Yoga and me and god


Thursday, 30 April 2009

Yoga is not only beneficial exercise for the body, but is also good for exercising humility. I did some asanas (postures) this evening. There is nothing like getting ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE NEAR what your ultimate aim is to be reminded of how it has been almost 20 years since you last did these postures :)

It's taken me a long time to get to being able to practise yoga without it being something in conflict with my conscience. Which has felt sort of silly to me in one way, but honestly - doesn't matter how much you tell yourself you're cool with eating meat sacrificed to idols, but when it comes down to it, if there is guilt flickering its way around a situation, your best berth is a wide one. Especially if that situation involves contorting your legs over back behind your head. What you think and believe is what your reality is. Best to keep yourself out of traction if you can help it :)

I felt this conscience thing with yoga for so many years. Wondering about the "demonic" elements involved. Even though I loved doing it. Even though the benefits are so good. Yoga has two corresponding and seemingly paradoxical elements: being centred in your own body, and being forgetful of your body and yourself. Those two things, intertwined together. How very strange.

It has taken me all of this time to feel entirely comfortable with pursuing this practice. Funny, now I feel about it basically how I felt before I entered into the realms of Christianity. It's things like this that make me realise how far my fiath has come in one way, like every maturing sort of relationship where trust and comfort and just plain old knowing each other has to be fostered. Now this relationship feels so natural and magical to me considering the hoops of religion and performance I jumped through.

But I wouldn't be here if I hadn't been there. The hoops were necessary. And the same happens out the other end. I know from experience that I will one day be more able to do asanas that at this point in time are only a pipe dream. It is a good thing to remember while I am only able to reach out to grab onto my knees, when the posture is calling for lacing my fingers around my toes. But even that feels okay to me.

It's a beautiful thang :) Next week I am going to try out a place near my work. I look forward to the energy that comes with a group of people doing something together. I only hope they don't hear my grunting :)

*Picture the robot from Lost in Space flailing its arms around.*

At work today have appeared bottles of antiseptic hand gel. It's taken me all afternoon to click on to why they've appeared now.

It's in reaction to the flu season that is about to be upon us and also to the swine flu that, if you listen to the media, is also about to murder millions of us any day now. Hopefully. The Australian media is having multiple orgasms about it even though there AREN'T EVEN ANY FUCKING CASES IN AUSTRALIA YET. Even though there aren't even enough fatalities worldwide to shove into one office of a World Trade Center building or one square kilometre of African starvation lands. It's not that I don't believe there could be an outbreak. It's that every single time there is a tiny chance that something catastrophic may possibly happen, it is the lead-in of news reports. But the reports aren't about anything substantial that is actually happening. They are about what might POTENTIALLY happen.

Yeah, well, an asteroid might plummet through the roof of my work and kill me. I might get spinal meningitis. I might get a job I vaguely like. I might ever complete and have published a piece of my own writing. I might die a slow and painful death by being driven mad by the fucking media. Millions of things MIGHT happen. Meanwhile, children starve to death all around the world every single day. And I was sick for over six years and never once in my life had I inoculated myself against it by fearing it, and it happened anyway.

Get a grip, workplace. Get a grip media. Who is holding you accountable for your detestable practices? And as an aside, and for future blog posts, when are we, the people, going to start realising that in a very real sense the reality that is out there is the one that we create every day, collectively and individually, by our fears and our insistence on everything being separated, and begin to make some real changes instead of being told we cannot do anything?

(Yes, I know my swearing count has increased again, but when it comes to the media - and the willingness of humanity to be fearmongered - you can't swear enough. )

(I had a squirt of the antibacterial hand gel just in case :)

Links: 'We need to be inoculated against outbreaks of panic': Deborah Orr
The Swine Flu Pandemic - Fact or Fiction?: Dr Mercola



Wednesday, 29 April 2009

I am so dissatisfied with things as they stand. There is this restlessness in my soul and I'm not even sure what it is about. All I can do is make space for it and check in every now and then and see if I have discovered what it is all about. And in the meantime do the small little things. Sometimes I think making space is half the battle.

And the small things are good, you know? I think as you get older you gain an appreciation for small things.

Sometimes I think the creator stirs up our pots. All the things that sit there on a day-to-day basis that we are not particularly happy with but it's just life, all of those myriad things that challenge, all of those things that we really want to do but we have gone so long not doing them that we almost forget they are there. And then all of a sudden you feel this flurry in your soul and you are dissatisfied all over again with the status quo.

I hope I am preparing to meet new challenges. I need a few life-giving situations in my life. It doesn't take much for the enthusiasm to bubble up inside of me. But then sometimes, in this dreary greyness called Western civilisation, where there are more unbelievably fearful and uncreative people per square inch than could be thought possible in the "free" world, the enthusiasm just gets pummelled out of you from walking down the street, catching the train, going to work.

There is far too much fluorescent light in my life and not enough candlelight. I want to live. I want to taste and touch and feel and hear, and I want to do it with people who are not afraid to taste and touch and feel and hear.

I am waiting for the next infilling of enthusiasm, the filling of God. Without it, nothing makes sense, and I consume cheap plastic shit made in China and wonder what the fuck the point is of everything.

I think I want to move to India.

Someone's Been Taking Some Serious Drugs


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

How weirdly wonderful are these? What? You can't read them? Well, click on through to the other side. HT to Gary for the link.

The flat, fluorescent morgue light in Melbourne train carriages must be made by people who do not believe there is anything beyond death. The light is an insult to God, an insult to candlelight, a failure of imagination, making corpses out of commuters.

This evening I find life in the life and the death of Jean-Dominique Bauby on my screen and I remember again what I keep forgotting. I forget it all in a few blinks of an eye. Bauby wrote an entire book on one eyelid blinking. Sometimes I wish and yearn for death but it is not a wishing and a yearning for death, but for real life. The deepest deaths are the ones we die a million times every day while we live.

I sit in front of an empty page and the void is what drives people to drink but only if you don't think there's anything beyond the void. Sometimes, maybe only for a second, I see it, a taste through my eyes. Lightbulbs encase the sky; yellow suns nod on green stalks, flooding Rumi's field.

