Just do it.

There is the increasing conviction within me that humans are fickle beings, and mostly unaware. We jump from philosophy to philosophy, idea to idea, thought to thought, emotion to emotion. And we do this largely without a great deal of realisation or clarity. At least I do.

I am noticing with great regularity the inconsistency of my thought and emotional life from one moment to the next.

And to my shame I am noticing a stubbornness that rears its ugly head when confronted with another person’s ideas no matter whether they are similar or different to mine. So I am noticing a personal agenda that gets in the way of thinking that isn’t even clear in the first place.

So I am learning to think less. Ironic, I know.

And to just do more. To embrace more. Not in a fashion that I would make me fickle, but open.

To plunge into the unknown, not with trepidation but with boldness. That’s the ideal anyway.

And there is a marvellous peace that comes with a letting go of needing to think and work everything through. And a freedom to live in the now, to “smell the flowers”. A freedom to give the person in front of me the full and undivided attention that he/she deserves.

Perhaps Nike has been onto something all along.

And it occurred to me this morning

What if the man who speaks flowers into existence for the simple fact that he greatly enjoys them

speaks mankind into existence for the same reason

that is: he creates each of us to exist but for a moment in time to simply enjoy us

as he creates a flower for its beauty and fragrance, each unique in it’s own individuality, so he creates each one of us

and if we would simply yield as a flower yields to sun and the rain and the soil

he would make us beautiful in his time

more beautiful than we could ever imagine

so start here my king my lord and my friend. start with me. start with my heart.

This is a flower I bought last week from Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Just imagine with me for a minute…

What kind of a man would make a thing like this? And what was going through his mind?

A thing so meticulously detailed and breathtakingly beautiful, though incredibly fleeting and fragile.

And indeed imagine the kind of man who would make not just one of these beauties but a thousand million billion of these fleeting wonders. The vast majority of which are not seen nor appreciated by human eyes.

What fascinates me is what kind of a man would be so shamelessly extravagant with something so seemingly fickle and temporal.

A man of extremes no doubt.

And wild in his delight and joy.

A man who makes things not so much for function but simply for beauty and for delight.

A man you would describe as fierce and gentle. Fierce and fiery in his desire though gentle and tender in his touch.

Not to mention he would be a man with the finest sense of colour coordination in the world.

And this would be a man so unlike any person I have ever known.

 

On Changing the world

“Look Hannah, I’m digging up the world!”

This was the exclamation of a child in PNG as he was digging in some dirt.

And it just struck me as an incredibly profound statement. A beautiful perspective that belies truth held with a healthy optimism, though most adults would probably dismiss it as innocently silly or naive.

The problem with most adult minds is that our perspective is tainted by a cynicism that kills hope. We also have been taught to value the big and the flashy. The immediate and the pleasurable.

And it takes a paradoxical understanding of all of life’s activities to be healthy and productive. That there is huge significance to every insignificant thing we do. And it is incredibly interesting to me that the child is able to hold the paradox in his mind with such ease.

And I am reminding myself this morning that the most significant actions and decisions, thoughts and words are perhaps the ones that seem the most insignificant. The world is there for us to change it. But it is to be done one thought at a time. Perhaps this is what Jesus also meant in a roundabout way when he said, “whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do it for me.”

We all grow up wanting to change the world. But we fail to realise that we must do it, nonchalantly, moving one pile of dirt at a time.

 

 

Birthday ruminations: Let the wild dancing begin

A few thoughts after 29 years in this party we are all invited to…

“The man who seeks to gain his life will lose it, and the one who loses his life for me will gain it”

There is something that taps deeply into what it means to be a human in this statement. The depths of this statement will never be plumbed but here’s a thought it has sparked: this statement finds expression in the necessity for a human being to not take himself too seriously. I’ve been learning lately a little bit more about what this means. And I’ve thought that, ironically, it is the person who takes himself far too seriously that commits suicide.

And so life should and could be more about the fun that you have along the way. Rather than getting somewhere. The adventure is in the journey. And if I’ve forgotten or been too serious about it all to have fun and be silly then I’ve also missed out on a big part of God’s plan for me. Because in fact he is not mostly sad or mad – but I think that he is most glad and happy when he sees his son laughing and silly.

