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Monday, June 27, 2016

Anxiety and PTSD resources

Some time ago I signed up for the weekly email Brain Pickings. It has a wealth of excerpts and resources on a range of interesting topics. This week's selection includes some excellent material about anxiety and about post traumatic stress. Click here to read it and access links to other resources. Two of the books it reviews (with extensive quotes and some illustrations) are:

Friday, June 24, 2016

Go fly a kite!

I'm currently working through one of Christine Valters Paintner's books:
Illuminating the Way: Embracing the Wisdom of Monks and Mystics.
The first chapter is about St Francis: The Archetype of the Fool. As a "spiritual practice" I decided to go and fly my kite on the beach. I've always loved kites and have a lovely one that takes off very easily. But I haven't flown it for years. I did feel slightly foolish as a 70 year old grey haired woman (with no children or grandchildren in tow)! But once it was sailing up into the clouds it felt freeing, invigorating and joyful. I wandered along the beach feeling the kite tugging on the string - dipping, diving and dancing in the wind. It connected me with the freedom of riding the wind of the Spirit wherever it takes me and wanting to fly as high as my "string" will allow. A quote from Christine's book: "Humility is really a dance between embracing our limits and our giftedness. It means finding humor in our shortcomings and foibles and learning to take ourselves less seriously. ... In connecting with our inner Fools we are able to risk seeming foolish in service of freeing ourselves to follow what is most essential. Humility can help illuminate the way ahead."

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Synchronicities on a wet day!

It was a very wet and grey day yesterday. It was also  my day off. So what to do...

I listened to a Podcast while I cleaned out the pantry! It was an episode from On Being. Krista Tippett interviewed Mahzarin Banaji whose research is about our inherent "blindspots" when it comes to prejudice or assumptions about others. You can listen to the interview here. It was very insightful and challenging!

I also spent some time reading the book I am immersed in at the moment:
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. I should warn you that this is not a book for the faint hearted. It interweaves the stories of a Nazi SS guard and a Jewish woman who was sent to Auschwitz. Now 70 years later their lives are connected through the grand daughter of the Jewish woman. I haven't finished the book yet but already I see how easy it is to make assumptions about people when you don't know the whole story. The ex-Nazi is now seeking forgiveness... I don't know whether the Auschwitz survivor or the grand daughter will be able to give it.

Then finally I got back to my journal review project. I opened the journal I'm currently reading through and it literally fell open at this quote I had recorded in 2006: "There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness your victim identity dissolves and your true power emerges - the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light." Eckhart Tolle A New Earth p160

You never know when you get up in the morning what amazing synchronicities may emerge! I'm still reflecting on the outworking of these themes in my life.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Happy families!

A few weeks ago we had a family celebration for my oldest brother's 80th birthday. All his children and almost all his grandchildren were there as well as the three of us siblings. What a privilege and blessing to have such a harmonious and happy family!
Gwenyth and Peter
 Peter, Merrie, Sheila, Andrew
Most of the immediate family!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Beautiful people

It seems the news media (especially TV) focus on highlighting the worst of humanity. It's helpful to redress the balance by noticing all the beautiful people we encounter in different ways throughout an ordinary day. (And I don't mean "beauty" in the way the glossy magazines advertise it!)

In just a few hours yesterday as I walked:

  • I smiled as a toddler whizzed past me on a "scooter bike" with her proud dad running along behind.
  • I was greeted with a cheery "hello" by a teenage boy on his way home from school.
  • I watched a grey haired couple walking hand in hand and enjoying the scenery.
  • I stopped and talked to a man planting small trees around the lake. It turned out he is 85 years old and buys all the plants and compost out of his own money. "I've had a good life," he said, "and I enjoy doing this."

An ordinary day, ordinary people - but beautiful people.
Let's all look out for the "ordinary but beautiful" people every day and be part of redressing the balance by being one of them too!

Monday, June 13, 2016

20 years later... I'm still alive!

Today 13th June 2016 is exactly 20 years since I had my brain aneurysm. That seems a significant landmark. Most years I don't even notice the date although sometimes someone reminds me. As I've previously mentioned, I'm in the process of reviewing my journals. It is very interesting to see what was happening at the time - and all that has happened since.

  • A month earlier I had decided to reduce my work at Bible College of NZ to half time. Later many people assumed I'd done that because of the aneurysm but actually it was decided earlier. 
  • On the 12th June in a regular weekly prayer gathering we were reflecting on what we would like people to say at our funeral!! Little did I know that the very next day many people would be wondering if my funeral might be very soon. The purpose of that reflection was, of course, to clarify how we want to live before we die! As I read what I wrote then there's nothing I would change. I will never know if any of those things do get said at my funeral! But I hope I am living towards that being so. 
  • The biggest thing I notice about the years since 13th June 1996 is the trajectory of my spiritual journey. It has definitely been a time of many new Concentric Circles of faith. As I said in About this Blog above: "The Blog title Concentric Circles is a way of saying that every phase of the spiritual journey takes us to a new horizon which includes but transcends the one before."
  • Of course there have been very many other events and changes in the last 20 years - becoming fully self-employed, moving together with a friend from West Auckland to Torbay and then more recently to Orewa. Writing two external studies courses in Spiritual Formation, writing my book The Lost Art of Meditation... 
  • Since living together Anthea and I developed the practice of keeping a daily Gratitude Journal.  At the end of each day we reflect on what we are grateful for that day. This adds up to another large pile of journals! Today one of my entries will be gratitude for 20 more years of life since 13th June 1996.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Servant Queen...

I have long been an admirer of Queen Elizabeth. Her steady commitment and amazing stamina over all the years of her reign are an incredible example. The celebrations of her jubilee and her 90th birthday have brought her even more into focus. Recent TV programmes like The Queen at 90 and Photographer to the Queen are fitting tributes. In the recent NZ Baptist Magazine I saw the title of a book: The Servant Queen and the King She Serves. It is about the Queen's love of the Bible. It is made available by the Bible Society. Click here for information. As you will see Bible Society UK have had to re-print 150,000 more copies in addition to the 100,000 first printed. Here in NZ The Bible Society have also run out and a new order should be available in a two to three weeks. The book costs $9.99. I've ordered two!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Beauty or brokenness?

I was fascinated by this flax weaving on a living plant
as I walked past over several days. 
At first I really liked it. 
So creative... I wonder who stood here and did this... 
But as I look at it more deeply 
I've changed my mind. 
The living plant is now confined, 
 the "twisted into place" fronds are slowly dying.
Live in freedom.
Let your true self reach for the sun 
and bend gently with the breeze.