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.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Life as a quest

Just got back from Eat, Pray, Love the movie. It was very long but I have to admit that I like Julia Roberts and the sumptuous scenery and cinematography drew me into the stories beauty and pathos. Hard to see why it was an 'M'.  The censor must be toughening up or more likely did not like the spiritual content.  Now to be certain it was not Christian spiritual content and for that some will be unsettled but it was about the search for truth, love and authenticity and it set off resonances in me.  I have been to Italy and loved it.  I have never been to India or Indonesia but Bali reminded me of Malaysia and Singapore which I have visited and India bought to mind the World Youth Day pilgrims who stayed in our parish and set us all alive with their music, exuberant spontaneity, joy and vibrancy.  I also have a dearly loved nephew who just delights in India and it helped me understand a little of what is so appealing to him.

I have not been to all those places or experienced the exact things Liz did in the movie...some would say thank God lol.  But I have experienced deep loss, a scarred and wounded heart, grief that sucks the life and breath out of you and leaves you as empty as a discarded cicada shell unable to feel anything. I have experienced fear of loving and trusting again, the terror of growing up and facing the truth about myself and I have experienced love and joy and deep human kindness that restored my soul and let me live and dream again.  I have experienced the freedom of knowing myself to be loved by God just as I am.  All those things I am reminded of tonight because of resonances in that simple quirky little too long movie.

At the end Liz talks about life as a quest and that whether we travel to far off lands or simply journey in our heads and hearts we all must seek after what is true and we must all search out love within ourselves and for others.   It also dealt very honestly with the pain, grief and tragedy of divorce, broken relationships and damaged families and our need to forgive ourselves and face with honesty the things in ourselves which are ugly and which we prefer to ignore or avoid. She talked about setting out to find God and discovering the truth that God lives in my heart. I found the movie quite captivating.

It bought to mind a theology paper I started and initially hated called 'knowledge of God'  It was following Aquinas' five ways of knowing God from reason and felt like dissecting a frog.  I remember telling my lecturer that I thought I would withdraw because I needed my faith and it was possible that I could lose it if I did this horrid paper.  He wisely said that having recognised the  risk in the question I would now never find rest till I resolved the tension and the question.  Then he said the most astonishing thing to me at the time and the thing for which I am profoundly grateful.  He may not even recall, I have never asked him.  He said, "If doing this paper results in you losing your faith then that will be where God is calling you and in conscience you must follow...even if it is out of the church and far away into unknown territory because you must seek out the truth and not run from it and if that is where God calls you I promise to be a companion for you on your journey.  If you lose your faith over this paper you never had it and losing a false faith will be the best thing that happens because it will empty out the space for the truth." 

Well to be honest I paraphrase because those are now my words and understanding that I am projecting back.  But you get the gist of it.  It was one of the most enlightening and significant moments in my life.  I remember being struck not so much by the words, but by the incredibly attractive sense of freedom, openness and complete trust of the man that somehow God was bigger than all our questions and all our needs.  He knew a God far bigger than mine! One who was no mere crutch for the timid or placebo anaesthetic for the wounded.  He never doubted for a second that God would be with me whether I lost what I thought was my faith or not.

For those who do not know, I completed the paper and at the end experienced a touch of that freedom.  I recall writing bravely and probably foolishly in my journal that if they threw me in prison, took away all the trappings of faith including all the books and teachings and Bible, if they kept me in solitarty confinement and never let me share another prayer with anyone, they could never take away from me the truth about the knowledge of God who just 'IS'.  It was a marvellous freedom that began an ongoing growth in freedom that I am still journeying into and will follow all the days of my life till I see him face to face.  I don't always live it and in the struggle of this past year much of it has felt obscured and crusted over with grief and worry but it is still there when I touch deep into it.  That kind of truth never completely leaves you, it becomes who you are.

So quite deep stuff but what a treasure to recall it. The movie has bought back to me that special experience and for that tonight I am grateful. Nectar can be found in the oddest looking flowers!

p.s.This is not a movie review, just my personal ramble about its affect in me which isn't the same thing at all.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sweet nectar and streams of water

Well its been a beautiful sunny holiday day and the readings today struck me as the nectar/honey I need to hunt for and delight in:

 Psalm 1:
 Blessed is the one ...whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on it day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that she/he does, she prospers.

Can't say I feel like I have been prospering that word challenged me to reflect just how much I am  drawing deeply from Scripture each day?  It also got me musing more on those wonderful Tuis. The sweet honey/nectar is only found in tiny dribbles. They have to hunt diligently and persistently flower by flower to gather the nectar.  It is sitting there waiting as a gift, but they have to take the trouble to stick their beak in and drink it bit by bit. They have to work to access it but the reward is great. 
Similarly Scripture is an amazing flowering of Gods sweet love portioned out each day but often I fail to notice or take the time to stop and drink it in. Only with discipline and effort does a Tui reap the reward of a full fat tummy, and only by guarding its territory can it ensure enough nectar to be healthy.  It seems to me I need to begin guarding the treasured Scripture flowers with their sweet gift of Gods truth and love freely offered to me each day.  How quickly I become slack and take it all for granted!  I am provided with every good thing I need, but I must make the effort to drink it in daily so I can grow and prosper.  Quite a lot to learn from a Tui it seems.

