Saturday, August 19, 2017

Our Pearl

 Pearline Lorraine Clarke Nee Branker

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August 20, 1957 – May 2, 2017

“It’s a girl!”  The excitement filled the room
As the jolly, chocolate-coloured baby arrived,
“Chubby Cheeks” became her first nickname
Just as one of her three brothers had prescribed.

Roy and Rosemary Branker must have been over the moon
As they beheld this bundle of satisfaction and joy,
What a fitting conclusion to their productive endeavour!
Three boys and two girls instead of another boy.

The arrival of their Pearl brought the needed balance
To the lopsided situation of three boys and a girl,
Now the scale was virtually level if you see what I mean
Since one of those girls was our very own Pearl.

Educated at the then St. Giles’ Girls’ School
And then on to the Alexandra School she went
After which she attended the Barbados Community College
And showed much for the time there she spent.

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An internship followed at the Advocate Co. Ltd
Forming the basis for her secretarial career,
Confederation Life, LOB, Sagicor and BB Insurance
Was the journey that for twenty-nine years she steered.

After six years at home beginning 2010
She returned to BB Insurance just over a year ago
And there she worked up to the time of her passing
Just another hour and it would have been literally so.

She awoke complaining of feeling unwell
Tuesday morning as early as four
But back to sleep again she went
Without any indication of what lay in store.

Transported there by her beloved spouse
Off to work she went
But called him back before he had gone too far
Only a few minutes had she spent.
Again she complained of feeling unwell
So he did all a loving spouse would do
But she moved beyond in less than an hour
And her sojourn here was suddenly through.

An ache burns deep within our hearts
For we did not anticipate when she would go
But God knows best; He always does
And He leads in paths we do not know.

Even on this sorrowing occasion
We can see still His hand of mercy
Reaching out in unmistakable compassion
Inviting his children, “Draw the nearer to me.”

This “Pearl” as she was so aptly named
Exuded a loving nature unsurpassed
For family and friends almost alike
And everyone saw her as a woman of class.

Her loyalty to family was clearly evident
As she anticipated their wants and needs
And often would go to the greatest limits
Such was the extent of her deeds.

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She will be missed; I mean sorely missed
For her encouraging and inspiring words
Especially through Facebook to her FB Family
By now everybody must have heard.

Facebook has been noted for many an ill
But there was not the slightest chance with Pearline,
To her it was a facility in her mission for God
To inspire, to inform and to motivate her team.

Many are the photos that she transformed
With floral backgrounds or in other unique ways,
Birthdays and anniversaries were always remembered
And were also featured on her Facebook page.

I decided to scroll through her Facebook friends
With the hope of assigning to them a number
But I eventually gave up having grown tired of scrolling
And now as it stands I am still left to wonder.
Gifted in handicraft and dried floral art
We have all enjoyed her expressions
And no doubt still prominent in some of our homes
Are several of these enduring decorations.

A visit to Clerview Heights would surely reveal
Environs punctuated with divers plants,
All this the handiwork of this unforgettable Pearl
As her surroundings she meticulously enhanced.

Flowers and palms and exquisitely shaped hedges,
Golden apple, star apple and mango
Together with herbs and vegetable assortments
Spread all around the house in an organized flow.

And how could I not mention her ceramics
For which she once had an abundance of passion,
Flower vases, teddy bears, drinking mugs and pots
Of all types and forms and fashion.

There was a time when she would make an outfit
That would be the envy of those who viewed
And not long after their eyes had feasted
They would engage her to make some other style too.

The children in the family doted on her
Her lap and her dress hem were sources of comfort
And she had time for them engaging in their play
And in so many ways she rendered them support.

She was a great believer in upholding family
For that’s the upbringing from which she gained
And no stone was ever left unturned
In her effort to ameliorate disappointment or pain.

Michael, her spouse was a principal beneficiary
Of her care, her love and her affection
And the way in which she related to him
No doubt for him was his greatest attraction.

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Thirty-two years of marriage on the twentieth of April
No children of her own but several she raised,
The many babysitting assignments were never a chore
And up to this day these grown adults still sing her praise.

For Michael his Pearl’s price was way far above rubies
And way beyond diamonds or purest gold,
Unlike these she could reciprocate his love
And in her arms of comfort his body enfold.

Such was the case when he had taken ill
For a few weeks it was as though time stood still
Those anxious moments with prayer she filled
And God took away her bitter pill.

God with her did such a miraculous work
That Mike is here for her graduation today,
Why this turn of events we can only hazard a guess
And continue to let go and let God have His way.

We are assured of that home for her
That Jesus has gone away to prepare,
We know he’ll come again and receive her to himself
And all who are looking for him to appear.

You see she made sure of that before her demise
For only in life is such a determination possible,
God honoured her request and drew her to the fold
And now that decision is irreversible.

