Saturday, April 20, 2013


The mind is such a vast concept, especially as I've been told I have the mind of Jesus. Well not just me. A whole bunch of us have it and the taste of bread and wine fires thoughts of forgiveness and seventy times seven chances.

I'm starting with what I can see and hear and touch, because input is where we begin to interpret and convince ourselves that we understand. It's unlikely we fully do.

The air is cool because it's after midnight and the buzz of the hardware is muffled by the wind. I'm not in bed. Why not? I know so much better, but make the same dull mistakes over and over. Like a story about rip-off merchants on Today Tonight. Or maybe it's A Current Affair? You're right. It barely matters.

The world is full of writers and they type at odd hours and they tweet about it later, so you'll go and read their stuff. Or buy their books, and at least that'll keep them in coffee for their coffee machines, or perhaps bread for their toasters and milk for supper and the cat. Because Don was right. (He usually is. In his blunt and laughless way.) What the world needs is another Christian book.

So I'll soothe myself by calling this listening to the world. Listening, in order to hear and understand. Perhaps. Looking and observing. It's not easy to really see what's happening. Context matters, and perspective, and the kind of font you use, to say what you think is most important to get across. Not much really poetic or profound gets said in Comic Sans. I've noticed that it's a struggle to touch profundity with words at all. It's too much about an ache in my chest. Or perhaps a slow letting out of breath.

Predictably, I'll try. This is a blog, after all.

I'm trying to write research, too. To put the figures and data I collected, into context and make it scientifically presentable. Perhaps they'll realise how little I know, so I do nothing, betraying the fact. I'm longing to discover that inspiration is not so much about sweat and discipline. More about having unexpectedly discovered brilliance. Perhaps this is three year old petulance and fear of failure. And I don't want to be a perfectionist.

So the air is cool, and it's after midnight. The wind carries oak leaf rustle and an icicle. Part of this is experimental. An attempt to start. To put wishes into action. Disappointed that it's not enough, and knowing that I'll never know when to stop. How could it ever be enough?

I know I have perpetual struggle to put the life in my head into practice.

I'm howling at the moon and it helps me know I'm alive.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Boss

I was twelve when Bruce Springsteen came to Sydney and I wished my dad would take me. I'm not sure I ever told him and he certainly didn't suggest it. I played the LP on dad's turntable and found my first famous person hero. The faded wish to see him lingers. Somehow he was the whisper of what it really meant to live and love passionately. So much more than he ever set out to be, and a life outside of his own corporeal existence.

I got married fifteen years later and we laughed over identical copies of Ghost of Tom Joad. We lay on the ugly blue carpet, smiling at the ceiling, and talking Springsteen.

Last night we sat in a room with Bruce. Us and a few thousand others, as he sang until he was exhausted. He crowd-surfed and joked. He dared us to get up and dance. The music was incredible, the band generous and exuberant. And now I've seen Bruce Springsteen. Seen him totally enjoy himself and totally spend himself.

He's a fascinating hero, partly because of his mystery. He's a little bit poet, a little bit philosopher. He's a little bit political and a little bit reclusive. I suspect he's pretty normal if you know him, and then he's a performer who loves to give a big show. He sings with all his passion and mourns for the lost of the world. He tells prosaic stories in epic ways.

He's an ideal hero, because I can read my own emotion and passion into him.

The memories I have, of listening to his songs, draw me back to the emotion of teenage me. In a funny way, he was a father alongside my dad. Not an everyday, bodily dad. But the dad of my emerging dream self. The big brother who taught me about life and love, in songs. Funny things, heroes. I'll never speak a word to him, but he'll have shaped my soul. Just a little. But enough that thirty years later, I can see the imprint. Feel the wish.

We spend a lot of time tut-tutting at foolish or ridiculous famous people. The ones that would just be embarrasing or shameful, if we didn't all know their names. But here's to the regular famous people. The ones who perform big but live ordinary. Who inspire us with their passion but exist without us in mind. The unselfconsciously famous.


