Monday, 31 August 2009
Before we left for our walk, the stupid dribbling black chihuahua with a bell around its neck came into our yard. It is fascinated by and terrified of Lester. It stares at him, runs when he goes near it, and runs from the sound of my voice. The chinhuaha's pet, an elderly Asian lady with no English, followed the sound of the bell into our yard and after a whistle the dog came trotting. She put it in a small child's stroller.
Lester and I began walking down the driveway and she followed. "Isn't it beautiful now it's sunny!" I called out. She didn't have a clue what I was saying but words are not necessary when you're making small talk, I find. She nodded and smiled.
We walked to the new IGA just around the corner and bought dog food and yoghurt, Lindt 85% chocolate and a litre of milk. The woman gave me $1.05 change which I carried in my hand, having no pockets in my trackies and having already strapped my heavier-than-before backpack onto my back. We walked past the life-size bronze sculptures of Aussie Rules local icons Dougie Hawkins and Teddy Whitten that stand outside the local pub. Lester barked at them as he always does, whether on foot or in car. The other week he nipped at Dougie's foot but he declined to do that this time. Earlier he had barked at a white plastic bag that had flapped itself up against the chain link fence of the local primary school. Lester barks at the giant white horse outside the Whitehorse City Council in Nunawading. Cows in paddocks are an extra special exotic barking delicacy. I think he thinks they are giant dogs.
After we passed Dougie and Ted we rounded the corner of the housing commission flats and I flung the $1 coin and 5 cent piece into a gap in the fence where three or four palings had come loose, along with a prayer that some little kid who was young enough to get a thrill out of finding a gold coin on the ground would find it in his playtime.
We passed an elderly Asian man with a jeep and two sandy coloured chihuahas. He was putting junk mail from the jeep into the letterboxes of the commission flats. Neither dog had a bell; one barked at Lester as we passed. Lester was too busy sniffing and the chihuahuas too small to disdain a response.
We continued walking, round the shabby streets of my neighbourhood back to home. On Darnley Street, smart people had planted different sorts of succulents in their front yard, plants that thrive on the drought conditions that are Australian living. Such strange, odd and curious shapes. I am liking them more and more.
We continued on and walked past the street that runs parallel to mine. There was the elderly Asian lady with her stroller again, with the dribbling black chihuahua in it. We waved as we passed each other.
The next street was mine. As we turned right to go into it, an elderly Asian man was crossing the road. He had a jeep full of junk mail and a sandy coloured chihuahua. For a millionth of a second I felt my brain stop and get ready to glitch out on the influx. But it was a different man. The single dog proved it, Mr Anderson.
We rounded the corner into our street. When we looked back, the chihuahua was standing at the foot of our street, staring down at Lester. It barked. Lester was too busy licking water droplets off the grass to bother responding.
Saturday, 29 August 2009
This may seem strange if I tell you that I joined the group "Everytime I hear Matt Damon's name I think of him in Team America", and that indeed I started the Air Appreciation Society :) Both groups are totally pointless, which is fine (pointlessness is underrated). The first was joined because it was fun and the second is ironic, started in response to stupid groups like "I love having fun". Like, shit, seriously?
But something like "Stop Child Abuse", what is the point of joining a group like that? Not for fun, obviously, or wit or irony. It is a political move to join a group like that. But what is achieved exactly? Who is the "stop" directed at? The populace at large? Some big thing "out there" that is going to magically stop child abuse if a million people join a Facebook group? Are they talking to the long arm of the law? In that case, they should join a "Make Taxes Higher So We Can Afford to Pay for a Better Police Force" group. I imagine that would not have as many members. Or join a "Hey, You, Yeah, You, Snap Out of Your Denial and Look at What Your Husband/Wife/Son/Daughter/Cousin/Next Door Neighbour is Up To" group. How about the "Bad, Awful Shit Happens in the World All the Time Every Day Because That is an Element of What Humanity Is - Even You, Unfortunately" group? Or the "Legislating the Human Condition Out of Existence is Unfortunately Not an Option" group?
Do people join this group to show everybody that they are against child abuse? Cos, like, um, duh. Their statement ends up carrying the same weight as them saying that they had oatmeal for breakfast.
Okay, I am being a little facetious here. I know people joining these groups is a way of standing up for something people think is important, their own little way of trying to give weight to something awful, to stand behind it, to say that their hearts are heavy. Trying, in a society grown so large that it's run away from us, to show that this particular thing is wrong. Perhaps I miss their lamentation under the irritation.
But in the end, it just reads like spam to me. Accords the same inch-high status to everything. Child abuse, oatmeal eating, Matt Damon, air appreciation.
I suppose it is a common enough experience. What we say must be filtered through someone else's stuff. Nobody is ever truly objective in that sense. It's why we will never ever completely know how others perceive us. It is something patently outside of our own control. You can try - which is why friendship takes work, a continual reconfiguring of what you understand about someone else, of realising how askew your perceptions were about them, of adding a small piece to a never-ending jigsaw puzzle that is other people.
Of course, the flipside of that is that we are responsible for changing the way we come across to others if we begin to understand that what we project is not what was intended. I was shaken into this awareness when I was 18 years old and realised, with a sort of horror, some things about my dealing with people that were overreactive, spiky and defensive. Sometimes we cannot see in ourselves what is plainly before the eyes of others. It is as valuable as gold to have kind people clue you in to yourself. It's hard and it's raw and it is difficult to say and to receive, but these are precious things, these feedbacks. They help us along the path to knowing ourselves.
It is a difficult thing to realise that our protections become our fortresses and that we use them to butt others with. I guess it is a melancholy sort of a thought, really, on this dreary Saturday morning - that in a sense, we are all alone because nobody ever truly "sees" us as we really are.
Except God. I often feel lonely but paradoxically I never really feel alone, even when I am by myself. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.
That is the starting point, for me. If God is there and all flows out from him, then perhaps in some future age we shall all know each other as we know ourselves and know God. Like Mack in The Shack, meeting up with the father he was alienated from in life, in a field, a diamond and emerald and amethyst field.
(Oh, and go Hawkers)
Friday, 28 August 2009
Anticipation isn't just about positive formations; it's also about the absence of negative formations, gooberly spaces like work :) Those absences form large shapes that you can fling yourself against like giant balloons full of bouncy air that propel you into life. Or at least, that's the aim.
It's funny to me how much of life is made up of negative spaces. How much of growth is about discarding. There is so much space in even solid objects. There is space enough inbetween the particles of the wooden CD rack in front of me to go flying in reams of possibility. Somehow, the wood is totally woodish even though many of the parts that make it up are bits of nothing.
Doth that not blow thy mind?
Or doth I think too much :)
I am finding myself in the midst of a particularly large bout of futility in trying to describe what I mean to people. I realise only afterwards, sometimes days later, that in the name of economy and not boring my hearer I have left out such big chunks of how I got from point A to point F in my thinking that in the end I explain nothing at all.
And so a conclusion reached which involved hours of contemplation, an idea which has been distilled down to something which is a precious thing, an understanding reached, a clarity which is now able to be squeezed into my Facebook status ... and it becomes meaningless in its brevity! It's quite funny, in a way!
