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Monthly Archives: September 2011

We’ve had a few ultra glorious days in the Nelson Mandela Bay area and this morning, after days of wonderfully warm winter stillness the wind picked up and was suddenly gusting at about 30km/h.

 

An elderly Xhosa man and I were chatting this morning and in the course of our conversation he remarked on the sudden turn in the weather saying,

 

“the wind is calling the rain to come.”

 

to be a conformist to what already is,

regardless of how noble it may be

is sadly, somewhat pathetic

to be a non-conformist intentionally

is merely reactionary

no more and no less

to be an authentic original could well be the minimum standard

perhaps the highest goal is neither to conform nor non-conform

but rather to be transformed by the reality that we each have no equal

and to embrace this with unbridled enthusiasm

 

…many will rush about to increase knowledge…

and knowledge will continue to abound

but the twisted will continue to be corrupt.

 

while the candle wax is still warm the wick is twisted

…and when it has set who can tell the left from the right

or the live from the neutral

… truth from the lie?

 

none of the wicked will be able to understand

… but those who are wise will

 

to challenge a fool in their folly can drag one down to the level of the fool…

…but the fool needs to be challenged lest he becomes wise in his own eyes

 

so beware of the spin doctors

… those who conjure up lies and sell it as wisdom

to be comfortable in their spell

… or even to follow their example

it may not seem to be such a big thing at the time

… but like a tattoo

some things are almost impossible to remove

 

A good friend’s status on one of his social networking systems is “It’s always ever only about…”

And yes, we are suitably provoked to insert “me” as the only logical conclusion to that subtle but screaming declaration.

This has tickled and disturbed me all at the same time over the last weeks.

Clearly it’s something I know very well from experience but equally clear to me is that I seem to forget it all too often.  It’s not because the statement is untrue or defective – this is obvious to me,  perhaps it’s because I am.  Maybe I wish to forget it?  … a subconscious act of convenience?  Maybe my daily habit of rearranging my own personal fig leaves over all the less presentable area’s of my life distracts me from the reality of what I am actually doing?

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!” (Sir Walter Scott)

A song by the great Paul Simon paints these pictures,

“He makes me think about
All of these extra moves I make
And all of this herky-jerky motion
And the bag of tricks it takes
To get me through my working day
One-trick pony”

What is it about us that so energetically wants to persuade others about what we are trying so energetically to persuade ourselves about ourselves?

We seem to have become the monsters of the marketing bog…  flaying around with this herky-jerky motion and the complicated bag of tricks it takes to get us through our working days… perhaps the frantic rustle of dried out fig leaves as we cover ourselves from ourselves, just in case we are seen for what we really are…?

And the skeptic raises his voice from the swirling beneath the surface of the deep and asks,

“what about our consuming motivation, even obsession with persuading others about our personal beliefs?”

Who are we trying to persuade?

Who really needs to be ‘saved’?

Is it about all about ‘them’?

… or is it actually always ever only about us?

… so the boulder is crashing down the hill towards the unsuspecting village a long way away.  The seemingly inevitable is looking for a time to enter history and record itself.

Should we stand in front of the rolling rock and try to pit our meagre strength and determination against the unimaginable weight and velocity of the hurtling projectile, or should we try to run frantically behind it, attempting  to strategically apply our shoulder in order to provoke a deflection away from the doomed inhabitants?

If we called out would they hear, … and if they heard would they be willing to listen?

… but why is the boulder rolling? … and how is it that the village situated itself just there?

_______________________

it wasn’t the ANC, nor the international boycotts, nor organized political pressure, nor a change of heart, nor repentance, nor was it economics or socio-political strategy that brought down the beast of national racism …

…the callous, corrupt, cancerous heart of apartheid rotted silently and steadily from the inside and the beast crumbled inevitably like a dead man walking…

…and now, could it be that the self-proclaimed victors too are not roaring, but weeping? –

cry the beloved country, cry

Perhaps we have missed something here?  I’m not too sure that we haven’t lost the plot completely.

