Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What was told, THAT

On Sunday I bought a book of Rumi's poetry. Here is a beautiful one:

What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever

was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them

so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is

being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that's happening here.

The great warehouse doors open, I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,

in love with the one to whom every THAT belongs!


When I saw the echidna as I soured through the air on my swing, I sensed the essence of that poem. The beauty of the moment seemed to me a symbol of God's beauty...I sensed a whisper of love in my heart. I suddenly felt embraced by arms the size of the universe, yet small enough to cradle me, a small child in the hands of a grandparent. I am reminded of the words of Jesus, who assures us that God is with us, caring for us - just as she cares for and clothes the lillies of the field (even King Solomon was not dressed as well!) and tends to the sparrows of the air. God breaths love throughout Creation, and as we take our place amongst rose, cypress and sugarcane, it washes over us, as well.


Been thinking about loneliness a bit lately. They said that Urban Seed could be a lonely place for residents, and I didn't quite believe them. But now I understand.

Last Wednesday at house dinner Dave announced that he was going out with Gemma. None of us were surprised, and we chatted about it for a while. Geoff confessed that this was perhaps a bad time to ask, but how was my celibacy going? Last week I had also made an announcement - to have a one month break from men. Hard core, I know. I told him that my celibacy was going very well indeed, thankyou very much, and as I laughed, my laughter turned to tears and before I knew it, I had silent black tears dripping down my cheeks. The silent black tears then turned into sobs, and the sobs turned into deep shudders and before I knew it, Gin was cradling me in her arms. The crying came from somewhere very deep - a place in my gut someplace where I'd stuffed a whole wad of grief and loneliness; out of sight, out of mind. It had been sitting heavy for a while, and then, like the bursting of a dammed up spring, the tears came. Man, it feels good to cry. You realise how connected your body is with your spirit and your mind when you shake and tremble with emotion. Crying is to grief what dance is to joy. Maybe when we're disconnected from our bodies, we feel like we can't cry. Or dance for joy, for that matter.

For a while I felt mellow and very very slow. I went into the bush and found a swing on a tree and let it take me high. Then I saw an echidna waddling along and poking around a tree with its long funny snout. The wind picked up my skirt and I could see my undies. And I could feel God all around me. When I came back to the house, Ray gave me a bunch of wild flowers.

After church on Sunday I told my friend Michael that I was feeling lonely, and he said that he was a chronically lonely person. He said that he'd come to see his loneliness as a wounded part of himself - a part that he needed to embrace and love. While I was trying to solve my loneliness by being around other people more, Michael saw his loneliness as something from within, which needed healing and restoration.

Sophie said that she could write a whole book about loneliness. There was a difference between loneliness and being alone, she said, and the difference came down to whether or not she had a choice of being alone. For Sophie, loneliness came when she wanted a deep connection with someone but for some reason, could not.

Our little conversation expanded into a group discussion, and we realised that we all suffered from loneliness at various times of our lives. As we talked and shared our experiences, I felt a sense of relief that I was lonely, but not alone! I like Michael's ideas about inner wounds, and I am beginning to realise that my loneliness is partly a disproportionate sensitivity to rejection and exclusion. When I am alone, I sense that I am not loved or not worth spending time with. Somehow, I need to re-wire myself.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Man on a Wire

David, Dave and I went to see a movie this evening. It was Dave's birthday and David was shouting him a movie. I tagged along because I need to get out every now and then. After knocking back the suggestion of the 'period drama was feminist overtones' and another film involving underage sex, Dave settled on a doco called 'Man on a Wire' which is about a Frenchman who decides to walk on a tightrope between the Twin Towers of the WTO.

One of the most amazing parts of the film was the personality of the tightrope artist himself, Philippe. David used the word 'meglamaniac', and, if I was in a particularly medical mood, I would have been inclined to agree. But as it happened, Phillipe sucked me in alongside the disciples they showed onscreen, and captured my imagine as I watched him dance, suspended in the sky, between the towers of the Notre Dame, the pylons of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and finally, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. I, too, became a follower of Phillipe - a part of his artistic fantasy world as he strove to achieve nothing else but the beauty of a man dancing against the backdrop of a blue, blue sky. I was fascinated by his feet as he wrapped them around the wire and then delicately, deliberately, picked one up and placed it another step forward. There is something beautiful in perfect balance - though he remains asymmetrical, changing positions constantly, he retained a perfect alignment, like the elements of the universe meeting at his core.