Many and many giant and colourful and mysterious things are too big and puffy to fit into anybody's Facebook status. There's something incredibly comforting about that :)
Happy Friday, bloggers!
Thursday, 27 August 2009
- When right and wrong are united, I experience compassion.
- When love and hate are united, I experience forgiveness.
- When good and bad are united, I experience non-judgment.
- When male and female are united, I experience balance.
- When hope and despair are united, I experience trust.
- When Heaven and earth are united, I experience peace,and joy.
And when I see that, I can enjoy this world around me far MORE than when I used to fear it as "evil"...!
I see Dali was fascinated with and devoured Freud's Interpretation of Dreams. I'm still pissed off at Freud for some of his stupider ideas about women, but I guess if you're gonna wait to read someone you agree 100 per cent with, you're gonna be waiting a long time. We all deserve our stupidities and our neroses. I do think I shall have to turn my eyes on Mr Freud for a while, even though I'm far more enamoured with his nutjob protege, Mr Jung.
Dreamscape territory fascinates me more and more these days. I keep dreaming about little children, boy children. Twice in the past week I have dreamt of scooping them up and holding them close. One was a boy I came upon whose feet were covered in poo. Yum!! I cleaned them off with a box of wipes sitting handy before I allowed that one to sit on my knee. I don't believe these dreams are about wish fulfilment as much as they are about my soul, the little boy part of my soul. That sounds a bit wanky, right, haha. I guess this inner terrain, the private inner terrain, is as delicious and fascinating to me, cavernous and mysterious and yet as closely held as ... well, myself, duh - as it is probably boring to you. Hooray for that. I think it's called the boundary at which you do not have anything to write about that is for other people's eyes :)
The gallery was packed. Which pissed me off. I'm not good with crowds, really. Having to stand there and wait while people take ages looking at something that I end up not being interested in and move on after 10 seconds, agggh. I ended up just weaving in and out of people, trying to pretend I was made of smoke.
What strikes me about large exhibitions in art galleries where people go to look at what has been generally labelled by the culture as Art, is how solemn and serious people are. It's just art, you know? It's great and it's important but it's not like you're going into a cathedral. You shouldn't be solemn going into a cathedral either. It's just art that someone like you made. The fact it's hanging on a wall doesn't change that.
Been thinking how interesting a phenomenon it is that the more individualistic a group of people believe themselves to be, the more they end up seeming the same. I would say most of us in our current culture are individualistic to the point of narcissism but it's not often that I see outward public personal expressions, where you see the spirit of someone pouring out something uncontainable. You know those times when you see things or experience things that touch you so deeply, it's like they ping something in your soul and you have to sigh it out into the air, exclaim, comment? I don't see much of that sort of stuff in public, not even in an art gallery. So weird that in a culture where we're all so individualistic and narcissistic there is something that restrains people from being themselves.
Weird, huh? I think there are deep reasons for that, and that Rene Girard would have a lot to say about that sort of thing. Unfortunately, I'm finding that the things that fascinate me the most lately are the things that I cannot easily at all translate out into writing, like some of the thoughts of Girard I'm coming across. Some things are just too swirly and internal to slap letters on them and string them out into sentences, aren't they? Which is cool and mysterious and how it should be :)
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Sometimes various cultural overlays disarray the bones of stories. For instance, in the case of the brothers Grimm (among other fairytale collectors of the past few centuries), there is strong suspicion that the informants (storytellers) of that time sometimes "purified" their stories for the religious brothers' sakes. We also suspect the famous brothers continued the tradition of old pagan symbols overlaid with Christian ones, so that an old healer in a tale became an evil witch, a spirit became an angel, an initiation veil or caul became a handkerchief, or a child named Beautiful (the customary name for a child born during Solstice festival) was renamed Schmerzenreich, Sorrowful. Sexual elements were omitted. Helping creatures and animals were changed into demons and bogeys.
G.K. ChestertonWhat fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.
I am rereading Women Who Run With the Wolves again. The writer describes herself as messing about in "fairytale forensics". She has travelled to different places, different countries, and heard the tales as told from the mouths of others. Some stories have been beaten about over the years, redefined, fragmented. Yet, "in each story fragment is the shape of the entire story," she says, and begins reconstructing the stories so as to get closer to their original meaning, without all the political correctness or religious correctness added on top. And this is one of the reasons why I dislike Christianism. It has taken the stories told by everyday people, stories that help, and repressed them because those things were a threat to it, in its stupid blind seeing.
So story fragments contain the shape of the entire story. I think it's the same with us. I do not think anything is lost. I think many things are submerged, and we all bump into each other like giant icebergs. But nothing, nothing is ever lost ...
There is something about the stories in this book. They are not, in and of themselves, rollicking tales with satisfying endings. If I posted some of them here you may shrug your shoulders and say, "So what?" But fairytales are closer to dreamscapes than they are to yarns. They go in subconsciously somehow, satisfyingly, showing the way forward in some instances. Fairytales uncover parts of ourselves; they help us begin to get to know ourselves better. Fairytales (the original versions, not the Walt Disney stuff so much) show us how to slay our own dragons.
Generally, I view the characters of my dreams as all being different aspects of myself. It is like learning a new language, the language of the subconscious. I have analysed several of my dreams in this way at art therapy sessions. To say that they were illuminating experiences was to not overstate the case. They have been signposts as to what is going on within myself, in the dark places where God dwells and my mind cannot readily go. It is amazing to know how deep I go. It gives me comfort.
The same situation happens with fairytales. I recognise myself in them. I realise, when reading them, how the more things change the more things stay the same when it comes to humans down through the years.
Monday, 24 August 2009
But perhaps it's not all that cut and dried. Perhaps God does not always warn people in advance of horrid awful things happening. Perhaps he does all the time and it is simply a demonstration of how difficult it is for us to tune ourselves into him and believe what she says. I am often baffled at God's intervention or lack thereof in things these days. I have done my fair share of tearful bellowing regarding his seeming departure.
I read yesterday about a man who believed that a tornado that ripped through a town where his Lutheran denomination was having a conference about whether being a practising gay person disqualifies you from the ministry (I say they should thank their blessings that there is something that *does* disqualify them from taking such a stupid route, but I opinionate in my digression ;)
In the past three days, I have told two people of my desire to move to the Dandenong Ranges. One was a nice but know-it-all woman on the train who struck up a conversation with me (the train has suddenly become my greatest social hub) and my mother, both who expressed concern at desiring to move somewhere that is surely going to not exist in several years time when it's burnt to the ground.
Perhaps they are wrong. Perhaps they are right. I did go through the past summer travelling to Mount Dandenong seeing Maggie on high alert, ready any time the call came via the phone up the mountain from friends to evacuate. They had to do so, several times.
