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Monday, November 26, 2012

Half Hearted Isn't Enough

Today I "happened upon" this marvellous poem:

Half-Hearted Isn't Enough
My heart
isn't in the mood
isn't enough
I have never seen
a half-hearted bird
a mediocre mountain
the clouds and stars
I have ever seen
have given it
their all
I am the only one
has been
holding back


(It was in the Te Moata retreat centre newsletter: http://www.temoata.org )  

I looked up more of Suni's poems on her website and may well buy the whole book. I love the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz and Suni's poems have the same ring to them.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chiang Mai retreat

As I said in my last post the main reason I went to Chiang Mai was to be part of a team running a retreat for people from around Asia. This ministry has been initiated by Simon and Rinda (pictured above). They are a wonderful couple who have walked by faith for the last several years since Simon left his job as pastor of a large church in Singapore to give their full time to the work of spiritual direction and retreat ministry.

There were five of us on the team - the other two being Soo Hoong and Alfred who both work full time in Methodist churches in Singapore and also offer spiritual direction and run retreats.

There were 30 participants. Most were from Singapore with two  from Malaysia and one from Cambodia. Most of them were working in various forms of Christian ministry. The culture of Singapore is such that the norm is to work extremely long hours and to have only one day a week "off" - and even that is often taken up with family responsibilities or the overflow of yet more work. So many of the people on retreat were quite exhausted. At least those who come on retreats are already aware of the importance of time out with God to be refreshed and renewed but it is very hard for them to keep this as a pattern in the midst of daily life in such a culture.

For one person close to burnout the scripture that became her lifeline and her freedom was The Message paraphrase of Matthew 11:28-30:

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.

There's a very good book expanding on every phrase of this text: Rhythms of Grace by Tony Horsfall.

You can look up more information and excellent photos of the retreat centre here. Take the "photo tour" and you'll get a great idea of the wonderful setting and facilities we enjoyed.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A few photos from Thailand

I'm home again after three wonderful weeks in Chiang Mai. As always there's so much to catch up on after being away but as an interim for any faithful Blog followers I'll show you a few photos of interesting activities and places. I might write more seriously at a later date about the retreat I went there to assist with.
In with the Tigers at "Tiger Haven"

Resting with a Tiger! (Yes a fully grown, real, live, non-sedated tiger.)

Riding an Elephant

Being hugged and kissed by elephants. 
Note the baby elephant in the middle of the two big ones is "kissing" my cheek 
with the end of his trunk.

The view from my bedroom at "Seven Fountains" retreat centre

The main Chapel at Seven Fountains

The beautiful retreat centre labyrinth at sunrise.

Me with Fr David Townsend, my spiritual director 24years ago 
and again for a week at Seven Fountains.

Buddhist monk making music with a very large "singing bowl" at a temple:
Wat Doi Suthep

The bus/taxi (songthaew) which you could hail at any point on the road.

Sukwan - a delightful 7 year old I met in the nearby park with her mother, Pit. Sukwan speaks flawless English which she taught herself mainly from a NZ child she knew for a while.  Her mother is also quite fluent.  (They were the only Thai people I met casually who did have good English). 
Pit home-schools Sukwan as she thinks Thai education is very rigid and doesn't encourage creativity. It was such a delight to meet these two. We now email each other.