Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Work of Christmas

There are some people who are life-bringers in your life even though you have never met them - and have only occasionally directly exchanged words - Stephanie is one of those for me. On numerous occasions she has been part of "the right words at the right time" for me in ways that have been deeply nourishing. These words came via Mike Todd's blog but were words sent by Stephanie. Again they are nourishing words for me today.

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among brothers,
to make music in the heart.

Howard Thurman - The Work of Christmas
A Grateful Heart p 74

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas without Mum

Well to be honest the hardest thing about Christmas has been the guilt about the relief of mum not being here - and how pleasant and nice it was without her. A lovely, relaxed, very little stress day without mum. No need to work around whether she will be there or not, no need to worry about her being jealous because I'm talking to someone else. It was pleasant.

I realised this was how it was leading up to Christmas - and to be honest, for me the hardest thing was coming to terms with that and also of course therefore the various comments about "I'll be thinking of you today without Lyn" etc have been quite hard to deal with. Don't get me wrong - I appreciate the places the comments come from but frankly unless people have been clear that they mean "in the mixed picture that it is", those words spoken in care have been unhelpful rather than helpful. They have just added to the guilt that I've already been wrestling with.

But this is how it is in much bigger ways than just Christmas - it is my reality. While I am really thankful for so much of mum's role in my world - I wouldn't be here without her and that's pretty profound and what much of my grief has been about (think back to the way I talked about my grief as the "breaking of the umbilical cord"), life is easier and less complex than if she was around. And I'm sure that is true for her. As I said in my eulogy - her pain is now gone ... and that includes the pain she caused others (and the pain that then caused for herself).

So hesitantly I say I'm at peace with her not being around ... and growing in peace with my thankfulness for that. She knows peace she's never known before - why should I feel guilty about loving that fact and the consequences of that for me?!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Being Abused

It's been an interesting week in the shop and church building. Lots of people in quite hard spots really and some hard stuff to deal with. One of our hardest situations involves stuff being stolen - sigh. Mobile phone, money from our money jar near our coffee, our staff members lunch from the fridge (that had her name on it) ... Bizarrely the one we had proof of who it was, was the lunch (she had been the only person in the space). So today I spoke to her about it - or tried. She denied it and walked off initially and then later on came and interrupted a conversation I was in and said that she knew "I wanted to talk to her and that she wasn't impressed". I calmly said I would talk to her about it on tomorrow as she walked off (that was all around our morning church gathering). This afternoon someone else was praying in the space and this woman came in and we expect she took some more stuff. As I was sitting just before our evening service she came up to me and said "I know you want to talk tomorrow but I can't talk then but I can talk now" and then left the building. I sat for a minute, prayed and then went out - going I have to take that as an invitation for a conversation. I went out and calmly walked up to the woman and said her name starting a conversation. She then lashed out at me, yelling at me and saying various things that didn't make sense - a huge amount of aggression.
It's hard stuff - at the time I was able to sigh but it is hard stuff and I'm angry and processing it all.
It is the hard end of the presence we want to be - and sometimes the hardest thing is holding the line and loving people well enough to truly love them and not just let stuff go.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Love or abuse

Just reading through a sheet of quotes a friend gave me while I was away. This one really called for my attention:

The act of love is to say "I want you to be who you are." The act of abuse is to say "I want you to be who I want you to be." It is that simple.
James D. Gill

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

expectancy vs. expectation

Great post on having expectancy rather than expectation:

Thanks Wes for the heads up.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Inward shaped spirituality

A quote from Simon Holt's blog - I so agree:

As a teacher in spirituality, I am well aware that much that goes under the name is almost entirely introspective—an invitation to hunker down and contemplate one’s spiritual navel. At its worst, this spirituality is self-obsessed, chronically disconnected from the world and its needs, promising much but demanding nothing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's in losing your life you find it

I've been thinking lots about what it means to lose your life, and in the losing of your life to find it. Alongside that I've been thinking about how you can't get "something" by seeking it - it's just by and large not how the paradox of life works; especially not the paradox of the kingdom (which I think is all of life in it's fullness anyway). But it IS most definately a paradox because it's not that we shouldn't seek and work hard at things but it is that generally the things that matter the most come as bi-products in a sense, but certainly can't be "achieved" by striving for them and them being our end goal. I guess in many ways because the things that matter the most are external focused, not in a way that we don't matter or that it isn't to be cherished but that it's not "for it's own sake".

I've also been thinking of the various "tools" we use in life and how they can help or hinder us in this process. One tool that I have been using this year a bit which I do think has significant value in lots of cases, The Artists Way, I reckon for me this year has unfortunately rather than helped me walk on a journey of losing my life and in losing my life finding it, put me more in a place of seeking my life. Let me reiterate I don't think it's the tool in itself - but I do think a combination of factors has meant that for me this year this tool has been something that rather than helping me live more fully has helped me focus on myself unhelpfully.
It reminds me of needing to carefully choose the tools we need, the spiritual disciplines we need, and to continue ensuring they are things that take us in the direction we are wanting to go, ensuring that mixed with what else is happening for us they are helping us really become more shaped in the paradox of the kingdom.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Williamstown beach - how nice!

Spent a lovely afternoon at Williamstown beach - lovely gorgeous Melbourne day. I was there with the 22 month old twins who I am friends with (and their mum!) - and was very fun. Were joined later in the time by a few others for fish and chips at the beach - all lovely, relaxing and muchly refreshing.
I've been thinking lots about how big self-help/self-actualisation/self-improvement is in our society, including our Christian world - and especially about how much I have given into this culture over the years. It's so easy to start seeing it as if it's the work of the spirit. It is in some ways a fine line - although in others it just is so different that there is no way the two could be confused. I think God does use stuff from these fields to help people be more whole but the question for me is what's the driving force behind it - being caught up with ourselves or being caught up with God.

I was asked the other night what it would mean for me to find my life by losing it, particularly in relation to this stuff, and I really do think that it is one of the key questions of our time, particularly for some personailities. What does it mean to give up on our path of self-improvement, look to God and let him shape and mould us. What does it mean to truly seek first his kingdom and not our own?

The outward stuff might look the same - eg. you might explore personaility types but it would be out of response to God rather than to further yourself. One such time for me recently was feeling strongly that it was good to buy a book about losing a parent when I was in New Jersey - this led to reading this book on the place between New York and Seattle and to one of the biggest life defining decisions of my life and has profoundly reshaped my relationship with God - yep that has the hall marks of a God led reading of that kind of book.

But my life is not about me - it's about God; and everything in my life needs to be shaped around that; that is where I believe true life is.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

First time I've ever been called blazze, I reckon!

Point proved - I can't even spell it!!!! (how do you spell blazze?)

First real day back at work on Monday - I have energy, more than I've had for years, and I'm relaxed as anything. A good friend who I work with commented "I love your energy and your blazzeness". As I was telling another friend about it last night - she said "since when have you ever been blazze" - that's about right.

Something is very different. It's a Barb I know, and who a few people know, but not many. and that's who I feel like is the main Barb at the moment - I like it. I hope that Barb can stay. She cares passionately, but is also realistic about life, is extremely able to flex, loves life, throws herself into life, is able to relax fully. But do watch out world, while that Barb parties harder than ever, the energy in that Barb also means much can happen!

