The Park

It was such a beautiful, sunny day that after visiting her aunt, Jessie decided that she would go to the park and spend an hour or so before heading home.  She loved this old park.  As a child she used to come here with her aunt and her cousins.  She went to her favorite area where there were three benches facing the pond.  As she approached them, she noticed a very attractive man sitting on the one in the middle.  Their eyes met when she walked past him to get to the third bench.  She sat down, placed her handbag beside her and leaned back, crossing her legs.

She was acutely aware of him and wondered if he was there alone or waiting for someone.  Unable to resist, she turned her head and her heart skipped a beat when she saw him watching her.  His arm rested along the back of the bench.  Although he was dressed casually in a pink tee shirt and jeans there was an air of elegance about him.  He looked like he was in his mid to late thirties.  They stared at each other for what seemed like a very long time and then, he smiled.

Heart racing, she smiled back.  This was so exciting.  Here she was making eyes with a perfect stranger in a park she visited frequently.  Does he live around here?  She wondered.  That seemed very unlikely.  He looked out of place in this modest neighborhood.

Her heart leapt when he got up from his bench and went over to her.  “May I join you?” he asked.

She nodded.  “Yes,” she replied, sounding a little breathless.  This close he was even more attractive.  He had the most amazing green eyes and smile.  She pulled her handbag closer to her to make more room on the bench.

He sat down beside her and held out his hand.  “Paul Bentley.”

She shook his hand.  “Jessie Moore.”

“I don’t usually approach a woman I don’t know in a park but I had to meet you.”

She smiled shyly at him.  “Do-do you live around here?” she asked.

“I used to,” he said, surprising her.  “I grew up here and then my family moved when my father started his own business.  I still come back here sometimes, though.  Life was tough at times but we got by.  What about you?  Do you live here?”

She shook her head.  “No, my aunt lives here.  I used to spend weekends with her and my cousins and we used to come to this park. It has changed a lot since then but I still love coming here.”

“Do you live with your parents?”

“No, I live on my own.”

“Do you live far from here?”

“Not really.  I take the tube and it’s about a twenty minute ride.”

“What about you?”

“I live in Canary Wharf.”

“That’s a really nice, upscale area,” she exclaimed.  “I went there a couple of times and loved it.”

“I like living there.  I especially enjoy going to the park or walking along the docks to unwind after a long and tedious day.”

“What kind of work do you do?”

“I’m a High Court judge.”

“You’re a judge?” She stared at him.  “But, you look so young.  Most of the judges I see are older men.”

He smiled.  “I’m thirty-eight,” he informed.  “I was appointed to the judgeship two years ago.”

“What sorts of cases do you preside over?”

“I sit in the Family Division which deals with personal human matters such as divorce, children, probate and medical treatment.  The Division exercises jurisdiction to hear all cases relating to children’s welfare, and has an exclusive jurisdiction in ward-ship cases.”

“Do you like what you do?”

“For the most part.  Although sometimes the decisions we make are seen as controversial as in the case where  the hospital was given permission to separate conjoined twins without the parents’ consent and the woman who was allowed to have her life support machines turned off but a husband wasn’t allowed to give his severely disabled wife a lethal injection with her consent.  We have faced a lot of criticism but ultimately, we practice law and equity. ”

She tried to envision him in a robe and wearing a white wig, seated on the bench with a gavel in his hand.  “I’ve never met a judge before.”

And I’ve never met a woman who makes me want to lose myself in her eyes and her smile.  He couldn’t get enough of her.  He wanted to know everything about her.  “Tell me about yourself.  What do you do when you’re not sitting in the park talking to a judge?  Do you have brothers and sisters?”  Never once did he imagine that he would be attracted to someone who looked much younger than him but from the moment he saw her, he knew he had to talk to her.

She looked at him, feeling shy again.  His eyes were intent on her face.  She began to tell him a little about herself.  “I graduated from university last year.  Got a job at Trends as a Digital Copywriter.  I have two older brothers and a younger sister.  My parents are retired and my mother volunteers at a women’s shelter.  On the weekends, I go vintage shopping or the cinema or pop into the library or hang out with friends or stay in and read a book or watch television.”

