Thursday, August 4, 2016


When the house is a mess and there's dust everywhere
from the scraping and sanding and painting;
when you've scriptures to study and a sermon to write
and meetings and fielding of phone calls;
when you can't find direction and struggle to start
and can't find the wine or the whiskey:
Make a big bowl of custard, grab a new book,
curl up in a chair in the study,
and travel the world in some other dimension -
then maybe you'll find inspiration....

Saturday, November 7, 2015


As a family we have had a habit of subscribing to recycling initiatives over many years. The first was paper and cardboard, but when other materials were asked for, we added that to our list. It has been very convenient to have containers placed within reach in the hub of our home (dining room adjoining kitchen!) in which to place articles. At one time there were kerbside collections, but now we have to take our recyleables to points of collection – which is fine. It has certainly caused our household waste to be significantly diminished in volume!

However there is another kind of recycling that I have been reflecting on. In 'sorting out' the house, now that all our sons are married and making their own homes, and coming to the time of life when we will soon be moving to a smaller abode in a retirement complex, there is the inevitable need to go through what is in all the cupboards, sort through what belongs to who, and make plans to either deliver it to them or pass it on to others who need and will make good use of the various articles.
One of the tasks was old school and university notes stashed in the top of cupboards - emptying files and putting the paper in waste bags. The paper will be recycled, and the files, plastic sleeves and file dividers will be 'recycled' to an under-resourced school or children's home.

As I was preparing this material for recycling, I began to think about all the 'knowledge' and mechanisms that were on the paper, that had been given through teaching to empower my sons to learn how to think, analyse, make connections, be creative, be comfortable about thinking 'outside the box', have an urge to explore mentally and in other ways, to develop memory and practical skills. This lead me to ponder on how we 'recycle' what we have learnt in the years of our lives – how we have interpreted what has come to us in the way of studies, practice, experience, circumstances, relationships (with teachers/ lecturers, tutors, fellow students, role models). To what extent do we make use of all that we have been taught and learnt?

I was challenged to reflect on whether my many and various interpretations had lead to a relatable insight into life in general, that could be used to encourage, guide, empower, and provide a 'spring-board' to launch others into their own unique journeys through the experiences of their lives.

In a nutshell: Has our 'learning' been stuffed onto the top shelves of our lives, out of sight and gathering dust? Do we keep it in a rigid framework, immovably fixed by our perceptions at the time of receiving it?
Do we hang on to it as a source of pride or wield it as power over others?
Or do we 'recycle' it, by reapplying it creatively into different contexts, share it and reinterpret it in varying situations, circumstances, and relationships in the present?
Do we make it available, in a usable manner, to others who need it, who could make good use of it, and who would benefit from it in their own journey through life?

Just wondering....

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I don't like being sick!

I am grateful for a very strong immune system which means that I don't get sick very often. But something must have penetrated my defenses this time, and I find myself 'malingering' in a way I haven't experienced for many years.

The inflamed thoat that makes it sore to breathe, let alone swallow, is the worst. Then there is the post-nasal drip that clogs and causes involuntary, non-productive coughing. And finally, the head full of cotton wool that blocks sound from entering and distorts sound that leaves – such that I cannot hear clearly what others are saying and they cannot hear clearly what I am trying to say. And so I pass the days in an energy deficient dozing fog.

Initial visits to pharmacy, and then the 24hour rooms at the local hospital, brought little relief. Seven days later my throat still felt like it could light a fire, swallowing was so painful that I seriously considered fasting, and croaks were produced on every attempt to speak. On top of that, my eyes are becoming clogged and reading becoming impossible due to the fuzziness.

A visit to my own doctor brought relief at last - and this sickness has finally met it's nemesis.
I look forward to being healthy again! - and for a long long time, like 30 years or more...

I am forever grateful for my 'lazyboy' chair in which I have dozed, slept, and vegetated for the past five days. I also look forward to being able to sleep in my bed again and to not be woken by useless dry throat coughing.....

Friday, September 13, 2013

Marginalised Mussels

I was blessed to be offered a week at a seaside cottage in February this year. It was a break from 'the world' that I needed, and that brought me much rest and restoration. It was very good for my soul for me to be able to walk alone and uninterrupted on the beach, fiddle around on the rocks, stare out to the horizon over the ocean, dabble my feet in the tidal pool, watch crabs and little fish  in small rock pools, and generally meditate and let my thoughts run freely.

 This photo shows an area of mussel covered rock where I spent some time. I noticed the large number of mussels of varying size - with larger ones being closer to the water line/ rock-water interface, and the decrease in size the further they were from the water's edge. Which got me to thinking......

The larger ones closer to the water-line surely benefitted from the constant washing of the waves, as they were closer to the tides - whether high or low - and the first to receive nutrients. The smaller ones were farther away from the water and would only have had the benefit of the nutrients when the tide was higher, with a gradation of size according to the amount of water washing over them during the day/ night. Which means that those closer to the nutrient resource were more prosperous looking, while those further from the resources did not seem to be faring as well.

