Category: Creative


one peter one: three to nine

There’s a steady hum in her cadence,

a glimmer lacing the rhythm of the air

as she speaks, she speaks

the tongue of a distant land.

 

But her kneecaps wear the scars

of a native childhood climbing native trees;

her past flush with the stories

of a girl who bled native blood.

 

There’s a change in her gait:

she now walks like a daughter.

As she sings, she sings

the songs of a strange homeland.

 

She hungers and thirsts for odd things,

and invites us all to taste them too.

She laughs with crinkled eyes at thieves

whose threats can’t take her lot.

 

She looks much the same,

it’s her air that’s the thing:

much brighter, and surer – more her than before.

The stars have dimmed

The stars have dimmed.

 

The keepers of the house,

formerly formidable in dexterity

and deft in independence,

now tremble.

Bested by silver spoons and forks.

 

The stonemasons and grinders

are troubled by spelt bread and marmalade;

The watchmen at the windows

find the familiar now foreign and indiscernible.

The maids eavesdropping at the door

are frustrated, forced to lip-read instead.

 

The stars have dimmed.

But they still twinkle.

Twinkling with the knowledge

of that which is to come.

Of he who is to come.

 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3.11

We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15.51-52

If I can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. Love never fails. But where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13.2

Swollen hearts

As gross as a swollen heart sounds, it’s the only way I can describe the way I feel when I watch these.

‘Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word ‘glory’ a meaning for me. I still do not know where else i could have found one.’ (Lewis, ‘The Four Loves’, p.30)

Renewal

I have been sick, lately. Like the rest of Sydney, apparently.

My usual approach to sickness is to ignore it. If it gets worse I’ll drug up and become more socially inept than I normally am. But very rarely, I get slammed by a flu that morphs into an infection, and end up bedridden for days.

It must’ve been years since the last time that happened, so I was more than a little frustrated when it happened to pop by on the last week my dear friend, Blythe, was visiting Sydney from Oklahoma.

During this time, another friend, Cloudy, sent me a text one evening. It instructed me to check my front doorstep. ‘Lo and behold, this is what I found:

What an act of unmerited kindness!

The card she’d written included this poem, by Helen Steiner Rice. It’s entitled, ‘A Time of Renewal’. It might be a bit cutesy for some (it rhymes, so all the indie kids out there will be cringing in their skinny jeans and fake frames), but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe you will too.

No one likes to be sick

And yet we know

It takes sunshine and rain

To make flowers grow.

And if we never were sick

And we never felt pain,

We’d be like a desert

Without any rain,

And who wants a life

That is barren and dry,

With never a cloud

To darken the sky?

For continuous sun

Goes unrecognised

Like the blessings God sends,

Which are often disguised.

For sometimes a sickness

That seems so distressing

Is a time of renewal

And spiritual blessing.

Today, I felt that there was an analogy between long-distance relationships and the way that the bride of Christ waits for Him to return. This is how I felt the thought could be expressed:

While you are away,

I while away my moments thinking about how

(while you are away)

I while away my moments thinking about you.

 

 

I wish the same were true of the way I waited for Him. Times a million.

 

Because while He is away,

His thoughts of me outnumber the grains of sand in the sea.

Because while He is away (and into all eternity),

He bears scars in His hands and feet.

Not a single moment goes by that He isn’t thinking of me (I’m feeling uncomfortable now).

For, if He were to cease those thoughts,

I would cease.

For, in Him, all things hold together.

 

 

Legging it

5/6/10

these dreams play out;
visions of hope and
impossible possibilities
like invisible projections
upon the lens of
these quotidian eyes.
i blink;
are they still there?
are they still real?

when did fact morph
out of fiction?
restlessness into
a reckless sprint away from
complacency.
the waters are deep
and freezing cold,
but, boy, do i feel alive
for once in this pampered skin
of mine.

