Thursday, September 20, 2012

Back on deck

Ok so I have found my blog again and am seriously considering getting back into this regularly.
Check back soon and hopefully I will be here.
I think when I look at the pattern it is clear I don't like winter much. But Spring is here. Yay!!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gates, Paths and Diamond Castles

Dear friends,
Christmas 2011
 I can barely comprehend that a year has passed by without a single word to you on this blog. Its as if the gate to my year was kept quite private and I guess some years are like that.

So much has happened in one sense and yet at another level things are still rolling along as life does. Matthew of course is now closer to three than to two and is still the joy of my life.  His mother is back living at home much to Matthew's delight (and mine also).  She also has a job and he is in daycare but seems to be taking all the changes in his stride.

I have had a busy year with all the issues of maintaining a home with a toddler plus the joy of doing some teaching with both adults and teens in parishes, a small support role in the parish and my spiritual direction ministry and other activities.

We have also squeezed in great holidays with friends both here and in Australia, a trip to Taupo with Matthew shared in part with Fiona and family, and my three one day commitments in Wellington.  The country has endured earthquakes, Rugby World Cup (which was enormously enjoyable because it became so social with everyone meeting at each others homes for games), financial earthquakes, the aftermath of the Mine explosion, oil slicks with the Rena shipwreck and elections. Phew what a year!

On the home front weddings have been a feature, (we must be at that age) as are 21st's and 50th birthdays and special wedding anniversaries for friends. There has also been the sadness of cherished friends who have passed into the hands of the Lord and for whom we pray. At the last moment I attended a symposium on prayer at Palmerston North which in many ways became a catalyst for what looks like may become a whole new adventure with God for next year. You'll have to watch this space for more on that as it unfolds but suffice to say that Mary seems very busy in my life!

I am writing this as I give myself a break from preparation of three lectures
for Hearts Aflame  . I haven't been to or presented at Hearts for nearly twenty years so I am looking forward to it and thoroughly enjoying putting it all together on my favourite topic,  "The Marian Dimension of the Church; The Essential Role and Mission of the Laity". 

St Teresa of Avila says prayer is the gate to
our inner soul, our interior  castle.
 Six Days Silence:  I was blessed with a six day silent retreat in November...yes I really managed to hardly talk at all for a whole week believe it or not.  It was in Epsom and I spent a good chunk of most days roaming free in One Tree Hill domain and environs.  It was wonderful.  I had never really explored this wonderful jewel in the heart of Auckland.  I became fascinated with trees, volcanoes, new life bursting out all over and gates.  Epsom has a huge variety of gates of every size, shape and style. It set me musing on the gates we have on our lives and even what our prayer gate is like, the gate to our interior castle where God dwells in waiting silence.

 What is my prayer gate like?
Lush and private?
friendly but a bit dilapidated?
Fat happy caterpillars

Solid, reliable but a bit imposing?
Anyway you get the idea.  Gates were fruitful for reflection and also a novel way to pray while I walked. Can't go without sharing  my monarch caterpillar though.  They were beautiful, fat and happy, feeding blissfully on leaves totally unaware that any time soon they would morph into chrysalis for the apparent dying to self involved in bursting forth as gorgeous butterflies.

New Life bursting forth
Sheltered by trees from the rain
So I am far from certain where the road is taking me. I am simply certain it is a good road and God travels with me and has given me Mary as a beloved companion on the way. It is a time of new beginnings for me.  A returning to old paths in some ways, but with new perspectives and new knowledge that will make the journey quite different this time around.  I am living in Advent with anticipation of gates to enter, lots of ordinary daily living to embrace like a caterpillar, and the hope of new paths with uncertain destinations to lead me into new adventures with life, accompanied by God who in Teresa of Avila's words views: "the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms... the soul of the righteous …is nothing but a paradise, in which, as God tells us, He takes His delight."
So happy advent waiting and happy anticipation of New Paths and New life bursting forth with the God who cherishes you and takes delight in you all.

