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Monthly Archives: April 2011

I am coming face to face with my inner self once again.  I don’t know about you, but in me there is a voice that speaks deep inside that is never harsh nor loud but decidedly persistent and even in the tempestuous noise of my everyday life the voice never ceases.  I sometimes allow my world to drown it out but it seems to quietly await another opportune time and simply repeats itself again and again until I begin to pay attention.

I once heard an expression, “the inarticulate speech of the heart” and for me, this is what it is.

It’s also very much like the voice of a strong, yet soft spoken, internal shepherd who stands significantly higher than my short little legs carry me and who can easily see what the far off terrain out there holds.  But for me all I can see is a very small parochial few feet in front of my nose (which is often frustratingly attached and very close to the rear end of the smelly, unwashed sheep just in front of me).

Circumstance in the form of people and related monies lost and now owed is presenting a somewhat vulgar scenario to me at present and the old fighter in me wants to leap over the ropes in one smooth action, bound over to the opposite corner and pound the living crap out of the blind, ignorant upstart who is daring to spit out threats and aggro statements way above his own intelligence level or ability to substantiate.  Yet even as the blood gushes through and pumps up the veins in my neck I seem to hear that voice again.  It is 4 a.m. and I am up and wide awake and this time it seems to be saying, “that’s you you can see in that person … can you see yourself?”

I am painted into a corner and instead of wet paint all around I see mirrors, many mirrors all reflecting so many unsightly and embarrassing angles on my life.  Angles quite frankly that I would rather not see.

The misty shepherds voice inside  tells me that in compassion extended I will find my own peace.  And amazingly, this time I am able to hear.

Often I do not.  In fact, it can take years.

Perhaps it’s because we live in a fast food type of immediate gratification, data overload world?  I don’t really know, but this for me is usually a somewhat unscientific process of conclusion but a deep seated one that speaks in a language still to be better understood inside of us.  Our modern mindset will not easily settle for any data other than that which is immediately seen, clearly measurable, even alpha-numerically coded and instantly logical and clear.  Our shelves are filled with easy answer, quick steps books that promise instant results immediately and the reasons for everything are laid out as logical, clear and easily accessible.

We may as well drink ant poison.

The ancient writings say “deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls…. ”  What I have gradually come to realise for myself is that the roar of the waterfall is never initially very clear nor articulate, but it speaks nonetheless. It sort of wears away at the hard rock of our resistance and silently but surely cuts through its own path, slowly changing the sound and shape of the rock over time and patient observation.  For those who really desire enlightenment and are prepared to wait for it patiently and to retrace the ancient paths it will become more and more clear.  As unscientific as it really seems to be in appearance, over time and careful attention it too can build up data into a patterned form of empirical evidence able to be interpreted by those who will indeed take the time to allow the words to clarify themselves for our dull and clumsy conscious minds, settle into degrees of truth and eventually, the penny finally drops.  And usually it’s me who is the last one to know that a degree of enlightenment has come.  More often than not someone else will comment on the progress they see in me and I am flummoxed.  Maybe that’s what they mean by being “surprised by grace?”
” …. in compassion extended I will find my own peace” … it rolls so elegantly off the tongue, but now it must settle at the bottom of the waterfall in some hidden brook and bubble up into truth revealed.

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maybe it’s us making things happen?

maybe it’s God?

maybe it’s imagination?

maybe it’s a combination?

maybe it’s us in God, or even God in us?

maybe the ‘consciously creating circumstances’ pundits were on the right track all the time?

could the creative investment that is evidently in us be the ability to, like God, create a new world, a new reality, a new dimension to what we see before us?

but is it a lie if it was not really there … and then suddenly was … simply because we believed it?

or was the previous state a lie … until we believed?

often we chose to believe even in the face of the absence of evidence or even in the face of conflicting evidence … isn’t this the same as lying?

often we do this when we find ourselves in a state of desperation

those who have what they need have no need of faith, those who have not do

in our desperation do we shift the reality or do we shift how we see reality?

