Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hmmm, where to start.....


....this truly could be the most incoherent post ever flung out into cyber-space. Really, it just might be. Thanks to a few lovely mortals it seems I have won some recognition for my ramblings here in blogland, one particularly is to blame for this kind and easily pleased gesture. Dana, aka Awareness has been sufficiently taken in with my ranting and nonescence that she deemed me deserving of the "Thinking Blog Award". I am flattered and say a heartfelt thank you....twice, thank you

So, it seems I now have the impossible task of picking 5 more 'thinkers' - well, thank god so many gems have been taken otherwise i would have had to admit this was an impossible task...Dana Anna Pip and Mike are all places of daily inspiration and make my head hurt and my heart sing and my eyes weep....what are our eyes trying to say with their tears?

Still, I guess the word 'beauty' springs to mind, it's the thread (the embodiment) which weave these people and this remarkable mosaic together, the constant of all these blogs here in cyber-space, the rich stirring that sucks the marrow of life - it's the reason I visit these people daily....

.....and also these, for these are the 5 I have chosen:

Jen is the bench mark, she sets the standard. I remember Pip sending a link to this (Sept 17: God) and knowing that this would feed my soul and nourish my heart like no other blog. What Jen has been through has claimed better souls than mine, but she is a remarkable human whose work always inspires and whose wisdom from struggles has been clean air in a world where most of the air is too angry to breath. She is out there on her own, no-one comes close - enjoy Mexico!!!!!!

The Father is a dear dear human who, in truth, doesn't blog enough - but as musicians will tell you - when it comes to greatness, sometimes less is more. He is a sensitive, kind heart whose insight into the road less travelled is a constant inspiration to me. Oh, and he is the new Lee Majors!

Maggi describes herself as an anglican priest thinking out loud about theology, life and faith. She does think out loud and the fragrance she leaves is one of a carpenter who roamed the hills of palestine long ago. It is a pleasure to drink deep of her insight and compassion for a broken world...will be watching on sunday morning BBC1!!!!

Cary you embody, as a lovely poet once said, 'the silk of who you have yet to be' - this is not a blog for the faint-hearted, but for those who wish to reach into the edges of humanity to find the divine waiting patiently there, amidst the struggle as well as the joy, then this is a place to treasure - grace and beer sister - "see you soon child, soon"

What can i say about this man. When we met he and some guy called Yaconelli drank me out of wine and had smoked so many cohiba's I couldn't see them acroos the room!!!!! He is a one off - he is Elisha - his heart for young humans and life, love, food, good conversation, God, oh, yeah and wine and cigars is second to none. You live in the shadow of no-one friend, no-one!!!! We need to catch up....my fault i know

may the God of second chances pick us up and let us dance.........




The participation rules are simple:

1)
If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2) Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3) Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.

Time


And the years teach much the days never knew

A good friend who I don't speak with nearly enough sent this quote - i think it rests well here....

"Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
Aeschylus

Thursday, March 22, 2007

shadows


I walked past the church I used to frequent the other day and was stopped in my tracks by this

It reminded me that success is not measured by what we bring, but rather by what we leave

since posting this I can't get this poem by Stewart Henderson out of my head;

‘And this is what we leave behind
The leaking tap, the unquiet mind
The cuckoo clock, the apr├Ęs ski
The black fly ravaged lilac tree
The horoscope, the eBay find
This is what we leave behind

And this is what we do not take
The funeral service and the wake
The christening shawl, the driving test
The semi that was repossessed
The x-ray and the Dundee cake
This is what we do not take

And this is what will be no more
The hospice and the hasty law
The routine morning after pill
Montrose 1 Dumbarton 0
The hamster cage, the exit door
This is what will be no more

And this is what we’ll lay to rest
The polished regimental crest
The blossom days, the stricken nights
Gocloma and the Blackpool lights
The cystic unexamined breast
This is what we’ll lay to rest

And this is what will be put away
Countdown, thrush and Santa’s sleigh
The Oscar speech, invaded lands
Vasectomies, the marching bands
The hawkish Independence Day
All this will be put away

And this is what we leave behind
The leaking tap, the unquiet mind
The gossip and the misery
The laudatory obituary
The ending of the word…declined
This is what we leave behind...'

