Learning to Dance

The invitation caught me a little of guard. I had watched others participate and wondered if I could. I must admit that there have been times I have thought that it didn’t look that hard. I found too many excuses to not be involved. To be brutally honest, the excuses were a thin layer for my lack of courage. Someone else would be better. I wasn’t keen to make myself so vulnerable in the hope of participating. I was afraid of making a mistake even before I set foot into the possibility.
The director told me it would be a small role in the Horsham Arts Council’s production of Annie. They were looking for another male to ‘help make up the numbers.’ I thought the small role meant sitting on the edges, being an extra while others would shine.
I didn’t look at the role or script until all the cast came together for the first reading. That’s when I started to feel like I had been set up. I don’t want to give you the wrong idea. I wasn’t a main character and I wasn’t on stage for more than five minutes. However, when we first practiced our scene with a total of 6 other people and the director was almost on the floor laughing at me, I was convinced I had been set up. Having a small role had become having a few lines which became singing and dancing. Which should not have been a surprise really considering I was participating in a musical. I guess one way to overcome my lack of courage is to be unknowingly sucked into something!
Throughout the rehearsals, I also became involved in the backstage crew. The challenges working backstage were different but just as intense. The need to move quickly, smoothly and almost unseen is an art form. After watching a number of productions over the years, I now have a deeper appreciation of what it takes to produce such a great show for people to enjoy.
The experience was so valuable I am still chewing over the lessons…
* Once we say yes to something, there is no half-hearted! Well, we can be half-hearted, but we miss out. Being fully engaged meant participating in physical and vocal warm-ups, something no one told me before I agreed. It meant wearing makeup so the lights didn’t make me look pale. There are some words I never thought I would say. It meant having people critique me and receiving feedback, wanted and unwanted. It meant deciding to fully step into the role and even go over the top.
* There can be plenty of suggestions made, but there needs to be a common vision and direction given. There were plenty of times when people offered opinions and asked questions. Many were valid. I imagine many ideas would have been incorporated as the show progressed. Things were changed as the practicality or impracticality became obvious. In the end, there needs to be someone reminding people of the vision, the goal, the destination. Whatever path we are travelling, we need to the courage to keep pursuing the vision we have. We also need humility to make adjustments, admitting mistakes along the way.
* Learning to dance is one of the great gifts in life. Moving scenes as the cast were moving on and off stage was like doing a great dance. Being able to watch for each other, take our cues from others, receive instruction, watch our timing, work in the background so that others can step to the front … it was all a dance within the show. We could have just had the cast on the stage, but the scenes, costumes, makeup and lights added depth and an experience for the audience. You could travel to a different room and even through time. Hours of rehearsals to produce the character says nothing about the hours of preparing scenes and setting up sound and lighting. Our lives are learning to dance with others.
* Being uncomfortable and taking a few risks will bring the greatest rewards. Were there times I Questioned my decision? Yes. There were times I was frustrated, uncertain and even confused. There were probably times others felt the same about my contribution. I am not the expert. However, I have been reminded of the possibilities created when people from all walks of life contribute to something bigger than ourselves.
* There is a great deal of time spent waiting. In a world where we are always moving from one to things to another and feeling the urgency of responding immediately, I learned to appreciate the moments of waiting. It was ordinary and at times it was a drag. But so much of life is lived in the ordinary. It’s the ordinary that gives us the greatest gifts as we learn to be present wherever we are with those around us.
* Friendships come from the most unexpected places. I heard some great stories from people. I learned from teenagers, young adults and people twenty years older. People who have different interest, opinions, and values to what I hold. I love being a part of a community that lives, works, plays, and dances across the generations. I am better for the collective experience and wisdom.
* Learning to celebrate is important. I was caught off guard after the first show that everyone was high-fiving, hugging and saying well done. I was standing there thinking we still have eight shows to go. I learned to celebrate with others, every show. There were always things to improve, change, adapt and work on, but we had still created something together, and that was worth celebrating along the way.

What has been your experience of stepping into something new or participating in something outside your comfort zone? May you have the courage to learn a new dance.

Thanks for wandering with me.