Stay around that Barb!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Advent Calendar

Inspired by some stuff we did at Solace Sunday stuff last week I have just done the content and activities of an Advent calendar for some kids I'm close to - and I've had a ball! May well expand it for some others - and maybe adults as well.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Strength in Vulnerability

We had vestry tonight. We do believe we have the best vestry on the planet! My fellow warden keeps me quite happy with cadbury mint chocolate of some variety - but that's not the only reason why vestry is so good! There are many but even that's not what I wanted to write about.

Tonight as we were praying I had what is becoming a fairly normal experience for me. But it is now happening very regularly as opposed to what it has been over the last few years - on some occasions during more "ritualistic, liturgical" communion. Now it's happening most times I pray - especially in a "set aside" way, by myself or with others. The experience is hard to describe. Certainly on the verge of tears starts the description. Immense tenderness also helps the description along. Deep vulnerability that sees all of me and embraces me speaks towards it. I've been known to describe it as being in the same realm as the knownness and vulnerability of sex. Deep knownness and knowingness - that's getting close. It's an amazing experience that leaves me very tender everytime. It was my experience tonight, and last night during communion too - a special, very intimate time that leaves me feeling very raw, tender and vulnerable and loved, embraced, challenged and held.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Life is good

It just is :) Said with a very satisfied, content smil.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Being away and being home

It's been lovely to get back and be able to choose what to do for the first few days and not need to run back into life ... and recover from jet lag at the same time! On Wednesday I had lunch with a good friend and went for a long walk and talk with her. A good friend and the topic of conversation was something that does fit into a "work" category for me - but the relaxedness and shared excitement about what God's up to in her made it so refreshing for me too. It was a gift for us to have that time which we rarely get in that kind of way (even though we speak extremely regularly!). Yesterday in many ways was a whilwind of people - but loads of fun (and proves to me that I'm in a different place to wehre I have been for months, if not longer). After a morning of being on the net and at home (up from 6am due to jet lag), I went to mum's place and sorted through some business and stuff with dad - we got a fair way which was excellent, bathroom all cleaned out now, it's amazing what excitement comes as each next thing i done, and it does feel like we are on the home straight now. Good time together and productive. Then I dropped in at my old workplace and talked a bit about my trip - very fun. Then coffee with another close friend - touching base on our last few weeks; most excellent. Then off to Carlton for a mentoring time with someone - again a great special time. Then home for a while, space and a few phone calls and then across the road for dinner and to catch up with another good friend before she heads off for a week or so. I'm so conscious of the richness of my life in so many ways and the ace people in it: people here and people along way away.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Friday in the air

Last Friday I flew from New York to Calgary via Seattle. If you look on a map or you know your geography - that means I flew over the Rockies twice in one day; another amazing experience. It was a gorgeous, clear day and I couldn't believe just how flat it was and then these sudden huge rises ... an amazing sight. And the snow on the mountains too was beautiful.

Amazing colours

North-east America/South-east Canada in the Fall is one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The scolours while I was there were just stunning. Tracy, my friend who got married on 20th October, has always wanted an Autumn wedding ... as someone who grew up in Bright the colours of trees in Autumn have always been special for her. She couldn't have asked for the trees to be more beautiful than they were at the cottage where they got married. The reds and goldens were just amazing ... As we were up at the cottage in the week leading up to the wedding preparing for the day we watched the trees turn even more over those few days - so that they were just spectacular on the day of the wedding. It was a risk to have a wedding at a cottage in Canada on 20th October but a risk that you couldn't have asked for a better return on! As well as experiencing these colours there - I drove with tracy's parents down to Syracuse in the States and then got the bus from there down to New York - the colours of the trees and the beauty of the landscape that you see off the Interstate 81 is amazing - and I'm told that's boring compared to what you see off the major road. Simply breath-taking stuff.


I spent an amazing time in St Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. God and I wrestled long and hard - and surprise, surprise he won! I was telling the story of this wrestle to the person I was staying with - and the subsequent consequences that led to a further invitation from God that I was struggling with and she said some words that stopped me in my tracks and had me wrestle some more for the next 24 hours - "it sounds like you are in a place of willfulness rather than willingness; willfulness being the complete opposite to the surrender of willingness". Ouch but so true. God worked some more in me and in the silence around the dinner table the next night worked in me to bring me to a place of willingness.

Home now

So it's Thursday 1st November and I got home from Canada/America on Tuesday. It was a great time away and great to get some perspective on life and just have a break from normal life ... and amazing to see more of the world ... and great to spend some time with close friends ... and of course as is normal on these kind of things some quite significant moments.

I'll write some separate blog entries on different aspects of the trip over the coming days.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Great quote

Here's a quote I just read by someone who I'd never heard of before April and now seems to pop up everywhere!

Wendell Berry: "The significance (and ultimately the quality) of the work we do is determined by our understanding of the story in which we are taking part."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


So I'm sitting at a computer in Kingston, Canada. Yesterday was officially the longest day of my life - left Melbourne at 11am (home at 8am) and got into Ottawa at midnight - after being in transit for 27 hours. But it was a good day. Late out of Melbourne and then substantially late out of Sydney, which meant that I missed my connection in LA. So I got put on a later flight to Chicago but still had to go straight to it after going through immigration and customs in order to make it. Then I was on the later flight to Ottawa from Chicago which meant that I got in at midnight rather than 10pm. All good really and I wasn't at all stressed about the delay - except a little about contacting the person who was picking me up. It was all good and quite a fun day really, although long.

I'm not sure that I can put words to what it was but I did a feel a little culture shock at American airports. I guess some words would be much rougher than Australia, service much more abrupt and just a generally different feel. Having said that though people were helpful and lovely.

I read on the plane a fair bit - mostly Hugh Mackay's new book "Advance Australia Where". Interesting to be reading about Australia as you are flying to two new countries.

Arrived in Ottawa at midnight and then the person who picked me up drove me around Ottawa for a while which was great. Then bed ... sleep ... in a bed!

This morning I got up and then was dropped at the bus to Kingston - 2 and a half hours. Arrived and went to Tim Horton's for lunch (had to have cultural introduction!) then back to the house I'm staying at, then down the street in Kingston to get a few things for the wedding I'm here for.

But sleep is calling very soon ... will write more.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It is NOT rocketscience!!!!

