Tag Archive: hope


Blessed are you who expect God to be more intimately revealed in exile, for you shall behold the risen Christ.

Blessed are you who finds abundance in scarcity, for God will give you everything you need.

Blessed are you who are hungry for God’s grace, for you will find and recognise it in strange forms in which comes along.

Blessed are you who realises incarnation happens in the world as it is, for you will find relationship anywhere.

Blessed are you who thinks the future is always bigger than the past, for you will always be excited by what God’s doing next.

Samuel Wells. Heartsedge session 3. Wednesday 10 March.

I have struggled to get into Lent this year.

My current forethoughts are around these queries… in my hemisphere (southern), it is summer/autumn and there is abundance, harvesting, preserving… it doesn’t seem like a time of year that makes much sense to give things up. I think that part of ‘giving up’ for Lent was that people died because there wasn’t enough food to get through the winter. They had to food ration to make it through. I like the idea that feasting on Sundays was someone bringing out a faithfully reserved jam, or stewing their last apples. The community survived the winter because they worked together. Spring brings relief of the austerity measures. Because of this, Lent has made more sense to me when I took something up (rather than personally giving something up) because it connected me with others.

With over a 100 days of the last year spent in lockdown, I think we’ve given up on plenty: a 5km radius, a curfew, only so many visitors or none. What do the learnings of our season and context in this moment have to say to our rhythms of church?

In the Eastern Kulin seasonal calendar March is Iuk Eel Season. Hot winds cease and temperatures cool. The days and night are of equal length – rather than austerity, what if we heard a call to balance? If you’re anything like me, areas of: exercise, food, drinking, social connection, and work became unbalanced during COVID and boundaries between home and work, and work and rest, have blurred. How might they be redefined?

The Iuk (eels) are fat and ready to harvest as they make their way downstream to spawn at sea. On the way they change from the dark pigmentation of freshwater eels and become silver. What if some of those things that have felt ‘lost’, like access to our creative outputs have actually been maturing during this time? What procreative energy is in you, seeking to move, to be fulfilled in its purpose and becoming? What brightness emerges from your season of darkness? What does it look like to make space for this procreation through Lent?

The Binap (Manna Gum) is flowering, and the hot summer air dries it’s sugary white sap (manna) and this a good treat to eat – what have you looked forward to all this time? How sweet is it after the wait?

My second thought is that Jesus knew the road he was walking, and what was at the end of it. He walked it anyway. When we commit to choose to do something difficult, we know there’s going to be times that’s hard. When we follow our commitment maybe, in a small way, this is an act of solidarity with the path/choice Jesus walked and offers insight to his sacrifice. So, when you live on the 7th floor and give up stairs, if you’ve left your bus ticket up there then you’re going to be tempted to take the lift. When faced with a choice between as easy and a difficult path – what do we choose to walk?

I think all of us know of relationships that broke up during lockdown. People decided to move – regionally, interstate, “home”. People changed jobs. In the crucible of limitation people had to make choices about what was most important. Decisions about what was necessary to flourish in scarcity. These decisions weren’t made lightly or easily, sometimes they were forced by circumstances outside of our control. The choice when there were no other options to choose from. Hard choices. Choices that cost us something. National Close the Gap Day and Harmony Day fall at this time of year… we reflect on the long road so far and the hard road to walk yet, what choice can we make but to keep walking? On the flip side, lockdown gave effect to many restrictions we thought couldn’t be done in the face of climate change – is the hard road that, despite our freedom, we continue to live within our restrictions of travel, working from home and shopping within 5kms?

Easter falls in April this year, when morning mists begin and nights become longer, we move into Waring Season. Wombats emerge from their burrows becoming active. Migrating birds arrive from Tasmania and male bulen-bulen (lyrebirds) display their mounds, tail feathers, and songs to attract a mate.

We know where we have been. Where are you planning on going?

What expectations did we have of ourselves over the last year that we did not meet? Of others that they could not meet? As you emerge from the burrow and become more active, how do we show the best of what we have to offer to each other again? We need to forgive ourselves and each other for what we have done and all we have left undone. Let’s have Good Friday and grieve, acknowledge what we have lost, but let’s also have the resurrection of Easter Sunday. What does it look like to celebrate that the season of loss and grief might be over? What about making a commitment to have friends or family to your house? To share and hear the stories of what the last year has been? To share you hopes for the future. To share a hug.

The community survived the winter because they worked together. Spring brings relief of the austerity measures.

A Paschal moon rises.

A new dawn for my plant might be the last day for these caterpillars! Hope is a strange creature. We sit in this paradox, some of us like the familiar holey system, something must die for something new to grow in its place. It’s painful. We grieve it. Especially when we don’t personally  have anything against cute little green caterpillars.   #dawn #atapūao

Yesterday, I headed out the backdoor to hang out the washing and heard a loud buzzing of bees. Looking around above my head, I notice that our ivy-covered shed (also known as The Hobbit Mound) is abuzz with activity. There must be 100 bees there dancing and drinking.