This is Stewart and I at Greenbelt a couple of years ago. you can find his work and collaborations with his partner in crime Martyn Jospeh here

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

my grandma's wisdom


my grandad, the heartbeat of her life died when i was 5 - she said to me just before she passed away nearly 20 years later that time healed nothing, nothing at all...it just merely numbed

you were right grandma, you were right

I also remember her telling me not to fear the emptiness of life - hard lessons she learned from loss - strange how moments forgotten suddenley re-appear



For my dear friend Ian, whose mum passed away last week

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

...life in the ordinary


Ordinary is very pervasive, but I like a God who dwells there - a God who inhabits ordinary people, ordinary places and ordinary situations...even boardwalks

'Now there's a loss that can never be replaced,
A destination that can never be reached,
A light you'll never find in another's face,
A sea whose distance cannot be breached

Well Jesus kissed his mother's hands
Whispered, "Mother, still your tears,
For remember the soul of the universe
Willed a world and it appeared.'
(Bruce Springsteen)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

something to do with longing, prayer...and maybe flunking


This is where you will find me most sunday mornings...trying to pray, sadly I just don't get it....thankfully my late and dear friend did;

'I have always been terrible at praying
I forget
My mind wanders
I fall asleep
I don't pray enough
I don't undersatnd what prayer is
Or what prayer does.

If prayer were school...
I would flunk praying

But prayer isn't school
It is mystery

Maybe the mystery is...
Jesus loves terrible prayers
Maybe...
When I can't think of anything to say, he says what I can't say
When I talk too much, he chersihes my too many words
When I fall asleep, he holds me in his lap and caresses my weary soul
When I am overwhelmed with guilt at my inconsistent, inadequate praying
He whispers, "Your name is always on my lips"

I am filled with gratitude, my soul overflows with thankfulness and I...
I...find myself saying over and over again, "thank you"
Praying the mystery'
(Mike Yaconelli)

Every morning, i take a moment of quiet...and in the stillness i pray this prayer...

'Broken...I now talk with God.
O Lord Jesus my saviour.
Today my heart is empty.
Pride is the thing I will miss least when time comes to and end.
I need a priest.
I need a preacher.
I need an exorcist to banish the snake I've been handling called...self.
I need you.
Broken...I now talk to God.
(Ben Pearson: Taken from Ragamuffin Prayers, CCM Books)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ubuntu


Blue Mountain Mama's 'Wordless Wednesday' has refreshed my irritation. Here's what I mean:

There's a haunting lament by the musician Damien Rice which, today I can't get out of my head. In it he speaks of cold, cold water surrounding him. Of course it's a metaphor, but something of his aching and longing for something lost has stirred my soul. I don't know where this journey began - I think my first visit to Africa - but what I do know is that I now suffer from a condition that Scottish writer and campaigner Alistair McIntosh calls communalism. Such an idiom brings us to questions of identity and belonging - in short, our search for community.

Generations, most of which have now passed away (I am remembering particularly my grandparents), speak of a time of interconnectedness, a time when there was an interdependence on one another for survival. A time of sharing what little they had and not demanding anything in return - I suppose the Biblical simile would be that everyone was their brother and sister's keeper. It is something the social thinker Ivan Illich calls the 'vernacular economy', which explained in mortal speak is a way of doing and being that is learned, naturally, through our culture, which allows equality within society.

As with anything important, we realise just how essential something is only when it is gone. Something I think we (as a global community) need to address with some urgency is an economy for people and not profit, which at its deepest level I would describe as mutuality. This is something which most of Africa and the developing world have had to live with for too long. Need should lubricate our relationships. Surplus should be for sharing before trading and happiness should come from giving rather than accumulating.

Historical and sociological insights urge theologians to look hard at situations where church praxis is worked out. Ideas in isolation are not enough. Theology needs to be seen in relation to the events that shape it. Ubuntu, Xhosa expression, is one such example. It is an ancient African word meaning 'humanity to others'. Like many African words it has numerous translations, another is ''I am what I am because of who you are.'

