27.12.11

"Maybe this was why monks embraced such fathomless silence: they'd glimpsed how deep grief really was and understood that to grieve properly they had to sink from sight. They'd discovered that love lived at the bottom of grief, the love you couldn't bring to the surface because the daylight and the bright air and the business of everyday life twisted it into something unrecognisable, something that inevitably seemed crude.
She had never allowed herself to grieve wholly before, she realised now. Not for her father, not for her grandparents. Not even for her marriage: she'd never allowed herself to face what it meant to fail in the central relationship of her life. To really remember that shining, innocent love she'd felt and everything that had happened to it. And this was why, of course: because some pragmatic, self-protective sense had told her that grief was bottomless. Skirting this sea, she had dipped her toes in: she's wondered what would happen if she crossed the line, but it had always seemed that it could only be a kind of defeat, a drowning, a death. And so it was. But maybe it was not the end, to be defeated bylife. Maybe that was even part of what it meant to be a human being: to recognise the ways in which life had finally defeated you to accept the ways in which death had come, to stop looking away from the failures of love, and to grieve. To keep your heart open to the sea of this silence; to drift in it, surrendering to its currents, baffled and without recourse. And at the bottom of it, to be surprised anew by loves simplicity. To feel that nothing had been lost."

-Tim Farrington, "The Monk Downstairs"

21.12.11

Songbird.


...in you little bird, there is more than a song
rather, forever, there will be
what has been all along

in your voice, and in all else
I sit in the quiet, while they praise all else
but I hear you songbird, in the whisper of your sound
for all you sing of is waiting to be found...


I used to write. I have years worth of notebooks, journals, pages and pages of paper, scribbled upon by biros, late-night thoughts and dreams expressed in ink. I loved that when I wrote, my thoughts and that moment in time were immortalised forever. To be able to articulate an emotion, an experience or a moment is an artform. To be able to shape letters and words and sentences and adequately describe something so complex and beautiful and elusive is akin to the crafting of a beautiful song, I think.

I haven't written as much lately...numerous notebooks sit unfilled, and my thoughts cannot be ordered in to the neat, horizontal lines of the pages. Instead, they fly around inside my head, captivating and frustrating me. How does one determine what her song is? How is it that I once had a song, a tune, a melody, yet now it has been snatched from me, and I am left wondering how to put my pen to paper? Ernest Hemingway said "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." This implies vulnerability...to write is to create, and what is created is a black and white illustration of ones own soul. To sing aloud of the joys and sorrow within my soul is surely something I fear. Yet is this not what we all desire? To be open and honest and thus to have no fear of neither man nor beast? To be at peace with ourselves, with others, with the world? I find it fascinating that life is full or ironies; that God created such paradoxes in this life. What we fear, we desire, and what we need is akin to what we avoid.

Most of it all comes back to the same thing; identity. We wish to belong, and to belong we must appear acceptable to those we love so that they will have us. In belonging, the little holes are filled inside of us. But lately I have found,  my desire to express myself overrides my fear. Loneliness is not an enemy, but a mere acquaintance. I must write. Yet I continue to search for my song.

18.12.11

Vivian Maier

This woman inspires me. After her death in 2009, hundreds of thousands of negatives she had taken throughout the course of her life were discovered and developed, bringing to life a collection of street photography that is, in a word, breathtaking!




 
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11.12.11

Poverty.

http://www.cpag.org.nz/assets/sm/upload/d4/ei/sg/g4/LFBDec2011.pdf

I am so ANGRY. 

