Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pilgrim's progress

Sunday 31, Dad’s 81st birthday. Time to awaken, like here with tea and toast in the sunlight streaming in through the net curtains (at last!) and record the last week. It would not be a true account unless I recorded the failures as well – well, not so much failure, but certainly less practicing of His presence. My greater involvement in stories (read 2 books last week) and movies (1 yesterday + DVDs) and my emotional state on a lower level, and I have found myself turning and remembering less than a week or so ago. More easily distracted. I know that it’s impossible to keep up the emotional highs, and I don’t expect to, so this is a good exercise in faith I guess. My experience has certainly not been the excited, constantly turning expression I talked about two weeks ago, but for all that, in a lull or a split second between longer activities I hear his name and respond. The main thing is to keep going, even without the emotions supporting it. I have to try to remember what I’ve been reading from bro Lawrence and Molinos: 1. It is by FAITH alone that I turn to Him and know He is there, not my constantly changing emotions, 2. Do not dwell on how long it has been, or how worthy I am, or how disappointed in myself I might be – just turn then and there, and 3. It is a simple and constant giving of myself over to Him.
It was with great relief I hung the phone up on a call from the client I was dreading earlier in the week. I was very aware, on that occasion, of Him – both during and before the phonecall, and found my words and thoughts tempered by that. My client was less annoyed with me than I’d expected and we reached a happy resolution. Thank God for grace and mercy.
Onwards. If anyone out there has further advice or experience to add to this account, I’m all ears. I know it’s a shared walk, and that there are many who are well ahead of me in this endeavor.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I just want to say: SPRING HAS SPRUNG! The first fine blue day for a LOOOOOOONG time. . .

and there are heaps of Monarch butterflies all over the hedge at the front of the section. . .

FOUR in this photo alone. Rejoice!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Through the briar patch in the night. . .

the saga continues. . .
A week has gone by, and I really am grateful that some kind of corner (out of the never-ending cycle) was turned. Please forgive my propensity for mixing metaphors. . . it just gets hard to put some experiences into words, and the pictorial variety suit me even if they get confused.
The latter end of this week becoming darker and heavier, although I did not stop to turn to the Lord whenever I felt him come to mind. And I knew that was fine. On two separate occasions a very awkward situation arose and in both I've had to remember to call on Him and let go of my increasing panic. I think because of the earlier well-trod path, it was easier to do so. In both instances these were clients of mine, which adds a deeper feeling of panic because my business rests upon good working relationships. One was a client from some time ago, who will not respond to my emails, (which are particularly non-threatening), and so we cannot resolve it. She turned up at the Women in business out West evening last Thursday, and spent the time avoiding me, despite my endeavor to relieve her of any fear she might have. She entered into a one-on-one with another person and didn't emerge from that until I had to leave at the end of the evening. And the other client is one who has lost a few artists/printers before me, and swings wildly from one extreme to another so that you are never sure where you stand with her. Disturbing though it is to me (and it IS disturbing) it is no mistake that these situations have occurred at the end of a week of endeavoring to find the reality of Christ in my inner parts and walking with him there.
So, I take encouragement from that fact. It all seems perfectly designed to teach me how to let go and find that place within. Learning to ask Him what His will is in this situation, and being able to tuck it aside and with my whole heart look at Him again and just love Him.
There are certainly lessons here: from facing losing to someone else at the shallowest level (and truly, what does it matter to lose either money or face), through to finding out how to lay something unjust down (joining other bags of injustice heaped up here on the mercy seat!) through to clearing my heart and mind of fears and perturbations in order to be free to love Him without distraction. And without the emotional highs to correspond with that. I feel very much like there is as much 'going on' in this endeavor as there ever was.
Reading this mornig in Molinos: "Do not try to look for some emotion, or even tender devotion, toward your Lord. Only express your desire to do His will and to be His pleasure. Otherwise you will simply go in circles throughout your life and not take even one step toward the inward goal."
On another angle, I have tried with some success, to include Him more in my decisions and choices. A small step toward 'doing His will'. I know that in general just loving him, and living (breathing in and out, eating, BEING a Christian) is to be in His will. But something in me yearns to converse more constantly with Him, to know my everyday choices are specifically in His will, to be able to be less driven and more at ease with time. I know some people have found this to be something real and true, and I would love to be part of their number. . . not for my sake but because He deserves it.
A couple of times yesterday I did just that - either went somewhere, or stopped going somewhere, because I felt He willed it. And they turned out good choices (surprise!).
And despite being willing enough, myself, to see a movie or read a book, in both instances that fell through, and I was rather amused and pleased that it had. No distracting stories for the time being then. Let's press on. . .

