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Thursday, 31 January 2008

This is not a valid reason for not going to work:

"Yeah, hi, Pat. This is Sue. I can't come in today because there's thunderstorms forecast and it's raining and it's making my dog shake so I have to stay home with him."

But it should be :)

Walk On

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Wednesday, 30 January 2008

I just found out before that today is the 60th anniversary of Gandhi's death. Which is really weird, one of those serendipitous moments, because he's been on my mind a lot the last week or so. I seem to be honing in without knowing it to the memorial days of people's deaths to start thinking about them. I've mentioned him twice in passing in recent posts, and just this morning was thinking that the next time I go to the video shop I'm gonna rent the DVD about him, and then I find out that today it's been 60 years since he was assassinated. How strange it is when that happens.

Ahh, crazy idealists. Tess talks about one today, a crazy holy fool who is beginning tomorrow to walk from Bristol, UK, to Porbandar, India, with not a cent. Relying totally on the kindness of strangers. And blogging as he goes.

Bless his heart. Walk on, bro.
by Mary Sarton.


Now I become myself. It's taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people's faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
"Hurry, you will be dead before--"
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!

Zealous Servant

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Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Another pilfering from Jesus the Radical Pastor - this wonderful poem :)

Zealous Servant

by John W Frye

Just a cup of cold water
Smashed into my face.
The zealous servant served me,
Leaving bits of glass
And blood and water
Gushing from my mouth.
Zeal without love
Is the devil’s way.

The Wounded Soul

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My blog bud Manuela wrote this poem. It's lovely, honeylike balm to me.

Oh, the wounded soul can
doubt too rashly
fall too quickly
drown too easily
ache too deeply

but oh, the wounded soul can
long so immensely
look so earnestly
hope so valiantly
seek so vehemently

There is healing for the wounded soul
who will but seek it
even with a fumbling heart and hands

He will come with the surgeon's tools
and the ache will bring about
a sweet and lovely relief
in time
and time again

Calling Good Bad

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Monday, 28 January 2008

I have been coming across that most irritating of life forms, the legalistic Pharisee Christian, online a bit lately. How they love to slam their Bibles up against the foreheads of their fellow believers, in the name of getting the truth imparted to them in a spirit of faith, hope, and love. And how they love condemning those outside the camp, those filthy unwashed sinners, getting around in their relativism and their vile sinfulness, spreading abroad their black venomous evil so that God is going to come down soon and send great tsunamis of judgment upon them. How wonderful that the legalistic Pharisee Christian can sit above it all and pray, "Thank you, God, that I am not like these."

Sometimes, though, you should be careful that you're not in a glasshouse when you cast stones.
But of course, sometimes you are the last one to know what your living arrangements are, while everyone else around you, including the beggar in the gutter and the prostitute on the corner, can see right through your glass walls and your glass doors.

Yep, how the legalistic Pharisee Christian doth bring out my latent anger management issues. Gandhi was so right when he said that the thing stopping him from being a Christian was Christians.

And we all do it, I think. I don't think many Christians get through onto the journey of real, lasting spiritual growth without going through the forest of spiky legalism. And oh, how sad for everyone around them. Now, finally, there is a valid outlet for all of our pain and rejection and woundedness. You can now, validly, spew it out on other people because you are now God's representative.

Hallelujah.

And, too, you then get to develop further, in God's name, the "us versus them" mentality which leads to wars, hatred, power plays and hell on earth. It also leads you to call bad what God has called good, if the good happens to be demonstrated by those filthy vile non-Christians (see, for example, the post today by Jesus the Radical Pastor for a demonstration of that kind of thinking).

I find it heartening when I think that the people outside of all of that stuff, the non-Christians, the ones outside the camp, are often the ones who can see the clearest how "religiosity" has taken over the thinking minds of someone who was probably a reasonably compassionate person before they became Christianised.

I find it heartening because it is a demonstration that humans, while able to exhibit terrible depravity, are also made in the image of God, and that image can shine through even when you're outside the camp, an unconverted sinner. Just as it can also shine through, even when you are at the stage of the journey that shows up your Pharisee spirit and your hypocrisy. There is hope always because God never gives up on us, even when our dirtier laundry is on display.


“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense, make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”
— Jesus Christ, Matthew 23: 14-15
So slept in till lunchtime today, due to exhaustion after getting terribly excited at The Police concert last night. Okay, so Sting's vocal range isn't quite as good as it used to be, in my humble opinion, but gee, those boys are so tight. They always have been, and they have been touring since May 2007 so they would want to be, but they sure are a trio of accomplished musicians. I often wonder how the band are going, playing the same stuff they played last night in another state, and the same stuff they're going to be playing tomorrow night in another country. But then again, perhaps the gooberliness of touring means that your stage experience is heightened, each song becoming a meditation of sorts, its very familiarity meaning that you can immerse yourself into it even more? Maybe. It would be a terribly addictive thing, playing live, I imagine.

I did spend a bit of time indulging in this kind of philosophical meandering last night, but not much, because I was just there and into the music. And yea, it was very good. It was pretty muggy last night, have to say. That must have been why most of the people surrounding us just couldn't really be bothered gearing themselves up to get into it. Honestly, I don't know what is wrong with people sometimes*.

I was there with Andi the Duracell Bunny, so I was in fine company. We had a great time. These boys are maestroes all (well, "boys" is probably stretching it when Stewart, the poor dear, feels the cold now and has to wear pants rather than those garish green shorts he used to get around in. But still, drums the same :) Shutting my eyes and sinking into Andy Summers' guitar playing wasn't something I thought I was going to be able to do again live in my lifetime - I sure appreciated it. Just like I appreciated that ancient bass Sting has been carting around the world :)

It was a stripped-back kinda show, in a lot of ways, and I really appreciated the tempo. It felt almost Zenlike in some ways, a meditation of sorts. A pretty frenetic one, though, because my calf muscles are sore after last night's workout. It was an interesting set they played (including songs like Walking in Your Footsteps, for example, from off the Synchronicity album). They included my two favourite songs, So Lonely, and Next to You, as part of their encore - but of course the last song of the night was their most popular song, Every Breath You Take**.

I'm not sure who was responsible for the support acts ... well, Sting was responsible for the first one, Fiction Plane, featuring his son Joe out in lead playing bass in a three-piece with reggae influences and a bit of "yo!"ing going on. However, for all that, they do have their own sound and I think they're pretty good.

The main support was Fergie***.

I am so grateful that these guys reformed to tour once more. I'm so glad I got to be there, standing in bare feet on the hallowed MCG turf (had to love one of the roadies walking onto the ground with a pretend footy and kicking it to a pretend teammate hehe).

_____________________________

It's been long-considered knowledge among a couple of friends of mine that we are musical Nazis of sorts. It's not that any of us want to be. It's just that we all have rather strong opinions on music and we ain't afraid to wield them.