I google, worried we have had a hive migration but it’s simply that ivy is an autumn necessity for bees and we have an abundance. When a bee finds a good stash, it goes and does a waggle dance back at the hive to let them know where to get the good stuff. At this time of year, over 80% of what they collect might be from ivy and the nectar is 50%+ sugar. This can be what keeps a hive alive through the winter.

We know insect populations are struggling, but today that feels hard to believe – they are everywhere, they are loud, they are a beautiful sight.

#signs #hetonu

Advent word: Message

The Christmas card seems macabre. Australia is burning.  There is a lump of coal in our stocking. We are meant to be grateful for the light but smoke covers the horizon. There are flowers here which only bloom in smoke.  #message #hekupupanui #adventwords2019

Advent word: Pray

Frail little lights ask their hopeful questions. There’s so much we do not and cannot understand. There may never be an answer. To pray goes some way to acknowledge this. #pray #inoi #adventwords2019

Thoughts on crucifixion by a doctor – it’s not the nails that kill you but exposure.
Thoughts on crucifixion by a woman whose husband has a brain tumour.
Thoughts on crucifixion by a poet. “A king who dies on the cross must be the king of a rather strange kingdom. Only those who understand the profound paradox of the cross can also understand the whole meaning of Jesus’ assertion: my kingdom is not of this world”.  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
Thoughts on crucifixion by a friend…

A gorgeous mix of piano, story and spoken word poetry at the Maundy Thursday service at Fairfield Uniting Church making an old story new. They had me at Mary Oliver.

The lights are extinguished one by one until all light is gone, but hope is not. We carry it with us.

lit white candle maundy thursday itellyouarise

 

 

Paste up in Paraparaumu today

Stay Strong

in the bonds of love we meet

Kia Kaha Otautahi, Stay Strong Christchurch, is a recurring theme in the outpouring of grief and love happening in New Zealand in response to the attacks of 15 March 2019 at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre that killed 50 and injured 50 more.

In the Christian tradition this is the season of Lent, a time to remember Jesus’ 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. The word “Lent” comes from the old English, “lencten,” which means “spring.” What struggle takes place in this desert? What are the questions we wrestle with? What are the demons we wrestle with? What spring might arise in this desert?

The saying “Kia Kaha Christchurch” came into use after the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 that decimated the city centre and in which many lives were lost. It was used by committed friends and family to affirm and encourage each other in rebuilding their lives and their city. We say ‘stay strong’ because the people of Christchurch are not strangers to death or loss, nor resiliency.

We say ‘stay strong’ because members of our Muslim community and all people of colour face experiences of racism, hate speech, violence and vilification every day, those of Muslim faith are not strangers to death or loss, nor resiliency.

We say ‘stay strong’ calling everyone impacted into the best truth of ourselves and our beliefs because we all know that it is easier in these times to hate, and be angry, than to love. And we rise.

 

love beats fear melbourne vigil for christchurch

 

Rallies against racism, vigils and tributes of flowers outside mosques are happening across New Zealand and around the world. Faith leaders of different religions, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu, lead these gatherings in prayer in many different languages.

islamic council of victoria open day 2019 A mere two days after the shooting, the Islamic Council of Victoria go ahead with their annual mosque open day – opening their doors and sharing with guests their faith and culture. Opening their hearts to those grieving and with questions to which no one knows an answer, like: ‘Why did this happen?

Their own hearts must be sore and grieving, and their actions speak yet to welcome, hospitality and courage. Choosing this, is spring.

Australian social commentator Waleed Aly in a poignant statement shares that the gunman was greeted “Welcome, brother” upon arriving at the mosque, those within were gathered kneeling, in silent communal prayer. They would be facing Mecca and have their backs to the door, unaware of any danger. And they will do this next Friday, and the Friday after that, and every Friday.   Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, has announced that today’s Muslim call to prayer will be broadcast nationally on TV and radio and a two minute silence will be held as, nationally, we want to reclaim and hold that space as safe and sacred.  We say ‘stay strong’ but this doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own. We know we are stronger together.

Choosing this, is spring.

te aroha kiwis and muslim sing togetherIn the bonds of love we meet” (cover image) is a line from New Zealand’s national anthem and is on the banner I carry to a vigil. It is a signal to other New Zealanders where I am from and many give that head tilt of acknowledgement or stop to say “kia ora”.

The vigil leaders say from the front: “If you’re comfortable, hug or shake hands with the people nearest you” and, in this moment, in hugging one Muslim ,I feel I am hugging all Muslims; to hug one Kiwi, it feels I am hugging all Kiwis. Choosing this, is spring.

The vigil is over and people are drifting away to make their way home. A remnant of us gather to sing: people of different faiths, different cultures, speaking different languages. We sing for over an hour… Te Aroha (see image above for lyrics), the NZ national anthem in English and Maori,  John Lennon’s Imagine, and  Dave Dobbyn’s Welcome Home. (written in response to seeing anti-racism protests in Christchurch back in 2005). His words and melody are just as now poignant as they were then. What an extraordinary and beautiful thing to come of something so awful. Choosing this, is spring.

Meet in the bonds of love. Stay strong.

Choosing this, is spring.