Monday, March 11, 2013

Going Begging

IF you have never done it before, try it . Yes its intrusive and most people don't want to listen,  let alone talk to you , but its strangely good for them and strangely good for you . (Assumming the cause is not for you)
You see life is not all about letting people do what they like ; And its not all about GNP - how much stuff you can stuff . People who really enjoy life ( see map below) have learnt to do the hard things - like the washing up , like giving and giving for little return.   Mothers !

Begging begins at home . " Will you please pick up your clothes" our mothers said, said and said .  While dad's begging can often be about his needs , begging on behalf of others can be a necessary reminder to the blind (" If you get married son, let me remind you again ,  she, however wonderful or nearly like me she may be,  will not want to pick after you like I often do. I am begging you to not practice being a burden, but to give --- "How to make couples happy"  ABCTV recently  )
Cold calling too,  is full of surprises . A noisy house can suddenly go completely quiet when you knock on the door .   A struggling mum with 4 babes  can give you more than you would ever hope for ( like the widow who gave 2 mites which was a huge % of her income ) . Being there at that moment is a precious reminder of grace - a great place to be and to share;  Not everyone is held back by thoughts of scarcity ;  of their own pressing needs.
If you we thinking there is no good in the world,  go and beg for a good cause; have your faith in humanity restored.
You see its good ( I didn't say easy) for us to give . It is we are told , more blessed to give than 2 receive . You can see it on the faces of the people passing by . The shiny new 4WD with shiny new boat on tow is not smiling .  The person who was happy to give has got more joy on their face as they leave than they will get all day from anything else they do .These are the big things you see and experience and it does you a world of good , because the world is good and there is soemthing deeper that dumb preoccupations with scarcity . I even write songs and sing to some people when I am on duty walking up the traffic lanes ( I did at the weekend - the song featuered in West side story ) Many of them were off to a music festival  .
You see it s not all about me ( or you) and doing something for others can change your whole perspective.
Sure,  you,  like them,  feel a little guilt at pressing the need to consider .But whats guilt for except to bring in a change of heart ? A cahnge of heart that rejects what's easy and unsustainable  - to what's tough and sustainable .
You see too on the street that its good for all us to give so we we can grow and get something bigger and better in return . They don't teach you that in secular economics  class . There is a mystery here . God's mysterious economy . Give and you  getta lot;  give nothing and you get less than nothing .
The above map is an index ( only one persons) of happiness 
One thing too  is sure;  the cynics are wrong . For 9 out of every 10 who pass unblessed there is 1 who gives generously and shares a blessing that's much bigger than the amount involved.
Some cynics in the ABC seem to think that "chaplaincy in schools" ( forexample) is not a good thing .The testimony on the street is that they are wrong dead wrong .  . Sure the people of the town  may not think much of the churches or  the need for religious type talk  ( even though they choose to go there for school??  ) but they give and say gladly yes when told "what its for "  .( 95% of people who ask are happy to give more to chapliancy in schools). Talk is cheap really cheap !!  You see you don't see much unless you see what people are really committed to.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A nice cuppa if not a nice feeling

Met one of my old collegues yesterday , a park ranger,  to talk about why one major tourist track was closed this summer when so many people wanted to use it . It was also Bonhoeffers birthday and i am writing this to rememeber him and many other " angry men " who sought to get change through understanding and action.
The park rangers explanation was fine, and he told me how it would cost a fortune ( and some time) to remove some trees and shift some gravel , basically because a range of consultants were involved ( I used to advise them on  matters of river management in house and on demand so that fllod repairs were carried out quickly - not over 6 mths as in this case ) . 
Rather than be too negative about this waste and recipe for irresponsible results ,( 2 easy ) I hoped to share my passion and method ( you need an effective way to stop evil)

" to ensure some young people had the great decisionmaking jobs we had" .
I dearly hoped he would respond with " yes"  ( One job on the coast here drew over 2000 applications 20 years ago )
I was stone walled . Maybe he thought the situation was impossible to change ? 
Speak up before you lose your voice completely 
He said nothing in response to my suggestion that decisionmaking will continue to be taken off people in the bush if they don't stand up for themselves and their local right to be trained to do and to sort jobs like the ones listed above - Our home towns are all the poorer for having less people who care closely enough to be there on the ground with landmanagers .
The fly in fly out mentality is growing even without aircraft being used.
You have to speak up for others as Martin Neimoller ( Bonhoeffer's contemporary) said (" they came for the Catholiics but I wasn't a I said nothing " )or eventually your future too will be taken away. Martin Luther King repeats these familiar friends of his when he said it wasn't the bad people he worried about but the silence of the good.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Leaking roofs

There is only one reason to do some work on the roof when its really really hot . Being embarrassed is the reason I replaced the valleys on the old part of the building this week.

