Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Will Not Die An Unlived Life

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
Of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
To allow my living to open me
To make me less afraid,
More accessible,
To loosen my heart
Until it becomes a wing,
A torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significant
To live
So that which came to me as seed
Goes to the next as blossom,
Goes on as fruit.

Written by by Dawna Markova.
Dr. Markova is a psychotherapist, a researcher, and a consultant to leaders of organizations from education to health care to corporations. She is an author and a storyteller, a parent and grandmother.

I (too) Have a Dream

Well here is the good news for today:
Mat 5:3 " Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus spoke this in a context where religious people believed that healthy, wealthy, emotionally stable people were the result of God’s blessing. And poor, sick, struggling people were suffering the curse of God.

But Jesus turned this upside down. He insisted that those who are spiritually poor, and those who mourn, and those who broken can know the blessing of God in their lives – irrespective of their social location (Read Matthew 5: 1-12). Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Jesus called a community together and asked them to re-imagine their religion, and see a community where people are made whole:
 Where those who mourn are comforted.
 Where those who are humiliated discover the promises of God
 Where those who are persecuted find a place in God’s family
 And where those who suffer from the slander and gossip will be loved by the people of God.

Sadly many religious people still confuse wealth, and health, and happiness with the blessing of God. As a consequence there are people who hide their brokenness in the company of Christians. So they fix a smile on their face and leave their problems at the door and fake it with the familiar exchange of greetings: “How are you? I am fine!” Or the even more bizarre reply: “I am blessed.” Eugene Petersen’s paraphrase The Message puts it this way:
Mat 5:3 You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope.

So I dream of a world without this kind of religion.

I dream of a Christian community where there is no judgement, no gossip, and no humiliation. I dream of a Church where there is no exclusion based on doctrine, ethnicity, gender, or sexual preference. I long for a spirituality that has no desire for numerical superiority, no pursuit of wealth, and no grand legacy to be established.

Not only do I invite broken people to come to God - but I dream that we should become a community of healing: a place where broken people can be made whole.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Prayer for a Loved One writing Examinations:

The academic year in South Africa is drawing to a close. Thousands of high school matriculants and college students begin preparations for their final examinations. And we begin to worry about them.

I offer the following prayer as an alternative to worry:

Dear Lord.
I pray for ………………(someone I love) who is writing exams. I believe that You made this person, and that you love him/her even more than I do.
Please bless him/her with concentration and clarity of thought. Help him/her to do the very best with the task that has been given. May she/he think clearly, remember the work that has been covered, and give an honest account of all that has been learned.
Thank you that I can trust you to be with him/her in the examination. And so help me to stop worrying about this exam.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"Sembra una vespa!" *

Vespa is both Latin and Italian for 'wasp' — a name derived from both the high-pitched noise of the two-stroke engine, and adopted as a name for the vehicle in reference to its body shape: the thicker rear part connected to the front part by a narrow waist, and the steering rod resembled antennae.

After World War 2 Enrico Piaggio decided to answer Italy's urgent need for cheap and easy mass transport. He built a two wheeled vehicle that was built on a spar-frame with a handlebar gear change, and the engine mounted directly on to the rear wheel. Unlike the motorcycle, the front protection "shield" kept the rider dry and clean and it had a pass-through leg area to cope with women’s skirts. The front fork, like an aircraft's landing gear, allowed for easy wheel changing and the internal mesh transmission eliminated the standard motorcycle chain.

VoilĂ  – a Vespa.

• "It resembles a wasp!"

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Him again

Remember Joe ?
After I threw him off our property, he has been trying to get his life together.
He is sober. He has asked to work in the garden at my home.
Last Saturday we had a church leader’s gathering, and he washed the cars of the leaders – free.

But then on Sunday he blew it.

He was arrested at a local chain store for secreting a bottle of the store’s alcohol on his person as he walked out the store. And the security guard caught him; and Joe told them that he was very sorry; and that he was getting it to help a friend; and that he worked for the Methodist Church under the supervision of our caretaker.

And because the store manager knows our church, and knows many of the members: he let Joe off with a warning.
And I am mad......
Joe has abused the reputation of our church to get out of a tight spot.
And I was at the point of giving him his room back.

And…I am mad because Joe reminds me of how often I am like him: I try to get out of a tight spot with God by pretending that I have integrity… or at the very least that I associate with people of integrity.

Because deep down I know that I am frail. I fall short of my best intentions. I am afraid when I should be courageous. I get impatient when I should be kind. I am grumpy when I ought to love. I am intolerate of failures in others while giving myself plenty of latitude. I really am a very imperfect human being.

And for all these reasons I will continue with Joe.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Earth - the movie

Tonight I saw this Disney documentary about our planet.
It is a moving and beautifully shot film. There are stunning photographs of ice, and of waterfalls, and of mammals, and of birds – even ducklings falling out of a tree! The photographs of elephants dancing in the water, or of the baboons delicately picking their way through the marshes are stunning. But the poignancy for me was the reminder that all life comes at a cost. One life’s survival is derived from another’s death.

The wolf lives because the baby moose dies; the lions get to live because they overcome an elephant; the great white shark’s amazing aerobatics come at the expense of a seal. And most of all… the quality of human life comes at the cost of the life of our planet.

I use electricity and bury its nuclear waste on the West Coast for my children’s children to deal with; I love my petrol driven vehicles, and try not to think of how the wasteful byproducts are dealt with; I use plastic wrapping/bottles/containers and wonder if it all goes away. And the planet is getting warmer, and less able to absorb this abuse. It struck me that if each person took responsibility for changing just one planet-damaging activity, then all of us together could make a difference. So I am determined to find my personal contribution, and will let you know.

I also reflected moodily that my life is nourished by death – the death of other beings on this planet: I ask a fish to die so that I can live; or demand the chicken/cow/sheep/pig surrender life for my braai, or my burger. And this feels uncomfortable. I would never directly take the life of any of these beings, because it would feel wrong. I even squirmed when I saw the cheetah take down a buck, because I do not enjoy seeing a “kill.” But I readily admit that thus far in my life I have relied on professional killers to do it for me, and have tried not to think about it when I eat. So it is time to change. I am resolved to learn how to diminish my need to take a life in order to stay alive. I do not know where this will lead me, but I want to try.