Happy New Year. Welcome, 2008.

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Monday, 31 December 2007

The moon is half full tonight, New Year's Eve, approximately three hours until the dreaded end of year hoop-la (did you notice on my cool little moon-ometer that the moon waxes and wanes gibbous? What a strange description. I can't help visualising a funny stocky little man with not much hair on his head and heaps in his ears penning that description back in 14th century Europe or something. Quaint and cute :) I love the moon).

I say dreaded New Year hoop-la only because it feels a bit painful for me this year, just like last year, and the year before. (But you know what? I know it's not always gonna be like that). I started writing a big long self-absorbed woe-is-me post but I have deleted it. In it I complained about how self-absorbed I have been this year. But it's been kinda necessary. The only problem with all this self-absorption and grieving and stuff is the propensity towards future-tripping that goes along with it. That's the bit that sucks.

It's true that I have cried more this year than the whole rest of my life combined, I think. But it's all working towards something. There's been a whole lot of work done on the old Susie this year and I look forward to eating its fruit and letting it dribble down my chin in 2008.


And so I am sitting here alone this one. It's not that I didn't have anywhere to go. It's just that it's been 41 degrees today and it's still hot as we speak (something in the vicinity of 97 degrees F at 9pm) and I just can't dredge myself up to do anything.

So in the name of self-nurturing, I have brought my one and only lamp into the lounge (where the airconditioner is). Light is a big thing for me. I always notice the quality of the light. The ceiling lights in here are flourescent lights and I feel like I'm in a morgue when they're on. Self-nurturing requires something a bit more charming. I've got me some DVDs and my writing books and I'm gonna sit here and be creative. Powerful nurturing. Life is a painful thing for me and a whole lot of other people right now. I think of all the people I know who are in sharp learning curves - there are many of us. Spiritually, this has been some kind of groundbreaking year, as far as I am concerned, and I look forward to us collectively eating our collective fruit and letting it dribble down our collective chins in 2008 :)

I'm not into too much reflecting backwards or forwards right now. I always feel rebellious doing such things when everyone else is doing them - it becomes a chore and I become 14 years old again, refusing to play :) But as far as hoping for myself in 2008 - I hope for healing, a year of being able to be more myself without being the open festering blob I have been in 2007. I look forward to tasting, touching, smelling and eating life and love and newness and growth and I look forward to sharing some of it with those of you who I know in 3D and watching it in all of you 2D dudes I'm enjoying the ride with.

Happy New Year everyone. Thank you, Papa.

The Morning Star paled slowly, the Cross hung low to the sea,
And down the shadowy reaches the tide came swirling free,
The lustrous purple blackness of the soft Australian night,
Waned in the gray awakening that heralded the light;
Still in the dying darkness, still in the forest dim
The pearly dew of the dawning clung to each giant limb,
Till the sun came up from ocean, red with the cold sea mist,
And smote on the limestone ridges, and the shining tree-tops kissed;
Then the fiery Scorpion vanished, the magpie's note was heard,
And the wind in the she-oak wavered, and the honeysuckles stirred,
The airy golden vapour rose from the river breast,
The kingfisher came darting out of his crannied nest,
And the bulrushes and reed-beds put off their sallow gray
And burnt with cloudy crimson at dawning of the day

The Australian Sunrise by James Lister Cuthbertson

Note about self-nurturance. I was crying before I wrote this post. Now I feel calm again. Enfolded in Papa. All those little small things, that even while you're moving towards them and not feeling like you want to do them - they all help. It is surprising the power that we all have in our grasp to affect our moods for good or ill, to be able to turn and devour some of those tigers and find they're actually made out of paper :)

I love my blog :)
At the moment I am sitting and looking at one of the more painful wounds of my life, the wound of the Daughter Who Wasn't Loved By Her Father. It's a deep wound and I have been aware of it ever since it first appeared, by virtue of its very deepness and the resulting defensiveness it has caused in my life. And now, at this point in my life of rebuilding and unfurling, of rebuilding my low self-esteem and self-confidence, it is calling to me to re-examine it once again. To really look at it, and to acknowledge just what it has done to me.

It's easy to gloss over your deepest wounds simply because they are too painful to confront all at once. Much better to look as long as you can and then go away and look at something else. Sometimes all we are needing to do at this particular time is to look and glance. But other times, it is necessary to sit and stare at it and to acknowledge the parts of you it has numbed.

I am rereading The Shack again. I don't know how many times this makes it. It is a book I shall always go back to a delve into because of Paul's ability to capture the heart of the Father so perfectly. So last night I came across this. Papa is represented as a black African American woman, who happens to be cooking up a storm in the kitchen at this part of the story, and she is explaining to the central character, Mack, a little bit about her/his identity:

She picked up the wooden spoon again, dripping with some sort of batter. "Mackenzie, I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature. If I choose to appear to you as a man or a woman, it's because I love you. For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning."

... "But then," [Mack] paused, still focussed on staying rational, "why is there such an emphasis on you being a Father? I mean, it seems to be the way you most reveal yourself."

"Well," responded Papa, turning away from him and bustling around the kitchen, "there are many reasons for that, and some of them go very deep. Let me say for now that we knew once the Creation was broken, true fathering would be much more lacking than mothering. Don't misunderstand me, both are needed - but an emphasis on fathering is necessary because of the enormity of its absence."

Fear and Loathing in Dark Places

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Sunday, 30 December 2007

I've been thinking a bit recently about self-loathing and self-esteem and stuff. I once had a pretty healthy wad of self-confidence or self-esteem, but in some respects it's shredded on the floor. It feels to me somewhat like God has taken this part of my personality down to the ground. Which is okay, because I'm at the point where I am beginning to build it all back up again, thankfully :) And some parts of my self-esteem have never been healthier. I am more comfortable within myself in some ways than I have ever been. The beauty of being in a place that feels safer and safer means that I can explore further and further (not that I didn't do this even when I didn't feel safe - I've always been a fearless inernal explorer :) But it's so much better when you know in your soul that it's all gonna be alright.

Now, I know the whole thing about self-esteem is a difficult one when you approach it from a Christian framework. I used to read about Jesus' directive to deny myself and it really confused me. In hindsight, what I felt like he was asking me to do was to lay down my entire identity. It felt totally weird and I just couldn't do it. Of course I couldn't. He wasn't asking me to lay aside myself (I wonder how many other people think this, that he was asking us to lay aside ourselves and become some kind of Stepford person? Methinks if a child grows up with healthy boundaries - those walls that the Old Testament talks about (some of mine are badly crumbled in places and it lets all sorts of weird shit in) - then perhaps it wouldn't even occur to them that Jesus would be asking them to lay aside their foundational identity. That doesn't make any sense at all. But I felt like that's what he was asking me to do, and so I lay the whole thing aside for years. It makes so much more sense to me now.

Anyway, I digress. I've been thinking about how even people with a healthy self-esteem can very quickly begin indulging in self-loathing. Scrape the skin of any of us, no matter how loud or extroverted, confident or "successful" we are, and you will get someone willing to treat themselves like a piece of poo if things begin to go wrong for them.

It's funny, isn't it, how some of us look so big and shiny but on the inside we are all really just a big pile of marshmallows. Just wanting some lurve. And when I look at those of us in the West, that's what we're starved for. The kind of love that builds us up, keeps us safe, gives us whatever internal warning devices we are lacking in ourselves, gives us a sense of safety, of identity, of protection, a good reflection of ourselves so that we can stand firm and live life with some kind of gusto. The love that comes from God.

So for the past couple of weeks I've been mulling over where self-loathing fits in when compared to Jesus' directive to love others as you love yourself. I remember reading in lots of different places that the implication in Jesus statement is that we already do love ourselves. But then I look around me and see a whole lot of people that have no idea how God loves them. So I guess it follows that they have no idea what it really means to love themselves. Wall-less people who deny themselves in all the wrong ways and who grant themselves a whole stack of stuff they should be walking away from because indulging in it is some sort of form of self-hatred. Choosing life is a difficult thing to do, sometimes, isn't it? Until you're on the other side of the lesson. Then the differences between life and death become so stark that you wonder (sometimes with a touch of horror) just how deathly we must look in cold reality. Eww. Thank God that he is life and we are in that life no matter how much death we may hold within ourselves. He is working to free us of all of that.

