Looking you in the eyes

I was out there watching my friends (and strangers) running today. When I run, I don’t get to look into your eyes. Today I did. You are amazing. I know a few of your stories – of cancer, divorce, violent partners, years of illness, depression, anxiety, self-doubt and the list goes on. We have talked about them as we have run, or online. But today I got to look into your eyes; friend and stranger, struggler and battler, laughing … and in agony.

For some of you, running is the escape … or a few minutes / hours when you don’t have to hear the screaming, or the humming of the blood transfuser. Some of you left your black dog at the start line … a precious few hours of freedom. For others you want to touch your mortality as a reminder of ‘that moment’. For others, running gives you so much more than the energy it takes from you, and will help you face tomorrow. And for some, its the only place you feel any sense of pride in yourself. All that is ok.

Whether you finished today or not, walk (or shuffle) proudly tomorrow. You are amazing – each one of you. Your eyes can tell a different and new story to the world.


Putting down the No More Gaps

I’ve recently noticed myself opening Social Media feeds more and more; like a nervous tick, an automatic reaction to … being left alone for more than 5 seconds \ a need to be distracted at work \ standing in line (even if that line is 2 people long – including me). It’s become like a ‘No More Gaps’ for my attention, or an addiction to short bites of media, opinion or sensation. I’ve drawn it in caps (SM) because it feels like that’s what its become – Capital. A place to live, rather than a tool to use, a demand rather than a choice … (Is this The Matrix?). Maybe I’m pitching this too high; or maybe not.

But SM has become a place for being distracted, or getting lost in unhelpful or negative threads. I’ve reacted to news bites or people’s responses to stories – even though I know that they don’t represent the full story. I’ve also become increasingly negative or saddened by the stories I’ve read. The Pell / Trump / Morrison cycle has not helped, as I’ve found myself drawn into stories that perpetuate that negativity, or distress.

Ash Wednesday – the beginning of Lent – is my opportunity to reset. I’m dropping off Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) until Easter Monday. I’ve wanted to do this since the Cambridge Analytica saga 12 months ago (yes, it was ONLY that long ago). It’s a reset that I’ve increasingly felt is necessary for my soul.

I know I’ll miss some connecting moments with the running community, and witty tweets from friends and colleagues. I’ll miss the inspirational stories of fire-fighters and neighbours battling this current round of bush fires.

I’m curious to see what will replace this nervous twitch – and what others will notice. I hope I’ll be more attentive to the world around me, to people whom I care about and to God.

So I’ve taken the Red Pill, put down the No More Gaps, and deleted the apps from my phones and iPad … lets see where the Rabbit Hole leads, and what the cracks reveal.


What I post on Social Media is My View.


My View
from the mountain top,
from the valley;
of my running shoes
and steering wheel
and potholes on the road of …
Life from the train and tram and running track;
These words and images are brought to you courtesy of
clouded, shaded, rose-coloured, trail-dusty glasses.
My View.

(I see Box Hill station
– a transit point on the way to work / to a meeting / to a friends place … ;
others see Chinese community / Immigration problem / Race and threat / and …

These words and images are
My View
of protests and government,
refugees and climate change and racism,
the environment and food,
the Way and the One,
wrong and …
right now this is My View.

But my view can also be felt in Someone Else’s View – #retweet.
Is that #repost actually mine? My View? my opinion?
Someone else’s words, this ‘Not-my-view’ repost;
it’s part of a discussion
in which My View changes
(and you are invited to help me see Your View).
And then
what I posted is No Longer
My View.
(Disclaimer: Information was correct at the time of posting)

So please don’t attribute these words to my
Running club(s)
Family name
Residency status
Post code
Or the car I drive.

This is my view.


Love Never Ends

This will be my first Mother’s day without you. The last time I held you, you died as we tried to save you.   Today I can’t call you to wish you happy mothers day, but I have the memory of all those times I did – and when you called for birthdays, special days, and ‘I miss you’ days.

‘Love never ends’: You loved us every day of our entire lives. You taught us to love – to love God, each other, our neighbours (you could – and would – talk to anyone in the street, supermarket, cafe …). You taught us –  we love because you loved.

I don’t love as you did: when it comes to loving I have an exception list.  But every time I talked to you about someone I struggled to love, my exception list grew shorter.  You made me see people differently.