Andi and I sat in the stands of the G last night, in the process of meandering our way out of the ground, and waxed lyrical about how it is that some people just do not get music. They don't miss it if it's not playing; it's just background for whatever is going on. They don't understand people who have such strong reactions to music. I don't understand how they don't understand ;)

* Why would you spend big bucks to go see a band and then not be transported? Huh? I don't understand that. I do understand that, as Andi suggested, some of the people there would have had freebie tix, but that still doesn't deny explain why most of the people around us just kinda stood there. What the hell is going on, as that doyen of modern philosophy, Bret Michaels, once surmised?

I expect everyone else around me to be entering into the same trancelike-at-times experience that I am entering into, and I expect them to do it because I am doing it. That makes me a musical Nazi.

** Every Breath You Take is not a love song. It is a stalker song. Listen to the lyrics. If you had this song at your wedding, and you are now divorced, I am wondering if you had to take out an intervention order at some point when things turned nasty. Because "every move you make, every vow you break, every smile you fake, every claim you stake, I'll be watching you" doesn't feel particularly loving to me. I like a bit of breathing room in my lurve. Not psycho monitoring of my every move. Yerk. I would have thought that even people who aren't all that into music would have clued into the scariness of this song, but it seems not. Perhaps I just think too much. Perhaps other people don't think enough. Who knows?

*** Okay, I admit there is a bit of jealousy there. The girl looks pretty gorgeous, admittedly. (It was funny to turn and look at the crowd while she was playing and the rapt attention being paid to her by the male audience members. They were like a bunch of puppies salivating at a giant bone). She has a great figure. She also has an amazing ego. All the songs are about her and how wonderful she is ... that is, the songs she sang that were originals. She did about four covers, and she even ripped off a song from her own band, the Black Eyed Peas, the only song I can bear, Where is the Love? But unfortunately, she only played half of it. She did, however, insist on playing all of My Humps, the song that surely will be playing in my head if I ever lose my entire mind and go off on a shooting rampage. They should play that song in police cells to torture confessions out of people. I would confess to anything to get it to stop. If there was an eternal hell, that song would play on high rotation in it. My goodness, I don't think I can tell you how much I detest that song :)

Anyway, that's the end of the story. I don't want to end this post on a whingefest about Fergie, not really. Not when you get to see one of your fave bands playing.

My second favourite part of the show was the segue from Can't Stand Losing You into the instrumental of Regatta de Blanc which felt as good getting lost in as it was watching it on the Police Around the World video which Andi watched, oh, once or twice or eleventy thousand times when we were teenagers :)





For Andi:

Tottenham Station

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Friday, 25 January 2008

It strikes you anew tonight, that strange feeling when you get off the train, how it is that the platform you catch the train to work on and the platform you come home on are right next to each other, but the experience of traversing each side of the station feels so different as to be almost like being at two separate stations. It's got something to do with the different approaches, the different times, your different moods. But there's more to it than that. You just can't describe it.

Like the ticket vending machine, for example. It's the same machine, but depending on which station experience you're having, it not only looks different, but it feels different too. It has the same picture of Chewy the Lost Dog next to it, the same phone number to call if you've located the canine that went ballistic when the New Year's Eve fireworks sprang into life. But it feels so totally totally different. Is there a name for this feeling? You don't know.

You've been acutely conscious of this feeling for as long as you can remember. You like the slight disorientation when you compare your two train station experiences side by side. You discover trying to describe it that it's almost impossible to describe.

The only thing that feels and looks exactly the same no matter which way you approach the station are the container wagons that always sit on the north side of the station and never seem to move. They sit under banks of railyard lights strung overhead like tinsel. Row after row of lights strung across. You wonder why the railyards have to have such extremely high wattage. The lights look kinda festive. It doesn't matter which way you approach the station, or the time of day, those banks of lights look like party lights for seagulls.

The Guest House

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This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi

_____________________________________

Don't know if I agree with all of that as theological statement. But luckily it's poetry. And I agree with all of it as poetry.

Distilling life into theology is fine if you want your life spread thin, an efficient life with all the answers - and a mindset that can become monstrous, can end up raping everything in its path. And a life that loses all sense of mystery. We all are living in such a world created out of that mindset - we well understand its limitations; we feel the thirst in our souls. But God remains in the still, small voice. Which sometimes yells in art, in poetry :) Which reminds me of what Gandhi said:

“I have a definite feeling that if you want to feel the aroma of Christianity, you must copy the rose. The rose irresistibly draws people to itself and the scent remains with them. Even so, the aroma of Christianity is subtler even than that of the rose and should, therefore, be imparted in an even quieter and more imperceptible manner, if possible”
I don't know if any of this makes any sense. I haven't been sleeping very well the last several nights. I had an interesting spiritual experience in my bed the other night which I'm trying to get settled in my mind and heart before I blog about it. And so if this post is more convoluted and nonsensical than usual, blame it on lack of sleep :)

A prayer or two

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Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.

For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food.
Because of my loud groaning I am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.
All day long my enemies taunt me; those who rail against me use my name as a curse.
For I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears
because of your great wrath, for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.
My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass.

But you, O Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her;
the appointed time has come.
For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity.
The nations will fear the name of the Lord, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory.
He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.

Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
"The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death."
So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem
when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord.

In the course of my life he broke my strength; he cut short my days.
So I said: "Do not take me away, O my God, in the midst of my days;
your years go on through all generations.
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
The children of your servants will live in your presence;
their descendants will be established before you."

Psalm 102

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits -
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever.
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children -
with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, O my soul.

Psalm 103

I feel so terribly empty. I am so tired of my life and this season of my life. I can't tell you how bone-crushingly weary of it all I am. My heart is blighted and withered like grass. I very occasionally forget to eat my food. All of this soul work, this psychoanalysing myself, purging, being refined, realigning my thoughts, feelings and spirit, this reclaiming of long-lost parts of me, this growing, strengthening, expanding and unfolding, this venture into new creative territory, this onward marching and grasping forward, and falling back, and falling down, and getting up, and crying, and laughing, despairing and joying, black/white yin/yang, love/like, care/don't want to care, love everyone/hate everyone, accept/reject, openness/closed-offedness, loving the new me/hating the old me, seeing new vistas opening up/seeing my stuffed-upedness - it's got me a bit discombobulated this evening. I am become loathsome to myself. Father God, fill up the cracks. Fill them up with you.

And make it snappy

:)
Francis' starting place was utter truth. His prayer for nights on end was simply: "Who are you, O God? And who am I?" He repeated it without ceasing, and ... he knew that he was radically unfinished and that he always would be. As he charted his own conversion to the moment when he could embrace an ugly and smelly leper, so his journey to truth began when he could accept the leper part of himself. He spent much of the rest of his life not hiding or disguising that truth, but actually seeming to advertise it. This deep acceptance of his own limitations and capacity for evil had none of the destructiveness and self-loathing that we often find in ourselves. He only rejoiced in the possibility and promise of their redemption.