Just having one of those moments where life is clear - and it's not about me (although it's a place I thrive), it is about the kingdom ... and so much that often bugs me and matters just doesn't - it's a good place for which I'm thankful! Shalom, peace, grace are all real right now.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Have been talking with a good friend about the different definitions we all have of "friends" and how different friendships are profoundly different and take different forms. Good conversations. But I was amused at one of her comments:
"If I relied on you to text our friendship would be over, if I have a need for a text I text x (her other close friend)"! So so true!
Given my posts a little while ago about texting I thought some readers would get a chuckle :)

Appreciating what is NOW

For a whole range of reasons I've been thinking lots about how I expect that if someone is there for one thing, I expect/want them to be there for the whole journey with something. So if someone is around for the joy of getting a new pet, for example, I expect/want them to be around for the journey with that pet - the learning to train it, the dilemmas about how to get it looked after when I'm away and eventually it's death. There are so many examples of this in my life - and I reckon one key area of my life where I haven't left people free and have placed unhelpful expectations on people. Worse still it has often meant that I haven't been open to the amazing gifts that God is wanting to offer me today - the resources, people and other things that God is offering me today that are quite different to those of yesterday, even within the same journey/issues/experiences. It's also meant that I expect that of myself with how I walk alongside other people - if I was there for something in particular then I feel the need to walk the whole journey alongside someone about that thing - so I don't leave myself free to be how/who/where God's calling me to be today. Again I'm conscious that's not the best way of loving the person or being a co-creator with God in the world. Mmmm ... powerful stuff.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


A couple of months ago at Solace Sunday stuff we writing prayers of the everyday and I wrote a prayer about swimming, which I'm aiming to do way more than I currently am! Here it is:

Creator of the water
Help me sink into the rhythm of the pool
To let myself be as I swim
To submit to the rhythm
And as I sink into the rhythm of the pool
As I let myself be and submit to that rhythm
Work deep within me to help me further submit to your rhythm of life.

Colossians 3

We've been going through Colossians at 5pm. The other week the person leading it got us to write something for ourselves that she then sent a couple of days into the week. Here's what I wrote to myself coming out of a gospel reflection on the beginning of Colossians 3.


It's a mystery
It's a paradox

You can't make it happen
But you can trust that it has happened
It is happening
It will happen

Your life is hid with Christ in God
Be true to that life

Much of your life is not in line with that reality

Live in your new reality
Put on your new self
Which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Continuing the Grief Processing

In many ways I do feel like I'm moving into a different place in the grief zone. I've certianly got more energy and the fog/blur is lifting. But there is still so much to process. And over the last couple of weeks I've been processing the cause of mum's death and autopsy report. They have said the cause of death was a stroke in a lady who had very high levels of alcohol in her system and that a secondary cause of death was high blood pressure.

It's been interesting to process that and more specifically the autopsy report. I wasn't surprised to find that she had significant alcohol in her system - I'd suspected that some of the strange behaviour from her was connected with alcohol, so in some ways it's all confirmation of what I thought - that's nice in a strange way. But the amount was and is shocking - .28 in her blood, and that's probably a lower amount than was actually there at the time of her death. There is also evidence of numerous strokes of different ages and dad now thinks he saw some of those. There is also evidence of some pulminory stuff either as a result of the stroke or the alcohol. And now that I have a sense of how much she was drinking, I certainly don't think this situation was in any way a one off.

So how do I feel? Sad, vindicated, angry, at peace, like truth is known.
But it's wierd to think that these are the actions mum had ended up in.
It so makes me want to choose widely different paths with the things that are struggles for me.

Friday, September 28, 2007

This is what life is about :)

Such a small but big experience happened for me yesterday. In the op shop/church building/community space where I work there was a person out having a coffee in the more community/lounge space of the building. This person is someone who can be quite demanding about things and often will not engage, she's definately up the higher needs end of the people around our area. Lately she's been around alot, we are not really sure how she started coming but since she started coming the space has become a very regular space for her.

A guy who was in a wheelchair was being assisted in buying some trousers by another guy who I think was a personal care assistant and they needed more space than our change rooms in the op shop would allow, so I pointed them through to the toilet up the back of the church property. As they walked through the community/lounge type space, this lady who was having a coffee asked if they wanted a coffee and offered to make it for them - which she proceeded to do while they were trying on the trousers. As they came back she gave them the coffee ... and then left.

It was an amazing experience to listen to - a glimpse of the kingdom and one of those times when I deeply know that what I am involved in is worth it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Unworded grief

One of the things about grief is that it often has no words. What am I feeling? Not even sure that feeling isn't too tangible a word for the experience of grief I have right now ... it just is. It's the blur, it's the state of being, it's just a place. It's not empty, it's not horrible (although I look forward to it not being a place that is a frequent experience), it's not exciting, it just is. Bring on the other side of it - but for the moment ... grey is the colour - dull old grey. (this is in contrast to Clare's song where she writes about black being the colour cause it has no end - my experience today is that it's grey, black is way too intense, I can handle in some ways black better than the dullness of grey!)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Engaged in Life

Been processing a bit about the kind of situations I prefer to be in and ones that I don't - and there seems to be something about choice of what you engage with and also actually being engaged. For ages I've known that I hate lectures/classes ... and I hate tutes just as much, so it's not just about being talked "at". There is something about being told what to engage with when that doesn't work for me (and it's not just about being told what to do!!!). It all feels quite unnatural or something - and doesn't work for my brain somehow. Thinking about it has taken me back to school days and the best ways I worked - which was being way ahead so that when I was in class I was just working in my own space. Interestingly for an extrovert (although I did one of those tests yesterday and came up as an introvert), I prefer to work on things alone, but normally have ideas initiated in conversation with others and like to take things back to others too. So I guess tutes where I'd done the reading and we really were coming for a free form conversation around the reading would be brilliant. And while I do in many ways process externally, it's processing what is already beginning to be processed in me not what the situation I'm in is telling me that's what I need to talk about. So ideally I like to be in situations where we are talking about stuff I have come prepared to talk about - but where the conversation has permission to go wherever it goes. For that to work well though I need to ensure I have done the "pre-work/thinking".
Not only that though - I hate situations by and large where I am not actively involved. I get bored if I am not participating strongly and I just don't want to be in the situation. However, there is another side to that - I also enjoy actively watching! So one of my favourite things to do in a group situation is sit and contentedly let the social situation occur. What I hate however is being asked to be involved in the conversation/activity but not in a way that is fully engaging all of me. And so much of life in our normal ways of interacting asks that of us!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Truth will set you free

Truth is spoken,
Truth spoken in season,
Truth that is ready to be heard,
Truth that reveals brokenness and darkness,
Truth that is stark reality,
Truth that brings actions into the Light.

The Truth will set you free.

SMS - exceptions

And just a note - there are a few people who I do not have exceptionally regular contact with but who are people who sms me to show interest, connection, share information etc on occasions ... who are overseas or interstate ... who are exceptionally close friends ... and who read this blog - your sms's are just fine and lovely!!!! You'll know who you are :)

SMS and how we use it

I've had various reasons over recent days - and the last years - to think about how different people use different technology and especially how different people use texting. A friend and I have often commented on how differently I use texting to others. And we've never been able to pin down exactly what it is - but know that I use it quite differently. Most people who know me well know that texting is fine - but don't rely on a response - I will see it but i won't necessarily respond, particularly if it seems like it's to a group. And I confuse people about my approach to texting because i do use it as a communication method. However, for me it's a fairly intimate communication method - or a very basic communication tool. So it's basically reserved for "I'm running late" or for communication with people who I have very regular contact with and this is just an enhancing mode of contact. Either way it is adjacent to other contact not as a main way of connecting - and I've been thinking about how it can often feel to me as a way of avoiding contact - even though I know for most people it's a way of not intruding (I just say to that - I have voicemail!).