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Citadel within. . .

I just want to say, this has been a very encouraging endeavour, in so many ways. I really don't know how to write this and be understood (or even WHY I am writing so personally on this blog). It seems to me that we can all do with some encouragement and building up and if it helps YOU to know that this terribly superficial, shallow, easily distracted person, can get to know an indwelling Lord so much better, then I'm glad I'm writing this here.
It was encouraging to read the letters that Fenelon wrote to Jeanne Guyon. She is someone I look up to as having had a deep and wonderful walk with the Lord through imprisonment in the Bastille and a lonely existence, and yet her words are extremely insightful. Fenelon's letter talk of her 'excessive excitement' and her impatience, the way she 'loved her own voice' or words to that effect. I love her already. It made me feel capable of this near impossible task. AND I read in Molinos that it has nothing to do with me and my effort merely my faith, and even that is put there by his indwelling spirit - he faiths in me. What a relief.
I am pleased to say that this first five days has been a happy co-operation twixt my Lord and I. He was always pleased to be called upon for company and here I am at last deigning to do so. I have found, much to my surprise, that I have felt those prompts regularly, and each time have murmured his name, and felt that little thrill of joy spasm out from my inmost parts. It was easy on Monday, because I was working from home, and so I spent my time in my own company but practicing involving him in my thoughts, and keeping the door open to communication. (It's such a hard thing to explain).
Tuesday was harder - I was working at the Uni, but even there, whenever I wasn't immediately responding to someone or something, I was aware of Him, and KNEW it. Wow. Lord.
I have woken to a little song we sing here in the church "To Me you're so fair, to Me you're so pure, I call you my beautiful one", and taken that to heart and found the tune chasing me all day. Awwww. Jan, Helen and I sang it on our walk that morning.
And today, Thursday, whether it is to endorse my endeavours, and just FOR FUN, I have felt as if everything has been dovetailing beautifully. Now, in saying this, I know it won't always. I guess I just want to learn the route to this place, and find it an automatic response of my heart, so that when things DO get tough, I go there. Lord.
It has been raining on and off, for weeks now, today no exception. I've been on and off the bus and up to the Uni a couple of times, and each time it rained as I stepped on to the bus, or as I stepped into the Uni, and not when I was out in it. It's a little private joke. I picked up a fat letter from my mailbox today, and when I opened it at home, it was from a friend in Canada, and a wooden bookmark fell out with a butterfly carved into the wood. Anyone who knows me will understand that butterflies speak to me immediately. (It's an earlier experience I had). I read them as him saying "I love you" and I always respond the same way. As I did this time. Sigh.
There has been much more. I do so want to know Him in reality and truth, not as a figurehead or figment of imagination as I might have done so many years ago. If it is true (and I know it is) that He is Life in all its fulness, then why waste another moment chasing the shadows?
Onward and upward. . .

