Shrinking Pinocchio’s Nose

Bloganuary asks “What’s a lie you tell yourself?”

Old taunting voices have been gagged into silence
No longer do they hold me in utter reliance
“You’re feeble, not smart, you don’t cut the mustard,
Look at you now – you’re getting all flustered!”

I ceded them rightness for some little while
‘Til following a Way helped develop my style
So those voices have gone along with complicity
No more self-lies, just authenticity!

Retiring a Marriage Celebrant’s Licence

Today I voluntarily surrendered my licence to celebrate marriages. It’s part of “incremental retirement,” I suppose, but I prefer to see it as part of “a changing shape of vocation.”

So why now?

My last wedding was four years ago. Since then, administrative changes, including the advent of online form filling and streamlining legal obligations, have meant I would need to retrain myself in case there is a next. As I am no longer a minister of a congregation, I don’t officially retain the criteria to continue as a celebrant anyway, but there is some leeway in how this condition has been exercised.

Passing in my license inevitably awakens some reminiscing.

My first weddings were concelebrated while I was in training. My sister and her beloved were the first taxi off the rank. Then there was a navy couple in a Roman Catholic ceremony in the chapel on their base. The chaplain was very accommodating, even offering a choice of vestments to wear. I reluctantly declined, seeking to guard my “plain clothes” tradition! I confess that, since then and in three instances, I have gowned up for cultural reasons.

Each wedding has had its own array of stories, including my own! A whole book could be written.

For a few years, I developed and presented courses on conducting weddings. It was part of a “rites of passage” package for our ministers, looking at how they might engage more creatively with the “hatch, match, and despatch” requests that come their way.

There was one media occasion where I defended the concept of marriage against the rising rates of separation and divorce, and a more recent one, televised, where I gave a voice to “marriage equality” during the recent national and politically polarised debate on same-sex marriage. It caused a little stir within my tribe, but some colleagues privately and confidentially commended my “courageous” stance.

My last wedding service was for a delightful couple, both widowed, both in their 80s, and both deeply in love. Their story was later nationally televised. Sadly I conducted the groom’s funeral service precisely three years later. He himself had also been a marriage celebrant with whom I had often compared notes.

It is with a sense of thankfulness and yet relief that I pass in my licence and wedding paraphernalia!

Clown

Bloganuary poses “What was your dream job as a child?”

The railway line to Grange ran past the end of our street
Each time I heard the whistle, my heart did skip a beat
No matter steam or diesel as the changes went ahead
Engine Driver was the job of how I would make my bread.

Then there was the time the circus came and pitched its tent
The canvas and the sawdust wafted its exotic scent
The excitement and the bands that brought it all to town
Convinced me that my calling was to go and be a Clown.

Some years went by and I pondered while in my early youth
What my drawings, lines, and squiggles could yield in terms of truth
I wrestled with the dawning of a fledgling intellect
And thought I might cut the mustard to become an Architect.

These dreams of long ago seeded what came to be
Factory Clerk and Retail Help – first jobs that set me free
Then on the day I was ordained, ready to embrace my mission
They said, mindful of the Clown*, “I see you’ve achieved your ambition!”

* We are fools for the sake of Christ… (1 Corinthians 4:10)

A Dickens of a time

Bloganuary queries “Who is your favourite author and why?”

I have many favourites, but I’m going to land on one that set the path to becoming a bibliophile – Charles Dickens.

Great Expectations was the text our Year 8 English Teacher had set. I quickly found myself engaged with the dark and menacing opening, the eerie Victorian atmosphere and the weird behaviour of Miss Haversham. As the plot unfolded I found myself in the grip of the storyline right to the end.

Dickens’s devotion to fully detailed characterisation and attention to minute setting descriptions transported me to 19th-century English cities and countryside – both the bucolic and the bleak. As soon as I was earning money I subscribed to a complete set of Dickens works, noting my particular attraction to David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. In some unaccountable way, I must have been identifying with the main protagonists of these stories – each of them negotiating the circumstances of their youth to address the circumstances of their narrative line.

