Our neighbour across the road plays the bagpipes.
He’s a pro – not a deafening, cat-strangling amateur.
I’ve tapped out many a chapter or blogpost with Highland Cathedral as a distant, glorious soundtrack because he usually plays in the mornings while Murray’s at the practice, the boys are at school, and I’m writing. He usually plays indoors.
But one morning this lockdown week, we heard him play and we were like –
‘That’s way louder than usual.’
Because he was standing in his front garden playing his pipes into the silence of the street and we and our neighbours on either side of us rushed out onto our driveways and whooped and clapped and cheered our Encore! Encore! And then WhatsApp’d each other with our wow wow wows because Robert Frost was right when he wrote, ‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall…’
Our neighbour ended his mini-concert with Amazing Grace and it felt like a declaration because you can’t keep grace behind a palisade fence and even though we’re all under some kind of weird house arrest we still live beneath our God’s grace-laden heavens and they rain freedom.
My Uncle Peter doesn’t play the bagpipes but he used to wear a kilt because he was Chaplain to the Cape Town Highlanders Mechanised Infantry. He’s lived through some stuff – like a war, and losing a daughter and grandchildren, and more. Maybe because of the particular ways life has worn him, he’s always been to me what the Celts called a thin place – where heaven meets earth.
And he’s old school. He doesn’t have a platform or a podcast. He just writes a newsletter every month or so to people he loves. Here are snippets of what he wrote on March 26th, the eve of the lockdown in South Africa:
‘And the President has called us to prayer today… Prayer alone will make a difference… All is not as it seems in the natural. Aslan is on the move!
I wondered to Carol what would happen if I should get the virus. Her answer was simple: ‘You’ll face it like a Christian.’ Our spiritual radar is up and alert. Sometimes we hear static nonsense. But be alert and sift the signals. There is a sound in the heavens to be heard…
I read an article of an interview with some British submariners. You can’t be more isolated than to be confined to a limited space and cooped up with some funny people for weeks under the sea. They all offered the following five points advice which sound helpful to me:
- Routine! Structure your days. Stick to a planned routine, including alone time, rest time, duty time, maintenance times, prayer time, study time etc.
- Exercise. All can do some exercise… Push-ups, sit-ups, walk laps etc.
- Eat healthily. Have set meals… experiment and be creative.
- Social times. Games, writing, mind games etc.
- Don’t stop ‘larfing’. Don’t stop banter. Mock the stress and the pain. It does the serotonin good to ‘hou die blink kant bo’. Don’t become too serious. There is a difference between joking ABOUT suffering and joking WITHIN suffering! I have so often appreciated the wafts of fresh air from cheerful friends. Sometimes a line is crossed into insensitivity. We all do this inadvertently. But don’t stop your banter for fear of appearing insensitive…
The God of history knows the end from the beginning. He has this thing too…’
So I’m thinking, let’s ask this God of history for wisdom and ways to use our gifts to bless our households, and anyone else we can get to through our screens or from our front gardens.
Because there are still pipes to be played – loudly and lovingly – and the souls of those around us may need to be transported to lofty crags where they can feel the wind in their chests.
By God’s amazing grace, there’s hope. He holds your future. Face it like a Christian.
. . .
Wishing you peace and safety.
Go ahead and share this post with someone who needs to hear the pipes play!
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Here’s what’s on the menu if you’re reading this in an email:
You are a star…. sitting here crying like a baby (no idea why …. but your post managed to resonate deep within me).
Regards – Phillip E
Thank you Phillip! Blessings to you and yours!
I loved this, thanks Dalene. Keep using your gift to uplift and encourage – that’s as good as playing the bagpipes!
Thanks dear Joan! Much love!
This is SO GOOD!!!!! 🙂
Regards, Michelle Hinrichsen Managing Director 082 627 6866 http://www.botshabelo.co.za
I miss you! Fat Barista when this is all over! X
Great message! Thanks for sharing this. Such good advice! I love the bagpipes. Wish we had someone who played them nearby like you do.
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Thanks Dalene. Food for thought and thats what we need…. the tips are a good confirmation of what we know already. Please keep on keep on. Be safe xx
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Simply loved this imagining the sonorous sounds playing some of my favourite pieces. I’m loving your musings on these strange days. So many truths here. Kerp on encouraging us with your beautiful way of expressing things.
Thanks precious friend!! Xxx
Beautifully and positively put together and expressed. Great advice too. Humans are amazing creatures. Posts like this bring out he best in them.
Keep going with what you’re doing. Every little bit of making a difference counts.
Be snd stay blessed.
Thanks so much Bev! 🙂
Hello Dalene You don’t know me but I feel as if I ‘know’ you a little through your inspirational and heartwarming blogposts which I always enjoy and your book ‘Dragons & Dirt’. I never got the pleasure of meeting you in person when you spoke at our Shine gathering here in Middelburg last year – little did you know that what you shared on ‘Navigating the storms of life’, would be so relevant & helpful for the strange & unforeseen times we find ourselves in right now! We’re not only taking that one step closer to the Lord, we’re having to tuck ourselves right up under his arms and not move from His side in this ‘storm’!
I’ve been meaning to write to you for quite some time to commend you for your book ‘Dragons & Dirt’. I read it twice – the second time making it more of a personal study-summary of many of the chapters which I particularly related to, in the season I find myself in now. Even though you wrote the book a few years ago, it is a ‘timeless’ book – a book so applicable to women of all ages and in all seasons of life and faith in Jesus. The book not only challenged me but encouraged me tremendously – a few chapters in particular really gave me fresh perspective and overview I sorely needed – Thank you. I appreciate the gift you are to God’s family!
Thank you too, by the way, for graciously allowing me to purchase some copies directly from you via Lauren Duval (my very precious niece) at the end of last year!
Hope to meet you in person one day! Belinda Lennox (James’ mom!)
Ah dear Belinda! Feel like I know you also, through Vanessa, James, Lauren, Irene etc… Wonderful to be part of the same family in Christ! Thank you so very much for your encouragement… Wow! I’m so grateful to God for using this space, and Dragons and Dirt, to stir hearts. Sending so much lockdown love to you and yours ❤️❤️❤️