Thursday 29 February 2024

On my fifteenth Leap Day

Of fathers on the record

Two men I celebrate in my acknowledgement of the significance of today, Joel Adebambo Idowu, my maternal grandfather who passed on in May 1961 and Josiah Olubadejo Akintayo, my father, who at a sprightly 84 years old, potters around with energy and wisdom in our hometown, Ìjẹ̀shà Ìjèbú, in Ogun State.

They were both archivists journalling the histories and genealogies of our little town which bears the historical name of Òdo Àyányẹlú and is significant in the Ijebuland monarchy as well as the animist Agẹmọ cult that represents the 16 masquerades or priests in the August festivals at the palace of the Awùjalẹ̀ of Ìjèbú Òde.

Blog - The Agemo Traditions of Ijebuland - A Primer (November 2013)

In the journals of the annals

However, within the drafts of the documentation my father did over decades of research and study, I found some interesting stuff about age grades, a 3-year grouping with fantastic names that allowed those born in our town to be represented amongst their peers. In which you only needed to know the age grade name and who belonged where to ascertain within the margin of 3 years, the age of anyone so referenced.

The age grade information starting from around the end of the 19th Century went back two to three generations before mine, my own paternal great-grandmother on his mother’s side greatly outlived all her peers by the time she passed on. The kind of rapport she and I had was utterly friendly and extensive conversation. People could not understand how or why we got on so well.

Leaping into new age grades

In this leap year, I celebrate my 15th Leap Day and it portends that those born from the 1st of March 1964 to the 29th of February 1968 belong in this artificially interesting leap day and year group. One of my former managers to whom I would attribute such lasting influence in my career was born the day before this date range and that would either make him 16 leap years old or an inductee into the Diamond Jubilee cohort. I wish him well.

Obviously, a 4-year time frame can be quite a lengthy time to consider people's age mates or peers. Still, it presents another dimension to our view of time, the passage of it, and how we reckon it relates to the people we encounter from the past in the stories we are told or the journals they have written, in the present as we recollect the memories of our youth, where we are now and our hopes for the future, and conclusively, the kinds of legacies we want to lay out for the future.

Meanwhile, how many leap days have you seen?

Tuesday 27 February 2024

The arm of flesh will fail you

"Stand Up Stand Up For Jesus" by 250 Voice Mass Choir

I do not remember the tune

While in church on Sunday, I was in a conversation where I saw familiar words of hymns I had sung from the Songs of Praise hymn book that was used in my Methodist-founded secondary school. It was first published in 1925, with updated editions thereafter.

However, it was quite discomfiting for one to know the words of a hymn only for the organist to play a rather unfamiliar tune. The nostalgic moment of recognition and being taken back in time to life probably only slightly more innocent than now, is lost in trying to find your place and rhythm again.

Hear me sing with aplomb

Then with the Offertory hymn, I, with full-throated voice, swayed in syncopation and rhythmic candour, I knew the words and the organist played the tune. I half wanted to look back and grin at my earlier interlocutor to suggest we have had an answered prayer or just the propinquity of desire and coincidence. What an experience to have.

Then out of the recesses of memory came the highlighted lines of the third verse of a hymn I can hardly say I have sung in over 40 years. Stand up, Stand up for Jesus which in those days had the organ powered by foot bellows and played by a Muslim classmate. Only a few had art or skill with classical instruments and when I did offer to learn, a teacher thwarted the activity rather than encouraged it. Yet, I took from that short lesson the ability to play the tune to the Do-Re-Mi song and never really improved on it.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
stand in his strength alone;
the arm of flesh will fail you,
ye dare not trust your own.

Put on the gospel armour,
each piece put on with prayer;
where duty calls or danger,
be never wanting there.

Hymnary.org - Stand up, stand up for Jesus - George Duffield (1858)

Stand in his strength alone

This probably presents one of the biggest challenges of Christian living where we have learned, been schooled, and have been taught to exert and exercise for achievement derived from endeavour and sweat. The human-centred desire to excel and not attribute success to anyone else without the bruises we have suffered.

