Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Just came across something on another blog, asking you to list your accomplishments. That's not the way I normally think, (it's much easier to list the things I CAN'T do) but it may be an interesting exercise (even off the top of my head)
What can I do?
read and write and count
good speller (not the magic kind)
make a great cheesecake, stirfry or salad
know what most of the stuff on a menu means
cuddle children
pray with people
tell jokes
explain the bible to people
have a good sense of colour for interior decorating
remember the words of lots of hymns
sing in tune
preach (working to get better)
write poetry (again, working on it)
do laundry, shop, drive
keep my husband VERY interested (after 29 years!!)
hold my own in college as a mature age student
make up my own recipes (and they usually work)
carry a calendar in my head

That'll do for now.
What can YOU do?

2 short poems

this one speaks for itself:

Take me today ..

My restless heart
Stilled on Your illimitable peace

My tired hands
Held fast and close by Yours

My hidden anger
Resting on Your everlasting justice

Blanketed by mercy

My defensive tongue
Made vulnerable in praise

My downcast eyes
Raised up to look in Yours


and another on the same theme:

I shall reach out empty hands, and one day You will fill them.
Before the tides retreat forever, and the mountains merge into the sea; You will fill me.
Before the sun forgets to shine, and the moon loses its rhythm, You will fill me,
Morning and evening and the dead parts of the night, I shall know Your peace.

You do not let Your children hunger forever;
Neither does the salt of the sea flow upward to pollute the spring.
The clouds cannot blot the sun, though they pass across its face.
Your love has been proved through generations, it cannot fail me now.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Eagle

and, on the same theme of not being held back from becoming all that one is meant to be, here is one of my own favourite poems. (am I allowed to have favourites in my own poor struggling work? anyway, this one resonates with a very deep place inside me, and uses an image I really identify with)

They shall rise and fly like eagles,
Their wings subdue the air.
The earth shall hold them down no more,
And, some day, I’ll be there.

For these bones shall grow a body,
And the body shall be dressed
With feathers strong and golden,
His fairest and His best.

Theses eyes be no more blinkered,
But gaze towards the Son,
And by that gaze be lifted
Towards the Living One.

These arms, so peaked and puny,
Shall grow to wings, be strong.
This faltering voice be poured forth
In a fierce triumph song.

And the heart that shook in terror,
And sought a place to hide,
Shall joy above the conflict
And on the tempest ride.

He makes me for His purpose,
To see and soar and sing.
He makes the battered sparrow
An eagle of the King.

why men should not be ordained

As a woman in Sydney, I have had to contend all my life with the theology that suggests that we are God-ordained to be second-class citizens in the Body of Christ. For many years i believed it, though it hurt, but gradually, with much reading and thinking, I have changed my mind. The inferior status of women is not what the Bible is saying, it is how the church has chosen to interpret certain passages, in contradiction to other passages of scripture, and plain common sense in practical application (eg at what age can boys in sunday school no longer be taught by women? should teenage boys listen to their mothers?) so I love this gentle satire on the silliness of some of the anti women arguments. I have no idea where this originates, it seems to have become a stateless inhabitant of cyberspace!

“10. A man’s place is in the army.
9. For men who have children, their duties might distract them from the responsibilities of being a parent.
8. Their physical build indicates that men are more suited to tasks such as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do other forms of work
.7. Man was created before woman. It is therefore obvious that man was a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment, rather than the crowning achievement of creation.
6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. This is easily demonstrated by their conduct at football games and watching basketball tournaments.
5. Some men are handsome; they will distract women worshipers.
4. To be ordained pastor is to nurture the congregation. But this is not a traditional male role. Rather, throughout history, women have been considered to be not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more frequently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.
3. Men are overly prone to violence. No really manly man wants to settle disputes by any means other than by fighting about it. Thus, they would be poor role models, as well as being dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
2. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep paths, repair the church roof, and maybe even lead the singing on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the Church.
1. In the New Testament account, the person who betrayed Jesus was a man. Thus, his lack of faith and ensuing punishment stands as a symbol of the subordinated position that all men should take.”

