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Plans schmans

005

 

 

Today is one of those days with so many things to do I’m not really sure where to start and here I lie in the sun by the duck pond with You.

You make sense of everything, so I know if I bring them here before You, You can sort the wheat form the chaff, by Your grace I achieve all or none of it. I offer these tasks, my time like a sacrifice on an altar before You in the hope it pleases You and fear it will not.

It is not about volume or perfection in the sacrifice but the renewed commitment to be Your servant in all things. Help me not to hold things tightly, not to imagine I have plans, the means of achieving them or really any measure of control – only give me willing, resiliency and openness to change. Where Your will moves things get done and I want to be there to bear witness to Your power.

003

Reflections on “Making Space” – Pohl

Living into community

  • gratitude
  • keeping promises
  • speaking truth
  • hospitality

Cultivating the practices that sustain us.

GRATITUDE

Thou hast given me so much, give me one thing more… grateful heart – pulsing out beat of thankfulness for whatever is going on around you.

Communities that struggle are the most joyful > negro spirituals: deep pain, deep joy

We don’t know full stories – how our stories end, be happy with where we are.

Our gratitude is linked to expectations – for some people in the world to be given 3 meals a day > very grateful. Now we can eat whenever we want… it’s a given… a “norm”, we take it for granted and it will take something more/extra/different to be grateful again. Discipline of saying grace.

Have a choice to give out of our burden of wealth. Responsibility to share what we have.

Desire for things to be different vs. grateful for what we have > tension.

Where have we seen models/rituals/rhythms of gratitude done well? > noticing comes before gratitude.

  • Credo Tuesday Gathering and prayers
  • Lighting candles/prayers for others à physical actions
  • The Artists Way affirmations and dates – Julia Cameron
  • The OK line

ok line

Builds resilience
in the spectrum, not so bad
episode > moves
reflect, build confidence.

I have been away in NZ recently for my foster sisters wedding, most of my family are non-Christian but this sister converted to Catholicism to be with her partner and accepted by his family. I read 12 Corinthians 13 in the ceremony – “love is patient, love is kind…” Weddings have a way of bringing lots of different people together and we all need to put aside our individual preferences in favour of these two getting married. She is Maori and he is Samoan so there were different parts of the reception in different languages and around the speeches we’re all trying to follow the correct cultural protocols. We arrive at the reception and realise that our Mum’s speech as Mother of the Bride requires a waiata following her words – we realise there’s one song we basically all know from primary school which echoes the reading – Mum leads off from the front and we have to stand and join in from where we’re sitting and move to stand behind her – it’s only as we get there that we realise other women, family and friends are standing and moving to sing with us also.

Te aroha – loveNZ_Mons wedding 112bw
Te whakapono – faith
Te rangimarie – peace
Tatou tatou e – all of these

This was profoundly significant… I thought attending the wedding was a bit like sharing communion: sometimes we need to speak a new language/learn a new culture to show love; participating in a covenant can mean putting aside our individual preferences – going out of our comfort zone – in order to achieve something bigger together.

In sharing this celebration cup together, we are reminded of the bigger call on our lives to walk a different way, of putting aside our individual needs to further the greater good we believe in – the kingdom of God. Let’s take a moment to sit in silence as the elements are passed around and reflect on where God is calling us into communion.

(silence)

When we toast a couple – linking their names, blessing their shared life together, wishing all good things… let us invoke God’s blessing on the life we share together and all the things we wish for for our world and for each other… to the kingdom of God!

Manna Matters Reflection

Swap Super funds, make a giving budget, recycle water for flushing… these are some great commitments not achieved by my Household Covenant.

It’s 2012: I’ve just finished up at a proper job and Marita and I have taken in an Iraqi refugee, a young woman, named Shahad. We have scored a sweet deal on a low rent run-down Footscray house and I’ve just had a three month sabbatical visiting Bartimaeus Co-operative Ministries (BCM) in LA and returned home dreaming “What next?”
This expressed itself in the following, I’m sure annoying, way:

“At BCM I learned about cover crops and installed a timed irrigation system.   At BCM they shower over a bucket then use that water to flush. At BCM leftovers were upcycled into a new and different meal the next day so nothing was wasted. At BCM they don’t let you watch TV… they don’t even have a TV!”

…when the Household Covenanting series came up it seemed like a good way for my housemates and I to go on a journey together exploring ways of living sustainably and agreeing together on what some expressions of that might look like.

Where to start? Find meaningful part time work. One day per week in Footscray, no car, no screens. I don’t know about meaningful but I got an ABN and did contract administration – talk about part time – some weeks I had six days to be present in Footscray! While this part time lifestyle opened up opportunity for great projects (do maintenance on rental property – exceed minimum obligation, support Shahad, plant daffodils and tulips) it also wrought huge changes, suddenly go dumpstering is a weekly economic necessity, get piano lessons (subject to someone else’s expertise) isn’t financially viable and Marita’s family tradition of donating first income (giving this away as first fruits as gratitude to God) seems naive in the face of my irregular income. We imagined this spreadsheet tracking the-real-coffees-I-didn’t-drink forming, in part, the budget for our sustainability initiatives but I am instead dependent on the beneficence of my own friends charity to pick up my tab if they want a cafe catch up… This, THIS was in some ways where the real work/learning on savings, debt and poverty took place as I came to have a real and personal understanding of doing without – doing without ‘real’ coffee and inviting people to my home instead; doing without the safety buffer in my savings account led me, in fear and desperation, to rely on God’s providing and I received it in many ways and from sources I could not have imagined; doing without eating whatever I wanted when I felt like it and instead connecting with food seasonally by consuming food grown ourselves, sourced from Sharing Abundance[1] and dumpstered… I had to learn preserving methods, humble myself to let others pay for coffee, and give even though you don’t know where your next income is coming from. These are some great commitments achieved by my Household Covenant …and I didn’t even have them written down.