The work of faith that involves fully trusting in God for purpose, direction, instruction, inspiration, and affirmation leaves you open to the accusation of being a religious fanatic. Many do not believe in prayer or prayer that works. In terms, many do not even know God’s will about what they pray about to have any kind of assurance beyond the moment they are in.

Unlearning the way of the world and society to stand in His strength alone is a daily quest for letting the divine override the natural world and ways to launch into the orbit of the spirit where one can call things that are not as though they were. God is a spirit and they that worship him should worship him in spirit and in truth. [Bible Gateway: Ephesians 6:10, Proverbs 3:5, Romans 4:17, John 4:24]

The arm of flesh will fail you

The many promises that have been made to us that never got fulfilled by those who in your time of need or great adversity presented a succouring voice that with time was not followed by any action.

In thinking of such, one might be tempted to feel hard done by, hurt, or embittered. Then you realise that for all the abilities people seem to think they have to get things done, meet a demand, offer some support or anything else, they are seriously limited in ability, reach, means, resources, or facility.

We more typically live from day to day as mere mortals unaware of the divine resources that are at our disposal. The abundance of heavenly resources we can call upon but only if we knew anything about God that was first introduced in the Old Testament of the Bible and then the Father God that Jesus Christ revealed and demonstrated in His preaching of the gospel, doing good and healing those who were oppressed.

For the problems that we encounter in life, God has promised us everything to do with life and godliness, yet we depend on what we can do out of strength, maybe in our cunning, or on others who have a frame of reference uninformed by the Word of God and limited to the natural realm.

There is no blessing in trusting the arm of flesh, it even suggests those who do have turned from the Lord. [Bible Gateway: Jeremiah 17:5, Psalm 20:7, 2 Peter 1:3, John 14:12, Acts 10:38]

Ye dare not trust your own

Indeed, what constitutes our upbringing, our education, and our experiences is generally to equip us for a seemingly godless world, where your wits and hard work should yield success. Then, many strive so hard and get nothing or whatever they get is not enduring.

Heck! The booms and busts that have become like milestones in my own life could easily lead one to totally give up, as it can be quite exhausting. It is an engine of hope and expectation created by God within me that keeps me knowing that the night shall pass, the storms shall pass, the pain shall pass, the lack shall pass and His will will be done.

Through time, I have believed in myself, had supreme confidence, and felt I was at the peak of my powers to even project the unassailable before everything came crashing down like a pack of cards.

Trust is in short supply, there is much to learn and understand about trusting God and almost the people you choose to trust with intimate challenges who can give you the desired support and encouragement to traverse the evil day, the wilderness, the doldrums, and the unfortunate circumstances we often encounter. [Bible Gateway: 1 Timothy 4:8, Psalm 34:19, Psalm 112:7, Jeremiah 29:11]

Never a hopeless situation

I am constantly reevaluating what I believe and my faith to be sure that I am never in a situation where I have nothing that can be brought to bear on any situation. [Bible Gateway: 2 Corinthians 13:5]

In the times of the greatest anxiety, I pray, I speak in tongues, and I endeavour not to dwell on the issues that might exacerbate worry and distress. [Bible Gateway: Romans 8:26]

Nowadays, I purposefully decide to sleep and rest even as I am still learning to let God have it all. As He never slumbers nor sleeps, there is no reason for both of us to keep awake through the night. [Bible Gateway: Psalm 121:4]

I listen to sermons about how great God is and who God says I am. One area where I need to devote more voice is speaking to the problem about God, rather than speaking to God about the problem. [Bible Gateway: Mark 11:23]

There is great capacity and possibility in a person who knows God for who God is in His love for us and his care for us, we are only going to find out from His word and those anointed to preach the word. [Bible Gateway: Matthew 19:26]

In that alone, I am not ashamed to know the Christ who came for me that I might have eternal life that starts from this life I am already living on earth. It is why through all adversity, as long as I live, there is hope, change, and a testimony of the goodness and mercy that follows me. [Bible Gateway: Romans 1:16, 1 John 5:13, Psalm 23:6]

PS: Click on and meditate on the links to the verses on this blog and I know that whatever you might be going through, you will find an answer that will give you strength, comfort, resolution, and joy.