Let nothing disturb you,
   let nothing trouble you,
     everything passes,
God alone remains (Teresa of Avila)

God Bless, Bev

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Inspirations and sinus heads

Last night I went dancing and it was so much fun. Good music, good company, good friends, good food. A real treat after a challenging week and it was the birthday celebration for two friends also which made it even nicer. Today I have had a heavy head due to a mild sinus infection with  my neck glands swollen and generally feeling unwell.  So all my busy plans got put on hold and I had an enforced day of rest.  Stuart looked after Matthew and he was a delightful wee boy and even had a good long sleep which was a blessing.

In my blob time I had a long nap which was wonderful, watched a programme on Mother Teresa, and heard a quote from Pope John Paul  at a beatification where he said, " In the end human holiness always comes down to love."  I also watched Thomas Dubay who quoted C.S. Lewis; "The opposite of a rule [in a family or community] is not freedom, but the albeit often unconscious tyranny of its most selfish member"  Powerful words that got me reflecting on the importance of rules in family and also on the tyranny that teenagers and toddlers try to inflict on everyone around them.  I got to thinking that tyranny can only exist where community rules are not valued or respected. Community and how to live together without ultimately destroying each other...even in families... requires love, respect, discipline, humility and a system that everyone is willing to embrace...without it there is ultimately anarchy.  Because so much of our western society has bought into the lie that freedom is license to do what you feel like, thats exactly what we have in so many situations...anarchy. Its described as the absence of any guiding or uniting principle.  Good fair rules provide the unifying principles our society is struggling to find amidst our relativist and individualist fascinations.

Anyway enough philosophizing. I also blog browsed a bit today and came across this inspiring little blog about a woman turning 38 and choosing to do 38 Random acts of kindness in a day to celebrate and documenting it on her blog.  It is worth a read and got me thinking.  I am in my 50's and there are 52 weeks in a year.  So one a week with a couple extra's in birthday or anniversary weeks and I could manage to keep R.A K.s as a focus for the year ahead.  I am normally dysfunctional when it comes to New Years resolutions and to give myself a head start I thought I would begin this coming week; 3rd week of Advent. R.A.K's are another way of intentional loving which as the Pope says is good for the soul.

Years ago I made a fixed resolution that every year I would try at least one new thing so that every year I was growing as a person.  It didn't need to be deep or challenging, just a new experience so it was neutral on the love issue.  I have pretty much kept to that resolution every year so maybe its time to incorporate a new 'love' project into it.  I will ponder it a bit before leaping in, but certainly food for thought and it would meet my next years 'new thing' nicely. ;-).  Will keep you posted but something deep inside says they don't count if I tell everyone else I did them so you may never know lol. If you take up the idea let me know in the comments.  Could be fun to share ideas. Today I made two 'how are you?' phone calls that I had been putting off.

Matthews new thing is to hold up his wee chubby hand and say 'hand' in a peremptory manner that brooks no debate.  Once he has your hand in his he walks you to where he wants you to play or do something for him. Today it was playing ball and the sandpit.  He has also learnt 'up' and 'down' and is using them for all sorts of situations to check they work.  Great fun to watch and hear and share his progress. Oh and I learnt how to put html on this page so I have posted a new inspirational calendar.

The smallest things can look marvellous up close.  This is my picture of a simple geranium about to burst into bloom. Hope in every bud

.Shalom and Kindness to all.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sunrise, Sunset...Happiness and tears

I can hardly believe its been a month since I last wrote.  The Pike River Mine tragedy with the loss of 29 men has shocked the country and swept through our hearts filling us with compassion, sorrow, hope, pain, loss, and the terrible finality of death.

In this last month there has also been the brutal attack on Christians in the Cathedral in Baghdad with the loss of 57 lives and many more injured and the most recent horrible savage slaying of the elderly Christian couple in their Baghdad home last Sunday simply because they were Christian.

