Pourquoi pas?

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Meditating on Silence

Take some time to be silent…

Quite often it is hard for us to keep silent
as the world around us keeps busy
and noisy

We try, but after a short while we become restless
we wonder what will happen next
when will the silence end?
We feel uncomfortable with the silence

During the day, we go from one conversation to another
sometimes with other people
or with the TV
sometimes we have conversations with ourselves
shouting in our heads
or with the music we blast out our pocket MP3 players

We forget that in surrounding ourselves with so much noise
we fail to listen to voices that can only be heard in the silence

The silent cry of the oppressed
the plea of a friend hurting deep down inside
the small voice inside our hearts
our body’s request to slow down
and even the whisper
of God

Close your eyes as you re-enter the silence

This silence is a time of rest
it is our Sabbath before we go back to all the things we need to do today

In this silence our soul remembers
the graciousness of God
the blessings we have received

This silence is a safe and peaceful place

Give yourself permission to relax
the world and its troubles can wait as you stop to breathe

Let the silence heal you as you stretch your hand
and surrender your cares to the one who has saved you

And as you open your eyes
let the love of God flow through you
that you may share that love with others as you go forth to your day
as you listen
let the God of life lead us in the way of justice and peace

(as delivered at the Ecumenical Center chapel, 04.10.12, some references in the text taken from the readings and songs that were part of the order of worship)


not I, but God

We were having dinner last night and got to talking about teaching the kids at Church School and the various experiences I’ve encountered. At some point, a friend who was sitting next to me said: “wow, it must be really hard… I mean, you need to be able to think on your feet!” and I was like… “true!”

The prime example happened that very morning when one of the kids in class, a little boy barely 3 years old, determinedly informed me that he has found something really interesting that I need to see and returns from the other room with a big globe in his hand, telling me (still with extreme determination while shoving the globe to my hands): “This is what I’ve been telling you about. Take it!” And that is how I had to rebuild my lesson plan for the day in roughly 10 seconds.

Of course I could’ve chosen to ignore him, let his dad (who was standing a few meters behind me anyway) grab the globe off him, or to simply say “that’s wonderful, now let’s get back to our lesson today!” except that if I chose to do that, I would’ve lost this kid’s trust and attention, along with everyone else’s attention as the globe being shoved to me has pretty much captivated everyone. Some little side lesson for people working with children — 1. a big ball always spells f-u-n, and 2. when you have gotten everybody to focus on one thing, use that thing to move forward instead of trying to distract them from it and getting them to focus on something else.

So I had no choice but to take the globe in my hand. “Thank you,” I said to the little boy who happily ran over to his dad. I had seven kids staring at the globe in my hand. It’s make or break. I noticed a boy who was new and went to ask him, “so where do your parents come from?” this worked because at our very international church, everybody was from a different country. I soon got the kids engaged in trying to find the different countries on the globe, and then started singing “He’s got the whole world” (there’s a side story to that with regards to being gender inclusive but let’s keep it at this for the moment) and linked it to how good God is, taking care of all of us little ones… and then I moved into telling them the story of how God took care of the Israelites — the story of Moses that I was supposed to tell them this week according to our actual curriculum book. I am fairly confident that nobody would’ve guessed that I have just made all those connections right then and there, as I was speaking them.

The question is… how did I do THAT? No doubt experience has some parts to play in it — after all, I’ve been doing this since I was 14 — but there was no way I could’ve done it on my own. No, no, no… I don’t care what arguments you give about how the brain when properly stimulated is capable of great creativity etc., there was no way that on my own I could’ve chosen the right words to be able to link one part to the other without pausing. And it’s not just this Sunday morning that this happened. There have been more examples, it happens quite a lot: words flow and making logical sense and connection as I speak them despite it being impromptu. One of my favourite moment was when I was preaching, holding my complete sermon in hand and yet as I spoke new ideas came up and were miraculously woven into my sentences. I had diverted from my notes but it actually made a better sermon!

