She lives yet…

I have been absent without excuse for months now. It’s unforgivable, I know. It’s just I’ve had nothing to say—nothing worthwhile anyway—and in a world crammed full of information and activity, cyber-traffic and constant noise, I just needed some quiet. I thought you might need the same.

If life goes in seasons, it has been winter for me.

There are times when you feel the thrill and excitement of spring; new buds bursting their way out of the winter barrenness, bright flowers shooting skywards to catch the returning sun. This has not been one of those times.

There are times you feel the celebration of colour and the ripe abundance of fruit, the reward for your hard labour and a time for feasting, sharing and giving generously. This has not been one of those seasons either.

There are times you feel the changing moods from deep greens to crisp reds and yellows and down into lifeless browns, the falling off of things no longer needed and the last minute rush to store away for the coming months of lack. I’ve not been here either.

This has been a season of loss. A time when things I thought were important have shrivelled up and fallen away. The landscape has been barren and I’ve had to live off of last season’s stores. I have discovered there are things I thought were true, but are not. People I thought I could trust, whom I could not. A way things were, that they are not. The big pop you heard followed by a heart-aching silence was the sound of the bubble bursting. It hurt. It really, really hurt…for a while.

At the beginning of the year, I asked God what kind of year it was going to be. He’s told me most years, and it usually turns out the way He says. Last year he said it would be a year of hope and we have friends back who we thought we’d farewelled forever and the precious beginnings of little people who now gurgle and coo their way into our hearts with increasing ferocity. This year I was expecting something good, better than good, something great…but He said it was going to be a year of loss. I thought I’d heard wrong. I hadn’t.

There have been lost loved ones, and our hearts grieve. There have been lost opportunities, though I regret to inform, no loss of weight! But there are things we can afford to lose as well—illusions, misconceptions, idealistic fantasies. A good dose of reality can go a long way to setting you up for the good that has yet to arrive in your life. It makes you think about what you really believe, what you really want, and who you really are…and a barren winter with fruitless branches and long, cold nights set you up for the glorious celebration that arrives in the spring…for the bursting bloom of colour on the branch, the trill of birds dancing in awakening delight, the new shoots of life bursting through the cold soil to feel the kiss of sunshine and the pink snow of blossoms twirling lazily on a spring breeze.

The Psalmist was right. Weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

…and if you’re still reading this, thank you! May morning take you by surprise and may you be kissed by heaven’s grace.

 

I bet you thought I’d dropped off the end….

….of the planet/page/line. But I didn’t, I’m still here and adjusting to life in the real world again. It’s amazing how good a full night of sleep feels.

I have been reading Yannick Haenel’s book, “The Messenger” . It is a fascinating combination of historical fact and interpretive fiction. The book is about a man called Jan Karski, a Polish Resistance fighter who played a vital role in the Polish Underground during WWII. Mr Karski was rescued from the hands of the Gestapo and charged with a mission to carry a number of messages to the Allies on behalf of the Polish Government in Exile and the Jews of Europe. He was to become The Messenger and, ultimately, the message.

Y’all know this is a particular favourite concept of mine, and that what happened to the Jews during WWII is something that fascinates me for a number of reasons. This book is a unique take on both of those subjects. It intrigued and irritated me in equal proportion.

I watched the footage of Jan Karski’s testimony for Claude Lanzmann’s benchmark movie  about the Holocaust: Shoah. (Thank God for You Tube.) It is hard not to see a man tormented by what he saw in the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw and the Izbica Lubelska concentration camp, a man tormented by the messages he was sent to deliver tot he Allies; messages they chose to ignore.

This book raises more questions than it answers. There were questions I never thought to ask, answers I never thought to question. For example, why, when the Allies had sufficient evidence of the mass extermination of the Jews of Europe, did they fail to respond. Why, when the war was over and 6,000,000 Jews had been exterminated, did the Allies hold the Nuremberg trials where they passed Judgement on the Nazi’s for these crimes against humanity at the same time as perpetrating an equal crime against humanity by dropping atomic bombs on Japan. I am ashamed to admit that the hypocrisy never once crossed my mind. And yet there it sits, mocking.

I’m not a particularly political person, but I am fascinated by the idea of what it means to be human, and how humans behave and think. This book is a disturbing exploration of whether or not such a thing as Humanity can still exist in a post-WWII world.

Another unanswerable question.