Friday, March 24, 2006

other people's poems

Have just finished watching "in her shoes" with my daughter. Great movie, though a sad reminder that I have never shared a bond like that with my own sisters (we are different creatures, on different planets, and always have been) At the end they read an e e cummins poem that I have never heard of before, but I liked it, so I looked it up. Here it is:

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me(i carry it inmy heart)i am never without it(anywherei go you go,my dear; and whatever is doneby only me is your doing,my darling)i fearno fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i wantno world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)and it's you are whatever a moon has always meantand whatever a sun will always sing is youhere is the deepest secret nobody knows(here is the root of the root and the bud of the budand the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which growshigher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars aparti carry your heart(i carry it in my heart) ee cummings

Also, I came across a verse of a hymn by a guy called Brian Wren a new name to me. I would love to find more of his stuff, it has a lot of pickle appeal. This is the short excerpt that I found

Here hangs a man discarded,A scarecrow hoisted high,A nonsense pointing nowhereTo all who hurry by.Can such a clown of sorrowsStill bring a useful wordWhere faith and love seem phantomsAnd every hope absurd?
(Brian Wren copyright 1973, 1975 CCLI # 1050338)

Great stuff!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

thoughts from my daughter

This is what my daughter M emailed me from uni yesterday. Whether or not you agree with her on abortion or even Chrisatianity, she raises some questions we all need to think about

In the tute this morning, as part of our values & ethics thing, we had tostand on different sides of the room to show our feelings about abortion.It had to be an absolute thing, no in between. In the class of twenty,only three of us were against. All Christians. And in a sense, I foundthat very depressing, that nobody else has any moral framework to valuethe life of a foetus. Some people in the 'for' camp had qualifications,wanting to be in the grey area, one saying he couldn't work with a clientif they weren't involving the father in the decision, another saying shecould never do it herself, but she could understand others doing it. Andwe talked about self-determination, and autonomy, and our ownself-knowledge and how we might have to be paternalistic in high-riskareas like child protection or mental health patients.But somehow the whole experience showed up what is lacking in the socialwork rhetoric, which I consider essential: compassion. We talk about humandignity, and social justice, and service to humanity, but it's all scarilya step away from real love. A sort of righteousness without love. We talkabout respect, and appropriate empathy, and boundaries and trust. Butthere is no love. I only just thought of it, so my thoughts are veryundeveloped as yet, but it is interesting, isn't it?

Is compassion the thing that Christians bring to social work that othersdon't? Surely not. I don't want to think that this is the case, but itlooks like it is. While the students I've met are nice, a lot of them seemvery hard - all for policy change and different politicians, and justiceseems very abstract, and individual people almost non-existant.What bothers me about the abortion thing isn't so much that everyone elsewas for it, as how most of them didn't have to hesitate, as if it was asimple and clear-cut thing, that of course a woman has the right toterminate. (We spoke of termination more than abortion). We on the otherside said it was a complex issue, and under some circumstances...and Ithink they appreciated that, (cue sympathetic nods) but still thought wewere rigid. I remember being shocked in first year that Islam and Judaismare less rigid than Christians about it...they are against it, but muchless strongly, depending on the reasons, and how far along the pregnancyis. But it's like in the secular world nobody thinks it's an issueanymore. I wondered if some of them didn't really care about it, were justgoing along with the rest, being politically correct. I also wondered howmany would have held such views a century ago, when the moral/religiousclimate was so vastly different. ...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

No Story

This poem, on the truth-in-history theme, is one I wrote several years ago. What happens to all the people that the history books don't mention? Who tells the story of other ethnic groups, of women, of slaves, of the poor and the dispossessed, the ones who lost the wars? They are the ones who have:


We are the ones whose pages have stayed blank.
Our words, unheard, must have been vain imaginings --
For nobody responded.
We have no factuality, locked in the caves of silence,
While the world walks past untouched.

Does the invisible man exist?

We fall into the spaces between the words of history:
Like a falling leaf, or a dying star,
We are non-events of life --
Our names unknown and our agony unregistered,
Our pain dismissed as yesterday’s event
(If it ever had a meaning).
The gods of language frown on us.
We do not have the approved punctuation.
(When you write with your heart’s blood the calligraphy is poor)

What then, shall we return to the old allotted places,
Working the works of silence, hiding our stricken faces?

No, we shall write our words large
On the parchment of our labour.
We shall hear each other’s songs, and harmonise in wonder,
We shall reclaim the truth, it is not the merchandise of harlots.
We shall tell our sodden stories, recalling from oblivion
The shape of our darkest terror, the burden of our suffering ..
We shall lift them into the sunlight, these words of each other’s speaking,
And our listening ears bear witness
That we, too, have a story
And a truth requiring telling.

a busy weekend

Have just had one of those weekends that leave me feeling a little tired, and with a few things to think about. Yesterday (saturday) I did a few errands then filled in some time on the computer and found a very good personality test at http://www.personaldna.com/tests.php. if you want to know about me, my results page is http://www.personaldna.com/report.php?&k=JkduRbHxtWADsQh-DM-ADDAA-3cfc. I found it interesting that my highest scores were for feminine traits (whatever they are, can someone actually define?) empathy, spontaneity and imagination. My lowest were for masculine traits (??) and a crashing zero for authoritarianism. I didn't get much in confidence either, or trust (not surprising, that one, considering my history!)