“only believe” was what he said, “only believe” …

this is indeed an explosive thought …. is this the explosive creative power that got everything we can see around us to be what it is?  is this what banged a big spark and even possibly sparked a big bang?

could this be the language, the power, the currency, the substance of God almighty himself? … or is it just a language of hope that we have generated for our own convenience?

so what is this thing we call “belief?” and how powerful is it? .. or how powerful are we?

this ability we seem to have to believe … this belief that seems to give us ability?

and how much is God?

how much is us?

how much is a combination?

how much is real?

or how much is imaginary?

how do we define the meaning of believe?  Maybe we can start by seeing if we can agree on this for a start?

the dictionary says: 1. To accept as true or real. 2. To credit with veracity. 3. To expect or suppose; think. … also : to have firm faith, confidence, or trust (in the value or truth of something), to have an opinion; to think: … etc.

there’s not much mention of fact in any of that, is there? … instead a lot of suggestion around acceptance of an idea and a shifting of opinion

perhaps we all believe, the scientist, the agnostic, the atheist, the religious, the skeptic… all different perhaps, but all perhaps alike?

so, what picture does each of us see?

each of us reading this right now … how did we see it?

we all have a view, an opinion, a belief

where did this picture come from?

what do we believe in?

was it culturally handed down or an original idea?   either or, what sparked it at first?

so, … what do you believe?

can you say?

or do you believe you would rather not?

People like to organise and arrange their food.  Well, perhaps not ALL people, but most do this in some form or other and for some it is extremely important, even essential.  For some it is a form of art, for others an expression of their culture and many do this for many reasons actually  …  in fact, many do it that specific way simply because their mother did it that way.

From my observations organisation and arrangement of food is very diverse and there are many ways of expressing this.  Sometimes it has to do with colour coding the different food groups on the plate or even the combinations of the foods.  Certain types of proteins at certain times are mixed with certain types of carbohydrates (or not).  Sometimes it mostly has to do with the presentation – placing the proteins one side, the starches another, veggies somewhere in between or even one food group on top of another.  Salad and desert are often side dishes, coffee and biscuits, wines and malts usually follow the main course.  It’s a fascinating study.

Some foods are totally ‘no-no!!’ in some cultures and some are forbidden to be served with other types of food.

There are also often specific times for meals.  There are also times for special meals and sometimes specific types of food are eaten at these ‘holy’ meals at the exclusion of others.

Very often cutlery is carefully laid out for certain meals and the table is set formally or informally and usually according to a very established and accepted custom (according to the specific event, of course).  Whether informal or formal it is a culturally established process and specific order and attention to detail is very important.  Deviation is usually not acceptable  and when one shares in a meal of this nature one is expected to ‘play by the rules.’

Seating arrangements are also mostly very important and more often than not preset times and places for the meal are scheduled well in advance.  Attendance is sometimes by invitation and sometimes not, in much western culture it is mostly by invitation only.

On the other hand, children, like to play with their food.  For them, sitting down to a formal meal is a tiresome affair.  It serves very little practical or productive function. They would much rather eat on the go, as they need it – grab a handful and run.   After all, they are growing up rapidly and life is full and exciting and there is little time for stuffy formalities, … and as any child will tell you, stuffy formalities suck the life out of everything.

Jesus told us that unless we change and become like little children we will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