Shalom! Shalom!

Saturday 24 February 2024

Thought Picnic: Seeing the more in the person

Just as it is

I recently had a series of exchanges that pertained to relationships concerning significant others. My inclination to err on the side of full disclosure has meant that in most cases the discovery of who I am does not come as a total surprise.

Being open about my sexuality since the early 1990s when it was not popular and sometimes frowned upon in the workplace was not to exhibit flamboyance but to address the scenarios where loose talk might cause unnecessary and avoidable offence.

I have been quite fortunate that I have encountered very little discrimination on the matter. If you ask a direct question, you will get the answer, when I was in a relationship, who I was in a relationship with and what we planned to do at the weekend. Relationships have always mattered to me because it meant I had someone with whom to share life experiences, unconventional as that situation might be.

Engagement with due consideration

In many cases, I have had colleagues ask questions, seeking information or enlightenment, sometimes about me, about themselves, or someone else. I would speak from my experience and understanding of issues, whether it be curiosity or having to deal with the situation of a friend abandoning a marriage for a new journey of self-discovery.

For me as a person, it matters and when others give due consideration to it, acknowledge it, respect it, and genuinely enquire about my well-being by embracing that context. It is why I felt quite enamoured when a prospective colleague deduced from my frequent travels and other information I divulged, that those journeys for whatever length of time they were for, were essentially family visits.

As we love to be loved

It is important and it is about my well-being and happiness rather than about anyone else, we choose our friends and much as we choose our partners, all familial and extended relations have the choice to embrace, reject, or be indifferent, but who an individual has as their significant other remains so regardless of opinion, for a different kind of intimacy exists between partners that is not present with any other.

There is something about being fulfilled and completed by certain associations, you may not understand it, but it exists, and it is what it is. For me, Brian represents that significant other and to be loved, cared for and supported like I am can only be what anyone else wishes for in whoever they have chosen to be their partner.

We should be careful not to be tempted to dismiss the importance and significance of the intimate relationships of others.

Related Blogs

Blog - This is my life, this is me (February 2019)

Blog - Doing what I do for love (September 2019)

Blog - Brian, My Funniest Valentine (February 2020)

Blog - Finding who all matters with (August 2020)

Blog - In my heart and in my mind (April 2021)

Blog - Thought Picnic: Understanding my greater good (May 2021)

Blog - This is deep stuff now (December 2021)

Blog - Make Someone Happy (April 2022)

Blog - Thought Picnic: Mostly, one is not alone (May 2023)

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Read and analyse the bloody tales and trends

Above range readings

Earlier this month, I contacted my GP (doctor) to discuss the results of tests I took in November when some indicators gave me cause for concern. Usually, I would wait for my next biannual checkup and visit with a range of questions and analyses of trends I want explained in essential layman’s detail to my understanding.

Especially now that every single result is posted to a personal portal from which you assess the test results against the expected normal ranges and the trends over a period. Two measurements stood out in the blood tests I took in November, the Mean corpuscular haemoglobin (MCH), measured in picograms per red blood cell [pg] with a normal range of 27 to 33, and the Mean corpuscular volume (MCV), measured in femtolitres [fL] (10-15) with a normal range of 80 to 98, and it is a measure of the average volume of a red blood corpuscle or red blood cell.

When they measure above the normal range, this might be indicative of a form of anaemia related to iron, folate, or Vitamin B12 deficiency, and since I once had folate deficiency anaemia, I wanted this addressed before other issues resulted from it.