So I have been pondering how self-loathing and self-esteem and self-love all fit in together. Maybe self-loathing is tied up in the ego and wanting to be perfect in a power play type of way and it's anger at ourselves that we are incapable of being perfect and so are making ourselves weak, of wanting to be strong so we can be distanced from others by our superiority. Maybe we loathe those weak parts of ourselves because they are keeping us from being the big giants we want to be so that we can lord it over other people (even if we don't admit that to ourselves. It's all related to the comparison approach to life, a boxed-in mindset, the bell curve marking, so that our worth is based on how good we appear in comparison to others. This is the kind of human thinking that enjoys sending other people to hell because it gives us safety by comparison. Maybe that's partly where self-loathing comes in.

But then I don't think that's where self-loathing begins. I think often we learn it from significant childhood elders telling us how small we are; self-loathing then is a mantle that gets given to you whether you really want it or not. It's a protection device in some warped way. We put it on even though it smells horrendous because it helps keep us safe. If we loathe ourselves, then others treating us badly becomes understandable. But if we are worthwhile and worthy of love, the ill treatment of others becomes monstrous, assumes a greater evil. It then becomes, why did they treat me like that, rather than, they treated me like that because I deserve it. The second thought is easier for a child to cope with than the first. The first is far too bewildering a terrain for a child to navigate and so they don't. They put the mantle on instead. Even though it's a terrible fit. But there you have it.

But God.

Does not a sense also co-exist within us, alongside the loathing, that we are terribly special? It's why L'oreal can have "Because you're worth it" campaigns. We know somehow underneath that we are far more special than we are telling ourselves and that the world is constantly reflecting back to us in all its grey concrete deadness. It's there, like a gem waiting to be uncovered with a bit of good spiritual self-lovin', a small but perfectly formed diamond that really does know itself to be a thing of individual beauty that is not repeated anywhere else despite how platitudinous this sounds (! eww Hallmark).

But the paradox is that despite us all being different, we are alike enough that those of us who are further ahead in the healing process can help those of us who are stuck in whatever wound ditches we find ourselves in. This is the Body.

It's a good thing to know that loving yourself is not a selfish thing. It's one of the things we can't leave behind. Denying ourselves does not mean not loving ourselves. That's the spiritual abuse path. Loving ourselves, we will be come more selfless, not more selfish. That's what I think anyway.

What do you think?
Funny Pictures

How cute is this? What on earth are those pusses up to? (I don't think this is Photoshopped?? Or am I being naive?) This pic is in honour of Andrea's puss puss Emily :( She was hit by a car last night, poor Em. She was a beautiful cat.


Today I'm gonna watch Ten Canoes. The other day I watched Noise but it kinda left me a bit flat, really. I was thinking, I don't really care about these characters in the end, despite Brendan Cowell's masterful acting. I watched The Tracker recently (excellent suggestion, Urbanmonk) and rewatched Witness (the '85 version with Harrison Ford - I love the meanderingness of that movie, the way Peter Weir filmed it was just lovely) and A History of Violence which is good even for a perve (yummy Viggo) but is one of those movies that gets me thinking about questions of identity and how much we can change.

It's good to be back in the movie armchair again. I have been off it for a while. Movies feed my creativity. Almost as much as music. Speaking of which, I've been clicking pages on EBay again and shall soon be the proud new owner of a couple of secondhand CDs (I love rescuing secondhand things; I also like knowing they had a life before they came to me): Recovering the Satellites by Counting Crows and Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty. Yay!!!

PS: I think the post I wrote yesterday was for catharsis more than anything else, and to show to you blog buds why I've been a bit of a fruitcake this past week. But it feels a bit unsafe having it sitting there so I think maybe it'll stay for a week or two and then get deleted. I wish life was that easy :)

So I wonder if Emily the puss has now met Hamish, Lucy, Tinker (plus the two cats we had when I was young and who I can't even remember their names - oops) in the great cathouse in the sky (if that's how cat afterlife works; I would be betting that it does work in some form. I think when it says everything shall be made new it means everything ... and everyone. Everything :)

But still - I'm sorry Andi :(

moar funny pictures
I've been giving a bit of thought this morning, in my morning pages, to the different ways that we can live in relation to other people. I was thinking that the thing about living to please other people is that you put aside things of yourself that are probably not the things you should put aside, and the more wise parts of you know this, but it feels like you're denying yourself like Jesus says. And the end result is getting resentful because you feel like you're denying yourself but you're actually just being passive and thinking it's a service to others. Meanwhile, your soul screams that you're making yourself unsafe. I need to elaborate on this but the click ticketh over.

So maybe it's about living for other people? But that doesn't sit right either. Living for other people is rather like the first one. Putting all of your power eggs in other people's baskets. Maybe the best way is living to other people. Like a blogging friend of mine who has got this God thing going on pretty good. Him and Papa have spent quite a bit of time staring at each other over the past couple of years (fun journey to watch; seeing people unfurl will never lose its lustre). And so now he has been able to let go of a whole stack of stuff that means he is living free in the now, and in the provision of God, and it means he can do things like go into work for a couple of hours on his week off so that he can shampoo and style the hair of a couple of his older clients. How cool is that? Smells like God spirit. I live in that sometimes but have a big ways to go.

Living to other people means that you're focussed on them with the same care and concern that you hold for yourself. But it doesn't mean you ignore or deny your own necessary stuff, the stuff you do as a human being to keep yourself psychically safe and have a grounded personality distinct from other people. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said to deny ourselves (I'd love to hear what you think). There is plenty about myself that I could and can and should and shall do more of denying - the clamouring ego-driven stuff that results in powerplays and ego boasts and comparisons with others, all of that stuff. That can go. But the necessary stuff? He also said to love others as we love ourselves, did he not? And how can you love others if you don't first love yourself, give life to yourself, allow life to give life to you?

I think the key ultimately is where we get our identity from - God or human. Getting it from God ends up being a much more delightful proposition than many performance-oriented low-God-view pulpits have led us to believe, far less efficient and far more grounded, organic, mysterious and exciting than previously thought, a developing of an identity of beauty, which we desire to have, that makes our mouth water. This is the only covering we need. To presume you could get a covering like that from another human being (as so many have propounded in the past; as if another human being with the title of pastor slapped on could be another person's covering! There's only one Pastor I know of who is able to be my covering without stuffing it up, and I'm not about to give that power over to any other human being).

Getting my identity from God means I'm not beholden to other people to give me a sense of my own identity and power - not that I don't try! I have been bleating around my friends recently, asking for my reflection in their eyes, wanting to know who I am, wanting them to show me. Grabbing greedily at every morsel. This friend agrees with me that I am self-absorbed. Hmm. This friend says that I have never been more myself than how I am becoming. Hmmm. This friend of a friend says that I am a strong personality (does she see the weak, I wonder?) This friend says I am not given to paranoia; why am I thinking so paranoically? All of these morsels, I gobble them up with gusto. I take them and add them to my collection of Who The Hell This Sue Person Is (a profile which is becoming much more apparent to me these days. Must have something to do with God smashing it all into the dust and rebuilding).

It's good to get feedback from others on this same journey. It's vital. Imperative. But ultimately, getting my glimpses of my identity from others is only a small part of God giving me my identity. It is a shaky proposition at the best of times to try to get it from anyone else but him/her. People are too flaky to rely on for that :)

What I get from God allows me to more fully be myself in all of my weaknesses - an amazing thing though painful. And, beautiful sidenote, I become more free than ever before to love people right where they are, in all of their weaknesses. It's a beautiful thang, a dance to be learnt.