Tin Food Surprise

Nearly 24 years ago Andrea and I arrived home from our honeymoon. We knew that people had access to our house while we were away. The house we were renting had central heating, so every time we turned the heater on, more confetti would blow out of the vents. The best gift though was having all the labels stripped from the tins of food. Now maybe the name of the product had been stamped on the tin anyway, but I remember having surprise dinners. Andrea would grab a tin and would somehow turn the food, regardless of what it was, into a meal. It was annoying and a bit of fun along the way.
Labels can be helpful when we label our food. They might also might be helpful in our conversations, and equally dangerous.
For example, if you follow Australian Rules Football at all, you will have a certain perspective when I tell you I am a Collingwood supporter.
When I tell you I serve in a local church as minister, that brings certain images to mind. If I tell you I am a Preacher’s Kid, that will further inform your perspective.
I am in my mid 40s which means I am part of Generation X.
If you are into personality tests, I just land on the introvert side.
While these ‘labels’ have been formative, do they completely define me?
There’s plenty of other considerations we might have when we connect with people. the colour of the skin, where they have come from, the clothes they wear and their sexuality.
Maybe we are missing out on something when we assume what people are against based upon the labels we see on them.
If we assume how someone thinks or responds, then we might actually miss out on hearing what they really offer. We might miss what we can learn from them. When we enter into conversations with one another making assumptions about who they are based on what we know or what we think of them, all we have done is wrapped our own labels around the other person.
When a label is wrapped around a tin of food, there is no changing the product inside. Of course there are occasions where the wrong label gets put on the wrong tin; but if the label says there is baked beans inside, then the tin will contain baked beans.
We are not reaching for a quick meal out of the cupboard when we engage in conversation with people. We lose when we view one another like processed food, quick, accessible and to fill a hole.
Our relationships are best formed in getting to know people over time. The labels we see on each other may have some truth about them, but will rarely be the complete story. Hearing the complete story takes time. It requires a willingness to be fully present so that we take time to be genuinely interested in another. If we are willing to see more than labels, we will always experience something more. Life is richer when we see more than what we thought, when we take time to hear beyond what we think.
May your week be full of opportunities to see more, hear and learn more.

New Year – New You – Best Ever

It’s a ridiculous title considering it’s almost the end of February. By the end of February, we are well and truly into the routine or grind, depending on your view. Maybe it’s worth continuing the conversation.
While school stops for a few weeks over the Christmas / New Year period, and there are a few public holidays we might be able to take advantage of as part of our holidays, the idea of the ‘holiday season’ is underwhelming. I laugh a little when people talk about having Christmas Breakups. I wonder what really stops? Sure, while people can have some holidays, the world continues to spin, people continue to go to work, hot cross buns are sold within days after Christmas and people will celebrate the arrival of a New Year just like we have done for years beforehand.
In the interests of full disclosure – I am usually in bed a long time before midnight on New Year’s Eve, which makes me sound really boring. Maybe I need to get out more.
All this leads me to the fascination we have with creating the New You in the New Year. I didn’t keep track, but the desire to form new habits in the new year features heavily in news and interests stories. Just as heavily are the interest stories about why resolutions fail within the first few weeks of the new year.
We talk about being new by the things we want to do and achieve. Somehow if I run a marathon this year, I will be new. If I lose 20 kgs this year I will be new. If I stop {insert own statement here} I will be new. Not only will I be new. My life will be better. While there is some truth to these statements, are we missing out on something deeper and richer when it’s only about external achievement or task lists?
I have usually tried to take some time over the new year period to reflect on the year that has just finished and look forward to the year ahead. I try to consider the things I might like to achieve and do. When I tried to do this year, I just didn’t seem to be able to get anything down on paper. I have goals about being physically healthier and stronger, knowing that this helps my mental health and gives me the energy required for each day. But I am not new in these things.
What would it look like if we gave less energy to external goals and more to the attitudes we carry?
As I stepped into this year, I haven’t been able to escape the sense that I need to grow in being someone of Joy and Generosity.
While these aren’t particularly measurable or timely, they are attitudes that will affect other areas in my life. They are also attitudes that require a decision on any given day. Some days will be easier than others. Some days just seem to be a slog and I can easily forget what I hope will increase in me. Circumstances can too easily rule my response rather than greater meaning, purpose, and hope that exists our of the heartbeat of a loving, fully revealed through Jesus.
There is always transformation taking place, considering that I am now in my mid-40s becoming someone new isn’t really a viable option. Looking at making some small adjustment and improvements to heart, mind, body and soul seems to be something more achievable. There is more room for joy and generosity when I am learning to enjoy each day as an opportunity to grow.
I would love to hear your reflections about opportunities for growth, renewal, and transformation this year.