In the afternoon we took our son (P) and DIL (V) to see a play in the city : The History boys, a performance which was touring from England. Raised all sorts of questions really, but some pretty fundamental ones on the nature of truth, and what motivates your choice of paradigm for understanding the raw facts. This has all sorts of interesting implications, for personal life and how you interpret your own experiences (isn't that what narrative therapy is about?) but also I think for the presuppositions we bring to our hermeneutics (eg the egalitarian/hierarchical debate, which is very much on my mind) Afterwards we had the kids back for ordered in chinese, then watched old episodes of The Saint and The Avengers on tv.

This morning went to a friends church and heard the best sermon I've heard in a very long time. His basic contention (based on segments of Mark 9 and 2 Corinthians 4) was that the world's view is that we get and exercise power in order to obtain glory. The biblical viewpoint is that we start out by having glory, and because we have it already, we are free to exercise power as servanthood. Yet most people still go at it the wrong way round.... it occurred to me that a good definition of abuse would be when people exercise power to take away another's glory. Then we went out to lunch (A &I) with old friends. Tonight I have not only done the normal things but washed my hair and baked a quiche (salami, tomato and parsley) ready for an early start tomorrow's. We have the opportunity to hear the theologian NTWright while he is in Sydney. the downside is that, to meet the friend I am going with, I have to leave home at 7:40. I'm normally just getting up then!!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Kissing Life

Here's another poem that is a kind of credal statement, a declaration of my goals and determinations. Gentler, more reflective than "Storming", it is, nevertheless, equally certain of this-is-who-I-am-and-what-I-live-for.

Kissing Life

I have seen laughter, where the petals touch the dew
I have seen the tiny stars dance, in the quivering night air
I have tasted springtime in a leaf of herb, and summer in the lush of fruit.
I have kissed life, hesitantly, and found it shy and tender.

I shall not grow old, while my spirit still is seeking
Whatever the body fails, the heart is still a pilgrim
To have hands is to reach out, to have eyes is to learn vision
To have knees is to tremble with the wonder and the worship.

I have set my feet upon a path and my soul shall not depart from it.
Whatever the cost, I shall take it, for the price has been paid already
And the shedding of self is the doorway, and loving past fear is the journey
And my hands are held fast by the hands, that were pierced long ago for my holding.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I am returned

I am always moved by the beauty of the world -- I encountered God there years before I knew Him through doctine or relationship! And since today we have had a little rain (something which we drought-stricken truly appreciate) and I can see the rainbow lorrikeets in the garden, I will include this simple little poem (if it is a poem) about how loveliness always turns my heart back to the One who is its source.

I am Returned ..
Let Your beauty lie across the land,
A quilt of light to warm the soul:
And I am returned, and I am returned, to You.

Let the sunlight kiss the leaves translucent green,
Let sudden butterfly transfix my vision:
And I am returned, and I am returned, to You.

In the smile of a child, in the soft rain’s blessing,
In the quick song of the water, or the murmur of the sea:
Thus I am returned, I am returned to You.

In the catch of the rainbow,
The simplicity of flowers:
Still I am returned, I am returned to You

In the failing of the flesh, the relinquishment of seeming,
With the certainty of love, and a faith that sees through shadows:
I will return, I will return to You.