Friday, March 8, 2013



But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life. Psalm 42:8

Sometimes I mourn the thoughts and inspirations of yesterday. Regret their transient fragility. Will them back to consciousness.
Time casually evaporates them and new ideas take their place. The regret lingers. Is it the lost opportunity of impressing you?

Other times, I imagine the future. Count down the interim, until I'm there. Where exactly?

I could think myself the most important person in the world. Lots of us do.

Stop. Time to be here and now.

Sit with the jittery man, who averts his gaze. Cravings for a drink shame him. Listen to him.
Sit with the fragile woman who can't tell her ex that he's no longer welcome to invade her house. She can't remember ever saying no to anyone, and her shoulders carry that. Listen. Don't forget.

Sit with the proud man who needs to have the last word. Don't resent him for it. Maybe just figure out a gentle way to guide the conversation to a place of common ground. There's something to learn from him, too.

Respect. Respect, genuineness and authenticity. That's a tall order and I want to gradually wear them into my skin. Practice them.

Perhaps this is how a call gets lived out.

Each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Colin Hay

Colin Hay is a very funny man. He's a musician, who plays guitar, writes spare, honest lyrics and peppers his time at the microphone with hilarious anecdotes. We've been to his shows twice and he has a way of drawing you into his stories.

He's obviously a talented musician, because he has three guitars on stage and swaps between them. They all looked the same to me, but he's good because he knows which one for each song. I think one was a twelve string guitar, but let's face it, we were at least five metres from the stage and well who can tell that stuff anyway?

He talked about sailing to Australia, from Scotland when he was fourteen years old, and that's a little of the reason my husband is a fan because he did the same thing when he was six. He told a story about having Paul McCartney over for dinner and Paul doing the dishes. Badly. And I'm sitting at the table, too, listening to Paul McCartney rinsing the crockery under the streaming tap.

He talked about becoming an alcoholic, and trying to stop drinking. He found it hard to stop here in Australia, because no one wanted to agree that he was drinking too much. Perhaps it was too confronting to their own alcohol intake. So he moved to California, and stopped drinking there. He talked about getting up and having breakfast one day, and thinking "Well. What now?" His question  embodied the deep lostness and grief of giving up what is most habitual to you. Even (perhaps especially) destructive things.

And the experience of loss and change and discovery evolved into this beautiful song.

I love that the simple act of swimming or drinking tea becomes a way to acknowledge the beauty of the world.

When I lie awake in the darkness and listen to the rain falling on the grass and the road, I can be worrying about not being asleep or anxious about tomorrow. Or I can just hear the water falling and feel the coolness of the air through the flyscreen and the slow breath in and out beside me. I can be here and awake and know the beauty of this world in the stillness of the moment. That is when prayer and miracles are possible.

PS. Linking with Emily...

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Days pass quickly, and it seems that I should have made pancakes last Tuesday. I forgot.
I love the idea of reflecting quietly on Ash Wednesday, as a way to prepare myself for Easter. But I wonder what that means, too. Thinking about stuff can immobilise me, as I wonder what I should think or feel. As I become self-conscious. And maybe ideas of religious orthodoxy are always better in theory. Or blogposts.

The second thief asks Jesus to remember him, when he's king. But I might be the oblivious one, crowd-pleasing till its too late.

Church makes me dwell on the hurts we deliver to each other and the brokenness that's slung across our shoulders handbag style. I wait for the spirit to heal, but I'm impatient for change. I make excuses about inviting people into this mess, but it's how they'll see glory.

I ask myself questions that have no clear answers and turn them round and over in my mind.

How do I answer childish statements that God is boring?
How do I calm my son's tantrum in the midst of leading playgroup, or teaching sunday school? Do I just stop doing it so the tantrums are more conveniently met?
How does God spark passion for him in people's hearts? In my heart?

Answers that work one day, mutate to inadequate the next and I can't build up a self that's trustworthy. I long to be enough.