Francis' reading of the gospel is of utmost relevance today. His focus and emphasis is the same as Jesus'. His life was an enacted parable, an audio-visual aid to gospel freedom. It gives us the perspective by whch to see as Jesus did: the view from the bottom. He insists by every facet of his life that we can only see rightly from a dis-established position. He wanted to be poor first of all simply because Jesus was poor. But he also knew that the biblical promises were made to the poor, that the gospel could be preached only to the poor because they alone had the freedom to hear it without distorting it for their own purposes. He wanted to have nothing to protect except the love which made all else useless. "Love is not loved! Love is not loved!" he used to sigh.
Near Occasions of Grace, Richard Rohr

I have so far to go.

Why is it that whenever someone kills themselves (if indeed that is what has happened to Heath Ledger - no one knows at this stage), the media says in hushed tones, "Why did he do it? He had so much to live for" (just like the Channel 7 news reported).

The assumption is that if you have fame and success, your life will magically fix itself. As if ego filling and being ultra good at something and being cashed up takes away the demons every soul carries within. Which just shows what an idol fame and success are in our oh so childish culture. And why being depressed and lonely when you're famous would be an even lonelier experience than being depressed and lonely and living incognito. The only thing I can think of worse than feeling suicidal (if he was) is feeling suicidal at the top of the cultural mountain knowing that what so many are frantically working towards is as nutritionally valuable as a pile of fairy floss. And you can't get away from it, except that now you're hounded by moronic paparazzi, having to do inane interviews, and being punished for hating that stuff and all the other crap that goes along with Hollywood stardom. I don't blame his despising of the whole game - I can't think of a bigger hell, myself, than stardom.

The grandfather I hardly knew

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Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Genetics are a strange thing, aren't they? How much of ourselves - our tastes and desires, our political proclivities and our personal requirements for freedom - are due to those who went before us?

I was chatting with my Mum on the phone yesterday, asking her questions about my paternal grandfather. I don't know where the questions came from but I went looking online before for some more information about him, a man I barely knew - indeed, who I only met once in my adult years. I found a memorial for him - you can see it here. It spun me out upon reading it to realise anew how much commonality we shared - I had known all of this stuff about him, but my fish memory has served to banish it from my conscious memory. It sent a chill up my spine when I realised that today, as I write, it is exactly three years since he died.

Perhaps it is not also a coincidence that my anarchic tendencies, pot smoking, love of freedom and of trees were all first contained in this man who I hardly knew. My grandfather lived among the Aborigines in the Northern Territory. He flew planes. He was a goddamn go-getter and when I wrote him a letter in 1991 aged 20 - searching for my roots and identity, always searching - his reply was thus:

Dear Sue

What a charming letter and what a surprise. Enough of that Grandpa bullshit - my name is Andrew as every small child up to 100 plus people call me that.

Don't know what Anne - my present wife - would be to you if any. Probably be referred as a cock relation. Anyway I'm off to have lunch with her in a few minutes. We get along fine although we do not live together. A good marriage as we live in separate suburbs. I presume that a perfect marriage would be when both parties live in separate continents.

Kylie [his daughter with Anne] is a very special lady. She and I should be going to Sydney for the week end on the 19th as my nephew's son is celebrating his 21st. His name is also Andrew. I can't go as one of my ex lovers will be here from 15th Oct to 25th on a visit from the Isle of Man. So Kylie will represent me in Sydney.

Like you I have music most times, perhaps not the same variety but it's a matter of one's choice. Am doing the second year of musicology at Monash this year [he would have been 73 at the time of writing].

We should arrange to meet to see how much we have in common, as I also find life a ball. What about lunch on Sun 27th Oct? I can pick you up at your place if you want transport and bring you here. My phone is xxx xxxx and I would love to meet you.

Regards,
Andrew

Perhaps it is timely that now, on the third anniversary of his death, a tear forms in my eye when I realise the extent of what I missed out on. A kindred spirit. My grandfather, being onto his second family by the time I was growing up, was not viewed with much love in our household, when he was ever viewed at all. But I had grasped enough essence of the man to want to meet him for myself. I never was one for believing others' versions of events even back then.

I used to get drunk in Namatjira Park as a teenager, little realising that the trees I was drinking under were planted by my own stock. We did meet back then in October 1991 and we hit it off really well. We had an awful lot in common. I can only hope that the exuberance he displayed all the way through to the end of his life, is an exuberance that I shall regain again sometime soon. I know I had it back then, as a plucky 20 year old full of piss and vinegar, and even now I sure would love to learn how to fly a plane in the Northern Territory :) His daughter Kylie was there when I visited. I remember her saying, "Dad, you are such a cunt!" and I was swimming with the headiness of these strange people, so unlike my own lower-middle-class family. I loved his house, a place of light and dark, with a cellar underneath, full of trees outside, a place full of life and interesting things, an artistic kind of place. I felt so at home there - I don't understand why I didn't see him again. Perhaps I picked up on some kind of "this was nice but let's not get too involved" vibe from him; perhaps it was latent family pressure, even though I kept it reasonably under wraps. Neither my father or auntie would have been particularly enamoured of my visiting Andrew, although I'm sure both of them understood why. I don't even remember telling my grandmother about the visit at all, but perhaps I did (I did like to get sly rises out of my family in whatever way I could :) Life seemed so interminably stodgy to me back then and it often still does now.

When I visited him, his 20 year old granddaughter, Andrew said to me, "Making love to your grandmother was like banging a sack of flour", which, you can understand, stuck in my head and shall stay there forever as a long-term memory. I don't remember if I had the temerity to laugh out loud but I sure hope so.

My poor grandmother. I don't know the situation there but it was obvious they were an ill-matched couple. I'm sure he cheated on her a few times and perhaps it is here that her bitterness began, a bitterness which spread over me and my childhood living, as we did, in the main house while she lived out in the granny flat at the back. It was lovely of her to allow her son and his wife and children to live under her roof - and didn't she let us know, in 100 different small niggly ways. And goodness, didn't she also let me know that I wasn't like her "Chook" - my brother was always her favourite, while my main recollection of her from my childhood is a face pinched in suspicion as she looked at me. Perhaps she saw some genes come through she wasn't too happy about.

They broke up when my father was a teenager. I'm not so sure Andrew was a great father to my dad and my auntie. But I do know that my grandmother coerced her children into going out and spying on him and such. It was not an amicable break, although I think my father did see his father a few times in his teenage years. I know they drove across the Nullarbor Plain together (funny, Mum and Dad are off to do the same thing in a few week's time. How synchronous this post is, coming out of nowhere. I didn't even know I was going to write it, much less shed a tear for the grandfather that, if all the planets were aligned correctly, I would have got to know better.