My answer as to how things like this are possible is this verse from Luke 12:12, taken a little bit out of context (although I could make a good case of how having to teach a bunch of hyperactive kids or to preach to at least 600 congregants on a Sunday morning is almost like being brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities — see Luke 12:11) and yet making perfect sense:

For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said (NLT).

When these little “miracles” happen, I am reminded that it is indeed not I who am speaking to these kids or to the congregation, but God.

staying home and contemplating…

I woke up at half past ten this morning, and it took me about five minutes to actually realize how late it was. The day then continued to be a lazy day. I did not go out of the apartment at all, and was only out of the bed to take a nice long bath and to have breakfast/lunch/dinner which was basically one meal.

I had three things (three?) on my to do list for the day: 1. finish writing the Sunday School curriculum, 2. prepare the prayers for Monday morning worship… and 3. umm, come to a decision of whether or not I would like to and can stay for another four months here in Geneva (provided the cantonal officers decide to be gracious). This third point is ridiculous, in fact, because I know the resounding answer is yes. What I was thinking about, however, and what took most of my time, was thinking and rethinking all the possible scenarios of things I’d like to do, I’d have to do and I’d likely be doing.

Having spent hours on this subject, with the documents for the Sunday School curriculum open, I decided it’s high time to start working on it, so I tried… but it’s been quite a while and I just blanked out and got REALLY frustrated. I say really frustrated cause it got my thoughts spinning like crazy going all the way to “but what if the world ends in December 2012?” Don’t ask how that happened cause I have no clue!

Anyway, here’s the thing. I have drifted away quite far from my theology/ministry background, gotten unused to reading, reflecting, contemplating, writing, connecting, delivering. I have also somehow managed to slipped away from the emotional balance I had regained when I first came to Switzerland. I can elaborate more on why now cause I’ve contemplated this as well, but it might merit a separate post. Needless to say, the last few days I’ve been an emotional mess… but at this point right now, I’m ready to say that I’m okay… and I’m ready to re-start in order to move forward.

Quite randomly I found this song on a friend’s blog that I haven’t visited in a long, long while, and while it might not be directly related, I do feel like this song is speaking to me in a way, almost like it’s a sign. I’ll keep the details to myself for now though 🙂

Smiling but you’re broken, hurting barely coping
Out there waiting, hoping
For someone, somewhere
To tell you what you’re missing
So you can get to living
You feel way beyond forgiven
You’ve tried everything
You’re not too far away
You can’t fall too far to save
Sounds unbelievable, but you’re not unreachable
Just take the hand of grace
Your sins have been replaced
By something beautiful, you’re not unreachable
Let mercy pull you closer, your fight is finally over
Stop running, where you going
Give into love
No need for resistance, this time it will be different
Love will go the distance
Wherever you are
You’re not too far away
You can’t fall too far to save
Sounds unbelievable, but you’re not unreachable
Just take the hand of grace
Your sins have been replaced
By something beautiful, you’re not unreachable
You’ve been waiting to be rescued from your shame
But He was there, before you called His name
You’re not too far away
You can’t fall too far to save
Sounds unbelievable, but you’re not unreachable
Just take the hand of grace
Your sins have been replaced
By something beautiful, you’re not unreachable
You’re not unreachable, you’re not unreachable

Il est trop tard (the narrative) — 48

Que no has conocido a nadie que te bese como yo, que no hay otro hombre en tu vida, que de ti se beneficie… depende.* — Depende, Jarabe de Palo

“Should we head home?”
“Why?? Because we’re soaking wet and the wind is blowing and we might get sick otherwise.”
“Ah. Good point. Can I get just one more kiss?”
“You can get a thousand more once we’re home.”

But he gave her another kiss right there and then anyway.

That you have not known anyone who would kiss you like I did, that there is no other man in your life who is rich from being with you… it depends.

