Saturday, November 14, 2009

Warn me someone!

Would someone please warn me next time I start praying this prayer regularly that God's taken me on an interesting journey the last two times I've done that.  Yet again this prayer makes it onto this blog!  Thanks Thomas Merton!

My Lord God
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Spiritual Needs?

Some people I'm around have been talking in terms of people's spiritual needs.  I have been uncomfortable about these words - for some reasons that I have been able to touch into and some that I haven't.  The ones I have been able to touch into have mostly been personality driven but I knew that there was more to it than that.  So I've sat with it.

Today, while thinking about a tweet that I read the other day which I was also uncomfortable with about "God help us for the fact that people go to different churches or ministries according to what they need", some of my thoughts clarified.

I am very comfortable with people being involved in the process of giving and receiving in various contexts - I don't think the Bible in any way indicates something about "you must be part of one spiritual community".  I do think that it's important that we live in true spiritual community - but that can be in many contexts.  We are as likely to not be living in ways that allow others in as part of one community as we are living in relationships of authenticity, honesty, openness and growth in whatever contexts we find ourselves - Christian and otherwise.  It's much more about our attitude than it is about whether we have "a" spiritual community.  We are not an island, others do have a right and responsibility in the context of relationship to speak into our lives and we have a responsibility to hear and evaluate their words and their wisdom before God with openness, humility and critique and make changes based on those evaluations.  We need to live with others in such relationships as to make that possible (now there's the challenge!).

So, given that, how do we choose what contexts we are in?  This is where I agree with the tweet - I don't think it's based on our "needs", if our "needs" is simply "wants going to give me the connection with God I need" or something like that.  That's what I am uncomfortable with in the wording in the first situation I outlined.  Firstly, I think the question is "what context/s is God inviting me to be in - right now, today, for this season?"  Sometimes we have a clear sense of that - and in our own discernment aided by those around us, we need to go with it even if it doesn't make "sense".  Sometimes, to help us answer that question we need to ask some other questions.  I think the real questions are not what are my "needs" but rather something along the lines of "what context/s would it be helpful for me to be in to empower my being in the world in ways where I 'live freely animated and motivated by God's spirit'?"  Here the focus is not on me and my needs (which I think is dangerous in a consumer culture) but rather on God and God's world and our place in it.

To be honest, I think some of the issues that I'm uncomfortable with are somewhat ones of semantics in this case (ie. I think the people using the words would be on somewhat of the same page as me).  However, they are semantics which matter to me.  In a culture which all the time teaches me to consume, I don't want to be reinforced in this consumer mentality which puts me at the centre in my engagement with spirituality.  I want the way I think about all the contexts in my life - spiritual community and otherwise - to keep reinforcing a perspective which places God and God's agenda and ways at the centre and it being from that place that I make decisions about the contexts in which I engage in.  I want to form others in ways that reinforce those things.

I guess the words matter to me because they form me and others deeply.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Great Saints, Great Sinners

Great Saints, Great Sinners

Richard Rohr
Sin and grace are related. In a certain sense the only way we really understand salvation, grace, and freedom, is by understanding their opposites. That's why the great saints are, invariably, converted sinners.

When you finally have to eat and taste your own hard-heartedness, your own emptiness, selfishness and all the rest, then you open up to grace. That is the pattern in all our lives. That's why it was such a grace in my hermitage year when I was able, at last---even as a male and a German---to weep over my sins and to feel tremendous sadness at my own silliness and stupidity.

I think all of us have to confront ourselves as poor people in that way. And that's why many of our greatest moments of grace follow upon, sometimes, our greatest sins. We are hard-hearted and closed-minded for years, then comes the moment of vulnerability and mercy. We break down and break through.
Source: Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Being Busy

"Being busy is a form of laziness : lazy thinking and indiscriminate action. Being overwhelmed is as unproductive as doing nothing, and far more unpleasant. Being selective - doing less - is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few, and ...ignore the rest. Lack of time is actually a lack of priorities." From Derek Sivers' website, notes on Tim Ferris' book

Monday, October 12, 2009

Enneagram Twos

Twos learned two things growing up: to put other people's needs ahead of their own, and that they must give in order to get. Twos feel that if they take care of others, others will take care of them. (The Power of the Enneagram audio tapes)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Poverty in the West

Love this quote :

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”