Preaching for Pioneers

Had a conversation with someone yesterday about the nature of preaching -- I must be a very naive L-plate preacher, because a lot of things I find other theological students struggling with are issues it never occurred to me existed. I have a simple approach to preaching, my job isn't to prove how much I know, or dazzle anybody, or provide the most watertight exegesis of any particular passage (as if I could!!). Consequently I'm not tempted (like most of my fellow students seem to be) to drown my audience in information overload, because I'm starting from the other end: What do I want them to understand/do about the subject I'm addressing? If it builds toward that goal, it is included; if it would distract people from the main point, it is left out.Rightly or wrongly (and who knows? we seem to each have our own theology of preaching -- there is no one definition of what the perfect sermon is supposed to look like) my sermons are shortish, tightly structured, very careful to have biblical backing for every assertion I make, and with one or two developed analogies, since I really believe that picture language is what people will remember long after the logical propositional points havce been forgotten. it is our hearts, not our opinions, that most need to be changed and transformed! For instance, my last sermon, on living purposefully, challenged people at the end to decide which kind of boat they were: 1)safely anchored, 2) having a great time on board and not caring where they're going 3) haven't left the shore because they're constantly redecorating the boat 4) have a strong motor and have decided exactly where they're going, or 5) put up their sails, to go where the wind of God takes them, with the cross as their mast and the bible as their chart to keep them from the rocks. My next sermon (on evangelism:NOT my subject but that's another story, this will be a very different take on evangelism fromwhat most of them have ever heard) is going to challenge them to be car sponges that stay fully immersed in the bucket ( I do enjoy this!!) Talking to my friend yesterday, I remember the stuff I had read on settler/pioneer theology, i found it at
In this paradigm, the role of the clergyperson (make that preacher) is to be the cook who serves up the meat the Holy Spirit brought. As i said to him, when I'm cooking for guests, I make sure there is enough to feed them, but I don't stick in every ingredient I can find in the pantry. I carefully select (and make sure i include salt -- must think through that analogy!) the seasonings, I do not want my guests to either spit it out in disgust or suffer indigestion after. I want them to be properly nourished, and to enjoy the process! But maybe that's just a pickle-approach!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Soul's Antipodes

Here is another poem about the journey of becoming (a favourite theme, I must admit!). This one articulates some of the fears and risks -- when we struggle to leave taught dysfunctions behind and grapple with the truth of our lives, facing the fact that many of the things that have held us in bondage are falsehoods perpetrated by those who needed us to be what they required rather than what we were born to be, there are tremendous emotional risks. We are venturing into foreign country, truly the other side of the world where the rules work differently.

I cannot name the soul’s antipodes
The places I have not been are uncharted regions
Full of rumour and guesswork:
Here there be dragons!

What happens if I fall off the world’s edge?

Sensible men, guarded with careful eyes
Put up danger signs on the beaches,
Finding this land sufficient,
Certain that strange new spices will disrupt the blood,
And that equatorial heat is a consuming conflagration.

I tremble at my own temerity.

But there is no home for me here,
I must put out my cockleshell boat
On the waves of my terrible fear
Not knowing what storms may await me
In the realm where the octopus dwells,
Where whales tower like cities
And legends may leap into life.

And know, as I push off from shore,
That those who take this journey
Do not come to the complacent coasts again.


To continue with what i was saying about books yesterday, today I thought I would list some of my favourite writers.
Top of the list would have to be CS Lewis; I read my first narnia book when i was 9 (and the Narnia books were pivotal in my life)his science fiction when I was 12, and started getting into his theology when I was 15. he has been a lifelong ifluence on me, not that I agree with him on everything (for instance, I have different views on Purgatory, war and the role of women) but I love his blend of common sense and sensitive imagination -- he talked my language! Tolkien, of course, has been another favourite, I keep promising myself that i will buy a new copy because the one I bought with my last academic prize money from school is falling apart.

F&SF: some of my favourites are perhaps a little unconventional for a Christian, but I like good, intelligent storytelling, not cliches, it doesn't mean I have to agree with the author's world view. Among my favourites are Sara Douglas, Juliet marillier, Sheri S Tepper and David eddings. Currently i am reading a Tad Williams, another good writer. There are also a pair of books (The Sparrow, and The Children of God) by someone called mary Doria Russell that are among the most shocking and glorious I have ever read.

Detective stories: well, I cut my teeth on Agatha Christie, and she's still not a bad filler for a rainy afternoon, but amongst the oldies I also enjoy ngaio Marsh, and especially Dorothy Sayers. among the moderns my favourites are PD James and Elizabeth George. Another category I particularly enjoy are historical detective stories -- I have the whole set of Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael books. I also particularly enjoy the work of PC Doherty, Peter Tremayne and margaret Frazier (though her nun-detective is a bit weepy and trembly for my taste!)

I also have a collection of a wide variety of novels based on different interpretations of the Arthurian legend, a subject that has fascinated me ever since I read TH White's The Once and Future king, when in high school.
And of course, i haven't even touched on subjects like poetry and theology yet!