We may not be a nation afflicted with a corrupt government or HIV/AIDS epidemics such as Africa or other third-world nations, but it is plain ignorance, or arrogance, to claim that NZ "has no poverty." As a first world nation, to have over 200,000 children living in conditions that condemn them to poor health/education/living conditions is unacceptable. And  it breaks my heart.
I am a Law and Development Studies student, blessed with education and a wonderful and reasonably well-off family in Auckland. Yet in Wellington I have friends who sleep in the night shelter and struggle to afford meals. My friends are not lazy, or criminals. But they have been dealt a terrible hand, made some mistakes, or just been oppressed in a society where the underclass are rarely considered. And I don't really see what our government is doing to help them find warm homes and regular meals. Most of the help these people receive are from NGO's or non-profit organisations; they get little sustainable help from the government. Yet there are still people that claim that NZ is unaffected by poverty. "Go see what it's like in India, or Cambodia, or Africa," they say. So perhaps we are affected in a different way...it is ridiculous to say that NZ isn't affected by poverty when the facts plainly tell us that we are - our Gini index (which measure the level of inequality present in a nation) is higher than the global average, which means that although we have significantly wealthy citizens, we also have an unacceptable level of poverty as well. As a nation, and as whanau, we need to grow a pair, accept that there are kids growing up with no choice but to beg, borrow or steal what they can to survive, and DO something about it as opposed to ignoring the issue or, worse still, talking but not acting.

How is this so hard??

9.12.11

One of those songs that sings of a painful truth.

Jump into your white mobile and run away,
You're always leaving me behind.
And I can think of a thousand reasons why,
I don't believe in you, I don't believe in you and I.

I'm not yours anymore,
I'm not yours anymore,
No, I'm not yours anymore,

I'm not yours anymore.


It's always a raw moment, when we realise how alone we are. Something happens and you turn to tell that person. But as my lips part, the words are caught in my throat. Because that person is no longer my person. 
How long does it take before the words become unstuck from my throat? How long until I cease to harbour this fear of choking? Does anyone ever teach you how to breathe easily once again?

7.12.11





"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry beauty with us or we find it not"
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

4.12.11

When I was young...

My first memory is as a toddler, strapped on to my mothers back, tramping along a river. The sun is hiding behind the leaves and the water is calm, green, dappled with sunlight. We are walking upstream, and I remember being fascinated at the way the light danced on the water.
I remember being 5. Having grown up together,  my cousins and I swim in thier pool in the nude over summer, running around and playing Marco Polo for endless hours. 
I remember being 7 and my sister and I having wrestling competitions on my parents bed. She  always beats me, except for when we get older and she occasionally lets me win.
At 9, I am riding scooters down my friends driveway, burning my heels on the brakes and daring myself to ride down from the very top of the hill.
When I am 10, I run away from home for the first and only time. It is a late summer afternoon, and I am enraged and frustrated that my family 'just don't understand me.' I run over to the plum tree that borders our neighbours property, and climb to the top, planning on hiding all night to make my point. When Mum calls out the window to me half an hour later, asking me to clean my room, I am baffled at the fact that she hasn't noticed my absence. I never run away again.
I am 12, and building forts and dugouts in the forest behind my best friends house. We explore the native bush, swinging over ponds and constructing hideouts alongside the creek.
At the age of 13, when my sister is 16, we climb on top of the water tank, picking plums off the tree. With plum juice running down our chins, we  have pip-spitting competitions to see who can get their pips the as far along the garage roof as possible.
I am 14, and surprised with my first kiss. Under the stars, for that one moment, I think that life could not be any more perfect (until I later find out that he has a girlfriend).


 Last night, at my cousins 21st, I looked around and saw how everyone had grown up. We are all at university, or working full time. The Pony Club paddocks we spent years playing in have now been developed in to lifestyle blocks. The creek I used to pick blackberries by has now been cleared and cut back. The kids I grew up with are no longer kids. My two best friends from intermediate and high school are both engaged...all the adventures seem a life-time ago. Yet there is so much to remember, so much that I am afraid to forget.