And by God, I would have been a hell-raiser if I had :) I really wish I had. But gee, I feel like I carry an awful lot of him around in my body. I'm just really glad I've been reminded of it - there's a swagger in my walk that wasn't there an hour ago :)

Things I Did Be Thinking/Seeing/Learning Today

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Monday, 21 January 2008

  • Acceptance is a hard-gained wisdom but brings much peace. We all bring to the table as much as we can (and that includes me).
  • Wisdom comes from strange places. I had a far-ranging philosophical/mystical/theological conversation with Health Food Shop Ed today. We come from opposite sides of the spectrum, and it is amazing how often we meet in the middle. Good advice comes from many different quarters.
  • Being more hardline in my desire for others to accept me in my totality is making me softer around the edges - paradox.
  • I would like to stop being in love with you and just be friends with you, but I can do neither, and it's really good to be able to say that and just accept it. I would also like to understand you but I don't do that either. I know that not being able to be just friends with you is coming from some pride ego rejection part of me but it is still operational. And I don't really want you to stop reading my blog ... cos it's not like I'm gonna stop reading yours or anything.
  • I am a bit scared about what I am going to draw when I stop procrastinating and sit down and do it - what monstrous beasties lurk within the pencil?
  • Having a conversation with a man you come upon who has just finished urinating against a wall can end with you both smiling.
  • Walking your dog after several days' enforced layoff is the best kind of relaxation - especially when the sun is going down and the magpies are warbling.
  • For 4 bucks a pop, the show at the Planetarium is fantastic. And now I know where the Southern Cross is in the sky, where Mars is, and how to find due south.
  • When you approach the beginning to a black hole, time slows right down. Meanwhile, everything else behind you speeds up. Or something like that.
  • I make really cool collages and don't understand the meaning of them until right in the middle of doing them.
  • I love my dog.
  • I would love to go through the rest of my life with the attitude displayed here:
  • Q: Do you know how old I'll be by the time I learn to play the piano?
    A: The same age you will be if you don't :)

Vision

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Sunday, 20 January 2008

Got this poem from Barefoot Barbara's blog. It made me cry. I know why, but on a deeper level it's also deep calling to deep and my mind hasn't quite been made privy to the knowledge (I love that place of mystery, when we are reminded how much more than our minds we are :)

Vision begins to happen in such a life
as if a woman quietly walked away
from the argument and jargon in a room
and sitting down in the kitchen, began turning in her lap
bits of yarn, calico and velvet scraps,
laying them out absently on the scrubbed boards
in the lamplight, with small rainbow-colored shells. ...
Such a composition has nothing to do with eternity,
the striving for greatness, brilliance --
only with the musing of a mind
one with her body, experienced fingers quietly pushing
dark against bright, silk against roughness,
pulling the tenets of a life together
with no more will to mastery,
only care ....

from "Transcendental Etudes" by Adrienne Rich

Play

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As the Zen masters say, "When you eat, eat; when you walk, walk." Living in the present moment as fully as possible helps satisfy the itch to monitor yourself and still be yourself. As in theater, so in life — the true artists are those who are so fully possessed by what they are doing that they have no time to watch themselves. When they forget to be possessed in this way and give into the temptation to observe their wonderful performance, then they usually stumble.

Practice today the virtue of self-forgetfulness, which is at the heart of making love — being totally engaged in what you are doing or in another person. Those who make love daily by self-forgetfulness find ectasy in celebrating the love they have been making day by day

Seen at The Wild Things of God, from An Old Hermit's Almanac by Fr. Edward Hays

Creative work is play; it is free speculation using the materials of one's chosen form. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. Artists play with color and space. Musicians play with sound and silence. Eros plays with lovers. Gods play with the universe. Children play with everything they can get their hands on.
... There is a German words, funktionslust, which means the pleasure of doing, of producing an effect, as distinct from the pleasure of attaining the effect or having something. Creativity exists in the searching even more than in the finding or being found. We take pleasure in energetic repetition, practice, ritual. As play, the act is its own destination. The focus is on process, not product. Play is intrinsically satisfying. It is not conditioned on anything else. Play, creativity, art, spontaneity, all these experiences are their own rewards and are blocked when we perform for reward or punishment, profit or loss. For this reason, "Man cannot live by bread alone."
... The most potent muse of all is our own inner child. The poet, musician, artist continues throughout life to contact this child, this self who still knows how to play. "Whosoever," said Jesus, "does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter into it." Improvisation, as playful experiment, is the recovery in each of us of the savage mind, our original child-mind. Psychoanalysts sometimes speak of this recovery as "regression in the service of the ego." But it's not in the service of the ego, it's in the service of the total Self.

Full-blown artisitic creativity takes place when a trained and skilled grown-up is able to tap the source of clear, unbroken play-consciousness of the small child within. This consciousness has a particular feel and flow we instinctively recognize. It is "like tossing a ball on swift-flowing water: moment-to-moment nonstop flow."

Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art - Stephen Nachmanovitch


May your days and mine be ever-increasing in funktionslust. May we remember anew every morning that this playful Kingdom is the most real of realities. This is the spaciousness and wonderment of ultimate reality - not what we see outside our front doors.

The least of these (sometimes that's ourselves)

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Saturday, 19 January 2008

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

Rumi

(Taken from One House. Go check out their little corner of Blogopia, and especially the photo of this cool installation).

I love that quote by Rumi. It leads me on in my brain's convoluted fashion to think of this one:

"Everything is permissible for me" - but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me" - but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Cor 6:12).


The issue is not one of black and white right and wrong. Life goes beyond that. Moving beyond narrowly-defined issues of "right and wrong" does not send us out into a field of licence (unless that was already in your heart to do so). It sends us out into a field that is so wide that it is big enough to enable us to begin to love the unlovable. It moves us beyond "us and them" mentalities, out to be able to love even those who are, shock, horror, walking in the dark, whatever that might mean.

It means being free to be able to discern, instead of Bible thump with our own agendas, what God may be saying to us about the people we come across who are in need in some way, and to be able to reach out to them with no prior agendas (even if that agenda is showing to them the love of God - he is capable of doing that without us). It also enables us to see that sometimes, as SaltSister said so eloquently on her post, what people need may not even be spiritual milk. Her analogy to a newborn baby:

They don’t even get milk at first. They get colostrum, which precedes the milk flow. It assists the immune system and acts as a laxative to clear out the digestive tract. It’s sort of a detoxifier. Some people are so messed up that it’s exactly an analogy of what they need before they can receive milk. Detox, droppers, milk — in that order.

Happy Saturday, bloggers.

Show and Tell

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Friday, 18 January 2008




*Stands up in front of class*

Today for Show and Tell I'm gonna show you what I just bought on the Artist Date I just went on. I haven't been on an Artist Date to buy stuff before, but I realised that this was what happened as soon as I left the store. I didn't realise I was even going to buy the stuff I did. I couldn't afford it ... but I did anyway, cos my Inner Artist doesn't understand money (unfortunately neither does my Inner Accountant, so you can imagine my fiscal dilemmas). And anyway, the air outside smelled good cos it was gonna rain so I started feeling excited, after being cooped up inside feeling sick all day. And anyway, I've got my period. So there.