Friday, March 10, 2006

The hug

And, talking of childhood loneliness, I wanted to include a poem about a great antidote to loneliness (well it is when it's meaningful and not just manipulative, or an empty social gesture) it's not a great poem, and perhaps it's silly to even try to analyse something so personal and non-verbal, but, speaking as a naturally affectionate person who had a very UNaffectionate childhood, I think hugs are something worth celebrating!


In the held warmth of this desired embrace
I am at rest. Your kindness touches me.
This, too, is evidence of given grace:
I, by your affirmation, am set free.

For, when all words are said, I simply stand
In frail humanity, to be your friend;
But, by the willing outreach of your hand,
You give a gift on which I can depend.

I would adorn you with the tenderness
Of my affection, gentle and sincere;
Gift that my clumsy tongue cannot express,
Gesture that says I hold you very dear.

After that treasured moment, we will take
Our separate pathways with a warmer glow.
For love has eased the solitary ache.
There is a healing, kindness can bestow.


As yet I haven't mentioned books, or how important they have always been to me. As a child I was lonely, I always made friends at school, but my parents didn't encourage socialising out of hours, and my sisters were too distant from me in both age and personal interests to ever be playmates (we still have almost nothing in common -- my mother once described her 3 daughters, in order, as a bookworm, a tomboy, and a little girl who played with dolls. I, of course, was the bookworm (though I'm not sure it's very flattering to be called a worm!) I have never had the slightest interest in either sport or handcrafts, I'm an uncoordinated sort of person, so have no skills, and purely physical activities bore me to screaming point. Books were my refuge, my pleasure, and my education. I could read, haltingly, before I went to school, and fluently by age 6. As I grew older I immersed myself in books, i didn't own many, but there was always the school library, and when I got older, my father's extensive collection (about half of which were to my taste). My other source was my maternal grandmother (Gayga), also an avid reader. I always loved fairy tales (I think I skipped the stage when you're supposed to reject them) and when I got older, I added fantasy and science fiction (of particular kinds) to that genre. I love a good historical novel, and detective stories (the cosy murder mystery sort, not hardboiled thrillers) are other favourites. I have favourite poets, and, of course, my personal library contains a lot of theological/devotional works and psychological works, especially on abuse issues and similar. next time I'll talk about particular authors ..

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Storming in the eye of life

I wanted to include this poem, which I wrote probably4-5 years ago, because it has become a sort of goal statement for my life (if you can call a poem that -- maybe I mean vision statement, I'm just not up on corporate-speak, thank goodness! The strange title is deliberate, I took the idea of "living in the eye of the storm", ie, staying safe and placid in a tumultuous word, and turned it upside down. As a child I was taught to live by fear, and wasted too many years of my life trying to live safe. Now, in whatever way it works out, i want to live large, by faith, no longer circumscribed by negativity, but willing to risk in order to become. (well, that's where I'm aiming, not where I've reached ..)


I shall bear no longer with the tiny life:
The small frozen circles, careful not to offend.
I have supped too long on little thinking
Caution and fear, negotiating hedges of memory,
Diminishing myself to be less than what I am.

I must drink life now before the cup is passed from me,
Now and whenever, when my heart remembers passion,
I must claim it as my own, rebuilding my own birthright
Which I never had before.
This is blood in my veins and I matter.
Being Another’s handiwork, I need not apologise for being,
But take my place in the universe, shrinking no longer.

I would laugh with the wind in my hair, being glad of its muscle.
I would choose good boldly, conquering my back-looking
With the power of choice, and the choice to accept my power;
Being no longer afraid that all strength must be evil.

I will let my tears become a sacrament,
And my hands be the hands of a Doer.
I will train my tongue in Truth, let my ears be the ears of a Listener,
Listening to small sounds and great, and refusing no understanding.
Let my knees be the knees of a servant, bending to cherish,
Let my eyes gaze upwards, fixed on unnamable Beauty,
And my feet tread firmly, finally shod in sureness.

I shall live, being glad of life, having faced down its terror,
Knowing that I am small, but my shadow enormous
When the Light from beyond all worlds is blazing on me.
I shall take up the gift refused, become all I can be,
And enter the gates with my trumpet stretched out and blaring.