I stretch and I bend, creak through four rounds of salute to the sun. It gives me a headache. Salute to the sun is really meant to be only a warm-up for the rest of the yoga postures you do after that. This evening, it is the whole shebang. There is wisdom in not dislocating your entire body on the sharp spike of your ego.

Sometimes, when I am taking care, I notice some of the millions of lives I am born to every day. It's all moving too fast, and I note what I can, but so much is lost. Still, I keep walking out on piers I cannot see because the footing is more sure walking into the void than it is sometimes walking into the street.

Sometimes I think that You are going to turn the world inside out, the way children do that horrible thing with their eyelids. That one day we are going to wake up somewhere else and the beating, gentle, pink desires that were all aborted in one world, that never saw their way past enclosed hearts, will beat out into the world, over and over, and we become the children we never even were when we were young.

I can not imagine what life is when there is no death to frame the picture.

My First Dictionary


Monday, 27 April 2009

Me and Cloudbusting are cousins. We share a lot of commonalities. I saw this My First Dictionary blog over at her place. I'm not surprised it piqued both of our fancies :)

When we were little tackers, we both enjoyed English composition classes, making giant paragraphs out of one sentence. That was on the days when we were both at school. We used to take so many days off school that one would sometimes ring up the other and see if they were home as well, and then we used to talk on the phone for several hours, magnificently recovered from the ills that prevailed at 8 o'clock in the morning.

We used to get the death notices and sit and write out all the names from them. Weird, huh? But we loved names, and there was something ruminative about doing this strange little exercise. We got to go "ew" at the Myrtles and Mabels, and be saddened at any young children whose notices appeared. We had long-ranging discussions about people who had flat bums like bongo drums and recorded them onto audio tape. We were ABBA in the lounge room, singing into the extension cord. We were orphans in the ferns alongside the house, struggling to survive.

We made fun of Mary, who was the feature character in a series of illustrated dictionaries that CB had. Mary was insufferably perfect. That was fun, hating Mary.

So I'm not surprised that this blog, My First Dictionary, appeals to both of us. It is the grown-up version of those dictionaries with a giant dose of cynicism. Deliciousness :)

The Internet Giveth and the Internet Taketh Away


Saturday, 25 April 2009

I love blogging, I love the internet. But it gives and then it takes away on the other hand.

It gives connection among people. It gives a medium for people to share things they may not often get to share out in the world. Imagine launching into a discussion the way you do online in your workplace. People look at you askance. Believe me, I've tried :)

Yet the internet takes away because dammit, you can't see me, you can't see the lightness or the weight of my words, you can't see my jesting, you can't see my cultural differences, you can't see me smirk because there is no symbol for that. I can :) and :D and :( and :\ and ROFL and ROFLLMAO but really, in the end, you can't see my context.

Sigh. Don't mind me. I am struggling with feeling misunderstood. Sometimes I get tired of feeling different. Maybe everyone feels that way, I'm not sure. And the internet fosters paranoia in me from time to time, usually when I say controversial things :) I do insist on being honest, and I'm sure it's too honest for some people! And sometimes it's too honest even for me. Some days I wake up and groan and think, "Did I really say that?" :)

How does one stop caring so much about the opinions of others, or whether you cause others offence or if you displease them or whatever? Some people, it just doesn't even really occur to them. Mocca is like that. I would talk about how I was worried about what so-and-so thought of me and he just wouldn't understand why I cared so much.

I don't really understand why. There is something here that needs to be sat with and examined and (hopefully) discarded.

How about you? Do you worry excessively about what other people think of you?

Back of Beyond

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Beyond. Beyond is an edible word.

It is a resonating, pond-rippling word for me at the moment. Our society is so bloody boring. Beyond contains all that captivates. All the promises this world offers and fails to deliver are here, in Rumi's field. Beyond yourself. Blessedly, blessedly beyond yourself.

But it is not like a Faraway Tree land though, not the Land of Take What You Want. Although you do take. But you take by swimming, by entering. You take the drips in your clothing, in your heart, back with you to the land that is the real land of take what you want. You take them with little fanfare. They enable you to live in that land with some semblance of sanity because you smell on the wind that this land is superimposed on that land.

It inspires you to go beyond, beyond your own walls, your own conceptions. It calls you forth like a muse and then you see in front of you a small space to stand in. And you do, and you look around, and everything else looks just a tiny little bit different, if you will take the time to notice. All the steps are imperceptible.

You have swum in the waters and the waters swim in you. You do not need to go anywhere to get to this land and you will sell everything you have to get there and sometimes it feels like it costs everything you have that you barricade yourself with. It is free. It lies within you, in your heart, your soul's centre, where the Lord the Lord is One.

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Friday, 24 April 2009

I am as high and buzzing this evening as I was low and maudlin and concerned for my mind's marbles rattling down the road the other day. Because it's Friiiiiiiiiiiday.

I am looking forward to making cauliflower soup tomorrow (don't knock it before you try it. Awesome) and pumpkin scones (ditto) to take to visit my mother and my faither and watch Hawthorn hopefully beat West Coast tomorrow night. It's the small little things that give me pleasure :)

I was thinking about the whole comparison thing and how I don't like to do it. I don't like comparing myself to K, who has no house let alone no job, because it would just then make me feel guilty for hating my boring job. And then I'd be a guilty person hating my boring job and be in a worse predicament than when I am just hating my boring job. See how these things snowball?

But honestly, I hate my boring job. It's so boring. Although today I was transcribing interviews where people were talking to members of the police force about how their departments are structured and the difficulties in doing their job, and what the departments' aims and focuses are and that was quite interesting. I find all that systemic sort of stuff fascinating, just how much we can't see past how things are because things just are.

And yet goodness me. I'm reading Natural Capitalism at the moment, which is an interesting book that is showing it's age. Written in 1999, there is so much that is outdated but the basic premise is to show what the world would like like if nature and humans were factored into capitalism as its most important resources, and if more and more systems (like factories etc) were run on principles of renewal, the way the earth runs itself. Duh, there's an idea.