Perhaps I saw myself as one of Dickens’s characters, seeking to address social inequities, confronting and outsmarting my antagonists (real and imagined), and carving out my life’s path. Perhaps Charles Dicken’s had a lot to do with me becoming a pastor.

He certainly opened the door to engaging with many more authors.

No itch to scratch here

Bloganuary asks “What irritates you about the home you live in?”

Let me echo a known politician:
“I reject the premise of your question.”
Our home is bathed in gratitude
And to say such carries no platitude.

Homelessness is on the rise in our city
Due to rent-stress and evictions sans pity
Friends and neighbours have suffered
And remain under this crisis un-buffered

Survivor guilt looms on the horizon
This, the only irritation uprising;
So we can only show gratefulness
For a roof of sheer thankfulness.

Prism

Bloganuary now asks “What colour describes your personality and why?”

Once upon a time ’twas beige
Hiding back, not seeking a stage
As time went on some colour emerged
And life was released, no longer submerged.

I now cultivate white – but not for purity’s sake;
Rather seeking balance as a prism might make
When blending all colours into a single beam
“All things to all people” seems a strive-worthy dream.

So beige that withdrew into camouflage bland
Became an urge to develop one’s own unique brand
Of technicolour hues of myriad array
Described as white when put forth on display.

Eat like a King!

Bloganuary challenge: “What’s your favorite [sic] meal to cook and/or eat?”

“For brekky, eat like a king,” they say.
“But I eat to live, not live to eat,” I bray!
So my favourite meal is simple fare
Nevertheless, it has some flare!

Muesli as a foundation akin to manna
Bodies sing with a bit of banana
Blueberries strewn for the health believer
Pineapple histamines against hay fever

All topped off with a bit of milk
Down the hatch like a bolt of silk
Chase it along with Italian Espresso
And face the day with a mood allegro!


The Day I was Born

Bloganuary invites us to describe the happiest day of our life.

‘Tis the day I can’t remember
I believe ’twas in November
The day I was born!

The seagulls squarked and whirled
As I opened my eyes upon this world
The day I was born!

My pages were new and clean
Future stories yet unseen
The day I was born!

Schooldays and growing up
And family showing up
Began the day I was born.

Learning to ponder deep
So many friendships ready to reap
Began the day I was born

So many happy days
Made possible through history’s haze
Due to the day I was born!



Smellemory

Bloganuary asks “Do you have a memory that’s linked to a smell?”

Aromas, bouquets, smells, scents and odours
All jockey for attention in my memory-like modus
Which one is strongest? Which to the fore?
I travel a labyrinth to track down a spore.

Suddenly it hits me with unmistakable sensation
A soothing pale fluid of strongest olfaction
On lobster-red sunburn from time down by the ocean
Dabbed all over, it’s the Calamine Lotion!

Image via Creative Commons: npicartoons.deviantart.com

Existential dissonance!

“What fear have you conquered?” the Bloganuary prompt teases.

Some remain unconquered. A childhood incident triggers aquaphobia. As a result, I’ve gotten through life without learning to swim. For an Ozzie, this is an anomaly! I have concluded that my other bête noir, acrophobia, is just plain vertigo. Air travel is a breeze, even though I get dizzy standing on a step to change a light globe.

My temperament is one that seems naturally tuned into threats, real and imagined. The radar is constantly scanning the horizon, ready to react whenever an unwelcome blip appears. In counterphobic fashion, I am the zebra that protectively circles the herd, keeping an eye on the long pampas grass that conceals stalking predators.

Some commentators describe this persistent low static state of fear as existential dissonance. It is an inherent inability to trust the wellness of things. The antidote seems to be courage cultivated by awareness and paying attention.

The Apostle Thomas is my patron saint. He had the courage to name his doubts and ask his questions. Even though he feared the worst, he was the first to urge his peers to accompany their teacher back to Lazarus’ deathbed, where danger and mortal threat loomed.

I don’t know that one really conquers fear. One becomes aware of it, studies it, and reflects on it. In the process, its grip weakens and it almost becomes like an old friend. It’s no longer fear – it’s something else.