We only need to open our eyes and pay attention. Bloganuary asks “What is a treasure that’s been lost?” Well, it’s all around us. You’ve opened your eyes now, but you still have to go searching.
Some will find clues in quantum physics – that realm of discovery that allows for random, invisible, and transcendent leaps of matter that are beyond the disciplines of empirical knowledge, yet enhance a sense of connection.
Others will find clues in kanyini, the ancient Aboriginal wisdom that describes the caring, supporting, nurturing and responsibility-evoking sense of inter-connectedness of people, land and home.
Perhaps it is in the Hebrew notion of shalom, the harmony of all in balance, embracing God, creation and humanity in all its expressions.
Those in my own faith tradition will find it in the Word that was in the beginning and became flesh and dwelt amongst us, thus awakening the invitation to awareness and participation in an ever-expanding adventure of inner and outer transformation.
The treasure’s not lost – it’s ever within our reach.
So I ponder how “chucking tomatoes from behind a fence” is a picture for a basic life stance. I am by nature a safe risk-taker with an ambivalent attitude to authority. Entering the vocation of Christian ministry following a period of Jonah-like resistance seemed to be consistent. However, I always resisted the trap of using the pulpit as a “coward’s castle.” On the contrary, it was a glass house where my vulnerability was often on display, knowing that when one speaks, one cannot avoid telling one’s own story, even, or especially, unconsciously.
I continue to be a questioner, a devil’s advocate, a swimmer against the tide, but often from within the safety of a faith community. I break shibboleths and can be somewhat iconoclastic, but only in an effort to reveal what is behind them.
In matters of mental health and social disparity, I threw tomatoes on behalf of many who were under my pastoral care.
A Minister of the Crown branded me “un-Australian” when my team helped refugees who were abruptly abandoned having been dumped as the result of a new and draconian government policy. I enjoyed the grim satisfaction that a tomato had landed.
Speaking out on TV in support of marriage equality had some tomatoes coming back over the fence, but I was incensed at how a politically inspired wedge had dragged churches into an unseemly polarising debate on pastorally sensitive matters.
Yes, some issues had me coming out from behind the safety of the fence, chucking tomatoes from no-man’s land. And I don’t really care much if the fence is there anymore, although I cherish my faith community.
I’m 73, and I still chuck tomatoes!
And here’s a pic of La Tomatino – it seems chucking tomatoes is quite acceptable in Spain!
Bloganuary today asks us to recall our earliest memory. This is a tough one because it is challenging to unravel the faculties with which I recall my early days. My cognitive function can regale you with stories of others’ memories of my first years. Some old Brownie snapshots have captured one or two images of my toddlerhood. Certain olfactory sensations – oranges, grass clippings, menthol – trigger something from the primordial depths of my being, as does the sound of the long blast of a ship’s deep throaty horn.
But the image that comes to mind is the enthralling sight and feel of a tomato plant. They grew in the raised front yard of the Semaphore flats we lived in. One morning, my three-year-old self delighted in plucking some ripe tomatoes and chucking them over the fence so they landed on the Esplanade footpath below. Apparently, I managed to decorate some poor lady’s Sunday best hat! I have no recall of the aftermath.
Whether this anecdote represents my earliest memory via lasting primary sensation or secondary oral sources – I like it and own it! They didn’t call me Dennis the Menace for nothing!
When one feels the urge to write Yet thoughts refuse to form And sense retires in spite, One takes such as the norm And lifts the pen in hope Of catching what flies by While making wide one’s scope And snaring what is nigh. And so a poem is born Raw and gasping for air Lying lost and forlorn Seeking to avoid despair But now it’s here right on the screen Behaving like it’s always been.
This is a Shakespearean sonnet using the line structure ABABCDCDEFEFGG
Last day of old year Dawns with tired resignation Holding her dry breath – Desiring the calendar to turn a shiny new page.
Image by NoName_13 from Pixabay A tanka is an ancient form of Japanese poem– the first two lines describe an experience; the third is a kind of pivot that leads into the last two lines that express a deeper or more transcendental meaning. The strict syllable pattern is 5/7/5/7/7 (not always observed.)
A friend observed that there’s not much point to a Voice unless someone is listening. We often don’t listen well because we are so intent on making our own Voices heard. We have our agendas and we are anxious that they not be lost. This in itself becomes an obstacle to listening.
Listening is intentional. It is also vulnerable. We may not like what we hear. Intentional listening may expose us to the need to make some changes – even abandon some precious notions of who we are. Listening is a courageous act.
Collect O still small Voice, shout loud enough that I may hear Your wisdom through the cacophony of daily distraction, and that I may turn my attention to using my ears and mouth in the proportion with which they have been gifted to me.
Haiku Listen to the Voice Bulldozing old certainty To make a new road
That lull in the lazy week between Christmas and New Year invites a somewhat indolent review about all sorts of things – including this blog’s “on again/off again” appearance. I’ve just finished messing with some WordPress themes to sharpen its look. I’m still faced with the question “What is it for?” I’ve used it now for a number of years, starting from the time blogging was the all-new rage for expression on the web through the time it was thought to have run its course. In some ways, the blog has served as a journal, a more public expression for processing thoughts and ideas, ranging from the whimsical to the serious. This has been entirely separate from my private journaling. It was never meant to garner a wide readership, but I have been grateful to see comments, statistics and feedback that suggest my writing resonates with some. In redesigning the theme, I’ve decided for now to keep it clear of categories, menus and widgets. I want to keep it as simple as possible and my mind jumps around too much to keep consistency with such things. So there will be a mix of rambling commentary, poetry, prayers and other such things, perhaps only identifiable by tags if I remember to apply them. I have one or two books I’m drafting and this could well be a practice board for writing them. I used a gift voucher yesterday to buy some titles I thought might inspire my writing, so we’ll see how it goes. I’ll complete this as has been my habit lately with a Collect and a Haiku. The idea of composing Collects arises from a recent workshop with Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama. A Collect is a summary expression offered to the Creator using a thematic titular form and that includes a petition and a thanksgiving. A Haiku is a strict 5/7/5 three-line verse that comments, sometimes ironically, on a thought, feeling or experience.
Collect O Silent Communicator Who inspires our words, grant us the capacity to forge words of steel that heal and build, that the stories we share might bring illumination and understanding to the Grand Story with which You fill our being.
Haiku Why do I write blogs Casting words to the ether? It makes sense to me!
Well, there they are – Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love! Perhaps the most challenging has been Joy, associated yesterday with the Gospel of Matthew’s focus on troubled Joseph’s angelic visitation commanding him to proceed with his betrothal to the strangely pregnant Mary. Thus the introduction of Brené Brown’s phrase “foreboding joy” – the sense that yes, there is something big to embrace, but get ready for struggle along the way – the call to engage vulnerability with gratitude.
Collect O wounded One who engaged human life in fullness knowing the journey ahead, grant us the courage to embrace the full panorama of our human experience with gratitude and abandonment, that we may know the depths of your joy.
Haiku Hail foreboding joy Grasping fast the thorny rose Gifting aroma