Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I want to dance ..

This started out as a piece of lyric frivolity -- and then I realised it wasn't quite so frivolous after all ..

I want to dance, within your arms,
Across the mountains of the moon
Be unconstrained by gravities
(For morning always comes too soon.)

I want to laugh in polka dots
And see the star-clouds scurry by
To taste the flavour of the Spring
In winter’s final lullaby.

I want to be where hearts are whole
Where sorrow’s tearing teeth are stilled
Where tears are wiped and death is dead
And every promise is fulfilled.

I want to walk the sunset’s rays
The day that brighter light shall shine
Soar to salute a world new-made
And drown in Love more rich than wine.

Meme: 8 unboring things about me ..

h/t to Kansas Bob.
I have no idea if these things are sufficiently unboring, after all, most of us egotistical human beings find our own stuff incredibly interesting, even if no one else does ..

1 I nearly died when I was born, from a blood clot on the brain. This was the 50’s when a lot of new technology was just coming in, and apparently I was one of the first people in Sydney to be put on an EEG machine to find out what was going on in my brain. (At least there’s medical proof that I have a brain!)

2 I started writing poetry almost as soon as I could talk, making up long rambling rhymes about anything and everything. But by the time I got to the end I’d forgotten the beginning! It wasn’t until I was 7 that I had the brilliant idea that I’d be able to remember my poems if I wrote them down (!) Shakespeare it wasn’t, but my first written poem dates from then. It was called “Birthdays.”

3 I first fell in love with God by reading the Narnia books. I was 9 years old and sick with the flu, and a friend lent me the Silver Chair. I devoured it and sought out the others (from the school library) as soon as I was well. When I read the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe I recognised that Aslan represented Jesus. It made Him much more real to me than any boring Sunday School lesson.

4 Have I ever mentioned I LOVE chocolate. Chocolate with almost anything. Except peanuts. I don’t like peanuts.

5 When I was 10 I had to write a composition for class on what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said I was going to be a great poet, a great scientist, and die a martyr’s death (!!!!) None of those things have happened, and (except for an occasional guilty daydream regarding the first) I don’t even want them too. What WAS I thinking??!!

6 I grew up in an all-girl environment, with 2 sisters, all girl classes at school, and my only male cousin was about 8 years younger than I am. When, at nearly 16, I first went to the church youth group, I would blush if a guy said hallo to me.

7 My husband was the first guy I ever dated. We met about 3 months before my 21st birthday, and were married within 18 months. That was 31 years ago.

8 I have started learning Latin in my spare time. I wanted to learn it at school, but my father wouldn’t let me. He wanted me to study “useful” subjects. For senior high school he made me concentrate on the highest levels of maths and physics. I was soooo bored, I just lived for my English classes, where, studying Yeats, Keats, Eliot, Austen etc I really came alive. I still don’t know how I ever passed my HSC and got uni entrance – it must have been sheer grace since I never did any work ..

I am no singer ..

One of those poems that just come out of nowhere when I was thinking about something else ..
(Incidentally, this is apparently my 400th blog post)

I am no singer, yet this song
Is graven in the bones of me.
I trill and shrill, yet don’t belong:
Come Lord, and set the songless free.

I shiver in a cold, hard wind.
The night is bare, my lips are blue
Yet in this wilderness I find
Your summons to sing after You.

Across the desolates of life
Where morning barks its bitter prose
Your music swirls above my strife
My smart complaining to foreclose.

See now, where nothing can be seen,
The glory at the heart of things:
The minor chords of might-have-been
Transcended as they say, “She sings!”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Father

Australians don't celebrate Father's Day till the first Sunday in September (the first weekend of Spring for us), but all the things I've seen online in the last few days have brought the issue of fathers to mind. My Father died suddenly when I was 21. He was only 49. I never grieved till i was in my mid thirties (about 15 years later), when our then minister's sermon about his own recently dead father, and his qualities, released an enormous grief in me for all the fathering I never experienced, the love he was incapable of giving. my memories of my father are still coloured by fear and weighted with regretful sorrow, I tried today to put some of that into verse:


Other trees shade and shelter, bear rich fruit.
Lush liveliness, and strength against the storm
But some are blasted; sere, with dreadful sticks.
This tree was blasted before I was born.

I do not know the history of trees
Or what befell, or poverty of soil
Whence came the sapless dryness of your branch,
The barren bitterness that marked your toil.

I do not know your story only mine.
This is not blame this telling of my tale
But simply grieving for what never was
The shelter never found against the gale.

Here I have placed a gravestone in my heart
For one most surely cut down in his prime
Before the blessing and the fruitfulness
And yet whose falling brought a sunnier time.

You were my fear, a shadow always there
Yours was the love I could not reach or earn,
Your lacks the wound which tore across my days;
Your affirmation something I still yearn.

