Tag Archives: peace

Isn’t it funny?

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Life will always remain a strange thing…an enigma…the biggest variable in any one of our individual life’s plots…filling it with both pain and beauty. We can experience death and new life all in the span of one week. We can reach the most glorious highs on some levels, while simultaneously experiencing the lowest of lows. Funny that. Funny using an expression like “isn’t it funny” for something that’s actually not “funny” at all, but rather difficult, bizarre or uncomfortable.

When the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “there is a time for everything”, he makes it sound so neat in a way. Yes, he mentions things like a time to cry and a time to die; but it still sounds so ordered – like there is a rhythm even to those times, that they will follow on each other, that you will always be able to move from the one to the other. And yet, in our living life, we come to realise that those times aren’t “neat” or “rhythmic”, mostly they are intertwined – joy with tears, success with disappointment, and life with death. Which is so contra-instinctive for us – we WANT life to be more “reliable”, more predictable. We NEED life to be simpler. We NEED to hold on to the belief that tomorrow will be different…will be better…will be more. But life continues on its “merry” way, and tomorrow usually ends up being the same as today – complicated. Which means that we can (and often do!) spend a lot of time questioning the meaning of our existence, the sense our living holds, the reason for our being. Getting so caught up in thinking about life that we don’t live it. But, you might say, such a complicated mess is not worth calling life, never mind living it! And yet, it is what it is, and it remains so no matter our thoughts on the matter.

So why is it worth it? What is the significance of this quagmire? Where is God in all of this? “Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle, curved tunnels of leaf miners on the surface of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what’s going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.” – Annie Dillard “Let children walk with nature, let them see the beautiful blending and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.” – John Muir

We should not strive for peace and calm and simple, for it is only in the difficulty and the chaos and the mess that we can plumb the depths of who we are. You cannot be truly brave and courageous without having felt fear tinge your being and overcoming it. You cannot truly live without confronting the complex reality that life is. “I don’t believe that life is supposed to make you feel good, or make you feel miserable either. Life is just supposed to make you feel.” – Gloria Naylor In the fullness of the total experience, in our giving ourselves over to every piece of it, in our looking every part of life and death straight in the eye and conquering it; therein lies living. For if you’re not ready to die, then how can you live? So…hoohah! “To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.” – Mary Oliver

Two’s company. Three? Even better!

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This past week I have been thinking a lot about how individualised we have become; about how little real community we have left. We live with this idea that we have to be able to do everything ourselves, as admitting we need help with some things (never mind actually ASKING for that help!) equals weakness. And because we feel we have to live such independent lives, our days become SO full that we do not have time to reach out to those around us. Which often implies that if you are not: (a) living in the same house as me, (b) working with me, or (c) with me whilst practising the one or two hobbies I can squeeze in; there is no time or room in my life for you. And then we become isolated without even knowing it, tired without it having to be so and unnecessarily overwhelmed. Yes, it’s great to have the say over your life and what happens in it, and it definitely seems like it makes life a whole lot less complicated to not have to constantly involve others…but have we, once again, taken it too far?

Made for each other

“A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living” – Rudolf Steiner

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care – then do me a favour: Agree with each other, love each other, BE DEEP-SPIRITED FRIENDS.” – Philippians 2:1-3

What have we forgotten? What have we lost? The joy to be found in the sharing of the journey; the security of knowing that I am not walking alone; and the peace of companionship. Yes, it also implies having to do more and share more than we have decided we feel comfortable with…for we have indeed become so used to being maverick. But in actual fact we are missing out on so much more! For there is safety in community and there is support…a sense of others helping to carry my load…of love and acceptance in that support. It is not for nothing that we find the following:

“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work and share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough! … By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12

Going through the initial effort of creating community means that I never again have to worry about somebody having my back – real community equals people who believe in me and care for me so much that they will always defend me, always protect me, always help me to stand when I’m weak and wobbling and always help me to stay me on the path I was meant for. I know we Westerners indoctrinated with individuality don’t think we need all of the above, but how’s that working for you? Especially in difficult times? Times of disappointment, times of stress, times of sadness, times of failure and times of despair? In those times we need community. We need people who will wait with us, cry with us, carry us and help us clean up the mess. We cannot survive alone.

“Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing. To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation.” – Wendell Berry

And in that real community, in that living life in all its depth together, is a testimony. It is there that we witness most powerfully to the God we proclaim – the God whose only desire is to be each and every one of us. So let us start a new way. Let us devote the energy. Let us take the risk of opening up more. Let us start purposefully expanding our lives. In that the possibility for joy, support and peace become unending.

“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” – Kurt Vonnegut

“This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples-when they see the love you have for each other.” – John 13:35

What Christmas should boil down to

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My best friend shared this with me, and it is SO beautiful and SO precisely the essence that I wanted to share it with all of you as well 🙂

When the song of the angels is stilled
when the star in the sky is gone
when the kings and princes are home
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all people,
to make a little music with the heart…
and to radiate the Light of Christ,
every day, in every way, in all that we do and in all that we say.
Then the work of Christmas begins.

(Author unknown)

When the star fades, does our light shine one?

May this Christmas inspire us all to start the real work (of Christmas)! Talk to you again later in the week…