Monday, November 29, 2010

Prayer of Hope.

I number of weeks ago, I volunteered myself to take the "prayer slot" at the Sunday morning service at Cityside for Nov 28th. Because it is the start of the Advent season, the theme of the prayer was meant to centre around HOPE. Weeks ago, when I volunteered myself for this contribution to the service, I felt confident about what I could do/say etc. Then Pike River happened. How hideous and potentially hurtful a prayer of "hope" now seemed. Being mindful that people still needed a space to process, this was what I said yesterday....

"Hope is a word we have heard spoken a lot in the last week. People were holding onto it tightly until suddenly, it was abandoned. With much grief we have held the miners and their families in our hearts.

There are things in this life I may never understand. However, what I keep reminding myself of is this; I am never alone in my loneliness. Even those closest to me are alone too. This may sound ridiculously melancholy but herein lies the beauty: We are together in our loneliness. The grief in our hearts (some big, some little) is shared.

Whenever my grandfather sings that old hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” rivers of tears flood his cheeks. Because this song’s meaning has changed for him over the course of his long life. In his youth it was a song of hope. In his twilight years this song has become a declaration of truth.

I would like to encourage you to be present and hold close whatever it is you need as your own prayer of hope today. Whether it be for yourself, someone you love or some other situation, bring that hope (even if it as small as a mustard seed) close to your chest and hold it. Acknowledge any fears, sadness, anger that you may have about your prayer.

I am going to play a song now by Jónsi. You wont recognize the words because it is sung in Icelandic. I have Googled it but have still not got any real information about the translation other then that the title of the song can translate from Icelandic to English to mean “coal” or “the dark seasonal time of year”. The beauty of not knowing what Jonsi is literally singing means that when I listen to this song, I hear what I want or need to hear.

I would like to encourage you to listen to this song while holding your prayer close. Let the words of this song be what your spirit needs to hear this morning. Let God sing over you, minister to you and enable your hope grow."

Here is the song. Kolniður by Jónsi

Monday, November 22, 2010

When I was 17

When I was 17 my best friend and the boy I thought I would be with forever suddenly died. We had a flat together in Eden Terrace and were planning our future together. He would be a chef, I would be a photographer. We would own our own restaurant and my photos of our world trip would cover the walls.

When he died my world froze. In the days before his funeral I couldn't believe the world could carry on as if nothing had happened.

The weeks following his death I would watch people enter the foodcourt I was working in and wonder why they weren't dead and why he was. I would watch the escalator bringing people down into the foodcourt to eat for lunch. First I would see their feet, then their legs, then their bodies, until finally their head. In that small window of time I would imagine that those feet I could see were his, his legs, his body....But the face of a stranger appearing was a sudden reminder. Loneliness. Abandonment. Loss.

Down that mine are lovers, brothers and sons. My thoughts are with you Greymouth. Let us not give up hope yet.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Serve Somebody

I've just discovered a blog by a woman called Elisha Webster Emerson. In it she quotes David Foster Wallace:

"In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship – be it JC or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles – is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things – if they are where you tap real meaning in life – then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you …Worship power – you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart – you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out."

You can read the rest of her blog here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stranded on the roadside India. Mum's email.

My mum sent this email from the side of the road in India. Her and a work colleague are trying to get from Bangalore to Bijapur for business meetings. They had been told they would have to go by road as there were no flights to Bijapur. They knew it would be an adventure but....Well here's mum's email:


You wouldn't believe what we are going through right now and where [work colleague] and I have spent the last 6 hours, fast becoming 7 hours.

We are sitting on the side of the road in the interior of Karnataka by some roadside eating house. Not the flashest but they are keeping us fed. We have been sitting outside ( too smelly and smokey inside) and the mozzies are in full swing and frogs are jumping round our feet.

So why are we here you are asking? We set out from Bangers [Bangalore] at 7:30 am ready for our 12 hour drive to Bijapur. By 11:30 we became aware that our driver's eyes were closing so we asked him to stop and wash his face with water. Got going again but eyes still struggling as we watched him closely in the mirror. So we told him to pull into the next tea house and he could sleep in the car while we had some food. After an hour he got out of the car, washed his face again and we said he should eat something. He went inside and we waited again for him to finish. After about 30 mins I went to see why he was taking so long and found him asleep at the table. By this time we did not want to risk being in the car with him anymore so [work colleague] rang back to Bangers and got her contact to send another driver. So we got all our bags out and sent sleepy driver on his way back to Bangers. Have no idea if he made it back or not.

After many phone calls to organise the Bangers side and then the destination people, of course [work colleague]'s battery ran out. But there was no electricity here but we were told that the "political tomb" next door had power. But to no avail. The only room that would open did not have a power socket! But after sun set the lights came on so then they kindly took the plug out of the fridge and [work colleague] could then charge her phone! So now we are back in phone contact and the tea house owner can now talk to the new driver as we are getting nervous that he will speed by and miss us.

