Thursday, August 31, 2006
Coupland may have written it....but i believe it speaks for all those who gather in the midst of the sacred space called Greenbelt:
"Now - here is my secret:
I tell it to you with an openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again, so I pray you are in a quiet room as you hear these words. My secret is that I need God - that I am sick and can no longer make it alone. I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem capable of giving; to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; to help me love, as I seem beyond being able to love."
(Douglas Coupland, Life After God)
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
There must be few places on earth that are as precious and magical
Few places where the veil between heaven and earth so thin
Few places where stones are not thrown
and the planks in our own eyes are sought
rather than looking for the specks in others
Few places where the fragrance of heaven is so recognized
Few places where grace dances so freely
Few places where vulnerability is shared
and humility expressed,
a place where all the prodigals can come home
A place of being held
being accepted no matter what
where all are appreciated
and held dear
An exquisite home for the refugees, the broken and the marginalised
enchanting asylum for those broken on the wheels of living...
a sacred space
a place of light
it's a place we call greenbelt
...more to follow...
Thursday, August 24, 2006
A wonderful prayer written by a wonderful man for wonderful humans at the most wonderful of festivals...
Help us remember that the idiot who cut us up in traffic
is a single Mother who has worked nine hours that day
and is rushing to Greenbelt to cook a meal and settle the kids down so they can have a good first day at the festival
and spend a few precious moments with her friends
who have saved hard to get to Greenbelt.
Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man
who can't handle his change correctly is a worried YMCA Hostel resident who is behind in his rent and cannot afford the cheapest hotdog on site.
At the same time balancing his apprehension over his fear
of not getting on well with the group he came with.
Remind us Lord, that the scary looking young woman
rolling her eyes and cannot stop moving her body,
is a recovering slave to addictions
that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.
Remind us that the scars of the self harming woman,
scarred for life,
is just like me with my scars
that and hinder and equip at the same time.
And remember that we, maybe,
can just hide ours better.
Help us to remember that the old couple
walking annoyingly slow through the festival site
and blocking our process
are savouring this moment,
knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week,
this will be the last year that they will be at Greenbelt together.
Creator God, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us,
the greatest gift is love.
That it is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear.
But those for who,
on first impressions,
make us shudder, or sigh or grunt with irritability.
Open our soul and press your finger tip right on that part,
the part to raise your love to the surface.
So it touches the practical.
The love department
© Pip Wilson
Monday, August 21, 2006
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Well, seeing as Phil tagged me (I didn't play tag at school - sadly I am old enough to have the scars of british bulldog before it was banned by health and safety!) here are my answers for the meme:
One book that changed your life:
Without question 'The Road Less Travelled' by the late M. Scott Peck. The opening sentence could be part of any gospel narrative...."Life is difficult". A timeless lesson - though I would say that we are the ones who make it so with our choices. It's not really a self help pile of nancy crap but a harsh look at how we fuck up and maybe can re-build our brokennes. The book talks both about resistance to grace and the welcoming of grace. It's not easy, and often comes with responsibilities (the cheap grace Bonhoeffer speaks of). Accepting grace often welcomes more than we bargained for, but also often more than we hoped.
One book that you have read more than once:
Probably my favourite book of them all, 'The Grapes of Wrath' by Steinbeck - an unquenchable tale of human struggle, of the pain we cause one another and the dignity and earthy integrity that some embody - it's a story that speaks to the humanity of everyone.
One book you'd want on a desert island:
God not sure. Phil's answer is a good one - I too have 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' and have still not read it. I would probably say the Bible because there is still some of it I have not read and perhaps should - there's also some of it I have read and need to read again and again and again...
One book that made you laugh:
Down Under by Bill Bryson made me laugh out loud in an airport bar so many times the tender asked me to "keep it down a little could you mate" - just the line from the first paragraph; "FLYING INTO AUSTRALIA, I realized with a sigh that I had forgotten again who their prime minister is..." I laughed so much and hard I thought i would pass out - many around me wished I had!
