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Monday, December 29, 2014


I'm re-reading Cynthia Bourgeault's excellent book The Wisdom Way of Knowing. In it she quotes this parable. (The image is a Google image)

   Once up on a time in a not-so-far-away land, there was a kingdom of acorns, nestled at the foot of a grand old oak tree. Since the citizens of this kingdom were modern, fully Westernized acorns, they went about their business with purposeful energy; and since they were midlife, baby-boomer acorns, they engaged in a lot of self-help courses. There were seminars called "Getting All You Can Out of Your Shell". There were woundedness and recovery groups for acorns who had been bruised in their original fall from the tree. There were spas for oiling and polishing those shells and various acornopathic therapies to enhance longevity and well-being.
    One day in the midst of this kingdom there suddenly appeared a knotty little stranger, apparently dropped "out of the blue" by a passing bird. He was caplets and dirty, making an immediate negative impression of his fellow acorns. And crouched beneath the oak tree, he stammered out a wild tale. Pointing upward at the tree, he said, "We… are… that!"
    Delusional thinking, obviously, the other acorns concluded, but one of them continued to engage him in conversation: "So tell us, how would we become that tree?" "Well", said he, pointing downward, "it has something to do with going into the ground… and cracking open the shell," "Insane," they responded. "Totally morbid! Why then we wouldn't be acorns any more."

If you are interested in knowing the context in which Cynthia quotes this story I highly recommend her book The Wisdom Way of Knowing

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Queen's Christmas Speech

This Christmas, more than any previous year, I've noticed how very little is said or shown anywhere about the birth of Jesus! No doubt the various Church services don't overlook it (!) - but in any public place or news broadcast it's hard to find any clue about the "reason for the season". Even in an otherwise very interesting documentary about Christmas traditions through the last couple of centuries in an historic house in England - there was not one mention of anything religious. I found that hard to comprehend as I'm sure in earlier years the families in such houses would have been very aware of the Christian roots of the season. They would probably all have gone to the village Church on Christmas Day!
So - watching the Queen's speech on Christmas Day it was especially heartening to hear her focus on reconciliation and then her personal statement:
"For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. 
A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none."
If you missed hearing the whole speech I highly recommend you watch it on YouTube here.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Precious Life

A few evenings ago we "happened on" a documentary on Maori TV called Precious Life.

  1. "A prominent Israeli journalist documents the struggle of an Israeli pediatrician and a Palestinian mother as they try to get treatment for her baby who suffers from an incurable genetic disease."

    It was a very moving and sobering documentary. It affected me particularly as I have recently read I Shall Not Hate - (see my recent Post here). Towards the end of Precious Life documentary there was footage of the live phone call between the same journalist and the doctor featured in I Shall Not Hate. Minutes after  his three daughters were killed by an Israeli bomb attack he rang his journalist friend in desperate anguish hoping that the news might get out to the wider world of the horror of the Israeli/Gaza conflict.

    Another reason this was such a powerful movie to watch is the parallel between the life of this Palestinian family and the lives of Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Like the present day Palestinian family, Jesus' parents had to endure extraordinarily difficult conditions surrounding his birth and later become refugees to escape the terror of a harsh dictator out to kill him.

    There is wonderful hope expressed in both these stories. In the 2000 year old story we know the outcome - death, yes, but also resurrection. And since then millions of people brought to a place of peace through the life and message of the vulnerable babe born to Mary.
    In the contemporary story the Jewish journalist and medical team freely offer their compassion and resources for the Muslim family from Gaza.This stands in stark contrast to the senseless rivalry between their nations and religions. Of course this doesn't resolve the ultimate stalemate between the Israelis and Palestinians. But let's never overlook the power of an unremarkable, poor family to alert us to the fact that every life is precious - and to respond with love and compassion.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pohutukawa Christmas!

The Pohutukawa trees are especially resplendent in blossoms this year.
Wenderholm on a sunny afternoon.

At sunset outside our house.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The other side of the story…!

Thanks to someone who read yesterday's post about margarine for letting me know there are two sides to this story (aren't there always!) So click here for the link to what the Heart Foundation says.

(Much as I hate to go against the Heart Foundation my vote is still for butter.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pass the Butter!

Someone recently commented (appreciatively) that my Blog is very varied! Today's post should prove the point! No profound Advent thoughts - just a copy of an email I have received. It may be "doing the rounds: if so feel free to delete now. But I thought it was well worth spreading (pun intended!) the word. This is not a joke email - serious information here.

Butter .... Please.
This is interesting....
Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys.
When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back.
It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow coloring & sold it to people to use in place of butter.
It was cheaper than the natural substance. They have come out with some clever new flavorings...

Do you know the difference between margarine & butter?

Read on to the end...it gets very interesting!

Both have the same amount of calories.
Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams; compared to 5 grams for margarine.
Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study.
Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.
Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few & only because they are added!
Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavors of other foods.
Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 yrs.