I think my favourite memory of being a kid was when Dad used to take us all over to Tasmania to visit my Baba in the school holidays. Excited to be in Australia and full of notions of spiders and snakes and the great Outback, my sister and I would pack a lunch, find the perfect hiking stick, and set off on an adventure around the paddocks behind Baba's property. I think the most exciting thing we found were scorpions in Grandad's old glasshouse, or perhaps the time I got bitten by a fire ant when I was climbing the silo's on the neighbours farm. But, for just a moment, I would feel like a great explorer, discovering new worlds and at one with Mother Nature as I clambered and climbed through Baba'a magnificent gardens, picking blackberries and warily watching out for snakes.


 The other day I was at the beach eating a picnic dinner with some friends. I went for a walk and climbed on to the rocks, and while I was looking out in to the harbour with the wind in my face, I suddenly realised how blessed I am to live in a place of such beauty. I miss the outdoors so much - I seem to have forgotten the joy that I got from being covered in dirt and in amongst the trees as a kid. That swelling of my heart as I breath in the salty ocean, the smile that is inevitable as the sun warms me. That feeling that says..."Olivia. You are home." 

I hope I never forget it.


30.11.11

Such beautiful images of such a war-torn land...I wonder what it is that these people who have lived through many years of conflict think, as they watch the earth that they work on being torn apart by shells and spilt blood?

From loneliness to solitude.

It's very easy to keep busy, distract oneself, avoid the pain, bury your face in friends, food, summer, whatever. I've found that I have been busier in the last three weeks that I have this entire year. Even though I feel this uneasiness in the pit of my stomach, and a whisper in my ear telling me to slow down and face the music, until now I have been ignoring it. I don't want to face my loneliness. Yet at some point, it always catches up with us. 

I'm reading a book by Henri J. M. Nouwen called Reaching Out. Talking of the loneliness that cripples our individualistic society, Nouwen writes, "It is this basic human instinct of loneliness that threatens us and is so hard to face. Too often we will do everything possible to avoid the confrontation with the experience of being alone, and sometimes we are able to create the most ingenious devices to prevent ourselves from being reminded of this condition. Our culture has become most sophisticated in the avoidance of pain, not only our physical pain but out emotional and mental pain as well." 
He later goes on to say "This difficult road is the road of conversion, the conversion from loneliness in to solitude. Instead of running away from our loneliness and trying to forget or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it in to fruitful solitude. To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. This requires not only courage but also a strong faith. As hard as ti can be to believe that the dry desolate desert can yield endless varieties of flowers, it is equally hard to imagine that our loneliness is hiding unknown beauty. The movement  from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it is the movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit, from the outward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearful play."

I always wondered where the attraction in living a life of solitude was. It seemed to me that to be a nun, or a monk, or to choose any other kind of vocation which would sentence me to a life of silence and solitude and meditation would be cripplingly boring, and to provide that space to face my innermost struggles...it's a scary thought. I recently lost someone very close to me, and it left a bit of a scar. Yet in the midst of my struggle to seal over the holes with anything that may fit so I didn't have to feel the holes gaping wide open for all the world to see, I realised what a blessing it would be to live a life in which I could sit at the feet of Jesus quietly, and just listen to his breath. A life where all the noise, and rush, and hustle and bustle of this crazy, terrifying, beautiful world would be stilled for a moment of silence in awe of the Creator. Where I could seek understanding, healing, and peace. 

This is not to say people have no place in this new solitude. People, I think, are essential. Community is irreplaceable. But I think it is when we can be with somebody, and not have to fill the void with words and deeds, but merely an understanding of each other...that is when we are able to not feel lonely in striving for the companionship of our peers, but filled with gratitude at the privilege of being in their presence. I sat on the beach with a friend yesterday, and in a brief lull in conversation I sat in silence and admired the ocean. And for those ten seconds, I was so appreciative of what little had been shared, the potential for so much more to shared, the ability to be silent, and to share that moment. Jesus is so quiet. To be silent, solitary, I think is the most precious gift of all. For it is in that moment that we are one with our Creator, and all of His creations.