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-three.”  She hoped that her age wouldn’t matter.  It would be a shame if it did because she really liked him.

“I’m not married,” he said, startling her.  “Do you have a boyfriend?”  He could tell that she was attracted to him too but he wanted to make sure that she wasn’t already in a relationship because that would only complicate things.

She shook her head.  “No, I don’t have a boyfriend.”

Relieved, he said, “I would like to continue our conversation over dinner.”  He glanced at his watch.  It was six o’ clock.  They had been talking for an hour.  “I know a nice family run trattoria where we can go.”

“That sounds good,” she murmured as she took up her handbag and stood up, excited that they were going to spend more time together.

He got to his feet and she felt small beside him.  For a moment they stared at each other, their bodies close together.  She was really quite beautiful.  “Jessie, I know that there is a considerable age difference between us but I would really like to see you again after we have dinner tonight.”

Her heart was racing.  “I–I would like that too.”

He smiled.  “Good.”  Unable to resist, he raised his hand and brushed his knuckles gently against her cheek before they headed to the entrance of the park.

Over Penne Arrabiata and non alcoholic wine, they made plans to see each other again.   Two years later, when they went back to the park where they met, they were married and expecting their first child.

 

Source:  Court and Tribunals Judiciary; Wikipedia; Wikipedia; The Culture Trip

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Being a Neighbor

Only Jesus could simplify spiritual matters in a way that anyone can understand.  He summed up the Ten Commandments into two–love God and love your neighbor (Mark 12:30, 31).  When a lawyer asked Jesus the question, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered by telling a parable about the man who was attacked on his way to Jericho by robbers and left for dead on the road.   Two men passed by, first a priest who passed by on the other side and then a Levite who looked and passed by the other side.   It’s interesting that both of these men who were associated with the priesthood did not minister to the injured man but left him there until a kind stranger stopped to help him.

Through this wonderful illustration of love and compassion, we learn that our neighbor is not only the person who lives next door or opposite but any person in need.  To be a neighbor is to care for others–show kindness and to help them in whatever way we can.  After Jesus finished telling the story, He asked the question, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”  The lawyer replied, “He who showed mercy on him.”  Jesus told him to go and do likewise (Luke 10:36, 37).

A neighbor is not necessarily someone of our race, culture, background or religion.  It was a Samaritan, not a Jew who stopped to help the man.  In those times, Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans (John 4:9).  To be a neighbor is not to allow our prejudices to prevent us from helping those who are different from us.

When it comes to loving your neighbor there partiality isn’t a factor.  The Samaritan didn’t see an enemy lying at the side of the road but a person who was badly in need of help.  He felt compassion for him and getting off his donkey, he went over to him and bandaged his wounds before taking him to an inn where he could recuperate.  Being a neighbor means setting aside our differences and demonstrating the love of God to others.

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right – James 2:8

Christian Woman’s Appeal Hearing Postponed

I received this Prisoner Release update in an email from The Voice of the Martyrs Canada.  Please read Asia’s story and pray for her and her family.  This young wife and mother was arrested since 2009 and has been in prison until now.  Imagine being separated from your family, anxiously awaiting an appeal only to have it postponed.   Pray that neither Asia nor her family will be discouraged by this major setback.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” – Romans 8:28.  God has plans for Asia just as He had plans for Joseph who was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison.  God was with him all the time he was there just as He is with Asia.

I encourage you to visit the prayer wall and pray for Asia and other Christians like her who are being persecuted and imprisoned for their faith and the families of those brave men and women who have died for their faith.

PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi’s Appeal Hearing Postponed

Sources: Asia News, Release International


Remember in prayer
Asia’s husband and children.

The appeal hearing for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman imprisoned for blasphemy, has been postponed “to a later date.” Asia was arrested in 2009 on charges of insulting Mohammed and later sentenced to death. Since then, she has been waiting for her appeal to be heard while being held in isolation at the women’s prison in Sheikhupura (Punjab). (For more on Asia’s case, click here.)

