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Monday, April 30, 2018

The older you get...

One branch of my family used to have a joke about "We'd better take a photo. This might be the last family photo we get." But of course the older we all become it is less a joke and more a reality! So I was very glad to be able to make it Tauranga to celebrate my sister and her husband both turning 80 and celebrating 56 years of marriage! No small achievement in both cases!

It was touch and go whether I would make it as both Anthea and I have had health problems recently. We seem to have taken turns at spending a night in hospital with Atrial Fibrillation. (Very common I am now discovering!) So right up to the Friday before Saturday's celebration I wasn't sure I'd make it. But wonderfully  I was able to catch a ride (and a spare motel bed) with my niece Nicky who was also taking my brother Peter and his wife Gwenyth. Anthea stayed at home for a peaceful recovery weekend. 

Considering the appalling driving conditions both days I am extremely grateful that we weren't driving ourselves! Here's the Karangahake Gorge on our return trip:

It is always very special to have all four of us siblings together in one place. Last time it was two years ago at Peter's 80th birthday. Here we are at Merrie's 80th:

Hmm the obvious question is ... will I live to 80 and if so who will be around? These aren't morbid questions for me. But a reminder to value every day and all of my family and friends.

I might post more photos later...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time

When I was teaching at Henderson Intermediate school in the late 1960's I read this book aloud to my class. It struck me then what an amazing story it was - and still is.

I have just seen the movie. Wow! It is an intense journey through science, time travel, psychology, love, commitment and the many pitfalls of growing up. The story line grips you from the start and you so much want Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin to see what is true, follow the light and not get separated.

I don't think the trailer really does it justice. Go and see the movie! I've just happened upon a very damning review - but I also read a very glowing review in our local paper - so make up your own mind.

This movie is just as appropriate for adults as for older children and teens. The family dynamics and why it is that Meg and Charles Wallace's father has disappeared is food for thought for any family.

I have just discovered that L'Engle wrote several other book following on from this one. They are on my "want to read" list.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Human Library

I think I'm off the rollercoaster now (see previous post) .... here's hoping!

I'm still not up to normal energy levels but I risked a "busy" weekend by joining in with two groups of people with whom I have shared different parts of my life.

Before I tell you about them - if you've never heard of The Human Library this brief YouTube clip will give you an idea and there are many websites (click here for one of them) that tell you more detail. I felt that the weekend was almost like being in a Human Library.

On Saturday there was a reunion with some of my year group from Bible College Days. We graduated in 1972. It was enjoyable to re-connect and to share some stories of where life has taken us in the 46 years(!!!) since then. There were lots of laughs, some sadness we re-called those no longer with us and then prayer for current issues of concern. Looking at old photos brought back many memories (and more laughs). Although our journeys have taken us to different parts of the world and through different careers and personal challenges, we still have in common our love for Jesus and our Christian commitment. It was a joyful occasion.

On Sunday I managed to get to Church after several weeks away. Ponsonby Baptist Church is my closest community of like-minded friends and fellow travellers on life's journey. It was lovely to be back, And what a special occasion it was! A good part of the service was given to having several people introduce themselves. If that sounds rather unremarkable, it certainly was not! We heard eight introductions. Among just eight people there were differences in ethnicity, language, education, sexual orientation, mental health, confidence in speaking, ideas about God... I'd love to tell some of their stories more fully but they are not mine to tell in this forum. It struck me that all of them felt safe enough in our community to be so honest. I thought, "Jesus is very happy to be here! This is just the sort of 'mixed bag' of people he loved to welcome and accept." I felt humbled, inspired and blessed.

These two groups of people represent such very different chapters of my life! I wondered what would happen if I brought both groups together. Jesus would certainly love and affirm each and every person and hold us all in the embrace of unconditional love.

As I said in  'About this Blog': "The Blog title Concentric Circles is a way of saying that every phase of the spiritual journey takes me to a new horizon which includes but transcends the one before."
I love the way there is always more to include while still appreciating and valuing all that has gone before.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rollercoaster ride

I have never considered going on a rollercoaster ride! It is not my idea of fun. (I'd rather walk on the beach or sit with a book in a quiet place!)

However, not all rollercoasters rides are taken by choice. I've been on one for a few months now - and it's still not my idea of fun!

My rollercoaster ride is internal - physical and emotional. Quite frequently my heart has been racing along in a totally chaotic rhythm. (Medical terminology: Paroxymal Atrial Fibrillation.) I'm learning that this is not a particularly uncommon condition. Probably some readers will say "Oh I've got that too" - or know someone who has. But that is a very small consolation!

The physical rollercoaster is not only each event when it happens. It is also the side-effects of the medications used to control these events. (Sometimes it feels as if the cure is worse than the complaint.) I'm still on that part of the ride.

The emotional rollercoaster is just as daunting (for me anyway). Fear and anxiety are hard to avoid. Not being sure I can trust my heart to behave as it should (and has done for 72 years so far!) is
de-stabilising. I'm grateful that I have many spiritual and psychological resources to call on - and believe me I do! Daily practices of prayer and meditation... plenty of relaxation exercises... doing my best with "staying in the present moment"... you name it! Over recent years (before this particular rollercoaster ride) I've come to accept that unpleasant emotions need to be accepted without judgement just as they are rather than resisting them. It's a kind of "feel the fear and do it anyway" attitude. Cynthia Bourgeault offers a Welcoming Practice which is a more nuanced, prayerful version.

All these things are helpful and I am very grateful that I have had years of building them into my life. It would be lovely though, if one or more of them would transport me into floating calmly six inches above this rollercoaster ride! But guess what - it hasn't happened yet!

A couple of days ago I was pondering something else I am grateful for - a lifetime of being immersed in  Scripture. I remembered several passages that urged us "not to be anxious", "not to worry about anything". I looked up one of my favourites in the Common English Version of the Bible and underlined the phrases that stood out.
Philippians 4:6-8:
"Don't worry about anything, but pray about everything. 
With thankful hearts offer your prayers and requests to God. 
Then because you belong to Christ Jesus, 
God will bless you with peace that no-one can completely understand
And this peace will control the way you think and feel.

Finally my friends keep your minds on what is true, pure, right, holy, friendly and proper. 
Don't ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise."

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Creativity - human and divine...

Yesterday we made a very spontaneous decision and went to Auckland Museum to see the Brickman Wonders of the World Lego exhibition. No, I've never played with Lego! But I have seen some amazing creations made by both children and adults. This exhibition is of equal fascination to both. Here are a few of my favourites:
Church of St Basil the Blessed

Leaning Tower of Pisa

The leaning tower of Pizza!! (in the grounds of Tower of Pisa)

The Crown Jewels

Train (obviously!) I didn't note its significance.
There are dozens more - I don't want to spoil the surprises. There are several places where children can sit and play with huge troughs of Lego Pieces - and seats where I saw a couple of grandparents relaxing while they waited.

 Afterwards we sat outside in the beauty of the Domain and I couldn't help thinking about the creativity of the Ultimate Creator... 
...in the structure of a tree
... every cell of its sturdy bark.

The generosity and abundance of reproductive seeds on each fern frond.

The delicate beauty of a flower.

At first as we walked outside I thought - "Ah but God's creation is so much better" but I quickly adjusted my thinking. All creativity comes from the same Source. Maybe we are more likely pay money and stand in a queue to see human creativity than we are are to sit or walk freely outside and marvel at God's! However, I can imagine the Divine Creator cheering and affirming the Lego marvels made by people who are, after all, made in the Creator's image!