Are we so afraid to step back from the mania? I know I am, most of the time. Yet there is always an oasis in the desert, a clearing in the wilderness, a calm in the storm. A Saviour with open arms. I hurt, yet that hurt is nothing next to love. Hurt inflicted upon me by man has no power next to the love gifted to me by God. To feel peace in my spirit is to be freed from the pain felt in my heart. Yet I must feel this hurt, and this pain, in order to reach deeper and grasp a hold of love, of peace. And it is in this space of loneliness that I experience solitude, a companionable silence in which I embrace my brokenness, and by the power of my God it is turned in to a beautiful mosaic, which is a gift to the world.




24.11.11

Returning to the homeland...

In two days, I will be back home in Auckland for three months of summer.

It's surreal. For 12 months, I've looked at the end of this year and my return to the winterless North as a beacon of hope. My return was a return to my family, the ones I loved, the beaches I grew up on, the arms I grew up in. 
For the last six months, returning home has meant spending three months with those I have waited patiently for...breathless anticipation of the long summer days to come. An escape from a city I love, but have felt cripplingly lonely in.
But now...in the last few weeks, I have begun to feel the first few whispers of trepidation. I'm actually scared to go home...excited, thrilled, overwhelmingly happy, but also nervously scared. Dare I say I've formed some sort of attachment to Wellington?

So much has happened this year, let alone in the last few months. I have changed so much. When I go home, will I be the same Olivia who left, 11 months ago? No. I am slightly older, a little bit wiser, profoundly less naive and most somewhat regretfully more cynical. I hold on to a different hope, and I sing a different song. My heart aches, so much more. And it beats with so much more passion. It has been broken, and it is being healed. I still drink way too much coffee, and I still am not a morning person. I still love words, and am rendered speechless by the beauty in this world. But I am also rendered speechless by the pain my eyes have been opened to, by the suffering prevalent in our society, and by the apathy that infects our hearts and so enrages my soul. 
Where does this leave me, where do I fit?

I am reminded of the story of Ruth. After the death of her husband, Ruth follows her mother-in-law Naomi to Naomi's homeland. When Naomi tries to convince Ruth that she should stay in the town she has always been in, where there will be more opportunity for her to find a new husband and be with the people she knows and loves, Ruth replies Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”

I am left wondering where my 'true' place is, if I have one at all. Maybe instead of being in place, instead of fitting in, we are called to be nomadic followers of Christ, like the Israelites were for 40 years, and like Christ's disciples were when he sent them out to spread the good news? Ruth followed her mother for love, and she honoured God with all she had. She left the town where she grew up to be faithful to her only friend. She was a scandalous woman, but her love for Naomi and her determination meant she was later blessed abundantly. I am so conscious that I have no nesting place. Auckland will always be my hometown, and I will always love my family there endlessly. But now, Wellington is a place of whanau, where the community I am currently called to lives. Where will I be in 20 years? Perhaps in India, living amongst the red light district as an advocate for the women who's voices are not heard. Perhaps I will be in Indonesia, working with communities who are affected by the exorbitant levels of deforestation by logging companies. Perhaps I will be in Wellington still, with the beautiful people of this community, doing life with them. Or perhaps I will be back in Auckland, engaging with people there, learning what it means to follow Christ in my hometown and being humbled every day. All I know is the words in Matthew... "So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Lord...where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people. You, God, are my God. Even death cannot separate us, but instead all the glory will point to you and your splendour. I am scared. I am a traveller. But I count myself blessed to be travelling with you, for you.

14.11.11

Extract;


From Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, 1979

From ‘the Community for Myself’ to ‘Myself for the Community’

A community isn’t just a place where people live under the same roof; that is a lodging house or a hotel. Nor is a community a work-team. Even less is it a nest of vipers! It is a place where everyone – or, let’s be realistic, the majority! – is emerging from the shadows of egocentricity to the light of a real love.