Even more detail

My GP invited me to the surgery for a complete set of blood tests where each of the indicators would be checked and I was ready to pursue better outcomes by looking the trend between November and February to urge immediate action.

On reviewing the new results, the MCV had returned within the normal range, but the MCH remained the same reading as before, a note from the assessor suggested no further action was required, I begged to differ and consequently we had a conversation today about those results.

What made the difference this time was serum levels were read for ferritin pertaining to iron, which was normal, Vitamin B12 was also within range, but the folate was well below range. I had already been taking vitamin and folic acid supplements from over the counter, however, I felt a stronger prescription was needed.

The prescription matters

I picked up my prescription from the pharmacy and when I opened the pack, the comparison between over-the-counter medication and the prescription was astounding, I would never have been able to get back into the normal range with the supplements and just my diet. The over-the- counter medication has a dosage of one tablet daily with a strength of 400µg, the strength of the daily dose of folic acid is 500mg, meaning I would have had to take 12 and a half tablets of the non-prescription medication to have any prospect of righting the folate deficiency.

For all that I have written, the main takeaway from me to anyone who takes good consideration of their health is to read to understand every test result you get. Ask questions where things are not clear. Fully pursue any concerns you might have, and seek a second opinion if you are unsure, uncertain, or unhappy.

Always follow through

The NHS is in the process of implementing Martha’s Rule, a set of protocols that would ensure that concerns about a patient’s deteriorating condition are subject to rapid review when raised. It would not be enough to just get assurances or be fobbed off by superciliousness, someone would have to attend the situation and arrive at a conclusion with commensurate action to address the emerging or emergency.

Hence my advice to read the bloody tales and ensure someone is addressing anything that falls out of the normal ranges with alacrity, consideration, and professionalism. In my case, we’ll have another review in a few weeks.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

Privacy in a world of extroverts and exhibitionists

When is it too much?

It is interesting when you encounter invasive disclosure requirements that leave you wondering if you have become overexposed and vulnerable.

You meet a fine line and distinction that probably is left to gut instinct as to how you respond and what you are willing to give away. For instance, when over a decade ago the gap in my employment was predicated on the need for cancer treatment and recuperation, I offered to present a medical note from my consultant, but the employer instead requested my medical prescription.

For me, that was egregious and intrusive, I could find no rationale for such a request. Then again, I half appreciated that the request was being processed outside of the boundaries of Europe even as the job was in the UK and I lived in the Netherlands. Much as I could have challenged the request further than I did, I felt that this kind of unwarranted intrusion was not only adverse but that the cultural norms of a certain domain had not cultivated the understanding of elements of privacy we Europeans were accustomed to.

Handling the issues with tact

I soon removed myself from the process and declined the offer because we had reached an impasse beyond which there was no viable future in which I would have felt comfortable.

Indeed, the issues of privacy, secrecy, and confidentiality work together to protect the person we are, having the confidence that you only need to share what is necessary for the sake of meeting a requirement without losing the mechanisation or automation of expediency. I still believe even as a technologist that traditional methods of handling private data have better checks and balances that are less susceptible to unfortunate biases.

At other times, it is being embarrassed by circumstances engendering almost a sense of shame or failure, but these are all part of the story of life if systems are allowed to spare our blushes.

I hope I still have some control

I consciously curate what I am ready to reveal and share, I have faced some challenges that have required inspiration and dare I say of divine provenance to address certain requests. Important in all of this is being open about very significant elements of myself that half a century ago would not have been possible and is still detrimental in some countries and regions around the world.

Where you do not want to be is realising you have lost control of your own narrative in the quest for something you desire, but not at any price.

We have such wide-ranging diversity and have encountered serious adversity at various times, yet we are who we are with all that pertains to who we are and the relationships we hold dear. We understand responsibility and loyalty and appreciate the quality of character while striving for a better world in whatever place we might find ourselves.