Musical Christmas Giftings

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Thursday, 27 December 2007

I heard Counting Crows' Recovering the Satellites yesterday. I had originally taped it off my brother when he had it on vinyl. I knew the album pretty well, but then meant to get it on CD and never got around to it and then just forgot all about it. So yesterday I had that really cool experience of rediscovering an album I hadn't heard for ages. I love that feeling. It's like the time that has transpired between now and your last listen evaporates and you get to be 25 again for a while :) (It felt good. Real damn bloody good).

It's weird how our minds store stuff. I've got a really crappy memory. I had completely forgotten about Angels of the Silences and so listening to it the first time was a bit of a spin out. I had totally loved this song, completely forgotten about it, and here I was listening to it again and doing that trippy thing of remembering the lyrics as they came out of the speaker. Weird feeling.

But then even weirder was the second time through. It's like I'd finally found the Music - Lyrics - Counting Crows - Angels of the Silences file in my head and suddenly I knew all of the lyrics!

It was so cool, I listened to it about 10 times, all the way from Mum's. I wish that happened more often, recovering lost relics. It's a real buzz.

In other musical news, I'm going to see The Police with Andi in 3 weeks! Yay and yay and yay and yay and yay. We are FREE ROWS FROM THE FRONT. Rock on, Cousin in Fan Club !!
*Sigh* I am so terribly discombobulated. I have had not enough solitude, and no centering prayer. It makes me go blerty blerty blerty and it brings out the inner rebellious child that says fuck fuck fucking fuck.

So if you were looking for a deep and meaningful post from me, one pondering and rambling and meandering about deep stuff, then tonight is not the night, darling. Discombobula is not wearing the sexy nightie tonight. It's wearing the pyjamas with the jam stain down the front and the big bog-catcher undies-she-wears-when-she-has-
her-period undies. Sorry about that. Try me tomorrow. Or Saturday morning. I like a bit of blogging on Saturday morning :)

It's not for lack of trying to post something interesting and deep, believe me. This is the third post I've started. The other two are stored as drafts, 10 paragraphers about interesting subjects, but both of them petered out like an old man whose Viagra has just worn off. How ironic that in the week after my blog fast I seem to have developed blog constipation (well, by my 64-posts-in-one-month standards).

*Sigh*. And again. *Sigh*

But hey, at least it's sumer. We took the dogs to the beach before. Lester barked at the parasailer. I gazed at the parasailer and thought, "Now, that would be a damn fine artist date." It looks real fun. And it was warm and sunny and hot and I ached and thought, "I need to write or I will explode somewhere from my kidneys."

But yea, it did not happen except for this complete and utter waste of space. Sometimes you're on blogger fire. Other times it's blog desert. I think I'm gonna go eat that piece of pavlova in the fridge (desert - dessert - this is how my mind works).

Amen

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"True repentance spends less time looking at the past and saying, "I'm sorry,"
than to the future and saying, "Wow!"
~Frederick Buechner

All that is gold does not glitter. Not all those who wander are lost.
~J.R.R. Tolkien

How true thou art, Fred and JRR.

In other news, I am going to work today - but only for four hours. And tomorrow - but only for four hours. So that's bearable, right? Even a sloth like me can do four hours :)

And in-between I'm gonna write me some big, juicy blog posts 'cause my blog-writing fingers are itchy and jittery. Mmm, yum. Big juicy blog posts. Yum.
Edit: That's if I can string two words together. I feel as thick as a plank of something single celled today. Over the several days of Christmas I have drank approximately 8 glasses of wine/whine and one reasonably large glass of Bailey's. And it's turned me stupid. Not drunk. No, no good benefits. Just stupid.
Which is quite sad but maybe it's what comes with having a 37 year old liver. I look forward to being vaguely smart again sometime soon :)

Have a nice day now, ya hear?

Don't Read This Post if You're Full of Christmas Cheer

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Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Seriously. If you love Christmas, please don't bother reading this post because it will probably just irritate you. And I am rather extreme in my Yuletide views, so it may seem to you that I am overblowing the case. But this is what I feel about Christmas.

I am fed up with it already (it is Christmas Day here). I got together with my family last night, which was nice. Today I am getting together with my friend Jane and a ragamuffin group of misplaced people - about 12 of us, if everyone turns up - who have nowhere else to go this day. I hope that it will be lovely and enjoyable, despite the fact that I only know 2 people who are going which means 10 people to make small talk with. I hate small talk. Especially when I'm feeling grouchy because it's Christmas.

So if you do like Christmas, if you are getting into the spirit (it being Christmas Eve for most of you reading this), then don't read any further. Cause the last thing I want to do is rain on anyone's parade. I love watching my dear cousin Andrea at Christmas. Her childlikeness is a joy to watch. She loves Chrissy, the remembrance of childhood past, watching her own two boys experience the joys of Christmas. I understand all of that.

I just can't enter into it. Maybe that says more about me and my current state of mind and relative unhappiness and grief and stuff, and of course my cross to carry of cynical cultural structure dismantling makes it difficult for me to enter into something which just feels so wholly fake to me. But I am mindful that my cynicism can be a barrier to enjoying life. I do know this, and I think I take it too far, but there you have it.

I hate Christmas for so many reasons. I hate the commodification of Christ's birthday. He never even once said anything about making a big party out of his birthday (which almost certainly wasn't on December 25 anyway).

I also hate the fact that the people who are most oppressed by life have it enlarged and engorged and pointed out to them in neon over Christmas. Hey, loser, look at you. Lonely? Depressed? Struggling? No family? Crap family? Struggling with addictions? No friends? A life that looks like a postcard on the outside but is totally empty on the inside? A feeling your life isn't counting for anything? Well, get over it 'cause it's Christmas. Ring those sleigh bells and get over having a life that's not Hallmark. Whatever people are struggling with - and I don't know anyone who isn't struggling - we all buy into this ridiculous Coca-Colafication of the winter/summer solstice period and I don't know a lot of people who really get off on this (except for parents with children).

Yes, I know, none of this is a reason to stop the whole thing. But it's another reason for me to hate it. I warned my family last night that there is a possibility that next Christmas I won't be around, if we do it on Christmas Day, because I think I may go and help out at a homeless shelter or something. Or find a cave to crawl into until January 1.

I think too I have learnt to hate Christmas even more since being sick. There's nothing like having to jump through a whole stack of hoops when you don't have the energy to climb through one to make you start questioning everything. I felt terribly resentful that I had to go through the whole Christmas thang. (Suffice to say, three years ago I hosted Christmas and went pretty full-on with preparing dishes and stuff and loved it. I enjoy cooking for people. I do love the communal aspect of Christmas, the out-of-the-ordinary of it). And then last year, grossly raw from a marriage breakup - that one wasn't so fun either.

And everyone I have spoken to all say some version of, "Well, ultimately it's for the kids, isn't it?" And I don't know whether that's enough to keep the whole thing going, for mine.

They estimated the other day that the average spend for Victorians this Christmas was $900 each. I presume that is for every man, woman and child in Victoria. Which means that some people are spending absolute shitloads of money for this thing called Christmas. Sometimes I wonder if people are stuffing themselves with food and presents not just because that's what you get to indulge at this time of year, but because this is one of the few times where that Jesus bloke is kinda coming in and out of their heads a bit and they feel discomfted by that? Nothing better to keep that at bay than shoving more stuff in.

Yes, Virginia, I am too cynical. It's something I'm working on. But hey, I can't help my gothic turn of mind, and every year increasingly I can't help getting visuals of the fat, bloated West obscenely gorging itself while the rest of the world is hungry.