One book that made me cry:
Easy choice. Just recently I read Night by Elie Wiesel. It tells the story of a teenager wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust and the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life's essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died. Here's what I mean:
' Let us try and imagine what passed within him while his eyes watched the coils of black smoke unfurling in the sky, from the oven where his little sister and his mother were going to be thrown with thousands of others: "Never shall i forget that night, the first night in camp, which turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall i forget that smoke. Never shall i forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies i saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall i forget those flames that consumed my Faith forever. Never shall i forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall i forget those moments which muredered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall i forget these things, even if i am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never"
....And i, who believe that God is love, what answer could i give my young questioner, whose dark eyes still held the reflection of that angelic sadness which had appeared one day upon the face of the hanged child? What did i say to him? Did i speak of that other Israeli, his brother, who may have resembled him - the Crucified, whose Cross has conquered the world? Did i affirm the stumbling block to his faith was the cornerstone of mine, and that the conformity between the Cross and the suffering of men was in my eyes the key to the impenetrable mystery whereon the faith of his childhood had perished? Zion, however, has risen up again from the crematories and the charnel houses. The Jewish nation has been resurrected from among its thousands of dead. It is through them that it lives again. We do not know the worth of one drop of blood, one single tear. All is grace. If the Eternal is the Eternal, the last word for each one of us belongs to Him. This is what i should have told this Jewish child. But I could only embrace him, weeping.'
One book that you wish had been written:
'Jesus: The Stand Up Years' - evidently he was pretty good at it - the one about a camel and the eye of a needle is said to be a classic according to the critics.
One book you wish had never been written:
With out doubt 'Ecclesiastes' - I mean, what's that doing in the Bible? One quirky messed up book! (actually come to think of it That's the reason i like it!) - So actually it would have to be anything by Jilly Cooper - do people actually read her shit?!
One book that you're currently reading:
I read a few at a time but the one I am returning to most is John Pilgers 'Freedom Next Time' It's a bloody hard book to read as it chronicles man's inhumanity to man, the appalling lies and silence from the mainstream media, and the amount of innocent deaths around the globe for the betterment of the few, is hard to take. Pilger has never held back with the truth, despite numerous death threats over his career, banned from countries and standing up to those that perpetrate these crimes against humanity. As Chomsky says, Pilger continues to be a prophetic beacon of light in a dark world
One book you've been meaning to read:
'The Fate of Africa' by Martin Meredith. Got this last Christmas and still not really picked it up. I fell in love with this regal country on my first visit and realised I was more than ignorant when it comes to its history...I should really pick this one up and start to educate myself. The synopsis is: 'The value of Meredith's towering history of modern Africa rests not so much in its incisive analysis, or its original insights; it is the sheer readability of the project, combined with a notable lack of pedantry, that makes it one of the decade's most important works on Africa. Spanning the entire continent, and covering the major upheavals more or less chronologically—from the promising era of independence to the most recent spate of infamies (Rwanda, Darfur, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Sierra Leone)—Meredith (In the Name of Apartheid) brings us on a journey that is as illuminating as it is grueling.'
So, there you have it - Thanks Phil! - and the final responsibility is to tag four more kids in the playground, so I tag The Good Dr Higgins, Jude, Cary, and Mata (wish I could link you but haven't worked out how you do that yet, sorry)
Friday, August 18, 2006
'The night lifted, leaving behind it a grayish light the colour of stagnant water. Soon there was only a tattered fragment of darkness, hanging in midair, the other side of the window. Fear caught my throat. The tattered fragment of darkness had a face. Looking at it, I understood, I understood the reason for my fear. The face was my own.'
(Elie Wiesel, Night)
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Why are ruins so attractive, mysterious, beguiling even?
What seduces our hearts toward them?
Why is it so many find their sadness intoxicating?
What seed is being watered in these feelings?
What are our eyes trying to say with their tears?
Maybe ruins bid us surrender to our strivings and our ideas of perfection and fulfilment. That we cannot defy time or our common humanity and brokenness. They tell stories whose message is one of the folly of giving up peace of mind for unrealistic and unstable rewards. Sometimes, old stones make us aware and allow us to feel and see our anxieties about our achievements (or lack of them) and who we are.
And maybe the real gift of ruins is that they point to a bigger picture, they move us away from the temporal to the eternal - they remind us that some things just can't be fixed this side of a much better place. Maybe even they give us perspective and in their presence we are granted a glimpse of our own insignificance...
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
I have been very moved by urbanmonks (www.supermarketmonkey.blogspot.com) blogs on poverty...so much so i went back to my nemesis Kierkegaard, as i recalled he had some wisdom to impart on this mystery...
