Monday, 19 November 2007

The Hummingbird

Puzzling this morning over a large jungle jigsaw with my daughter, I noticed for the first time a small hummingbird... and remembered Capistrano in February 1998, where I first saw real hummingbirds.

Whizzing and whirring in the conference centre gardens, daylight shooting stars... too fast to see... then the torrential downpours of El Nino overnight, and one tiny bird exhausted and wet, gasping as it lay full length (about 2 inches) in the palm of a man's hand. I got a really good look at its perishing beauty.

The sorrow for this minuscule creature, the compassion from these theology students, attempting a rescue, where none might be possible... and my having to leave, not knowing how the story would end.
"not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father noticing it" Mt 10.29

"If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him." Mt 7.11

Grace in the mystery of a memory.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Lions for Lambs

Preachy? Maybe a bit. But I want to see this one again.
Engage with it.
Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise... Another film about the US' international wars. This one juxtaposes the disengagement in domestic crises, by taking two students from bad areas and schools, who make it into political science majors and then sign up, so that when - if - they return as war veterans, the country will HAVE to listen to them.

Since I work with students, what worked for me was the inspiring and challenging of young people to engage the world for positive change, rather than opt out through cynicism, hedonism or sheer lack of vision.

The impossible position of the Media, enslaved to corporations, no longer free to critique the policies and politicians, and the Powers which influence and control them, highlighted the need for new communities of truth-telling, not owned or manipulable by the Powers. Individuals with integrity can't be effective alone; they need others to support them, to go down together, but to make a splash doing so.

In the end, it's all about timing. Knowing when to stand up, and when to keep your head down. Even the best people, with the most integrity, engaging the best they know how, may make little impact if they stand up too late... or too soon.

Where I come from, (Belfast... Planet Earth...) compromise means we are all sullied with each others' sins and mistakes; but it is also what enables some sort of future.

3 Reasons Why Gold is Headed for $1500 An Ounce

I should be grateful to Christianity Today for its email, with the above title this morning, so disinterestedly pointing me towards the possibility of making higher profit than in the shaky stock market, by investing in gold. But I was shocked, - and angry all day. It was a Books & Culture email, so I imagined it was a clever trail for a book that would be critical of the quest for riches and financial security without questioning the ethics of our investments... so I read on... and on... and even clicked on the link to see the Christian punch line. It never came. Or rather, the punch line seemed to be: the stock market is fragile, so get out (never mind that you are contributing to its decline), and invest - not in communities of faith who can cushion the blow for those at the bottom, but in gold bullion.

Actually, though I'm angry, I am grateful. Because I still have two coats, and even spare shoes... Grateful. For the reminder of the god of material gain, which shapes and guides our lives, and for whom we make so many great sacrifices of time and freedom. "5000 years of history says Gold is a protector of wealth. This makes Gold Eagles an excellent investment for profit, privacy and times of economic and market uncertainty." Christianity Today says so, so there.

Let's forget that economically unprofitable Teacher then, who said something like Don't invest in your financial security; invest in the kingdom of God. When he said (see Luke 12.33) "Sell what you have and give it to the poor," Jesus clearly didn't realise that true worth is not in the people made in God's image. Now we know the truth: even the stock market is faulty, because it too is a human community of faith. Ditch it. Don't trust it. True Wealth is protected by cold gold.

That old teacher got one thing right, though. Moths and rust can't eat it.

So that's all right then.

Isn't it?

Sunday, 4 November 2007

I wonder as I wander

Wondering... As a child, I loved the film, Paint Your Wagon, especially two of its songs: I was born under a Wanderin' Star; and I talk to the trees. Now, rooted in Belfast, my journey is in my mind and outwards to learn to love others - fairly carbon-neutral. I don't know if trees read blogs, but they never listened anyway.

I loved Christmas too, and Christmas carols. I wonder as I wander... I never quite got the hang of "We Three Kings", but kept coming back to look at the Star of Wonder. These ramblings may reflect some of the sparkle of my journey, a pinpoint testimony to a real time and place somewhere in the universe, from which a particular ray of light reached earth, and was noticed by a traveller.

Inspired by the brilliant Truth in Translation at the Lyric theatre in Belfast on Friday night, it's time to put down markers, say where we've been, what we've done, what's been done to us... my own little Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to keep me moving forward and not back, while we find ways of Healing Through Remembering. Maybe when Northern Ireland has done its remembering, we will learn to forgive and receive permission to forget. (Much of this was discussed at the CCCI conference, Divided Past, Shared Future on Saturday.) When we sort ourselves out, we might even start looking at what we're doing to children in Iraq...

Talking of which... I also met Shane Claiborne in Belfast this week, and read The Irresistible Revolution. This guy and his Gospel ring true. There's an integrity and love which resonates with the Gospels' accounts of Jesus. He embodies simplicity, humility, willingness to suffer and take risks in order to follow Jesus. It makes the rest of us uncomfortable. Too much to lose. And too little imagination or faith to see what we might gain... The journey continues...