There is something worse than having mice in your house . Its having the roof leak in front of the visitors and onto the computer desk as you are desperately trying to do something .  
Its worse than mice because I am supposed to know what I am doing with house repairs and have probably " fiddled" with the problem before .
 "Get some more buckets "she says as the visitor struggles to drink her tea and avoid a conversation about the embarrassing scene before  her. Son is not happy as the drips are landing on his computer work .
The valleys I replaced on 3 hot days in January 2012 meant I had to remove the tiles .  . It was 9 am in the morning  I finished the job.  I  was thinking how clever i was NOT to break the tiles as I replaced the valleys over the last few days of incredibly hot weather . The tiles I had taken off were by 9:30 too hot to touch .
The only other 2 valleys on the house were created when I built the extension in the 1990's and were in good nick .( picture )  As always strong hardwood battons - they only thing to carry my weight .
One day might make the roof a better energy source and convert the roof to zincalum . Not so sure about that , as for the last 80 years its not  not the copper wire that hold the tiles on , the tiles or the hardwood,  but the zinc-alum that doesn't last .
We have yet to get some rain to see how good my work on the old part of the building has been.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bright sparks

You may not have noticed, but yesterday here in Colac, it was windy . Primary school teachers sure knew. The kids were wild as they often are when the weather is like this .  They all seem to turn into little Van Degraff generators; ready to spark or repelling everything around them . All three classes were the same .
Managed to get them focused on their ideas of " what's amazing" These 9 YO's came up with "Taken 2, videogames , friends, animals, stars , the human body and the inevitable in each class --"I am" .
 Told them the story of how the warring Maori tribes on north island of NZ in 1800's took a the gospel of Luke in their own language to the south island before any white missionaries arrived there  (now that's amazing)- and how so many Islanders now share flowers not weapons.( daisy chain they like making)
One kid pipes up out of the blue " your amazing" --now I was like a big Van dergraff generator . Later that day one guy paid me (OCRFM)  a three figure sum to promote himself on radio. I thought later , no amount of money would get someone to say what that kid said to me that day. Its a really foul wind that doesn't blow some good into our lives . Keep at it

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's it like to grow up... in Northern Africa , or even Australia today?

Young Somalian woman and I spent a few hours sharing our stories on a long train trip recently. Nothing like totally open conversation between complete strangers to get your perspective and have a good laugh . Nothing like a long train journey to get beyond the chicken feed that makes up too many of our 2 minute conversations; Thanks Naomi (not real name).   We both live right out in the bush and it takes hours to get home from the big smoke.
This week I had the privilege of openly sharing with a young woman who had spent her child hood in war torn Somalia,  but at 29 had now lived most of her life in Victoria.
Despite being brought up in a strict Muslim household, she was like most women of her age in Australia ,she had rejected the idea of celebacy and celebrated in words at least , the freedom of singleness. It wascelar though that she wanted children and was downright afraid of the commitment of marriage, having broke relationships off many times.
Like most women of her age and attitude though, I was afraid for her.  I was afraid for her because her attitude  was not one that clearly built towards the dreams of an independent identity and bringing up children .
Her girlfriends,  it turned out , not unexpectedly from their point of view, were having children deliberately without a man by their side( like 33% of women in Australia today)  All that freedom didn't look like much progress to me . With all her obvious talent, wit and good sense  a good partnership of any kind seemed better  than being "Outnumbered"( that scary but true TV series) .
 "I don't think you would be saying that IVF is the way to go when you have only that pram in your hand " I said; She laughed. She shared with me the terrible names that young women got these days for being easy and it hurt because I knew it from the men's side .   The sexual revolution is a con that only brings both parties down ( "All women are whores and All men are bastards")  I knew that for both young men and women who had been taken in by the con  there was , without faith , a high risk that this lowered view of each other could keep both the young man and woman of today apart .They have less reason , they think,  to get married, so they don't ..
Her younger sister did what daddy wanted and got an arranged marriage. At 14,  Naomi wasn't going to have any of that and told her father so - they haven't talked since.
Her aunties, on the other hand,  were legally partnering one man and making the most of it , each getting a necklace when the other one did . Hearing the options of marriage in her culture I kind of went a bit quiet for a while- that is - about advocating a high view of marriage . Mind you , by asking,  I got her to admit,  by reflecting on the good times,  that even though being a wife of many might not be much fun , marriages and family of any married kind,  wasn't all bad .The trick is to better appreciate how it can really work,  not just name it as a "solution" for either side . Infact,  the more she talked of these 2 wives ,  the more we both realised that we and others would enjoy being  in that household , most of the time  . Sisters and brothers of the same age to play with and the man more or less under control ( her point of course ).  Is the real and undeniable appeal of Islam in the West growing because their family rules are better for families and women in particular?
" One woman  is definitely enough ,I said " reeling from the revelation about the identical 2 gold necklaces . We both  laughed loud enough for most of those in our long carriage to hear us .   She was trying to tell me that the women had it bad,  but I thought the man didn't get out of it easy either .That's marriage for you - not always rational and not always about freedom, but freedom to be and freedom to give your best . Isn't that the sort of freedom that we all need?
Obviously its easy for either side to see the down side of marriage and for our kids to hesitate about taking any sides.( After talking,  I did better see her point about hesitating and breaking off  when relationship things started to get serious because according to her its not " clear" why one should "do it " anyway)