And yet still, there is something that compels me about the idea. The place draws me, all those trees. Wisha wisha. I think also it is the idea of friends phoning each other up the mountain. And it is true that the Dandenong Ranges have a higher than normal concentration of fruit loopy, slightly eccentric, off-centre, artistic type people. My kind of people, you know? :)
I cannot sit with "weather as punishment" conception of God and yet I do not then know what I think. Does God never intervene ever? And does he never intervene with awful things, with the ground opening up and swallowing people? And even more baffling sometimes, the lack of intervention when children's innocence is molested and people are knifed down in the street because they happen to be "curryheads"? Is the intervention these days through us? Is this what this era of is about? About people being God for each other? Perhaps it is. No handwriting on the wall, just the voice that's in us all. Being God for each other in the midst of imperfectioin all around, threatening to swallow us alive. Such a total bloody mess at times.
I really am not so sure what I think about a whole lot of things as they relate to God. And that's okay. He seems more strange and Other the more I get to know him (and yet, and yet, deep down inside the connection goes on, in my spirit, you know? The connection that is so close that sometimes I do not know where I end and God begins, as if we are made out of the same sort of stuff.)
And this is the taste of God that I know for myself, that which lives inside of me. And yet who is this who I have to reckon with? Is it the God of love who will stop at nothing to grow up his children, his own children, all of them? Even if it means the pain of suffering that we endure in this life? The horrible, awful things that happen to people that leave you scratching your head with the curses in your mouth? Is it the conformist God of past centuries of Christianity, waiting to bash people with a big stick to keep them in line? I cannot come at such a small god anymore, he reeks of the worst of humanity. In-between those two is a giant chasm and millions of people have fallen into it. I cannot give up the thought for long, the long, cool, watery thought that love follows down to the end, and never gives up. It's what it says in that collection of letters and documents written by 66 different people and which I struggle with so.
It says it, most clearly. God is love. Jesus screams it, does it not? Screams it from a cross, for crying out loud. And yet those verses, some of them, seemingly completely contradictory. And it drives me mad sometimes because I suspect, and sometimes I know, that, like watching a 3D movie, if I put on the glasses I would see it all clear. My sight is vastly nothing like 20/20 vision. And I am stuck inside my own perceptions and my own humanity and I cannot see the Other as he is. And I want to. I want to.
Friday, 21 August 2009
- I really like how Canadians say "about". Or at least, Montrealians. They say, "aboot" and it sounds really really cute.
- I really like how Leonard Cohen's music is totally sublime and yet he can't sing for peanuts. I really like how at the end of the doco I watched on him last night (I'm Your Man) he had a pretty decent backing band by the name of U2.
- I like how it's Friday. I like how Friday comes around once a week. It would be better if it was twice a week. But then again, it would be worse if it was once a fortnight.
- Consequences. No, not that card game, but actual consequences. In some ways, I am still a child and I will not choose things for my own good. For example, not eating sugar even though it is killing my health, and I wore my jeans yesterday after several months in the cupboard and I had to unbutton them to sit comfortably. Even though I know it's making me feel yukky and my blood sugar levels to go gooberly, and even though I know that I feel great without it. The consequences of my eating habits and certain genetic elements and predispositions and health issues means that I am almost certain that I have developed endometriosis. This means that I am forced to change my eating and exercise habits otherwise I will suffer pain. This is, ultimately, a good thing. I need consequences.
- I like how the Melbourne woman who walked her small dog in high winds on a pier the other day probably would have learned not to do it again in high winds, like the insanities that prevailed this morning. I like it that the young bloke who was on the pier ripped off his gear and dived in and rescued her doggy for her after the wind picked it up and flung it into the sea.
- I like it that ultimately all of the thoughts and fears and things and wounds that keep us from ourselves and from each other, all will be somehow fixed, subsumed, ripped away, whatever is done with them by Love, somehow, someday, starting now. I like how even though this is the most painful thing we will ever do, Love will not ultimately allow evil to win. And so I like how we can say in one sense that all of those things, even though they loom, are paper tigers in the grand scheme of all time.
- I like it that ultimately all of the things that make us the people we really are, like love and integration and joy and loving God and letting God live and move and have his being in us, are more real than the seat you are presently sitting on right now.
- I like it how, when you set your intention for something - like, for example, to begin setting aside an hour each day for writing once more - it feels like you are making space for nothing, making space for bubbles. But what actually happens is that as soon as you make space for it, stuff rushes in like a vacuum. Not necessarily usable stuff, but stuff. That is so cool.
- I like it how writing something like this makes me happy :)
Thursday, 20 August 2009
"Gee, look at all that nice space up there," I commented when I climbed on, about the middle of the carriage that stood free of bodies while we were all squashed up in the doorways. The people who could move into the middle, don't. Presumably they are worried that they won't be able to get off at their station in time if they move several paces to the middle of the carriage. I honestly don't know. Maybe it's not their problem. But it really gives me the shits.
The blonde women next to me nodded and groaned in agreement. The dark haired woman next to me made some other comment and the woman to her left piped in and soon we were having a bit of a chat, you know? It's amazing how friendly people can be when they are given permission to be. Sometimes I think that's what it's all about. That we all want to reach out to each other and connect and nobody sort of knows if they're allowed to do that anymore or what the rules are, because these days connecting is optional when it actually needs to be forced. This is our scary freedom now.
I think of cultures in the past, that people must have been very much more conscious of how much we need each other. No faux connection. No keeping up with people via blogs and tweets and facebook profiles. If you wanted to see someone, you would have to ... well, go and see them. Or conversely, maybe we're more conscious now of how much we need each other, and how difficult it is becoming to connect.
Seriously, the older you get the harder it is to form friendships. I used to look at older people when I was a teenager and say, "Never, no way will I be like you." I was far too enamoured with my friendships, with the security and love and warmth. I didn't understand how older people would be willing to give that up and live so much in their isolation, with their Saturday nights with their televisions and their pets and their partners.
Welcome to older life Susie Q :) Just without the partner *sigh*
It is so much harder now to form friendships! I would be interested to have straw polled my four 15 minute friends to see how difficult they find it to reach out to others? I fancied I could see loneliness in a few eyes.
I fancy I can see loneliness in everyone's eyes.
And so we chatted for several stops and it was nice and we laughed about being new best friends. And then we got to Middle Footscray and a whole lot of people got out and then the relationship broke up now that we had more space. One of the girls moved off to talk with her fellow workmate, the blonde woman ventured over into the other corner, and me and one of the other women stood near each other looking out the window. And I couldn't think of anything to say. Just clammed up.
It's hard being shy and insecure and outgoing at the same time because you seem like Bobcat Goldthwaite. People say things to me that show me they think I am capable, that I know what I'm doing. People ask me for advice and I can see in their eyes that they think I know. I have authority. This is the problem with being outgoing because sometimes I don't know and sometimes I feel shy.
So I could see this other woman looking at me, as if she was waiting for me to say something. And I don't blame her because I was the one to climb on a train and start a conversation going with a whole lot of people who didn't know each other and then now I was standing there looking out the window feeling clammed. Weird. I got tongue-tied making small talk with someone on a train.
When I climbed off I forced myself to look back and smile and we all smiled goodbye at each other. If I was 20, I probably would have exchanged phone numbers with them. These days I feel so butterfly stomached I can barely muster up the guts to smile at a couple of strangers that I shared a train ride and a bit of conversation with.