Mary’s Side

Written by Ruby Risson
When he asked me to marry him, my hands started to tremble. I wasn’t sure if I should. I mean, I have only been with this man for a few months.
I was so young. How could I become a wife to such a man? I felt like we were rushing into things. In the spur of the moment, I agreed to marry him. We embraced each other.
My mind was suffused with thoughts of marrying this man.
His name is Joseph, and he is handsome, smart, and many other wonderful things. We both live in Nazareth, which is in Galilee. Joseph is a carpenter and works long days. He makes beautiful things for me to proclaim his love. We both strongly believe in God and pray on our knees daily together.
A few nights after we were betrothed, I lit a candle and got down on my hands and knees, and I prayed. It was a long prayer, for I needed to know if this is what God truly wanted me to do. Tears were racing down my face, thinking about what my future could hold, if I marry Joseph.
Once I concluded my prayer, I saw a light gleaming out of my window. I ran to it and opened it up. My eyes were blinded by the glowing of the peculiar light. When I had regained my sight, I could make a face out of the illumination. It was an angel. I was daunted by him, so I hid. He spoke in a booming, but a calm voice; “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
I was terrified of him. He was tall and was standing over me. He could see that I was scared. “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his Father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
How could this be, for I am a virgin? Joseph and I have only just gotten engaged. How was I to tell Joseph that we have been given a son, by God? The mighty angel said to me “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
Still shaking, I reached out my hand and touched the angel, and trusted him, for he had been sent by God. “I am the Lord’s servant,” I answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” The angel smiled at me, then flew back to the heavens.
I fell to the floor. This was the beginning of new hope for the world, and I was going to give birth to him.
Later, Joseph shared with me the dream that he had during the night, when an angel had visited him, and I too shared my visit with the angel. We held each other for a long time. I was going to give birth to a baby boy, who people would call Jesus.
Nine months later, when I was pregnant with Jesus, we were told that we must move back to Joseph’s birthplace, Bethlehem. It was a long way from Nazareth, and our only way of transport was not the best. How was I supposed to survive, close to giving birth to my baby, whilst travelling a long distance? Joseph continued to tell me not to worry, but it was no use. Why was God giving me this huge task? Joseph reminded me that God loves me and that our baby boy will perform great miracles, and restore hope in the world.
We packed up our valuables, loaded them for the journey, then took the long road to Bethlehem. Once we arrived, I knew that my baby was ready to be delivered. We ambled down the roads and knocked on numerous doors, but all the places we looked at, were full. I started to cry. I could no longer cope with the pregnancy and the thought of giving birth to the saviour of the world. We finally came across a place, where the owner said that there was a stable out the back where we could stay. Joseph and I agreed, for I could no longer bear to travel.
Joseph made a bed out of straw for me, and laid me down. We needed help to bear my child, but no midwives could be found. Joseph held me, rocked me back and forth, and he prayed. There was blood and sweat and tears. The animals around us were awoken by my screams of pain. Joseph was crying with me.
Soon, my baby was born.
Joseph wrapped him in cloth and gave him to me to hold. I looked into this little boy’s eyes. I couldn’t comprehend that my son, was the Son of God, and that he was the one who was to perform miracles, that had never been performed. This sleepy, manger child, was going to be the one to turn water into wine, make the blind see, heal the sick, and bring the dead back to life.
Little did I know that Jesus was going to be the one who was going to die on the cross for his own Mothers sins.

