30.5.12

Nga hoa.

Today I got a parcel in the mail. A packet of coffee beans, and a note. A few weeks ago I mentioned to my friend that my flat had run out of beans, and so she sent me a a mini-care package to top up our supply. What a legend! Not only was I thrilled to have (more) coffee, but I realised how blessed I am. How abundant the love that I am surrounded with is. I am lucky!


When I left Auckland, I was dreading leaving my friends. We had been through thick and thin, the highs and the lows, the exciting and the boring parts of life. And now, I was going to be moving 700 km south, only to see them once every 4 months. But what I have learnt from them both since moving away is, perhaps, worth the separation.

I have learned that no matter how far away someone is, a few words of encouragement can brighten a day. I have learned that despite the wonders of telephones, email and Skype, to receive a letter is to speak straight to the soul. I have learned that it is commitment and faith that holds a relationship together. And I have learned that in the dark moments, a few words, a thought, or a prayer can make all the difference.

Think about those who you come in to contact with every day. Do you take them for granted? Do you assume that you will always be around them? What about those you are far away from. Have you recently made the effort to find out how they are, to ask about what it is that they fear, and what it is that brings joy to their heart? A few words of encouragement or affirmation is all it takes to lift me up, and I promise you that nearly every person I know will feel the same way. I struggle with loneliness, like everybody else. I struggle with confidence and contentment. We all do. Share it. Because it is in our relationships that our hopes, fears and dreams can come to fruition, for in community we are at one with creation. We are not designed to be individuals; we are relationally wired. "Love one another as you love yourself." Set yourself a goal of encouraging everybody you talk to, in the smallest or the most overt way that you are comfortable. Be open, and share your thoughts. Serve one another and pray for one another. Teach one another. 


21.5.12

Vulnerability; a stolen excerpt

...from 'Abba's Child' by Brennan Manning. This is a battle I am constantly fighting, and a lesson I am constantly learning. As I read the words below, a small part of me forces me to my knees in recognition of the long road ahead. And then...there is hope.

"This brokeness is what needs to be accepted. Unfortunately this is what we tend to reject. Here the seeds of corrosive self-hatred take root. This painful vulnerability is the characteristic feature of our humanity that most needs to be embraced in order to restore our human condition to a healed state.

It used to be that I never felt safe with myself unless I was performing perfectly. My desire to be perfect had transcended my desire for God... my jaded perception of personal failure and inadequacy led to a loss of self esteem, triggering episodes of mild depression and heavy anxiety.

Some of us believe that God is almighty and can do everything; and that He is all wise and can do everything; but that He is all love and will do everything - there we draw back. As I see it, this ignorance is the greatest of all hindrances to God's lovers.

...they over-extend themselves in people, projects and causes, motivated not by personal commitment but by the fear of not living up to others' expectations. Everybody will admire us but no one will know us.

...I have always loved you. And I have been waiting for you to hear me say that to you. But you have been so busy trying to prove to yourself that you are loved that you have not heard me.

Experiencing the inner healing of the heart is seldom a sudden catharsis or an instant liberation from bitterness, anger, resentment, and hatred. More often it is a gentle growing into oneness with the Crucified who has achieved our peace through His blood on the cross. This may take considerable time because the memories are so vivid and the hurt is still so deep. But it will happen."

May you know the God of love as a stronger force than the fight inside.

14.5.12

Glen Colquhoun

Above everything else
the word is an attempt
to end isolation

Fingertips of heroes
clinging defiantly
to ledges

Small boats
sailed fearlessly
on wide oceans

That grass
which grows from
the armpits of concrete

Those temporary footsteps
at regular intervals
of Captain Scott
disappearing in the snow.



5.5.12

Raw and true.

I've been having a hard time lately.

Where I live, I come in to contact with a lot of people from different walks of life. I try to gift myself to them, to love and care for them. I try to serve them. But the truth is, they serve me. Our home is open to them and our table is ready to sustain them but it is, in fact, their smiles and their pain and their solidarity and their strength that opens my heart, and sustains my soul.