So anyway, I can't really show you what I bought, because I don't have my scanner here, so it's really just Tell and Tell, instead of Show and Tell. But you know. So this is what I bought:

  • Some pastel coloured copy paper for writing morning pages on
  • 24 colour pencils (cos the textas I got to colour in with were shite)
  • 12 metallic coloured pencils cos they were pretty
  • 100 sheets of scrapbook paper, even though I don't do scrapbooking - I don't know what I'm going to do with them yet. I got them cos they were really pretty and I'm doing a collage and maybe they will fit into that
  • Glue to stick my collage stuff down with
  • A sheet of different sized gold and silver stars cos every time I do something that feeds me, my inner 8 year old, I'm gonna give myself a star for it (I know it's corny, but I'm 8, so what do you expect?
  • Two HB pencils
  • A book about drawing
  • An A3 pad of acid free cartridge paper
Thank you. *Sits down*
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The last four things I got - that was when I knew that this was an Artist Date :) A couple of weeks ago, I came across an assessment I'd had done by some dodgy place called The Art Training Institute when I was about 12. I'd been in the habit of copying birthday cards I liked and colouring them in. I found it therapeutic. I was quite good at it. But I wanted someone else to tell me if I was any good. So they sent me their assessment, a couple of different drawings to do, and when they assessed it they said things like, "We thought you'd already had some training until we realised that you hadn't squared off your work" etc etc and that they were of a very high standard. So, I was pleased enough with their assessment to keep it for all these years, regardless of said institute's (there's a hint in itself) dogdiness (they were probably as much an institute as, say, the Ponds Institute)

Anyway, I came across it the other week, and my inner artist saw it and said, "I wanna draw." And I said, "Well, you're not going to." And my inner artist said, "Why not?" And I said something terribly adult like, "Why do you need to draw for? It's not like you're going to be able to do anything useful with it" or something equally as tedious. And my inner artist just looked at me blankly and said, "But I don't care about any of that stuff. I just wanna do it cos it's fun". And then she looked at me blandly because she knows I don't believe any of that sort of shite anyway. She knows that I know that this has got nothing to do with anything outside and everything to do with everything inside. But partly it was because I knew I'd feel like a twit doing something I hadn't done for decades. I don't even know why I stopped. But I did. I'd actually almost forgotten that I used to draw, and then just stopped doing it for 25 years. Isn't that strange? And I felt funny trying to do something like that when there are so many talented people who read here who are artists. But then, what's that got to do with anything, all this worrying about what other people are going to think? It's not like I have to post anything I draw, is there? I can, you know, go and draw stuff and it be horrible and Big Brother isn't standing there forcing me to blog it.

So anyway, my inner artist is growing in strength. So when she said, "I wanna draw", I ended up thinking, "Well, whyever not? What harm can it do?"

I had even emailed Eileen about it yesterday - she draws stuff like this - and shyly said I was thinking of maybe drawing again, and she was as encouraging as I knew she would be, being the dudette of coolness and rockness and such things and the epitome of encouragement to be as creative as creative can be.

And so today when I went to The Warehouse again, merchants of cheap Chinese exports, my inner artist grabbed those four things and headed to the checkouts with glee. And I thought she might be onto something because when I grabbed those HB pencils, my stomach churned.

Claustrophobia

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Isn't it funny how the blogosphere is as big as the entire world ...

... and yet sometimes feels so goddamned claustrophobic?

I need a break from this place. Get me some breathing space.

___________________________________________________________

Sunday edit: I deleted this post. But then I put it back up here. Because it was how I was feeling. And it's how I still do feel (except for the fact that my break from "this place" only lasted 9 hours :) I felt uncomfortable about a certain person reading here - but hey, the blogosphere is a public place after all, right? I guess if I feel too claustrophobic, that's what my journal's for, right? And hopefully I don't feel the need to write about him again, and perhaps after a while he will tire of reading here of his own accord.

I put this post back up because I realised I was trying to sanitise myself, and I'm not interested in doing that anymore. The good thing about getting older and gaining in self-love is that you become much less concerned about what people think about you. I really feel much more inclined these days to think that if someone doesn't accept all the parts of me, even the parts of me that suck, then unfortunately that's all that's on offer. It's very empowering.

Time to go away and sing old Helen Reddy numbers ;)

Life is messy, isn't it, bloggers?

Synchroblog: What a Fool Believes

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Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Loving others as yourself is not a particularly palatable concept, is it? People are so annoying, hurtful. It's a foolishness to give people so much power. We need to protect ourselves. After all, we all live in the world, we understand the dynamics of power and control we learn to wield by virtue of wearing skin and having other skin-wearers impose their bad stuff on us. Power-playing happens before we can articulate it, schoolyard protectionist desires to be bigger and better than our rivals because we know how small we feel on the inside. The bell curve approach to self-worth - I mightn't be as attractive/slim/smart/strong as that kid over there, but at least I'm better than the kid with warts and the one who wets her pants.

And so we grow up and we become more "civilised" - whatever the hell that means - but it doesn't take much to power-play, even for the more spiritual of us. Just put yourself in a situation where you are in competition with someone else for the same prize, and watch your reaction. You're surprised at the hatred that spills out, or the derision, the contempt, the urge to demonise the other and make yourself the better one. Road rage - mild mannered people becoming nasty psychos because the car in front cuts in and causes us to take an extra .3 seconds to get where we're going. The need to restrain yourself from ramming your car up their backside in response, which feels totally justified at the time. And insane.

In this competitive society we feel out of control by virtue of being here, on top of feeling out of control by virtue of the human skin. We spiral into an urge to feel more in control by being controlling, by demonising "the other" in our quest for our own little patch of peace and safety. The end result of such competition is the cold little concrete jungle outside your front window, the one which makes you feel ever so small for the hundreds of little ways that you will never, ever measure up (but add this Botox to your arsenal; at least you'll feel a little bit more fortified).

Then there's the Kingdom. Uncomfortable things in the Kingdom. Lay down our psychological swords and beat them into plowshares? Ouch. Make ourselves vulnerable by loving our enemies? Refuse to demonise the other? What the? That would be letting people off the hook, wouldn't it?

Yes. It would. When I first consciously forgave my father for being an emotionally absent, cold, distant, loveless, joyless man who commandeered his family with a continual atmosphere of fear, it felt like a kind of dying. It was, really. It was dying to my little mini-creation of hatred and anger. Letting that edifice crumble meant making myself more vulnerable, dealing with the layers of pain hiding underneath. What it also meant was a release in my own soul. A release that allowed God to do the most healing things. My relationship with my father is much improved. He desired my forgiveness. I am so grateful that I listened to God and my heart and granted it to him. He is, after all, a victim in his own way. A victim of living in a human skin of fallibility, failure and sinfulness. An unfathered man fathering badly. It hasn't changed the ramifications of his behaviour. But it's allowed me to see them more clearly. Forgiveness doesn't feel like a good thing to do. But it's what we are asked to do. Because we really don't know what is good for us half the time.

Sometimes the best way of loving others is through our own wounds. Some of the most touching posts I read in the blogosphere are those written by people laying themselves on the line, baring their souls and sharing their struggles. It's a powerful, powerful, helpful thing to see someone else's struggle, to know you're not the only one. If we only knew how much power our wounded words of weakness wield, we would do it with more gusto, knowing that it touches God's heart to use our wounds to help others, and it helps to heal our own wounds in the process.

