January 21, 2014

Marahaba... Greetings from North Africa by Jocelyn Faire

Writer's retreat, or soul therapy? What do I do?

Nature has been a source of calm, beauty, and inspiration in all areas of my life.

From North Africa for the month of January, staying with my daughter's family...

Earlier this week, I left before the household was stirring, except for my grandson who had just begun babbling in his crib.

Sunrise was imminent, the pink glows of predawn skies hurried me along the walk to the marina. By now I had navigated this pathway alone several times ... turn right at the first corner, continue past the car wash, the louage/taxi station, past the school that has a child to toilet ratio of one hundred to one, straight ahead at the first roundabout, slightly right at the second one. Sidewalks present their own obstacle course challenges of 'men's only' cafe chairs, cars, motorbikes, or stacks of building bricks; and the curbs vary in height from nine to eighteen inches—an added challenge when pushing a stroller.

Past the police station on the left, where the latest crunched Peugot waits inspection. (Mopeds are hard to insure, as “they have too many accidents.”) Papagallo's Italian-ish
restaurant lets me know I am still on track, past the final Fruit Secs stand and the Marina is in view. I breathe in deep, the fresh sea air has a cleansing effect despite the shores being overrun with litter. Two herons swoop down, as fishermen ready their boats for the morning catch, I arrive just in time to see the sun reflect its magnificent ascent over the water.

Thousands of octopus pots line the rocky port walls—the small clay pot trap has not changed for centuries. Apparently the tiny octopus and squid love to crawl into cozy spaces, and then become trapped due to their inability to either back up or turn around.

Reminds me of the children's story of a boy who caught his hand in a jar, and was unable to free it as he couldn't release his grip on the item of his desire. I am reminded how easy it has been to feel stuck in a tight spot, unable to reshape my attitude. I climb over the rocks that create the protection for the boats in the port, reaching the light house, and I watch the waters swirl... the blue of the Mediterranean sea — rich, deep colours, the boats traveling out to sea, a feast for the eyes, therapy for the soul.

My heart craves for beauty, and recently John Eldredge put it into words for me.... in that as much as we have felt pains in our lives, proportionately we seek the beauty ... this has become clear to me in my journey of grief. The amazing thing is that beauty can be found everywhere, in all countries, all climates, in ordinary and spectacular.

I have brought my travel New Testament with me; it was my daughter's, and I still feel connected when I find verses she has underlined. This morning the pages open at First Corinthians 4:7 ... And I laugh at God's sense of humour as I read: “Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us ....” (Good News NT)

I text my daughter to let her know that I will meet her on the path to her son's school.

What a great start to the day for just one of a million clay pots!

Jocelyn Faire

A child of God, a mother, a grand-mother, a world traveller wannabe, and former operating room nurse; she is a seeker of beauty. Into each life a little rain must fall, but the downpour of losing two of her three children in a car accident was an event survived by God's grace alone.  Through a journey of intense tragedy emerges a woman being rebuilt by her Creator who has led her to see the flowers that bloom in the desert.

Her book on grief, Who is Talking out of My Head? Grief as an Out of Body Experience, was published by DW Friesen in 2013 and is available in Manitoba bookstores; online at Amazon, or Friesenpress.com

She blogs about finding hope in the hard places at Who Is Talking.  You can find her on Facebook via Jocelyn B Faire.

Currently enrolled in University of Calgary's Creative Writing program.


  1. Jocelyn,

    Welcome to InScribe Writers Online -- we're very glad to have you as one of our contributors this year.

    I so enjoyed catching a glimpse of your experience in North Africa. What great photos...that shot of the sunrise at the seashore is exquisite. Fun to see that pile of octopus pots.

    What fun to have the Lord find that verse of clay pots on such a morning.

    Thanks again...

  2. Those are amazing photos! Welcome, Jocelyn!

  3. Thank you for sharing your honest thoughts. How good and gracious God is to provide so much beauty in our everyday lives.
    Pam M.

  4. Jocelyn, I really enjoy your writing style. Turns of phrase like "child to toilet ratio" and 'Italian-ish restaurant" catch my fancy and stick in my head.

    I too have experienced some intense periods of grief in my life. Strangely, it seemed that when I could look up long enough to see God's beauty in the midst, its intensity seemed to be magnified exponentially to my grief.

    I hadn't thought of that until I read your blog. Thanks for helping me formulate that understanding.

    ps I wanted to check out your website, but with my not-great eyesight, the white letters against a black background are too hard to read. Maybe see if that can be adjusted somehow. I'd like to read more of your stuff!


  5. Thanks for taking us along on this adventure in North Africa and for opening the door a little to the grief that is affecting your life. It is good that God is walking with you, as you view the clay pots. Welcome to the InScribe blog and blessings.


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