There are amazing stats in this book about the copious amounts of waste produced to keep western people in lifestyles that they are terribly unhappy in. It just brings home to me again how terribly and utterly insane the world is that we live in. No wonder I feel like my marbles might go rolling into the gutter.

But it feels like the tide has turned somehow. The spiritual air feels a bit more rarefied to me these days. Maybe it's got something to do with giant bits of the south pole breaking apart and the financial system vomiting all over itself. Yeah, I think that might have something to do with it :)

But it's funny, the longer the media bleats on about the doom and gloom of everything, the more I feel the light shining brighter. It has nothing to do with my circumstances but it feels like the fountain inside of me is bubbling more brightly these days, as if I can see a bit further than before. I can't describe how these things happen. It is a mystery.

A Smile For Free


Thursday, 23 April 2009

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April breezes


It's very warm here today. There is a breeze, which looks like it is going to grow up and become wind and send me mad.

Oh, I want to fling myself out into the world. I want to walk down a road, and never come back. This feeling is impaled, agitating, in the middle of my heart and not even meditation can quell it. It's only a feeling, I tell myself. Only a feeling.

Are You talking to me underneath? Is this You or just my own anxiety? While we're there, can you turn down the wind?

Oh, and a new job. A new job before my marbles go rattling off down the street and into the gutters.

April Discombobulae


Wednesday, 22 April 2009

1. It is true that Jerusalem artichokes make you fart. I think, though, that the descriptor "filthie loathsome stinking wind" is a leetle melodramatic. I cooked them using this recipe. Their consistency is like potato and you can cook them in the same way. They have a slightly nutty flavour. If you don't mind the bottom burping, they are good for you, sort of like a prebiotic, containing inulin.

2. Here is a picture of a man playing a glockenspiel. There is not enough discussion online about glockenspiels. Those two men are cute even though one of them is playing a really untrendy instrument. But their facial hair makes them a bit cooler. Facial hair is sexy. Glockenspiels sound nice and remind me of Germany and primary school. I have been to primary school but not to Germany.

3. One day I am worried I will lean back in my chair at work and out of complete boredom simply forget to draw breath and die. I can only hope I spontaneously combust so as to give my workmates something interesting to look at for a bit.

4. I don't understand what the deal is with cucumbers.

5. A woman is coming this evening to borrow my veil and two tiaras I have. She is getting married and thanks to Freecycle, is collecting things to do it as cheaply as possible. Thanks to Freecycle I have six strawberry plants growing in my garden. I am very happy for the woman who is getting married but a small round shiny laughing cynical part of me thinks she is a dill :)

6. My art therapist thinks winter is the season that is grown-up. There is something delicious about that idea. She thinks summer is a young season and if you can ride winter you can ride anything. It is a strange thing that driving up to the dark Dandenongs all last winter made me appreciate it more. I love summer, although not when there are insane fires that kill people. My love of summer is now tinged with mistrust. I hope to grow up and enjoy winter now I am not impaled on the cross of chronic illness. That last sentence was a bit melodramatic.

I am quite partial to purple.

Pond ripples


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

I love thinking about the whole Jesus incarnating thang happening in one place and culture, from within one womb, and then from there radiating out to other people beyond the Jewish borders. And wouldn't it be a real doozie if we were in the same place again, with Him radiating out beyond the Christian borders?

The cosmic Christ. I love the heresy. It's where the juiciest joys live :) I imagine the Jews were just as horrified at the thought of non-Jews believing in their Messiah. Perhaps the pond keeps rippling outwards.

The Cosmic Christ is what Paul is talking about when he goes to such great lengths to describe the Body of Christ (See 1 Corinthians 12:12ff) and "all of creation longing to give birth" (Romans 8:22). He is the head; we are the members.

The hymns at the beginning of Colossians and at the beginning of Ephesians say he is "the image of the invisible God" and we are "chosen in him.” Read them anew, and see how this image of Christ is beyond any one religion or any age. He "holds together and reconciles all things within himself, everything in heaven and everything on earth" (Colossians 1:15-20).

This is not the historical Jesus anymore. It’s what the historical Jesus has morphed into, which thank God, includes you and me and all material reality in its victorious sweep and triumphal procession (2 Corinthians 2:14). Even the animals and even the earth itself (Revelation 21:1). Alleluia!

Richard Rohr

Now, call me a stinking hippy, but sometimes I feel stoned on the prospects, of the future, of every knee bowing because everything has been made new. It is so far beyond the bounds of what I know, and yet somehow, my hippy cosmic heart knows it. It changes the view.

Some may liken me to pond scum rather than joining me for the view of the pond ripples. That's okay. But leave me be, brothers and sisters. I ain't hurting nobody over here in my little cosmic christ corner :)




I painted this yesterday. I think I am possibly mildly insane :) It was an enquiry into my having messed about all week trying to make clay masks but hadn't actually been happy with anything I did and went back to square one. I had this cool idea to make a mask that represents the muse, with windswept sort of piled up sand dune effects, but my ideas are about 40 million kilometres ahead of my ability. As is obvious below :)

Funny, I didn't set out to make a face, and it wasn't until the end that I realised I had done so. This sort of unconscious thing doesn't happen with me very often because I'm too intent on being a control freak and HAVING to know what I am painting, so this was edifying for me.

Edifying. But somewhat disturbing :) I think I would like to take that brush looking object and clear some of the shit out of that headspace, methinks.

(Aside: did anyone laugh at that cat in the pinata pic below? Or is it just me who finds that sort of thing hilarious? :)

Just Like Having Your Balls Clipped Off ...


Thursday, 16 April 2009

Darin Hufford has quite the hook to the beginning of this blog post:

I once told my ten-year-old nephew that when he turned eleven we had to take him to the doctor to have his balls clipped off. I explained that it's a bit painful, but once the doctor clips them off with a pair of sterilized wire cutters, his "adult balls" could come in and he would be ready to enter the next phase of life. I'll never forget the look on his face. Especially because his eleventh birthday was only a few weeks away. It pretty much threw all the excitement about his upcoming pool party out the window.