Bit sad, isn't it! It gets harder when you get older. Someone get me a knitting group.
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
People on the train tonight were talking about Jesus coming back. Last week I saw a woman reading a book she had bought from Koorong. I always look curiously at these people. It still feels strange to me to hear people talking about and reading about Jesus in a public place. I am always mildly surprised by it.
The days are lengthening. I dip and soar and dip. After I left the library on Monday with three delicious fiction books I felt happy. Not joy, the way I have felt even whilst feeling depressed in the past, but happy. Garden variety pre-1999 happy that comes from not moaning and groaning in a ditch of your own grief aghast at the depth of it, wondering how you will ever climb out.
There are footholds on the side of the grief. When you're in it's so slippery you think you will never climb out.
The front yard is overdue for mowing by about two months. I like it. I like knowing it would piss off my grandmother if she was here because there's such a thing as being too tidy. The grass is awash with yellow wildflowers. Such common things you can be forgiven for not thinking they are beautiful. They open themselves up and close themselves down when the sun dips. Like me, kind of. They are so charming there is a good reason to not mow the lawn. That and the fact that we do not have a lawnmower.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Well, I must say, though that particular flavour is not mine, the whole intentional community idea has been something I've contemplated on and off for many years. Talking to Manu last night about it has set the fire burning again. One of my workmates was back after holidays today, the first time I've seen her in a month. She is a Buddhist nun, lives in a community in Montrose. I chatted with her today about the things that scare me silly about such an idea but the way she talked about it, it was definitely a doable thing. She has been living this way for over 10 years now.
Of course, the thing that concerns me the most about a thought like this is the lack of solitude. I mean, I am seriously almost a hermit. I can go for three or four days without seeing anyone and be fine with it.
She pointed out that there is plenty of space within a larger intentional community to disappear for days on end if need be.
But I don't know if I want an entire community. I was thinking I would like to try the idea of an intentional share house, say start off with five or six people and see how I went from there. The thought occurred to me early this afternoon and the more I thought about it the more I contemplated a share house for solitudinal people who need plenty of space could not only work but could be a cool thing. Maybe it could work. A shared house for creative contemplatives. Christians please but no doctrine definitions, the grottier and more real the better. Two rooms for each person - one bedroom, one studio. An intentional shared house wanting to share life and creativity together, and to reach out to other people, whatever that could mean.
Is such a thing possible?? It's a terribly scary notion.
I've been dizzy with the romance of the thought all afternoon. I wonder once the reverb has clanged its way in if it will still seem like a possibility to me out the other end or if it will dwindle down to just another possible thought. This afternoon it has buzzed so loud, feeling like a God whisper, a future possibility.
If nothing else, it's given me a real buzz for the afternoon.
Despite its protests to the contrary, modern Christianity has become willy-nilly the religion of the state and the economic status quo. Because it has been so exclusively dedicated to incanting anemic souls into heaven, it has, by a kind of ignorance, been made the tool of much earthly villainy. It has, for the most part, stood silently by, while a predatory economy has ravaged the world, destroyed its natural beauty and health, divided and plundered its human communities and households. It has flown the flag and chanted the slogans of empire. It has assumed with the economists that “economic forces” automatically work for good, and has assumed with the industrialists and militarists that technology determines history. It has assumed with almost everybody that “progress” is good, that it is good to be modern and up with the times. It has admired Caesar and comforted him in his depredations and defaults. But in its de facto alliance with Caesar, Christianity connives directly in the murder of Creation. For, in these days, Caesar is no longer a mere destroyer of armies, cities, and nations. He is a contradictor of the fundamental miracle of life. A part of the normal practice of his power is his willingness to destroy the world. He prays, he says, and churches everywhere compliantly pray with him. But he is praying to a God whose works he is prepared at any moment to destroy. What could be more wicked than that, or more mad?
The religion of the Bible, on the contrary, is a religion of the state and the status quo only in brief moments. In practice, it is a religion for the correction equally of people and of kings. And Christ’s life, from the manger to the cross, was an affront to the established powers of his time, as it is to the established powers of our time. Much is made in churches of the “good news” of the gospels. Less is said of the gospel’s bad news, which is that Jesus would have been horrified by just about every “Christian” government the world has ever seen. He would be horrified by our government and its works, and it would be horrified by him. Surely no sane and thoughtful person can imagine any government of our time sitting comfortably at the feet of Jesus, who is telling them to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you…” (Matt. 5:44).
Friday, 14 August 2009
It amazes me when I'm feeling like this how different time feels. Everything feels so small and flat and too close together. I have three days off ahead of me and it feels too small. Tuesday looms big even though there is a Saturday, Sunday and a Monday before it. Three whole days!
I can't stand feeling like this. I can't stand feeling like I am living in the middle of a dying society. That sounds dramatic but take a look around and tell me how often you see anyone laughing in the streets, or even smiling. This world is so heavy, it kills me. Everybody reading this post is amongst the richest people in the world, who have occasion if desired to entertain themselves mindlessly, and how often in an average week do we all feel the transcendence? God, how long? How long how long how long how long? Or is this it? Just an inexorable slow slide down? Is that how it ends for us?
Forgive me my doom and gloom. But I don't get told no nice stories. I just get told what I need to buy. I say to myself that I know better, that I tell myself good stories on the inside. And it helps. But they say that the brain doesn't even recognise the difference between something real and something imagined. Something as flexible and childlike as that surely listens and takes on board the dumb culture stories even if it knows that they are empty. Somewhere, somehow.
I need a campfire and a storeyteller.
Okay, then. I feel dead but I'm going off to do life-affirming things that my inner psychotic flatpack bitch says seem just a little bit too fun and that therefore maybe there's a rule against them. Things like playing with some clay, playing some music, cooking something, watching some footy, watching a movie, doing some yoga, walking my dog, maybe catching up with my mum and my cousin tomorrow, going to impro on Sunday night. I don't even feel like doing any of those things because none of them seem like they will be enjoyable because right now I feel dead. This is how I feel after a week of typing shit about pointless court cases and living in a country that keeps consuming its own head and whingeing about the climate and insisting we live in an economy that must keep growing and which never tells me anything about myself that is transcendent. What about God?
Sigh. So I feel drained and dislodged from living in this fucked-up place. I hate it. But I just know from too many occasions that I will go off into the playroom and start messing about with whatever I'm doing in there, and the slowdown will start somehow. I could not believe with my own soul that such heaven and such hell can exist in the exact same day for one person depending on what thoughts are going through their head. It sort of dumbfounds me.
So anyway, even though things seem rather glum, I'm trying to ignore those feelings and not give them the weight they are screaming at me to give them. They are, after all, shifting perceptions. When I'm swimming in the silk, enfolded within a song, riding the sunlight, things can seem very different very quickly.
Could do with a bonk, though. Seriously, they say it's like riding a bike. Is that true? Cos it's been a long time ...
Thursday, 13 August 2009
In an age of rights and freedoms, parents are less free than seemingly ever to be able to raise their children in the way they want to without outside influences. How can good old Mum and Dad compete against Disney and McDonalds banding together to market to their three year olds toys that are characters in movies that are rated PG-13? That same PG-13 rating that 10 years ago would have had an R rating? Or crap marketed to little girls so that they can look like six year old trash?