And what's wierd is that lots of other people would feel like that about blogs, facebook, email, even phone - all things I feel very comfortable with ... and feel like it's "real connecting" even when there is not signifiant other contact but sms I don't - bizarre! I don't pretend to get myself - so don't feel obliged to either!!!!!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Inspiring conversations

Had a great time this morning with a Solace board member talking about some of my work. Not sure where what we talked about will lead - in fact it raised more questions than answers but I am starting to learn that the best things come from those places. The trick is to enjoy the questions and to let them lead somewhere but not force them there. The skill in that is an extreme balence - but as natural as breathing if we let it, but one we rarely let happen. It's an active waiting, an engaged emerging process ... one that trusts answers to come and continues to journey with the questions while not forcing the answers - but also not backing away from answers.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Realisation

Yesterday dad had a procedure at the dental hospital. He is in the process of getting dentures so they removed the rest of his top teeth (2). Being the independant creature he is, he went in by public transport but I was on stand-by in case he needed me to pick him up. Last time he had work done he had gone into shock from the pain of the injection, which caused him to have breathing problems (he has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) - they called a code blue and of course called me urgently. On that occasion I went and picked him up, took him to his GP and then took him to mum's to be cared for for the next 24 hours. That was just 2 weeks before mum died (ironically I got the phone call in the same part of the week/day as I got the call about mum - during Tuesday morning staff time). So yesterday, I was on stand-by and got a message saying that they wouldn't let him go home alone because of the anesthetic. So I got into the car and drove in to the hospital. He was sitting waiting. We started walking to the car and he had blood running down his face; obviously we went back. Most people were at lunch but they found someone to look at him, who placed some stuff in to help the bleeding stop. We went to the car again; dad looked shocking, mixture of just how he is in general (not well), grief, pain and just sick of it all. I brought dad back to my place for a while and then took him home (he purchased a unit a couple of suburbs away from me a few years ago for these exact reasons). As we were driving from the hospital to my place, it hit me afresh - essentially I am the only person dad has. The weight of that hit me in a way it never has before. I acknowledged it and then moved away from it - conscious that it was important not to go there right then. But went back to it last night. While 3 months ago I dealt with the acute stuff and then sropped him at mum's to do the recovery - there is no one else now.

A Sad Fact of Life

I am sitting here drinking instant coffee. After years of basically saying I don't drink instant coffee, since i ran out of plunger a few days ago I have been drinking the instant that is stored in my cupboard just in case people want it. Sad!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Being people of the cup half full

A month or two ago at Solace Sunday stuff we were rewriting Psalm 1 together. The thng that has stayed with me from that is "being people of the cup half full". There's lots of ways in the time between then and now that I haven't lived as that kind of person but I definately know that is the invitation and who I long to be.

People only know what one tells them

mmm ... a thought I've been pondering!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Homage to Young Men

Just found this song on a blog. Again words that speak something deep of my current journey - particularly the need for the second stage for the third stage.

Homage To Young Men
Lyric by Luke Concannon
Verses Alastair McIntosh
Chorus Luke Concannon
Music John Parker

I want to talk to the young men out there. It’s for the women too, but especially the men, cos it’s tough to be a young man in this world. You have to face so much heartbreak and loss. In love and career and life. It’s easy to forget the meaning and give up. To burn up or sell out to addictions, despair or greed. Easy to forget that life’s a journey with a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s about navigating the future, your future. It’s about learning to become a man who’s real, and able to love.

Are you waiting for me? Are your hands down in the dirt? We belong together. I’ve been longing since my birth to be arms around you to be true to who we are, to let all our pain out to be playing in your heart.

So let’s talk about the first stage of life. The departure, when your boat is pushed out on the river. Most of who you are is still your small self. The you your family has made you, your schooling and your friends. You’ve still not found your deep self, your Great Self, cos that’s what the journey’s for. So you set out, full of hope, but with a heavy load. All the baggage of your upbringing. All the love, yes, but the fuckedupness too. Maybe the absent father, or the smothering mother, or the cold indifference of those around you. It’s no wonder you’ve a rough ride coming. It’s gonna get tough and it’s got to. So you can find yourself. So you can become a real man.


And that’s when you hit the second stage of life. The initiation in the rapids and the storms. That’s when you find the pain of brokenheartedness. Love affairs that fail, failures in career and all your hopes for what the world might have been. Plenty young men founder grazed on such jagged rocks as these. Bruised and angry in a storm of violence towards self and others. But it doesn’t have to stay like that. No, my friends, not if you push on and open to the inner grace that will bring you courage. The courage to face reality as it is, without lies. The courage to know your wound but to insist on beauty and outgrow it. The courage to open your heart, to hold fast to truth, and to stand each step in your dignity.


And that’s the courage that brings your boat to the third stage of life. To see how your small self is held in a greater Self. And that you’re fit to be an elder in your community, able to share the gifts and the blessings. Able to support and inspire what gives life among your people. And to love your beloved; to love and be loved by the Beloved no less, my friends. Because we’re talking here of love in all its meanings. And you can only love with a deepening heart. And that is why you had to grow courage on this journey to the ocean. That’s what your battle wounds on the field of life were all about. That, my dear friends, is what qualifies you to be a man in your community. Capable of loving and able to be loved…. Capable of loving and able to be loved…. Capable of loving and able to be loved

Another quote on vocation

Just catching up on some blogs I look at and foudn this great quote from Thomas Merton on the Moot blog - interesting after posting the other ones this morning - it speaks so strongly of so mmuch that is happening in me at the moment and the stuff I'm being invited to as a co-creator with God in the universe and especially in my own life:

"Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, our own destiny. We are free beings and children of God. This means to say that we should not passively exist, but actively participate in His creative freedom, in our own lives, and in the lives of others by choosing the truth. To put it better, we are even called to share with God the work of creatingthe truth of our identity. We can evade this responsibility by playing with masks, and this pleases us because it can appear at times to be a free and creative way of living. It is quite easy, it seems, to please everyone. But in the long run, the cost and sorrow come very high. To work out our identity in God, which the Bible calls "working out our salvation," is a labour that requires sacrifice and anguish, risk and many tears. It demands close attention to reality at every moment, and great fidelity to God, as God reveals Godsself, obscurely, in the mystery of each new situation."

Callings and Vocations and more

I love this quote which Anj read to me on the phone this morning and then also put on her blog:

The core and essence of a sustained calling in the ministry is this: to learn more and more to listen, pray, live, and act on behalf of the life of God where it is at work and where it is imprisoned in your fellow human beings.
On Living with a Concern for Gospel Ministry, Brain Drayton, Quaker Press 2006, page 27.

It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes of Westerhoff which a number of years ago was so central to everything I thought about - and certainly still is a foundation for me and which I've rediscovered recently:
"Our vocation is to live the life of a lover, dreamer and visionary who sees miracles on mountain tops and in slums; to live day by day in the conscious awareness of the merciful judgement of God; to be aware of God's active presence in our lives and history; to strive to discern God's will and to act with God as a sign and witness to the coming of God's Kingdom. We are called to join God in embracing and enlivening each other's faith, to help seek out experiences through which divine revelation may be made known to us, and to aid each other in the realization of our vocation."

