Friday, July 25, 2014

Down with the shine


Pruning roses



Yesterday I pruned a front yard of roses for an elderly couple in our church. It's been a long time since I've pruned that many roses in one go...my hand was throbbing last night as I went to bed. It still hurts to pick up a heavy kettle this morning. But it was a very satisfying job. I really enjoy the process of pruning roses. Pulling weeds? Not so much. Mowing the lawn? Um, no. But pruning roses is a quiet joy.

It's meditative. You think of very little else as you cut. And it's like a puzzle. You look closely at the stems, finding the right swelling of the branch to cut back to and all the time mentally mapping the future growth of the plant to create the right shape and ensure that you don't have branches crossing over each other. Should you keep this branch at all? How hard should it be cut back? You are planning out invisible future branches and making something beautiful that hasn't grown yet.

If rose pruning isn't a great metaphor for life, I'll go he. So many of the smaller spindly branches need to be cut off entirely. But you know that there are branches there that will bear blooms. If you are pruning early in the season, some of them still are bearing blooms. You are cutting off potential. But if you don't, the future potential of the plant is reduced. You cut so that it will bloom more wonderfully and you shape to reduce the likelihood of disease and weakness.

Lately, I've been chewing again on busyness and tasks and opportunities and priorities. It's like the question that never goes away. I was re-reading this post from Jenny which is an echo of my own thoughts at the moment. It is not possible for me to the perfect mother and wife, perfect employee, perfect church member, perfect friend, perfect citizen and so on all at the same time. I need to accept that my "pruning" of various opportunities is not a mark of failure but an effort at blooming better in the long run.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rethinking homelessness

Via here.

Prose and weeping

Image result for housekeeping robinsonOn the weekend I read Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson.  It's the first Marilyn Robinson book I've read. I think I read the wrong one. I'd heard so many good things about Marilyn Robinson from Ali and Meredith and so I had high hopes but...

The book was a disappointment. Didn't really enjoy it at all.  Liked elements of the plot. Enjoyed a bit here and there.  But some passages were just odd and the whole thing left me feeling unsatisfied at the end. Some of the descriptions took us off down rabbit holes that didn't add to the central thrust.  It was all too ethereal (which, admittedly, was part of the theme of impermanence but still didn't make me like the book) and what was actually occurring in the plot was at times difficult to understand. It reminded me somewhat of those really long passages from David Malouf which spend two pages describing birds till you are nearly exhausted with the desire to know what the point might be.  I feel like I'm letting all my poetic and literary friends down right now.  But it just didn't do it for me.

However, today I listened to a podcast that made me weep.  Unexpectedly weep in the kitchen when I should be starting the dishes.  And I'm not sure if it just struck me in an odd mood and whether it is one of those things that no one else will be able to see why I should care.... but at that moment for me it seems so poignant and so full of longing and love, that I cried for the beauty of it all.  You may think me crazy afterwards, but it was the July 12 edition of the podcast for Lake Wobegon (a podcast I must thank my good friends in PNG for first bring to my attention years ago).  You might have to be a fan of the series to appreciate the humour (if you aren't into vomit stories maybe give it a miss) that leads up to the song at the end (I realise I'm apologising repeatedly for my enjoyment of the podcast but I'm just not sure that you aren't going to think I've lost my mind if you listen to such an obscure piece of radio broadcast).  It's just that the final song, an adaptation of a passage from the Song of Solomon, was sung so sweetly but with the humour of the everyday mixed in.  It was like a moment that combined both the excellence and ordinariness of true love.  Not the extraordinary cinematic type of love. But the kind of the love that inhabits the spaces of ordinary people. The love of 60 years.  The love that treasures you even when you're tired and there's baby spit on your shoulder. The love that sees you as their own dear one even though you are fading and the world is aging and life is full of the divine and the ordinary and the everyday and the eternal and the absurd.  Maybe no one but me is going to see what I saw in it.  But here it is anyway.  Enjoy it and weep a little if you want to.  But don't feel bad if you think I'm just nuts.  Maybe all prose and meaning is somewhat an acquired taste.  Go and read Marilyn Robinson or Malouf if you want to instead.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sir Nicholas Winton

What an extraordinary man! Thanks to CardsAsGifts for sending me the links to this story.  Sir Nicholas Winton is a guy who saw a great need and didn't decide that it was none of his business.  Just before the outbreak of the second world war, he managed to bring 669 Jewish children to safety in Great Britain.  He told hardly anyone about what he had done but he did keep an old scrapbook with the names of the children he had saved.  In the video below, he is sitting in the audience during the filming of a program about his work.  He doesn't know that sitting around him are the children he saved.

HT

Then for the longer story, watch this one.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Stretching

I had a bit of a freak out last night when I realised that my next two weeks are basically booked solid. And I haven’t got there yet but they are already looking like a marathon. I don’t know if I’m saying ‘yes’ when I should be saying ‘no’ or whether I just need to accept that this is a very busy season of life and grow with it.

I don’t know.

I’ve had visitors staying with us on and off for the last two months and for all of the school holidays so far. It’s been hectic. I feel the energy levels running low and yet the term is just about to begin and it’s already too tight to mention. I want to be full of hospitality and visit the sick and spend quality time with my children and write fabulous curriculum for work and keep a beautifully clean and well-organised home and love my husband with small kindnesses and discipline my children well and catch up with old friends and cook beautiful food and get my hair cut and do some kind of regular exercise and read books and ensure all my children’s homework and piano practice is actually done and prune the roses. And broker world peace.

But that’s not going to happen.

There’s a little buzzer going off somewhere in my gut saying that I am flying too low and too fast. I’m not sure whether to stamp on it and get a better attitude (is this all one big fancy whinge? first world problem?) or listen to it and take a rest. But I can’t worry about that right now. I need to go shoe shopping with the five-year old whose sneakers have a hole in them.