra Hearth (published in 2018)


Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be

– A poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892)

 Poem 3: FAITH    

 Lord, give me faith!–to live from day to day,
 With tranquil heart to do my simple part,
 And, with my hand in Thine, just go Thy way.
 Lord, give me faith!–to trust, if not to know;
 With quiet mind in all things Thee to find,
 And, child-like, go where Thou wouldst have me go.
 Lord, give me faith!–to leave it all to Thee,
 The future is Thy gift, I would not lift
 The vail Thy Love has hung ‘twixt it and me.

 “I WILL!”

 Say once again Thy sweet “I will!”
 In answer to my prayers.
 “Lord, if Thou wilt!”–
 –“I will!
 Rise up above thy cares!”

 – A poem by William Arthur Dunkerly

And here another beautiful song by Voctave that really fits the current season.
Lyrics are at the bottom.



This is my wish 
My wish for the world 
That peace would find its way 
To every boy and girl 
This is the time 
The time for harmony 
Let love be the song 
That everybody sings 

Fill the air with joyful noise 
Bring the bells and raise your voice 
Let there be peace on earth 
Let there be peace on earth 

Lift your light and let it shine 
Let it shine, shine, shine 
Let every voice be heard 
Let there be peace on earth 

I hear the sweetest sound 
The sound of hope to come 
Together we could bring 
Goodwill to everyone 

Let it start with you 
Let it start with me 
Let every nation rise 
And sing this melody 

Fill the air with joyful noise 
Bring the bells and raise your voice 
Let there be peace on earth 
Let there be peace on earth

Lift your light and let it shine
Let it shine, shine
Let every voice be heard
Let there be peace on earth
Let every voice be heard
Let there be peace on earth 

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me
Let there be peace on earth
A peace that was meant to be 

With God as our Father
Brothers all are we 

Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony 

Fill the air with joyful noise
Bring the bells and raise your voice
Let there be peace on earth
Let there be peace on earth 

Lift your light and let it shine
Let it shine, shine, shine
Let it Shine, shine, shine
Let it shine, shine, shine 

And every voice be heard
Let there be peace
Let there be peace On earth
And let it begin… With me.

The true meaning of Christmas: a new take on an old story

The true meaning of Christmas: a new take on an old story

Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year. Streets and homes are lit in bright colours. Chimneys and trees are decorated. Families who haven’t seen each other for some time meet again for some holiday cheer (or drama depending on your family :)). Children rejoice at their end-of-year school vacation and, of course,… PRESENTS! So, is that the true meaning of Christmas?

When I was a child…

… Christmas was a very special time. We didn’t celebrate Christmas on December 25, but December 31. It was a combined Christmas and New Year celebration, and I cherished every minute of it!

In those days, it wasn’t about the Christmas tree – in fact we never had one. Nor was it about the presents  – we didn’t have those either. Yet the house always buzzed with excitement and trepidation days before the big event. And everyone had a role to play.
My brother and I helped decorate our walls with all kinds of garlands – both Christmassy and New Year’s Eve-y.
And I would accompany my dad to Giza’s biggest open market. It had everything, and I mean EVE-RY-THING! The baker next to the car mechanic. The vegetable market across from the butcher’s. The live animal market down the street from your favourite textile store. 

Traditional Giza open market with a potato seller and buyers.
Vegetables market in Giza, Egypt.
Picture by Khaled Elfiqi / EPA

I loved following my dad through the market’s maze of dirt roads, jumping over potholes, soaking-in every scent, colour and noise.

The feast

“I see you bought half the market again!” my mother would exclaim as we entered the house laden with bags over bags of meat, fish, bread, vegetables, fruits and a plethora of delicious Egyptian sweets.

All of our close friends were about to gather at our home that evening. There was no doubt as to why we were meeting, and who or what we were celebrating. And as evening time neared, my excitement grew, for I knew my dad would soon take out his Tabla (Egyptian drum), and our home would be filled with music, songs and laughter.  Not to mention – delicious scents of the great feast that was awaiting us!
God had gifted himself to us in our own image – our mortal human form – so we can live forever. This was a time of great rejoicing and thanks giving!

It’s 5 minutes before midnight.

The music stops. The chatter breaks down. The house lights get shut. Candles are lit. Incense scents replace the earlier food smells. And we would all kneel down in our living room.

