礼品之路 ( Lǐpǐn zhī lù ) – The Gift of Consistent Flow


In our little village, on the outskirts of Beijing, there is a pond.

It is beautiful,  surrounded by trees, with Asian streetlights dotted along its edge and a little pagoda to one side.

Yet, it is not.

For this pond has no flow.

It receives water when it rains.

And every day, gray water filters down to it, from homes across the street.

On a warm day the water is green.

Filled with algae.

The pond must be home to fish, for often old men sit on its side, patiently waiting with rod and line, and mostly they go home with lunch.

This pond, had it had ‘flow’, would’ve been so much more.


A sanctuary to birds.

A place of relaxation.

Our village has perhaps 300 people, but when Maddi and I go to picnic there, we are alone.

The only ones spending time in its presence.

And when we leave, we leave it in loneliness,  with a touch of sadness, for it will lie there, quietly receiving whatever is run its way, without anywhere for its water to flow.

A few weeks ago workmen arrived.

With back actors and bulldozers,  spades, bricks, rocks and trucks.

And they started cleaning up.

First behind it, where a flow could potentially be.

This morning, on our regular Thursday morning picnic, while Zuko was helping little kids at another village’s Kindergarten to learn some English, we found our peacefulness disturbed by a pump.

The workmen had started to pump the water from our pond.

Into the space created for its flow.

It had been too long since this pond had a natural flow.

And now an intervention is needed.

Slowly and noisily the little pump is sucking the water from the pond, emptying it out.

In my little bit of Chinese, at Maddi’s insistence,  I enquired from a nearby workman what their plan is.

Maddi is worried that our pond, where we often picnic, would be lost.

And if I am adequite in my comprehension, I think they explained, with the simplest Chinese they could muster and the aid of many gestures, that they would empty the pond and clean it, removing all garbage and waste that has accumulated in its water over many many years, then they would rejuvenate it, creating beautiful new paths for villagers to walk along amongst the trees and special spots for the old people to spend their days fishing for lunch, without being exposed to whatever pollution may have burdened our pond.

It made us happy to hear this and while Maddi was being the Queen at her Palace (the little run down pagoda, which I’m sure will also soon be renovated) my thoughts wandered off from the shade of the old Willow Tree under which we were sitting, to our own being and how we also need flow and if we are deprived of flow, how sometimes an intervention is our hope.

Every day we receive, just like the pond.

The words of those around us.

The ideas and impressions carried by them, from the minds and hearts of the people who so freely give them.

We receive, not just from the people in whose proximity we find ourselves, but also from the people whom we read, or watch as media clutters our world, so much so that even while I find myself in a foreign world, I still watch movies and TV Series I understand and I read books on my kindle and tablet.

The thoughts and ideas of people, carried into me, over many miles and years, centuries even, when I choose to receive from Ancient Philosophers the ideas they grew and shared.

The Pond.

Had it received only the purest of cleanest rain water, it would still need flow, for water pooled, this you know, starts to rot, regardless of how fresh it was when it first came to be collected in that single place.

And so it is with us.

Even if we could ensure that only the purest of cleanest ideas and thoughts and concepts was received by us, like a monk in a far off monastery,  far removed from the pollution which so easily taints, whatever we receive will still eventually rot inside us, if it is pooled and stored without flow.

We should take care of what we receive.

An ancient once said:”Gaurd your heart, for from it flows life.”



This ancient was certainly wise.

We know this too, without argument.

For we’ve all been exposed to an environment filled with despair or negativity and we all felt the poison of it seeping into our being and the relief, as we move away into a ‘cleaner’ environment.

What we receive determines our life.

What flows into us, affects our being.

A parent for whom nothing is good enough – it flows and flows into a child for an entire childhood – and an adult emerges for whom they themselves are never good enough and for whom nothing they encounter is ever acceptable.

A teacher for whom no student is ever adequite – it flows into a pupil for an entire educational experience – and a professional emerges for whom no one is adequite, as they themselves do not know adequicy.

A boy who never receives love, but must struggle to make sense and survive – he emerges a man who cannot love.

I know this, for I have received my share of flow into me.

All of it not poluluted, as the water flowing into our pond is also not completely polluted.

Receiving wisdom from many beautiful beings, for whom I am grateful to our Source and Sourceror, Who doubtlessly provided serendipitous kindness to me, as a Miss Meyer and Miss Kellerman touched my soul, as a little boy starting school, and a Mr Snyman and a Mr Kromhout and a Mrs Havenga nurtured me as I approached puberty and a Mr Nel engaged me, while I found my way through the confusion of growing into a man, and a Prof Odendal and Prof Britz embraced me, as I tried to become a man, and an Awie and Jaap and Gert affected me, as I was expected to be a man, long before I was ready to be what I should’ve been by that time.

But to receive, we must be willing.

I think.

And for that too I am grateful to our Origin, for surely it was not inside of me to will to receive, from all the brokenness into which I was born, their grace and kindness, not only the serendipity which brought me into proximity to these people, but also my ability to listen and hear and see that what they gave was good, even if I did not grasp the immensity of it in the moment.

And along with all of this good-heartedness showered, the gift of flow.

Not necessarily of fresh clear clean water, as they gave into me, but to them who patiently listened and still listens, as I continue to receive and give, life flowing from my heart.

Not always good life, for that is inevitable.

But life none the less.

And hopefully,  more and more, fresh life giving flow, as the rejuvenation of what I receive rushes into me and from me.

Eventually my Queen returned from her palace, drawing my thoughts back to the Willow Tree on the edge of the emptying pond.

And we found our way home.

To an early lunch, before setting off to class.

Taking busses and subways to the heart of this massive city.

And while I sit amongst a million others, my hope is this, that we all may receive the gift of Consistent Flow.

In the serendipitous gift of good and kind and wise people in our proximity.

People who love us unconditionally and embrace us for whom we are.

And in the tremendous gift of ability.

To be able to receive, as we give all that has accumulated in us.

And have hearts from which life flows.

And be free.

To be filled.

With happiness, framed by love and peace.

And as I give to you, my thoughts and ideas, I do so hoping it will be the fresh water which could flush your pond, and help fill it to the brim, so that it could flow and be waters of life in the place where you find yourself.

And as my subway train approaches Guogongzhuang and I ready myself to walk to yet another train, I say a prayer for you, that this gift will be your gift, even if, like the pond in the village you need to give yourself to the intervention which will empty you of the filth and dirt which has accumelated, so that you can be filled with all that is life.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s