I have another Father. By His graft
I am a living branch upon His vine
Here richest blessing given all unearned
I my Beloved’s am, and He is mine.


I am a woman. I am not a woman because I wear certain clothes or take up certain social roles, I am a woman because I am a woman. This is biological, God-given fact. I have two X chromosomes, and all the normal physical consequences. I have borne children. I do not have to do some particular things to become feminine, I am feminine by definition, because I am a woman. When I read particular complementarian (or worse, patriarchal) blogs and articles, I am bemused and confused by their definitions of femininity. They seem to me to have a lot more to do with a particular, idealised cultural image (was it ever REALLY like that?) than with anything explicitly biblical.

I am a woman, but first I am a person: a redeemed sinner, a blood-bought child of God. His calling on my life is to pursue godliness: to honour Christ in every way. Godliness is not one thing for men and another thing for women, we are all called to be obedient, to be prayerful, to walk in step with the Spirit and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience etc are not divided up, with some of them for men and some of them for women. Nowhere do I see a command to pursue femininity, but many to pursue Christ.

Some of my characteristics and behaviours fit certain definitions of “femininity”, some do not. So what? I was a stay at home mum to be there for my kids, but I think I missed out on the “nesting” gene .. I would rather read a book or write a poem than have the neatest house around. I wear skirts in summer and trousers in winter (comfort and convenience come first). I wear make up. I like to keep my hair between chin and shoulder length, I don’t feel like me if it’s any shorter. I NEVER wear high heels (they hurt my back) and I detest pantyhose. But I like to wear pretty colours (especially purples). I enjoy wearing jewellery. I hate expensive designer fashion, and most of it doesn’t suit me or my personal style anyway.
I can cook reasonably well. I can’t sew if my life depended on it, and ditto for handcrafts. I’ve yet to work out why people even WANT to do handcrafts. I missed out on that gene too. I can enjoy a morning of girl-shopping with my daughter, and I got tremendous satisfaction out of my Greek and Hebrew classes, in both of which I was the only female. I have a good sense of colour, my spatial sense is abysmal. I hate action movies, screen violence repels me, I have almost as little time for formulaic Hollywood romance, probably because I don’t believe it. I’m a verbal person, but I’m not afraid of silence. I am calm and laid back, and never believed I had to micro-manage my children’s lives. (Incidentally, my two kids have grown up to be very organised people – I claim no credit, and they’d laugh at me if I did) I never bother with diaries or to do lists, but I’m punctual to a fault. I can’t open jars but I can kill cockroaches. I have male friends and female friends. I have never had the least desire to be a guy (I LIKE being a girl) but I have been deeply hurt by misogyny and gender injustice.

Am I feminine? Do you know, I don’t really care. I am a person who happens to be a woman. Because I am a woman, what I do is feminine by definition. I don’t care for a gender separated world, with a male sphere of existence and a female sphere of existence. That has always seemed to me a form of apartheid. Every aspect of life is richer if male and female can work in harmony together. The gender wars are a product of the fall. Hierarchical relationships are a product of the fall. The Kingdom of God is about serving and blessing one another, with whatever gifts we have. Our maleness or femaleness is just one aspect of that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

You are the Sun

My daughter just sent me this Sara Groves song:

She said it reminded her of a point in my sermon last Sunday (I have never heard the song before) I was transitioning from "I am the Light of the World" to "You are the light of the world" and I suggested it was like Jesus was the sun and we are the moon, and as the moon only lights the earth when it is turned fully towards both the sun and the earth, so we only light the world when we are fully turned towards both God and our neighbour. In other words, in order to be light givers we must both love the Lord our God with all our heart mind soul and strength, and love our neighbour as ourselves.

Wisdom for life

Over on codepoke's blog he's been talking about the discovery that the Bible doesn't actually have the answers for every little detail of life. I couldn't agree more. this is what I wrote:

I believe the Bible is the Word of God,I believe it is true and contains everything necessary to salvation, and a lot of clues on how to live godly lives, but it is NOT a magic answer book. And (sticking my neck out a bit further) I think that's the way God wants it. He isn't playing some power game with little robots who live by a set of legalistic rules, He wants sons and daughters who honour Him by wrestling with the hard questions of life, trying to work out how to live with love and integrity in their own unique circumstances, and sometimes even wrestling with Him. He never said it would be easy, but I think there are some hints that it might just turn out to be glorious ..

It's painful, it turns your heart and soul inside out and leaves the hard questions dangling in the air, but in the process He teaches you real wisdom, the sort you can't get out of any book, including His.

