Life Commandments

#Bloganuary Writing Prompt: What is your favorite quote and why?

This pretty much sums up my approach to life. It’s simple but not simplistic. If I filter it through the recurring four-gospel cycle championed by Alexander John Shaia, it involves engagement with times of enduring world-shattering change, persisting through pain and struggle, exalting the beauty of those fleeting experiences of union, and imparting the benefit of such lessons through mature service to others.

Does it haiku?

If full life you seek
First seek justice, love mercy
Then humility

American sentence (and yes it is)?

What do you know, the full quote (including citation) meets the criteria!

Those who have gone before

#Bloganuary Writing Prompt: If you could, what year would you time travel to and why?

John Charles Ryle by Carlo Pellegrini – Published in Vanity Fair, 26 March 1881

I’d set the dial in the Time Machine for somewhere in the 1880s and visit an ancestor, a much published bishop in the Church of England, John Charles Ryle.

I’d sit in his study in Liverpool anticipating all the topics we might cover in an amiable fireside chat. I feel we’d have much in common, even though our backgrounds and cultural orientation vary in some significant areas – eg class awareness vs egalitarianism.

He was descended from landed gentry. His father was a successful silk merchant in Manchester. Young J C had been looking forward to a rich inheritance and a career in Parliament. A bank collapse changed all that, and J C Ryle became an accidental clergyman. His influence grew however, and in spite of troubles and disappointments reflective of the Victorian era, was regarded as a man of deep calm and resilience. In spite of all this he never got over the deep lament and shame of the family loss.

I, too, in early adulthood, ended up a pastor following a great deal of resistance on my part. My journey has taken my family through times challenging, disappointing, and exhilarating. Our faith in the Way of Christ has been refined and tried in ways that are too numerous to count.

And there are family resemblances – I winced at the well-meaning critique that J C’s father and his business partner were “known more for their generosity than their business acumen.”

Yet J C pondered what might have occurred had the collapse been avoided. He instead would have been wealthy and had a career in politics – but he believes his spirituality would have suffered greatly. I feel we’d be on the same page.

Leaping Leo!

#Bloganuary Writing Prompt: What is your favorite photo you’ve ever taken?

Well I didn’t take it, but my camera was used. I was with a small group at a conservation park in Gweru, Zimbabwe. Lion cubs are raised in captivity, then taught to range before being released into the wild. We had just completed two weeks of liaison work with Zimbabwe Churches of Christ in the rural south, and this was part of our relaxation – walking through some savannah with a pair of lions so they could pick up some ranging skills!

Why do I like it?
1. Never in all my days had I imagined I’d be chilling out with a pair of lions.
2. I like anything conservation related.
3. I recall my younger self being challenged to abandon my timid mouse persona and release the inner lion! So perhaps there is something totemic about this image.

Anyhow, there it is – not exactly answering the prompt, but near enough.

Mystery of the Spheres

#Bloganuary Writing Prompt: Write About Something Mysterious

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”

Albert Einstein

The physician and the artist beheld one the other;
Each a sage, each a well-learnèd brother –
Might they oppose and with their wisdom compete?
Or rather, together, address a mystery complete?

Heart Language

#Bloganuary Writing Prompt: What book is next on your reading list?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

There are many vying for attention, but I’ll tell you about the one I’ve just started reading and that was alluded to yesterday – Brené Brown’s Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience.

I had a book gift voucher to spend and wandered into the chain store pondering what on earth I might spend it on. And there it was – calling out my name! And only 5 bucks more than the value on the gift card.

Why did it call to me? My life long disposition, as people focused as it is, has been a bit dyslexic as far as “feeling” language is concerned. I have trouble accurately naming the emotions depicted above, even though I feel empathy with anyone experiencing them. Of the head, body and heart centers, I live primarily in my head and am adept at “thinking” language. I gradually learned to spend some time in the “body” center, my secondary preference. There I can discuss how I experience something, no longer limited to my thoughts. This has been a gift in connecting with others. Most remote to me, but important for the continuing journey of integration and communication, is my heart center, where nameless emotions roil and churn.

Maybe Brown’s book is the primer I’ve been ready for for sometime (I’m in my 70s!) – why it called my name when I went browsing. Maybe the juxtaposition of experience in the subtitle had something to do with it. Maybe Brown’s 13 clusters of 87 emotions will open up that next frontier of unexplored territory where phenomena recognised and experienced can be felt and named.

