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For prayers at community dinner last week we reflected on the Seeds query What does it mean for us to be the body of Christ? and the words of Joy Cowleys psalm…
I need to see myself
as you see me.
My own vision is fragmented.
I try to divide up my life
and reject those parts of me
I consider to be weak.
I waste time and energy
in the battle of self against self
and Lord, I always end up the loser.
help me to see myself
as you see me.
I forget that you made me just as I am
and that you delight in your creation.
You do not ask me to be strong;
you simply ask me to be yours.
You do not expect me to reject my weakness,
merely to surrender it to your healing touch.
when I can see myself
as you see me,
then I will understand
that this frail, tender, fearful, aching, singing
half-empty, shining, shadowed person
is a whole being made especially by you
for your love.
“The radical church is the fastest-dying church in the world”
Myers, C. (1988) Binding the Strongman Orbis.
DISCIPLESHIP AND FAILURE: “YOU WILL ALL DESERT ME”
At the time, his words could hardly have hit home any harder, I ws still recovering from the painful breakup of my own community, the loss of home and marriage. I had never expected that the “cross” would take this shape. If readers of this book still feel it is an exercise in imaginative idealism, they should be aware that Mark’s vision is flesh to me, flesh seared and scarred. I have seen business-as-usual rudely disrupted by the kairos of the call, seen the vision of radical discipleshhip community realized. And more importantly, I have also seen those dreams fade, seen our best attempts to weave a fabric of hope and wholeness unravel, seen good persons bail out.
The radical discipleship movement today is beleaguered and weary. So many of our communities, which struggled so hard to integrate the pastoral and prophetic, the personal and the political, resistance and contemplation, work and recreation, love and justice, are disintegrating. The powerful centrifugal forces of personal and social alienation tear us apart; the “gravity” exerted by imperial culture’s seductions, deadly mediocrities, and deadly codes of conformity pull our aspirations plummeting down. Our economic and political efforts are similarly beseiged. The ability of metropolis to either crush or co-opt movements of dissent seems inexhaustable.
Padraig O Tuama is in town as resident poet for 3 months with the Uniting Church, I believe his greatest gift to me has been sharing his whole truth and the space that he creates that invites me to share my own – and the shared healing that is found through that.
These are snippets from tonight “poetry, prayer, promise & protest speaking to humanity’s hidden yearning for decency, goodness, survival and companionship” which may not make sense out of context but might be enough to inspire you to look further (books on Amazon) or ask me about it someday…
Trinity in me: hopeful theist, agnostic and someone in pain
In Irish no words for yes or no. Will answer “I will”, “I can”, “Tis”, “May be so”
God of watching * God of silence * God of darkness
Why do we have to dehumanise to delineate?
Once I was blind, now I’m blinder still
The people stood in darkness and in it became their light.
Appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM)
“You never liked me much did you..”
“No. No, I didn’t”
Moments of consolation in the midst of desolation
God is the crack where the story starts and we are the crack where the story gets interesting.
“It is in the shelter of each other that people live”
To Be Someone – Unique Identity & Personal Value
- How big is the question ‘Who am I?’ in your life? What have you learned about living with this question?
- How big is the question ‘What am I worth?’ (and ‘to who?’) in your life? What have you learned about living with this question?
To Be At Home – Security & Loving Harmony
- What forms of security do you feel a need for? How have you pursued these in helpful or unhelpful ways? WHat have you learned about security?
- In what living situations, communities and friendshios have you most experienced ‘loving harmony’? When was it lacking? How do you experience & nurture this now?
To Be Going Somewhere – Purpose & Progress
- How big is the question ‘What am I here for?’ in your life? What have you learned about livign with this questions? How do you continue to discern your ‘vocation’?
- What motivates you to develop and keep offering your best gifts and energies to God’s work on earth?
I fear that what might be my honest, deliberate truth might in fact be driven by my fear, or worse, that I have never been tested.
How do you measure integrity?
In this moment my truth explains, justifies, gives grace to my life. Could I ever doubt, regret, call that into question as some new learning, new light shines into my brokenness?
In every moment we are given a choice about what we do or say – watch TV? Do the readings for Uni? Check for the 5th time in 10 minutes whether someone has retweeted my tweet? How do we register the frequency of the symphonic harmony of life and step into the dance?