Initially scheduled for March 17th, Asia’s first hearing was cancelled due to the absence of one of the two presiding judges. Under Pakistani law, two judges have to be present in death penalty cases for the entire trial.

The high-profile case remains hugely controversial in Pakistan. The former Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was killed by his bodyguard in January of 2011 after showing support for Asia. Then, two months later, Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian, was assassinated after voicing support for Asia and demanding reform of the country’s blasphemy laws. Shahbaz’s brother is now facing death threats. (For more on these threats, click here.) Late last year, Pakistan’s Federal Sharia Court demanded that blasphemy should carry a mandatory death sentence.

After this disappointing setback, pray that the Lord will continue to sustain Asia and her loved ones as they await the appeal hearing. May the judges and other authorities pursue justice, and may they also be protected from those who wish them harm as a result. Ask God to use this case for His good purposes, transforming the hearts and lives of those who do not yet know Him and encouraging believers to be courageous in their faith.

To share your prayers for Asia and her family, please visit our Persecuted Church Prayer Wall.

Women Driving in Saudi Arabia

I was watching the news on women driving in countries where they are not allowed to.   On Saturday, October 26, more than 60 women across Saudi Arabia got behind the wheel in protest of a driving ban.  It seems a bit unfair that I am a woman and can drive a car if I wanted to but choose not to.  I tried a few times to learn and then take the road test and failed each time. After failing the last time, I decided to throw the towel in and be content with taking pubic transportation.  The thing is though, if I changed my mind and decided that I wanted to drive again, I could.  There’s no law stopping me from taking driving lessons, passing the road test and buying my own car.  I bet the women in countries like Saudi Arabia would love to trade places with me.

Why aren’t women allowed to drive in certain countries?  Here are the commonly given reasons for this prohibition:

  1. Driving a car involves uncovering the face.
  2. Driving a car may lead women to go out of the house more often.
  3. Driving a car may lead women to have interaction with non-mahram males, for example at traffic accidents.
  4. Women driving cars may lead to overcrowding the streets and many young men may be deprived of the opportunity to drive.
  5. Driving would be the first step in an erosion of traditional values, such as gender segregation.

The most ridiculous reason I heard was from a prominent cleric who said said last month that medical studies show that driving a car harms a woman’s ovaries.

One wonders how women are supposed to get around if they aren’t allowed to drive cars and are discouraged from using public transit.  They have limited access to bus and train services and where it is allowed, they must use a separate entrance and sit in a back section reserved for women.  Some bus companies don’t allow them at all.  As an alternative, they take taxis but this can be very expensive and they may face sexual harassment from the male taxi drivers.  Women who have dared to drive in protest of the ban on Saudi women drivers have faced arrests, suspension from the jobs and their passports confiscated.  They got back their passports but were placed under surveillance and passed over for promotions.

Critics reject the ban on driving on the grounds that: (1) it is not supported by the Quran, (2) it causes violation of gender segregation customs, by needlessly forcing women to take taxis with male drivers, (3) it is an inordinate financial burden on families, causing the average woman to spend 30% of her income on taxis and (4) it impedes the education and employment of women, both of which tend to require commuting. In addition, male drivers are a frequent source of complaints of sexual harassment, and the public transport system is widely regarded as unreliable and dangerous.

There are no specific Saudi law which bans women from driving but still women are not issued licenses. And it doesn’t help their situation when there are powerful clerics who enforce the ban, warning that breaking it will spread “licentiousness.”

Let us continue to support the women of these countries.  Let us continue to raise our voices.  “King Abdullah, “You gave women the right to vote, why not give them the right to drive too?  It’s time to end the ban on driving for women.”

Sources:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women’s_rights_in_Saudi_Arabia;   http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/26/saudi-arabia-woman-driving-car-banhttp://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/saudi-arabia-warns-online-backers-women-drivers-20679673http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/10/26/saudi-arabia-women-begin-protest-against-driving-ban-despite-warning-from-officials/

Three Great Women

I always wondered about the women in Thurgood Marshall’s life–his mother and his wife.  I decided to browse the Internet to see what information I could find.