Yes, there are some things we never understood about each other – we both changed and grew: Never apart, just differently.  When I was a child, I learned from you; as I grew up, I used that knowledge to make my own way in life.  And so it was love that held us together when I joined the Methodist Church, when you went overseas following Dad, when our family moved to Auckland and then on to Melbourne.

Like trying to fix your hair when the mirror is always fogging up, we don’t  always see clearly, we don’t always understand.  I suspect that you can see clearly now; knowing and being known fully, completely now that your race has been run. Or walked, in your case.

I can’t forget that last night I held you, Mum, as we tried to breathe life into your dying body.  But there is So Much More that you have given me to live, love and believe.

‘And now faith, hope, and love are alive; and the greatest of these is love.’

With a nod to 1 Corinthians 13.8-13

transformed christmas

Her wrinkled hands touched the tree
as though she held eighty Christmases in a touch.
And then she turned to us and smiled
and thanked us that she was here now,
celebrating with us the birth of her Lord.
Turning again to the tree, she drew from her bag
the gifts that she offered,
and bending slightly, she placed them under the tree.
No gold, no frankincense, no myrrh
were greater gifts than hers
who gave all that she had
in celebration of his birth.*

*“In Celebration of his birth” Ann Weems Kneeling in Bethlehem.

This Christmas there will be a photo of my parents near our Christmas tree. We had hoped to be together this year, but they are instead with the Lord they loved and served for so many years. Their deaths have completely changed Christmas for me this year, as I reflect on becoming (in a very real sense) an orphan. So the table will be smaller, we will miss Mum’s homeliness in her kitchen, and Dad’s silly antics (and his monobrow!) There will be moments of pause and sadness and tears. I won’t deny that a deep sadness will accompany me this Christmas.

The four advent themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love are important in their essence because they touch our hearts at times when we are hope-less, rest-less, sad, and without love. Their importance is raised off the pages of a book or liturgy precisely when they are most desperately needed. Christmas is one of those times.

So will that grief be the only story in my Christmas? I hope not. Because Christmas is not primarily about my happiness, nor is its purpose to fulfil my needs. Family is important at Christmas, but Christmas is not ‘about family’. While children bring delight and wonder and boundless joy, Christmas is not ‘for children’. Christmas is not only to be observed when my world is complete enough, I am worthy enough or when I feel like it.

The Christmas story urges us to take a moment to lift our gaze off ourselves. Whether we look the baby in the face with the shepherds, or follow the wise men and generously give something of value to another, or gaze in stunned wonder with Mary and Joseph at the scene of millions of people at worship … the Christmas story does not seek to deny my grief, but to touch its reality with hope, peace, joy and love.

Can I allow the Christmas story to transform my story – like the woman in Ann Weems’ poem who lovingly, joyfully and carefully participated in Christmas for others, and for One Other?

I hope that this year, The One who gave everything might meet your gaze or your grief or your doubt with hope, peace, joy and love.

living in exile

To the exiled children of God,
who feel there is something wrong in this world,
Beloved, Sons and Daughters of the living God
Welcome home.

171126 jesus-in-the-breadline

To those who struggle to find place for their faith
among so many unanswered questions –
When the God we were promised doesn’t deliver what
we expect
Welcome home.

To those who struggle with life
living with broken lives and families
and when all you expected of life
is torn away from you.
Welcome home.

This may not be the world you expected
or wanted
Beloved, Daughters and Sons of the living God.
But with God’s love,
and a community of grace
together, we can make it

with a nod to a prophet called Jeremiah who offered hope to people forcefully removed to a new home (Jeremiah 29:4-7, the bible)

a thin silence

in this Silence
you might hear a pin drop,
or you might hear God
You might hear your breathing
or you may hear the Spirit
You may hear your neighbour
or you may hear Christ.
You may hear a magpie
and you may hear the Creator
You who are Beloved of Christ,
these are the sounds of God
inviting us into a deeper encounter
with God in a thin silence.
Will I pause … to notice them?
Might I stop.     To hear them?
Could I be still,
to listen to them?
And might I invite them into the deepest parts of my soul,
just as they invite me into encounter with the Divine?
This is the invitation:
to participate in silence, stillness, listening,
that we too might hear the sound
of God in a thin silence.
(with a tip of the hat to a bloke called Elijah in 1 Kings 19.12 in the Bible)