10 Things I Love About ...

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Monday, 24 December 2007

Okay. Lucy has given me the letter B to play in the 10 Things I Love About game. So here goes. I must say, I feel like I'm gonna have trouble coming up with 5 let alone 10, but we shall see :) (Edit: it took me an hour and a half, but I did it. It was actually a lovely, meditative thing to do :)


Books Phwoar I love reading. Books are sensual. One of the things I did in The Artist's Way the other day was to write a letter to myself from me at 80. It was a very edifying thing to do (I'm pretty cool when I'm 80, it has to be said), and I found myself writing, "Keep working towards that mysterious art of novel writing, as daunting as that seems. Know that the vistas are wider, much wider than you can imagine even on your best day." The thought of writing a novel makes me quake. For me at this time it is far beyond my ability to accomplish (although I'm mindful that even published authors with 10 books under their belt feel the stagefright of thinking they can't do it again). But obviously it's something that my inner me wants to do. So that is my aim over the next several months. And therefore, my other aim, the other side of that equation, is to read more fiction. I looked at my "currently reading" pile the other day and realised that all except one was non-fiction - unbalanced. So, with delicious anticipation, I think of all the fiction I am going to read over the next several months and it tastes good in my mouth :)

Burgeoning I don't know if again I'm just extrapolating outward from my own experiences, but so much of life seems hopeful to me, burgeoning, as if its gonna burst its banks. It's like new vistas on the horizon, a stepping out which feels a bit scary, stepping out into God-knows-what, but gee, it's exciting. Even more exciting is the fact that what is now beginning to feel like excitement felt completely out of my range a couple of months ago. I am excited to see what the future holds for me, and also for the Body of believers. We feel pregnant, do we not? Can you feel it?

Breath Sometimes, if I catch myself early enough, so that I haven't allowed my thoughts to stress off so far that I am in another galaxy, I am able to bring myself back to the present by focussing on my breath, on the gentle rhythm of in-out in-out. It draws my attention to the rhythm of life that beats underneath everything, the Breath of God within reach even when it doesn't feel like it (I'm sure it's probably especially when I don't feel it, but that comfort is so cold sometimes as to be almost no comfort at all ;) I used to do yoga many moons ago, and one of the benefits I got from it was feeling much more centred in my own body, much more aware of my own body, and it made me realise that I spent a great deal of my time kind of out of my own body, as if I was living suspended a foot above my right shoulder, somehow. It's a dangerous place to be. Focussing on my breath helps me to be here, present, right in my body. Sheesh, it's hard work, though! Who would have thought something so basic could be so difficult to maintain?

Being I love it when I am relaxed enough to just be, to sit with all of the questions, with their mystery, and not need to know the answers. To know that the answers will all come at the right time. It doesn't happen nearly as much as I would like it to happen. I am doing everything in my power to make myself the kind of person that it can happen to more (eg, see above). Be still and know that I am God has been a mantra of mine this year. Sometimes it makes me sad that God is the most beautiful thing/god/ineffable indescribable being and yet my flesh can drag me away from him/her so quickly. But it's just how it is, bloggers, and so beating myself up about it accomplishes only negative things. The key is to be gentle, to know that I have spent years and years living independently, and it shall most likely take years and years to become more disciplined in staying in him/her and abiding in him/her. But when I get into the flow of it? Well, when I am in the flow of being, it feels like I shall never slip out. It feels like it would be impossible to do so, seeing this is life and slipping out is death. But I get sidetracked, waylaid, attracted by bright baubles and trinkets. But it's okay because s/he knows that I am made of dust, and s/he knows how to lure me back. S/he is rather the accomplished lover, is s/he not?

Benevolence
I love people who live the power of strength in weakness. They draw people in effortlessly, by invisible threads. They are being Jesusey. It is the ultimate in astonishment that God is kind, is it not? Kindness is an underrated concept, and even if we as the Body do nothing more than to be kind to those who life is not being kind to, then we will change the world. Benevolence, says Wikipedia, is the expression of agape love (unconditional love, the kind of love that God expresses towards us at all times). Andrea told me about a friend of hers the other day who just exudes the love of God. It spills out of her without trying, uncontrollably, like honey out of a hive and that's what I want to be when I grow up (I also want to be a revolutionary on weekends ;)

Beauty It doesn't really surprise me that there have been people and periods in the past where we have misjudged God's kindness and goodness (casting him/her in our own image is easier than receiving him/her in his/her own, with all the disorientation that implies). And it also doesn't surprise me that those times are often times of austerity. Not that austerity is a bad thing, mind you - depriving yourself of certain things for higher reasons is a sign of spiritual maturity. But austerity because you believe that beauty is something evil is ... well, I don't really need to describe how ridiculous that is, do I? At this time of unfolding and renewal and hope, I wanna sink in beauty, wrap myself up in it, run my hands along it, eat it and drink it, put it on my walls, bathe my eyes in it. It enlivens me; it reminds me that I am a co-creator in my life with God. It inspires me to try things that feel beyond my own ability. It reminds me of him/her and his/her beauty and how none of this compares at all to how beautiful God is in him/herself. And that, my dudes, gives me shivers.

Beyond I've always been drawn to what lies just beyond my reach. I am beginning to get back in touch even more with the me that knows much more than I consciously know. There is nothing more delicious to me than seeing a vista that I can't quite arrive at yet. A few breadcrumbs on the trail. An intuiting of where that delicious breadcrumb is gonna lead to. An opening up of paths. A sudden coming upon an unanticipated piece of life, of joy, in dark places. God loves putting breadcrumbs down. I love following them.

Blogging :) Oh, yes, I love blogging. I love the whole thing - crafting something, working out what I am thinking about something as I write, the immediacy of receiving comments, reading the blogs of others, sharing community with each other. I am really roolly glad to have joined the ranks of you dudes and dudettes who give me such food for thought. It's a really lovely thing, to be able to all get together and share our stuff even if over the other side of the world. I've made some good friendships and I look forward to getting to know you all even better next year.

Blue Is one of my favourite colours. Such a spiritual colour, I think. The colour of the sky, of freedom. My other favourite colours are yellow and orange. I've been spending too much time in the desert it seems :) I also love green, and it's funny how my workspace has just evolved out of a whole stack of green objects. Green, the colour of trees. I love colour. I notice it all the time. I always notice what colours people are wearing, that their houses are decorated in. Colour really just does it for me!!!

Branches Well, trees, really, but trees start with "t" so branches it is. I have a couple of prints up on my wall that my Mum got years ago when we were in the art gallery, on the less-than-handful of occasions we have been there. One is Autumn in the Fitzroy Gardens by John Mather, the other is Silent Gums by Walter Withers. There is a third, that famous three-panel piece the name of which I can't remember but which slightly depresses me. Interesting thing is that all three prints have trees on them. Maybe my Mum was tapping into something when she got those prints 10 years ago because surrounding my workspace with pictures of trees is probably about the best thing I can do :) They speak to me on so many levels. No wonder God uses them as metaphors; they are so rich with life and meaning. Trees take my breath away.

Reindeer love

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Sunday, 23 December 2007

If I was Rudolph and was ostracised by the reindeer fraternity until suddenly they realised that Santa loved me and saw my shiny nose as a useful efficient way to get the Santa posse flying ... well, I don't know about you, but when the reindeers shouted out with glee and claimed their love for me - I would feel a bit suspicious.

Edit: In hindsight, this post reads as yet another example of bah humbug. I didn't intend it like that. Actually, I even found myself singing a Christmas carol today. What I do love about Christmas, as a part of the Body, is that even though I think the whole Christmas thang should be put out on the nature strip for the hard rubbish collection, I do like the way so many of us as the Body are thinking about the same things, and there seems to be a lot more wonderment and anticipation this year than in other years (is anyone else thinking this, or is it just me extrapolating what's going on inside me and extending it out into the world?)

Daily Post Number 3 :)

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Saturday, 22 December 2007

Okay, so I'm not even meant to be back here yet but in the name of rebellion, here is post number 3.

Joy got me onto this ASBO Jesus guy. Good stuff. Nice, biting commentary at times :) Hehe

Expectancy

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Don't you love expectancy? Such a delightful feeling; tinges the edges even of boredom with a bit of gilt. Breeds itself effortlessly.

I have come across so many expectant Jesusey bloggers this Advent. I am feeling emptily expectant. Expectancy - the buzzword for the Body.