Advent has arrived again also, where we travel the journey of remembrance into the mystery of what it means to be human and filled with desire and need and to place that into the context of the wonder of the birth of Christ, the gift of Salvation and the promise of eternity lived in the presence of the all loving all holy God. Tragedy and hope juxtaposed graphically in time and written large anew in our day when we struggle with suffering, death and the ultimate meaning of life.

In the midst of all these issues, day to day normality ticks along, Matthew grows and talks more everyday, colds and headaches come and go, I have been to Wellington to visit special friends and spend some time with three children I especially treasure, the end of the year is drawing close and farewells and windups fill up the calendar while plans for Christmas must be made. A friend had her eldest daughter get engaged, a first for their family, and so on it goes; "sunrise, sunset...swiftly flow the years, one season following another, laden with happiness and tears."

I understand less and less as I grow older and am willing to simply contemplate life more and let it simply be, unfolding as it does like a rose, rather than needing to analyse and make sense of it or pick it apart and dissect it.  I think this is a blessing and not just a cop out, at least I hope this is so.  I have been deeply impacted by the tragedies in Baghdad because I count family members here as my friends and their lives are understandably shattered by such deep brutal trauma. "Why" is a question many people ask but I admit this is not my question.  The reality of evil is something I have learned to accept as part of life.  My question is "Where are you Lord?"  I have been living and praying deeply with this question through these tragedies and today I heard myself say to someone, "When the light is particularly intense and you look into it all you see is darkness. I think God is like that in tragedy, he is so close to us that we cannot see even the light and we must hold fast to the truth of his love even when we do not and cannot feel it." St Paul said "nothing can separate us  from the love of God in Christ Jesus" and this is the faith that the Christians of Baghdad are living and dying for, and this is the faith I stand firm on when all about me is darkness.  If I cannot see, I must hold fast to what I know. Truth, love and freedom are gifts of God that make us most fully human and along with faith these will always triumph over evil and are worth living and dying for.

Last night I attended a memorial Mass in the Chaldean Rite for the slain elderly couple, for their family and friends.  It was profoundly moving not just because of the depth of the tragedy and the suffering they are enduring but because of th depth of faith and forgiveness this family and the whole community expressed in incredibly beautiful ancient yet ever new prayer. These prayers come from the land of Abraham, the friend of God and that fact also was deeply moving. I was searching for God and there in the hearts filled with faith and trust in the midst of blinding pain and almost unspeakable suffering and tragedy, in the hearts that sought to love and forgive in the face of brutal hatred, I was reminded anew of the power of love to overcome all evil.  The victory of the cross is not just that Jesus suffered and experienced what we experience as human beings.  It is not a mere identification with our struggles wonderful as that is.  It is a victory of love for love and in love that unleashed the greatest power of the universe into the lives of all mankind for eternity and will never be overcome. The Resurrection guarantees that and the power and presence of the Holy Spirit affirms it everyday. The church for better or worse is the guardian and bearer of that truth for each successive generation and when one is forced to walk perilously close to the gates of hell, it is wonderful to know that the church and the power of Gods love walk with us.

May all who have died rest in peace as they are welcomed into heaven by Gods holy angels and may the family and friends of all who have died experience comfort, compassion and love and be surrounded by those who care and accept them as they are while they mourn and heal through such terrible suffering, and may those who have perpetrated evil and hateful brutality come to know the love and truth of Jesus Christ. To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen

Friday, November 5, 2010

Splashes of delight

Tonight its Guy Fawkes.  What is it about sending up large amounts of money in smoke that is so appealing?
Actually I have to confess I have a soft spot for the random momentary beauty and delight of a star burst of colour exploding against a darkened sky.  I don't like the noise though and it always bothers me about the poor animals. 

Heard an appalling cruelty case on the radio today about a blackbird found dead with multiple exploded fireworks taped to its poor body.  What horrendous cruelty and what are we breeding in society if people cannot feel empathy for animals?  Studies have linked animal cruelty with a lack of empathy and violence toward persons in adult life.