Jesus was the ultimate displayer of other preferment. The hardest thing for me in preferring others as much as I prefer myself is the nagging feeling that I won't have enough time to do whatever it is I want to do, if I spend time focussing on other people. But sheesh, Jesus always had oodles of time? Didn't life just flow for him? Losing your life to gain it - like everything, it's always better seeing it displayed in a walking person rather than flat on a page in a couple of principles. Because as unpalatable as Kingdom life looks when viewed as principles, when we see it displayed in the Man ... well, it takes your breath away, doesn't it?. And changes the world.

Of course, ultimately, it's the love of God that is enabling me to ever so slowly grow towards a life of greater other preferment. The mystery of this love that seems too good to be true, a living fairytale. I grasp some of its multiple facets, feel them change me, expand my view. And I grow, and suffer, and love, and continue grasping it, and it changes my life. It continues to heal my heart, open my eyes, unmuffle my ears - in ways that seem to have taken an awful long time for me to learn. But God is committed to seeing his love birthed in me. He is love. His love changes all, and it changes even me, and it changes the way I love you, as I learn to love myself more. Because, my goodness, I am more precious than rubies. And so are you :)

Love. The ultimate weakness. The consummate strength. A weakness in the eyes of the world (it's no surprise that the world idolises romantic love, the most self-serving love of all). We lose our lives to gain it, and we gain everything a thousandfold in the process. The beautiful, beautiful paradox of love.

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This is part of a synchroblog, God's Call to the Fools. More edification below:

Some Good Things

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Something good I heard today:
'We Are Made of Stars' by Moby, playing in the supermarket before :) When I heard it, my heart jolted.

Something good I felt today:
My dog's fur

Something good I smelled today:
The best natural air freshener I have ever smelled - a cinnamon stick and a bunch of whole cloves, boiling on the stove - just for the smell of it.

Something good I considered today:
There is a way to rejoice in your sufferings ... and God is gonna teach me.

Something good I remembered today:
Out of faith, love and hope, the best of these is love.

Something good I did today:
Allowed myself to rest in the moment instead of thinking the worst thought ever: 'What am I gonna do today? What am I gonna do today?' like some kind of satanic mantra until I end up doing nothing 'cause my brain has spontaneously combusted..

Something else good I saw today:
Johnny Depp on my TV screen :) Even as a camped up crazy pirate, the whole world is still in love with him.

Something else good I heard today:
The kids down the road (my newest friend is 9 years old :) getting excited when we planned a visit to the beach this Saturday.

Something else good I heard today:
The silence when the kids down the road went home ;)

Something else good I heard today:
My friend Jane on the phone.

Something good I ate today:
The chicken and sweet corn soup that I cooked.

Something else good I thought today:

Today has its own shape. Maybe that shape is a boring one. Maybe that's all it needs to be, even though that is boring. Be in it anyway right now and enjoy it for what it is.

Something good I did with my body and my mind and my spirit today:
Some centreing prayer :) I looked at God, and s/he looked at me. Hence the ability to think abovementioned contemplative things.

Something else good I thought today:
Sitting and looking at God is a better thing for me to do than doing something good off my own steam. Sitting and looking at God reverberates out like the biggest ripples in the biggest pond.

Something else good I felt today:
I am healing and growing stronger.

Something good I bought today:
Some textas to colour-in my abstract shapes colouring-in book Andi got me for my birthday :) (It's good for the soul).

Something else good I thought today:
Sat down and thought about how even the dullest of days, which contained enlarged glands, a body fighting off the flu, a touch of anxiety, and a touch of boredom, have good stuff in them.

Yikes - Possible New Work Beginnings

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Tuesday, 15 January 2008

So I just got back from an information evening about becoming a community support worker for intellectually disabled adults. One of the things that was concerning me the most when I first got there was wondering how "institutionalised" the philosophy was going to be. You know, dear blogger, what a bugbear that kind of thinking is in my life ;) I find it difficult working for organisations or companies or any organised group of people, really, because they seem to just end up sucking the life out of their own bones and it drives me mad, gives me claustrophobia.

Well, I'm pleased to say that this organisation feels like a breath of fresh air. Their approach is very relational indeed (just with heaps of documentation). Their aim is not so much to be a carer as it is to be support worker, and with that approach they had us talking through scenarios about what the best approach would be to enable a client (I do hate that word) to live their life, while being a support to them. This necessarily involves a lot of creative thinking, a lot of thinking on your feet while also not allowing your inner control freak to take over and do stuff for them because it would be the easiest thing to do.

It sounds very exciting. But more than that, it scares me. Although I have been long interested in working with intellectually disabled adults, it feels very daunting. Of course, all of the things that make me feel scared all ultimately have some kind of root in fear of me doing the wrong thing, of feeling like an idiot. It's all about me, me, me, me, me and how goddamn boring that is :) But their induction process seems pretty good. Their training seems really good. They employ about 60 support workers and they seem to have a pretty good retention rate and a lot of happy people.

So if I'm successful to be interviewed, I will enter into that process, which I think is a rather long one. But I kinda felt at home there, you know? I think this would be a pretty specialised job. I'm not sure if I'm up for it, but I'm willing to give it a whirl.

I think. I'm scared. Scared. Scared. Scared. Scared. I'm scared.

Edit: I just got a call from them today (Wednesday). As these five positions they're offering are relief positions, the majority of shifts they're offering are sleepover positions. Fantastic money. And you get paid for sleeping. What could be better, right? Well, the only fly in the sunscreen is that the end of the shift is in the morning, from 7am to 10am. In the past, I may have just thrown myself in anyway, because I really am interested in this work. Problem is, my body clock just ain't gonna cut those hours. I am 37 years old and I am still a night owl. I have spent years trying to fit myself into "normal" work hours. It doesn't work for me.

And so maybe this position isn't going to work for me either. Which is a shame, huh. But you just gotta know your limitations. And early morning starts are a non-negotiable for me. I spent years feeling "lazy" and like there was something wrong with me. These days, I just think it's one of the quirks or chinks in my personality. It's just frustrating when it conflicts with something you want. But you live and learn, I suppose, bloggers, don't you? Thank God for a philosophical attitude :)

Collaboration

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Graffiti I did like at Tottenham Train Station:

"Help Me Help You"

Got me thinking ... about relationship. About the constant collaboration, the give-and-take. And then I got to thinking about all this dross and stuff that's being burnt off in me, and I'm liking to think that maybe when it's all finished I will be able to be more outward focussed, able to love more. That made me hopeful and expectant (and hopefully without too many expectations :)

Then I thought about how the Trinity is a constant collaboration (thank you, The God Journey). And the more I think about that concept, the more it ripples out and reverberates into everything and I realise - I don't need to get stoned, I just need to ponder the Trinity. And then the more I think about it, the more I can think about it. Until my brain explodes. God is a collaboration.

Wow. God is a collaboration. God is a relationship unto itself (and it goes way beyond gender, but for sure, the Holy Spirit is definitely a chick. The classy way she does her stuff? She's a chick for sure).

Then I was reading about everyone's favourite current darlings, Arcade Fire, and about how they seem to be one very fluid kind of collaboration. There isn't really one leader; they all take it in turns doing different things.