An Expectant Body. Good timing, huh :)



I love what Geoff Bullock said:

The Incarnation, God becoming man, defines God in such a way that it challenges every thought and every concept concerning deity. The Royal Family travels with kid leather toilet seat covers! World Leaders travel in their own planes, with their own chefs. Rock Stars refuse to play unless they are provided with a multitude of “ego-enhancing” paraphernalia. Super Models stay in bed unless absurd fees are paid.

God spent nine months inside a Jewish Teenage girl!


And boy, didn't it cost her.

I'm b-a-a-a-a-c-k

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I couldn't resist posting at my favourite blogging time, Saturday morning, seeing I missed last week. Hey, everyone! Good to see ya!! I missed ya :)

This week has been very interesting. I spent a reasonable swathe of it feeling empty, along with some moments of clarity, of creativity (I feel closer to the concept of being able to write a short story, for example - did you know that for the past seven months the only fiction I have written is a couple of poems? This week I also did some journalling and made a crap collage :) But the main feeling of this past week has been a feeling of emptiness. One of those times where you can't enfold yourself into the presence of God because he is standing one step away, calling to you to walk a step towards him.

Lucy describes well how emptiness is not a bad thing. Making way for the Lord, and all that. A fitting feeling to have at the time of Advent. Emptiness feels bad though, no matter how you philosophise it. I don't know if we ever get used to the feeling, being made as we are to be filled to the brim. Sometimes I wonder if we don't feel most empty at the very times when God is moving in those inward parts of us most bruised, most distorted, most twisted and most singed at the ends. Moving and denumbing us.

Fasting is a good thing. I haven't done a great deal of it in the past. These days, I can't seem to stop :) It is a strengthener. We are stronger than we think we are (insert whatever other Diane Warren/Jim Steinman-esque type quotes you think applicable here ;).

All I know is that I am 37 years old. I am most likely not going to have children (at least not in this life. I have put in a request to God that if all the babies that are unborn in this life require some sort of looking after in the next, that I might get some nursery duty :) I want my life to count for something. The past 8 years in the backside of the desert have been priceless and I wouldn't even trade them anymore. I've fallen off the tracks and realised that I don't even want to get back on again. I don't want to be anywhere but on the fringes. I just don't. You can see
clearer from here, and you get to miss out on great big blobs of the bullshit that sucks us into living fruitless, pointless lives devoid of meaning (the stock-standard Empire fit life, all shiny on the outside but as filling and nutritious as a bowlful of sugar).

I don't want to live that life. I could very easily spend the rest of my days stuck in front of the television or the computer screen every night. But Mein Gott I really don't want to. This is where praying dangerous prayers comes in. It's to save me from myself. I don't know where my life is heading. But praying dangerous prayers means that maybe I don't need to :) I used to think that praying that kind of prayer would mean God would send me somewhere where I could continue feeling like a square peg in a round hole, somewhere that I would get to use none of the gifts that I had and would have to squelch all of the ones I did. That kind of thinking was box thinking, however. God is just a leetle bit more creative than that.

I also used to think that it was kinda a one-way street of "doing God's will" - of listening and being all passive and getting directives from him. But the directives come slap bang right in the middle of a life well-lived, me is thinking. (What do you think?) And they come from within myself and my own heart desires, and it's when those inner things meet the outward sense of directive that the heartstoppers happen, the "ooh!" moments of clarity that propel you forwards into this direction, not that one.. It is much more of a co-creating of my life with God. I get to fully participate in it. It is fully mine, with him enshrouded and enmeshed and threaded through it until it becomes something beautiful. He is life and love.

I wanna know what those things are he's prepared for me to do from the foundation of the world.l I wanna go out and do them. I think I am really finally starting to heal.

It is raining, slightly chilly. The weather has been wild and woolly the past few days. Flooding rains and thunderstorms. My brother is down from Balranald with his dog. Now there are two dogs petrified of the thunder. I hope it's the last of it for their sake.

I am coming to the end of my latest parasite cleanse. I am feeling better and with more energy than I have in the last month. All bad medicine comes to an end at some point. There is so much change in the air. I can smell it on the wind. But I can't see what any of it looks like. There's a copper hair colour with my name on it on the bathroom sink. A symbolic changing to reflect the wind scent. I don't know what's gonna happen. But like I said, I don't really need to. But sheesh, doesn't mean I don't really want to :)

PS: I have this bad habit of editing my posts for about half an hour after I write them. Is that bad blogging etiquette, seeing some people read the first draft and then you go and change it again? I just like seeing how it looks "published" on the page. I seem to get inspired to change it more once it's there :) Annoying and I apologise :)

When I grow up ...

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Friday, 21 December 2007





... I wanna be a revolutionary ;)


Watching: The Motorcycle Diaries



Things to do instead of reading:
  • Cook more
  • Do the dishes
  • Stare into void. Marvel at how horrifying it is even with God in attendance. Marvel not that alcoholics and drug addicts exist but wonder at how everyone isn't one who does not have God.
  • Sew button on my pants been meaning to do for months
  • Stare at clouds and make shapes
  • Be bored shitless
  • Cry
  • Wail
  • Lament
  • Walk in lunchbreak around city. Chat to guy selling Big Issue. play with his dog. Buy copy of Big Issue can't read till Sunday. Chat to young idealistic people selling stuff for something called the Larouche Youth Movement. Marvel at idealistic young people. Buy some literature off them can't read till Sunday.
  • Listen to music
  • Lie in bed even and listen to music - nice!!
  • Light candles, sit at writing desk, write in journal
  • Pray dangerous prayers: "Papa, do what you want with me."
  • Marvel at how empty my life is. Think that this is normal when you have lost your life from years of sickness and still haven't quite managed to regain it yet in the way that you always dreamt about when you were still sick. Think about ways to get back into life. Know that life shall be full again. Wish it was full now.
  • Anticipate how I am going to read for an hour straight on Sunday :)

Offline

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Sunday, 16 December 2007

Well, bloggers, I'm gonna be offline till next Sunday. It's been a strange day for me; I have battled with why it is I have felt such terror at the thought of not reading or blogging until then. But I've girded my loins somewhat after struggling with it for most of the day, and I think this fast is gonna be a good one to do. My own little Advent participation in the week of joy.

This past year has been a strange and difficult one for me. Lots of grieving time, lots of licking wounds and coming to terms with my marriage being over and being the main cause for its demise, and trying to get back on my feet after being sick for over six years. In many respects, the past decade has pared my life down to the barest of its bones. It's not something I would have asked for but it's been a good, good thing - or at least the fruit of it has been good. God has done stuff. I can see further. I can see him clearer. This paring happens to everybody at some point; I figure the earlier it begins happening the better. May as well start getting onto the business of dying so we can get to the good stuff of living.

The paring is also a terrifying, terrifying thing. You can't be prepared for it. You must needs cry and lament your way through it and hopefully find some sympathetic ears on the way. When you go back to picking up your life after the dust settles, it's scary, unnerving, exciting. Nothing is the same and neither are you. You realise that the paring has left its mark. For me it's realising that I've greatly lost the ability to be playful, to have fun. Perhaps that is going to change.

Being online has been good thing for me, especially while I was sick and so limited. There is so much life to be had on here. I love blogging, but I hide behind it sometimes simply because it's easier to get home from work and sit here for hours and be bored than it is to step out and do stuff and get back into living again. It's so easy to take a good thing and turn it into some kind of compulsion when its something we can hide behind.