I'm not proud of having told him that, but it still chuckle about it to this day. He's twenty now and has a kid of his own. We still laugh about that from time to time.

I remember seeing the same nervous look on his face that I had when someone informed me as a new Christian that I had to be in Church.

Hehe :) Yeah. I can relate ... well, you know what I mean. It was bad enough GOING to church and watching grown men sing Jesus Is My Boyfriend songs. I couldn't imagine what it would be actually BEING one in that sort of setup.

I couldn't imagine being in that setup, whether male, female, hermaphrodite or a flea. I just couldn't go back. And yeah, I know, I know, Darin ends up talking about a love affair with God, being wooed by God etc and goes all pathetically mushy in the end. But you gotta grant him a bit of mush after 16 years with an unpleasant cow :)

The rest can be found here

The Gloaming

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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

A ship hulks to port
beyond the marina boats.
Waterlight shines
in long drawn lines.
City starts glinting.

Everything lulled & lapping
Me, I'm an heirloom
a 14-sided hologram
a body of water.
World stops moving.

Everything lulled & lapping
Jesus resurrecting
Enemies bridging
Elvis singing
Beyond becoming.

I'm not roaming
the stretched-out seconds.
Soul has slowed hovering
over the thin place.
Day drags night over.

Unreal Reality


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This hedgehog looks like it was created in a Disney studio somewhere, doesn't it? It boggles me that it is real!!!

Look at his/her shape, colour. Those spikes! That little face!

I cheers myself up with hedgehogs this morning before I goes to work :)

Old Dogs and Old CD's

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Monday, 13 April 2009

Lester and I went walking a bit earlier than usual today. Needed to fit in a long one, considering we are coming up to the midweek slab of working days where there is no time for walking, the night already upon us when I get home.

It sure was warm, though. Overdid the walk a bit, I think. It's just that it takes me so long to get going, once I start and the endorphins kick in, sometimes I don't want to stop. Halfway through our walk, Lester plonked himself down on the shady footpath outside someone's home in a side street. So I sat down too and we had a rest for a few minutes. A curious small dog's nose poked through, wondering what we were doing. Lester is ten now, an old man panting hard. We celebrated his birthday earlier in the week. Two lamb shanks.

We resumed walking again, the dog smartly slowing down considerably in the areas that were shaded by trees, speeding up in the sun to get to the next blotch of shade. We walked past a teenage boy, singing and dancing to his iPod in the shade of the carport next to his house. He looked and sounded like he was getting ready to audition for the next boy band. He slowed down considerably, too, when we walked past :)

Further up, a house on the corner of a street which gets a lot of through traffic. There are lights on the corner, a servo across the road. A very uninspiring spot. I saw the woman who lives there the other day, smiling friendly when I walked past. Her entire front yard is devoted to the growing of watermelons. Heaps of them. Must be about a hundred on her front lawn, the ground covered with different shades and varieties of carpet to keep the weeds out. She used to ingeniously hang an array of old CD's hung above the watermelons to keep the birds away. I wonder what happened to them?

Easter Monday

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This happens every Easter. It gets to Monday and I'm sort of over it in a way. Maybe it's just the afterglow of too much sugar, but by Monday there is this sort of relief at being over feeling like you have to drum yourself up to feel certain things about the cross because it's a particular day. It's like Christmas. Celebrating Jesus' birthday every year is just patently stupid; surely when you're as old as he is you just want to let it slide by quietly :)

But I wonder - is Easter the same? Shouldn't the death and resurrection be commemorated or marked or pondered all the year? In a meal and a drink shared amongst friends? When you're sitting on the toilet? At 4.36 pm on a Wednesday afternoon? What happens if Easter comes around and God isn't speaking to you about anything in particular, or you're not speaking to God about anything in particular, or you're struggling to believe God is there at all, or you've got your period and you're in a shitty mood? At the very least it is a release on the pressure valve to read the amounts of writings going on in the blogosphere that are expanding and pondering and looking from different angles what happened on that cross. That just fills me with hope. Thank God there is room next to the concept of penal substitution. About time. Maybe now we'll get some life in the party again.

So this is what happens on Monday for me. A relief that the party is over for another year, even while I appreciate it when it's going on. After the party, I can't help feeling like the people who are happy and content in their faith are left feeling full, while the ones who are struggling or who have no faith at all are made to feel worse. Actually, no. Having no faith at all is easier - you get a four-day weekend and easy potshots at the stupid faithful who believe childish tales :)

I can feel the effects of yesterday's sugar eating. I had a particularly enjoyable day watching Hawthorn demolish North Melbourne with my friend John. He is a North Melbourne supporter, and I got to rib him all day and all night, as we caught up with Andrea last night and saw Judith Lucy at the Comedy Festival. That was fun. So was eating two Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a milkshake and chocolates and then some more chocolates followed by some chocolates upon waking up this morning. But am I looking forward to having a break from sugar again? Yes.

That is a miracle in itself. When I am in the midst of eating sugar every day, like I have been for the past six months, it seems impossible that I will be able to quit it. I forgot this is how it goes - quit sugar (with an emergency square of Lindt 85% cocoa every night), and slowly, very slowly, it begins losing its grip on you. Until you get to the point where you find you can say no to it and it's not even that hard. You never think it's going to happen, and then it does.



Sunday, 12 April 2009

Nicole pondered a few days ago how strange it is that we focus way more on the death of Christ than his resurrection. I agree. I think his death is something full of mystery and redemption and awesomeness that feeds life through death into our lives. But that is not the end of the story but only the beginning.

I was at my cousin's place last night and The Passion of the Christ was on the TV. I saw it at the movies when it came out, and I have no desire to see it again. It feels, in some way I find difficult to express, almost glorifying violence by its extreme focus on every second of His passion.