People still slaughter other people all over the world for no reason than their otherness. The rest of the world still looks on despite evidence of these inhuman crimes. We argue against war, we rail against laying the lives of our sons on the altar of foreign wars, we preach against the slaughter of animals for food. But men still kill and rape and torture other men and women and children. And all over the world, we turn away those who seek refuge from us, those whose lives are under threat, those who fear what history has taught us humankind is capable of. We turn them away, and fail to act. All for good reason, all in defense of our own rights as humans. In the name of humanity, we do the inhuman.

“[I often thought of a sentence by Kafka]:’Far, far from you, world history is unfolding, the world history  of your soul.’ This sentence was intended for me, as it was for all of my students, and for you. We think that world history is happening far away from us, it always seems to be occurring without us,  but in the end we realise that it is the history of our souls.”

Jan Karski carried messages that he was faithful to deliver, but the world was unwilling to hear. He delivered messages that carried the hopes of millions into the ears of the powerful. The messages themselves were powerful.  The hope of the desperate was powerful. But the power of those who had the most potential to act was impotent. Jan Karski delivered his messages and then became the message: if we who have the power to act fail to, we have lost our humanity, lost our conscience.

The book infuriated me. And challenged me. And grieved me.

There are more questions than answers, and that is a little uncomfortable. good, but uncomfortable.

I’ve had enough…

No one tells you when you become a parent there will be days when you literally come to the end of yourself. I am there tonight. Not just at the end of myself, but beyond …

In the past 42 hours, I’ve had about 4 hours of sleep because my four year old has a gastric infection that has his stomach twisting up with cramp about every 30 minutes. It was bad last night, and he cried through the night while I rocked him  and rubbed his back and warmed a heat pack over and again when its gentle heat kept the cramping to a minimum. He slept on and off all day (something he hasn’t done in years) always touching me, needing my constant reassurance each time the wave of cramping began to swell towards him.

The doctor says there is nothing we can do- he is too young for anti-spasmodic meds. The parent help line says I’m doing everything I can.

but when my little boy shake his fists in the air and asks me, the desperation etched in his face and voice; “Mommy, when is the pain going to stop?”

Then my best is not enough. And neither of us can take any  more. So I sit and cry with him until he rides the tail end of each cramping wave into a few minutes of sleep. I’ve given up on sleeping myself. I’ve had enough. Where is the stop button. I can’t do this any more….and yet I do…because he’s mine…and he needs me to. It’s hurting me beyond words…but he’s still the one in pain.

Never let me go…GM, little boys with boobs and Kazuo Ishiguro

I know why I don’t like to eat genetically modified food: I don’t know what it’s going to do to me…or to my family.

In a rapidly expanding world where populations increase exponentially and natural resources are depleted in response to this rapid growth, it’s hard to argue with innovations that could lead to the production of viable and sustainable options re the production of food, fuel and drinkable water.

Increasing percentages of these expanding populations are suffering from cancers, dementia and other diseases making it is hard to argue with innovations that could lead to treatment options whether it be stem cells or organ transplants. Who would have thought we’d welcome (with ooh’s and aah’s no less) an ear grown on the back of a mouse! We did.

A few years ago I read a book called Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I don’t know that I can recommend it entirely because I found it both confronting and uncomfortable . Over time I have come to realise it was almost prophetic in its foresight. Online executions, the explosion of internet porn and voyeuristic sex online and the outbreak of new viruses, to name but a few, appeared alongside creatures bred and modified, cloned and mutated for convenience or practicality.

Not all of these things exist only in the world of fiction. We see terrorist executions online, internet porn and leaked sex tapes are an everyday viewing option in thousands of homes and little boys are growing boobs because they are being fed meat that is so high in oestrogen.

How does all this fit in with Kazuo Ishiguro? He wrote a book called “Never Let Me Go.” It deals, in a very human way, with the other side of a very topical debate.: How do we provide for the desperate need for healthy transplant organs for those fighting for their lives.

This book (and the movie of the same name) looks into the moral issues surrounding the issue of cloning and raises questions as to the very nature of the ethics by which a society chooses what it perceives to be the best course of action. Unfortunately, I can’t really tell you too much without ruining the story, so you will have to watch it yourself…then let’s have a really good chat about it, shall we?

If you thought the Nazi take on eugenics was wrong, if you can’t imagine why cloning is an issue, if you found the movie The Island terrifying or fascinating, you’ll find this book/movie food for thought. (warning, it is not GMO free and may contain traces of nuts.)