-Mother Teresa

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Megalong Valley

The creek where we scattered Phil's ashes ...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Voices: The Carrical Project

The other night I went to a performance of Voice: The Carrical Project
as part of the Fringe Festival. It's a performance put on by Scotch
College, along with Servants in Hawthorn and supported by the City of
Booroondara. Carrical is a rooming house that is run by Servants in
Hawthorn, which has close connections with Hawthorn West Baptist
Church. The director of Voices has been connected with Hawthorn West
and Carrical for many, many years. This performance came about
through a coffee conversation between the person who ended up
directing Voices and the CEO of Servants in Hawthorn/Carrical. What
came about through that conversation was connection and conversations
between students of Scotch College and a performance telling the
stories of the residents of the rooming house. It was a great and
truthful honouring of their lives - including the life of someone who
recently died - and a project that achieved so much on so many levels.

A great dream becoming a great reality, coming out of the faithfulness
of a community to this work over many years.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Are we willing to give up?

Our hope for the future lies not so much in what we are able to give, but in what we are willing to give up; not in what we are able to do, but in our willingness to do without.
(Daniel Deffenbaugh, via Waving or Drowning? via Inward/Outward)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One of the joys of my day ... At Campion in Kew

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Loving the Wilderness

While it's not my current place in my own journey (ie. I don't feel in a wilderness place), I do love and relate to this post about loving the spiritual wilderness.

Others Doing the Promoting for You

During the week I read this post by Seth Godin.

It made me think about the work that we are doing in our local area.  We have more children and families in our drop in space for families everyday than really is comfortable.  This comes from really starting this space operating like this in October last year - not long at all.

It was after a long process of presence, prayer and discernment and a commitment to the building and our actions being for the use of the local community.

Regularly, we have people coming in because they have heard about it from someone we don't know.

One my co-workers in all this wrote this in response to reading Seth's post - it is so true and most excellent:
People in the first circle aren't interested in telling others about the thing we are doing, they want to share the place where they, their children and their friends belong. 

Thomas Merton Prayer

In another season of my life this prayer by Thomas Merton was of great importance.  At that time I re-wrote it with the specific work God was doing in me at the time.  It was interesting and timely to read it this week on this blog.  I plan to also start the discipline of praying it daily.

My Lord God
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Are we Objects to be Saved?

Thanks to Anj for this quote:

When people become objects to be saved, we lose sight that we are all created in the image of God and everybody loses.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

A couple of unsung heroes

A couple of my friends are away this weekend. They are a part of a
group of people who are committed (too soft and too strong a word at
the same time) to a particular local area and network as God allows it
to emerge. We're close but due to a range of factors have only had
passing conversations about many things in recent weeks. I knew
they were away with this "mob" this weekend and had pictured in my
mind 5 - 10 people away for a weekend. A few days ago I realised that
it was 20 people going away - this friend of this person, and this
other person who knows everyone through this; you get the drift. It's
a retreat with sessions of reading the Bible together and such things
- who knows how much some of these people have read the Bible before,
and I have no doubt that with this mob reading the Bible with them,
they'll come away excited about it and seeing it as a natural thing to
do. It'll be a messy, real weekend I'm sure. But one with much love,
fun, care and presence.

What's brought it all about? No question - God! Also no question (as
a subset of that): the "mob" concentrating on what God's up to in them
and trusting God to do his job of building the kingdom; being present
in the miriad of places that they find themselves each day and open to
who and what they find there; being expectant that God is working for
the kingdom and watching for opportunities to join him in it; not
needing "it" to be anything and so letting what will emerge happen;
being real in the mix of the real messiness of life. These are just a
few of the things that I think contributes to the miracle of what it

I love that I get to journey with these guys and that we get to shape
one another in our journeys as God continues to do his work in and
around us.

Coffee Break Prayer

Coffee and Barb - not a theme at all!!!

I like the idea of this (
- I'd probably change some of the specifics - I wonder what might work
for you?

I love the idea of the time, of using the segments of a coffee break
to prompt different things, of using the "aroma" idea, of the time
slot being a possible thing for most people to do, of the possibility
of doing it alone or with others.

If you use it, do feedback on here how you work with it and how it goes.

Increased Posting

As you will have noticed, I've posted a few things over the last
couple of days - expect it to continue!

