Monday, January 29, 2007

Chill Dude

She is beautiful. I spent the morning with her and fell in love. She is somewhere in her mid-thirties, but has aged well. She still moves with grace and poise, responding joyfully to my touch. She lies well on her side, and offers full bellied response to my every whim. And I am grateful to my friend and mentor Peter Storey for allowing me to play with his boat.

We were sailing in False Bay. It was a very hot Cape Town day, and we initially feared that there was not enough wind to make the day worth while. But once we had cleared the harbour we found a Westerly wind that carried us away from the diesel smells of the Naval ships. Past the light house, with its backdrop of mountains and houses scattered along its side. The water-cooled air was a welcome contrast to the sweltering summer’s sun overhead.

As the water hissed against the gunwales I was glad to be alive.
And was reminded that I play too little. I allow the cares and responsibilities of life to become the meaning of my living. And forget the words of the Master who spoke about allowing the worries of tomorrow to take care of themselves.

So if you are reading this – please pause and take a deep breath, and breathe out the stresses of your day.
Say after me: “Eish – môre is nog ‘n dag” (for those who do not live in South Africa you can translate this as “chill dude”)


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Our Intolerance of "Other"

I am deeply saddened by the refusal of many African Anglican clergy to meet with the leadership of the American Episcopal Church. This because of a woman Presiding Bishop, and the Episcopal Church's acceptance of gay clergy. I found a quote that says it all:

The only purpose of the gospel is to reconcile people to God and to each other. A gospel that doesn't reconcile is not a Christian gospel at all....
(But) We don't really believe that the proof of our discipleship is that we love one another (see John 13:35). No, we think the proof is in numbers ... Even if our "converts" continue to hate each other, even if they will not worship with their brothers and sisters in Christ, we point to their "conversion" as evidence of the gospel's success. We have substituted a gospel of church growth for a gospel of reconciliation.

- John Perkins
from "With Justice for All"

Pray for us to increase our capacity for tolerance - and lose out hate for people who are gay, transgendered, or created to see life in another way.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Things I love....

The last post was about some of the things I really love: no, not naked men, but motorcycles and laughing. I have found another picture that combines some more loves: I love Jesus, and I love the female form! This cannot be blasphemy!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Joyfull Moment

My friend Digital Dion suggests that we seek out the joy in life (go read his blog - see my link). My other friend Gus has often corrupted the name of my blog. See also the Anonymous comment to my last posting.
So here is a joyfull moment for you to laugh aloud!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Day in a Life....

Today the office reopened after two week’s recess over Christmas-New Year.
And I thought I would get in early to clear my desk and tidy up the admin.
So I opened the door to the smell of fermenting homemade ginger beer….oh yes, the bottle had exploded in my hands on the day before Christmas and I had just closed the door on it. Bad idea. For a not inconsiderable donation, Pauline, the college caretaker, agreed to sort out the smell, and the floor, and the walls, and the ceiling, and the residue on the photocopy machine.

Then there was Joe. Who had lived on the premises over Christmas with his friend G-Boy. They were there to prevent opportunists from stealing the copper plumbing pipes while the property was quiet. They are both recovering alcoholics. And I had regularly checked on them in the past two weeks, and praised them for their courage at sticking to their sobriety over Christmas and New Year Celebrations. Until this morning: when they both celebrated their Successfully Sober Holidays by getting drunk. And now I had to deal not only with them, but with irate church members who wanted to know what they were doing on the premises (the college is on church property). Joe is a quiet apologetic drunk. G-Boy gets aggressive and promises to kill the whole world (literally “Fok hulle op”). I prevented Joe from selling his radio for wine, and walked him to his place of work. He thanked me profusely for saving his job by getting him to work, shook my hand many times, and began to unpack his tools. I chased G-Boy off to moer people elsewhere.

OK: here was my desk. Piled with sermons and orders of worship and music from Carol Service/Christmas/Old Year’s Eve/ and First Sunday in the New Year. OK – now to tidy up. Oh shit, there is someone at the door. She has two toddlers with her. Boys. And as I invite her into my office they make straight for my fish tank. I try to listen to their mother. Who begins the long story about financial difficulties, homelessness, joblessness …. I grab the boys just as they are trying to fish my goldfish out of the tank …and how she needs a prayer to change her luck …and I grab the boys as they swing around on my office chair...and about her husband and her sisters and his parents: at which point I firmly grab her boys and head for the church to pray with the family. “Thank you God for giving us this opportunity to trust your mercy”.