Top ten quirky favourites…

1. the word quirky…and the fact that I have a ‘qwerty’ keyboard…both lovely words to wrap your lips around. One of the ladies in my writer’s group gave me a new favourite phrase this month…’the scurf from her scarf’…say it out loud, I dare you! (©  S Kay 2010)

2. shopping for vegetables…especially in a fruit and veg shop where the produce is piled together in families. I get soooo excited by the lush green celery lying sedately beside the sour pink of the rhubarb (another beautiful word right there). I run my eyes over the sunshine yellow of the little flower-shaped patty pan squashes and can’t help rubbing the bulbous purple-black of the aubergines. The lemons sit smiling alongside their orange cousins and the perky little limes, the apples—a rainbow display—scent the air already tinged with mango sweetness. Is it any wonder I’m a vegetarian?

3. sitting outside (and under cover) during a rainstorm…listening to Nina Simone…in the dark.

4. pouring chocolate cake mixture into the baking pan! Need I say more…the texture, the smell, the colour, the viscosity….

5. shaping a batch of warm bread dough into a smooth, white mushroom of yeasty possibility! It’s grown up play dough…that you can eat!

6. opening a new book…and then, much later on, checking the size of the wedge of pages I still have to read until the end. It’s especially exciting when I love the book and the wedge is still huge…it means there are still hours to spend in an alternate universe. I enjoy the pleasure even more when the book is one in a series that I have enjoyed or it’s one that I’ve read before. I re-read the following books frequently: Redeeming Love (Francine Rivers), The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffeneger), Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), the Twilight books (Stephenie Meyer), The Book Thief  (Marcus Zusak) and the Monster Blood Tattoo series (DM Cornish)…and the Bible.

7. the perfect cup of tea at the perfect temperature—hot enough to burn your throat, but not hot enough to burn your tongue—preferably from a teacup…what style of teacup is too complicated to explain, but I know one when I see one. And the tea tastes best when it has been poured from a tea pot, and is followed by a second cup. When I die they will find that, where some people are made up of 70 % water, I am 65% tea!

8. the smell of jasmine warming in the sunshine. The only thing better is lying on the grass  (or a green blanket…it must be green) smelling the flower’s sun-distilled perfume.

9. swimming in the dark. I love that moment of slipping into the water and the soft lapping splip of cold water embracing warm skin and the echoing slap of the same ripple as it hits the wall of the swimming pool at the end of its short journey.

10. long-pronged forks and knives with long, rounded blades (like the old fashioned boned butter knives), not to mention soup spoons with deep, rounded bowls and real old-fashioned tablespoons. I trawl through op shops for them and fight the temptation to buy more than I have room for (but come on, at 20 cents each, I can afford a few…dozen…extras)

What are your quirky ten?  Go on, unburden yourself…you know you’ve been itching to tell someone!

Sometimes I ‘see’ things…

In the community in which I live, there has been an event devastating in its scope and impact. It has rocked so many things that we thought were solid and immovable. It has brought with it tremendous grief for those whom it has affected directly and grief for us who are it’s secondary victims. I cannot speak about details in this context because it is not my story to share though the grief is, though I too was betrayed.

This blog has been a place to speak about the process of grieving, to tell these people whom I love dearly, that it is normal to feel all these things when tragedy touches your life. The day after it happened, over 250 people dropped in here to see what I would say about it, how I would react. There were people who stopped by from all over the world who heard what had happened. Most of them wanted to know that we were ok. Thank you for caring.

The truth is I feel strong. My friends, do you  recall as I do,  that I stood up six months ago when we were together on our hill and said that I had seen something…an earthquake…do you remember? Do you remember that I said I saw it hit us, that I saw fires, floods, ground shaking and rupture, landslides, tsunami’s and soil liquefaction (when the soil turns to liquid)? Do you remember? It was the weekend of the Japanese Tsunami. Do you remember that I said that even though all these things could be devastating, could destroy us, that if we keep our focus right, in tune, resonating, that it would not destroy us but lead to good—to changed landscapes. Do you remember? Do you remember that horrible little diagram I drew and the clip I showed you?

Now do you remember it? The shaking will lead to patterns of increasing beauty and complexity.

So stay tuned…resonate….be full of hope….we were prepared for this! We are strong, we are together, we have each other…

We are changing, a kaleidoscope of patterns of increasing beauty and complexity. You, me, the way we are…and what we will become!

Storm the Troopers…

Some dreams just have a way of bumping into you….my boys were delighted to run into these familiar fellows at the beach in Melbourne, a few meters from Luna PArk. It was a boy’s dream come too….okay, and their dad and I were disappointed we didn’t have our photo taken!

 

 

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