I have had a pretty busy time since arriving back from Europe about seven weeks ago. Even though I have only two jobs instead of three there has been people visiting from overseas, seminars, funerals and courses to teach. I have also been north to help out at Mowanjum again, an aboriginal community near Derby. My study, which has never looked particularly organized, had become totally out of control. So I have been slowly trying to whip it into shape these last few days. Of course the problem is that I find bits of paper which are interesting, articles I have collected, some I have written and some from others which slows the process. I find quotes, readings and poems that stop me and make me think.
Here is something I wrote some time ago, but would like to share. I have edited it just a little!
I have become a big fan of Peter Mayer. He was the song writer who you saw a couple of weeks ago if you were here, on the DVD “Holy Now”. He sings about God, a God found in all of creation, a God who is like a river to immerse yourself in rather than a rock to cling to. His God is a God of everyone and everything and the church he belongs to is a church of the earth. He sings to me about my God, who more and more is not found somewhere else but here and now and in you and me.
Yet this God also leaves me vulnerable. This God calls us to share who we really are, with one another, removing the masks we use to hide and protect ourselves. Secrets are destructive, and can be used as a barrier to keep people out, when we should be letting people in.
So I am going to tell you a secret. It is not an earth shattering secret but it is one that has had a profound effect on me.
About a month ago we had some magpie larks nesting in the tree, when one of the little chicks fell out and ended up in our garden. It was so tiny and defenseless we didn’t really know what to do. We would have put it in a box and looked after it but the mother lark was still around so we left it in the garden. Well every day for about a week the mother would stay close, and feed the little chick, and even its sibling would fly down and sit with it. It appeared to have something wrong with it preventing it from flying but it began hopping around. Some days we would find it on the path, sometimes on the rose bush and sometimes too close to the road, so we got used to gently guiding it to safer territory. On the last day we saw it, it seemed very animated hoping here there and everywhere, and even onto Matt’s arm. Still the mother and brother or sister (who knows which) were around watching and feeding it. We went to bed that night determined to maybe move it to a safer place…..
Unfortunately when we got up in the morning the little bird was lying dead on the path. When we looked closely there did not seem anything wrong with it, but it had been hot the previous few days.
I was absolutely devastated, and after I buried it the mother lark and sibling kept a vigil at our house for some weeks. When I was telling the Wednesday coffee group the story Betty said something quite profound. She pointed out that the bird probably died of thirst, as there wasn’t any water readily available for it. We did everything we could but did not think of the most basic thing, water, to help keep it alive.
I felt even more gutted. Devastated actually. How could I have been so stupid? I moped for days, thinking only of the little bird. You may laugh at my reaction, as there are so many people suffering in our world, what is one little bird. Yet for some reason that bird seemed to symbolize so much to me. The hope of new life, even under adversity, the commitment and loyalty and love shown by the mother lark, the joy of connecting to nature and bridging the gap ever so slightly. We somehow found a space for us all just for a moment, but which was shattered by the lack of the simplest thing, the lack of water. We did the more complicated things and ignored what was the most obvious. Ah!!!
It made me really think about us and what we really need for a full and complete life. The answer is of course the most basic things, not just food and water but love, acceptance, compassion, justice, peace and hope. These are the things we need, not fancy cars, fancy houses, incredible high powered jobs, the latest technology, or lots of money and influence. We live in a society that seems to think that relationships can be bypassed on the way to somewhere, yet they are the most essential to life and living. John Lennon once famously said, life happens to us while we are doing other things. Well it’s time to stop doing other things and get down to basics.
So when we talk about what we are called to do as part of being in the river of God it is the simplest things that can change the landscape. That can transform people. One of the simplest, in fact the most basic component I think is love. Because from love grows everything that a human being needs. Love is the root from which it all stems, a love that arises from God and is given to all of creation. A love that binds us all together, you in me and me in you and takes us on an amazing journey, from an exploding star to a human being, from a young child to a fully grown and mature adult. Without love we are just empty shells, almost zombie like. With love our eyes are opened, and life can become rich and full of meaning. Or even just a little bit less isolated and lonely.
For us who may not be able to change the world, or find a solution to the problems in many of the most terrible places, it is comforting to know that we can still act in ways that brings God’s world just that little bit closer. We are reminded that the simplest things can be the most profound just by looking around us. Going back up North can be confronting but it also brings such joy. The community at Mowanjum has many challenges, but the children are like children everywhere. They are enthusiastic, funny, active and happiest when they are near water. I watched as two people in their young twenties engaged and interacted with the kids in a loving, caring way, laughing with them while at the same time trying to guide and encourage them towards a more hopeful future. A future which will involve the whole community. As we all agreed, every little interaction helps, and who is to know which one will be the one that tips the full bucket over, that makes the difference and changes a person’s life. There are many people involved with Mowanjum, with open hearts, patience and compassion, who are revealing that truth in our little corner of the universe. As they say a little bit of love goes a long, long way. I saw an abundance of it on the weekend. And I saw it light the way for others to follow.
So there are advantages to cleaning up and getting organized. Problem is, it take soooo long. I think it may be time for another walk in the sun..