The women in Phillipe's life were followers - their destiny swamped by his; their purpose to support him, as long as he wanted. Phillipe had no room in his life for any desire other than his own. And wouldn't it be easy to fall into a groove chiseled so deeply and passionately by another! Phillipe had a charisma that made people believe that his dream was the only dream that was worth living for. Watching his disciples plan and work and play around him, I sensed their joy in knowing that they were living for a passion, a purpose - even if it was somebody else's. We can't all be visionaries. For some of us, it's good enough to live and work beside those who see beyond - to know that we are part of something bigger than ourselves; beyond this Earth. I can see how cults are formed. For those of us who are unsure, we put trust into those who see the world with clarity and passion.

Monday, October 13, 2008

the umbrella principle

Today at lunchtime Clare and I were commenting on what wonderful weather the day had brought, and how just this morning the clouds were grey and dropping big plops of water. We decided that perhaps it was because so many people had seen the impeding bad weather and thus brought an umbrella. Since it never rains when you bring an umbrella, the collective impact of all the Melburian umbrella-bringing was unprecidented sunshine.

We should utilise this principle and all bring umbrellas on important days when you really don't want it to rain, like Cup Day or weddings of well-liked celebrities. Likewise, the farmers can use the idea in reverse and never bring an umbrella anywhere. Maybe they should introduce laws that prohibit umbrella-carrying in times of drought, and when there are floods, make sure that every citizen, no matter what age and how much they like getting wet, brings an umbrella wherever they go. Potential idea for a paper, I think.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


No gears,
No breaks,
No helmet,
No hands...
No worries mate!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Passive Aggression

Passive aggression is telling your housemate that he takes too long in the shower by turning on all the hot water taps in the house at the 15 minute mark.

Passive aggression is doing all the dishes, but making a point of not doing your housemate’s favourite plastic yellow bowl which is plastered in hardened pools of last week’s chocolate ice-cream.

Passive aggression is insisting on only washing that bowl at the 15 minute mark of your housemate’s shower.

Passive aggression is taking your housemate’s disgusting kiddy bowl and placing it outside of his bedroom door, so that he trips over it when he stumbles out of bed at midday for his shower.

Passive aggression is taking your housemate’s festering ice-cream coated plastic bowl that represents everything that pisses you off about your housemate, and barging in on him at the 15 minute mark of his shower, ripping open the shower curtain and screaming, “WHEN YOU THINK THAT YOU’RE SUFFICIENTLY WASHED, WHY DON’T YOU WASH THIS?!!”…and then turning on all the hot taps in the house.

That’s all I have to say about passive aggression.

On the Verge of a Kiss

Being on the verge of a kiss
Is the no-man’s land
That lies between
And Intimacy.
The loneliness of Freedom;
The stuffy air of Intimacy…
The “verge of a kiss”
Bridges both territories
With neither the sense of being alone
Nor feeling of suffocation.
The “verge of a kiss”
Is the best of both worlds.
Being on the verge of a kiss
Is so blissful
Precisely because it is so short:
Like the climax of an arduous novel,
Or the moment just after you jump,
Before hitting the cold depths of an ocean.
With willful shortsightedness,
I envision the Moment –
The brushing of hands;
The eyes that meet, then avert;
The silence pregnant
With expectations
And uncertainty.
Does he or doesn’t he?
Will she or won’t she?
Betwixt and between.
Not this nor that.
But like the law of gravity,
Or the tension in a piece of music,
What goes unresolved must resolve,
And what is short must end.
For “being on the verge of a kiss”
Will usually end in a kiss.
And if it doesn’t,
It will most likely end in disappointment.
What goes up must come down,
And as it does,
We find our place again
In Intimacy,
Or Freedom.