I tried to encourage her to see that faith  was one thing that can make commitment really work- taking things from just the obvious , risky and scary to the edge of the possibly impossible and then onto... the impossible and truly amazing itself . We'd been talking a lot too about how men and women are different and she about how Somalians saw themselves differently from other neighbours . There were years of invasions and cross breeding with Arabs ( rather than Africans ) and all sorts ( my version ) so, as she said , " they were kind of used to saying yes to whomever thought they were in charge at the time". This political and name dropping side to religion, like in Western culture ( but in a different way)  obviously stops many average people taking the radical Jesus and the really radical idea  of a just but loving God seriously. Heavy religious name dropping can just seem to add badly to all the mumbo jumbo - especially the pathetic rationalized  excuse making  and blinkered dismissal of real issues and questions that goes on when religion is only a reason to not think .

Like many young people  , she was tending to see her destiny through the eyes of nature and its limits; Genes , hormones and history. We talked and laughed about testosterone  and adrenalin and,  from my point of view the temptation for girls to see their nature as specifically nurture . Its easy to latch onto one gift or tendency we have and forget the others available and necessary to keep things in balance .  
Men want a role in nurture and its not wise or rational to dismiss the natural differences and diverse potential contributions of male and female ; I said to her that I thought it was the silly simple sexist ideas like  "Its  my job to nurture"  that was turning men away from helping and seeing their potential in parenting,  across the board  . Some silence perhaps .
I moved on to mention that  the book on my seat with a picture of a face with her small nose ( yes we shared that- very typically Somalian ) and my big ears on the front cover, was  a great book updating our understanding of genetics . I showed her the map  of the most likely land bridges that had spread  the human genome across the world . I didn't tell her though that she probably had the most variation in her genome  because she came from where it all started . Such information can prevent you from being humble - always a good thing in my mind... to remain humble that is; Something in me wants to dominate or control though.

I'll finish the story later ......if you ask me too ,.......gotta go for now  . Have a good day

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When moms get together , its a Queens symphony

If you haven't seen this -enjoy 

Friday, May 6, 2011

What do you think you will get for mothers day

Oh I wish - yes that would be nice . And that ......

But how about this - Cool lines that your children would take you seriuosly with like

 "I don't have a tissue with me ......just use your sleeve ";
 "Before you go to bed ,throw me the socks you left on the floor.........yeah good for a few more days", 
"Can i finish off the packet of lollies ? Sure I've always said you'd look better with false teeth. 

Got any others ?
    •  ‎"If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, leave that door wide open behind you! We need fresh air in here."........

      "Why go to school and work so hard, when you can watch television all day?"

      "Turn up that ipod! How in the world can you hear with it turned so low?"

      ."Of course, if everyone is doing it, you should be able to do it too."...

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      Hope you have a great mothers day