And so now I've come to terms a bit with the fact that I'm not going to be on here and I'm not gonna be reading till Sunday. It's amazing what we can do when we set our minds to it. These times of extreme discomfort are always extremely discomfiting - but the stuff they yield is pretty fine. I feel shyly anticipatory about what might happen to me over this next week, even though I'm scared that I am gonna get bored, that I'm not gonna know what to do with myself, that I'm gonna sit there twiddling my thumbs knee deep in existential angst, feeling like an empty shell (apologies to those of you with children who are going to be having the complete opposite of times next week and who see my upcoming week as some kind of oasis :)

But maybe I'm not gonna go all nihilistic. God tends to come to the party when we make moves to put our party dresses on. It's our lack of vision that thinks he won't turn up. He probably can't help not to :)

And I have rewritten one of the rules, in the Spirit of Lucy and freedom. I get to spend 15 minutes online every day. Just 15 minutes. That's all. The point of this whole exercise is to stop swimming in the words of others and of distractions so the well can be filled. I don't think 15 minutes a day is gonna be enough to ruin that process. And it will keep me sane. Because I am, after all, an addict :)

Hugs to you, bloggers.
Times Heard Jingle Bell Rock while in two separate shopping centres today:
2

Hatred of Jingle Bell Rock:
94%

Chance that even Gemma and Andi hate Jingle Bell Rock:
73%

Book/Blog Addict

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Okay. Julia Cameron has instructed me that I am to not read anything all week. What kind of crazy drugs was this woman on when she wrote this thing? It definitely was not a blogging universe when she wrote this ... so can I cheat? Hehe. Do blogs count?

I'm happy to go a week without reading any books (agh!) but blogs as well? Doesn't she know I've just stopped smoking the chooferoonie? Doesn't that count? (No, Sue, you know that has nothing to do with it!)

I just sent Lucy a desperate comment on her blog and she responded with an encouraging email. I need all the encouragement I can get. So to those of you who have done The Artist's Way, how did you go doing this? Did you feel rather desperate about it? I am still deciding whether to cut out reading blogs completely but I think I"m even more of a blog addict than a book addict (unfortunately) so I don't know if I can really do it. I really don't.

There's the rub. I don't know if I'm strong enough to do this. Even just for a week. That's pathetic, isn't it? But it's true. I am what I am. And the desperate scrambling I'm feeling at the thought makes me think, maybe I should. After all, I went for three days without blogging and reading blogs; this would just be double that. (But I was unable to get online there. What do I do when I have my laptop sitting here just waiting for me? Huh? What then?)

If I do this, I'm gonna cheat and not start till tomorrow, anyway, I've decided (hehe. Just want to feel the needle slide under the skin for one more day).
But if I stop reading blogs, then I probably really will have to stop writing them as well. Won't I. (Damn you, Lucy). Can I do this? It feels so empty. What would I do instead? (Gee, I dunno - like, 6 million things????)

God, I don't feel like I can do this. Help! Pliz! Anyone of the praying persuasion, can you pray for me please? I seriously want to do this for the benefits I know I'll get out of it - but I really don't feel like I can. Pray for the conviction.

Lucy said it was a magical time for her. If I was looking a bit higher than at my feet, the ground, and my desperation, I would imagine that God would be delighted at the opportunity to insert a few deliciousnesses into this coming week for me, his kid, who is trying to do this difficult thing. Like for all of us. Maybe we miss them when we're scuffing our feet and feeling sorry for ourselves.

But dammit, I do! :) And as much as I'm making light of this, it's just to keep the goddamn terror at bay. I'm scared.

Gratitude

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My ex and I walked our dog last night and talked about things of which either I'm not allowed to speak of here, or which I don't really want to speak of here at this point in time :)

It was edifying to be able to talk honestly and openly with the man who I spent 10 years of my life with. The best bit, though, was when I asked him, "What do you call me now?" And he answered, "Well, wife, I guess. We should do something about that!" But then he said something which was a good Christmas present. "Friend," he said. "I call you friend."

I'm grateful for that. Despite my stuffing-up I still have Mocca for a friend. You can't ask for more than that. This is what it feels like in God. To have a soft landing for your stuff-ups. And this displayed by a man who is a damned heathen destined to burn eternally in the fires of hell!!!!!!!!! Whoever would have thought?

Yes, Virginia, you can be friends after a marriage breakup. It's pretty rare, but for whatever reasons of grace, or repression, or some crazy maturity we have both managed to drag up from the dregs of wherever, or snatched from off of the wind, we have managed to accomplish this. Whoever would have thought?

PS: He also told me that my current blog header is horrid. And that I behave sometimes with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Fucking bullshit, I say ;)

PS: My blog looks horrible on his laptop. Half of it's missing, hanging over the right-hand side of his screen. And the fonts are different. And it's all much more discombobulated than I intended it to look. So for those who are viewing my blog in such misery - I'm sorry :) I'd change it but I (a) don't know hardly nothing about CSS and such things and (b) Blogger doesn't neither, as far as I know

Cancer Counsel

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Saturday, 15 December 2007

Wayne's mate Dave writes the kind of reply that I would wish to receive if I was freaking out with a cancer diagnosis. This is what the kingdom of God looks like.

http://lifestream.org/blog/?p=496

Summer rain

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There's nothing like rain falling lightly on the roof first thing in the morning in summer to make you feel toe-curlingly rich.

Even though you're pretty poor (hence going to work on Saturday and missing your favourite time of the week to write rambling blog posts :)

Happy Saturday, bloggers.

Yin and Yang

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Friday, 14 December 2007

Just been listening to the latest podcast of The God Journey. Wayne describes a letter he received from someone who said the following:
I have come to now see the clarity that it is a journey of transitioning me from living a life for him to living a life in him."
Edit: this succinctly sums up two different journeys which both look quite alike. One looks like life but is death. One requires death to your own stuff to receive the life.

Life Community

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"We are saddled and bridled today with a religion that is not sure if it wants to become church. Its adherents' expectations are very set. It is a comfortable and very materialistic religion, which tests its people's commitment on the level of doctrine but is afraid to test that commitment on issues of lifestyle or mature conscience.

"We give out bits of advice on marriage and family life, while the very structure of family crumbles all around us. Could it be that our vocation is not to teach about family, but to ourselves become family and to submit to its disciplines? If the world no longer knows how to struggle for unity and maintain commitments at the cost of pain, could it be because the church, the sign of salvation, has not traveled the narrow road first? In a commodity world we have become a commodity church. We have allowed the gospel to become something we buy and sell to others, something we use for power and good feeling. We have done to God what we do quite comfortably to one another - we use him!

"... We have become convinced in our nine years of community building at New Jerusalem that you can only build on life. All else is sand. You cannot build on fear, guilt, coercion, or even idealism. You cannot build on gospel passages, church commandments, or papal mandates, unless they are finally putting you in touch with life.

"You cannot build on death. Unforgiveness, repressed hurts, denied feelings, unconscious anger will all eventually show themselves as unfit foundations for community. They might appear to be energy in the short run, but they will in time show themselves to be negative energy, incapable of real life. "Wisdom builds herself a house" (Proverbs 9:1). And wisdom knows that you can only build on the foundation of life."


Richard Rohr, Near Occasions of Grace


I have been out here backside of the desert for many years now. I'm actually kinda comfortable here. Thing is, I always kinda knew that this wouldn't always look exactly like this, with very little on-the-ground Christian community. I had the feeling when I went into this time that God would be "calling me back in" after a certain period of time.

Well, these days I don't feel like I can be "called back into" something which I am a part of by virtue of breathing in and breathing out. I do, however, believe that this Christian thing is by nature a community thing. I feel very resistant to that idea on some levels. But my ideas on what constitutes community have changed, lengthened, during this desert experience and I feel small inklings of hope. Part of this desert dwelling has involved learning to hear God's voice above the clamour of groupthink (something which every group of people has a propensity towards), knowing God for myself, learning to follow him even if those around me don't often understand (and they don't - and neither should they). This desert dwelling has sent down deep roots. It's been an amazing, painful experience.

But I am getting occasional breezes of thinking that maybe the time will draw near when entering back into some form of community will be right before my eyes. And part of me is terrified at the prospect. It's difficult to feel positive about something that has only in general been a dead, fake, negative, shadow experience of the life that my spirit thirsts for

Of course, sharing in that life doesn't mean at all that it won't be messy, that it won't be filled with fucked-up people. Actually, the kind of community I'm only willing to put myself into these days is one which is under no illusions about how fucked-up it is. Anything else is anathema. And community, for me, doesn't necessarily mean a great giant group of people. Two or three gathered has always been my community of choice.

I want a velveteen rabbit kind of community. One that knows it's pockmarked and has worn bits on its ears. A vulnerable community that I can be vulnerable in.