Have Yourself a Surprising Christmas

The season of Advent. A season of preparation, expectation and getting ready. It seems that we are getting ready for something else every day through this month, over this season we call Advent. Being prepared is important, if for no other reason that we survive the season. From catching up with friends we have been meaning to see for a while, to attending functions that celebrate the end of the year. Preparation is the key to sanity.
In the midst of all these social preparations and gatherings there is a dominating question; What are you doing for Christmas?
Although, I wonder if we might be missing out because we seek to be organised and planned. Don’t get me wrong, our family planned and prepared for Christmas. There are traditions in how we prepare for Christmas in our house. The Christmas tree and decorations are setup on December First, or as close as possible, every year. Plum puddings are made in readiness to enjoy. We have planned to enjoy some time with family as well. Aside for the usual Christmas preparations, there is the end of year graduations and celebrations.
However, over the last few weeks I have been considering the nature of the unexpected, the surprising, that which catches us off guard or takes our breath away. It’s not about being surprised that December has come around again, the same as it did last year. It’s not even about the surprise as we open our gifts. It is something much deeper and richer. It is the surprise that shifts our spirits, causes us to see things from a different perspective.
I am not sure what you think of the Christmas story; God coming in human form, born in a stable or a cave, with angels, shepherds, and stars. Whatever you think of it, I want to invite you to keep reading just a bit longer in the hope it might help any preparations.
As I read the Christmas story, I read of people being caught off guard. A young girl, a man and some shepherds encountering dreams and singing angels take their breath away; being unexpectedly invited into a story of hope and redemption. A story of stargazers watching and waiting for a sign. When this young boy grew, people questioned if anything good could ever come out of his birth place.
In the midst of waiting, preparing God does something unexpected. Not only does he show him in human form in some backwater town, but he invites people from numerous backgrounds, lifestyles, and heritage to participate in the story.
We spend so much time getting ready and preparing for the season, making sure everything is just right. What might it look like to be invited into the unexpected? We can be so intent on getting ready that we miss those unexpected moments of being invited into something sacred. It might be conversations with a family member or a friend. It could be that we bring unexpected joy, blessing or hope into the life of a someone we barely know.
While there is a lot of preparation, planning and thought in readiness for this season, the most sacred moments might be the ones that catch us off guard. Not simply because we receive the gift we didn’t expect, but because we experience an occasion that shifts our spirits, inviting us to see the world a little differently. Maybe the question isn’t so much what are you doing for Christmas, but what story are you being invited into?

You live, you die…life goes on

It’s been nearly 30 years since my Grandfather died. I remember mum waking me in the middle of the night to tell me Grandfather was sick. Mum and Dad travelled through the early hours of the morning to see him before he died later that day. In the following days, weeks and months there was this constant in between. A sense of being pulled in two directions. On the one hand there was a deep level of sadness that someone we had loved, who meant so much to us, was no longer with us. It was a heaviness that I felt even if I didn’t express it.
On the other hand, the sun came up the next day, and the day after, as it has since the beginning of time. Despite the darkness we were feeling as a family, the sun rose; even on the day of my Grandfather’s memorial service. I don’t remember seeing it, but I know it was there. Not only did the sun come up, but life quickly moved on. We returned to school, conversations and participating in life with our circle of friends and the local church who loved and supported our family through this time.
I remember our youth group going to the beach several weeks later. I felt torn between being with family, fully aware of the sadness that we were feeling, while having the opportunity to spend some time with friends. I felt like I was doing something wrong and every time I was enjoying myself, I remember the sadness and wondered if it was ok to be having a good time. So, over these months this expression formed; “You live, you die, and life goes on.”
Death can bring varying forms of grief, but it’s not the only time we experience it. Friendships change or become disconnected. Work structure and relationships change. Colleagues change. Family moves. Children grow up. Some plans don’t eventuate. Illness dominates our lives. People more qualified than myself remind us of the various stages of grief, but grief is rarely reasonable or orderly!
All this leads me to consider the value and nature of celebration. Something I don’t always do very well because I am always mindful of the next thing to do. However, the ability to recognise and celebrate the good things in our life is a gift to easily glossed over. Maybe you are better at receiving this, and enjoying these moments than I am. We can miss a great deal when we don’t celebrate life. As with grief, when we celebrate, the sun comes up tomorrow. There are things to do, new opportunities and expectations. However, I know I can be too quick to brush aside celebration. I have never heard of the stages of celebration. There doesn’t seem to be the same need for explanation as the stages of grief. Most of us would naturally know how to have a good time, to celebrate an event, an occasion or achievement.  Although, maybe the real joy is learning to celebrate the small things in between the momentous occasions.
Many of would be painfully aware that the line between grief and celebration can become non-existent in a breathe.
While the line between grief and celebration can be blurry and life does go on, we are rarely the same. Every celebration, every sadness adds another layer to who we are. How we view the world. They change or shape how we respond to people or to various circumstances we might face. There comes, if we let it, a depth of richness in learning and shaping of who we are and who we are yet to become.
There is a truth to the statement that life goes on, but it can also mean we miss the opportunities to enjoy the small sacred moments along the way.
There might not be anything we can do to change the circumstances. The greatest gift could be to simply acknowledge them for what they are, giving ourselves permission to experience the pain or joy associated with each experience or memory. We are made richer for giving the time and space for grief and celebration in our lives.