I never knew before that the US is the only industrialised country in the world that does not have any legislation in place that regulates advertising to children. It's hard enough in this country, I'm sure parents would agree, to try to protect kids for as long as possible from being marketed to. But the ads I saw on this show for kids in the States sort of freaked me, really.
I see that when the debate comes up in the culture about enacting legislation, the good old first amendment is quoted. Land of the free and all that stuff. Is anyone left in the West who labours under the false illusion that any of us are free? We are not free. We are coerced constantly to believe that we are what we own.
This is in a world that is groaning under the weight of too much goddamn plastic as it is. People who are groaning under more and more antidepressant scripts being filled for younger and younger people.
Rights rights rights. What about responsibilities to protect little people who do not have any capacity to understand that they are being manipulated by savvy marketeers? That's child abuse.
It scares the hell out of me what monsters we are creating.
God, where are you? Jesus, come back. Or something. Do something. Stop the world cos we can't run this ship ourselves.
That annoys me way beyond what it should :)
I am tempted to delete this post, haha, because people will come onto my blog and think, "Sheesh, what a bitch" or "She calls herself a Christian" or stuff like that. I am tempted to delete it so I can convince you I am really shiny and never petty.
But I'm not going to :) Take me as I am in all my mess, or bugger off :) Harrrrrrrrrr
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Hey love i just realised its the footy on Fri nite so I am going to that - which is an awful but non negotiable fact about me and socialising in the winter months :) I am planning on catching up with Deb in the coming weeks so maybe we can catch up then if ur not too offended with my priorities :)
Her response included some kisses but also a reminder that my football team is down and out. Haha.
One thing I like about getting older - learning to make less apologies for the more unpalatable aspects of my personality, like shitty priorities :)
How about you. Would you text me back and say "shove your friendship up your bum"?
He told us specifically to *not* lord over one another ... it's what the Gentiles, those who do not yet know God, tend to do -- it is an unction of the ego. Christianity has become (no, always was) ego-writ-large, and institutionalized.
Simple church (i.e., house church/organic church), in missing that, simply does the same thing, on a smaller, more intimate (often more damaging) scale.
Jesus taught us, through His life and actions, that nothing brings down the walls of division as much as acceptance does. When we learn this, when we can go to those we deem to be "sinners", those who we label as "errant", and give them the gift that Jesus gave (understanding and acceptance), we enhance their and our own spiritual growth. We can dare to see more worth in others than they can see in themselves -- just as Jesus did, and does, with us.
Change that's rooted in non-love doesn't solve anything -- have we not learned that? Have we not yet learned, throughout church history, that when we meet a problem with the same level of awareness (hate vs. hate, anger vs. anger, fear vs. fear), we only exacerbate the problem? Have we not yet learned of our penchant to act out of our own carnal/egoic desires, and to project it onto God, as if HE led us to exhibit hatred and sanctioned our self-righteousness?
Have we not yet learned that external conflicts are only mirrors of our own internal struggles (hence the mandate of how to contend with logs and specks)? When we see an external conflict -- particularly in one whom we deem to be errant and in need of correction -- it's an outward sign of what's going on within ourselves..! It's a message that we're in need of healing. We only see the "error" in another one, because of what's already within our own hearts. We project our own stuff onto others, because we don't *want* to see it in ourselves ... if we put it "out there," we get instead to scapegoat, blame, malign and cast out (we do this most dramatically with the devil) ... but the reality is we still have that very same error within our own hearts, only now we believe our own "story" that we got rid of it ... ensuring that we're all the more blind to our own stuff. Do we not see that this is the very hypocrisy that Jesus came against? The only thing that Jesus came against...
We have to come to see that the oppressor and the victim, the sinner and the sinned-against, the weak and the powerful, the evil and the righteous -- all exist within ourselves.
It's not overcome by a battle (a carnal/egoic thought in itself), but through the process of absorption ... darkness is a no-thing/nothing ... when Light is shined upon it, it evaporates, being absorbed by the Light ... so too is evil a no-thing, the shadow of resistance to God who is Omnipotent ... not a challenge to God, but only a challenge to our minds. As we think in our hearts, we are. We can change how we think in our hearts, as we look deeply, see the shadows, and allow the Light to shine, transforming us from the inside-out. Transformation happens by the renewal of our minds, not by the correcting of our (or anyone else's) behaviors.
Christianity has long been obsessed and fixated with fixing up the outsides of ourselves and others -- while ignoring the inner wounds that need healing. We shoot our wounded, and call it "ministry". We point fingers while ignoring what's going on within us. We tend to scream the loudest about that which we most strongly deny within ourselves.
Jesus met the sinners where they were, in the thick of their sin, looked deeply into them, saw what was there, loved them, embraced them, accepted them ... and only *then* said "go and sin no more"... after the assurance of *no condemnation*. Only then, only when we know that we are loved and accepted *while still sinners*, can we come to see that we no longer need to seek acceptance through counterfeit means, no longer need to seek identity through carnal/egoic means, no longer need to numb out self-hatred through self-medicating means ... when we know, really KNOW how much we are loved and accepted *while we still perceive ourselves to be God's enemies,* the darkness of our self-deception is obliterated and absorbed by His all-consuming Light, and we see ourselves - finally! - -as HE does, as the beloved, as the offspring of God that we always were (as Paul affirms), as the ones Jesus came to liberate from captivity -- and what holds us more in captivity than the very lies that we unknowingly believe...? (as Paul affirms, we are only enemies "in our minds")
He came to set the captives free ... to show us that we belong to God ... He still (& always will) leave the 99 to seek after the one (or one billion) who is lost ... seeking not until it's "too late", but seeking until He finds them. And when we are found by Him, what more do we need?
Maybe most of us don't yet know, really know, how much we are loved, how much we are treasured ... maybe most of us don't yet know that He has found us...?
If we knew, if we really knew ... how would we live? How would we respond to God? How would we see ourselves? How would we treat all others ...?
I love the opportunity the blogosphere affords to read the thoughts and opinions and experiences and transformations of others. One of those people is Dena, who I have been acquainted with for years via Lifestream and The God Journey etc. I just love what she shared here, and so I had to share it with you :)
You can read the whole post here, at her blog Shalom.
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Let go of the mistaken notion of certainty and the false sense that it in some way makes you secure and you might be surprised when the familiar "fixed" view you have had of things begins to be dismantled and following the Spirit who is like the wind begins to look not only doable...but actually exciting and awe producing in it's simplicity.
I am so aware - in awe, really - of how much there is that I do not know. Of how much things change when you are willing to sit with the disparities of what is. The beauty of small steps, of small things, of lives lived quietly, of the beauty of solitude and the warmth of friendship. Of the wonderment I spy, sometimes, of an everyday life, of the way it is right for my life to fit me.
The beauty that flows underneath everything is like silk, like chocolate, like strength, like love, like discipline all rolled into one. We become ever so incrementally mouldable under its gaze.