Now for my desk. And the church busy body arrives who wants to kiss everybody Happy New Year. “I hope you had a lovely holiday” she tells me. I reply that I have worked fairly hard over the past two weeks. She looks at me blankly, and says “Oh, but the office was closed”. I reply firmly that I had taken all the services during the time that she was away on holiday. “Oh, but you weren’t here on Sunday” she exclaimed triumphantly. I replied that I was in the neighbouring church in the morning, at an old-age home in the afternoon, and at the evening service in my own church. “Oh, well I did not see you.”

And then my first student for 2007 arrived. And expected me to have accommodation and food ready for him. And I felt really good in being able to show him his room and a box of groceries – organized before Christmas in anticipation of just this happening. For good measure I showed him the kitchen, the lounge with the TV, and the computer room. He looked around and asked: “But where is the iron and ironing board”. Sheesh!

My desk…. And then the phone rings. It is Joe’s employer to ask me where Joe is. My secretary was the one who arranged Joe’s job as caretaker at the block of flats, and they know that he is staying at the church. I am dumbstruck. I am told “Joe is not here and his store room is locked”. Bloody hell. I have no answers.

In fact I have had no answers all day!
I had no answer for Joe and G-Boy this morning. I had no answer for the woman and her toddlers. I had no answer for the church busybody. And no answer for my student.
Which goes against my grain, because I have been trained to provide answers. I am a baby boomer after all. Boomer pastors give answers. And if we do not have one immediately we buy books that promise answers: Four Spiritual Laws, 7 Habits, Twelve Keys, 40 Days of Purpose. And I have just had a day without answers.
All I did was spend time with some people.
Perhaps there are moments when this is enough.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pursuing Perfection

I grew up knowing that I was not yet good enough. I was a child who would one day grow into an adult. I was a young Christian, who would become a mature believer. The Spirit of God within me was perfecting me, but I was not perfect. And so each New Year provided opportunity to dream anew of that which could be improved – usually expressed in the form of New Year’s Resolutions.

This has impacted my life in many ways: many of them negatively:
• I never feel that I am good enough…. because the belief system tells me that that I can be better. Which leaves me with a deep seated drive to do enough to prove my worth. But I have discovered that I will never do enough to satisfy this longing – because I can be better!
• I cannot celebrate my life’s achievements…. Because they are temporary stopping places in the quest to improve. And so I avoid thinking of that which I have done, because these achievements are not yet good enough.

In the past few days I have been deeply challenged.
Challenged first by a good friend who read my last posting and disagreed with my desire to be a better husband. He insisted that this desire was crippling my capacity to recognise that I am already a good husband.
I also had a conversation with sports scientist, Prof Tim Noakes. I described my desire to improve my running, but my inability to get past injuries and general lethargy. His comment was that I need to learn to accept that my best running is behind me. I have exhausted my store of marathons, and that I need to plan to “get old injury free”.

So is my life perfect?
I guess this depends how ready I am to get beyond my formative puritan evangelical culture. Of course there is much I still need to learn and do. I believe that I have capacity to grow and mature and deepen in my life’s journey. But perhaps this has nothing to do with Christian Perfection. It is time to celebrate that which God has already done in my life. And in this celebration to come to an acceptance that I have lived a full life, with many adventures…a life that is perfectly appropriate for me.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

She is Gone!

My daughter is gone. Gone to be a teaching assistant at a boy’s primary school in Cheshire, England. And it is hard. Because despite the fact that I have tried to parent Jessie in a way that grows her independence, and nurtures her own thinking, it is still hard to see her take flight (literally).

So the new (Gregorian calendar) year brings its own experience of loss. But at the same time I want to see this as providing opportunities for growth. I want to discover myself as a better husband to my wife Jenny. And as a father who encourages all three of my daughters to continue to grow their own lives: I know that I will discover much as I watch Jessie grow under the tutelage of others. I already see her sister Lisa growing as she experiences University life. And Amy is no longer the ‘little sister’ as she discovers the joy of the interest of two male admirers.

My wish for all who read this site is that we can be challenged by the wise words of reknowned Buddhist teacher and writer Thich Nhat Hanh:
Listen deeply, nourish compassion, let go of anger, speak lovingly - and thus bring about transformation.