And yet the Bible doesn't do that. Doesn't go into graphic account of every gory detail for my flagellatory hairshirting pleasure. I once felt extreme guilt about the cross every time I thought about it. Now I don't. Which is partly the point of the whole thing. I am who I am, a fallible, messed-up piece of humous. I accept and embrace my humanness. It is unbelievably healing. I am done feeling guilty for not being a million carat diamond.

I wonder about how we go on and on and on about his death, and the TV reports turgid droning services in massive beautiful buildings. And yet they don't report today. What can they say about it? They can report the historics of the Christian religion. But today. Today runs off the end of the spreadsheet. You can report on the death of a historic figure. How do you report their resurrection with a straight face?

One is easy to believe in. A matter of historics. And a place to sit in self-condemnation, where we are comfortable. God knows, we deserve the condemnation, right? But what do we do with the other? The other is supernatural and we have nothing left to sacrifice, no virgins in volcanoes, only our own darknesses. One kicks the end of our lives out, and floods hope in like water flooding into a bath. One is easy to believe in because we can continue telling ourselves we are stinking piles of shit and that proves it. But this? This resurrection from the dead? Fairytales. Stories for children.

I like stories for children. I like the simplicity and the colour. I unabashedly believe in a happily ever after ending. I believe that eye has not seen nor ear heard what is to come for the human race in the future. I believe that while we all age and die that that is not the end of the story. I believe that life is a dress rehearsal. I believe that trying to find our joy in money is evidence of festered imaginations but I believe God is a lover of delighting his children with good things that have no monetary value whatsoever. I believe a life in God has space enough to breathe, and to wonder in the colour and the taste and the texture and the sound. I believe all of that. I believe the story doesn't end with the Bible but continues on into a future we get to walk in and embody. I believe we are unbelievably, impossibly loved by a God who will stop at nothing to make that reality real in the dark hearts of his kids.

I believe that this whole bag kicks the end out of everything. It kicks doctrines and theology, as helpful as it is to sort out in your own mind to know what you believe - but it kicks that stuff in the arse the way jumping out of a plane or making love kicks prestige and power and riches and hand-cobbled security in the arse.

It kicks the ends out of everything.

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.
Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other" doesn't make any sense.


If ...


Saturday, 11 April 2009

... you look at the cross, and it leaves you feeling strangely creeped or strangely unmoved, then there is more to see than first thought (and first taught).

If you look at it, walking around and looking at it from another angle, with fear and trembling, over the years, and it dawns slowly the ways it applies to you, and you can see beauty - not so much in the horror of what was done there as in the heart and mind and reasoning of the man who hung there - and that you feel how this, combined with what happened three days later in the Resurrection, applies to you and your messed-upedness, and speaks to you on 18th July and the 2nd October and the 6th February in your normal everyday life, then you feel like you're getting closer at that mystery.

The cross is healing to me now, in the same way that the serpent held up in the wilderness was healing. It reminds me, again and again, because I need reminding again and again, that God will meet me where I am. Even if I am sitting in my own stuff and moping and dwelling and naval gazing. He is still there in the midst of all of that, still loving me. Patiently. Even if what she prefers for me is something utterly different. If I am bringing all I have to the table that day, and it is shitty, then that is just how it is. It is what she does. It is always what she has done but now the way has been cleared for me to see it. If God will die for me, to prove some points, to unveil hooded eyes, to heal hooded hearts, is there anything he won't do?

Been listening to The God Journey, which has stirred up all these thoughts. They are close to my heart admittedly because I passionately hate the stink and stain of our conceptions of a wrathful * God, and the damage done instead of a curative God. It created distance in my heart between me and him. If I see Christ hanging on the cross and it makes me hang my head and redouble my efforts to try to be a better person, then I have missed the point of what was accomplished there. My fear and shame stop me from seeing any further. If I believe God will turn his face away from the majority of people who are not written in his big fat book of life because he is unable to redeem his creation, then I will not see any further from that, because the god is unable to be trusted. I don't know how a belief in that sort of god would promote anything but fear and shame, even while you're saying, "Wow, that Jesus dude, good guy." Even while you're slapping yourself on the back for being part of the winning team. The good Jesus saved you from the bad god. But you're not gonna go around crowing about that sort of good news, are you? Where is the good news in the fact that god is a petulant bastard, Jesus or no? Where is the good news in the fact that the kingdom of heaven is near when there is only a select group of rich white Westerners on the whole who shall enjoy its fruits?

It was us who ran from God in the gardenic story, not the other way round. It was us who God saved through the cross, not his own honour and justice. God does not need to uphold his own integrity. There is nothing in him to cause him to stumble into an identity disorder :)

There was always treasure hidden in the field of Christendom, amongst its doctrines that brought death and no life, conformance but no comfort, adherence but no healing. What joys me is how many of us within those walls have begun walking towards that higher calling. It is a particularly brave thing to do when you cannot see a step in front of your eyes. The kingdom of heaven is near. Do not fear. Do not fear. Do not fear. The phrase most often spoken of by Christ in the New Testament. The Christ that now lives in the grave in this point of our collective ritual of Easter. A boggling thought.

There are so many of us out in blogland who have redefined our faiths, who have shed, with fear and trembling, things that were told to us that if we shed we would surely die, that our faith would be cast off, that we would go astray and lose it all and be damned forever. Such a time of confusion in the faith for so many people. My hope is that while we have used this blogging medium to question and ponder and do so in relative safety without being heckled and abused by our fellow believers, that now we can share what heights and the depths and the width and the breadth of the life that he is calling us into, none of us knowing quite how or when or what. But look how far we have come :)

But we can't walk too far into this life without the knowledge taking root in our hearts that God is good and kind and able to be trusted. And that Christ died on the cross not to appease the evil heart of that god but because our own needed cleansing. And how far the seeing us when we allow him/her to show to us, in our own personal ways and however long it takes, what that means and how we are loved. We must allow God to do that in us.

The cross makes us able to stand where we are right now in the journey with some security, in our realities and our evils and look at them because we can let go of our guilt. Combine that with the hope of future resurrection and then suddenly you begin to see the potential for a life that has all its ends kicked out, and freedom shining, and hope in the midst of the decay.