Oh, the terror.

Several steps removed.

Kinda like me :)

Note to my good self: cooking stuff is fun. Especially pudding type stuff. You get to lick all the spoons and bowls with no competition but yourself. That means creamed butter. Your childhood favourite.

Cooking stuff is also nurturing.

Cook more stuff.
The music playing at Flagstaff Station yesterday as I got off the train to go to work was irritating on so many levels. A badly-drawn instrumental version of that Christmas song "Sleigh Ride". I think that's what it's called. The one that prattles on brightly about being a wonderful time to go on a sleigh ride together with you.

As I went up the escalator I ranted in my head. Well, no, actually, it's a really bad time to go on a sleigh ride, either together with you or alone, seeing as it is the middle of fucking summer and the closest snow around here is ... oh, in the Northern Hemisphere (well, strictly speaking, there's probably snow up the top of, say, Mount Kosciusko, but sleigh riding down the peak of a mountain would probably cause a bit of vertigo). I know, this sort of thing perhaps shouldn't bother me. Yes, it really does. No, I'm not such a complete literalist that I can't function in society. The ranting goes deeper than that.

Forgive me my whingeing blatherings but I have problems with being bombarded with images of snow and holly when that has never been my experience of Christmas. Why must the world be so pre-packaged? I'm tired of being bombarded by societal visuals and audios which bear no resemblance to anything I experience. It angers me enough to ... oh, I dunno - write a blog post about it.

It could be argued, however, that the music playing in the morning was preferable to the shite they were playing when I return tripped the train that night. A badly-drawn instrumental version of "Chuck E's in Love". Oh, my.

Lift your musical game, Connex. While you're there, put more trains on the Sydenham line and less on the Craigieburn line. It's not really rocket science. The Sydenham trains are packed, so inevitably I have my nose stuck in someone's armpit if I get the earlier train. The Craigieburn line has vacant seats. Get a goddamned clue. Maybe the music you're forced to listen to is frying your brain.

If I was really proactive, I would buy Flagstaff Station some new music for Christmas. But I'm sure clause 7.32(1)(a) of some rules and regulations somewhere would prohibit it for some unnamed fear or other. Probably ultimately to do with money.

We are suffocating under our rules and regulations. As a society, we're as alienated from our public spaces as we are from ourselves and each other. I guess public spaces are a better reflection than we wish to admit. I feel another blog post brewing ...

Invitation to Poetry

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Monday, 10 December 2007





The latest poetry party going on over at Abbey of the Arts is called Waiting, Watching.

Christine invites you to use the title and image as a springboard for your own "poem, words, reflections, quotes, song lyrics, etc." Don't feel like you have to have some amazing standard to play - after all, I didn't :)

Here is mine.




Love All

She thought that
the first time she knew
she really loved him was when

he walked past as she
sat with pad and pen
waiting, watching for the first
half-formed crumb that would
lead her out of the block and
into the forest
and he didn’t ask
“What are you writing?”
even though his eyes wanted to.

Then she thought that
it was the first time she knew
that he really loved her
too.

When I was ill with CFS, oftentimes alongside my various bodily dysfunctions, aches, pains and tremors would be an accompanying anxiety. Like a low voltage electrical charge, it pulsed through my body. Sometimes it was so strong that it was all I could do to not go a bit mad, being stuck on the couch, fatigued, while at the same time my exhausted adrenal glands tried to cope with this relentless buzzing throughout my body. Sometimes it kept me awake at night, so real that it felt like I should be able to hear it, that it should be keeping everyone else awake. It's very difficult to explain how that felt; it was like a physical manifestation of a body out of kilter, an immune system malfunctioning. It was terrible.

Perhaps it's the reason why I find even generalised ill health to be so unbearable these days. It's like having been made allergic to any kind of bodily dysfunction so that even having a cold feels worse than it used to before I got sick. Funny, when I was in the throes of my illness, I would have given anything to just have a common cold and have that to deal with. Now I'm well, even having a common cold feels like falling back into the CFS abyss. Illogical, yes.

Good things always come out of bad things, however, and the good thing I gained from those horrible years is a deeper root system. It was necessary. I had no choice but to delve down deeper, a stretching further down of the roots, like a stretching on the rack, a desperate search for water. But I found it.

And I'm finding it again today. My body doesn't want to work very much today, and the insistent clamour of anxiety that accompanies toxic die-off is a much louder voice than the one of my body that says "rest". I have had several years' experience, however, of learning to listen to the stiller, smaller body voice and to not give so much weight and power to the strong insistence of the clamouring anxiety, difficult as it is to do. Sometimes, I have to return over and over again, to tell myself yet again, that it is okay for my body to rest when it is in a detoxing state. You would think it would be logical, but there has always been this accompanying anxious insistence that I do something other than rest, whenever any form of ill health is in the room. Self-nurturing is a powerful weapon of defusement in this situation. Today that has come through my morning pages; this afternoon it shall come through an adjournment to the couch, with blanket, books, a cup of tea and the TV remote, into solitude, peace, centering prayer and communion. Even everyday moments are holy.

Finding peace in the midst of the clamour is always surprising. Oh! Peace is here! Even though you know this and believe this, that peace lies buried beneath the desert floor, and encourage others to go searching for themselves, there is still a part of you that doesn't believe it, that is shocked when peace and love and truth and beauty come and kiss you on the lips. Even though you are cut from the same cloth, the apple of Peace/Love/Truth/Beauty's eye (despite everything), you are still surprised when they turn up. Sometimes you wonder if, in an age still yet future, when in some inexplicable way you and Peace/Love/Truth/Beauty are wedded, webbed, welded more closely, face-to-face in dimensions yet unknown, if all of life, each moment, will not be a delicious delight at their presence even while they have absorbed you and you see them and are changed. Maybe that's how you could go on and on and on forever, if that's how it is going to be, living in this but never, in some lovely childlike way, coming to terms with it, as if we are perpetually six years old on Christmas morning. Or always in love, the heady first moments. Always at the brink of orgasm and always with our noses buried deep in a recently-rained-upon earth.
In my more cynical moments I have questioned whether those of us who are the Church in the world believe that God is there at all. Or if he is, whether he is away, off doing something else, and perhaps if we enter into the deathly silence we shall find that there is nothing there but the sound of our own breathing.

If we do believe he is there, why do we of all people persist in filling up our lives and our meetings with talk, our worship with noise? Are we afraid of the silence? Why are we so afraid of the silence? At times I am guilty of the cynicism of thinking that all the Church is contributing is clanging cymbals.

So watching The Monastery, a three-part BBC production, exposd my own levels of cynicism, humbled me on a couple of levels, and inspired me greatly. This series was produced in 2005, and saw 5 modern blokes, only one of who claimed a Christian faith, spending 40 days in Worth Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in England. What a fascinating journey. It is so easy, even as Christians - perhaps especially as Christians - to label others. The man at the beginning who I tipped to be the one who would fall and be cracked open on the experience was the one who was cracked open, but not in the negative way that I expected. His outward shell fooled me (will I never learn to stop being fooled by outward bluster?); his job writing sex scripts for the soft porn industry set me to thinking that this man would not be open to God (will I never extrapolate what has gone in in my own heart and apply it to the rest of the world?). My heart is nothing like God's. By the end of his 40-day stay, Tony had come out with a real, questioning, mysterious beginning to the journey of knowing Papa.

Gary, the Christian of the group but also one of the most wounded, had a run-in with Anthoney, the other wounded soul. They just clashed. Both were irritating in their own ways, but the end of the show saw Gary come to the wise conclusion that even though he could well have been right in his arguments with Anthoney, there is a way of being wrong even while being right if your attitude is sucking. Speaking the truth in love - sometimes in our zeal to speak the truth, we turn it into lies by our attitude. It is better to say nothing if we cannot speak it in love. What a great challenge this is. To be vulnerable in the world. Soften my heart.