So once he arrives there will be another 7 hours (maybe 8) hours of travel. The things we do for [insert compnay]!

And what have we been doing to entertain ourselves? Made friends with the local villagers as news has spread that we are "hanging out". Buffalos, goats, dogs and puppies...all have been photographed from every angle. All modes of transport have been photographed. And as the phone is now charging inside as the driver gets closer the owner keeps calling out, "Madam, madam" excitedley each time the phone rings!

[Work colleague] got out her red lap top to do her accounts at the table outside to the enjoyment of the local crowd gathering. As the equipment kept coming out of our bags, our audience increasingly grew in the marvel of the BB, iphone, mobile, laptop, mosquito spray, hand sanitizer, wet ones, magasines, books, camera to say nothing of our colour co-ordinated Fab India bags and luggage! Lots of language faux pas that could take up more space but suffice it to say we made good frinds with our Jain vegetarian tea house owner.

Attacking the toilet situation yet another challenge! But being able to eat, drink Chai and go to the loo means we have survived this part. Now we wait with anticipation the condition of our new driver, expecting him any minute! It is now 7pm. 11 hours since leaving Bangers, only 8 more to go!

On the way now finally. Taking the longer route as the shorter route has pot holes and we will get stuck if it rains. This means a 3 am arrival. And finally our hotel instructions received as follows:
Shashinag Quality International Hotel, Bijapur - Solapur by pass Bijapur it is on the left side of the highway........we are in the hands of god now (and this is a true story)

Love [Mum]."

TEXT UPDATE: She texted this morning to say they were still 5 hours away from their final destination. As it's after midnight there, they were searching for a place to sleep. They found a "nice" hotel. "Phew!" she texted. But she said the final joke of the whole day was this: When checking into the hotel, they were asked what time their flight to Bijapur was. "WHAT?? THERE ARE FLIGHTS TO BIJAPUR??" "Of course Madam.".....She ended the text with, "We will scrag the travel agent tomorrow!"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What nourishes you through the journey?

Today at Cityside we reflected on the journey we've all individually been on this year so far and what has nourished as along the way. I have had a challenging year. I'm 33. On my 33rd birthday my religious grandfather wrote me a letter and reminded me how, at 33 years of age, Jesus changed the world. As intimidating as that sounds his letter was one of encouragement and mindfulness. However, today as I reflecting on the year past, and as I realised I am just under a month away from turning 34, I started to panic. DAMN, I was gonna do great things this year!

But then here are a few things I can celebrate about this year:

I went back to University study after a 12 year absence and became an A student.

I have my artwork on public display.

I woke up from an illusion I was believing in and changed direction in thought after years of self destructive behaviour.

I am still married to my best friend despite the odds stacked against us.

What then, has nourished me through the journey of this year so far?

They say death brings out the best and worst in people. In the grief of my struggles this year, I found that the people I knew were sifted. There were some that left me cold. However, overwhelmingly, the majority of my friends and family have shown me that love knows no bounds. I have been richly nourished by the love and grace of many.

My mother. She is my rock. What becomes of the broken hearted? They lead others into strength and freedom.

My husband. True love is long suffering. His humility and perseverance cannot be uttered. Grace is the key ingredient in any life-giving relationship.

The kindness of strangers. I have had many "chance" meetings of exceptional people this year. (Twitter included.) A small kind word here and there added buoyancy to the ocean of my experiences.

Other things that add nourishment to my journey:

Listening to Native NZ birdsongs. On CD if I can't get it live.

Walking. Listening it good music on my ipod if it had to be through the neighbourhood, but enjoying the sounds of the sea or the bush if I had time to walk beside or through them.

Stopping to look and be present when I see something beautiful. Taking the time to be thankful for that moment.

Embracing my erotic/creative self. Through all the senses. Touch, sight, sound, taste, smell. Savouring those moments and celebrating my body and it's connection with my lover and with life. Being present again. Without guilt.

Celebrating my son's lives. They are wise old souls. At 7 and 8 years of age they can't help but bring light, laughter and life wherever they are and whatever they do. I feel humbled by their presence in my life.

Starting barefoot ballet classes. It's crazy and beautiful.

Cityside. People who are inclusive and welcoming without expectations. Somewhere I can feel comfortable being me while I develop and strengthen my spirit.

Today I took communion. In peace. With Dave Dobbyn singing "Welcome Home" as the backing track. Yes, I belong. And yes, I have things to be both thankful AND proud of. They might be unseen, but as a 33 year old, I have done some great things this year.

(Photo not my own.)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Remember, remember the 5th of November

Last night at ours. (Yes we have a half-pipe in our backyard.)