I pray that I would live more and more in line with those quotes!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cause of Death

1. Cerebrovascular accident in a lady with acute alcohol toxicity
2. Hypertension

A Helpful Website

For those who are interested: I came across this site the other day and reckon it's a helpful comparison between the penal substitution and Christus Victor view of the cross. It's from a personal persepctive but does rigorous theological work; is heavy as the topic is that but also I found readable and helpful.

Relaxing/Time out

Mmm ... interesting, I was at my old work place yesterday and commented to someone that I was on compassionate leave and they commented "that'd be hard for you". My thought was - "actually no".

But it's got me thinking - I reckon lots of people do think something down those lines about me. And I so know it's not true. Giving myself permission is hard, but once I've given myself permission it's as easy as anything. And it's interesting, loads of people who are quite close to me wouldn't see that but I can think of some of the closest few who know it well ... and some others. But I reckon most of the world would think the same as that ex-colleague.

Doesn't really matter what others think - although I do get a bit tired of that perception of who I am - but it did 'cause me some food for thought.

A Simple Hatred in Life

As I was getting a spoon for my porridge I thought of one of my hatreds in life that I felt inclined to share:
eating dessert/cereal etc with a soup spoon or eating soup with a dessert spoon.

Be warned of such hatred :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Changing my name

So it's decided - I'm changing my name back to Totterdell, from Daws.

If you don't know - Daws is my married name and for a host of reasons I didn't change my name when we separated almost 8 years ago or when we got divorced 6 years ago. It has seemed good and natural to continue on with Daws until now. Now however, in these weeks following mum's death there has come a desire in me to go back to using Totterdell, my birth name. Not sure that I can really explain why - it's something very deep in me that's decided to do it. And not sure that I can explain the timing either. But I'm conscious I don't need to - I just need to be sure in myself - and that I am ... so here goes. Happy to talk about it if you'd like - but not sure that I have heaps to say about it other than - it just seems good to do and good to do now.

But as well as that (and I'm sure deeply connected) I've been thinking lots about what it means to "be true" to who we are created to be. We are reading Colossians at 5pm at the moment and the phrase that hit me during the gospel reflection on Sunday was "your life is hid with Christ in God". So what does it mean to be true to our primary identities - that of being children of God, co-creators with God, people who have the breath of the life of God in us etc ... rather than our false selves - the ones that came later, the ones that deny life. I long to be true to my primary identity and there is something in this name change that is representative of that too. (Not at all implying that changing my name or keeping my name as Daws for this long has been bad - just the symbolism is all quite timely and deep)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Holy Play quote

"To a large extent, coming into your own in every dimension of your life is a matter of learning to embrace and engage your power. Your ability to do so will determine your capacity to engage and not feel threatened by the power of others."

Holy Play by Kirk Byron Jones

George MacDonald Quote

"For to deny God in my own being is to cease to behold him in any. God and man can meet only by the man's becoming that which God meant him to be. Then he enters into the house of life, which is greater than the house of fame."

Birth, Dreaming, Death (The Schoolmasters Story)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Something I should learn to NEVER say

Just chatting with a good friend about something I'm thinking about and she commented that I'd said "I'd never do that". As we agreed, one thing life has taught us to NEVER say that! It keeps proving us wrong!

Time out for Adults

So in my processing of what being an adult means and in my thinking through the fact that the way I've lived for years is not sustainable, I've thought lots about time out. I have on and off for years - often making judgement calls either in myself or to the person concerned (!) that what they are engaging in isn't very "adult like". So where did I get these pictures and understandings?

As I've thought about it a bit over the last couple of days I've thought about my family as I was growing up - stuff has changed radically since then but that's what I was shaped by. My dad worked long hours, generally working overtime and often weekends. He gave pretty much everything to that and then some time to me. However, my memory is him working long hours but coming home and collapsing - either in front of the tv or reading a book or newspaper. So the lesson from him - blokes (or adults) work long hours that takes everything from them and then collapse. My mum was a stay at home mum all my life. Her hobbies were much more down the sewing, knitting end but of course because they were part of "homemaking", I haven't separated those off from the rest of her "work". So in what I took in she just kept going in much more low key ways but still the message that I have internalised is "women just keep doing stuff that needs to be done". An exception to this for mum was tennis - which she played lots of ... so again the message for me: to have time off it has to be something out of the house.

Combine all this with a parenting style that said clearly that art and anything of that nature was useless and that what mattered was english, maths, science etc. Also combine that with engaging actively with my faith and church at the age of 13 in ways that engaged me fully from then on. Also combine that with a personality that is very focused on others, often to the detriment of self. Also combine it with messages that reinforce that "biblically".

It's not surprising that this is a recipe for an engaged, fairly driven life that hasn't had much time for time out. In fact, I reckon looking at all that it's only really the grace of God that means it's not been more that! It's also the grace of God that I'm relooking at it and making definate choices to live differently at 32 and not older.

The lovely thing that has been true and that continues to be very true is that it only takes a choice to have time out and it's fairly easy for me - again gracious of God. But the message that has been incorporated into me is "time out is a waste of time and only to be had when you really need it".

And because of who I am and lots about my upbringing too (only child of deaf parents says most of it) really the main time out I can have at this time is by myself - quite limiting really.

Anyway - I'm pretty excited about where all this is going ... and certainly don't hear me blaming my parents in any way (they were just living life as they knew how). For me it's just about understanding where my messages, understandings and habits come from and then choosing what I want to do with them.

And what I want to do is - choose time out well and regularly ... and not just when I really need it.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

What does being an adult mean?

For years now on and off I have been processing in all sorts of ways what being an adult means. And I reckon it's so different to what I believed it was when I turned 18 ... beliefs which have shaped me so deeply and impacted myself and others profoundly. There are certainly different points over the last 14 years where I've thought about and experienced this question more deeply than others but it's impact has been continuous.

And what does it mean to age? Not the kind of aging that happens at 70 or so (although that is just on a continuum anyway) - what does it mean that at 32 you can't do what you could at 22. But that you have wisdom and life that you didn't have then whihc means you can work more productively and where we choose to live more fulfillingly.

As I process life particularly following mum's death, these are some glimpses into questions I'm asking and things I'm processing. Within the first week following mum's death, my key statement was "if I wasn't an adult before now, I am now" - so what does that mean?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Nothing I have to do

It's a lovely Melbourne day. I've just been for a walk in the sun, and the blue sky. I didn't wake at 4am which has been my norm of late (and often when there is lots going on in life). I did wake at 8.30am, got up and had lovely talk with a friend and my cable internet has been connected. Then went for a walk and ended up seeing various people I know which was all good (it's hard to know what being on leave means when you are such a community minded person and when going to the local shops means seeing people from all aspects of your normal life).

But the key statement of the day is - there is nothing I have to do, nowhere I must be. That is so my definition of true rest.

And how I long to be more in that place internally: there is nothing I have to do, sounds like grace to me. I'm glad of what I do know of it & I long to know more ... and am very thankful for what I'm learning about it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What word would you use?