Whatever, it represents a beckoning forth and I am always up for that! Now back to some reading …

My strength is made perfect in weakness

#Bloganuary Writing Prompt: What is a Superpower You Wish You Had?

It seems one is doomed to push back on these prompts. A lot of us don’t realise the “superpower” we already possess. My brief brush with martial arts as a teenager left me with one life lesson (and a gammy ankle!) “Do not resist force used against you – receive its strength and use it to your advantage.” For this reason, one’s perceived weakness can become a superpower – something that the heroes and antiheroes of the Marvel menagerie have begun to highlight.

“My strength is made perfect in weakness,” is part of the sage reflection of the Apostle Paul as he describes the act of owning his flaws and vulnerabilities as making room for his experience of the transforming strength of Christ.

And how’s this for synchronicity? Today I was gifted a book by Brené Brown, and in looking up her bio, I came across this TED talk that put her name on the map.
I leave it here as a benediction!

Reflection triggered by “that” deportation

#Bloganuary Writing Prompt: What is a cause you’re passionate about and why?

Palm Sunday Gathering Perth 2016

News just broke of his deportation
Tennis can’t save his mixed reputation
Oz immigration brooks no mitigation
Outrage and sorrow split more than this nation.

Yet refugees linger long through the years
Detained indefinitely for fleeing their fears
Split from family, self, friends and their peers
All but forgotten, alone with their tears.

Brief juxtaposition highlights our shame
Celebrity status throws light on the game
Our government toys with those it would tame
“Rules are rules” and “there’s only you to blame.”

Whether deserved or not, humanity’s on ice
Fortunes can change in a blink or a trice
All it takes is a throw of the dice
Those who hold power determine the price.

I dream of a world that is more like a home
That resembles the vision of the ancient shalom.
Wholeness of purpose, like sweet honeycomb
Friendship abounds, and life is a poem.

Claim your authority… when authentic!

#Bloganuary Writing Prompt: What is a life lesson everyone can benefit from learning?
Photo by Gladson Xavier on

Gingerly I laid out my clinical case
Involving some conflict I refused to face
My mentor stood up, tall and intense,
Determined to inject me with some good common sense.

“Who is your bishop?” he demanded to know.
“We have none – we are our own,” I declared so.
He leaned forth and pounded table with fist.
Snarling “Then claim your authority!” – he seemed to insist.

His meaning I savored and began to reclaim
Authority I avoided when it could have been my aim
Not from loveless base or greed for control
But love that is authentic and seeks to make whole.

Authority founded on Christ-love drives me these days
Boundless and free, without fear or malaise
No dogma to nip at heels and oppress
Confounding those who control and suppress.

For all whose timidity prevents them to thrive
May they seek their kernel that makes them alive
That’s what’s authentic and where authority’s found
And leads to new vistas where all good abounds.

Public Freaking vs Public Speaking

#Bloganuary Writing Prompt: A Challenge You Faced and Overcame

Photo by Pixabay on

Pimpled and bespectacled, I stood before the class
“One minute speech,” he said, “if you expect to pass.”
Butterflies a-flutter, my propensity to stutter,
Prevented speech, for only nonsense I could splutter.

“Sit down, Ryle,” he commanded with disdain,
“Another turn will come, if marks you wish to gain.”
Red-faced and downcast, I shuffled to my seat.
This fear of public speaking, showing off my sound defeat.

Now a retired preacher-man
who looks back on that occasion.
I shake my head and wonder
at the powers of persuasion.

Mentors woke within me
A strong and fervent passion
Tempered by my quietness
and words I liked to fashion

Some stints in factory and emporium
and some practice on cows in confusion
honed some oratory skill and an ornery will
to beat my shy disposition.

Yet Jonah-like I fled
Nineveh filled me with dread
Still the Inner Nudge-Nudge gently made me budge-budge
Fifty years on, speech has long been my bread.

Carpe Diem!

#Bloganuary Writing Prompt: What does your ideal day look like?
Photo by Lukas on

Is it me or do others feel like wreaking mischief on some of these questions? (Insert appropriate emoji for signaling no hostile intent!)

What is an ideal day?

Each day, whether work or leisure, significant anniversary or ordinary humdrum, free or restricted through health or circumstance, provides a fresh unexplored landscape that is fecund with opportunity and possibility, risk and hazard. Each day, then, depending one’s disposition, can present as ideal.

As for me? Carpe Diem! Seize the Day!