Having said that the beauty and randomness of exploding sky fireworks (when protected from the noise of them) reminds me of the way joy bursts in on life.  It is often caused by a quick flash of delight, there for an instant then no longer visible but deep inside our minds and hearts we can treasure it and multiple moments form inner streams of joy.  So a splash of momentary delight can become sustaining food for the journey when we harvest it and let ourselves recall the delight it bought.

Today my splash of delight was listening to Matthew laugh.  There is perhaps no more beautiful sound than that of a young child laughing. He was playing hide and seek in the curtain and the expectation of being found and tickled was overwhelmingly funny and delightful for him.  A little childs laughter is spontaneous and unfeigned born of pure delight and it has a particular quality of sound I can only describe as joy.  I am sure it is one of the most pure sounds in the universe and I am convinced that heaven will have an abundance of it because if it brings such delight and joy to us, imagine what joy it brings to the Fathers heart. in fact Jesus promised laughter in heaven when he said; "Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh." (Lk 6:21) 

Perhaps those who perpetrate cruelty have never had the chance to laugh because laughter comes from security, safety, acceptance, trust and happiness. A life filled with lots of laughter born of being loved, accepted and delighted in is a life that will have the capacity for love, respect, empathy and delight in others. So today amidst tiredness and a grotty blind pimple on my face, (you'd think I'd have grown out of them by now!) I have rejoiced in a splash of delight and been the better for it. 

I feel good about frittering away time on play and failing to get all the sensible things like the dishes and the vacuuming, the beds changed and the ironing done, because I know I have stored away special laughter splashes of delight in the heart of a little boy and for that I praise God and am grateful and my own heart has been blessed.  Happy Guy Fawkes and many delight splashes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wonderful Waiheke Weekend

Well the wanderers have returned after a simply magical weekend away on Waiheke (flowing waters).  It was our 33rd wedding anniversary and a treat from Stuarts work for 40 years service.  Hard to beleive where the years all went.
We stayed at the Te Whau lodge which is toward the back of the Island and very quiet with extraordianry views of both Waiheke and Auckland city in the distance.  The sun sets with exquisite beauty right over the CBD.  In fact you can see from Maraetai right up to the North Shore and beyond one way, and over the Island toward Coromandel and out to sea the other.

33 years celebrated at Te Whau Lodge

We wined and dined in luxury and while I certainly would not want to do it all the time it was delicious and great fun being pampered and spoilt just for one weekend. There is something about the tidiness of a hotel that can be a bit off putting to a mild messy like me but this one managed to be welcoming and almost a bit homey without losing any professional flair.  Little things like a book of short stories beside the bed, themed rooms, (ours was the sea) hand made soaps, a hand gathered mini sewing kit and a baby pair of binoculars and torch were all special little things that made you feel welcome not an intruder about to mess up the tidy space. Little touchs of kind thoughtfulness which  somehow gave me the sense the room knew how to be comfortable with people and enjoyed them.  I guess the rooms reflected the owners, they definitely knew how to be comfortable with people, enjoyed them and allowed them to feel relaxed in their world.  Hospitality is such a great gift and it was in everything they did, it is just sort of who they are. Special thanks to Liz and Gene.

Now the funny thing is what greets me right outside the bedroom window first thing Sat guessed it...a Tui.  Almost close enough to touch.
Wouldn't stay still for good pic though.

So had to make do with fuzzy shots but you get the idea.  It was quite magical to wake up to and I have forgiven them for their morning chorus.
Since getting home I've had a tidy bug.  been clearing out drawers and cupboards and wanting to set house in order. Even cut up some old clothes for rags that I have been hanging on to interminably. Funny what a weekend of space, beauty  and kindness can do.
 Here are some pics of our magical escape.

Rangitoto in the distance

Walking home with a rest on the way after yet more food and wine lol

Sat morning sunrise

Beautifl inlets like fiords all over the Island

Back to Auckland CBD
Missed geting a sunset shot but you can
just imagine it.


The view out one side of Te Whau point vineyard


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fur ball days.