The only thing sadder than a life on the sidelines is not even knowing you are invited…
i tell you arise
Jesus seemed to move around a bit… city to sea, centre to margins; in between the “happenings” the speeches and stories, the healing and the casting out – he and his friends would have spent some time on the road. I wonder if this was his introverted time to recharge before the gig? Whether they’d process how it went “I don’t know, do you think they get it?”, “OMG did you see that Pharisees face? I thought he might have a heart attack”… Joy or sadness, success and frustrations poured out around a campfire at night, shared around a meal, not ranked recliners but a simple circle on the ground – men and women together, schmick tax collectors and homely fishermen. Despite having people around him all the time I bet there were times Jesus felt lonely in his vocation, times he wrestled with the call, felt caught between the surety of purpose and the unknowing of where the path would lead… and felt fear.
i tell you arise
Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Te Whiti, Dorothy Day, Ghandi, saints, prophets and witnesses have gone in that water, I am not worthy to set foot in it.
Maybe just a toe? I’ll paddle here on the edges - I can see to the bottom, sure footing… it’s safe here. I can see the way forward and the way back.
What if I’m swept off my feet? What if the current takes me? Where will it take me? I am not strong enough to swim against the current long… what if I can’t get out?
This is the river that baptised Jesus. This same water that washed his feet and that of his disciples whom he knelt to serve… this water is not of death but of life…
i tell you ariseTalitha Fraser
I ask for just one miracle this weekend:
that I will no longer believe the impossible is.
That I will find the faith to believe
that liberation will come
for those who are imprisoned by their own
- or another’s -
fear and judgement.
That I will find the faith to believe
that the most intractable minds can be changed
– even my own.
That i will find the faith to believe
a different world will be born
from the empty hells of this one.
That I won’t stop living for the end
of all that would destroy us.
“Me? I’ve been lonely my whole life for as long as I can remember, since I was a child. Sometimes being around other people makes it worse… When you’re young, you think its going to be solved by love. But it never is. Being close – as close as you can get – to another person only makes clear the impassable distance between you.”
“If being in love only made people more lonely,
why would everyone want it so much?”
“Because of the illusion. You fall in love its intoxicating, and for a little while you feel like you’ve actually become one with the other person. Merged souls, and so on.You think you’ll never be lonely again. Only it doesn’t last and soon you realise you can only get so close, and you end up brutally disappointed, more alone than ever, because the illusion – the hope you held onto all those years – has been shattered.
But see, the incredible thing about people is that we forget. Time passes and somehow hope creeps back and sooner or later someone comes along and we think this is the one. And the whole thing starts all over again. We go through our lives like that, and either we just accept the lesser relationship – it may not be total understanding, but its pretty good – or we keep trying for that perfect union, trying and failing, leaving behind us a trail of broken hearts, our own included. In the end, we die as alone as we were born, having struggled to understand others, to make ourselves understood, but having failed in what we once imagined was possible.
How to be alone, to remain free, but not feel longing, not to feel imprisoned in oneself. That is what interests me.”
He spoke of human solitude, about the intrinsic loneliness of a sophisticated mind, one that is capable of reason and poetry but which grasps at straws when it comes to understanding another,
a mind aware of the impossibility of absolute understanding.
The difficulty of having a mind that understands that it will always be misunderstood.
“But as it stands, true empathy remains impossible. And so long as it is, people will continue to suffer the pressure of their seemingly singular existence.”
“And mistreat each other, won’t they?”
Ray nodded. “Horrendously.”(quote from “Man Walks into a Room” – Nicole Krauss)
the turbulence of the world behind my eyes spills out
I see your shock at my nakedness.
The nakedness of my whole truth.
Like a foetus curled, cold, helpless.
Quick. Retreat. Apologise.
Tuck it back in, decorum returns.
Healing might not have happened but my humanity affirmed your own.
Somehow with our shit, our baggage, our brokenness
we still find a way to live loving one another.
it is very dark there
and very lonely
in the world behind my eyes
Grab some paper & pens (a long roll and colours might inspire some creative enthusiasm)
draw a horizontal axis through the middle of your sheet – this is for time (your age, the year, whichever you prefer…)
draw a vertical axis on the left hand side of your sheet – this is for showing paid work (above the line) and unpaid work (below the line) and should provide an exercise to map how much you’ve had going on at once…
1. At different stages, what have been the priorities that have directed/influenced your work choices and balance between paid work, unpaid work & rest?
2. When you look at your journey, where have you found fulfillment?
In which role or balance of roles?
3. Does the work you do influence the way you feel about yourself?