There’s this crazy statement that Jesus makes that declares that it is better for us that he disappears and goes away so that a spirit comes in his place.  For the disciples this was very alarming but for Jesus there was an expectant urgency to it all.  He explains that this change will mean that more will be achieved, more will be understood, more will be revealed, more will be displayed, and many more reached and impacted.

A spirit?

What was he talking about?

What could he be referring to?

An ethereal presence of disputed form and function?

A concept?

A metaphor?

An idea?

A memory of a great man once alive but now dead?

A principle?

The disciples were almost completely in the dark.  The only spirit they knew of was what they had heard about from the law and the prophets and this spirit mostly caused all manner of trouble.

Usually the prophets were possessed by this spirit and then they mostly did and said things that upset people around them, revealing stuff that was not right in the lives of people, often declaring gloom and doom, challenging the way things were, attacking the status quo, even destroying nations and bringing judgement on people and things.  It was scary stuff being in contact with anyone who was in contact with this spirit.

And now Jesus is talking about this same spirit or another similar spirit who will be a comforter, one who will walk with them, each and every one of them.  This spirit will reveal things to them, talk to them, show them things, explain things, even tell them deep and mysterious secrets and do amazing things through them.

A spirit?

Yes, that’s what he said.

Surely his being forever here of this planet, establishing an undisputed point of presence and building a solid community of followers would have been the most effective and powerful next step?  Jesus, the eternal one walking amongst us for thousands and thousands of years.  Touching and healing millions physically, bringing peace and prosperity to the whole world.  Overturning political empires and overcoming the ruling world powers.  Indestructible, all powerful, all knowing, teaching and instructing, performing miracles every day, drawing vast multitudes into the Kingdom of God.

But no, it was better for us that he go and in his place, a spirit will come.

And no one had a clue what he was talking about.

Yet this is what he said.  A spirit.  An untouchable presence to lead us on.  He had made reference to something  like it in the recent past as he walked and talked amongst them, but it was a bit vague and difficult to understand.

He had suggested things like movement, power, mystery.  Just like the wind, giving no idea of where it comes from nor where it’s going.  An unchaseable force, suddenly there, and then suddenly gone, or not.

With access to everyone and anyone.  With access to anything.  A spirit, like the wind, like the very breath of God, coming and going at will.  Handing out strange abilities to the most unlikely of people.  Causing inexplicable things to happen through the strangest of people.  A spirit with no submissive allegiance to any person, answerable to no man nor group of men.  A wind-like spirit, untouchable, undefinable, who can, will and does move in any way and at any time and also anywhere it chooses.  Uncontrollable, unstoppable, impenetrable, unpredictable, unyielding, surprising, disturbing, soothing.

But we insist on a man leading us, standing in front of us on a stationary platform, leaning on a stationary podium in a stationary building.  And we also insist on allowing that one man to speak almost exclusively to us and over us, telling us what to do, when to do it, why to do it, where and how to do it.  We even seem to insist on this one man hearing from God on our behalf, hearing the spirit of God for us and having almost exclusive access to the very heart, mind and will of God.

We cannot enter into discussion when he speaks, this is simply not done.  And besides, this would be rebellion or at best disobedience if we do.  And God help us is we are even suspected of having a different opinion let alone openly disagreeing.

How did we shut the spirit out?

How did we get to this?

And just who is more intoxicated? … this man or us?

And who needs who the most?

Clearly we don’t seem to need the spirit?

I have been told I have an unusual mind, a unique way of looking at the world.  In fact, I get told this often.  At times some have been less than encouraging in their descriptiveness about my apparent unique or unusual take on things.  At first it wasn’t always so, but these days I don’t blame them at all anymore.   Actually, I feel very much the same – about myself and about most others around me.   It’s not an easy thing to gradually come to this understanding but I think it is a good thing, even a most wonderful thing.