Il est trop tard (the narrative) — 47

J’avoue j’en ai bave pas vous, mon amour, avant d’avoir eu vent de vous, mon amour. Ne vous deplaise, en dansant la Javanaise, nous nous aimions le temps d’une chanson.* — La Javanaise, Serge Gainsbourg

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music,” the quote by Nietzsche came to Aimee’s mind as she saw the facial expression of most people who were rushing down the street, trying to get wherever they were heading quickly as the rain poured and the wind blew. They were dancing, she and Thomas, to the same music, despite the fact that the only sound to be heard was the pouring rain. He smiled at her, twirled her, and caught her in his embrace. They kissed, the rain disappeared, the wind disappeared, the people disappeared. They kissed some more.

*I admit I went through hell, didn’t you my love? Before I met you, my love. Whether it pleases your or not, while dancing the Javanaise,
we loved each other for the length of a song.

Il est trop tard (the narrative) — 46

Slow down, you crazy child, and take the phone off the hook and disappear for awhile. It’s all right, you can afford to lose a day or two. When will you realize, Vienna waits for you? — Vienna, Billy Joel

“What? What happened? Are you okay?”
“I just realized I forgot my phone…”
“So? Is there something important you’re waiting for?”
“What could possibly be more important than spending time with me?”
“Do you really want me to answer that question?”
“Of course not. Nothing is more important than that.”

Il est trop tard (the narrative) — 45

I once loved a woman, a child I’m told. I give her my heart but she wanted my soul, but don’t think twice, it’s all right. — Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, Bob Dylan

Dave stared at his phone again, reading the message from Aimee for the tenth or so time this morning. He hits the reply button and starts typing.

“I love you, Aimee…”

Clear text.

He wonders what Aimee is doing right now.

You know you haven’t been blogging for too long when…

You can’t remember what your password is. On the bright side of things though, I got it right on the first guess, so maybe it hasn’t been THAT long after all. This blog is getting very much neglected though, that much I can say. But seriously, who finds the time to blog in between work, sleep and play?? It’s odd actually, when you look at these blogs that tell you to live your life, etc. and yet they are somehow able to write something while doing that. I mean, it’s just NOT possible. I hardly even have time to write in my diary! Well, to write something meaningful and reflective, that is. Of course I manage to write the crappy “this is what happened today” things. ANYWAY, yes, this is just me doing random babbles. Just checking in to say that I’m indeed still alive, and still living my life of being twenty seven — although it has just dawned on me that I’ll be 28 in just 3 months. Now that’s scary.

Loving you…

“That’s because you’re madly in love with him!” he said for the third or fourth time in the last three hours we spent together.

I smacked his arm with the book I had in my hand. “I’m not,” I said, “at least not anymore… or at least I don’t think I am. I don’t know, it’s just different…”

“Different how?” he asked.

“Well, I don’t know… like, I don’t feel attracted to him physically… well, I wouldn’t mind kissing him, but that’s it… and yet… Gosh, I don’t know.”

“Physical attractions are common, but a mental connection is rare.” — Unknown

Maybe I am madly in love with you, on a deeper level than infatuation, a level where there’s no such thing as lust, but only love. The kind of love that makes me want to spend every possible moment with you, just to be, and nothing more. The kind of love that makes me worry about you, care about you, wanting to make sure everything is right in your life. The kind of love that makes it possible to have a conversation by simply looking into each others eyes and knowing exactly what the other wants to say. The kind of love that… is just the way I feel about you.

Happy birthday, Dad!

Dear Dad,

I don’t know much about you, and I don’t remember much either. After all, the last time I saw you I was only two. Truth be told, I miss you, and I wish I was able to meet you again, but of course that’s not possible since you are no longer in this world. If you were, however, today would’ve been your 67th birthday, so: happy birthday, Dad!

I still have the teddy bear that you gave for my birth, so aptly named Teddy. He and his bunny friend Hawe will both be turning 28 this year, just like me! I think I still have a birthday card or two that was from you, and of course there’s is that Janosch book. The story of the little tiger who got ill and the little bear trying to help him get well. On the first page you wrote down “for Aiko, may she never be ill” or something like that, sorry Dad, I don’t have it memorized yet. These things however are my treasures, along with the few photos I have of me and you.

But what is more important than all that is that half of me as a human being originated from you, and I must say I’m so glad it did. Thank you, Dad, for loving my mother, and for loving me.

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