Two separate people who I was talking to today, who don't know each, said at different points in my day today that the journey they are reading of on here is ... rich. What word would you use?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Embraced and Held

A vestry meeting tonight made me more conscious of something that's happening in me. I'm knowing that I'm embraced as I am, where I am more than I've ever known before ... for weeks I've been thinking lots about how there is nothing I need to do and that's just intensifying - that not only is there nothing I need to do, I am embraced, delighted in, in my lostness, darkness and brokenness, in the stuff that is going on in me that is way beyond anything I could describe or even comprehend for myself, I am delighted in.
Now that's deeply a place of healing, transformation and change but in a way far more beautiful, mysterious and precious than I've ever known. Words don't cut it to describe the beauty of what is happening in me.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

More words from Clare

Some other parts of Clare's "The Thing about Grief" that are making me smile in a knowing way today:
"It makes no sense but it's interesting in its own way"
"The about grief is that it gets kind've boring for the people who don't yet know"

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Some clarity on my betrayal

A couple of posts ago I hinted at having committed a mortal sin I'm sure for some readers of this blog - it seems I was way too cryptic! What I refering to was that I had joined the "Melbourne is better than Sydney" Facebook group. So Trish no you shouldn't be horrified by that action (unless you are a closet Sydney lover and I don't know it) but I am sure others will be.

The thing about grief

Clare Bowditch sings "the thing about grief is that the i comes before the e and it's hard to give away because it's the last thing you gave to me". I don't know about the rest of it but "The thing about grief" has gone through my mind much over recent days. Here's my "Things about grief" as they come to mind:

The thing about grief is ...
that it is unpredictable
that it can give so much energy
that it can take so much energy
that it gives a new purpose
that it takes away your sense of purpose
that it is not understood
that others don't know how to respond
that it can be overwhelming
that it is consuming
that it amplifies everything else
that there are ways in which it is delightful
that it drains you of everything you've got
that it is a place on the edge of chaos
that it is a place where you can know God like never before
that it blurs your head
that it gives you fresh clarity
that it is intense
that it helps you enjoy the simple things in life
that it is isolating
that it is a place of abundance
that it is a place of deep solitude
that it is a place of huge aloneness

The thing about grief is that it's the process of life and death colliding.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I'm asking for it!!!!!!

I'm feeling a bit cheeky ... and just did something that's likely to get me in a little bit of trouble - potentially with some readers of this blog ... I wonder whether you can work out what it is? hehe. Let me just say it's my honest opinion ... and to do with another computer hobby (?) of mine. That should be enough.

And to help you some more I could say that in recent years I've been converted to AFL - well at least led to have mixed allegiences ... and I am very happy that Richmond one on Friday night (going out with a mad Richmond supporter last year had that effect on me!).

Although I suspect that some of you agree with me - or at least secretly do even if you may not say it publically ...

okay I reckon I've given myself away to many of you ... (and others won't have the faintest idea what I'm talking about!)

Bring it on if you want to - I'm up for some discussion!

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Journey of Grief

I'm sure some of you are asking: I wonder how Barb's doing? Complex answer really and one that would get quite a different answer if asked in a different hour of any given day. The rollercoaster of grief really is right - I know that so well but the difference of this particular rollercoaster of losing mum has taken me a little by surprise I must say. Even though I have experienced much death in my life for my 32 years, and some of it remarkably close, nothing has really prepared me for the experience of the last few weeks. From sometime the weekend before last I have really been struggling. Don't get me wrong - that's not the whole story - sometimes I can be more "with it" than I've ever been in my life ... but I can also be fatigued, tearful, forgetful, irritable, intrigued, more than ever. In pondering what is going on some words that I have come up with are "the tearing of the umbilical cord" - that seems to come closest to what I am experiencing ... deep grief of tearing, parting, ending, separation, grief that is not as much about closeness or loss of the person mum currently was but rather the grief of the death of the person who brought me into the world. Whatever it is, it's very deep and profound. There is also the other end of that - the energy that has come, the real sense of "life is so worth it", the sense of getting on with it. Currently, that is all so frustrated by the other end of it and being so exhausted from that. However, I know that this intense period of grief will pass and allow some more space for the energy side of it to be fulfilled and actioned. For now, I allow what will come to come and live the journey faithfully, trying hard to live the journey in a way that honours all.

As I've come to terms with the "tearing of the umbilical cord" type side of the grief I'm experiencing, I've also had a really special experience. This tearing I'm experiencing from the person who gave me birth in a physical sense I will never experience with God, the one who ultimately has given me life. In the midst of knowing that separation so deeply, it's huge to experience that so deeply and profoundly too. I'm also struck by the choice Jesus made to enter into that separation. It's profound beyond words, but something I know at a much greater level now than I ever have before and am overflowing with amazement and thanks for.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Breathing easily

Today is a good day. Woke up feeling good about the world and feeling like life was good. I'm so glad at the moment for what I know intellectually and in a lived way about grief and life and health. Being where you are at any point certainly allows for much more life to emerge and after a somberish day yesterday and letting myself be in that place, today emerged with much life. It's a bright day in lots of senses - awoke and felt like I was breathing easily physically and otherwise, great energy this morning at a workshop thing I was at, the sun was shining as we finished that ... and I've just made some headway on some work. But mostly, I'm feeling good and life is feeling good.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Which Death am I Grieving today?

I've been quite subdued today. It's 10 days following finding mum dead (probably 16 from when she actually died), and 3 years since Paul, a good friend, died. Very conscious of both of these people and events today.

Food is one of the key ways I am grieving for mum ... looking for Spicy Fruit Rolls in the supermarket, desperately trying to find her Neenish Tart recipe, being reminded by a friend of my story of mum bringing me ice cream and ice magic as I was watching tv as a kid and teenager.

This morning as I opened a packet of porridge I grieved for Paul - food again. Think I might have a glass of port in Paul's memory tonight.

Thoughts are also with others for whom this anniversary is significant.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mum's funeral tomorrow

The night before the funeral day.
Wierd feeling.
Not bad.
Just wierd.

Not sure what the day will bring.
How to be true to self
But be loving to others.
Not sure where self will be.

Tonight I am thankful,
for where God has me.
For deep peace,
and a sense of wholeness.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Day I Learned my Mum was Dead

What a wierd day ...
One that you are never prepared for,
one you would never dream of,
One though where you know deep peace.

The bizarreness of the phonecall,
The pondering what exactly was coming,
The sense of what can happen in a brief time,
where you are having coffee and your phone is in your bag.

8 missed calls,
two urgent messages from my dad,
a phone call from the police,
a drive two suburbs; still unknown.

The walk to the house,
the being told that she had died,
the walking in and her body being on the floor,
And deeply embracing my dad.

And the pondering of how,
And the pondering of when,
Still surreal but oh so real,
My mum is dead.

The police, the coroner,
Questions about her medical history,
And then she's gone, their gone,
It's dad and me.

The reality sinks in (at some level anyway)
The phone calls begin,
The next week begins,
The rest of life begins.

I am sad,
I know the journey will be hard and long,
But I'm also relieved for her,
That her struggle is over.

I'm grateful, for the peace I have,
for the friends I have,
for the special time alone with her
The chance to say goodbye.

More phone calls,
Funeral plans,
All sorts of emotions,
Are what await me on this day.

But she is at peace,
Shalom she has never known,
Healing and wholeness is now,
Hers in abundance.