There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interest first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead. Phil 2:3-4

Love is neither sentimental nor a passing emotion. It is an attraction to others which gradually becomes commitment, the recognition of a covenant, of a mutual belonging. It is listening to others, being concerned for them and feeling empathy with them. It means answering their call and their deepest needs. It means feeling and suffering with them – weeping when they weep, rejoicing when they rejoice. Loving people means being happy when they are there, sad when they are not. It is living in each other, taking refuge in each other. ‘Love is a power for unity,’ says Denys l’Areopage. And if love means moving towards each other, it also and above all else means moving together in the same direction, hoping and wishing for the same things. Love means sharing the same vision and the same ideal. So it means wanting others to fulfil themselves, according to God’s plan and in service to other people. It means wanting them to be faithful to their own calling, free to love in all the dimensions of their being.
There we have the two poles of community: a sense of belonging to each other and a desire that each of us goes further in our own gift to God and to others, a desire that there is more light in us, and a deeper truth and peace.

Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. 1Cor13:4-7

It takes time for a heart to make this passage from egoism to love, from ‘the community for myself’ to ‘myself for the community,’ and the community for God and those in need. It takes time and much purification, and constant deaths which bring new resurrections. To love, we must die continually to our own ideas, our own susceptibilities and our own comfort. The path of love is woven of sacrifice.

I will give them a single heart and I will put a new spirit in them; I will remove the heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh instead. Ezek 11;19



13.11.11

Moving day


I've already shared this song before, but I absolutely love it and speaks to me tonight.

I sit in a new bed. In a new room, in a different house. I have moved, from a little box on top of a car park building in the CBD, in to a huge rabbit warren of a house with 7 other people.
My sister called it a commune. I call it following Jesus' calling. It's most probably both.
The thing is, I am scared. I do find that the things God wants me to do are usually the things that scare me the most. Going against my parents expectations and taking a year to study theology ... moving to Wellington to study law ... moving in to an intentional community committed to bringing God's kingdom to the darkest corners of the earth. These things scare the hell out of me.
Funny that. Scaring the hell out of me. I fear my Lord, and love Him so. So much so that I have no choice but to follow my love blindly, afraid and in love.  I witness these amazing transformations as darkness is lit up, and hell is overcome with hope. Yet I am not alone to witness the coming of this beautiful kingdom, because I have whanau with whom to share it with. A community on whom I can lean.
So as my hands tremble, I am suddenly aware of this deep-rooted sense of peace in my belly. We are not alone. We can do this. We are called.

In two weeks I will be back in Auckland for the summer break. It will be the end of my first year in Wellington, back to square one. But so much has changed...as I sit in my old bed, in my old room, in the same old house, I will be a different person. I wonder where the change is visible? How am I different? I can't quite place it, but I have shifted, regardless of my geographical location.
Nelson Mandela said "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." I await this discovery with bated breath.

12.11.11

Here's looking at you, kid.

You've got to love Saturday nights in with leftover Thai takeaways and green tea, watching Casablanca. Favourite movie off all time, hands down. This scene never ceases to make me cry. Rick makes the ultimate sacrifice so that Ilsa can live, giving up his love for her life...it's Keats' Bright Star on black and white film. Why can't my life be played by Ingrid Bergman alongside Humphrey Bogart in 1942?



10.11.11

To love.

To love with all your strength is hard.  I've found that out lately.


I went to a wedding this weekend. It was beautiful, the union of two people from the community I am a part of who truly love and serve God, in the most gentle, witty and humble ways. It was a wonderful wedding, and it struck me...how much work it must take to get to that point. How difficult and trying it is to serve another with grace and humility and selflessness abounding. And how beautiful, rewarding, exciting, wonderful it must be.