Throwing out the sexist racist

img_2391 I didn’t intend to think that way but I know it unsettled me. It continues to unsettle me some ten days after the event. Not unsettling in an unable to function kind of way; just in a way that I need to examine this and be ready to stand against it, to confront it. I am part of a local Gym where I have made some great friends. I enjoy the banter as much as I enjoy living in my own little world while I blow off steam while doing some exercise. On this occasion I arrived early for a group class. I found my spot and set up some equipment. Being over 6ft I am conscious about where I stand so I don’t interrupt others view of the instructor. As the class started I suddenly realised that in a group of about 15 people, I was the only male.
Despite saying hello to those in the room who were closest to me, there was no in-depth conversation. I knew a few other participants, but had realised there were a number of conversations happening in the room that I wasn’t invited into. I suddenly felt overwhelmed being the only male in the room. Overwhelmed might be too strong, but I noticed and felt it. It wasn’t because of anything that was done; it was just there. I found myself wondering if this is how females feel when they walk into a room full of males. I suspect I can never really fully know or claim to understand. That’s not my purpose, but to simply unpack something that caught me off guard.
The thing is that I don’t really know why. I am the only male in our house. My wife and I have four incredible, independent, thoughtful and beautiful daughters. As a pastor of a local church, I am often outnumbered by females in a staff meeting. I have never thought anything of it in the past. I have never felt overwhelmed. I caught myself again today when I saw that it was International Girls Day. I had to stop myself from rolling my eyes at another day of recognition. What’s wrong with me? I thought I had spent my life as a parent cheering for girls to pursue dreams rather than being ruled by others expectations or limitations.
But it goes deeper.
When the recent hashtags came out suggesting that all lives matter there was a brief and definite yes in me. I wondered why black lives matter more than anyone else. They matter because they are being oppressed. They matter because they were being killed, seemingly without provocation. We need to have similar ideas and movement in Australia that refugees matter, indigenous people matter. It’s easy for me to say all lives matter because I am white, middle classed and reasonably comfortable. But to stand with the oppressed, downtrodden, the detained, those whose life expectancy is reduced by their heritage, that is something else.
It scares me that I can so easily cast judgement or become indignant. Am I that afraid or insecure that someone could be saying I don’t matter? But I have been confronted and convicted with my own way of thinking that there might still be a sexist racist lurking within me. I have these lingering thoughts that have stuck in me and I don’t really know where they have come from. It’s like removing the label from a jar that won’t come easily. It seems to roll up into a ball and keep sticking. So I have some more soaking to do. I have some more scrubbing to get rid of attitudes and thoughts that reside deeper within me that I imagined.