It seems to me that in a sense Jesus tended to walk away from more than he walked towards.  The way I read it he walked about from place to place, preaching of the kingdom of God and making contact with people, mostly making physical contact with them.  What I mean by that is he got down and dirty, really identifying with them and not just in word, but in deed.  He touched and healed and extended love and dignity to those he came across, especially the untouchables, the rejected, the socially unacceptable, the impoverished, desperate, hopeless, vile sinners as well as the socially, religiously and politically incorrect.  He never came for the righteous nor the religious, he came for those who missed the mark, who messed up, who were devastated and lost.  He had no home he went to each evening after a hard days walk, no comprehensible set pattern of movement even to the point that it seemed as if whenever they all expected him to zig, he zagged.  He also had no mission headquarters and no regular venue as a meeting place.  He went to them and the masses tended to follow him as he walked and from time to time and he felt compassion for them and stopped to heal and comfort them … sometimes he would feed them … but then, he kept moving on.  There is no record of him trying to start feeding schemes nor social help centres and institutions, nor actively collecting followers or converts.  He was not interested in building a religious order, a social club or a political party.  There was no morning roll-call, sabbath attendance registers, or accountability structures.  He led a small entourage, but he did it as a servant … he just kept walking and talking, mostly walking, always moving.  In fact, it looks very much to me like he made it very difficult for people to follow him.  He came from the poorest of social stock but there is no record of him asking for support, or even taking up a monetary collection to meet his or his disciples personal or ministry expenses.  Instead there is evidence that he gave money to the needy and not the other way round.  And when the masses thronged around him in pressing need he challenged them directly about their self centred motives for seeking him out, how they were following him because he had fed them all and not because they were seeking truth.  He then continued to present his teaching in even more mysterious, metaphorical, vague, even dark ways that had even his own closest disciples scratching their heads in perplexed frustration.  Instead of changing this tack, softening his delivery, and making them feel comfortable and secure in their hearts and minds about him and what he was saying and doing he instead disturbed them even more by telling them in exact detail of the very real risks and great cost it would take for anyone to follow him including, social alienation,  excommunication even physical death.  Yes, he did tell his 12 disciples to follow him but then, having spoken to them individually he seemed to walk and leave it up to them if they followed or not and there is no real record of him trying to persuade them or anyone to believe in him using manipulation, logic or any other such skilful oratory device.  In fact, there isn’t any record of him taking anyone behind any waling wall and asking them to repeat after him a prayer of confession according to the 4 or so spiritual laws that would lead them to, and seal their personal, eternal salvation.  Actually, he presented a whole new and revolutionary angle on the same memes his hearers had heard for many generations and it appears to me that a lot of the time he seemed to deliberately say the things that he knew very well would disturb, confuse and even totally infuriate those who heard him, especially the religious leaders.  He was kind and compassionate to the lowly and the lost but with the religious leaders he often became very shrewd, even furious.  And then to cap it all he told them all that the world would hate and reject all who believed in him and followed his example … that those who believed would suffer exactly the same way he would, and this simply for believing in him and living out his example … and then he deliberately got himself killed.

… and just before his life on earth ended he once again said, “follow me, … as you have seen me do, do likewise”

we are led to believe we are free – in fact, we celebrate this as a huge accomplishment

some of the major powers around today feel fully justified in invading and sometimes destroying other sovereign states and cultures because they think, or believe, or simply declare that these states are not free …  and in doing this they seem to be declaring that they themselves are free and live in freedom

most even seem to feel that it is their duty to do as much – custodians of freedom

but what is freedom?

many believe they know what freedom is, that they are free, but are we free?

free from what?

free to move towards … what?

free to be free in order to…. ?

… and if we found freedom would we be able to recognise it as freedom?  i mean, if we don’t really know what we are looking for how will we know when we find it?

we in the christian church believe that it is our god given task to preach and proclaim freedom to those who are not free, those who are in captivity.  we believe that we have the ‘good news’ and that all others need to hear it.  we travel far and wide and at great expense to do just this

there are many who take strong exception to this  as they too believe they are free

so perhaps freedom is a state of mind, a personal perspective? … or is it?

perhaps some questions need to be asked?

questions like:  are we as the church (or any other belief system for that matter) merely helping ourselves and the people we are trying to help simply to adjust to a system that is corrupt and profoundly sick?   are we not speaking about and against ‘babylon’ yet simultaneously enjoying her benefits?

has the church become a tool of the world system it was meant to overcome and hand over to god?

are we even able to ask ourselves these questions?

perhaps that is an even bigger question?

and if we can are we able to also ask ourselves if it is possible that what is actually happening is that we might merely be setting ourselves and others free merely to serve a system of slavery to isolation and self indulgent pleasures?  … to be happy consumers – no more and no less?   …. consumers of commodities, yes, but also of doctrine, values, culture, etc

could it be that we sincerely believe that we are free but the only freedom we really have is to participate (perhaps unwittingly might i add), in the enslavement of ourselves and others to the very systems that control people, locking them in to that which subjugates all to being merely consumers … selling each other non-essentials as if they were essential … has marketing become the new evangelism, the new ‘gospel’?  …  are we unwittingly selling toxic non-essentials as if they were essentials and believing it all ourselves at the same time?  …  the blind leading the blind?

history seems to reveal that in the days of legislated slavery slaves, in their great distress wrote and sung songs that expressed a cry and a hope for a freedom not in or of this world but in and of the next, a hope in an ‘after-life’ wherein there was deliverance and freedom from the sufferings of the present   songs were filled with telling metaphors like ‘crossing the jordan’ ‘going through the pearly gates’ and ‘meeting in the clouds’ or ‘going home’ and these images were used to convey that for them the only tangible release from the bondage in this life was death in and to the present

but perhaps herein the definition of freedom, instead of being a clear understanding of another reality, needs to be revalued as it could perhaps be based on not much more than a desperate cry to simply be released from the present suffering and indignity

and if so, is this freedom?  is freedom merely an escape?

one cannot speak flippantly on these matters but maybe we can honour those who suffered so severely by learning something from their plight?