I was never the kind of girl to plan her wedding when she was 8 years old. Actually, I never even thought about weddings and the possibility that one day I may have one until the last few years. In fact, when I was 8, I was much more of a tomboy nerd. I was determined to prove myself to the world, prove that I wasn't merely a (tiny) girl, and that I could do all the things boys could. By the time I was 13, I probably was more focussed on proving that I could date all the boys instead. But never marry...it was always more of a response to my desire to prove myself, to be good enough, to be loved. At 17, I was wrestling with what that looked like coming out of high school, seeking healing for the wounds. And now...I feel like my wounds are now scars which tend to hurt me occasionally, a dull stab where I'm not as flexible, not as naive, as I used to be. But they are healed over, nonetheless. And I go to weddings, and adore the flower girls, and admire the bride. I seek out the grooms face as the love of his life walks down the aisle, the surprise and expectation and excitement and joy written in the corners of his mouth. And I allow myself to think...what if one day that is the look someone will give me?


The thought of marriage; of the vulnerability and the trust and the communication and the respect, the sacrifice, the selflessness, the hard work...it scares the heck out of me! It is something that I will never understand until I am in that position. Having never been married, I can't really comment. But I imagine it to be an enthralling, dangerous journey, stomach-twisting and heart-warming all at once. And isn't it breath-taking to think of how that marriage, that union of two people, mirrors the relationship between Jesus and His church? His bride? Revelation 23:1-3 talks of the Kingdom of God, the Holy City dressed beautifully as a bride for her husband. "Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." 


C.S. Lewis said “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Stomach-twisting and heart-warming indeed. Painful selflessness, healing grace, everlasting forgiveness. Oh Lord.

6.11.11

A Better Resurrection

I have no wit, I have no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numbed too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
A lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is like the falling leaf;
O Jesus, quicken me.



Sylvia Plath

3.11.11

Draw Your Swords


Forced to my knees

This morning, packing up my stuff in to boxes, getting ready to move out of my flat, I came across a letter. Amongst a whole draw full of letters, notes, cards and bits, I pulled out this letter.
...I want you to know that I am passionately and constantly praying for you. I am praying for an OVERFLOWING joy for out creator. For a new fresh understanding of the God we love so much. Of a COMPLETE and overwhelming fulfilment by the Holy Spirit, by our God; a RIDICULOUS sense of peace and passion and fire and burning desire to know Him more. To SEE Him more. To love Him more...and through this, the next part of your journey in OPENING up, and being oh so vulnerable. Girl. soften your heart, open your eyes, be seen, be known, by your God Almighty. Beloved, you are worthy in Christ, as are each and every one of our brothers and sisters...
My beautiful friend had written it to me months and months ago, when I was going through a tough time. And, forgive me for this Steph, but I hardly remember really taking it in when I read it at the time. But that's ok, because today leads me to think that it was in fact written for a time like now. A time like today, to begin this healing process.


I am empty. I am a vessel. But I forgot this...instead of seeking to be open to joy and beauty and love and wonder and amazement and a passion like nothing else, I sought to fill the holes with pointless things. Finite things. Things of desire and temptation and meaningless apathy. And reading these words, I remember; we are not alone. We were created to be in beautiful union with the Creator of the universe. Where else can I go but to You? 
Forced to my knees, overwhelmed with tears, I am suddenly filled with peace. Passion. Remembering who the God is that I serve, what He looks like...glorious, faithful, controversial, wonderful, kind, generous, personal, royal, worthy, infinitely mysterious, pure, holy, just, good, loving. How could I turn away? I am in the hands of a God who calls me to love mercy and do justly, whilst reigning love and justice down upon me and my brothers and sisters. E hoa ma, ina te ora o te tangata. Bless this community, Father. This equal, open family to whom I can run,  be messy with. Who have helped me to see you, once again.


Lord, I'd forgotten what it was like to yearn for you. In the midst of my grief, in the midst of loneliness, in the midst of my helplessness, I have discovered what it is to feel your peace again. It feels like it has been years...and I want nothing more than to be filled with your joy and to love abundantly. I have come from a place of prosperity and riches to a place where I have nothing but you. And I am not afraid anymore; no, for I have nothing left to be afraid of, nothing to lose. But I have learnt to fear the Lord.