The slowly suddenly nature of time

I don’t know about the science but time seems to be fluid! Why does it feel slow but have the capacity to feel like it speeds up. We all know sixty seconds to a minute, sixty minutes to an hour, 24 hours in a day. But that’s not how it feels, is it? The image above is of the ‘slow watch’. Designed with 24 hours, using 15 minutes increments and only one hand. I love the concept, while others in my house thinks it’s just weird and ‘not right’ for a watch.
The ‘slowly suddenly’ nature of time has been apparent to me as I have been a part of two services celebrating life for very different reasons.
One was a funeral, the other was a wedding.
I first started discussing the funeral with Merlyn several weeks before her death. Merlyn was still active despite being sick with cancer and being told there was nothing more that could be done. It seemed like we had more time to put things in place. I don’t know how time seemed for her in that moment, but I remember thinking that there was plenty of time. I went to visit her again a few weeks later. We didn’t have as much time. Merlyn died later that same week. I don’t think I have ever had so many people tell me how surprised they were by her death. A number of people spoke of their surprise that Merlyn had died. Time somehow look different, it feels different, it takes on a different meaning in these conversations. In the midst of all the waiting, planning, praying, appointments that they had filled up their days, suddenly, time becomes different for Merlyn’s husband, family and closest friends. There is a sense where the days leading up the memorial service slows down as preparations are finalised and details are worked out. Before suddenly, the day has been. The time spent honouring someone’s life always seems disproportionate to the life they have lived.
Preparing for a wedding is very different. I first started preparing the wedding when I met with Chris and Gab at the start of the year. There is some paperwork to fill out, time spent getting to know each other, learning about their relationship, why they want to get married an outlining all that happens in the service. The preparations I make for a service are nothing compared to what a couple does to prepare for the day. Flowers, dresses, venues, suits, invitations, food, bridesmaids, groomsmen. Weddings bring such a great anticipation … and often stress. There is so much energy put into one day. There are a lot of preparations made in the lead up to the day and then lots of details that have to be finalised just before the big day. Time seems to slow down as we prepare in the midst of everything else we are a part of before suddenly the day comes.
The same amount of time in the day. Depending on what’s happening around us, or even within us, we will have this slowly suddenly experience.
We can so easily measure our lives by time. What time our next appointment is. What time our alarm goes off. How long will it take to get there? How long do I have to be there? How much time do we have to talk? We measure the time taken to complete a task. We measure how long someone takes to return a call, or long we waited before we will ring, email or text them again.
It’s been said before and we will say it again. Take time to do something you enjoy, sit in silence, surprise someone, let someone surprise you, try something new, start something you have been meaning to do for a while, catch up with an old friend, make a new friend. Time is fluid depending on our experience. Make it count!
Thanks for wandering with me.

The Bat Mobile and the Party Bus

We have, convincing ourselves that it is out of sheer necessity, two cars in our family. There is no doubt having two cars has been incredibly useful, especially when our family was younger. We have tried to encourage bike riding but that never seems to have taken off in our house.
I drive what we call the Bat Mobile. It’s black, low and sleek. Well, I feel cool driving it anyway. It’s economical, goes well and has a few comforts that make driving a little easier. The family spend most of their time in the Party Bus! It is a people mover that we bought some years ago, deciding that it would see our children through school. It has been a great car for our family. I don’t drive the Party Bus very often. I would rather drive the Bat Mobile anyway. I also had the opportunity to drive a Porsche Boxster a couple of months ago. The Bat Mobile seemed boring when I drove that the next day, but I digress.
It had been a while since I had driven the Party Bus, so I was shocked when I drove it a couple of weeks ago to feel what I thought was extra movement in the steering wheel. It didn’t seem to be as responsive as I remember it. I make sure that I get the car serviced regularly. I spend money on high quality tyres mindful that I want to do everything I can to protect my family. However, the movement in the steering wheel unsettled me. It caught me off guard.
In frustration I turned to my wife and asked; “Haven’t you not felt that movement in the steering? Why didn’t you tell me there was something wrong with the car?” Her response was simple; “I just get in the car and drive it, I didn’t notice anything was wrong.”
Andrea’s comment reminded me of how easily we just keep going without ever giving ourselves a check up. Somehow, Andrea’s comment struck a nerve in me and I began to consider what I might not be noticing in my own life. Don’t ask me how I made a jump from a car to the way I live my life, it’s just how my brain works.
It’s too easy to simply get up every day without checking an attitude. I know I can easily carry yesterday’s burdens, disappointment, frustrations with me and they build into something that I never anticipated until someone innocently asks; “Simon, haven’t you noticed that there is something out of whack here in your life?”
Why does someone else always have to point out what I already know or what I have experienced in the past? Why does it take someone else to notice that I need to reassess things? There are plenty of excuses, we like to call them reasons. They only serve to point out that we might need to check out what’s happening for us.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been driving the Party Bus a little more. The movement in the steering doesn’t seem to bother me as much. Maybe I have just got used to driving the car. I should really get that checked out soon. It’s always the concern that check ups find faults that cost money to repair. Better a small cost now, than a greater cost later because of something I didn’t pay attention to. And if nothing is wrong I know my family is safe.