Then I thought, that's the kind of community I want to be a part of. But then I thought of that graffiti again and then it all scared me.

I seem a bit scared this evening, don't I? I am. But I'm also pretty brave. No point in living life unless it's gonna scare the shit out of you from time to time, me reckons. The whole idea of a scary brave life makes me want to go crank Olive the Skanky Mitsubishi up on the freeway. It's a hot summer night. The best time to do so :) Shame I can't be bothered. I think I'll go lie me down instead on that World's Comfiest Couch and watch me some DVDing.

This post meandered like my brain and I don't know if it ever got anywhere. But sometimes it's good to not know where you're going. Or so God reckons, anyway.

Easy for him/her to say :)
I'm reading Julian of Norwich's Revelations of Divine Love at the moment. This is the second copy I've ordered; the first got lost somewhere between the US and Australia. This second one has been a timely arrival. It has that whiff of divine appointment about it - you know, those times when you just know in your spirit that you're reading something that contains stuff for you? I love that feeling. It hasn't happened very often lately.

I unashamedly have asked God for a vision of my own. If he shows no preference, but gives visions to a lowly everyday sinful contemplative woman in the 14th century, why can he not give one to me? I want a revelation of his love. No harm in asking, right? :)

Anyway, Julian had a series of visions which she described as 'showings'. This one speaks of that strange life of the spirit, where one day (or one minute, if you're having a particularly torrid day) we can be feeling on top of the world, the next in the pit of despair. I found this encouraging, and so maybe you will too:

"And our Lord's next showing was a supreme spiritual pleasure in my soul. In this pleasure I was filled with eternal certainty, strongly anchored and without any fear. This feeling was so joyful to me and so full of goodness that I felt completely peaceful, easy and at rest, as though there were nothing on earth that could hurt me. This only lasted for a while, and then my feeling was reversed and I was left oppressed, weary of myself, and so disgusted with my life that I could hardly bear to live. There was no ease or comfort for my feelings but faith, hope and love, and these I had in reality, but I could not feel them in my heart. And immediately after this God again gave me the spiritual rest and comfort, certainty and pleasure so joyful and so powerful that no fear, no sorrow, no bodily or spiritual pain that one might suffer could have distressed me. And then the sorrow was revealed to my consciousness again, and first one, then the other, several times, I suppose about twenty times. And in the moments of joy I might have said with Paul, 'Nothing shall separate me from the love of Christ.' And in the moments of sorrow I might have said with Saint Peter, 'Lord save me, I perish.'

"This vision was shown to me, as I understand, to teach me that it is necessary for everybody to have such experiences, sometimes to be strengthened, sometimes to falter and be left by himself. God wishes us to know that he safely protects us in both joy and sorrow equally, and he loves us as much in sorrow as in joy. And to benefit his soul, a man is sometimes left to himself, though not because of sin; for at this time I did not deserve by sinnin to be left alone, neither did I deserve the feeling of bliss. But God gives joy generously when he so wishes, and sometimes allows us sorrow; and both come from love. So it is God's will that we should hold on to gladness with all our might, for bliss lasts eternally, and pain passes and shall vanish completely. Therefore it is not God's will that we should be guided by feelings of pain, grieving and mourning over them, but should quickly pass beyond them and remain in eternal joy, which is God almighty, who loves and protects us."
Julian's vision was seriously long-range and epic. I don't know yet exactly what she believed or what her visions entailed about hell, but I do know that she believed it served a higher purpose than the lowly vision we have of it as a toxic dumping ground, and that whatever its existence we can rest in the comfort that God is good, and powerful, and creative, and is able to work out this whole existence thing with the best damn ending of any story ever written - and all maybe without violating our free will (I still don't know what I think about the whole free will thing. I guess it depends on which age we're talking about. While I think it exists in this age in terms of making a choice to follow after God - whether known as such or depending on what sheepfold you're in - I wonder if there will come a time when that card is no longer available to be played? Of course, the standard idea when we think of this is hell - that the card is no longer available, and if you're on the wrong side of the fence then you stay there forever. There are worlds of possibilities apart from this one.

I'm too tired to surmise what they are. But you can bet I'll be banging on about it when I think of them :) Stand by for more Julian quotes. I love this girly :)

"Sin is behovely [or befitting, or for a purpose]. But all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."

String Theory

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Sunday, 13 January 2008

All I remember from my high school Science class is when a volunteer was required to smoke a cigarette so they could be compared against a non-smoker to see how nicotine affected things like hand steadiness and stuff. I was totally enamoured with the concept of being able to do something with the authorisation of a teacher which, were I to be caught any other time, had me picking up rubbish with Mr Walsh the janitor after school. (I only got caught once; but I was furious. Out of the big gang of us who sat smoking every single break, I was the only one to get detention).

So much about science fascinates me. This world that God has brought into being delights me when I'm feeling most dejected. When nothing else can get me interested, a tree, a sunset, a pufferfish (thanks for that visual, Kel; it's stayed with me :) can make me realise that the world of wonders is still going on, regardless of whether we can see it under the mounds of grey concrete most of us live within.

If my science teacher had been able to wax eloquently about string theory the way Andre Rabe does in his latest post, he would surely have got my attention (please Montreal Barbara, don't tell me he's got it too simplified along with Eckhart Tolle! Pliz don't!) Because even then, even under that tough high school girl exterior, I was desperate for wonder, beauty. As we all are, being made of stars :)

Edit: The next blog post that came off my reader was this one: http://branthansen.typepad.com/letters_from_kamp_krusty/2008/01/turns-out-you-a.html

I feel strangely cheered :)
I have a touch of a cold. Nothing major. Just enough to contribute to my psychological and emotional malaise of the last couple of weeks. Nothing feels simple right now and many things feel heartbreaking. I am finding the things I am dealing with go to the bottom of my soul, into anterooms of shame. It's like everything that has happened to me in the last decade is conspiring to open up those rooms and reveal what is in them. What is in them are feelings of smallness, insignificance. I can't tell you how ugly and stupid I feel right now. I'm hoping that some sort of healing is going on. Cause you never can quite tell at the time.

I am reminded of the difference between living with expectancy and living with expectations. My expectations at the moment are that I will be able to continue on my creative path - whose wheels have kinda fallen off a bit lately. It's all I can do to get my morning pages done, and do some of The Artist's Way, and at least aim to get some artist dates under my belt but pitifully failing most weeks. My expectations are that I will continue on my healing path and get out of this extended season of self-absorption. I want to find some community. I want to find new people to share my life with. I want to be able to be vulnerable enough to open myself up to new friendships and relationships without feeling like my guts are spilling out the sides. Some days I think I'm almost there. Other days I feel like this whole little trip to fix some of Susie's more sordid interior bits will never. ever. end.


Now, none of these expectations are bad in themselves. But when they're not happening in the way I want, then the secondary things that follow from that cut in and try to cut me off at my knees, make me feel a million times worse, if I let them. The difference between expectations and expectancy is that one is centred on myself, and basically ends up being all about how I am failing to do whatever it is I've set for myself. The other is centred on the moment, on God, on all the good parts of life, and does whatever is there in front of me to do. It's a place that I long to return to. It's a place that has been elusive these past few weeks. My meditation has gone out the window and that single thing alone is enough to send me reeling from living in expectancy into thrashing myself with the whip of expectation.