This is the paradox though – you need to invest yourself in all of your pursuits wholly and unreservedly, and yet have the freedom to hold it all lightly, to laugh at yourself and others along the way. Because actually, the one who has the freedom to be silly is the one who is able to invest himself and do the journey most effectively.

And in this party you can mope on the sidelines, or you can suck it up. You can throw your fear to the wind, and begin to step and move your body to the music of the dance-floor. And perhaps you might then throw caution to the wind. And whirl and spin and move and jump. And laugh into the air. Like a wildman. I know what I’m going to be trying to do every year after my 29th.

For there is a pulsing, flowing and freeing melody that a Man 2000 years ago danced perfectly to. And though today some are out of sync, it is a sound that emanates through all things that cannot be ignored. It is a beautiful sound. More beautiful, more alluring, more freeing, more life-giving than anything we have ever heard. And soon, so very soon, every heart and mind and soul and dog and tree and atom and quark of the universe will be dancing to it’s rhythms and flows.

 

 

 

The Beautiful Person #2

Of late I have been looking inside of myself to find a bit of a jungle. Right and wrong perspectives and ideas, right and wrong thoughts and emotions all intertwined and mingling.

…but for the grace of God eh? At every point in my life. Every moment has been and is filled with beauty, and every day begins with mercy.

And we are much more the affective beings than we understand ourselves to be. For so long, human beings have supposed that health and wealth and life come purely from right thinking, and from knowing the right things. I am suspecting that, fundamentally, this is the wrong way to understand the human being.

And this is what I notice from my introspection – that there is a force at work much more powerful than having the right thoughts in my mind.

It is my emotions.

Emotions are what drive our behaviour regardless of any other factor (our thoughts, our gender, the time of day). For many people their behaviour is actually in contradiction with their thoughts and words – purely because they are unaware and blind of the true driving force. Indeed whether you are aware or not of what you are feeling, sooner or later, you will do and behave as you feel.

And a person with the emotional intelligence to know what they are feeling can only cover it up in pretense for so long (if it is the wrong kind of emotion). It is too tiring an activity to not live from your heart for any extended period of time – and not the way the human being was designed to live.

 

So what if I began to look at life and events and situations through this one priority – how is this making me a more beautiful person?

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

For perhaps this is God’s will for us above and beyond all else: that we be conformed to the image of his Son. My point is that perhaps this is more of an emotional, psychological state than a place of acquiring theology and knowledge.

What if I were to apply this one overarching priority to my life – regardless of the money, regardless of the time, regardless of the cost – if it is making me a better more beautiful person then I will pursue it.

And while seemingly selfish, it is a selfishness that has complete selflessness as it’s end goal. For the beautiful person is not selfish at all.

And what a beautiful paradox. What incredible freedom.

 

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart

 

Money #2

It seems to me, that to have and use money in a healthy way involves understanding it in two ways that is a bit of a brain smash (paradox).

The triviality of money
There is a sense in which you need to spend as if it doesn’t matter. You spend money like you would drink water perhaps. You drink without reservation when you are thirsty, and you use water in this sense until you are hydrated. And so it is with using money. If a family member is sick, or in danger, the dollar amount to get them out of sickness or trouble is irrelevant. You spend it. You loan it. You sell your house and live on the street if it must be done. There is truth and there is reason to this. This perspective highlights the fact that money is only so useful as the things it gets us – the medicine or knowledge it gets us or the time it saves us. There is no inherent value in itself.

The preciousness of money
The other sense involves treating money as a scarce resource. Indeed the great majority of the world’s inhabitants must do so. And frugality is not a bad thing. There is a prudence and a wisdom to using money sparingly. Indeed it’s usefulness is remarkable. No other resource has the power to give us gratification or life (food/shelter) with such immediacy. And seemingly, it has the power to provide things like no other resource we have. And so the paradox of having and using money in a healthy way requires that we do attach preciousness and value to it.

 

And I notice with great frequency the incredible inconsistency in my thinking about money. Sometimes I use large amounts of it without batting an eyelid. And yet at other times, the pain of using a small amount is enough to distract me from being fully engaged in the very situation I used it to create. What an irony!

So this part of my struggle with money – to treat it with the utmost levity, and with the utmost respect. And I think that if I were able to master the art of using it (for it seems that it is quite a bit of an art) then I would be a much happier, generous, wise, engaged, and beautiful person.

 

See post 1 for more thoughts on this topic