Pic: Never Alone by aussiepatches
Monday, 10 August 2009
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
I want to live in Olinda. I'm going to see if the mountain is there after this next firebomb summer. If it is, I seriously want to think about it.
It smelled so fine amongst all those trees. We saw nobody else on our walk. Heard nothing except the birds. It was rejuvenating.
Goodness me, look at those wrinkles :\
I could yell it at him but it wouldn't make any difference because while I was hollowing him out both his ears also fell off. I tell ya, my inner perfectionist screams seeing this thing with a hole in its neck and no ears. It maketh me to laugh.
Pic: Most likely copyright violations going on all over the place here, but you can see them at their rightful place at www.samjinks.com.
Saturday, 8 August 2009
I find it really interesting how he describes dissociative disorder and performing as a particularly ill fit:
I have a fairly severe mental illness that makes it hard to do my job -- in fact, makes me totally ill suited for my job. I have a form of dissociative disorder that makes the world seem like it's not real, as if things aren't taking place. It's hard to explain, but you feel untethered.Well, when you put it like that ... actually, fame has never been much of an appeal to me. I mean, sure, like most people I've indulged in fantasies about it. Especially at times when I'm feeling really bad, really raw. All that unconditional adulation - nice. At the same time, this sort of buffer between you and other people, like a mirage that sits between you, like a fur coat.
And because nothing seems real, it's hard to connect with the world or the people in it because they're not there. You're not there. That's why I rarely saw my family back then: It's hard to care when everything feels as if it's taking place in your imagination. And if you're distant with people, especially women you're romantically involved with, they eventually leave.
What makes my case even worse is that every night I go out on stage and have this incredible emotional connection between me, the band, and the audience. Then, just like that, it's over. I go backstage, back to the bus, back to my hotel room, and sit there all by myself. That deep connection is yanked away in an instant. It's like breaking up with your girlfriend over and over again, every night.
Except the emperor wears no clothes, and I think the knowledge of that would send me snorting substances up my nose to deal. That mirage would be a prison. Sitting in a prison on the shifting sands of other people's adulation and hatred - no thanks. I already have a couple of prisons of my own, thanks very much. Those will do.
My heart breaks when I think of how many people struggle with different mental illnesses. My homeless friend K suffers from some sort of undiagnosed disorder where she fades out, loses her memory. I feel some understanding of mental illness. I felt out of control in my teenage years from the things I was carrying, the deep dark hate, the covering over of it. I do not believe I had borderline personality disorder but I do believe I could have gone down that path if things had been different. Who knows? And I've got enough fuck-ups of my own to deal with, that's for sure. So many of us battle. It scares us so that we do not wish to talk about it, but humans are fragile things, and we break. I think our technology makes the situation even more dire these days.
Sometimes I wonder what things would look like if the knowledge was spread over the earth that God is a loving God, that there is wholeness in God, that there is healing and acceptance there. I think of that young bloke I saw at the train station a few months ago, screaming to the sky, "But I got nothin' to live for!" Is there something in his heart that is screaming for redemption? Something in every human heart that beats so tenderly but seems too good to be true.
I do think the reality of God is good enough to be true. Like a fairytale. I don't know know how my mental state would be if I hadn't fallen across God. Even just the concept of God, of redemption, of a pressure valve release. Hopefully I would have fallen across Buddhism instead. Otherwise I do not know, for me, how I would have coped.
My heart cries to God tonight for how hard this world is, and how much we despair, and how little hope there is and I wish God would wake us up. I wish the knowledge of God would fill the earth like water. It would wipe away our tears, swimming in God. It would heal our hearts and heal our minds. It would fill us so that we would be able to be god to each other, unhidden, naked, and unashamed.
It would be heaven.
You can read the rest of Adam's article here.
After learning the practice of contemplative prayer and non-dualistic teaching, we are not surprised when Jesus comes along with such things as the” Eight Beatitudes” (Matthew 5). We cannot understand the Beatitudes with a dualistic mind. They just don’t make any practical sense whatsoever! “Come on, Jesus, no one believes that! Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the poor, or the humble of heart.” Our culture believes almost the exact opposite. We hear these eight beatitudes and we say, “Thanks be to God” publicly, but no one believes these beatitudes for one second in any practical way. Be honest. Most people, even good people, do not have the inner capacity to know what Jesus was actually talking about, or to live it themselves
“The Eight Beatitudes” are from the highest level of consciousness, which is entirely “unitive” and non-dualistic thinking. The contemplative mind allows us to surrender to what reality IS at the deepest level; it allows life to be something bigger and broader than the non-dual mind can ever see. From this higher level, the Beatitudes, and all the teachings of Jesus and other mystics make sense. The ordinary person can now know God, while the heady Christian knows nothing but his own head.
What does this unity mean to you? How do you think it would pan out in your life? For me it would be a lessening of fear of other people, a greater willingness to put myself aside in service of the other, not out of duty but out of recognition of the true oneness of us all, that, like the cliches say, if someone else hurts then I hurt. It's a beautiful thing. It's what I hope breaks over me, like icy water.
I love the concept; the practice just doesn't happen because night time comes and I'm alert and creative and going to sleep is a silly idea.
An old woman stopped me on the street to admire Lester and his youthfulness. I told her about how he was actually 10, and how he'd been a death row dog. She told me about her daughter who lives in the country and who always adopts the death row dogs. Often she has four. She only has two at the moment so she is in line to rescue another couple from the needle. Lester just said, "Whee!" and looked expectantly at me to start walking again.
"Gee, he's a big bloke!" said an old man to me as we climbed in the car.
Sunny late winter mornings get people talking, don't they :)
I went to Yarraville Village today, a trendy inner-city high wealth suburb where resides Plump, the organic grocery. I've decided to go organic again with my veggies that I buy (which is most of them, at the moment. I have been too late to plant some things and so I've missed out on kale this year, which I love. I do have plenty of seedlings coming up though, which is kinda cool).
It's funny how expensive organic food is and how crummy it looks compared to the supermarket stuff. Supermarket tomatoes are gas ripened and hence look really good and just like a tomato but taste like styrofoam.
I plan to grow tomatoes this year. I have strawberries planted but I am not sure exactly what they are up to. I pray for my strawberry plants because there's nothing like real live unsprayed ripe strawberries to guts on to give me anticipation for summer.
At Plump I bought a whole lot of stuff, like organic tomatoes that taste like tomatoes, and kale, which is really yummy, and spinach and carrots and bok choy. I bought bok choy even though I have it growing in my garden. Even though it's the only ripe pickable thing growing in my garden! What a dill! (Yes, I did have some dill growing, actually. Must plant me some more :)
My brainfades are weird. Every now and then I get a bit of dust in my hard drive and I do weird things the way I did the other day when my Mum and me went to Imax. She got a choc top ice cream. I got a medium popcorn and a bag of chocolate coated honeycomb. For some strange reason I had it in my head that Mum wouldn't want any of the chocolate (which is bizarre, because even though my mum is fitter and less of a pig than me, why would you not have any chocolate???) And so I ate the entire bag of chocolate covered honeycomb. Afterwards, while we were walking through the Carlton Gardens and climbing in amongst the tree trunks, my Mum quite rightly told me off for eating all of the chocolate myself.