I feel so blessed,
surrounded by many,
Cared for and held in so many ways,
From Melbourne to Sydney to Canada.

Deep peace I know.

(On Tuesday 17th July 2007 I discovered that my mum was dead)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Grrr ... computers!

Just wrote a long post that was quite involved and lost it - will probably re-write tomorrow ... for now it's a note of frustration from me!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Place of Holy Mystery

Just reading bits of The Message and saw these words in a way I've never seen them before (from Luke 7):

They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them.

Create Your Own Prayer That Speaks Your Soul

On a semi-retreat this week and this is what I'm centring around:

It would be wonderful to create your own prayer
Give yourself time to make a prayer that will become the prayer of your soul.

Listen to the voices of longing in your soul.
Listen to your hungers.
Give attention to the unexpected that lives around the rim of your life.
Listen to your memory and the inrush of your future, to the voices of those near you and those you have lost.

Out of all that attention to your soul, make a prayer that is big enough for your wild soul;
tender enough for your shy and awkward vulnerability;
that has enough healing to gain the oinment of divine forgiveness for your wounds;
enough truth and vigour to challenge your blindness and complacency;
enough graciousness and vision to mirror your immortal beauty.

Write a prayer that is worthy of the destiny to which you have been called.

Eternal Echoes - Exploring our Hunger to Belong
John O'Donahue

Friday, June 29, 2007

Op Shop update: Stories, Requests and Thanks

Here is an email of stories, requests and thanks I sent to the Solace/St Paul's communities. Putting it here for people who might be interested in this part of my life and also there may be some people around the inner north of Melbourne who are interested - if so please leave a comment with your email address.

Hi everyone,

It's now been 7 months since we took over the op shop. It's been an amazing time and when we stop long enough to think about it we are amazed at what has happened over that time. We've got a number of new volunteers, we continue to build good community, we've cleaned and rearranged the shop, we've got some good systems in place. Things that we would name as God/life moments in some way seem to happen very often.

Here's a few stories:
- a regular customer comes in most weeks with things from her garden or something she has made
- we dreamed of the op shop being a place to help people back into the workforce (we pictured this would be a long way off). People who are in this situation for various reasons have come to us as volunteers and their experience in the shop is being transformative.
- we've been commited to keeping wastage and our impact on the environment as low as possible (hard for an op shop!). This has meant that we have been in contact with a number of different organisations and donating clothes to a number of places who need them (eg. local supported accomodation places)
- we've currently got 10 school students involved in the shop, from 5 different schools. Many of these are students doing their community service part of things like Duke of Ed.
- one of our volunteers, Nick, died a few weeks ago and it was an immense privilege to walk with others close to him a bit during this time (please do pray for Nick's family). We miss Nick and have certainly walked the process of grief ourselves too.
- having regular days where sales takings are above budget.
- people who have been regulars in the shop for years are now involved as volunteers.

So yes it's exciting! Of course, there are days, hours and issues which are long and hard, but the stories of life certainly outweigh those times.

What are our current needs?

- Our biggest need is people!

We've had an amazing number of people volunteer, but most of these due to age, ability or comfort level are not able to be responsible for the shop at a given time. So we are particularly looking for people who would be able to give 4 hours (weekday morning, 9-1, or afternoon, 1-4, or Sat 10-2) to the shop and who would be happy and able to take that kind of role. As you can tell from the stories above, it's as much about building community amongst the volunteers and customers as it is about the running of the shop, although that of course is part of it. If you are interested but
couldn't do every week, it's still worth talking with me (eg. We have one person who does a Saturday every 4-6 weeks). As well as looking for people who can do regular weekly/fortnightly times, it would be great to have people we can call on when one of us is sick or away. Shiftworkers we are also happy to work with your roster! Feel free (and invited!) to pass this information on to people beyond the Solace/St Paul's network who you think might be interested.

Another need is just people around! It's great when people are on Station St and they pop in and say hi to whoever is working in the shop (sometimes we are there by ourselves - an offer of a coffee is always appreciated!). We're also trialling different things in how we offer the space to people during the week for a place to be, people to talk with and coffee and tea. People being in the back space of the St Paul's building and just generally around always makes the feel of the shop better. Would you consider spending some time "around" the building? (which will become a somewhat more attractive possibility with heating solutions currently underway!) This could be planning to be around between 12.30 - 2.30 once a week, organising to meet someone who you would be meeting anyway at the space or just having 30 minutes spare around Station St so coming in to sit and read. If you are interested in the more structured of those things (offering to be around at a particular time each week) please talk to me but otherwise please just keep it in mind and act as you are able. Over time, the building will be used for some specific activities during the week but currently opening the building in this kind of way is the only use of the back space during the day during the week. The shop is open 9.30 - 4.30 Monday - Friday and 10 - 2 on Saturday, so those are the times when any of this would be great. Our current times we more specifically open the back space are 12.30 - 2.30 but it is usable at any time by people who will wash up their own mug etc! Just let the people in the shop know you are going through (Do particularly feel free to let
others you know who might be interested in that who are on Station St a bit eg.mum's who might be looking for a space to breastfeed)

Thanks too for the part that various people in the Solace/St Paul's network have played in this. People have provided lunch on cleaning days, helped clean, provided plastic bags as we've requested them, volunteered in the shop, shown interest, prayed, dropped in, given clothes and other things I can't think of right now. Thanks!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Best food of the week

It's amazing how simple food can be so good! Had porridge with banana and golden syrup at Tin Pot Cafe on Wednesday morning. Had Lamb shank on Saturday night at Stuzzi. Had Vanilla Hot Chocolate also on Sat night, with a peppermint chocolate at CocoInc. And hot corned beef at the Wilson's last night ... strengely reminiscent of my childhood.

Snippets of the last few weeks

Well right now I'm in bed, having felt quite sick today. It's been an interesting couple of weeks. Here's some of the events/thoughts from these weeks:
- Andrea who I went to school with and who I lived with in Year 12 got married to Anthony
- I went to Sydney for Andrea's wedding
- I went to the Good Food and Wine Expo with the John and Diane Thoms
- I had a lovely dinner with Dave
- Tracy, who I have shared so much life with over recent years, went to Canada on Wednesday morning
- I had a phone call to go and pick my dad up from the dental hospital because he had trouble breathing while they were removing his tooth
- I had a great lunch with Shaz, a long term friend who now lives in Brisbane
- I've had lots of fun times with the 18month old twins who I'm friends with
- Ran Solace Sunday stuff and used lots of the resources we've created over the years as well as a good idea I had during the week. But mostly did what I did from a sense it was what would be good to do. Have had a number of responses of it's usefulness for people, from some unexpected places too.
- It's end of financial year this week so trying to ensure things are in line for that
- I went for a swim
- starting to look for new house

Monday, June 25, 2007

Live your way into the answer

Just saw this on Just Etchings and LOVE it. I'm known for my statement "the question is the answer". I love the phrase "live your way into the answer".
Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves ...
Don't search for the answers,
which could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer.
rainer maria rilke

Monday, June 18, 2007

Too much alcohol!