Babies and other mysteries

Hmm .. I'm not sure about being creative (see comment on previous post), but I think to some extent I was forced to be, since I grew up in a family that didn't believe that children needed to be told ANYTHING, and i was a child of "'satiable curiosity", like the elephant's child in Kipling's Just So stories. So I had to make up my own answers. One of the clearest examples I remember come from when I was a bit over 4 and my next sister (R) was born. I had no idea where babies came from,had no idea even that there was one on the way, all I knew is that I was woken up in the middle of the night and dropped off at my grandmother's (with no explanation) and the next morning my grandmother had a phonecall and told me that I had a new baby sister. The only other things I knew were that they got the baby in hospital, and my mother had taken a suitcase with her. So what did I cocnclude? that when you wanted a baby (and I suspected it cost a lot of money) you went to hospital with a set of white knitted baby clothes, laid them out properly in a bassinet, and then the hospital got a brown medicine bottle of stuff and poured it into the clothes, and, because doctors were such clever people, it turned into a baby!!! Yeah, I wish ....

Monday, March 06, 2006

Oh wigwams!!

Was talking to my daughter about things I used to say as a child, and it's amazing what one recalls ... When I was a little girl I'd never heard anything that today I'd call a real swearword (The first time I ever heard obscenities was when I was about 16 and joined the church youth group -- the guys there used language I'd never heard before in my life), the worst word I'd ever heard was bl**dy, and I'm not even sure most modern Aussies (not counting my mother or the prohibitions she drummed into me) would even think that was really a swearword. So I thought that words like 'damn' and 'blast' were very wicked, but I wanted to have something dramatic I could say when I got upset, that I couldn't possibly get into trouble for. So, after long hard thought (ok, a day or 2, but remember, I was only 5 at the time!) I came up with my own special expression: when i was upset I would go round saying "Oh wigwams!" I have no idea how long that phase lasted, but I'm quite sure that this was something I NEVER got into trouble for saying! (though I don't think I said it in adult hearing very often, just in case ..) When I told my family about this, for some reason they found the picture of a cross little pickle going round saying "Oh wigwams!" incredibly funny ..

Another thing was that the adults around me were in the habit of saying "Heavens!" when they were surprised. But of course, by now I was on a roll, and I couldn't just repeat what they said. But my new expression didn't last very long, for some reason they all laughed at me when I put on my most grown up voice and said, "Heaven on earth above earth!"

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Pickle Factory

This, I hasten to explain, has nothing whatsoever to do with the pickle jar. (Or does it? How much of our lives are truly coincidental?). This was a blast from the past of my childhood that came up in conversation with a friend a couple of days ago. When we were kids, my mother's chief "management tool" was to utter wild threats that scared us into keeping in line, lest the unthinkable happened, (not that she needed much, we were all 3 of us very scared, obedient little girls, I don't think she ever appreciated how easy she had it compared to many parents, but since she really wanted little mechanical dolls, not flesh and blood children at all, I guess it was very tough for her) For instance, I was always told that if I didn't do exactly what she wanted, they wouldn't keep me any longer but would send me to live at boarding school, where I would be made to do what I was told (she made it sound like a reform school straight out of Dickens!). If I spent to much time with my head in books I'd end up in the local mental hospital. If I didn't wash my hands, I'd catch hepatitis and die. If I played in the street a nasty man would kidnap me (but apparently only if I played, nasty men don't seem to go after little girls who are walking those same streets doing errands for their mother ... go figure! Maybe they're only attracted to kids who are enjoying themselves?) But her favourite, repeated almost every day of our school lives, and the one my sisters remember as well, was that, if we didn't do our homework, we'd end up "peeling onions in a pickle factory" The ultimate life of tearful drudgery, I suppose ...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Gull

a different kind of poem today -- I wrote this one years ago. We were walking along a beach, with a fresh breeze blowing in from the sea, and the huge clouds of an approaching storm rising inky-dark over the ocean. It was late afternoon, and the sun was behind us (inland -- we are on the east coast of Australia), but its raysilluminated a gull that was flying high into the gathering wind against the backdrop of clouds. This was an attempt to capture the experience ..


To watch the gull rise, sharp in vivid white,
Against the greyness of the storm-dark sky:
Tiny in its defiance, swift and bright:
Against the lowering heaviness, to fly!

To rise, unburdened by the shackling earth,
Into the heart of storm. To lift brave wing,
Untrembled, in the place of tempest's birth.
To rise, to fly, to soar, and (yes!) to sing!

I am of earth, but oh! my spirit lifts
In a fierce joy. The wind is in my face.
The winging and the singing are His gifts:
The sweet empowering of blessed grace.

Stretched then, taut-raised twixt sky and earth and sea,
I shall rejoice to be what He has made.
His are my wings. His soaring love for me
Has called me forth, and holds me unafraid.