…  maybe we haven’t come to that point of desperation in our own thinking yet      maybe we should?

one needs to be desperate first but it’s not easy when life is good for us in our private little enclaves, and let’s face it, we seem to be very content consumers, don’t we?

nevertheless, freedom remains a huge concept and a treasured possession … but what are our songs of freedom?

do we have any?

and what would our metaphors be?

or perhaps we are too comfortable?

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it is said that no one can see the face of God and live

and we were given

eyes to see

hands to touch

a mind to question

a questioning mind

and there was a garden

and there were two trees in the middle

there were many others too

all pleasing to the eye and good for food

but only two were in the centre

at the heart of it all

in the middle

two in the middle

and herein lies the riddle

two trees in one?

or one tree in two?

access forbidden!!

on pain of death

a mystery

death?

and now we know

or so we think

the eyes saw pleasing sights

good things

but that was not enough

it seemed

a second glance

confirmation was secured

the desire for wisdom was also thrown in

and then there were three

and the eyes were opened

really opened

and death smiled

a single, deep smile

a double death

twice dead

or was it two sides that died

two sides of the same death

what was

was not anymore

and what had become

was no longer attractive

repulsive in fact

repulsive facts

and then

we became like God

knowing good and evil

community shattered

friendship ruined

words spoken

decisions made

lest we reach out our hand

and eat

from life in death…

lest we live forever

dead

banished

the face of God was seen

and death came alive

the fullness of God revealed – both sides

as was the fullness of death – both sides

and the fullness of man – both sides

and darkness

hovered

over the surface of the deep

two eyes

two hands

two trees

two beings

two deaths

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it is all screwed up … do not adjust your sets… you have a clear picture. ….

…..  but we have a remote control and a bouquet of channels to flick through to get the exact picture we feel most comfortable with …

however,

… maybe we don’t want to see it really?

the static hiss and crackle comforts us …

it blurs the reception and shifts the edges just enough for us to keep watching

apparently we are the most enlightened generation ever

… apparently we know more than ever before

… and apparently this new found knowledge is increasing exponentially

…. and maybe the story of there being two trees in the garden is true after all?

… maybe the fruit of that one bite has multiplied accordingly …

… . .  . and maybe now that tempting, initial taste has moved from a bite to a banquet … and the banquet to an orgy

with distended bellies we lie there

full, yet starving

but thankfully governance has stepped in and now we are being placed in a feeding scheme

huge deliveries come in daily … right to our door in fact

they keep on rolling in … and it simply doesn’t stop

one could even think that we are being force-fed

force-fed involuntarily … or not?

…. but it is our right… our inalienable rite to choose

…. because after all, we are Gods, are we not?

Could it be possible that a main weapon being deployed is that of desensitizing us?

. .. and media bombardment does this so very well …  and we love our media .. and we love to be loved … and our media loves us … a delightful match made in the garden of Hedon

we are educated and remarkably intelligent but we seem unable to distinguish clearly between any of the data that is fed to us…

what initially looked good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom is now so confusing

maybe we are too busy covering ourselves and hiding behind trees?

so we shut down our emotions and only when it happens in our immediate context are we able to get the real picture for a brief moment … but then it is usually too late … we are banished

we find ourselves lost

but we are intelligent and more informed than ever before

yet it seems we cannot handle decisions anymore (not that we ever could mind you, it’s just that we’ve got better at it lately).. and because of this it has become a major tool of industry and institutionalised governance of all forms … man made structures … straight lines that pierce through everything in its path

whatever seed that breaks the surface is plucked out and snatched away by the birds

… however, this is all academic because we continue to vote for them …. voting them in to continue … we mandate them to continue and we will continue to mandate them…

and God said to man, “be fruitless but increase in number nevertheless; fill the earth and be subdued by it … vote for leaders amongst yourselves that they may rule over you. … that it may go well with you in order that you will have all your pleasures fulfilled …  this is your God-given mandate, to be ruled by another and that your desire will be for them to rule over you.”