Everyday he tells me of his unfailing, covenant, extravagent, forgiving, chesed love. It awakens the memory of yesterdays within me and I can be, today. Be content in the fragile, illusory answers and the ever-changing questions. Be listening for the death that brings resurrection.

Jesus, remember me, when you come into your Kingdom.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Gift

At my most cynical, it's the shopping that saps me. I don't mind browsing, but choosing is agonising, and any time spent at the shops in December is uncomfortable. I care too much about buying the present that will delight.

We all sit around the pile of presents that dwarfs the tree. We've eaten chicken and ham and all the healthy vegetables, drowned in gravy. Now for the presents. The wrapping is torn off quickly and the excitement never quite satisfies. Are gifts a reminder that nothing in this world will ever fill our gaping hearts?

In the midst of Christmas spirit, giving is fun and the presents a ritual that brings us together. Advent is like a parade passing two warring factions in the middle of town. The howls of commercialism and my recriminations wave streamers on my left. The delight of enjoying good things and blessings from our maker shout from my right. There's no easy straw man here because we live in a world of things and expectations and people whose bread is bought by Christmas dollars. Take care with judging, I tell myself. My sister-in-law says I look tired, so I nod. I'm not sure if I am physically tired, but this moral mire drains me. Is this why Christmas fills me with both excitement and dread?

Family and giving and having my cooking on show lays me bare. I see my dependence on praise from others, my fear of disappointing, my pride. The gift I need is grace.

My daughter painted me a picture and my son found me a colourful tin at the op shop. No other gifts can compare in value, and I boast gently in them. Truly, I am blessed.

We cling to these Christmas rituals, don't we? Impressing each other with our hospitality or our generosity. Getting Christmas done earliest, being ready for it. I do it every year. And then I remember that we're celebrating a late arrival baby in a messy stable. How could we ever really be prepared?
It's such a time for love and acceptance. That it's OK when my roast potatoes are a bit cold and soggy. Or just plain underdone. That I didn't actually get you your favourite present, but you're glad to spend the afternoon with me. That your being unprepared or flustered or just tired is fine with me.
What about this gift? The capacity to sit amongst this mix of delight and expectation, impatience and weariness, with grace and patience. To let it be, without wishing it were something else, because God is here. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Gold

I look out at the soft buttered morning. The sun has her head on the pillow while she blinks into consciousness. I sneak out the door. The dogs don't bark, so nobody wakes and I can see across a thousand, thousand trees to the blue-streaked ridge.

I'm the only person alive and my feet crunch the gravel. This gold is the palest kind. The early morning misted sheen that caresses me awake and mingles perfectly with silence.

Later, it's more brazen and the shadows more defined. The morning is louder and the sun alert. Lustrous, hot gold.

There's endless permutations of light, all touched with gold. At the moment I love the early morning softness and the twilight orange-purple-gold. But I've flirted with different shades before.

We are built to long for light. To flourish in these golden rays. And at Christmas it's the gold that really matters. The emergence of light.

It's the summer solstice here in Australia, the day of longest gold. It's the longest visit we'll get this year, the time of greatest clarity. The northern hemisphere is buried in darkness and December 21 is the birth of light. But for us, we miss that tender link. Instead we are overcome with light in Advent and we glory in it. It is not so much an emergence as a flood, like the radiance of an army of angels in a midnight sky.

Some days it feels like this gold is ephemeral. Like it's just the background to a creaking, grumbling, churning world of darkness. To think the anxiety I have for my children is justified. To allow the obsession I have with myself to be acceptable. To give up hope for the hopeless. To go through the motions of caring.

It's so easy to think the light is pale, or fluctuating, because it's weak. That it's slowly drowning. But look again at the fading and surging, of days and seasons. Look at the remembering over and over again. I need to travel this path of emerging gold again and again. To let it burn in my core, so that I trust it's power, when the world says it's faded.

This gold is shining in the darkness. This light will not be overcome.

Linking with Amber and Emily.