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Great is Thy Faithfulness
Billie McTernan on her kindred.
I asked my nana once: do you remember playing as a child? Wasn’t it fun, that carefree wonder? She smiled a sort of smile, yes, I remember, she said. Ampe, and hide and seek.
But that wasn’t the best of it.
She said her childhood home was a happy one, the whole family would gather together in fellowship; worshipping and singing. That was the most fun she remembered. That’s where her wonder is held.
There were five years between her and her sister. So they didn’t really play together as children. Theirs was mainly chatting, she says, about little things, nothing in particular. Her sister passed away two years ago and with her their play. Her sister was the chatty one. Over more than eighty years, I think about the two of them gossiping and laughing and bickering, and of course in praise. Her good, good friend.
Is that all the play she can remember from those days, I ask.
She also recalls the (playful) times, when baking bread with her mum and elder sister, her younger brother would come in and make fun of them. She chuckles as she recounts part of the story in Twi and chides me for not being able to follow the joke. I remind her that she was the one that didn’t teach me the language. She sighs and agrees. She speaks Twi more often these days.
Sometimes I catch her watching us, bemused. We didn’t continue the kind of fellowship that she holds dear. Ours is more raucous with laughter and arguments, all along to a soundtrack of hip hop and soul music. Too loud, she says. And not holy, she doesn’t say.
I imagine her at play as a child and as a young person, filling in the gaps in the memories of the old days and of the ones that are no longer with her, who are many.
And I also watch her now, as she is, several years later. She opens up to the word. Her smile rises and settles in scripture and song. In devotion...Great is Thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulnessMorning by morning new mercies I seeAll I have needed Thy hand hath providedGreat is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
And the wonder returns. ¶
About the Contributor
Billie McTernan is an artist, writer and editor whose work explores storytelling through literary and visual art forms. Most recently, she co-edited the publication for the 12th Nordic Biennale of Contemporary Art in Norway in 2023 (MOMENTUM 12). As a writer she has contributed to anthologies, exhibition publications, art magazines, journals and supplements. Billie’s ‘The Labadi Sunshine Bar’ (2020) published in Accra Noir by Akashic Books, was shortlisted for the AKO Caine Prize in 2022. See more of her work via the podcast a gift from somewhere and this interview on Semafor.
This is the #3 edition of KINDRED, a series on TENDER PHOTO. Each contributor selects a photograph from their family or personal album, pairs it with another photograph from the Tender Photo archive, and writes a short reflection on why they have selected both photographs. The idea is to find an analogy between two photographs that might be similar or dissimilar, but connected to an experience, emotion, or idea.
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