Drive to meeting with friend (who happens to also be my boss)
Discuss having drunk too much alcohol over the weekend (too much over the course of the weekend, not at any one time)
Arrive at meeting
She pours me drink of wine!
I choose to drink it!

Too much alcohol - what's that?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Soul Mama

Last night Rach, Tracy and I (Op Shop Managers and Staff) went to Soul Mama to celebrate all that the last 6 months have been. It was a great night of presence and celebration ... and yummy food. We are very comfortable with each other and able to do life together in all sorts of ways so a lovely evening. We thought about whether it would still be good to do it even though this week has been what it has - but decided to still do it, and I'm glad we did. It was a rich time together.

Basking in the Sun

Melbourne is very much now in winter - I've aquired several new jackets from the op shop over the last year, and enjoying getting to wear them! Today the sky is blue, even though it's also a cold Melbourne day, and the sun is shining. I'm very conscious of basking in the sun today, literally and figuratively.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Privelge and the Pain

On the weekend one of the op shop volunteers died. A tragic death. His struggle had been long, real and hard. We knew him for such a brief time but his part in our life and our part in his was of deep significance. There is no doubt that in these last couple of months of his life the shop was a great part of his life. It has been a privelge to know him and to be a part of his life. We grieve his death ... but are thankful that his struggle is now over. Nicholas Serritelli we hold you dearly in our hearts and are thankful for your life and the brief part of it we could share with you.

And we are conscious of the impact that one person's death has on others, particularly those closest to them and to others who for whatever reason life is very fragile for. We are conscious of Nick's daughter especially. Also, we are conscious of others around our community, some of whom didn't even know Nick, who will be impacted deeply by this death.

This morning a few of us sat in the church building and put together an area in memory of Nick - candles, a cross, takeaway Chai's (we'd introduced him to them), water, words that we thought of as we thought of him - devoted, struggle, good listener, real, honest ..., his favourite cigarettes. We listened to Mia Dyson and the Cat Empire. It was special.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Stranger than Fiction

Last night watched a great movie with a few friends - definately worth checking out: Stranger than Fiction

Time to Post again

Good on you if you've still been reading this blog - thanks! I'm going to aim to get back into blogging a bit ... I know I have said that lots over the years - but this time I suspect that it will happen. So many things going on in mife at the moment - internally and around me. Much that is happening in and around me is not appropriate for a public forum but much is too - so I'll try and write about the things that are. So stay tuned for much more regular posting (I hope).

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Loneliness - the way of the Cross

I had cause to reflect today on just how lonely some aspects of my journey are. Don't get me wrong - I have ACE people around and in much I am very content with who is around me - they are great! But today I was very aware of the loneliness of some aspects of my life - particularly around some things I'm involved in organising for Easter. After having mentioned it to a friend as we were discussing Easter and what we are planning, I came away and processed what was going on for me a bit. And then I had a profound moment. Simple but so profound it blew me away. Loneliness was exactly the journey of Jesus on the path to the cross ... and at the cross. Phew - that's blown me away for the rest of the day.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Transformative Grace

Here's another way of describing the things that I was trying to describe below in the post "mystery". Thanks Anj for reminding me of these words of Richard Foster:

When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human power of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change within us is God's work, not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside. We cannot attain or earn this righteousness of the kingdom of God; it is a grace that is given.....

God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving His grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.

Richard Foster
Celebration of Discipline
Harper & Row, 1978, pp. 5-6.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Question of Discernment

Paul Fromont share some questions of discernment which he has heard from Rowan Williams. I love them and find them really useful.

Some important questions for reflection at the heart of discernment:

(a) What course of action more fully seems to resonate with the kind of life Christ lived and lives?

(b) What course of action opens up more possibilities for God to ‘come through’?

(c) What opens rather than closes doors for God’s healing, forgiving, reconciling, and creating work to go on?

“There is no guarantee that in any situation there will be only one clear and compelling answer. In the process of asking these questions, in the very process of reflecting and discerning we are making space in ourselves for the life of Christ and the creative movement of God…”


There have been some things that I've been wanting to change in my life for ages that I have just seemed powerless to change, things that God's calling me to that have seemed so basic but just so out of reach. Over years I've seen difference but it continues to be a battle and I often get discouraged in it all. Last week a conversation helped me to both relax in it but also be more serious about it at the same time! I realised that the sadness that I felt over my lack of ability to live in the way I'm being called to - and even more the results of that - is actually something that will get worse not better as I live in it more ... the more you know (experience kind of know) God and live in the ways he's calling you to, the more you will be sad about the ways in which you are not. So I've had to face the question of "do you want the sadness to go away or do you want to know God?" - and have certainly resolved that I want to know God and if sadness comes with that territory, so be it.
But in the meantime something mysterious has happened in me - in these things that seem to have had a hold on me for so long, I'm seeing real difference. Not thru striving or really working hard at deciding but really just thru making the kind of call I've talked about above and I guess (in quite a low key way really) looking to God to do it because I know I can't myself and giving up on some of the other answers of how change might come. What I've expereinced, observed, seen in myself is just a welling up of choices in the direction that I'm being called to walk in. It's almost (but not quite) like "of course this is what you'd do".
As this is happening I guess a couple of things have been in my mind: "what the law was powerless to do" ... I'm seeing so clearly that living by the "law" (even God's call in a sense) is powerless to break the hold of darkness, lostness and brokeness in me, as is disgust, striving, systems or any of the other things I've tried over the years. The other thing is the fruit of the spirit in the message "What happens when we live God's way? We see fruit arising in us in much the same way as fruit appears in an orchard ..." Yep that describes the experience I'm living. Deeply mysterious but deeply real and definately life producing.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Self-revelation; Authenticity

It's bizarre for someone who has always kind of prided themselves in their authenticity to have that reality challenged but that is what is happening for me. A range of things that have happened recently have encouraged me to be more true to myself in what I reveal to others. I guess over the last while I have got somewhat self-protecting in what I choose to reveal to others - having gone from a place where I reveal too much for unhealthy reasons, I've gone in some ways to a place of not revealling where really it would be good to reveal more. I've especially been really conscious of the invitation to others that my appropriate self-revelation is.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Back to the Blog

Talking to someone about things on their blog yesterday, they pointed out just how long it had been since I blogged so I thought I would change that :) I have been reading blogs and life has been very full and also much of the stuff that has been happening for me has not been appropriate to be put in a public forum ... but much has but I've just been too busy living it! Or not enough emotional energy to sit down and right about it. The last few months has seen Tracy and I take over the op shop completely (on behalf of St Paul's), I ran all the Solace Sunday gatherings in December including an inter-generational Christmas Eve service which was one of the best gatherings of that style I've ever seen I reckon (had lots of fun working with my friend and colleague Naomi on it), we ran Children's Advent activities in December in Station St Fairfield, I've been preparing for and then supporting Scripture Union missions around Victoria (just a small job!!!!), I've resigned from my job and finishing on 23rd Feb. Those are the external things. Alongside that much is also happening internally. At one level I'm exhausted in every possible way, at another I've never been more alive. Much is opening up in front of me, some I know what's happening, most I don't, much I have glimpses of what God's up to but not the whole picture. I reckon I'll be back a bit more regularly now (well that's not hard given my recent history!).