Rain, coffee & the hand of God

He intrigued me even before I walked in. He was sitting at the table of a local cafe, with an open laptop in front of him. He had headphones on that made it look like he was listening to music, but as I walked into the cafe, I could see he was talking on the phone. Sitting on the table next to his laptop was what looked like an old radio transistor. Some of you might remember the old portable radios where you turned the dial to find the right station.
Every Wednesday I meet up with a great man of faith and encouragement. I pick up my friend, Henry, from his house and we go and sit in a cafe. I don’t think Henry will mind me telling you he is about 80. I asked if we could meet together every week about 6 years ago. We talk about everything from children, parenting, faith, church, community, friendship and then we pray together. I know Henry and his wife pray for me and my family every day. Having a conversation with Henry helps me to reset perspective. I am reminded that we are in this life together. Henry constantly reminds me of what’s important, to keep my eyes on the things of God.
I had ordered our coffee and as I sat down, the topic of conversation was the amount of rain in the last day or two and the amount that was yet to come. I had my phone and decided to look up the weather app to see if it revealed anything about the day ahead. The images showed the rain moving across Horsham from light blue, to darker, to red! It was going to be another wet day. Henry was a farmer years ago and suggested that it’s the wettest he has seen for some 35 years. I have lived in Horsham for 15 years and it’s the wettest I have seen at this time of the year. I’m not a farmer, but the crops look even and full. There doesn’t seem to be too many bare patches as there might have been in previous years.
The man on the table next to us asked me about the app. I didn’t really know much about it. He then proceeded to tell us that he was mapping the rain in the Western Districts and working on a project to determine how much rain can fall in certain spots. He was part of a research group that was developing science to reduce rain in certain areas so that they could protect crops! He told us that last week the goal was to have no more rain than 35mm over a certain area. They were able to keep the rain to about 30mm, protecting the crops in that area in consultation with local farmers. It isn’t easy to get farmers on board. I wasn’t trying to be smart or prove his theory wrong when I asked how much rain did the surrounding areas have. I was simply interested in some comparison. The surrounding areas, he said, received significantly greater rainfall. It’s quite controversial he said.
No! Really? Do you think?
Nevertheless the man with the open laptop seemed excited about the possibilities of protecting crops, providing predictable rainfall and serving a number of industries. He even gave us his business card. I don’t really know what I will do with that. As he was packing up to leave, Henry was shaking his head. He had never heard of anything like it in all his life. Someone controlling the weather. It’s crazy. Are we seeking to become like God?
It’s an interesting question. We spend so much of our lives trying to conquer, overcome, build, go beyond, to stay alive. Perhaps there were similar questions when we first started considering the possibility of organ transplants. Maybe we asked similar questions when we started taking medication to prevent common illnesses or to manage ongoing health issues. We work hard to discover more, go further, to control the outcome so we get the best results for ourselves.
I am fascinated by what science teaches us. I don’t understand equations or research that helps us, but I love hearing about the discoveries. I love the fact that we can use science to determine how much we might get and how we can direct it. I love that someone is sitting in their office one day exploring the weather patterns and says out loud; “What if we could … ?”
Thinking of new possibilities is one of the greatest gifts we have ever received. Having the capacity to be adventurous, to explore and push the boundaries is an incredibly rich gift. It’s because someone pushed the boundaries that I am able to write these reflections and hopefully give you something enjoyable to wander through. I am also given cause to be reminded that there is so much out of my control. I am not God. While I can determine some of what happens today, or even a little of what happens tomorrow, I am not the one who controls every outcome. I believe we are give a spirit of exploration and adventure. I believe we have been given the capacity to think for ourselves, to imagine new possibilities and make decisions that can bring enormous benefit to our community. But ultimately, I choose to trust in one who created the heavens. I love science. I love that for every discovery in science there is more to discover! I love that science reveals there is so much we don’t know. I realise the science doesn’t answer everything. While I enjoy the benefits of science, I am reminded that science doesn’t make us God, it simply reveals that there is more to discover.
Thanks for wandering with me. Enjoy the rain … or the sun!