24.10.11

Come and follow.

You know, it's crazy, really. It's crazy that, as I sit here, rain on the windowpanes, the shuddering of traffic driving by 12 floors below me, desk light illuminating my textbooks. I have electricity. I have warm clothes. I have a bed, two pillows, a home. Yet, I find it so hard to make out the figure of Jesus, and follow Him.
When a man came up to Jesus, eager to follow Him, and asked Him how one gains eternal life, Jesus laid down the ground rules. "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." No metaphor. No skewed interpretation. Just...
Go. 
Sell your possessions and give to the poor.
Then come, follow me.

I look at this elephant soft toy and wonder how many little ones shiver on a windy night like tonight, with nothing to comfort them. While I, a 19 year old, sleep with it every night.

I look at my wardrobe...I own two winter jackets, but the words of Dorothy Day echo in my head; "If you own two coats, one belongs to the poor."

Jesus was clear in his words. We cannot follow Him with all our stuff. The sheer weight of our crap, our materialism, our luggage, will weigh us down. We are called to pick up our cross and follow Him, and we simply cannot hold both the cross, and our Louis Vuitton luggage set.
When Jesus sent out His twelve disciples to spread the good news, he said to them "Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet." 

The Kingdom. A new kingdom. An ancient kingdom. It not only awaits us, but it welcomes us and yearns for us. And we are called to bring this kingdom to earth, as is in heaven. This kingdom is community and love. Hospitality, manaakitanga. Peace, simplicity, sacrificial. The complete opposite of this world, where what we own or what we do or who we associate with or what we wear, defines our worth. There is no room for stuff, if we are to come, and follow Christ. There is no room for materialism, consumerism, fake smiles and pretty masks. Because at the foot of the cross, where the light shines upon the darkness, we are illuminated, wretched and beautiful, and we are whispered to, softly...come, follow me.   When our own mess is revealed in that light, how can we look upon the mess of our brothers and sisters with self-righteous sneers? At the foot of the cross, we are equal, we are whanau. That is where true community is experienced. Sell all your possessions and give to the poor. Then come, follow me.

Is that really so difficult?

Lord, 
in my silence, I hardly recognise
what you look like, who I see.
I beg, Papa,
reveal Yourself to me!
Tell me your hopes, your dreams,
the plans you see.
Fill me with silence.
Yours, Yahweh.


There was a place in which You fulfilled all I need.
And I trembled because of Your love.


This brokenness I feel is the breaking of walls, 
the tearing of a curtain, Elohim, Adonai. 
Naked and unashamed. Beautiful and wretched. Falling at the feet of our Father.


I have chosen the way of truth;
I have set my heart on your laws. 
I hold fast to your statutes, O Lord;
do not let me be put to shame. 
I run in the path of your commands,
for you have set me free.


Take this empty page, and whisper the words that you want me to write. Break this heart, this disillusioned soul, so cold and tired. Your kingdom come.



16.10.11

To self-give.

What does it mean to give yourself to another?
What does it mean to sacrifice for another?
What does it mean to submit to another?



"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live ... Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
Eph. 5:8-21

To live in Christ's body is to submit to Christ's body out of reverence for Christ...

I've experienced immeasurable pain in the past, fighting this. Vulnerability has been my worst fear. Selfishness my worst enemy. And I am still learning; how is it that we confront our fears, open up our mess for the world to see, and place it all at the feet of Jesus in submission and reverence? How do we allow ourselves to be weak when the world shouts at us to be strong? How do we allow ourselves to be loved when all we want to do is earn that love? How do we sacrifice our own desires in order for someone we love to discover their own?

Every single fibre of my soul is created to belong to this community of lovers, yet every single fibre of flesh is screaming out in protest. It hurts to submit, it hurts to support, it hurts to sacrifice. Yet for the good of the body, for the Lord of Lords, we are called to lay ourselves out and be cleansed, to lay our lives down and be reborn. The lay ourselves at the feet of our brothers and sisters, to wash the feet of our brothers and sisters, to hurt with our brothers and sisters.