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To be brought up in the church was her parent’s desire
And at Carrington’s Pilgrim Holiness is where she acquired
The instruction to fashion her life as God desired
And there pledged her loyalty until the time she expired.

I don’t recall her filling positions on committees
But that is not surprising, certainly not to me
As we all know that singing was her thing
And for doing such she had a distinctive ability.

As a soloist, in duets, in quartets, in the junior choir
She sang from her heart and we so admired
Her beautiful voice as it blended with the groups
The Carrington’s Church is where this skill was acquired.

The memories of the youth chorale come to the fore
Standing in the soprano line awaiting the encore
Then in the Wesleyan District Youth Chorale in a similar spot
With the audiences longing to hear more and more.

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What a life lived, exuding panache and style!
What memories remain of that radiating smile!
What a wife, what a sibling, what a relative and friend!
What a consolation that death is not the end!

Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe on his gentle breast
Today we can rejoice with this songwriter
That God works out everything for our best
This He has done for our Pearl and she has passed the test
Having labored here in her bivouac of life
In Jesus she is now at rest.
Awaiting that great getting-up morning
When the dead in Christ shall be raised
And all those who are alive in Christ and remain
Will join them in never-ending praise.

But for now that Tuesday will be etched in our memory
For even now our minds are still in a whirl
At the same time we shall continue to give God thanks
For the time that we spent here with our Pearl.

Thanks to all those who in her last moments
Tried desperately to extend her stay
Like those at Sandy Crest who were quick on the ball
But she was still taken from us on that fateful day.

Your presence here today as we commit her remains
Is testimony of her influence and her impact
But bear in mind that the job is not ended
For Pearl would expect us to cover Michael’s back.

To all who sorrow Pearl’s passing this unforgettable day
And who will do so for a long time to come
Accept our thanks and believe us when we say
We are truly grateful to you and that means everyone.

So Pearline, Aunt P, Pearlasia, Pearl
We would have kept you longer had we that choice
But we are resigned to a greater than we
As we cherish your legacy, your memory, your voice.

Stewart Russell © May 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

Mirror, Mirror on the Shelf

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I met a man sometime ago
But had seen him many times before
He was a constant variable in my home
And had often times crossed my door

In the humble district where I lived
He was highly regarded by everyone
But none knew him as well as I did
For I saw him midday, night and dawn

I was pretty pleased with what I saw
And held much admiration for this man
He aimed to please most everyone
But himself the most was his plan

Often times before the mirror
He would smile at the face he saw
Fascinated by the person there
The smile would widen across his jaw

Across the decades I watched him
Noting his achievements as they occurred
Growing in the eyes of his community
Marching onward undeterred

We had several times to chat
And the conversation was about others
But in depth about himself
About him he never really bothered

As time went on I lost track of him
The chats were not as often as before
But one day I confronted him
As he was standing before the mirror

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I asked, “Do you know who you see?
Do you know whom you are staring at?
When he smiles and you smile too
Is that smile really a fact?”

I could see that he was puzzled
For the smile gradually went away
It was replaced by a quizzical look
And for a bit he had nothing to say

I inquired about the sudden change
He was silent a little while longer
I could see I had struck a raw nerve
He grew weak instead of getting stronger

The proud look had left his face
A serious visage took its place
The smile he often started with
Of it there was not the slightest trace

A true reflection began to emerge
As the question confronted him again
“Do you know who you see?”
Bombarded both his mind and brain

It is so easy to look in the mirror
And see there a Hollywood star
But do we stop to ask ourselves
Is that person who we really are?

We are actors and actresses everyday
In this life we play many parts
And often as we stand before the mirror
We are simply perfecting that art

So that what we see is what we get
For the superficial becomes the fact
And somewhere along the line
We are not looking at who we are looking at

Such was that gentleman’s case that day
As he stood before his looking glass
Suddenly realizing there was more to him
And the superficial would not last

One’s image is more than his face
Or what he has achieved in life
And unless he looks a great way deeper
He will never see that selfish strife

For we can so easily cover it up
With a smile that passes away
Holding on to it just long enough
And pretend to be having a bright day

Is a way of life today
With an abundance of daily pleasantries
To while the time away

The physical mirrors that we stare at
As we twist and turn and adjust
Are mere simple physical innovations
Which highlight the superficial stuff

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There is a far better mirror, however
That shows us who we really are
And what’s really better about this mirror
Is it can help us become God’s star

For it is virtually impossible
To look therein and not see yourself
The information you gather there
Will reveal your spiritual health

You might not like what you see
But that’s a very good place to start
For as you peer in a little deeper at a time
It will begin to transform your heart

And what’s inside will become manifest
As that transformation takes root
And when next you stand before the mirror
You will actually see its fruit

The mirror of which I am speaking
Is the Spirit breathed Word of God
Not to be compared with the world’s vanity
Or the mirror of Satan, the fraud

For such mirrors will misguide you
Concerning who you think you really are
But God’s word is accurate and revealing
And such a mirror is better for you by far

So next time you stand before the mirror
Remember the mirror that is the Word
And like the man I started to tell you about
Your true image will not be obscured.