For a long time, I've felt the invitation from within myself, as well
as, I think, an invitation from God to post more. To post more of my
thoughts, to post more links to other blogs I'm reading, to post more
about the things I'm giving my life to. There have been many reasons,
good and not so good, that I haven't followed this invitation - but I
plan to change that now. So expect an increase in blogging - of all

I'm in an incredibly rich time. Much is happening in and around me.
Much of this I won't choose to blog directly around - for my own
privacy, the privacy of those around me or the confidential nature of
the issues. The thinking and some of the experiences that these
situations bring about however will of course be discussed. I'm happy
to discuss much of the specifics of the issues with people as is
appropriate in off line or one-one forums - so do feel free to ask
more if you'd like; I just think it's wiser to be careful in the
public context of a blog. If you are closer to the situations in my
life - be careful what you assume I'm talking about, there are so many
things going on around me in my own life and the lives of those I'm
connected to, it would be wise to not draw conclusions - there's your

That leads to a couple of the reasons that I've hesitated blogging and
some of the reasons I'm now changing that. One of them is exactly the
issue I've just written about - people assuming they know what I'm
writing about (and they may or may not be accurate) or the difficulty
in knowing the appropriate level to blog at. One of my other
hesitations has been around feeling nervous around being public around
my thoughts in a whole range of areas. A whole range of things that
have been bubbling away in me for a long time, along with both some
conversations of this past week, as well as just the "energy" to do
it, has encouraged me to change that. The quote in the previous post
about boldness and humility links in well.

All who are thirsty

A great post about coming to Jesus with all our thirsts - our healthy ones and not so healthy:

(I write this as I sit drinking my morning coffee - love the irony!)

Loved lots of things about the post but one paragraph I love especially follows from talking of how Jesus doesn't take the disciples away after saying that if you are thirsty come to me.  It speaks deeply of many things in my current place.  Here is the next paragraph:

"While this frustrates me, it's also true that these open ended statements are part of what makes the Bible live for every generation. Because everything's not spelled out, we need to wrestle with it, pray about it, talk about it, contextualize it, and hold our answers with enough boldness to explain why believe them, and enough humility to discard them when more light shines on our convictions and shows us we need to shift."

Do you love people or things?

A person who I used to work with and a good co-journeyer reminded me
of this quote the other day - not sure where it comes from:

"There are people who love people and use things and there are people
who love things and use people."
(things can be anything - not just tangible things: might be a dream,
might be money, might be a building, might be an organisation)

I pray to be a person who deeply loves people and uses things of all

Friday, July 24, 2009

Precious Moments

I have had so many precious moments over the last few months, like all moments these are never to be repeated ... and some of them have been shared with someone who I will never share moments with again.

The moments that I had with Phil between 16th May and 9th June were some of the most precious of my life.  One of the nurses came into my workplace this week when I wasn't there and spoke with a workmate/friend about how fast it was - certainly was that.  I remember distinctly speaking with someone an hour after the phone call and sensing the specialness of what I was doing at that point - and that was before I really knew what the following week and month would bring.  It was a special to be trusted at the level I was by someone who didn't trust easily.  To have moments of connection around emotions of being scared and of frustration.  To walk the journey of coming to terms with illness and death.  The sharing the moment of going into an unconscious state for the last time. Words don't come anywhere close to expressing the specialness of all that month was.  

Precious, important, special, a gift - those are some of the words that speak of some of those moments with Phil during that month.  

Moments - they are all we have - each one special and a gift, every one of them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I had a great night talking with some friends and co-journeyers about some of our dreams.  Tonight we were mostly focused on one of the others dreams - she was in the "hot seat", being the person where the most pressure is on for her next steps.  It was a precious conversation where we were all being truly ourselves and speaking meaningfully and deeply.  We were able to speak truth into my friends dream.  Truth that rang true, but truth that was the hardest things we could have said.  We spoke about how to be really true to who we are and what we are uniquely made for is the most scariest thing we can do in our lives because it is in fact exactly that - facing and owning who we are at our core.  The most freeing thing, yet the thing so many of us avoid so skillfully.  Having spoken about that, we also spoke about the reality that if we are not prepared to face ourselves honestly then we are also not able to cope often with others facing themselves honestly.  As well as some tangible outcomes for our friend, we came away continuing to be encouraged to live true.  We also came away having deeply experienced church.