I am still learning this sacrifice. I am still learning to let myself be loved, so that I can in turn love others. I am learning to hope, to fear, to obey, to submit. I am learning to painfully, slowly, beautifully, be loved, and to love.

Lianne La Havas ft. Willy Mason - No Room For Doubt

13.10.11

‎"Love without courage and wisdom is sentimentality, as with the ordinary church member. Courage without love and wisdom is foolhardiness, as with the ordinary soldier. Wisdom without love and courage is cowardice, as with the ordinary intellectual. But the one who has love, courage, and wisdom moves the world." - Ammon Hennacy

5.10.11

I would love an answer to this question...




When are you ever afraid to be vulnerable?

Why are we so afraid of vulnerability?








There is a comment box below. And I crave an answer.

2.10.11

Louis.


Prayers of joy and thanksgiving.
A grating baritone, accompanying my clear night.
Two drifters, off to see the world
There’s such a lot of world to see.



26.9.11

Thoughts

Today is one of those days that motivate you to have the best intentions, but ultimately, nothing productive is done come 6:21pm.
Carrot cake has been made, flatmates birthdays have been organised, essays remain unwritten. Monday is my Sunday.
This weekend was strange. Beautiful, relaxed, lonely. Isn't it funny how we can be surrounded by people constantly, yet still feel so alone, consistently?


Letting my walls down is the hardest thing I have ever been asked to do. It's a constant raging sea...often I am basking in the warm waters, being held up in euphoria. And then, the storm rages and I struggle not to instantly grab my lifeboat, reminding myself that the storm will wane; that I am not alone and unprotected. I am loved. You'll be ok, Liv. You are brave.


Women have finally been given the right to vote in Saudi Arabia. 111 years after New Zealand passed the Electoral Act. A few months ago I wrote a blog post about gender inequality in NZ...despite the clear inequalities we still face, I think I tend to forget how blessed I am to be living in a country so full off opportunity. Far out...Saudi women can't even drive yet, or go out without a male chaperone. Yet here I am, owning my own car, living in the city by myself, free from the oppression so many women, children, men face daily around the world. Why is that so easy to forget?


I miss home.


This breaks my heart. But seriously...NZ is"developing a brown social underclass"? More like Europeans have created a brown underclass. Colonisation, not to mention the 'pepper potting' policies of the 60's and every other example of abjection and urban revanchism seen in our country, has shoved Maori and PI communities to the corners of society, and only now we complain and write Herald articles on it?

Ball



Central House '11



23.9.11

Books.

So, the BBC put out the BBC's top 21 'Big Reads'. I have a new goal...to read them all!
By brother-in-law's blog gave me the idea...I love books, and I have intended to read or started to read every book on this list, but I am the worst person ever for time management and I have a shocking habit of starting 5 books at once, and subsequently drowning in literature and university readings, never finishing any of them!
The ones highlighted in orange, I have already read. The ones in green, I have started but ever finished...


1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

By the time summer is over, I will have read them all. Excited!

20.9.11

Spring!

I love spring! The flowers are out, the air is crisp, the water a silky blanket over the harbour, the frost in the mornings melts away in the sunshine...
I love that the tui sing more at this time of year. That the flowers are blooming, that the mornings are fresher, that when I walk to my classes I feel my nose go pink in the cold, yet I close my eyes and the sun warms me from the inside out.
I love the little tufts of grass that peek out from under the tired, grey pavement, hoping to catch a glimpse of the light. I love that coffee tastes richer, that eggplant are back in season, that the Sunday morning vegetable market is back in full swing!
I love that when I go home for the holidays, I will be able to hear the sound of the lambs calling out to their mothers echo across valley. That I will be able to lie in the grass, smelling the earth, listening to the bees in the gorse. That I will be able to dive in to the water, swim to the rafts, and bask in the sounds of my river...