But that's tomorrow's story ... :)

And this is just how I am seeing it. I hope I don't sound too much like I'm thus-sayeth-the-Lording :) I am just inspired by this view. I'm just not good at succinct explanation :)

* Did you know the word wrath, as translated from both the Greek and the Hebrew, is able to be translated zeal, or violent passion? Makes a bit of a difference, doesn't it? Something a bit closer approaching what God is about, methinks :)
But in my judgement, which way soever they be drest and eaten they stir up and cause a filthie loathesome stinking winde with the bodie, thereby causing the belly to bee much pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine, than men.
John Goodyer, 17th century botanist

Safe to say that John Goodyer wasn't much partial to Jerusalem artichokes.

Safe to say also that our current use of the English language is not quite what it used to be :)

I planted some of this strange little vegetable after Maggie gave me one of them. A round tuber (which looks like a giant seed or nut.) I don't think I have ever eaten one in my life, but I liked the idea of planting a gift in my newly begun veggie garden.

It actually ended up growing about six feet tall. I really had absolutely no idea about what I was doing. That is a rather unsettling feeling, isn't it? I struggle with childlike play and exploration with no road map. I am a product of my Western existence. It unsettles me, makes me feel uncomfortable, but it is the way I grow. I actually feel more spiritually unsettled about my unsettledness, but that's another story :) It is good to be unsettled in such fashions. Even if it is something as small as growing a vegetable you know nothing abut.

No idea about when to harvest it, even at the beginning whether it was a globe artichoke or a Jerusalem artichoke, whether the vegetable grew on the plant or grew underground. I had always thought tubers meant that they were root vegetables, so I went on that suppositiion.

I harvested it yesterday, when Google told me to, about a month after it flowered. When I pulled it out, I still wasn't sure if what I was looking at was it. Was that thing there, that looked like the thing Maggie had given me in the beginning only multiplied - was that it?

It's sure easier when they're all just stacked together in the supermarket with ID tags on them :) Easier also when you know what the hell what you're growing looks like!

Turns out that I have actually harvested a rather large bowlful of this weird little thing which looks like giant pieces of ginger. No idea how to cook it, or even whether I'll like it, but a bit of experimentation, even if it's just eating a new vegetable, is always a fun sort of thing to do :) Funny where my inspiration comes from to try to stave off depression and look at the world through childlike eyes - but through a vegetable? Gee, I'm getting old! :)

The poor old Jerusalem artichoke isn't actually from Jerusalem - and isn't even an artichoke, either. Luckily vegetables don't have identity crises. They actually hail from North America and are related to the sunflower. I don't know how I am going to cook them yet, but I think I shall take John Goodyer's advice and eat them alone :)

Digging for a Wormhole


Friday, 10 April 2009

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I feel like that picture above. I feel like I am a picture which has been squeezed into a width that is too small and so half my letters are running out of picture. I feeling so flat and fat and depressed today. Having one of those, "Am I stuck doing work I don't like forever?" sort of questions regarding work. I have been almost two years now at a job that I do well, and I take pride in, and I get paid reasonably well for within the realms of administrative-type work. But I am bored! It is such a lonely thing to spend your days with your eyes plastered to your computer screen. I take regular snatches whenever I can to talk to my workmates, or else I would go a bit nutso.

Sigh. I don't know. I would like a job that involves working with other people, but one which needs to be flexible because I am a circadian freak and starting before 11am is not in my vocabulary. But there is very little out there, at least in the advertised world. I have two jobs from trawling Seek the other night that could possibly be worth applying for. But part of me is feeling defeated, dragging my heels, wondering what the point is in doing that when 40 squillion other people will be applying as well. Pointless sort of thinking, you know? The sort that will just keep me sitting here complaining. At least applying for a job that I might not even get gets me MOVING.

I am going out digging in my garden today. I went to Bunnings last night and loaded the car down with mulch and compost and potting mix and seed raising mix. It is definitely time to get those seeds planted. I have scored five strawberry plants off Freecycle, from a person in the next suburb. I think even that sort of connection - a once-off sharing of plants and gardenic wisdom - will probably give me a bit of a spring in my step. Doesn't take much to feel connected. I do like the idea of planting something which has been shared with me from someone in the next suburb.

I am going out into the garden today because it is one of those tasks that looms really big in my head when I let it slide, sort of like vacuuming. And one of those tasks I procrastinate about, for reasons known only to myself, and even I don't really know why. And so I figure that the flipside of that procrastination will be a nice feeling of satisfaction once I have overcome my own laziness to get my arse out there and dig, and feel the sun on my back, and move my body around instead of laying it in front of hte televison or sitting it in a computer chair.

Plus, on Good Friday, it seems sort of appropriate somehow to go burying seeds in dark places :)



Thursday, 9 April 2009

I've been having an interesting dream life lately. Which is good, because my real life is boring. I just increased my work hours yesterday - by an hour, all up, bringing me to a grand total of a six-hour day. Which will make some of you laugh, I'm sure. But honestly, my job is sitting in front of a computer typing. I get paid by word rate. I feel like a fucking battery hen.

The night before last I dreamt I was living in this massive Georgian house, a three-storey affair with two wings coming off the side. It was beautiful. I was pretty stoked, really :) At the back of this house, out past the fence, was this interesting garden/forest with these giant, enormous oak trees. Me and Andrea were hanging out there. Sounds like a pretty nice house/land combo to me.

Last night I dreamt I was on a rollercoaster whose driver had decided to get off. The rollercoaster plummetted downwards then ran right off the tracks and into the sea. Funny, but it was like the rollercoaster was encased, because when we flew into the sea, it wasn't like we all went everywhere and could swim away, but we were stuck inside the rollercoaster cabin and were going to drown.

I think I prefer the first dream.

The place of the Bible? Hmmm ...


Tuesday, 7 April 2009

What I want to say and show, if I may, is, that a man will please God better by believing some things that are not told him, than by confining his faith to those things that are expressly said [ie in the Bible] - said to arouse in us the truth-seeing faculty, the spiritual desire, the prayer for the good things which God will give to them that ask him.