I guess I'm not a fundamentalist, and never have been. (Hey, I'm an Anglican!) The Bible is authoritative because it is the word of the One to Whom all authority belongs, it is not the final word on every subject. When people try to turn it into a science textbook, or a medical book, or a dietary guide, or a manual on negotiating all aspects of modern western culture etc etc. it is the revelation of God, the history of His saving work in the world and His dealings with a particular subset of humanity. Above all, it is the revelation of Jesus Christ and how to walk in His salvation. Get that right, then pray for wisdom and seek to walk in and with the Holy Spirit and even inour brokenness and confusion, there is fellowship there with the Living god Himself.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another quote -- crucifixion of images

I just came across this -- much food for thought.
What other images is it true of?

Austin Farrer, in commenting on the debate between Rudolf Bultmann and several German colleagues on the question of "demythologizing" the New Testament, suggested as an alternative that in the New Testament itself we are presented, not with the demythologizing, but with the crucifixion of images. He had in mind specifically the crucifixion, in Jesus's death, of the image of Messiah as God's means of deliverance.

Feeding on Christ

My last sermon was on Jesus the Bread of Life. I covered a lot of ground: the unbelief of His hearers, the equation of eating with faith (compare v 40 and v54) the nature of a covenant meal (having a bit of fun with that strange story in Ex 24 along the way) But this was a particular analogy I used, which occurred to me one night, lying in bed:

When we eat, we eat dead food. We are alive, our food is dead; when we consume it, it changes to become part of us. I can't look at you and see what you had for dinner last night -- the meat the vegetables, whatever you ate, are changed into the substance of your body. BUT when we feed on christ (by faith) something very different takes place, he is not dead, He is gloriously alive. When we take Him into ourselves (or whatever language you want to use for the intimacy of faith) it is we who are changed to become more like Him.Over time, our degree of engagement with Him will become visible as our degree of Christlikeness.

Consider it. Far more importantly, consider Him.

Creativity -- Michael Card

A great quotation from Michael Card (yes, that one, the singer)expressing something I really believe:

Creativity is worship because, at its essence, it is a response. I hear the Word and I respond with music, with silence, in adoration, in appreciation by picking up the basin and the towel. It is a romantic response to this Person whom I adore. He is beautiful! I want nothing more than to be in his presence. I love him! And so I sing and I write. If I could paint or dance I would do that as well. I forgive someone who couldn’t care less about being forgiven. I try to reach out across the vast distance between me and my brother or sister.

Because creativity is a response, it does not originate with me. God speaks. He moves. He is beautiful. We respond. We create. We worship.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Graduation Photos

Three photos from my graduation (ok, 2 months ago ..)
The first is a group of students and lecturers .. I am on the far right in the front row.
The next is with my son and daughter in law, and the third is with a group of friends -- my daughter is peering over my shoulder (in green) and my husband is the tall guy at the back

A Counter of Jerusalem ..

Psalm 48:12 Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers ..

Lord, I would be a counter of Jerusalem
Would see and tell the stretching of Your kingdom
Brushing off accretions,
Bringing hidden things to light
Measuring that sure grace beyond all measure
You pour in broken places.

I would know Your works and tell them
To this weary generation
This people of downcast eyes and too much busyness
Who need to hear again that our God reigns
In the drought and in the city,
And the mindless, pleasured beaches.

You build an unshakeable city
On a crucified, risen foundation
Your works proclaim your greatness
And Your people awake to adore You,
Stand up to speak Your praise.
Why should we fear the fall of night,
Or the folly of the enemy:
His mindless, grinding boasts?

I would sing of the secure thing
That no one can take from us.
I would count and recount the wonders
Of the God who never lets us go.
I would measure again Your mercy
And know all our measures fall short.

Monday, June 02, 2008

In The Art Gallery

A confession -- I'm a frustrated artist. Ever since I was a little girl I've wished I could draw, paint .. anything. I have a very visual imagination, and it irks me to not be able to express and reproduce what I see. But my fine motor skills are rather lacking (to watch me try and thread a needle is pathetic)and I also lack the spatial sense to translate what I see onto paper. I have often said I write poetry because I can't draw what I'm thinking/feeling. So I wrote a poem about that particular frustration (because I can't draw that, either!!!)

Frustration aches my fumbling heart
I bow to beauty as it speaks
Through line and paint of truths that burn:
Thrust into me by their techniques.

These dull, autistic fingers curl
Against my sides – I cannot draw,
I cannot show the things I see
And what else is an artist for?

If I could make the canvas sing
Of mysteries of loveliness:
The supplication of a leaf,
The smile within the wind’s caress,

The mystery of a forest place,
The wild, salt yearning of the sea,
The bashful promise of the dawn,
One face with full humanity:

If I could draw, I would not need
These clumsy words that clunk and fall
To try to catch the starry light
That wraps the darkness like a shawl.

I cannot show, can only tell
Of how the stormlight wracked my soul.
My words are just the skeleton,
Your sight must make the picture whole.