And now for Margarine
Very high in transfatty acids.
Triples risk of coronary heart disease.
Increases total cholesterol & LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) & lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol) Increases the risk of cancers up to 5 times.
Lowers the quality of breast milk.
Decreases immune response.
Decreases insulin response.

And here's the most disturbing fact...
Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC.and shares 27 ingredients with PAINT.
These facts alone were enough to have me avoiding margarine for life & anything else that ishydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance).
Open a tub of margarine and leave it open in your garage or shaded area.
Within a couple of days you will notice a couple of things:
No flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)
it does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value; nothing will grow on it.
Even those teeny-weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow.
Why? Because it is nearly plastic.
Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

Share This With Your Friends..... (If you want to butter them up')!

Chinese Proverb:
When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it, you have an obligation to share it with others.

Pass the BUTTER please!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

I walked the red carpet!

Here it is - God's red carpet on my morning walk:
Maygrove Park, Orewa

Thursday, December 4, 2014

There's something important about … SLOW...

I was interested by a news piece on Yahoo this morning where Stephen Hawking (well known physicist) warned that the increasing development of artificial intelligence could lead to it becoming "smarter than us" and pose a threat to the existence of the human race. 

Whether you think that is possible or not it was the final sentence that gave me pause for thought: "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."

Limited by slow biological evolution? I can't help thinking that "slow evolution" is the opposite of limiting. There's something about a slow unfolding that allows for enjoyment, wonder, relishing, cherishing, integrating…
Something that evolves slowly reveals the intricacy, the wisdom, the breath-taking design as a seed becomes a flower or an acorn becomes a towering oak tree.

Growing slowly allows for delight in every stage as a baby crawls, toddles, walks, runs... It allows for exploring, learning and refining skills and choices from childhood to adulthood. It allows time to adjust to the transition from productive working life to a more gentle pace in retirement. There's something important about SLOW…

On my walk this morning I noticed some Pohutukawa flowers just beginning to poke through the tight little cluster of buds. I don't want them to be all fully flowering tomorrow and gone the next day!

This holiday season we are being encouraged to drive more slowly. Sure we want to avoid a ticket or a fine - or more importantly - an accident! But perhaps going more slowly will allow more time to notice the beauty as spring turns into summer. It might of course allow us to notice how often we get impatient and want to get to the next destination "now if not sooner"! There are many layers of wisdom revealed in going more slowly.

Meditation is well documented to slow the heart rate, drop blood pressure, bring a sense of calm and bring more coherent  brain wave patterns. For those of us who meditate as a way of connecting to the creative Wisdom we call God these are lovely side benefits!

There's something important about SLOW...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Art for Advent

I am enjoying using art as a way of entering into Advent.

This Jesuit site uses classical paintings with very helpful commentary and additional meditations if you want to dig deeper. "Prepare for Christmas and deepen your experience of the Advent season this year with Arts & Faith: Advent. Each week we’ll provide a video commentary about a work of art inspired by the Sunday Scriptures. Use these videos to take a new look at this season of hope and preparation through the lens of sacred art."

If you are more interested in contemporary art you can sign up at this site for World Vision NZ's series of Advent scriptures and reflection questions with art by Chinese artist He Qi  which will be sent to you by email each week.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The path to forgiveness

Given my last post "I Shall Not Hate" it seems synchronistic that another Blog I follow had this reflection today:

The path to forgiveness
is rarely obvious or easy;
there will be many obstacles
in the way.
But few acts are more heroic,
or speak more clearly
to the freedom of choice
that makes us fully human,
than to break the cycle
of instinctive retaliation,
to drop the awful burden
of hate and animosity;
to step over the past grievances
that haunt us and divide us
and into the promise
of mercy and grace.
If you appreciate beautiful photography with contemplative reflections visit this website
Thank you Diane!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I Shall Not Hate

I am in the process of reading this book. The author was born and raised in a refugee camp in Gaza. He has every right to be pessimistic and to harbor deep resentment (and hatred) for the grinding poverty and human misery that was the context of his life. Yet he tenaciously pursued whatever education he could get, working long hours outside of school to earn money for his family. Now, a world renowned specialist in gynecology and public health, he lives every day for "peace and human dignity" for the people of Gaza. It is heart-wrenching to take in what the people of Gaza have been contending with for so many years. What we hear on the news doesn't begin to describe the day to day reality.

Books (and even movies) rarely bring tears to my eyes but this book does. I don't usually recommend a book until I have finished reading it but I can't wait! All of us who live in such peace and prosperity, with access to health care and education should read this book. If you Google it you will find many links, reviews and a YouTube clip.

I am inspired by the book's title, by Izzeldin's refusal to hate and by his tenacious life of  action towards peace and human dignity. These are things I/we can all do wherever we live. (And if, in any circumstance, we feel our lives are tough this book is a bracing antidote to self-pity!)