"But is not this dangerous doctrine? Will not a man be taught thus to believe the things he likes best, even to pray for that which he likes best? And will he not grow arrogant in his confidence?"

If it be true that the Spirit strives with our spirit; if it be true that god teaches men, we may safely leave those dreadful results to him. If the man is of the Lord's company, he is safer with him than with those who would secure their safety by hanging on the outskirts and daring nothing. If he is not taught of God in that which he hopes for, God will let him know it. He will receive something else than he prays for. If he can pray to God for anything not good, the answer will come in the flames of that consuming fire. These will soon bring him to some of his spiritual senses. But it will be far better for him to be thus sharply tutored, than to go on a snail's pace in the journey of the spiritual life. And for arrogance, I have seen nothing breed it faster or in more offensive forms than the worship of the letter.
George Macdonald, Unspoken Sermons

Stopping at the Bible as the Word of God and not going on to hear for ourselves from THE Word of God is one of the problems of modern-day Christianity. We don't really want to go on further, we want to stop in a book where all the answers are laid out, safe. A god that can be put back on the bookcase, safe. A modern day tablet of stone, our very own ten commandments, just with a bit more grace and lurve and stuff in there.

How sad. We miss everything when we stop there. We can very easily become something akin to demons in the process. I understand how heretical this would seem to those who need the security, who vaunt the Word of God above the Spirit of God speaking to them.

But to me, that's like being married to someone who lives in another country and only living out your marriage via email. Child's play. Might stay married for decades, but you've never really connected.

George Macdonald. Mentor of CS Lewis. Beholder of the far ranges. Like drinking sunlight :) I really recommend this book, Unspoken Sermons. The position he holds, his high view of God, it's just wonderful to read someone who is able to express so eloquently the things that most make me go, "Yes. Yes!" about faith.

The beautiful vision of those who see beyond the aspartame empire version. Thank God for those people.

Several months ago at my art therapy session I was doing some quick drawings representing each of the main chakras. I am rather interested in what I drew to represent the throat chakra. Last night I messed around with it again, trying to understand what I could possibly have meant by it. Why would I draw something which looks rather like a cabaret-singing dung beetle to represent the part of me that is all about speaking my own truth?

Dung beetles eat poo. Perhaps it is some sort of long-range vision to myself that I can speak my own shit? :) LOL I don't know. It's all rather curious. In ancient Egypt the dung beetle was sacred, and held connotations of becoming, of coming into being, transformation. Perhaps this was what I was tapping into. All I know is that my flamboyant dung beetle is indulging in some curly faecal disposal of it's own. Perhaps it's all about using the shit within, eating it up, bitter in the mouth and sweet in the stomach, disposing it out the other end? (Perhaps I'm just spouting shit :)

I find it fascinating, this inner world, the crap that comes out of it :) Heh

A few weeks ago on The God Journey, Wayne read a letter from a guy called Left-Handed Robert who posed this:

I know you've heard this question so many times: "Wayne, I know God loves me, but how do I get this from my head to my heart?" Maybe we've got it backwards. Maybe the truth of God's affection toward us is already firmly established in our hearts. What we need now is for our hearts to confirm and convince our minds that we belong, that we are loved already, that we are precious and beloved sons and daughters. Our hearts know this full well; it's our minds, our heads, that need repenting. I came across this in Romans 5:5. "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the holy spirit who has been given to us." He didn't pour his love into our heads, and leave us the task of cramming that intellectual knowledge down into our inner man, so as to somehow behave our way into trusting him. No, he settled the love question once for all in our hearts by sending his spirit there. So this journey is allowing our minds to be changed from within, the Holy Spirit telling us so many ways, "Repent, change your mind, believe the news that God is here and is good and can be trusted."
Sounds good to me :) This signifies a change in focus, for me. Instead of it being something I must accomplish in myself, from an intellectual basis - reforming my deceitful old Jeremiah heart - instead it is what it feels like in my own experience within myself. It feels like this groundswell of knowledge of and communion with God exists within my heart, in the centre of my being. I can rest in the very centre of my being. It feels like the centre of my being has been made good. From here, from this centre of rootedness, from this position of acceptance, like a giant oak I can sit back and watch my mind at work, the things it says to itself. Somehow, from this position, it is an easier task for my heart to convince my mind and effect the transformation, than the other way round. One is a method of peace and acceptance within the slow change. The other is a knowledge based intellectual exercise that gives birth to boring-as-batshit sermons with PowerPoint principles :)

To me, the difference in the two approaches lies in the difference between the two approaches that can be taken the verse below, which Wayne also mentioned in this podcast:

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love.

The up-by-your-bootstraps way says that this is a prime example of performance driven religion. "See," this mindset says. "It says it plainly right here. Unless you obey the commands of Jesus, you do not remain in his love."

The second way, the way that comes from rest in and belief and trust in his love - which need to be learnt and developed as in any relationship - says this instead: "I know from experience that even when I go my own way, and live out of my own paradigms, I am still loved by him. But when I find myself doing and thinking the things which derive from his commands to love God and my neighbour as myself, then I find myself swimming in that love, and the comfort and conviction and safety grows from that, even while I am pleased to find that I am acting in ways that give pleasure and harmony and help to people and also to myself."

This may all possibly sound like a matter of semantics. To me it makes all the difference in the world. What do you think?

(And of course, I am not saying here that God is a beige sort of God. That verse in Romans - "Consider, then, the kindness and severity of God: his severity toward those who fell, but God's kindness toward you - if you continue receiving his kindness. Otherwise, you too will be cut off."

That verse isn't speaking to eternity to me, the way I used to read it. It's speaking to experience. Because sometimes I need to be cut off. Sometimes the very worst thing you could do is heap kindness on someone who needs cutting off and to live in the results of their own murk. It's just the way stuff is. Other times, the last thing you need is a word from a prophet, but instead a cup of mercy. But both are the two sides of the same coin, I believe.