Friday, October 10, 2008

open mic

It's a Friday night. Weekend nights are becoming my time to blog - when cool, sociable people are out drinking and the like. I was out, and I was going to continue my night and enter higher levels of sociable-ness, but my friends bailed on me. Actually I'm a bit upset right now, to tell the truth. I've had a hard week and I was counting on seeing one friend in particular tonight. I guess the whole thing wasn't as definite in her head as it was in mine. I sent a slightly bitter text message, and she hasn't responded. Oh well. It wasn't a bitchy message - I just wanted to let her know that I thought it was a bit shit. But text messages are so hard to interpret, and sometimes you can get a whole different tone out of something than was ever intended.

Nathaniel and I went to an open mic night at the Art House on Monday night. We'd put the date into our diaries ages ago, and made a pack to write some poetry and then read it out. We'd planned to go to a different venue that we'd read about in the Victorian Writers' Centre magazine, but when Nathaniel go there, he was told that there hadn't been poetry there in 18 months. So he saw this other thing on at the Art House. I got there first. Turned out it was a heavy metal venue. It was dark and dingy and had a slightly creepy vibe. People sat alone drinking pints of beer or in small huddles, not saying much. I put our names down on the list, alongside scores of songwriters on guitars, and the occasional comedian. The MC was pissed, and swaggered onto to stage with a half-full pint of beer in one hand. He introduced the first guy, who got up sang a lot of ooos and aahhs in a minor key and had one eyebrow perminantly higher than the other. He had a lot of tatoos and looked like his heart had been broken a lot. He made a few jokes in between songs that not many people got. The people who followed were in a similar vein - full of angst and depressing themes like drowning one's self and not being able to get out of bed in the morning. I appreciated the comedians - one of them talked about blowing a whale up on a beach in San Francisco; and I remember laughing at the other one, but I can't remember what he talked about. Soon it was my turn, and I read my poems, which I had been quite proud of. The funny one got some laughs, and nobody laughed at the one that wasn't meant to be funny, so I thought it was a success. It was an odd experience, partly because I was the only female performer, and one of only a few women in the room.

After Nathaniel, there was a guy who got up and played the keyboard while doing hip hop lyrics. He did some reggae and other styles as well - he was pretty good. When the whole thing was over I got up and went over to him. I told him I liked his music, especially how it was a mix of different styles. He told me that he liked my poetry, and especially how I tilted my foot to one side as I stood reading. There was some intense chemistry. He told me he worked in a bank. I was intrigued. Nathanel came over and stood there, between us. I made some awkward conversation. The guy didn't say too much, but just kind of smiled a bit. Nathaniel kept standing there. I found out that the guy's name was Stu. He was from New Zealand. Eventually, we didn't know what else to do or say, so we indicated that we'd better go, and Stu dropped some hints about other places he frequented. Asking for a number was all too hard at that point. So kicking myself, I left the building. I said goodbye to Nathaniel outside, then turned around and walked past the door again. Stu came out. Why hello, I said, and he asked if I wanted a lift anywhere. Sure, I replied, and got into his car, no questions asked. Crazy, I know. He drove me to my place. I asked how he liked Melbourne, and he said that he liked it very much, except that he was worried about the water situation. More and more people keep moving here, he said, but there was just not enough water to go round! The way he said it was kind of cute, I thought. Eventually we drove past my place and he pulled over. We sat in the car a while. I giggled and he giggled. It's just like your poem, he said, and it was. The poem I had read was called "On the verge of a kiss". I said, "Do you want to get a drink?" and he paused and said, "Why not?" I told him that we would need to go through my place, which was a church (I live in a church), because I had to turn off the lights. He was intrigued, so I showed him into the sanctuary. Then I got excited and showed him Credo, because I love showing people Credo. I get pretty proud of it, I think. Eventually we went into the laneway. I could tell something wasn't right and he said, "It's late. I have to work tomorrow - can I get your number and we'll do a raincheck on the drink?" Sure, I answered, and gave him my number. We kissed goodbye - on the cheek, that is. And he went home.