My wife is away for a few days so I’m sleeping alone.

I woke up on Thursday morning after a fairly short but deep and intense sleep.  I assumed this because the other half of the bed where my wife usually lies was still perfectly made up with only my side showing the regular albeit less than normal evidence of my having been there.  I had clearly fallen asleep and never moved much at all until I awoke.

On the way to school on this same morning my son had an accident on his scooter.  He collided with the car in front of him in the heavy traffic.  The scooter took a real beating as did my son and I am grateful that he only collided with one car.  He’s ok thankfully, getting away with only minor scratches and bruises.  If the scooter could speak I’m sure the story would be an interesting one.  But it could have been much worse.  I could have lost him – in fact, I could have collided with his absence every day for the rest of my life.  To get a phone call at 7am in the morning can sometimes really mess with your equilibrium.  It was a turbulent day of emotionally mixed metaphors.

On Friday and Saturday morning I woke up with the duvet almost completely off the bed and heaped in a mangled mess.  It looked like someone had had a full-on battle on the bed during the night.  My wife cannot be blamed this time – she only gets home tomorrow and I was alone both nights.  Even my 13 year old daughter who usually relishes the privilege of plundering my personal space when her mom is away slept in her own room.

So who was I sleeping with whilst I was alone?  And the battle?  What was I saying?  What was happening,  and who was it happening with?

The mysteries of duvet politics.

I run around

frantically rushing from this to that

there’s so much on my agenda

I have for some time now reflected on the greats of ancient times

A daydream that for me has become a nightmare

Their names are recorded in history

mine isn’t

I talk about things, people

things, people, talk about them

I have stopped bothering to count the many different countries I’ve travelled to in my life.

Thousands and thousands of kilometres and at staggering cost over the years

Guys like Abraham, Jesus and many others had physically travelled less in their whole lives than I have at times travelled in one day

Many were shepherds, farmers, artisans

simple occupations, simply activities …. profound lives

I am so complicated

me, I talk far too much

There were not as many people around in those days so perhaps they listened to keep themselves company

outside today there are posters defacing our street light poles with colourful faces and slogans screaming silently at the numbed pedestrians and motorists trying to avoid the political oil-slick as it oozes onto the streets.  we live in a delightful, beautiful country that is sadly and traumatically racked with corruption and prejudice.  we have a history of violence and ethnic disrespect and just as one victim matures, as quickly a perpetrator is born.  government spending is spiraling out of control and the fat-cats get fatter while the impoverished simply expire.  and it seems we’ve only just begun.

“look at me!!”… “look at me!!” they seem to say – “vote for me!!” … “vote for me!!”  …. a new wave of salivating gravytrain ticket holders press in to frantically try to get on board before each other. …

… and speak to any aspirant political candidate and chances are you’ll find someone who really seems to want to help and make a change.

it’s always harder when the mess is right at home but in fact, democracy is the same everywhere – to my mind, a totally diabolical deception of global proportions.  … and in South Africa it often feels as if we take the cake but I think the fact is that we have just not yet learned the devious skill of how to be incisively ‘PC’ in the way the people are politically, economically, culturally, and spiritually sodomized (mind you, only because we have still yet to learn the delicate intricacies of this devious ‘art’, … not because we don’t do it yet).  the “Malema’s” out there – and yes, there are many, … well, they just make us more aware of the mindless, insensitive, pathological brutality of it all.

…. and before you go off all half-cocked, this is not a racist perspective, … the previous government in SA (The Nationalist Party) were arguably the most effective perpetrators of this…  their only blatant folly was that they legislated inequity, hatred, greed and self-preservation and published it.

politics is the art or science of government or governing and ‘official’ politicians don’t do themselves any favours as they blunder on like intoxicated pub-crawlers into the dark night.  … and we don’t do ourselves any favours either because we dutifully vote new ones in all the time.  most of us even sincerely believe we need them and that this is not only the best way but the only way there is.  so we once again put our faith in a fresh ‘face’ out there, some talking head who tells us what we think we need to hear.  and now perhaps you may be asking, “who’s the more intoxicated?” …. good question!!

… you see,  ‘official’ politicians aren’t the only ‘politicians’ out there.  for me it’s difficult to decide who learned what from whom?  was it the politicians who gave the idea to the religious institutions or was it the other way around?