When I walk out in my own wilfulness and persist in my own death-dealing shit, I am cut off. Sometimes I need something so severe to bring me to my senses. Does that nullify the love of God? No. It just means, in actual fact, that I trust him. I trust that verse from my living out of it. Like all of those bible verses, it can read flatpacked until you experience it, and then it springs to life, like towels out of the dryer. This too is the difference, to me, between reading the bible out of my mind and living it out of my heart.

Yet this love of God so often burns, and often living in this love I feel cast adrift, uncertain, doubting, disbelieving, and angry at him for doing or not doing what I want him to do, and for not letting me continue in my own death-dealing ways without having the light shone there. But still, I have never trusted any person in my life the way that I trust this God that I can't see. It's just the strangest thing ... the life that comes out of that strobe light shining, is worth all the pain and discomfort because it sets free, it untangles.

(I think I have raved too much in this post, jumped into about seven different topics instead of treating one fully. Oh well :)

Third Places


Thursday, 2 April 2009

Richard Beck, as always, is getting me pondering. This time it's about his latest series, Alone, Suburban and Sorted. At this point in the series Richard is talking about the need in our culture for "third places", those Cheers-type spaces that are not work, are not home, but are the third shared places where the potential is for everybody to know your name. No show-runners required.

This rings true for me like a giant gong. It is, in fact, the central drawing card for the gallery space idea I have been rolling around in my mind. An idea which will most likely morph over time to become something completely different. But an idea for a place, a central space, a cultural glue. No jacket required. A comforting sort of an idea.
Third places are not hosted places. No one is guest, no one is host. The place is shared or neutral. This allows for independence and freedom. As Oldenburg summarizes, "There must be places where individuals may come and go as they please, in which none are required to play host, and in which all feel at home and comfortable."

According to Oldenburg, the reason third places need to be neutral is that they help resolve a paradox of social mixing. Specifically, we need a degree of distance and autonomy from the very people we might seek to associate with. Our interactions need to be voluntarily initiated and dropped if we are to agree to participate in them. Anyone who has ever been forced into social mixing knows exactly what Oldenburg is talking about. Churches make this mistake all the time. Compulsory mixing is forced and effortful and we quickly avoid or distance ourselves from it. Oldenburg cites Richard Sennett's assessment: "People can be sociable only when they have some protection from each other." The protection offered by the third place is that one can come and go and interact with others as one pleases.

A space where, as Beck points out, conversation is the main activity. A safe place where we get to interact each other to each other instead of all moving around inside public spaces ensconced in our mobile phones, mistrusting each other, feeling like we are interloping into our own spaces. Thank God for global financial crises where we are going to be forced to confront and learn to live with each other again.

Becks' series, which I recommend fulsomely in its entirety, is thought-provoking stuff. Reading this hones for me why I get so frustrated at certain places like, for example, the MCG or Telstra Dome (or whatever it's called these days), and make my poor mother sigh. But I am not just ranting for the sake of it. I am ranting because these spaces are important if we are not all to go completely insane, and yet they have been co-opted by the powers that be, over and over.

We are informed, in a myriad of different ways, that none of our spaces are really ours. We must share them with giant big screen televisions and giant airbrushed billboards and jingly jangly pokie machines. We allow our technology to take us away from each other even from our public spaces. And we like it thus. Because we really don't like each other very much.

The MCG is as close to a third space that I experience on a regular basis for half of the year with people I know and people I don't know. This is why I get so incredibly frustrated that this space has been turned into a giant lounge room - not the cosy sort, but the sort where the giant plasma is the absolute centre of everything and relationships are pushed, as they are always pushed in crackpot land, to the periphery. Alienation. Continual and unabated. No wonder we're all half mad.

You're not half mad? Oh, must just be me then, heh :)

We need to relearn how to be around each other. We need to relearn how to love each other. Sounds funny, doesn't it? Especially if you refuse to believe that you haven't been born knowing how to lurve. But maybe we only know what has been first demonstrated to us.

Which makes me grateful that I believe in a God who loves us. His life drips down the way the free market is supposed to :) I learn to love because he first loved me. Now, if only I could begin acting like it ;)

Can You Feel It?


Wednesday, 1 April 2009

This may sound a bit kooky. But can you feel the effects of electricity? Could you feel the difference if you stood in your house with the power turned off? I can, absolutely. So can this woman.

I first began to really take notice when I was sick and had turned into a human barometer for all sorts of whacky things I'd never noticed before. Now I am well, and on the track to getting healthy again, I am now so tuned into my body and its reactions to this sort of stuff that I notice it's effects every single day. It is a low-level discomfort, which is why I am able to ignore it. Why we're all able to ignore it.

When I was sick with chronic fatigue syndrome, I could only be on the computer for half an hour at a time before these vague feelings of low-level discomfort kicked in, a hard to describe feeling where it felt like the electricals in my body were being revved up. Fatigued, brainfogged, while at the same time sort of edgy, sort of ... well, wired.

The healthier I feel the less I notice it. But that's not to say that it's not affecting me just because I don't notice it. Because even when I don't notice it I still ... well, notice it. Not consciously, maybe, but get me out somewhere where there is less electricity and mobile phones and wireless internet connections zapping through my body and baby, I notice it. Suddenly I realise what our poor old bodies are subjected to, living in the cracked twenty first century.

It's enough to make me really, seriously, honestly want to move to the country, eat a lot of peaches, and be able to think and function clearly without all this damn extra interference.

There will always be the cry of "over-reaction" to this. We love our technology too much. But there is ample evidence that subjecting our bodies to electrical frequencies that they never even experienced 100 years ago - it's not really rocket science to presume that all of this stuff could be having an effect.

Because I can feel it. I can feel it on the train with everyone's bloody mobile phones working at once. I could feel it when I had wireless internet access. And now there is more wireless than ever with McDonald's and other places with their wireless hotspots, not to mention cordless phones and the like. And it may sound kooky and flaky, but I'm sick of it making me feel kooky and flaky in my own bloody body.