I could not have foreseen that supporting Shahad might mean leaving lights on across the house overnight to manage her fear of the dark over my desire to reduce power consumption (darn that was meant to be one of my easy ones). That my aim to buy second hand is overruled by her desire to have nice, new things that are her own for the first time in her life (we took her to IKEA for her birthday last year and she LOVED it!). Now I could understand what Jon meant when he told us ‘…the rule serves me, not me it’. My middle-class, educated reasoned choices to dabble in downward mobility cannot mean much to someone who has never had many of the choices and opportunities I have been given and part of my covenant should be to work to redress that imbalance. Perhaps I have not strictly achieved everything I set out to do but I am not unhappy with where I’ve ended up instead.

I do not know what will happen if you attempt a Household Covenant but I doubt you will be disappointed or find the attempt uninteresting… we plant daffodils and tulips every year now, although we moved house just last month and the bulbs were just tips pushing through the ground and we won’t be there to see them bloom, I wrote this: 007

“Reflecting today on the things we plant in the hopes of fruit to come.  We believe in planting so we do it but ultimately we have very little control over what grows and who it belongs to.  The pain is in our awareness of this and our discipline is planting anyway – even though we’re tired and someone else may receive the benefit of our careful tending, someone else may not like the plants we’ve chosen or where we positioned them and tear them out like weeds.  The thing that I value is only valued by others if they want it themselves.  What I grieve for, is not this house, much like another having four walls and a roof, but the harvest hoped for here that will not be realised by me. There is a large harvest, but few workers to gather it in.  Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest.”

Those little shoots felt like a metaphor for walking away from the sense of home we created in that place and the practices started that we now wouldn’t follow through. I hope God is sending me you, you know, not to go round and pick my ACTUAL daffodils, but to be a fellow worker in the field.

New housemates, new street, new garden… perhaps it is time for a new covenant.

“Hey, …Marita? …Shahad? …Ana & Atticus? You guys want to head to Ceres for some bulbs?!”

[1] www.sharingabundance.org is a food rescue initiative whereby produce is rescued from backyards and shared between homeowners, volunteers who pick and local community food programmes.

{a nicer – edited! – version of this article appeared in the Dec14 Manna Matters newsletter.  Go straight to the source and find out more about Household Covenants at the Manna Gum website}

Other Lives

175

The day before yesterday I sat in the NZ Poetry section of Arty Bees and there were lots of titles I didn’t have a chance to peek into and I thought I’d jot down some of the titles of books I didn’t get to read and use them as a springboard for my own imagination to follow the pathway of poems unread…

Have a crack at using the title of one of these books to write a poem or short story of your own!

Here’s my effort sitting on a park bench in the sunshine round Oriental Parade…

Other Lives

A pigeon and I shared morning tea,
coconut rough and brine of the sea
our feet rest on yellowed moss over stony cement
I think he talked, or perhaps I dreamt
“See these clouds, this sky, the fountain,
the roads, the houses and there a mountain…
these are connected but you cannot see
these must co-exist in harmony
you affect I and I affect you
in the ways that we go and the things that we do
some have plenty and some not a lot,
it seems that we ought to share what we’ve got.
It is clear as the water, firm as the ground
certain as sunrise, at least, I have found.”
“But pigeon,” I ask, “What can we do?”
“Next time,” he answered, “you might buy two…”


Talitha Fraser

The Southerly

17.10.14

black front
enters from the south
invading blue-white sky
a deep inhalation of raw wind
outlines the ribcage with pain
as it scourges clean
all in its path

Talitha Fraser

010Some things… you try and catch a photo of, and you can’t.

You fiddle with the settings, try different angles, to flash or not to flash… and eventually you realise that the moment you are trying to capture, the feelings/sensations you want to remember cannot be caught by a digital imitation.

There is a sacred quiet here in the graveyard.

Birds calling to one another, the rhythmic hum of motorway traffic and constructive sounds of industry form a backdrop to the peace in this place.

016
The headstones tilt at varying angles nestled in between trees and ferns, some messy and cracked, some maintained and others washed smoothly illegible by the rains of time.

I am somehow nestled in too here in the grass at the edge. I understand my place in the order of things and perhaps glimpse the rest that will one day be mine.

There is no striving in this place.
Striving is meaningless.
Here, for a moment, I am content to be.

Little black robins dart among the meadow daisies sun-blushed pink tips.

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Sustainability in Practice

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” (John Muir, 1838-1914)

Definition of sustainability as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland Commission, officially WECD 1983-1987)

Systems:

  1. Parts
  2. Connections
  3. Functions/Purpose
  4. A boundary

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