Through It All

The last few days have been difficult for a lot of Nigerians. The #EndSARS protests which started as a spontaneous reaction to police brutality became a wildfire that spread across several cities of the nation. Hoodlums began to take advantage of the protests to wreak havoc, leading to a worrisome security situation. Sadly, on the same day a curfew was declared in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, armed security forces opened fire on peaceful protesters with an unverified number of dead people and several injured. It was indeed a traumatizing experience for many.

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Covered by Love

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Here I am, lying in quiet contemplation
As you gently serenade my soul
With lyrics sung to an eternal tune.
You speak peace to my storms
And bring an end to my fears.
Your words stir my lukewarm soul
And awaken my heart to heavenly love

Love so tireless that it chases me
Down to depths of depression where I sink
Love so true that it pulls me out
From the chambers of darkness and death
As I fade away from the view of a busy world:
A world that moves on with ease
When this fragile frame I finally lay aside

Your love draws me out of myself into You
Into purpose and service and sacrifice
With fulfillment and everlasting joy
In Your presence, I find abundance of peace
Even in the midst of a troubled world.
So, once I was lost chasing shadows in the dark
But now I am found, shining brightly like a star

The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I am loved with a love that never ceases or fails, drawn with a kindness that has no precedence. God’s love calls out to me in the day time, whispers to me in the night seasons, heals me when I am wounded and restores me when I am broken. This love, so surreal, rejoices over me with gladness, like a sheep once lost now found. He sings to me joyfully as I lay quietly in the palm of his arms, covered by His love, without care or concern in this world.

Wonder

who planted a tree
in the middle of the ocean
and nurtured it to life?

how did its roots
get a hold of the seabed
and secure to a base?

how did its shoot
survive the undercurrents
and spring above the sea?

who shall number the days
of a tree that dwells in the ocean
or chronicle its tales?

A Tale of Time

The sweet chiming of bells; slow passage of time
Cackling of chickens and chirping of crickets
Remind me of the future we once dreamt about
The story of my life: a true motion picture
Far more to tell than that which meets the eyes
Much harder to sell in cold weather than ice
Hold your thoughts: this is a commercial break

You sang me a song when I turned sweet thirteen
Told me to be brave when I clocked seventeen
Truly no one was there when it mattered the most
Jobless and homeless at vague twenty-three
Crispy fried chicken slowly turned sour on my lips
Joyful birthday song growing dour by the year
Please wake me up now: all this has to be a dream

Look here we are, still awake, grinding out reality
Little feet follow me as I make my own mistakes
I traded away my fears at the currency exchange
But held on to my greed, an implicit part of me
Surely I must write my story, as I try to find my way
Though you must be wary as you listen to my tale
Yet no better tale was told than one made up on the go


Rise

Rise
Above my fears and your misfortune
Above your failure and my weakness
Today could just become your day
But first, you will need to rise again

Rise
To the tune of your glorious anthem
And the rhythm of my solemn pledge
To the challenge of restoring the ruins
And the labour of saving your name

Rise
Above this injustice and corruption
Beyond the limits of manipulation
Rise to the status of true nationhood
In unity and peace, by faith making progress

Rise
My beloved country, my dear friends and family
Above selfish interests and personal gain
Beyond finger-pointing to solution-finding
Until a great nation on the earth we truly become

O.J. Taiwo
Oct. 1, 2014

Shadows

Why do the shadows look bright, almost blood-red?
Strange hues of orange, like fire dancing in the dark
Remind us of the forgotten, whose blood were shed
And of fires we stoke as attack dogs keep up the bark

We forged strange friendships on the altars of deceit
Broke up alliances with those who cared how we fare
So when shadows light up, and we’re feeling the heat
We should not ask each other: “how did we get here?’

Joseph

Though a solitary wanderer lost in foreign lands
Yet stayed true to the culture of my native home
The blessings of my father were far much greater
Than amazing bounties found in everlasting hills
Eminent among brothers, a prince among sons
Humbled by circumstances; loved by my father
I found unusual favour with my Father above

He who brought me out of a dungeon so I could
Sit on thrones and teach wisdom to noble men
Makes for a wondrous tale every time it is told
Though depressing as I wandered through it all
And this births my message to every generation:
Hold on to faith as you go through the process
My name is Joseph: a fruitful bough by the well

Altars and Wells

One common thread we quickly observe as we journey through the story of the Jewish patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – is their devotion to basic principles that underpin their lives. These men were primarily farmers, owning and raising livestock as well as cultivating the ground. And they were often on the move in search of greener pasture (literally) or better farming conditions. But wherever they went, there were two things they always did: raise altars of prayer and dig wells of water. These two actions have great significance for us now as it did for them then. Let us explore further…

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Pain

In the throes of pain,
Nothing else matters more
Than the irresistible allure
Of good ol' sweet relief.
"Make it go away; make it
Stop and never start again"
You scream in agony.

Your words turn to gibberish
As the universe fades away
Surely would pay any price
To loose the gripping hold
Of pain, as neural connections
Send signals to your brain:
"The dam is almost burst".
 
But soon as pain is gone
Its memory starts to fade
And its gravity dissipates
What was a "live-or-die"
Becomes a "we-survived"
As people boast of victory
Over the struggles they had
 
Though never forgotten
Yet never as forceful
The only power it holds
Is the fear of its return
Which we easily relegate.
Pain loses its potency
Once it is gone away.

Toyin Taiwo, Sep 2020

On Loving People

The greatest treasures anyone can ever have are people. We are also the greatest trials we can ever experience. I write today to ask you to value the gift of people in your life, to pray for them and nurture them. Loyal and supportive, reliable and faithful, dependable and honest – people with the right disposition are the greatest blessings you can ever experience. The reverse is also true – people with the wrong disposition are the worst experiences you can ever have. And so, a crucial life skill we all require is the capacity to discern people rightly and respond to them correctly.

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