Well back to ordinary life with a bump.  Woke this morning in a daze after a teething night with Mr 20 month old.  He was a bright box of fluffies, I resemble zombies poor cousin. So moving slowwwly with hang over/jet lag  like symptoms I wander down stairs looking for his socks. Small secretive creatures that avoid detection especially when needed in a hurry. Must be some unwritten law of the universe that when you most need order, chaos ensues and two matching socks are impossible to find.

In this fuzzy state of unease what greets me on the lounge floor?  A large patch of cat furball complete with associated extras.  The cat has deftly placed this on the carpet, narrowly missing the lino floor which I muse must have required precision aim. I also conjecture from the splatter formation (I too watch C.I.S) a mobile projectile approach was used significantly increasing the target area of said furball deposit. I decided against sharing pic's. Too graphic!

My first thought; "No-one is watching...I will walk out and pretend I never saw it."  Then alas conscience whacks my tired head and I feel obligated to forget the lost socks, grab 20 month before he intricately explores the mess and with gloves, cloth, bucket and towel proceed to deal to the fur ball deposit. Delay would only increase the work involved after all and who else but the mum is going to tackle a problem like this?  As an aside, it is just as well I listen to conscience and respond positively as in my sleep deprived state I had completely forgotten I was expecting a visitor in that room later today.

So furball resolved, I eventually return to the sock hunt and manage to locate two but they are not matching and I make do with that.  When I was in my 30's I would have been appalled. Now I am in my 50's who cares if socks don't match on a 20 month old. What boring law says they need to be the same anyway?  Creativity and pizzazz rule and we have an orange one and a red and blue stripe. It may become a trend. They are at least the right size. I try not to sweat the small stuff especially when in the midst of auditioning for the next zombie movie. Age thankfully brings these little compensations  ;-).  Having dressed 20 mth old he promptly spills a large drink over himself and the carpet.  He learnt the trick of deftly avoiding the lino from the cat.  So we start again with the bucket, towel etc and wash, dry, clothe the boy which he is less than excited about.  I find myself deeply grateful the socks did not get wet! 

Anyway the day moves on and improves somewhat.  When I finally remember the imminent visitor, some 15 mins before arrival... I manage to be grateful that I actually listened to that wee small voice bashing me about the tired head to clean up the mess in the morning. The carpet did not stain for which I am also grateful.  Mr 20 mth old has a wonderful day.  The cat leaps in the window while I have my visitor which would not always be a problem but this particular woman is allergic. Don't call the SPCA, the cat is still alive though has wisely made herself scarce. For this I am also grateful.  Not sure how I could have been thinking about Tui's with such glee so recently, as this morning they added to my uncompromisingly ordinary day by starting their raucous dawn chorus right outside my window at 5:45a.m. For this I admit to being less than grateful.  Did you get the bit about about me being over tired.  Well you get the picture.

Its now 11 p.m.  I managed to get a load of washing done, everyone is fed, dishes done, plans for weekend and next week scheduled, sneaked in a 20 min nanna nap and Mr 20 mth has had his gums liberally Bonjella coated. On balance a good day in my very ordinary over tired furball land.  I did manage to spend a few moments reflecting quietly about my day and it struck me that much of my life resembles the furball on the carpet.  I have plans and dreams about how things are ideally going to be.  Then there is the reality of the furball deposit and my first reaction is "ugh if I don't look I don't need to admit its happening".  When I finally turn and face whatever the furball of the moment may be, it often turns out to be less of a demon and more mundane and manageable than I imagined. 

So its interestingly a furball day which takes me back to recognising that imagination left untamed so easily overwhelms.  Reality, even furball reality once faced and honestly tackled, is always better than imagination games.  So furball nanna that I am, today I can actually say I am grateful for the life lessons of my furball day...but not for the raucous morning chorus. Tonight I am shutting my window to hopefully muffle the morning chorus and praying Mr 20 mth  sleeps better.

Psalm 4:8 is my hope and prayer this evening.  " in peace [oh and chronic overtiredness] I lie down and fall asleep at once for it is you Lord who make me rest secure."  Good night all. Sleep well and may all your furballs be little ones.