Monday, July 20, 2009


It's amazing - sometimes you don't know that you are so desperately thirsty until the thirst is quenched.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


A little while ago someone semi jokingly commented on the fact that I should write a book about Grief and Loss - I've certainly experienced enough of it in my life.  As I sit in an ideal situation, overlooking the ocean with indeed blue sky all around me, I ponder grief.

Today, I am deeply thankful for grief.  Grief aligns my priorities.  Grief forces me to do the work of deep knowing of self.  It forces me to understand myself as truly alone in the world.  Grief treats people as that of deep importance.  Grief forces deep honesty.  Grief is precious - it can't be manufactured - it is what it is.

Grief is also exhausting and alienating.  It won't allow your defences to get in it's way.  It refuses to give it's gifts without the recipient enduring the pain.  It is no respecter of things that need to happen or how the person wants to present.  It comes as it wishes, to do its wish.

I am very aware that you either go with grief, or you pay the cost in many, many ways.  I'd prefer to go with it.  Grief continues to make me the person I am today.  As I think through the last 10 years of my life, or even 15 years really, I can name deep grief at many points.  The work grief has worked in me, and continues to deeply work in me, I am immensely thankful for.  

What are we on about?

The source of life is God - that is a truth that I know deeply.

Various things recently have had me pondering what is important in the ministry that I engage in.  What is the point?  For me, there is deep meaning in helping people experience wholeness in life in any way - I want to help the world be a place where people are loved and experience more wholeness in all sorts of ways.  The faith expressions that I grew up with were not, in my opinion, focused enough on this - ie. what I would now call creation theology and the call of God to be involved in the work of his kingdom for all people / all of creation.  More recently I have been around contexts and theology that has very much been on about this - and I'm thankful for that.

However, for me, this involvement stems from a deep knowledge of the love, embrace and forgiveness of God, from a deep relationship with my creator, redeemer and sustainer.  Often I feel that in some of the contexts that I and some of my friends are around, we lose sight of some of the other parts of the spectrum - what does it mean to encourage others into a deeper relationship with the one who brings true wholeness, the one who is indeed the creator, but who is also redeemer and sustainer.  I want to encourage myself and those around me to continue to look to this one alone for life - it's only in Him that I believe life in all it's fullness is found, it's only in Him that we have the power to live the life He has invited us into.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


A few things over the last few days have prompted me to think about story.  I've been watching the movie "Australia" over the last few days and the phrase "all we really have is our story" hit me.  It's so true - and how precious is each of our story.  What would it mean for us to live into our story more? Embrace our story more?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Your focus

Great quote via this blog:

"The more you focus on something -- whether that's math or auto racing or football or God -- the more that becomes your reality, the more it becomes written into the neural connections of your brain."

-Andrew Newburg, neuroscientist

The last minutes and hours of life

Having spent much time beside the bed of a very unwell person recently and many hours in a couple of hospitals, I've had some time for reflection.  I've also had lots of times of really being present in the moment - I'm so glad I am able to be that now.

As I sat with my uncle just hours before he died - between when he was last conscious and when we finally died, I found myself using one of the many resources that are deep within me - it was some words from Julien of Norwich "All is well, all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well".  I found myself saying it repeatedly in time with my uncles breathing.

On reflection, I remembered another story of someone with a person close to them in the last minutes before they died - praying the Lord's prayer.

These combined experiences have made me ponder - what is it like at these times without deep spiritual resources of some kind that are beyond the cerebral?

Freshly engaging with the Bible

As we were organising a funeral for a close family member recently, I had the delight of watching someone engage with the Bible in a way that was fresh, interested and found meaning.  As the minister gave her a Bible and opened it to a passage he thought might be a good place to start, she said "no I don't like that" and then looked across the page and noticed another bit and went "what about this, it's so perfect for him; can I start anywhere and finish anywhere; what are these numbers, are they phrases?"  It was great watching someone engage and feel like they could find meaning in a book that they obviously have rarely engaged with, at least for themselves.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Everything changes in a second

A phone call at 11am.
At 9pm board a flight from Melbourne to Darwin.

A full week planned,
Everything is cancelled or covered.

A weekend in Daylesford,
changed to a week (or so) in Darwin.

Things that really matter,
Suddenly are in perspective.

Amazement happens at the thought of preparation,
Of life working together towards this moment.

God is known deeply,
Shock is real.

Aloneness feels good and precious mostly,
with moments of longing for others.

Don't know what moments the days ahead will bring,
But comfort in the preciousness of each moment.