And so that was it. That was Monday, and now it's Friday, and I haven't heard a peep. I jump everytime the phone rings - I think I'm really desperate or something. Part of it is the feeling of rejection, I guess. And disappointment, because I kind of liked the guy, and wanted to get to know him a bit better. Sigh. This morning I decided that I needed to get over it. So during my meditation, I tried to give it over to God. It sounds weird, but I lit a candle and then took an earring, and let the earring represent the desperate Stu situation. I put the earring beside the candle. And I felt better about it, but I still check my phone a little more than usual. I think it's all over now, although if I'm completely honest, maybe there's a small glimmer of hope that I've insisted on keeping alive. It's just that the chemistry was really great, and that happens so rarely for me. Oh well, I'm only ever attracted to guys with low self-esteem, anyway, which never really works out. The fact that I was so attracted probably means that Stu has REALLY low self esteem. Better to steer clear. Although if he rings, I'd see him in a flash!

I guess I'm just lonely. How sad. Around so many people, yet still have that empty ache. I just want somebody to hold me and tell me I'm special. Sob. Intellectually, I'm telling myself to sit with my loneliness. Don't fight it - just rest with it. I've started fasting, and in some ways, it's a bit like that. You can be hungry without fighting against the hunger. You can be hungry without dreaming of food. In the same way, you can crave intimacy without fighting the loneliness; you can have that empty spot without dreaming constantly of being held and touched and told lovely things. I want to sit with this feeling, but right now, it's feeling pretty yucky. I just want somebody to curl up next to.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

dinner with Dave

Had dinner with my friend Dave today. Had one of those deep, soul-nourishing conversations. Dave told me about a girl he knew from uni, who was a free spirit with quite left-wing political beliefs, yet held a quite conservative, evangelical theology. The girl turned to him one day, and asked Dave if he was an exclusivist - that is, somebody who believes that if you hold to a religion other than Christianity, you will go to hell. Dave answered that he was not. Presumeably the girl was. He reflected later that many people who hold to a very strict, evangelical theology are actually driven by a fear of hell. People are afraid of even considering truth in other religions, because of the continual threat of hell. This perhaps explained the fact that the girl was quite a free spirit in other areas of her life, but not in the area of religion. I can relate to that myself. Growing up as a Christian, I was taught that we had the truth, and that as long as I stuck with that, I had salvation. To deviate and explore elsewhere would be to risk losing my salvation. ("Once saved, always saved" went the theology that my parents ascribed to, but if you did stray from the bounds of Christianity, it showed that you were never saved in the first place. Better not to stray.)

I reflected on the past few months, where I have been stretching out my arms a little, feeling around the edges of other faith traditions. It has been slightly scary, but I've been able to do it without feeling like I'm about to go to hell. I wondered how this was possible, and I realised that it was because I felt secure in the love that I know God has for me. I know that God won't abandon me because I am peering outside the gates of institutional Christianity. I actually feel like God will honour the fact that I am seeking Truth - that I am attempted to get closer to God. So, I realised, I am able to travel as I do not out of fear, but by being secure in love. And with that, I began to understand how it is said that fear and love are opposites. We should not come to God out of fear of the alternative - we should come because we are beckoned with loving, open arms. Fear is often the result of not knowing. We are fearful that nation that we presume is full of terrorists, because we don't know the people. If we did know them, we would probably relax and realise that they are ordinary people, like us. To get to know them, we would need to step out in love. Love is about connecting; fear is about disconnected ignorence.

We also talked about feeling connected with God and feeling connected with community. I have realised that the two are very much connected. I'm reading a book about mysticim at the moment. Mysticism is the desire to be unified with God. Christian mysticism is different from other forms in that it sees connection with God to be based in community. The two great commandment of Jesus were "Love your God" and "Love your neighbour". It seems that without loving our neighbour, we cannot fully connect with God. Unity with God rests on both aspects. It's a wonderful realisation, because lately I've had a great desire to be unified with God, and it's helpful to know that I can't do it solo! It's also lovely because I am in a strong Christian community. I have realised that some of the times I've felt closest to God has been as we are singing as a group or praying as a group. It makes sense now.