Then one of my favourite Saints is Teresa of Avila and its her feast day today.  Amongst so many wonderful things she said: 
“Untilled soil, however fertile it may be, will bear thistles and thorns; and so it is with man's mind.”   Echoes this idea about managing my mind and imagination... tilling the soil ...which is my responsibility.    I need to  be careful about tilling the soil of my mind and making the effort to delight in the law of the Lord; or to dig down deep and ponder Scripture everyday.  Only then will I be able to bear fruit in season and have growth and life that will not wither. Amazing how making the effort to listen allows the message to come through quite coherently. I need to ponder more on that also I think.

Teresa also said
“If we plant a flower or a shrub and water it daily it will grow so tall that in time we shall need a spade and a hoe to uproot it. It is just so, I think, when we commit a fault, however small, each day, and do not cure ourselves of it.”   Ouch.  Lazy habits grow into big lazy habits lol.  Seems its much better I deal with them sooner rather than later. Anyone got a rotary hoe for hire?  She had such a great sense of humour and also deep faith and trust...a balance to which I can only aspire:
“It is true that we cannot be free from sin, but at least let our sins not be always the same.”  She could have been narrating my story lol but then she encourages us with:
 and also

Well thats my gathering of special nectar for today; the company of good people like Teresa who we can access because the church makes her available to us as a model to follow.  The sweet nectar and wisdom of her thoughts captured alongside the readings for the day fed my soul today and the Tui in my garden helped me ground it all in my everyday and try to make it real.  Also the company of good people in the wonderful friends and family who travel the road of life with me. Some of whom I saw today in the sunshine and simply enjoyed.  Such a gift. I am deeply grateful for the blessing.  Friends and companions on the journey are sweet nectar indeed to treasure each new day. Thanks Teresa and friends and thank you God.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New beginnings

Its Spring, Labour day is upon us, the weather is warm and sunny and my garden is regularly filled with Tui. Tui are honey eaters and they know how to seek out what is good and sweet and delight in it.
I am amazed at how raucous and territorial they are.  They chase away the other birds including the beautiful Rosellas that also love to visit my Pohutukawa. They defend what is good and protect it from being stolen away by others.  

Birds fill my garden with life and somehow manage to insert moments of joy into the most difficult day just by hanging upside in a tree trying to get some nectar and then wooshing away in a great chortle of delighted noise.  They have such energy and exuberance, such joie de vie  and never fail to help me smile.  They are also exquistely beautiful creatures with an extravagance of loveliness in colourful plummage and are very social... always in the company of other Tui.

My grandson lives with us and he is also full of delight.  He smiles and chuckles and says 'Hey O" to anyone who is within his vision.  Both he and the Tui are full of life; it bubbles out of them as they just go about their day doing what comes naturally.  In the process they give delight to those around them.

It has got me thinking; how much energy and exuberant joy have I been displaying lately?  Not much I fear.  The cares of 24/7 childminding and overconcern for the choices my daughter is making all too readily rob me of being in the moment and just living.  I have no control over her choices and yet fears about them can consume me with useless anxiety if I let them.

I have mused on this and come to the conclusion its my imagination that is the biggest culprit and joy robber.  Every day starts out fine then some concern or issue will come across my day like a cloud over the sun.  Pretty soon I am imagining the worst and projecting out several weeks, months or even years to a sad and sorry future.  All the while I am missing the joy and delight that is right before me in the moment. 

Imagination is like a very poor weather forecaster. It has the capacity to make every day dull and dreary by predicting gloom and gathering storm clouds ahead. We live in an age when imagination has been elevated to the point of master and given free rein so that it can all too easily become a slave driver, stealing away all the wonder and joy of today for the projected fears and concerns of illusory tomorrows. So I am choosing from today to attempt to put controls on  my imagination.  It will serve reality and truth, goodness and intelligent observation rather than willfully control my emotions and cast shadows on my days. 

So I am starting this little blog.  It is to be my place for reflecting on the goodness and joy in life.  A place for noticing the ordinary and delighting in it. A place to ponder and pause amidst the busyness of life and pay attention to things I am grateful for, even if only for a few moments.  It is my place to revel in the wonder of each new day and the extraordinary abundance and extravagance of beauty, love, happiness and friendships that are constantly being offered if I take the time to notice.  It is a place to give glory to God and be grateful for the amazing gift of life, health, family and all the good I am surrounded with each day; To taste and see that the Lord is good honey in the rock and nectar in a flower.  This will take some effort on my part to achieve just like it takes effort for the Tui.  It may seem quite challenging some days but will always be worth the effort if I perservere.  The fruit will be worth the labour and who knows others may get to delight with me along the way. 

 If anyone else reads are welcome in my world and I pray there may be something of gift in what you read and that it may in some way help you to stop and ponder and notice the good in your day also and find things to make you smile and give glory to God about.  You are also welcome to comment and add your thoughts, reflections and musings especially if they involve noticing the joy in the ordinary and taking time to reflect on lifes good.  So welcome to my world...of Tuis and 20 month old children, of struggles and fears, joys and delights, welcome to ordinary life and a way of trying to embrace it and live it intentionally to the full for the glory of God.