Where am I going with this? Well, I read the story of the feeding of the 5,000 for the first time in a while the other day and I tried to get beyond the basic narrative and burrow under and inbetween the text. I've always had a nagging suspicion that there was more to this story than Jesus performing some kind of magic trick to feed hungry people. And after a while of pondering the text, it hit me. These were not hungry, starving people in front of Jesus and his disciples at all (maybe a little peckish at most). Many were proud Jewish women and their children and I have never met a Jewish mother who doesn't make sure her family isn't more than well fed.

This miracle is not about feeding starving people. As an aside, most Jews in Jesus' time had 200 calories per day more than the World Health Organisation prescribes as necessary for the minimum sustainable diet for people today. These were not starving hungry people. The point is this; who with thousands around, is going to share? the crowd is experiencing a late lunch because of a silly concoction of politeness, social reserve and selfishness. In the face of all this prissiness, Jesus accepts the naive offering of a young boy who has the courage to share his lunch and with this shames 5,000 people into opening their boxes.

Am I undermining the authenticity of the miracle? No, not for a minute. What I am trying to do is underscore its credibility and importance for our time. For Jesus to transform the fish and loaves would not be impossible. I have no difficulty whatsoever with that. But for Jesus to feed 5,000 people when no one but a young boy is prepared to make any individual suggestion that they have food is an astounding feat, because he is taking on human selfishness.

What makes it more incredible? (If indeed we believe Holy Scripture kind of transcends time) That Christ should feed a non-starving crowd out of kindness? Or that we in the West should be aware of the perilous state of millions of our fellow human beings and have to wait until skeletal children appear on our television screens before we are generous? Or are we finally going to wake up to the fact that we are 'Ubuntu', we are interconnected, that we need one another - that we are our brother's and sister's keeper?

Sobering isn't it?


* as a sub note, anyone who says my thoughts are not accurate with the exact text - take a history lesson on how much the New Testament text has been fiddled with to say what a bunch of men wanted it to say - you'd be surprised

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Victor


'Emergencies have always been necessary to progress. It was darkness which produced the lamp. It was fog that produced the compass. It was hunger that drove us to exploration. And it took a depression to teach us the real value of a job.

Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake."
(Victor Hugo 1802-85)

I walked by his house today........and this is my prayer as i try and lay my head down this stormy night

Friday, March 02, 2007

gates


Despite all my learning I simply cannot figure out what really is going on in this journey we call life. Just don’t seem to be able to get through the gate to enlightenment. It was the same with the 3 lessons in Church the other day (Exodus 34: 29-end, 2 Cor 3: 12-4.2, Luke 9: 28-36). Intuition tells me that meaning is there, but somehow I cannot put my finger on it. I guess many have been in this position before, unable to unlock the meaning of the text/of life. No amount of frantic searching seems to help. In fact, no amount of careful thinking seems to help either - though sometimes having the right book to hand is a useful starting point. Usually though, the key is not in a book, but lying in plain plain view in some obscure place i have yet to visit. The result is that life is a bit more of an attentive waiting game. Our eyes have to be hope for hints of meaning all the time.

Let me try and explain my rambling a little more clearly. I have always been haunted by many things, one of which is an image in T.S. Elliot's 'Ash Wednesday': "...where three dreams cross/ Between blue rocks". It's a beautiful and evocative line - both elusive and alliterative, with a really lovely half rhyme between 'cross' and 'rocks' based on moving the 'k' sound from the beginning to the end. I remember walking through a graveyard one night - it must have been about this time of year - the sun had already set, just. And as i walked through the Yew trees in the churchyard i saw the blue rocks - old tomb stones at the end of the day. Suddenly the whole scene made sense - particularly the following lines about Yew trees - the clue that Elliot planted long ago. And so did the later lines, 'Teach us to sit still/ Even among these rocks/ Our peace in His will.'

I guess I have one point to make. That is that our doing mearly provides context for our hearing. Living out our (Christian) vocation (though that seems an impossibilty to me most of the time) puts us in the right place to begin understanding it, but it doesn't instantly provide that understanding. Doing is the foundation for thinking. The text of the Bible still needs to be read, and who knows what we might find there if we dwell long enough with the text in context of our world. I guess at the end of the day advice is superfluous...the doing comes first i guess – must get through that bloody gate!