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Wow - weeks and weeks have gone by and yet the cycle has returned and I am once again sitting up in bed with tea and toast and reading matter all around me. As if nothing has changed. Yesterday I finished a reading marathon - a 750 page book 'Breaking Dawn' started last Thursday - the last of 4 books by Stephenie Meyer (don't get them out unless you can cope with the idea of vampires!). Helen and I have greatly anticipated this last one, and now it's over. What a great story it was too!
But just a story.
I've reverted to that Jeffries gene I jokingly call it, that Helen and I both have - reading non-stop, or movies, or anything to take us to another place (cheaply). A better place, where there's adventure, action, beauty and above all, romance.
I'm sure I do this because there's not enough happening LIKE THAT in my life right now. I like my jobs, I like being single, I like being in the church in the neighbourhood, but somehow the WOW factor is missing, and I'm not convinced it exists elsewhere except in stories (movies, books, dreams). If I had more money, I'd travel - even then I can already imagine what I'd see and do and the return to this life afterwards, and then what?
I know the WOW factor is the Lord. Given the nature of who He is, what He has done and is doing, the greatness and immeasurability of his heart, the intensity of his devotion and selflessness, I can understand (with the feeble grasp my own mind has) that what I long for (in my escaping) is Him. I know I'm going about it the wrong way.
I guess - subconsciously - I want all the THRILL without it costing me anything.
This life I've sorted out so comfortably around me, so that I am kept busy and able to pay my rent, and have time to socialize or escape. This life I am so familiar with; what if, in gaining more of Him, I lose that. Or worse, I lose more than that?
Just writing about that now, I realise that I've probably been more afraid of that than I know. It's easier to deal with that which I can control to an extent than to cast myself headfirst into the real story, as told by the real storyteller.
But wait - didn't I already do that? I remember a number of times in my life when I've been willingly tossed out of my boat and into the great unknown of His will. I thought you only did it once, but see, I've crawled back up on to the rocks and find myself in a home here, listening to stories again.
It's not good enough.
It's not enough.
In His great mercy, I can see He's let me find my comfort zone again, but now that my dreams, my escapes are starting to be what I look forward to, I wonder if it's not time to cast myself upon the waters once more.
To quote the words from one of our songs:
'Each day my heart sails further from the shore'.
I'm surrounded here on this bed, by books to help me do just that: 'The Spiritual Guide' by Michael Molinos, 'The Seeking Heart' by Fenelon, 'Spiritual Torrents' by Jeanne Guyon.
Ah, and there it is, on the preface of MM's book: "A great deal of suffering awaits us if we follow the Lord as we should".
That's probably the nub of my fear revealed - I so much WANT the Lord, but the cost will ever be suffering of some sort. You know, I listen to the rain falling outside, from this vantage point of my bed with books strewn all around me and I KNOW the reward has always far outweighed that which I fear. It always has. So here goes:
"Lord, I want to know more of you."
And I'm copying this all over into in my blog so that I have some truly unseen witnesses (along with the other unseen witnesses) to this fresh - surrender - of mine. I'll try and keep a true record of my days as they unfold. . . so help me, God.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Wellington . . . at last!

Here Helen and I are at the start of our weekend in Wellington - enjoying the first of few delightful meals or coffee at the local cafes. This one in Cuba Street.
the large suspended silver fern ball over the plaza by the art gallery
the walk through to Te Papa - the museum - and the fabulous structures along the way
the distant sight of some pacific performers about to go into the town hall
Te Papa in the distance. . .
Fish bridge. . .
WONDERFUL coffee, and how could I resist the nougat?

The entrance to Te Papa
Looking down inside. . .
Our room at the Youth Hostel - and the view I woke up to as the sun rose over the harbour
Olives, anyone?
A lost umbrella made a pretty photo this morning
We walked along for breakfast to Oriental Parade, and the fountain there.
Had breakfast at this cute little cafe, larger than it seems, inside. . .
Typical Oriental Bay housing. . .

Inside the cafe at Oriental Bay
Took a long bus trip around to Eastbourne, and the driver kindly dropped us off close enough to take photos of the snow on the top of the South Island. Yep, those are mountains you see.
Mmmmm, soup, quiche, and blueberry and apple crumble.
Helen with her back to the city, at Eastbourne beach
Gorgeous day, and what a way to see Wellington by public transport.