In a second, a conversation, a moment,
life changes.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


I am testing posting via email.

Quotes from Rohr

I love these quotes from Richard Rohr:
“Everything circles around what you do with your pain. If you don’t transform it, you’ll transmit it.” 
“Without an encounter of real transformation, idolatry is inevitable.” 
which was on this blog.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

More Time?

I like this post by Seth Goddin.
Why not make that decision rather than waiting - more time will probably only create anxiety not a better decision.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Why should you run something?

Over the last while, I've been think about the question around how you decide to run a "program", group or event and I have been shifting in my thoughts.

I, and many in the faith community network I'm part of, have come from environments where from good motivations at the core, there has been lots of pressure for people to be involved and run Sunday school, youth group, be on committees etc but where that often means people doing things from a sense of guilt or duty.

Moving away from that (and towards other things), we have considered it much more important for people to do things because they have a need for it (and invite others into that) or to have a passion for it.  So if no one feels the energy for something then it doesn't happen.  I have been a supporter and promoter of that.

I'm not sure about it anymore - probably more accurately, I am moving from that place.  I don't think that is the path of discipleship.  I am moving more to thinking what's appropriate to ask the questions of "what is needed in this setting" and "what can I offer / what is God calling me to offer".  The key difference in this is the focus on others not the focus on self.  I know so deeply that it's in giving our lives that we find our lives (rather than in looking for our own lives) and I think that what we/I have been living in for a while actually is something that is a different path to that.  I don't think now that it's the path of discipleship.  I certainly don't think it's the path of the cross and resurrection - the path of life.

Thankfully, God works through all sorts of things and I've seen much fruit of the perspective I have had / been leading in but for me it has assumed that the foundations are missional and outward looking and more and more I realise that is an unfair expectation for most people.  It's hard to be discovering that you disagree with some key perspectives you and others around you have lived in.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I'm discovering that proximity is an important reality for me.  It can be proximity in many ways - geographical, relational, technological, mutual goals, contact; somehow "closeness" is important, whatever the form.  As I have thought about some people I've been equally committed to and what has fostered the development of one relationship and our relating and what has hindered another - proximity has been what I've begun to explore as the distinguishing factor.  The more the levels of proximity overlap, the greater the room for the growth of friendship, mutuality, the knowingness and being known and presence in each others lives.  This means that I share life more with some people in other countries who are also technologically connected than I do with some people who I dearly like to who live in the next suburb.  It also seems for me that proximity produces proximity (I am more likely to initiate relating with people who are proximate than the one who is not proximate).  

The realisation of this in the last 24 hours has freed me not only in the particular context I was reflecting on but others where the reality of life just does mean we are not in proximity.  Doesn't mean I care any less but given what I'm discovering about myself (probably in some degree everyone) it is the reality that governs who and what I am going to give myself to.  

It's also helpful to reflect on because it does seem that it means that I'm increasingly focused on the present - which is a marked and very healthy shift for someone who has spent alot of time holding onto the past.

The current moment is all we have and it is precious.


I have been reading lots recently and have been really refreshed and empowered by it.  I have recently read a book called "The Social Entrepreneur" by Andrew Mawson.  It's a great book.  There are lots of things that I have been led to think about and do coming out of reading it but one thing that has really impacted me is his take on fairness.  I'm not sure if it's a quote or not but there is certainly a sense that the concept of fairness hinders innovation.  Intrinsically many of us value fairness; we have been brought up understanding that it's an ideal principle.  But where do we get that from and is it actually what creates the best society or even does it work?  As I ponder this, I've been thinking about it in all sorts of contexts: two three yr old friends of mine are regularly heard saying "but that's not fair" (I'm sure you can all imagine that well!); the concept of fairness hinders freedom as I think about who I am in different relationships - if I concentrate on fairness across relationships I actually can't really give myself in a real, mutual and present way to any relationship; as I think about conversations about the future direction of the community space/church building I'm involved in reshaping the concept of fairness can threaten to stiffle forward movement so much so that in wanting to be fair to all we would not really do anything well for anyone; is God 'fair'? increasingly I think not!

Removing 'fairness' as a value allows great freedom and treatment of people much more as people and less as objects, it allows from the heart responses, it allows us to make a difference in the corners of the world where we can, are present in and have passion for which has to be better for everyone in the long term. 

Farewell 'fairness'!