Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lion or lamb?

Sunday morning in the park was perfect, arriving through the tunnel of shade made by the dense canopy of plane tree leaves. The air was cool and refreshing, despite the warm forecast. Ducks splashed in the running water, which sparkled like laughter as it caught the light. One duck wandered nonchantly through, in and around our circle. The deep throaty call of frogs contrasted with the high pitched twitter of birds. It felt peaceful. Jane led those of us gathered for eco-faith worship in a beautiful reflection about love and fear. Towards the end of the hour, our pleasant setting was disturbed by the loud sound of a helicopter. Much louder than we are used to hearing. We watched as it came into view, emerging from the leafy canopy, an army helicopter. Much larger than we are used to seeing. Painted in camoflauge colours, it's side all open. We saw men in camoflague uniform, standing ready for action. They were probably on their way to a fun community event but my mind took a sinister leap and i imagined another scenario. I shivered. All the way home I thought about how for me peace is about calm, beauty, quiet, stillness and is most readily found in the beauty of nature. I dont tend to equate peace with the absence of war, or conflict, or armed combat or even violence - such is the privilege I happen to live with.
Later that day I went to see the movie Lions for Lambs - not because it was a movie that I particularly wanted to see but purely because it was showing at a time and place that suited me. The film I think challenges us who view it to consider what we think and feel about war and what we might do about those thoughts and feelings. I came away wondering, asking myself "what do I really care about?" "what would I want to change in the world - or my small corner of it?" Is there any cause for which I would give my all? Just last week i had a conversation with a collegue about political apathy. She said that in the 70's "we really believed we could change the world." What has happened to that? There is still the odd protest march or demonstration but it is seldomly taken seriously by anyone. We hear everyday about the predicted disaster awaiting us if global warming continues on the same trajectory. Yet we act as though we dont believe it (on the whole I mean - i know there are some who really do give their all to make a difference in areas they care deeply about).
I'm not sure why but last night i took my copy of "To Kill a Mockingbird" off the shelf. I'd earmarked the page where Atticus tells Jem that real courage is "when you know you are licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."
Contrast that with the cocky student in Lions for Lambs when he looks up at his professor and defiantly says: "You think it's better to try and fail than fail to try, right?" "At least you did something," replies the professor.
At early morning worship at Pilgrim this morning Jenny reminded us about the style of leadership that Jesus modelled. Atticus' definition of courage definitely fits there. Am I so afraid of failing, of being ineffective, of being a fly on an elephant's backside that I will do nothing or nothing much? What do I really care about and what am I going to do about that? Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the things I care about and would want to change in the world. Yet, if I dont do anything then I obviously dont really care. Ghandi says not just do but be - "Be the change you wish to see in the world." How might i live so that if anyone was watching they would know what it is that really matters to me?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


It's an e.e.cummings kind of day - you know this poem, "i thank you god, for this most amazing day for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky"? I have at last finished my essay and I feel alive. Like life has just begun again. It is almost worth studying to have the euphoria that comes once its over. Knowing tonight i can do what ever i like: lie in the pool til my skin wrinkles; curl up with a book, transported to another time and place; maybe begin those retro baby rompers i've designed; watch a movie ..? or just anything i like really... in reality i'll problably tidy up the mess of papers I've left everywhere while I was studying and go to bed early cause I'll be too tired to do anything else. Having possibilities is delicious though. Imagining what i might do rather than knowing there is something I have to do. It feels like summer, which feels like holidays. The hope of anticipation. What is 'hope' I wonder? It must have something to do with lack of constraint. But then the lack of constraint only feels so good because there has been constraint. Maybe hope can only be detected in waves; we experience it in the flow because we experience it's absence in the ebb. That's how it seems to me - but then i am privileged, fortunate, comfortable. I cant help but let the glorious blue of the jacarandas lift my spirit. They always fill me with expectant hope. Maybe that's because I associate them with advent. Which is puzzling in itself because i dont like Christmas. Maybe I will feel differently this year. Maybe I will look forward to Christmas. What must it be like to wait without hope, I wonder? Perhaps hope becomes relative - the waves are bigger or smaller depending on how calm or stormy the sea. For now I am grateful for the gentle breeze of little hopes rippling in and out of my ordinary days.