Sigh. Why does it have to be all so godamn difficult?

The Theology of Peanuts

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Friday, 11 January 2008

Richard Beck is a professor and experimental psychologist with interests in the psychology of religion. He's got a real cool blog going on which I have been a regular reader of for quite a while now.

At the moment, he is doing a series on The Theology of Peanuts. It's fascinating stuff.

6 Quirks About Me

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Erin tagged me with this cool meme. But the buck stops here. I am allergic to tagging others with memes. So therefore I don't need to post the rules.

  • I felt a giddy sense of abandon about breaking the rules for this meme. Is that childish? I have always had a distate for rules that just seem to be there for no reason (not that the rules for this meme are there for no reason, but I choose to not follow them). I enjoy sticking it up rules that are just stupidly there to help people stop thinking and follow blindly. I think lots of people want to be told what to do instead of feeling/thinking/hurtling/discovering their way through life
  • I'm not good for much before about 11am (unless it's reading, blogging, eating, writing or meditation. Please don't talk to me before about 11am; I'm not here). The job I'm doing now starts at 12pm and that suits me just fine. This used to make me feel like I was a freak. Now I think it's just my body clock.
  • Once when I was a kid I went through this phase of drinking orange juice and milk mixed together. It sure tasted nice at the time (but the milk would curdle into the orange juice and just the thought of it now makes me rather ill). Who the hell knows what that was about? Around about the same time I also did a green poo. Perhaps the two are related
  • I'm pretty casual about a lot of things, but have a touch of anal retentiveness with certain things (like Heather with her towels needing to be facing the same way). I can't tolerate a crookedly hanging picture
  • I have this funny bit of toenail sticking out of my little toe. It's like this little spike of nail that has decided to grow up out of the side of my toe. It doesn't grow very much, but every now and then I have to cut it off. It's hard to cut it with scissors so I bite it off with my teeth (which was much easier accomplished when I used to do yoga but I can still get there)
  • Sometimes when I'm looking at something, I will trace the outline of it's shape with my finger while I'm looking at it. Sometimes I do it with my toes.
  • I can't remember what your bloody name is, but I can recite my 12 digit bank account number. I remember car number plates pretty easily too. But I can't remember much else. I think remembering things is overrated. But then maybe I'm just thinking that because my memory is so shit
  • I would rather live in a bartering society. I like the idea of having to first make you a stir fry before I can fill up my doona with extra feathers from your goose. Or whatever.
  • I know, it says 6 quirks, but I'm on a roll now
  • I did pretty badly in high school, then went home and read copiously books from the public library. Even then I had problems with the institutionalisation of things, henceforth making them rulebound and people confined to boxes where they could do their worst work
  • My ex and I are planning on having a Divorce Party. We are going to have a Worst Man. Mocca is going to take my rings off and then at the end I'm going to leave in a car and drive away. The last bit is maybe a bit too sad and bittersweet. But the rest of it we were laughing our heads off and I really think maybe we will do it. Maybe it can be a fancy dress party, seeing he loves dressing up so much now ;)
  • The newly-started-up mag where I am hoping to have my short story published added me as their Facebook friend. I responded by writing on their wall to "publish my bloody story, would you?" :)

Layer Upon Layer Upon Layer

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Thursday, 10 January 2008

We used to have this Sara Lee apple danish ad here in Australia in the 70s or 80s where the Austrian woman was waxing lyrically about the "layer upon layer upon layer" consistency of the amazing sweet she was eating. If I could defragment my brain's hard drive the way I can my computer, I would probably scrap that little memory taking up 10 or so bytes in my head, and move extra space to my short term memory so I can remember where the hell it was I left whatever it was that I've forgotten I've lost. But again, as usual, I digress.

I am much more aware of just how many layers I have. There are many. I feel like God has gone down to the depths of them recently. There has been so much going on in my layers over the past year, it's a good thing we can't see into the future because this last year would have appeared utterly unbearable if viewed in its entirety. The stuff me and God have been dealing with is the ultimate stuff. The really really big stuff. The core foundational identity stuff. The stuff that I have known has been there for years and years. And oh, boy, the pain.

So it hurts when you're changing and being changed and being healed in some measure. And so I've been angry. And my emotions have spilled outside of myself and overflowed onto the footpath. And God has felt more far away at times in the last few months than in, say, more heady spiritual times that have occurred over the past 10 years. But you know what, bloggers? It's alright. As painful as it is, it's alright. Because I feel in some strange way on some mystical level that I have agreed to allow Papa to do all of this. He knows what he's doing. It's a necessary process of disorientation. It's felt horrible because so much stuff has been dredged up. That's settling now, but I still can't really see what is going to come in its place. But God can.

Knowing that God is doing it is enough for me to trust him/her. And I do trust her/him. And the fact that he has grown me to trust him, with the father issues I have had, is a miracle all on its own. S/he is truly, amazingly creative and loving and kind in the way that s/he deals with us. If only we can grasp this, it will change everything. It will change the world. It has before.

(It is already - can you feel it?)

So in the past, when I would be going through difficult times or whatever, facing difficult things, working my way through stuff, on top of the discomfort of those sorts of situations I would have this horrible chain dragging behind me of thinking, "If I was a good Christian, would this kind of thing be happening to me?" It felt like that's what the Christian culture was telling me - that I should be doing it shiny for Jesus. It seems ludicrous to me now that I wouldn't be able to recognise that for the stinking religious garbage it is - all that is there is human power and control and refusing to lay down and die to your own thinking, your own stuff - but when you are in the midst of that garbage and haven't known anything else, you don't know any better. Even though the ache in your heart doesn't go away, the hope somehow if God is how we hope him to be, then maybe there could be a way for him to make all this stinking stuff alright. After all, look at Jesus, right?

I feel like I've come a long way since then. Tonight, I feel a lightness in my being that has many times been sunk in the past year. I seriously didn't know that life could be this painful. I have wanted to die at times this year ... and yet, at the same time, paradoxically, this joy has been there even within those times of despair. It's always there. But sometimes we can't see it and we can't feel it very well. And that's okay too. Because one of the problems of being made of dust is that when God moves around spiritual furniture, great clouds of ourselves puff up into the air, obscuring anything else. It's just par for the course, bloggers.

Don't let anyone make you feel bad about that. You get to rest even in the midst of your pain, as difficult as it is, as much as you need to scream. Don't let any well-meaning shiny happy people steal your peace by trying to make you feel like you shouldn't be in the place you're in if you are walking the right path. He's got you on your path. He knows the times when he's got you sitting on a boulder on the side of it for a respite while he does some stuff in you. He knows sometimes you're gonna run and sometimes you're gonna walk, and sometimes you're gonna sit down again and look as if you're going nowhere or backwards.

It's all okay. It's gonna be alright. Because not only are we made of dust. We are also made of stars.