We kneel before God in prayer and praise

H. usually led the prayer, with everybody else chanting after him in beautiful harmony and unison, as we welcomed the New Year:

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh (I am who I am – Exodus 3:14)
Adonai (The Lord)
Sabaot (of Hosts/Powers)
El Shaddai (God Almighty)” (Hebrew)

“Almagd lellah fel 2a3ali, we 3ala el 2ard el salam, we belnas el massarra” (Arabic for Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men – Luke 2:14)

“Kodous Allah. Kodous el qawi. Kodous el 7ay allathy la yamout” (Arabic for Holy God. Holy the Strong. Holy the Living who does not die)

“Kyrie Eleison. Kyrie Eleison. Ya rab er7am” (God have mercy)

And many more…

True meaning of Christmas. Two Pillar Candles lit in the dark.
We kneel before God in prayer and praise.
Photo by Matej Novosad from Pexels

The true meaning of Christmas

This was the true meaning of Christmas to me as a child. A time of Joy and Rejoicing. A time of Community. A time of both loud and quiet celebration of the birth of Christ – the rebirth of humanity. A time of new and hopeful beginnings.

This year more than ever, tainted by Corona restrictions and lock-downs, I’ve come to an important aha moment. I’ve come to realise just how much the Christmas we celebrate today in Western societies, and in my own home for that matter, has nothing to do with the Christmas I learned to love and cherish so much as a child.

Christmas is meant to be all about celebrating Jesus – God incarnate. Our Redeemer. And Our Saviour. But, in a secular world, that’s precisely the bit we ignore, discard, or relegate to an ignorant superstitious past.

A tale of two Christmases

We seem to have at least two kinds of Christmases today:
the Secular one, and
the Christian one.

The Secular Christmas has become the most popular kind in my view. Where Christ-mas is X-mas. Where pine trees are decorated. Where Santa Claus (originally inspired by St. Nicholas) is reminiscent of some “pagan deity” who sees everything, knows who’s naughty or nice, and bares gifts to the “good” children all around the world. Where reindeers fly, and elves rule the toy production industry. We light the biggest Christmas trees to attract shoppers, so we can keep feeding our lucrative capitalistic venture. We enjoy kissing under a mistletoe, and exchange gifts. We might still get together with family for a drink or a meal. But Emmanuel – God is with us no one knows His name.

The Christian Christmas on the other hand has been relegated mainly to churches. We might enjoy nativity plays (well not this year). Sing Christian carols and celebrate special mass in church.
The Christian Christmas has become something you “go to”, and…
… then you’re done.
A temporary sense of Community, albeit an important one in a secular world where the belief in a Creator has become the exception rather than the rule.
And after the “Christian” bit is over, we go back home where the Christmas celebration and family reunion revolve again around the decorated Christmas tree and the gifts underneath.

I am not suggesting we get rid of either one of these forms of Christmas, and people often mix and match. But I am missing my childhood one. 

The Church within

Because I love Christmas so much, part of me is saddened that our secular society has managed to strip this celebratory act of all of its meaning; turning it into just another commercial gimmick to sell even more stuff no one needs. 

Yes, I miss my childhood Christmas.

Even though we did not go to Church that day, we WERE a Church! We gathered as believers, connected in Christ, to celebrate the birth of the greatest King of all. That was my true meaning of Christmas, and O! how I miss that.

My family is no stranger to the Secular Christian Christmas. My daughter and I go to Church (well, again not this year), sing a bunch of carols, get back home and open presents. My husband doesn’t believe in God, and so our home festivities are relegated to the secular type. Although I do get to have a handcarved wooden Manger at the feet of our Christmas tree.

Ironically, the secularisation of Christmas, with its Santas, Elves, Reindeers, and Trees has not necessarily made it any friendlier to non-Christians as it seems – see this article for one such perspective.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course, I enjoy the family reunions over Christmas around a good meal! But, that’s not the point. The point is…

I miss those Christmas/New Year celebrations of my childhood – this year more than ever. I miss…
… the friendly gathering. I miss…
… the laughters. I miss…
… the jokes. I miss…
… the singing. I miss…
… that sense of Community. I miss…
… the spiritual praise of our Lord.
I miss having Church within my home.


Maybe it is in the waiting for God,
not in the wandering from store to store,
that we find our way.

Maybe it is in the friendship of God,

not in the frenzy of crowds,
that we are led to go to the manger.

Maybe it is in the steadfast love of God,
and not in the pile of stuff under the tree,
that we find what we have been searching for all our lives.

Maybe, just maybe, God of Advent,
this year will be different.

Maybe, just maybe,
we will let you lead us to Bethlehem.

– Thom Shuman

I wish you all a Merry Christmas! May your lives be filled with Peace. Love. And God’s many Blessings.