I guess I am grateful for understanding and being understood. Even the most interesting and good books need covers, and the most beautiful windows do at times need the curtains drawn. Between the exhibitionist by inclination and the spectacle by duress, neither should be the only choices about how we choose to tell our stories if we are not fully persuaded.

Friday 16 February 2024

Holding sway in the kitchen

Loving the kitchen stage

The kitchen is a theatre, a place of deep expression, where practice and application bring forth snacks or feasts for sustenance and even celebration.

I enjoy being in the kitchen, that work of bringing together ingredients, some never imagined co-exist to become something that excites the tastebuds and sates both appetite and hunger.

Invariably, I love cooking, usually for myself but more to share with others, not large proportions for a party, just enough for a few at a table, a full course with wine with Brian is even the greatest pleasure I indulge.

When nature calls

Recently, I found myself rocking from foot to foot and remembering the times in Cape Town when my need to find relief just seemed to coincide with when I was in the middle of getting things done. At this point, I want to rush before my bowels burst and I wet myself, just as I feel I cannot stop what I am doing.

Brian has now cottoned on this strange situation as someone being pressed who needs to suffer than be succoured. Whilst it happens almost unawares, I have sought the discipline to conceal this call of nature until after it has been answered, my returning to the kitchen grinning knowing I have escaped duress. I have to master this first at home, but I have not.

Maybe what I really must do is ensure everything to the ablutions is done before I start anything in the kitchen. Curbing my enthusiasm to start and giving myself the consideration of relief before recipe might just be the best thing to do.

Thursday 15 February 2024

Memento, homo, quia pulvis es

Chant of the Heart: Miserere Mei (Psalm 50/51)

Influenced by many beliefs

I do not make much advertisement about my beliefs or faith, though, in many of my writings I might allude to how I am persuaded of things, views, doctrines, life, and much else.

My Christian journey is interesting and varied, first seen through the inclinations of my parents, their siblings, and their friends who all attended different denominations from Anglican to which I was both baptised and confirmed, the Christ Apostolic Church that my mother attended before her marriage, the Cherubim and Seraphim Church that my younger aunt attended, the Methodist Church that my elder aunt attended and the Methodists founded my secondary school in February 1946.

Filling in forms the other day, one of the options included Charismatic Christian, which I found interesting as until then, the broadly Christian cachet was used. I embrace the charismatic demonstration of my Christian experience which I encountered 40 years ago in April and even with the many characterisations of belief, unbelief, or disbelief I have been exposed to, the relearning of what the dispensation of grace pertains to remains more pertinent.

Ash Wednesday in practice

I had planned to make pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, but I inadvertently had to be in Edinburgh for an engagement and returned quite late on Tuesday, too tired to do anything other than go to bed. I also wanted to return on Tuesday, because I was on the rota stewarding the Ash Wednesday Sung Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes.

The ashes are part of a ritual signifying penitence where typically the palm fronds from the previous Palm Sunday are burnt to have the ash for marking the sign of the cross on the foreheads of adherents kneeling at the altar. At the imposition of the ashes, the priest would say words to the effect in Latin or in the vernacular, “Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.” (“Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.”)

In addition, the priest said, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.” It was a solemn occasion of awareness, mortality, and the eternal purpose to which we are called. The individuality of knowing yourself in the congregation of the many, your own heart seen and known by God is humbling. I may not essentially be fasting for Lent.

Combining my devotional allegiances

In the background, the Choir as we all met in the quire sang Psalm 51 as canticles in Latin. The high church traditions of our Anglican community could be quite fascinating as we the stewards took the offering and ushered the congregants first towards the imposition and then later to the Communion.

These activities would barely, if ever, be seen in a charismatic church gathering, but I find that I enjoy practising my Christian devotion primarily in the Anglican Church, occasionally in a charismatic church, and generally in listening to messages and sermons by evangelical preachers. An amalgam of community and beliefs that suits my expression and understanding with the assurance that I have found love, truth, mercy, grace, and favour.