"I thought I brought you up better than that, to share," she admonished me. She was very surprised that I had eaten it all myself.
And she was right. I didn't mean it though - I tried to explain the brain glitch, the dust in the hard drive. It felt amusing being admonished by my mum when I'm nearly 40. Sort of comforting, you know? :)
Just as long as she resists spitting on a handkerchief and wiping my face with it, we'll be right :)
Happy Saturday bloggers
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
There are plenty of them around the Dandenong Ranges where I have my art therapy sessions. Their own song is pretty as well but add this sort of repertoire and I'm sure they must be roping in the broads no worries :)
God love David Attenborough. The love he has for the natural world brims forth on his face; beautiful man.
But maybe that just seems like excessive politeness to some people. Who would know? I mean, of course sometimes you forget to respond or sometimes you're having a bad couple of days or you're really busy or whatever and it doesn't always happen. It's not like you have to respond to people's comments. That sort of thing reminds me of parents prodding you to say, robotlike, "Thanks for letting me stay over at your house!"
But still, with some blogs I really wonder why the owners bother having comments enabled on them, you know? If they are not interested in dialogue, why do they just not have comments enabled at all and save themselves the annoyance of reply? And if they do, why don't they respond when people comment?
It seems rude to me.
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
I think I shall be teaching myself from now on. Cast that in a certain sort of candlelight and it looks rather romantic, don't you think? ;) I shall learn what I need to learn as I go. After all, there are an awful amount of tutorials on YouTube ;)
I am making a clay bust of Blob. My watcher at the gates. The spewer of vitriole. The slammer shut of story doors halfway through. Occasionally I find ways of tricking around Blob so I cant get stuff written. But Blob doesn't let me go to sleep and get up in the morning and finish where I left off. Blob tries to convince me I've got ADD. I suspect the rest of the story lies cut off behind the tightly shut door. Blob has got a cousin, the critic. She's alright. She can stay.
I can say this - that Blob sure is one ugly bastard.
When he has dried I am going to smash him with a hammer.
But still, everything dies. And so even if your life had been different, even if you'd died in your own bed of old age, you still wouldn't have escaped death in the end, even if you'd outrum the volcano. None of us gets to escape death, unfortunately. There are whispers from some that it's lost its sting. There are some who seem positively in denial about it (hence the whole botox thing).
I wonder how long it takes for things of stone and things of bronze to disappear? Those things stand strong across the centuries, across millennia even. In 1709, an Italian farmer sank a well and in the process hit upon a marble sculpture that existed in the town next to yours, at the time that you lived. Buried 1630 years before and forgotten. That farmer was sinking for that well exactly 300 years before me. We sure do have a lot of space between us, you and me, don't we?
I saw some marbled things from your town today, stone things and bronzed things. The space between you and me is green patina on bronze objects. The things were owned by the rich people who lived in your town. They sat today in glassed-in display cabinets in my hometown across the world. It was interesting seeing how your people lived. They were pretty cashed up by the looks, if they were the lucky ones. Not like you. I saw spoons and measuring devices and beds and frescoes. I saw busts and cooking ovens and plaster casts of a bread loaf carbonised within one of those ovens.
Those things were all interesting. But they were just stuff, in the end. What pricked my heart most of all was seeing you. But not even you. The outline of you. How strange it is that even with just an outline of your body, I know what you were trying to do on 24 August 79AD. You were trying to escape.
Some of us die without leaving behind any sort of imprint. I don't know what the imprint of your life was on the people you knew. Did you have enemies? Did someone love you? Did you yearn for someone? I bet in a million years you never would have thought you'd leave behind the kind of imprint you actually did, though, huh? This life is sure weird, especially when you view it through millennial lenses.
You didn't escape the volcano, nor your own death. I don't know if any volcanic eruptions will feature in my demise, but I guess I'm not going to survive my own life without dying either. But you know what? It seems impossible to me in some ways that I am going to die. Even though I can see it happening before my eyes in slow slow motion. I don't believe my body is going to die. But at the same time, spiritually I do not feel like death is going to be the end. Has it been the end for you?
I wonder, was it easier to come to terms with your own death at the time you lived? All of those gods you guys had. Did they help? Bacchus and his ilk. Victory and hers. Plastered all over the joint they were, in your time. We have different sorts of gods these days. We were invited to indulge in the worship of one of our favourites out in the gift shop after the exhibit.
There's another god we've got. A real doozie if you look at the story but the patina that's been left behind is a rather sickly sort of a green. Claimed he was a man and god at the same time, or from god. He was killed for that, amongst other things. Stories abounded at the time that he beat death, rose from the dead. That the kingdom of heaven was near to all. He was around in your era actually. Funny that.
And yet it doesn't seem to have done all that much to change the whole god concept, from where we stand here in our time. For all of his claims, two thousand years after he trod the earth the god most often represented out of the dead dry bones that have sprung up around him is still one who has about as much personality as a Bacchus marble bust. But still the whispers go on amongst people, even now.
I do wonder if it's much more difficult for us in my time to understand we are going to die. So many more baubles and trinkets to keep us living in la-la land. Things you would not believe. It would seriously boggle your mind. I watched a plane fly overhead as I drove in a car last night and either of those things would probably scare the shit out of you if you saw them out of context. So much has changed since your time. And yet, as they say, I bet so much has most likely remained the same. Human nature is still the same but sometimes it is more difficult to access what the hell we are. We are made dumb by our masses of information you see. I was able to watch today exactly what happened when the volcano erupted, you know? Your people didn't even have a word for "volcano".
It could be easy for us perhaps to presume that we are so much more enlightened than you, that you were a bit dimmer than we. Forgive us that. Our era blinds us. I suppose from your viewpoint we must seem like a bunch of informed dullwits in some ways. But you guys had running water and inside toilets and so what if you didn't have Wii or Facebook or encyclopedias or bachelor degrees? So what if you believed in a panoply of gods? We believe in a global economy. And the stuff we have made is dismantling us from each other and so how far have we really come? And in the end it's all still about the same old shit ~ power and privilege and blindness and the corrupted human nature.
Some things never change. Your doctors had instruments remarkably alike the ones we have now. They performed skull operations. They knew to boil their instruments in water afterwards and they extracted morphine from opium.
The time we live in now is strange; it's like trying to get hold of shadows and outlines in some ways. Our culture is rather a baby sort of a culture. I think yours was too, from the looks. The empire seems to do that to people. I wonder how close hope was to your life? It evades us here but many of us still hope, even if only to ourselves, that death does not have the last word.
My death looms up ahead but it's more like an outline, even though I have seen my fair share of it. I have more family members dead than alive these days. Perhaps it can never seem anything more to us than an outline. Perhaps that is partly what was so poignant about seeing yours today.
The crevice that once contained your now-decomposed body had plaster poured into it by an archaologist called Guiseppe Fiorelli. This was 151 years after that farmer first sank a well and hit upon the theatre at Herculateum. The discovery of that town led to the discovery of yours. The archeologist poured in plaster and out came you and the others in all your horror. The agony on your poor faces.