'The gospel no longer benefits the poor essentially. In fact, Christianity has now even become a downright injustice to those who suffer (although we are not always conscious of this, and certainly unwilling to admit to it). Today the gospel is preached to the rich, the powerful, who have discovered it to be advantageous. We are right back again to the very state original christianity wanted to oppose! The rich and powerful not only get to keep everything, but their success becomes the mark of their piety, the sign of their relationship to God. And this promts the old atrocity again - namely, the idea that the unfortunate, the poor are to blame for their condition; that it is because they are not pious enough, are not true christians, that they are poor, whereas the rich have not only pleasure but piety as well. This is supposed to be Christianity. compare it with the New Testament, and you will see that it is as far from that as possible.'
He penned these words quite some time ago....not much has changed really and it seems we don't learn much at all.
As I have always thought, the real fragrance of god is found in Gethsemene and Calvary....
...and maybe for the poor the gospel is good news because it is a sign of God's nearness...
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
'God beyond gold
Who gives us our worth.
Lord who is due
much more than praise.
King Who observes
from the deep night of space.
Release us from
and pillage our sleep.
Inhabit our dreams
with vivid visions
And may uneasy waters
of our hearts
be walked upon
by the becalming Christ,
our saviour in the dark.'
(Stewart Henderson: taken from 'Still Facing Autumn' - Plover Books, 2001)
That's why we need artists...they express the inexpressible
Sunday, August 06, 2006
I started this blog really for a way of finding therapy for my soul...so today, I preach to myself, my soul if you like. knowing that if i listen closely, if i have the courage to do so, i just may see the divine, and in seeing the divine, i may just also see myself.
the trouble is, am i willing to see the truth of who i am, the real me? for the reason i don't stop most of the time is because i do not want to see who i am - that person who lurks beneath...
they say the truth sets you free, hmmm, it also breaks you to pieces
if i stopped
if i was quiet for a minute
if i was calm
if i was still
if i turned everyone down
if i switched everything off
if i ceased looking everywhere all at once
if i was silent
if i was still
if i stayed at home
if i didn't pick up the phone
if i was out even when i was in
if i was silent
if i was still
if i slowed
if i simply sat
if i stood on my head
and emptied out the contents
if i stopped
would you be there
would you speak to me
would i be able to hear you
would it be worth it?
if i stopped
would it be long enough?
if i was silent
would i hear anything?
if i heard something
would i know it was you?
if i did
would i be interested?
if i was
would i stop again?
(Martin Wroe from 'When You Haven't Got a Prayer: A journalist talk to God')
Friday, August 04, 2006
"This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls."
John Muir: Wilderness World
In the midst of all the shit....the eternal whispers
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981.
Africa has 12 million AIDS orphans.
By the end of 2005, women accounted for 48% of all adults living with HIV worldwide, and for 59% in sub-Saharan Africa.
Young people (15-24 years old) account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide - around 6,000 become infected with HIV every day.
Of the 6.5 million people in developing and transitional countries who need life-saving AIDS drugs, only 1.3 million are receiving them.
AND....Global Military Spending now tops $1T
Donald Rumsfeld recently aimed critisicm at China's military spending. “Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: Why this growing investment? Why these continuing large and expanding arms purchases?” A question he may well ask of himself. According to a report recently released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (in our fair city) Global Military Spending topped $1Trillion in 2004. The United States accounted for 47 percent of all military expenditures, while Britain and France each made up 5 percent of the total. In all, 15 countries accounted for 82 percent of the world's total military spending. The BBC reported last month that Chinese military spending increased by 12% in 2004 to $25Bn - or one twentieth of what the US spends
Makes me want to puke
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Awhile ago now my friend Nick Thorpe bought me a little book of prayers aptly titled 'A Common Prayer: A cartoonist talks to God'. It has been a good companion on what has been at times a painful journey...Michael Leunig struggled with the idea of creating just another humor strip. He recognized the need to offset the anxiety and distress found in the news but was determined to take a decidedly different approach from his cartooning peers.
The result was a cartoon that delivered a spiritual message with its inspirational words and straightforward, poignant drawings. Before long, it developed a huge, faithful following and turned Leunig into an Australian national treasure.
I came across 'Here is the News' this morning and after seeing the Panorama documentary 'Faith, hate and charity', where
Panorama investigates how funds from one of Britain's leading Islamic charities have helped build support for Hamas, which is regarded by Europe and America as a terrorist organisation (though that is only one side of the argument!!), I thought it a rather sobering piece of art...
...it's why I believe art is the most wonderful gift that allows a brush with the divine - that place where we do just a little more than barely lean in - it confronts us with the uncomfortable and we are never the same again.