There’s this passage in the Psalms that goes something like blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.  A song I have heard often sung exchanges ‘pilgrimage’ with ‘always moving on.’  I like that.  It sounds more practical to me.  Blessed are those who have found strength in who made them and how they have been made and because of that are always moving on.

I have found that the more honest I can be the more I am at peace with myself and the more I can be a positive contribution to my environment.  However, I have also found that the more I am honest the less at peace I can be within myself and my environment.  A lot of the time the longer I hang around or ‘overstay my welcome’ the more trouble seems to start settling in – for me and my environment.

So, after decades of bashing my own head and having others kindly return the favour it seems good to me to always try to keep my mind focused on moving on.  And this surprisingly is not a bad thing at all.  In fact it’s quite sensible and very rewarding all round.

Sometimes this may mean a physical move and other times it means a less physical move.  Believe it or not I have found that the attitudinal or less physical shifts are by far the most difficult – mainly perhaps because it usually means staying in the same context and consciously shifting within myself.  And this is usually an extremely difficult thing to do (well, at least for me it is).

My unusual or unique angle on this; I think we all have a unique way of looking at things.  Also that perhaps it is those who consciously or unconsciously choose to forsake and align their unique perspective to those around them who are ‘unusual’ in the less encouraging understanding of that word?  One cannot be two or more people at the same time (some would even go so far as to classify this as a form of insanity).

However, mostly we all tend to seek a safe place for ourselves and often this requires us fitting in with what others think and feel.  We can even feel like this is the best way and a way that gives us the most peace.  We have learned this from our environment and from our parents to our peers to our politicians, the majority by far even stress the importance of conformity.  Personally I have found the opposite to be true.  To add to this I am also aware that we are firmly encouraged not to conform to the patterns around us but to be transformed in the renewal of our own minds.

Perhaps if our individual strength is really in the one who created us and watches over us, the one who caused us to be unique in so many ways, if not every way – from our fingerprints to our DNA to the way we perceive all things – we would have less need to find our strength in those around us?  Perhaps we would then be more relaxed with ourselves and our environment and more in tune with our unique role in this experience we call life.

And that’s it for me so far I suppose.  I have come to realise for myself that perhaps the secret of it all is that we must somehow come to really try to understand who we are personally and then as best we can, assess our realistic impact on our immediate environment.  We need to soberly assess both the positive and the negative part we play in the world around us.

I have also found that if we set up camp anywhere, in our thinking, our culture, our theology, even our understanding about ourselves and others around us, things can slowly become quite toxic.  On top of this if we set up camp in any way we obviously stop moving.  We cannot please everyone all the time and we ourselves cannot be pleased all the time by others.

But we can give each other space.  Space to be themselves.  Space to express their own unique, unusual perspective.  We can also give ourselves space.  Space to move, to grow and to explore.

Agreement is very important.  But harmony is never the same note played together in unison.  Harmony is different notes sounding at the same time and in the same space which collectively make a rich chord.  Many chords make up a symphony.

Many unique, unusual sounds make up a soothing waterfall. …. but the water droplets need to keep moving on for the waterfall to be a reality.

the love of an erroneous perception of the reality of wealth is the radical foundation of all evil

to wield this illusion as a medieval mace for political gain and the establishment of artificial worth and power is evil personified

we arrive

we know not from where

but we are here

and here is where we find ourselves

and we in turn

are found to be here

 

a most defenceless state

 

we make contact

we are made contact with

it’s all new it seems

from that within

and that which is without

 

we reach out

we are reached out to

we begin to see how it all works

or doesn’t

or so we think

even how we think

but that seems to become what is for us

so we discover…

our uniqueness?

ourselves?

or maybe we discover who we all are, together

we become like those around us

yet we fight for independence

 

how much is still us is a mystery

how much isn’t us too

 

but we believe we are unique,

just like everyone else

it helps us to think this way

but thinking this way doesn’t help

 

we are

uniquely

together

yet alone