This show brought me up against my own humbling. For many years I derided the Catholic Church and all of its traditions - basically the entirety of Christendom for centuries, when you think about it - and found little of value within it. These days, I have begun to see that my rigid doctrinal stance had me throwing babies out with bathwater. My attitude cancelled out any rightness there may have been in my summations by the wrongnness of my spirit. This community of monks were a true community, regardless of whether or not living by the rule of a man who lived 1500 years ago is turning tradition into a pointless idol. I disliked Gary's treatment of Anthoney because it reminded me of my own stance at times; in his zeal to defend himself, he inadvertently trod on the soul of another person. Oh to learn to prefer the other over myself.

I tend to make the same mistakes when it comes to institutionalised religion. Sometimes I find myself mistaking the structure of the building instead of the structure of people's hearts as the problem. But God is found even within bad structures, within rigidities that he may not have originally planned, rigidities which do damage, but which he still moves into. Because he is gracious and graceful. He will come into wherever we are, even if that happens to be a rigid place. I should know. He came into me :)


Papa, I will never be satisfied until you have made me like you. May we know your goodness, your kindness, your gentleness and your life so intimately that it binds up our wounds, salves our hearts and spills outwards into the world. May we live as contemplatives in a world which is screaming out for peace and silence. May we all experience the continued peace that comes from being still and knowing that you are God.

I knew much more then than I do now

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Saturday, 8 December 2007

The present moment is beginning to unfold itself as something far deeper and broader than I ever thought possible. It's like something I knew once, unlearned, and am now relearning once again. In many ways, I knew more when I was a child than I know now. Children know the value of the Now. But it's in an experiential way - they don't know any different, so how could they articulate this?

Swimming in the present is like having a protective coating around you of losing yourself in the moment. Paradox. Losing your life to save it. The alternative is sitting out lightly on top of each moment. There are reasons for this. We learn self-protection. We learn that being immersed in the moment can mean that we get taken unawares by things out of our control. Problem is, sitting out too lightly on the surface of the present means that not only do we miss the deeper rumblings of God but we are easy prey for the past and the future to come pick us up in their talons and deposit us, further down or further back from where we are right now. The only reality. Now. The only place where we can make a difference. The only place where God is. The only real place of safety that we have.


Sitting out too lightly on top of the present, approaching unpleasantnesses loom bigger, casting longer shadows. Compare that to your experience as a child. Say you're at school this morning knowing that this afternoon you have to go and have a vaccination. Each time you think of the approaching doom, it fills you with dread. But still, as the day unfolds, you can't help but just throw yourself into the now that is here now, and you forgot the approaching doom. Until suddenly it's 15 minutes to go, and your teacher rounds you up to herd you off to the Injection Room of Doom. Before that you were oblivious, immersed in the playing of a game, giving yourself to it in a way you haven't unlearned how to do yet, so that when the teacher's voice pierces into your consciousness you're rocked with the jolt all over again. Sometimes as adults we forget how piercing it is living close to the ground.

I think this is the seed of our beginning to learn to sit out on the surface of things, a fear, a wariness of the buffettings of childhood that are the penalty for Now immersion. We think sitting up out there means that we won't get as many nasty surprises because we are forearmed. We can see the future stretched out before us, and we have a better chance of knowing when the bad things are coming. But we don't. Sitting up out here is very windy, and we get pecked with the crows of fear much more than we get shocked with the jolts of remembrance further down below. Down there, hidden in the earth, we learn communion with Him, learn that He didn't resist the jolts and calamities, that trying to arm ourselves against them is not done by arming ourselves with fear. To do so, we unwittingly cast our love and wonder and mystery aside in our quest for ultimate safety. We can't have both. We never could.

Happy Saturday.

Artist Date

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Friday, 7 December 2007

Rule number one of artist's dates is you don't talk about artist dates. Actually, rule number one is that you must go on them by yourself. I was tempted to swing by Jane's place and drag her off to the beach with me last night. I was, after all, in her home burb of Williamstown, and she had, in that telepathic way that friends can have, called me when I was getting ready to walk out the door. And she loves the beach. But I had to stand my ground. This was a date with myself, after all, and if I broke it ... well, you'd be in a pretty shitty place if you cancelled a date with yourself, huh. What are you gonna say? Oh, sorry, but I'm busy tonight. Yeah, well I know you're not, you lying bitch. Sorry, but you just don't really do it for me? I don't think the chemistry was there? Hehe. Actually, I guess in a way we cancel out on ourselves all the time. But this time I didn't want to, even if it was a relatively unimportant visit to the beach.

I know from experience these little dates are empowering things. Something to do with naming and framing a certain set amount of time for the creative inside you gives a sense of power, of hope, of purpose. I felt anticipation as I drove there. When I got to the beach, the sun was going down and the peeps were out enjoying their hot Thursday evening. Even the grouchy gelati van man didn't get me too irritated for long (I don't think asking if you have any hot dogs when the words "Hot Dogs" are emblazoned on the side of your van should elicit a grunt, but then I guess I'm not suffering job dissatisfaction in a very hot, tiny van). What was irritating were the flies and the bugs. Mein Gott, those things were buzzing into my equilibrium and I wished I'd remembered to pack the bloody Aerogard. I swallowed a bug. I don't think they're going to catch on anytime soon. They taste kinda bittery/savoury, but a good pizza topping they do not make.


I was gonna read poetry at the beach and I did read a little bit, but God was doing interesting drawings in the sky, and I felt dreamy and meditative so I just sat there and chilled a bit and watched that. Noice. It was enlivening to go and just sit somewhere without anything else to do, and just look, and observe. It really was quite purdy. I watched a man snorkelling in the water (I wonder if he found anything of interest at all). I enjoyed listening to a group of kids speak sassy to their dad (or step dad, or Mum's boyfriend, or whatever he was). People watching is a great pastime.

It's good going on a date with yourself because you don't have to worry about who pays (I went Dutch), and you know that if you put the hard word on yourself later on that everything will turn out fine. (A sad day when you suffer performance anxiety with yourself, hehe). And as it turned out, I stopped in at Jane's on the way home and had a cuppa and we sat out on the balcony and chatted for over 2 hours, so I was too tired when I got home for any shennanigans. But that's alright, cause so was I :)

I'm gonna see myself again. I have a good feeling about this one ... :)

Yeah, yeah, I know - I wore that joke so thin you can see thru it. But I amused myself.

I liked it too :)

The modelz

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funny pictures
moar funny pictures

You know, I will never sway from my opinion that cats basically suck, epitomising all of the worst things about selfish creatures. But still ... my landlord got a kitten the other day, and I've volunteered twice this week to go and play with the little man when my landlord has been away for long stretches of time. And boy, he's a beautiful little thing. And sweet, too.

But I'm not deluding myself that the day won't come when he'll turn and bite me because I had the temerity to pat him .00007 degrees too far to the right.

Mess'n with yer mind

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Wednesday, 5 December 2007

"Just as no sound can exist without silence, nothing can exist without no-thing, without the empty space that enables it to be. Every physical object or body has come out of nothing, is surrounded by nothing, and will eventually return to nothing. Not only that, but even inside every physical body there is far more "nothing" than "something". Physicists tell us that the solidity of matter is an illusion. Even seemingly solid matter, including your physical body, is nearly 100 percent empty space - so vast are the distances between the atoms compared to their size. What is more, even inside every atom there is mostly empty space. What is left is more like a vibrational frequency than particles of solid matter, more like a musical note."

Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
I find that concept alluring, exciting, mysterious.  I recall someone saying once, talking about atoms, that in some way the atomic elements are meant to repel each other, or crash into each other, or something (me didn't listen in science class) but there is some mysterious force holding them together. I tend to think that that very force itself is God. Holding everything together at an atomic level. How cool.

I love Tolle's description here of matter resembling a musical note rather than anything solid. I don't know if that discombobulates any of you, but to me it makes me drift. We are something akin to walking music. Cool.

Today, I feel like I'm walking death metal (cookie monster, cookie monster). But I know that this is a passing parasitical fancy. Sometime soon I shall be feeling a bit more mandolinial :)