Which led me to think about resources available to people. There is so much demand, currently, for 'equality' and for everyone to be granted the same access to and quantity of resources as everyone else. But this expectation is unrealistic. It is evident that where we are positionally places limitations on our access to whatever it is that we want. Our position in relation to resources could be termed 'an accident of birth'. But that does not provide an excuse for resources available to those on the 'front-line' to be held onto and prevented from being shared with those towards the 'back-line'. The position of the closer-to-the-water-line mussels could also be said to be 'accidental' in that they did not intentionally choose where to attach and grow. And neither did they restrict the resources from reaching those farther back. It seems they absorbed what they could of the resources each time the water washed over them - as did the ones further back. But their advantage lay in their proximity to the resources which enabled them to absorb nutrients througout the day and night - throughout the times of tide-in and tide-out, whereas the further back mussels had periods during the day and night of no access to resources. However this did not lead to them giving up and letting go - they continue to remain attached to the rock and absorb whatever comes their way whenever it comes - and they grow bigger albeit at a slower rate than the foremost mussels. I am also pretty sure that the bigger mussels would be harvested and consumed by the hungry much sooner than the smaller ones! And, of course, the mussels are available as food to whomever walks along the beach or is in search of a meal - irrespective of status in life.

I believe there are some principles in this that we should allow to challenge us.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Benefits of Burnout?

It is exactly, to the month, 27 years since I knitted a garment by hand. At that time I was in the process of knitting a pullover for 3 year old Allan, when Ian was 5, and Richard was a baby. It took me so long that by the time I had completed it, it was too small for Allan. I realised that if I was to supply such like garments for my family, hand-knitting would not 'work'. So I invested in a basic knitting machine, which kept us going for the next about 15 years - at which time I no longer had time for even that, and, the fashion had changed for teenage boys to wearing other kinds of jackets and tops. That was, I believed the end of my knitting days, and I donated the needles and other equipment to the women's ministry department of the Mozambique Outreach from our church.

That was until I found myself in serious burnout in 2010 - when I started knitting teddy bears - an occupation that did not take much in the way of thought or concentration, but kept me on the edge of sanity. Many are the little teddies of various sizes that I have made and donated to WAR (Women Against Rape) during the months of furlough that I took in 2010 and again in 2011, and also during times of needing to 'opt out' in the stresses 2012.
Since being on Leave of Absence during the first 4 months of 2013, I have continued to knit some teddys, but have got a bit bored with it and decided to go back to 'the olden days' activity of attempting to knit a garment by hand.

Fortunately I have a collection of knitting needles belonging to my mother, who, presently in a Frail Care Centre, no longer has a use for them; and a fair collection of oddments of wool. Seeing as I no longer have any patterns, I resorted to 'google' and found one that looked reasonable and possible to do. I am pleased with the result, and hope that it may fit my grand-daughter! Perhaps this is the start of more knitting. Time will tell!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tapping in

This morning, as I was nearing the end of my contemplative time,  I became aware of a tapping sound outside my bedroom window. There was Mrs Barbet, tapping away at a branch of the frangipani bush. I wondered what she was doing as that branch is not nearly large enough for a nest to be made in it - besides which, it is not springtime in this hemisphere. Then I saw the hole she had made, and that she was enjoying a morning repast from the contents thereof.
How she knew that there was something there, I don't know! Whether it was the sap she was drinking or grubs that she was eating, I also don't know. Perhaps I would find out if I were to 'google it'. However, what I do know, is that she was tapping into that branch for some much needed sustenance, while I was tapping in to the 'bread of life' for mine.

I was reminded that I am connected to the rest of creation and have needs like other creatures. We tend to create problems for ourselves and complicate our lives when we don't seek to enjoy that which has been provided, but rather manufacture needs which we then seek to satisfy for ourselves.

So I guess this was, for me, a reminder to keep pursuing simplicity and contentment.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Being a Hermit or Hibernating?

Hibernate - animal/plant - spend the winter in a dormant state - person - remain inactive or indoors for an extended period of time. Hermit - person living in solitude as a religious discipline.
Which of these applies to me at the present time?
1. There is the inaction indoors part - not that there is complete inaction. The usual routines of living go on - like eating, sleeping, interacting with family to a limited degree, limited shopping for necessities, and so on. Activities like reading, doing crosswords, playing card games, thinking and reflecting take up a fair amount of time, and I would classify them as 'inactive' as they do not involve other people. More like going through the motions of living rather than actually participating in life.
2. There is the solitude part - a state of being separated within from what is going on around me. This is there whether I am alone inside, or whether I am out and about like at the beach, or in a coffee shop. And in this state of separation/ solitude I am continuously in conversation with my Lord. It's like I am living inside myself.
Both of these hermit and hibernating conditions seem to be applicable in varying degrees. But perhaps the hibernating part is there in greater part. Hibernation is a winter condition - a time of drought and barrenness, yet a time when roots push down deeper into soil in search of water and nutrition . It is a time of energy conservation, displaying fruits of impatience, irritability and inability to deal with other's needs and problems. This certainly explains the condition in which I find myself at this time.
I shall continue to embrace this time of withdrawal and energy conservation at all levels (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) while waiting on God, knowing that He is present and active, and trusting that I will recognize the signs of new life - a season of spring - when He judges that I am ready for it.