Thurgood’s mother, Norma Arica was a public school teacher for over 25 years.  When her son attended Howard University Law School she pawned her wedding and engagement rings to pay his tuition (Michael Lariens).  I found this interesting because I read on another site that Norma wanted her son to become a dentist.  However, when she saw how well her son did in court, she was glad he became a lawyer

During Thurgood’s childhood, Norma and her husband  taught him how to argue, by making him prove every statement he made, and by challenging every point he made, unintentionally instilling in him the characteristics he needed in order to be an effective lawyer (Mccsc.edu).

Norma along with her husband and Thurgood’s grandparents encouraged him to adjust to segregation, rather than fight it. “I was taught to go along with it, not fight it unless you could win!”  Thurgood later became  the first African American to serve on the highest court in the country, and held that post until his retirement 24 years later in 1991.  He acknowledged that, “None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody – a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns – bent down and helped us pick up our boots” (http://www.thurgoodmarshallms.mnps.org/Page39045.aspx).

Thurgood was married twice.  I didn’t know that.  His first wife, Vivian Burey was a student from the University of Pennsylvania.  She helped Thurgood to make the decision to attend law school.  Viven died of lung cancer on February 11, 1955.  Thurgood remarried.  His second wife Cecilia Suyat was a Hawaiian.  

As for her early life, Cecilia Suyat Marshall said that both her parents were born in the Philippines while she was born and raised in Hawaii.  She described her life in Hawaii as one without prejudice where all types of people integrated well.   Her father had his own printing company.  Her mother died when she was young and having many siblings, she felt she should go and take care of herself.

Her father encouraged her to go to New York where she found work at the the NAACP.  Her first job there was to picket the movie theater where “Birth of a Nation” was being shown.  She said it did stop showing shortly after their protest.   She worked her way up from stenography pool to the private secretary of the head of the NAACP organization, Dr. Gloster B. Current from 1948-55.  This was an important position due to the fact that he was head of 1,500 NAACP groups throughout the USA.

In December 1955 she met Thurgood Marshall who was then the chief counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Cecilia was described as a a warm, nurturing and proud mother to Thurgood’s two sons.  She was proud of her husband’s accomplishments, especially his victory in the Brown vs Board of Education case because it also succeeded in ending segregation in restaurants and hotels.

Cecilia believed in the importance of preserving “our history not for our generation but for the younger generation… to keep reminding them and telling them the history of where we came from…it was not very easy”((http://fairfaxasianamericans.community.officelive.com/EssayCivilRightsMarshallCeciliaSuyat.aspx).   ((http://fairfaxasianamericans.community.officelive.com/EssayCivilRightsMarshallCeciliaSuyat.aspx).

You know the old adage:  Behind every great man there stands a great woman.  In Thurgood Marshall’s case there were three.  The love, support and devotion of these remarkable women helped him along his journey to the Supreme Court.

Thurgood Marshall Before His Swearing in at the Supreme Court

Cecilia with Thurgood

 

 

All God Requires

Sometime ago I saw Deuteronomy 10:12, 13 written down on a sheet of paper and decided to look the verses up.

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good? (Deuteronomy 10:12, 13).

God who has done so much for us doesn’t require much from us at all.  All He wants is for us to have godly fear, walk in obedience to His ways, genuinely love and serve Him and keep His commandments.  This isn’t asking for much considering that it was God who sacrificed His Son to a horrible death just so we could have eternal life.  Jesus suffered the death we deserve so that we could have the life He deserved.  And all we need to do in return is reverence, obey and serve Him.  And it is important to note that we are not called to worship any god but the Creator Himself.  Verse 14 says:   “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it.” 

This is the essence of the law.  Fear, obey, love, serve the God who created you.  And once you do that loving the rest of His creation—others like you, should come easy.