But I find it difficult. It is a roller coaster of emotion, continuously throwing me high in to the sky and down in to the depths, never in one place for two long. I have a small child clinging to me, her little brown arms tight around my neck. I have a conversation with a lonely woman who is sick of running away. I hear the story of a broken man who sleeps in a garage. I sing songs with laughter and I listen to the strumming of Bob Marley and smooth brown voices harmonizing. I experience immeasurable joy at the reality of this life, the raw guts of it and the beauty in the grinding of the gears. And I experience immeasurable sorrow in listening to my friends and their stories of sleeping on the street and long nights in the cold winds.

In a moment of complete honesty and vulnerability, I am able to admit that I find it almost impossible to bear the burden of these moments. I hate that I can't stop this. The fact that I don't have enough spare rooms to fit the homeless population of Wellington in to gnaws at me. I don't have the knowledge or experience to stop abuse of power in Housing NZ tenancy agreements. I don't have enough money to provide food and clothing for the kids who instead grow up thinking they have to snatch what kai they can get their hands on. I don't have the means to employ the numerous people I know with skills but no opportunity for a job...

And then I feel selfish, because this this hurts me then just imagine how much it hurts those who are the recipients of these sorrows.

This is my experience of what it is like to live out the Kingdom. Jesus said "the poor you will always have among you." He also said "whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me." It is too easy to turn the other way and refuse to face the suffering of those around us, but the truth is, we cannot escape it. When I have been shown love from the Creator of this Earth, how can I keep that love to myself? It is the one thing I am sure to have. I may not have enough money to give, or enough food to share, or enough warmth for those who need it, but I hope, I beg, I pray that I will always have more than enough love to give to each one of these beautiful people who gift me with their trust. And that is what I can do. I can pour out the love God gives me for each of these people until perhaps, they see that love as being more than just mine. They will see Him, and they will see possibilities, and I am fearfully hopeful that their circumstances and lives will get better.

It is hard. I feel the weight of this cross upon my shoulders. I feel the pain of each of these wonderful souls in my heart. Whilst I laugh with them, I also cry for them. It is not always beautiful. It can get rough, and ugly, and grotesque. The darkness can shroud me in His cold, creeping hands and sometimes, I despair. But in those moments, I am perhaps the closest to the God within my soul as ever before. Psalm 121 echoes.


I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.


I fear the day when the injustices experienced by my friends doesn't hurt me. I tremble at the thought of not wanting to weep when I hear stories of loss and hopelessness and fear in the hearts of these people who are my community. Because the pain of loneliness, of numbness, of apathy, seems scarier and darker and so much more horrible than the empathy that tears at my heart in this house. It is in our weaknesses that we see love shining through. It is in the brokenness that we experience true community, and it is through the cracks in the walls that the light never fails to shine through.

This is perhaps the hardest and most painful piece of writing I have ever had to produce, let alone post on my blog. But there is a reason. 
I ask of you with an open and pleading heart...next time you walk past someone begging on the sidewalk, don't ignore them. Sit with them, take some time to ask them what their name is and where they come from. Give them some money, or food. Be their friend. I can tell you through experience that to feel invisible is more painful than any hunger . 
Next time you skim over the news articles addressing welfare reforms and benefits for the poor and disabled, please don't move on to the sports section without a second thought. To live from week to week with no extra money and no way to keep a child warm carries more shame than you would have to bear by donating to your nearest food bank or Salvation Army. 

...I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?

I feel like making a difference in this world is like banging my head against a brick wall. Sometimes, it seems futile. Sometimes, I feel alone in the fight. Often I am surrounded by those who are my forebears in the struggle. Often, I feel like we are too few among too many. But always, I yearn for the day that there is a change in the lives of these people.

4.5.12

He tangata!

This is OUR Aotearoa.

A land in which we can live without worrying about how we will provide for our mokopuna.
A land in which our voice in heard, and our wishes honoured.
A land in which the rich give to the poor, and the poor are enriched.
A land in which we can be proud of our heritage, our peoples, our whenua and our aroha.

Our Aotearoa respects the Earth.
Our Aotearoa respects the tangata whenua and the mana they hold.
Our Aotearoa is united.

Why must we fight so hard for this Aotearoa?
Why do they turn their heads?
Is it in shame? Because they should be shamed. 200 years in this country and they think it is ok to sell what they stole, to reap the profit off the assets our grandfathers built and paid for.

It is about time we realised the faults and weaknesses within such an archaic neoliberal market economy.

He aha te mea nui o te ao? 
He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!