I saw the woman whose tunic had ridden up her back because she was stuffing it in her mouth trying to escape the ash and the fumes. And I saw you, the outline of you. Were you a prisoner, or were you a slave? What sort of a life did you lead before you tried to escape after your owners had fled, the ones without fetters on their ankles?
That volcano, old Mount Vesuvius, has done a lot of damage over the centuries that exist between you and me, hasn't it? Did you know there are three million people living within its vicinity now? Just in the most recent hundred years, it erupted massively in 1906 and killed 100 people and buried nearby towns. The most recent one was 1944. There was a war going on then. It destroyed a few more towns (will they ever learn?) and a bunch of bomber planes to boot.
Ahhh, that war. I wonder how you would see it from your perspective? Would it have horrified you, you who lived in an era that admitted its penchant for violence more openly than ours? The people of your era watched gladiators maul unarmed men, or men attack beasts for sport. That war is probably one of the biggest things to arouse cynicism about the future of the human race in recent times. The whole Hitler thing. The atomic bomb that killed more people in a couple of drops than your volcano has done in its history.
Maybe that's the biggest difference between you and me. Our toys are so much bigger now; it would terrify you. It ups the level of mistrust. And it's not just the destructive stuff like bombs and planes and ICBMs. It's the stuff too like Facebook and computers and mobile phones and all that innocuous stuff that keeps us away from each other in the other direction. But the ICBMs add that nice little touch of paranoia to everything, don't they. A bit more big-time than your shields and bayonets. I really wish the peace message of the man-god had caught on a bit more instead of what has transpired in-between us. Perhaps next millennia.
But you know, apart from all of those things and maybe even overarching it all is this: I find it easier to talk to you as an outline than I would if you were standing in front of me. I felt the tears well up seeing your outline, but would I cry so hard at your death in person? If you stood before me with all the stupid little fucked up bits that go into making up a human, I would be tempted to fear you, dislike you, distance you in my mind and my heart. The annoying things about you. The evil things that scare me. The propensity you would have to steal and kill regardless of whether you were a prisoner or a slave or a rich free man. The ability to demonise that we all indulge in (the deeper, the less aware we are of it) to feel okay about ourselves.
Maybe because of all the bad stuff, we need the distance, it helps us see the good clearer. We can love him as the King of Pop again when he's Wacko Jacko no more. Maybe it's so painful, all this iron rubbing up against iron that in some ways we don't really see the colour of the heart of the other until it's in outline.
And I know that He makes my thought-life beautiful when I am open all the day to Him. If I throw these mind-windows apart and say to God, "what shall we think of now?" he answers always in some graceful, tender dream. And I know that God is love hungry, for he is constantly pointing me to some dull, dead soul which he has never reached and wistfully urges me to help Him reach that stolid, tight shut mind. Oh God, how I long to help you with these Moros. And with these Americans! And with these Filipinos! All day I see souls dead to God look sadly Out of hungry eyes. I want them to know my discovery! That any minute can be paradise, that any place can be heaven! That any man can have God! That every man does have God the moment he speaks to God, or listens for him!
The last year or so I have been so preoccupied with my own stuff, with doing the necessary deep work. I get sidetracked from the simplicity of life lived in him. The reminder of it all is very sweet.
I am grateful for reading this very early on a Monday morning (or late on a Sunday night), drinking a cup of tea before bed in my dressing gown. Outside it rains.
Sunday, 2 August 2009
My football team won the premiership last year. Some say we stole it. And it's true, our opposition were the better team for the year, but they collapsed a little on the day. We were brave and fortune favoured us.
But then we've collapsed for most of this season, with injuries and a reduced preseason and all sorts of bother. No gloating swagger for the Hawthorn faithful this year. We've had all sorts of issues but in the end I wonder if the biggest bother hasn't been the stuff between the ears? I wonder if the psychology of the general consensus that we "stole" the Grand Final last year has maybe had an effect? The disorientating feeling that they went all the way and went ahead of expectations and schedules and whatever and did it, and won the thing everyone aims for and now ... what do we do now?
Maybe. Our heads come up with all sorts of bizarre discombobulations to define our realities for us, after all, don't they?
Oh well, Hawkies. And now you've kicked yourself out of making the eight, and time is running out for you, isn't it. How difficult it is to play as well as you can play when you're trying to make the eight and time's running out. Suddenly you don't have the turning circles you had when you were in the zone in '08. Maybe it's better to miss the finals altogether. Who wants to just make up the numbers? Better to go away and have a good long soaking preseason at the end of round 22. Maybe missing the finals completely will give you a bit of a sniff and a hunger and a focus for next year.
Just make sure you thrash Essendon in round 22 to finish it off.
(Being philosophical about things covers over a multitude of yukky experiences. But still - oh, Hawkies - waah! waah!)
Saturday, 1 August 2009
Still, I think it's the life that any doggy should have.
Lester was a pound dog. When we went to the Keysborough Animal Shelter to get a pooch, he was one of the dogs we were shown. Had been on death row twice but the vet had seen potential in him and taken him off again in hope.
He'd been at the shelter for three months by the time we saw him in 2000. We took him out of his concrete pen and into the grassy closed off area reserved for getting to know a dog a bit better. Took him off his leash and oooh, yeah. Had a bit of nuts about him, that's for sure.
He was a bit of a risk, I guess. And we were warned; he had a fair bit of energy. I had chronic fatigue syndrome. He was maybe not the best sort of dog for people who'd never had one before, they suggested. But that was okay. We were dog lovers, had both had dogs all our lives. We could take him on. We had a tennis raquet and a big backyard when walks were not possible. It was doable.
He wasn't trained, no. Not in anything. Not in how to be in a car, so Mark had to sit in the back with him on the way home. Not in how to sit. Not in how to not eat Mark's dinner. Not in how to walk on a leash. Not in how to not eat Mark's shoe, nor to not shit inside. Not in how the wrongness of removing a pillow from inside, taking it outside and ripping it up so that the shredded feathers inside cascaded all over the backyard.
"We've got the wrong dog" I groaned at the end of the weekend.
But that's the last time I ever said that. All he needed was some training, some loving, some walking. He was very teachable. And he's had a very good doggy life since then.
I cry every time the Pal dog food ad comes on. The dog in the concrete shelter looking woefully at the people who wouldn't buy him. There is something wrong, I suppose, that I tear up more quickly at abandoned and unhoused dogs than I do at stories involving humans.
They're just so unconditional, dogs, that's all. There's a purity about them that is hidden in humans.
Still, I think humans, in our individual concrete shelters of our own selves, are just as lovable to God as dogs are to us. Despite our horrid evil shitnesses. Despite the evil that is committed by evil people on other evil people. Despite the bloody mess that is the world as we know it.
The human race is designed and destined for green fields. I do so believe that. In ages to come. Not just for the people who get it right, who are white, male and Christian. I do not think God will stop until the last person has allowed him to love them into life. The cross whispers that in this age. Perhaps it will scream it in the next.
Next time I get a dog, I think I might get me two :)