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Rather than Mirror, Mirror on the wall
Take the Mirror, Mirror off the Shelf
And like me you will be guaranteed
To see a spiritual photo of yourself.

Stewart Russell© 2017

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Wedding

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I once attended a wedding
Though not in person
And there I met some people
The most important was God’s Son.

The guests were of all types
Many of the rich and influential,
The middle class were in attendance
And also were some poor people.

Jesus was at that wedding
Along with all his disciples
John recorded it in the Gospels
In John chapter 2 of the Bible.

It was held in Cana of Galilee
And the mother of Jesus was there,
When all the wine had run out
Before her son she would appear.

This could have been embarrassing
For they should have been enough
So the fact that the wine ran out
Presented a situation most tough.

“They have no wine,” she said to him.
“What is that to me?” He replied.
“It’s not yet my hour,” he also said
And to the servants she turned aside.

“Whatever he says you must do,”
Were her words of brief instruction
And not very long after this  
Her son went into action.

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“Fill the water pots with water,” he said,
And they fill them to the brim,
“Draw out now and give the governor.”
He next instructed them.

Like on so many other occasions
It was Jesus that made the difference,
The governor spoke to the bridegroom
Of it he could make no sense.
Normally the best wine is served first
Then after, that which is worse,
However not so at this wedding
For the best wine was the final course.

When Jesus is in the marriage
The worst is passed away,
The wine he gives is truly great
It’s the dawning of a wonderful day.

As I read the record of this event
I thought of the ending of time
When the bride will be the church
And the groom will be Jesus, the Divine.

A wedding of weddings that will be
At the marriage supper of the Lamb,
Today the “whosoever” is invited
That is every girl, boy, woman and man.

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Jesus provided the wedding garment
Made available by his precious blood,
No other attire is necessary
And our self-design garbs are no good.

A man once attended a wedding
But refused the garment provided,
Bound hand and foot he was cast out
And in outer darkness he resided.

Do not take Jesus’ invitation lightly
Respond to him today,
To be prepared for that coming wedding
Is by far the better way.

Stewart Russell © July 2017

Saturday, August 05, 2017

A Crop-Over Time Is Coming

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A crop over time is coming
But ‘twill be a harvest of souls
When the redeemed of all the nations
Will have been gathered in the fold.

Invited by the Holy Spirit
To believe on Jesus Christ
Then cultivated by the Living Word
Saved by his atoning sacrifice.

Years upon years of daily watering
With the sunshine of God’s grace
Each and every believer encouraging
Always to seek God’s face.

Those weeds of sin uprooting
And the bug of unbelief removing,
Bringing the crop to full blooming
With patient and meticulous pruning.

A crop over time is coming
But ‘twill be a harvest of souls
When the redeemed of all the nations
Will have been gathered in the fold.

Heaven’s festival band will be present
With the angels in full attendance
And the harvested wheat of all ages
Will bow in appreciative reverence.

No "Pic-O-De-Crop" kings enthroned,
No "Kadooment - kiddies’ or other wise,
No singing and dancing to Spring Garden,
No skimpy costumes or disguise.

No fore-day morning jump-up
Since there will be no more time,
No Bridgetown Market either
But the saints will be gathered to dine.

A crop over time is coming
But ‘twill be a harvest of souls
When the redeemed of all the nations
Will have been gathered in the fold.
There will be no people’s monarch
Only the Monarch of all time,
The One and only God Almighty
‘Twill be the Triune God, the Divine.

Some will want to snigger
And call me a party suppressor
And accuse me of throwing cold water
On Crop-Over fun and laughter.

Well, I stand guilty as accused
But this is light when compared
To that Crop-Over time that is coming
When the King of kings will appear.

The judges there will be different
From those empaneled here
For the judges of our Crop-Over finals
Must before that Judge appear.

No “share-holders” as oft opined,
No favourites and influential intrusion,
Decided even before the dawn of time
And finally brought to a conclusion.

A crop over time is coming
But ‘twill be a harvest of souls
When the redeemed of all the nations
Will have been gathered in the fold.

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Our canes are ripe for harvest
When the arrows stick out of their tops
But so is another harvest
Against which the devil plots.

Jesus cautions about that harvest
And invites workers into its fields
Reminding us of that final Crop-Over
When heaven celebrates its yield.

“The harvest truly is plenteous,” he says,
According to Matthew 9 verse 37,
Hence workers now are needed
Before that final Crop-Over in heaven.

Then all the reaping will be over,
The day of harvesting will have passed,
The celebration of the real Crop-Over
Will be in evidence at last.

A crop over time is coming
But ‘twill be a harvest of souls
When the redeemed of all the nations
Will have been gathered in the fold.

Stewart Russell © August 2017