Here is something I wrote on 5/8/10. I found it again today.

like teasing out knotted hair,
like scrubbing clean dirty skin,
like resting weary eyes,
like tea on a cold night,
like squeezing out a wooden splinter,
like music that sings your heart,
like walking in the crisp morning air,
like running through the dead of night.

this is the relief honest conversation lends.

Peter

I am realising more and more that the relationships I have been given in my life are of profound worth to me. So, you may have noticed, but I’ve decided to start celebrating those dear to me. One way I like to do that is to write about them.

You hear Lyn before you see her. The air quakes before her laughter and an inexplicable gladness takes hold.


She also has an impossibly high embarrassment threshold.

There was a time when she got caught in torrential rain walking to Redfern station and a kind professor from Gosford invited her to share his umbrella with her. When I say, ‘there was a time’, I mean, this past Monday. As she was recounting this very tale to a group of us girls huddled on the station, just as we inquired “Who was this kind man?”, and just as the words, “A professor from Gosford” had left her mouth, THE VERY MAN HIMSELF appeared half a metre away, looking at the train timetable, and unaware that he was the subject of our anecdotal attentions. Unaware, that is, until Lyn abruptly gestured, “THIS man!!” much to the stunned confusion of the Professor.

He looked at Lyn’s outstretched hand, to this group of girls, and back to Lyn’s hand again in bewilderment. Lyn reminded him that he had just shared an umbrella with her not just 2 minutes prior; he seemed to acknowledge that he remembered that, but looked at her as though that were not sufficient justification for her intrusion into his peaceful examination of the station timetable.

The awkwardness of the moment was palpable. And absolutely FANTASTIC.

We erupted into laughter, and Lyn proclaimed that she was fine, because of her famed insurmountable embarrassment threshold. We then proceeded to grace the packed carriage home with animated conversation regarding whether we would eat a friend if they had died and we were isolated and about to die of starvation (an old can of worms for Lyn and I), much to the silent disapproval of the rest of the peak hour commuters. Again, embarrassment threshold was Lyn’s salvation.

She will also whip out inane facts at parties, like that 70% of the Australian population lives on the Eastern Seaboard. She backs up her arguments with stats, she does.

My friendship with Lyn is characterised by the coexistence of ridiculousness and profundity. It’s not so much that we switch between the two gears, as the two coexist at the one time. I like it; it recognises that life is both serious and ridiculous all at one. And we commune with one another on that basis. Also, food is a significant point of bonding. A very significant point of bonding.

NYC

We will often message one another out of the blue, typically at 2am, with a very serious and deep sentiment. We’ll then exchange thoughts back and forth until we’ve reaching some semblance of peace about the matter.

The other day, Lyn messaged me about this song. It’s stunning, and I think you should listen to it. Right now.

It’s by Elena Tonra, and it’s a song that we’ve had much discussion about over the past year or so. The other day, when Lyn messaged me, we picked up the threads of something of an ongoing conversation that never quite reaches any conclusions. Because it’s not one of those conversations that can ever resolve itself.

But here’s something she wrote, kind of about that conversation. Kind of.

that moment where recognition
of regret and remorse mingle with submission
to mistakes made and lessons learned,
heart-wrestling the line between the forgiven and the forgotten
that i cannot tread perfectly.

peter wouldn’t grow up.
and i am a belt notch.

I love my Lyn. I love the depth at which she lives life. I love her single-minded desire to dwell in her first love, Jesus.

The Foodie and the Chef

My dear friend Katie and I have known each other since early high school, but we got close in Year 12 maths. We’d both dropped from 3U to 2U, except Katie was topping the 3U class and I was on the other end of the spectrum. We sat at the back of the classroom and giggled like the school girls we were, much to the frustration of our dear teacher, Mrs de Gorta. We were insane. (Remember the chick pea man, Katie? And the toilet bowl creative writing piece that the English department didn’t know what to do with?)

 

In any case, Katie would often bring in baked goods to school to distract me from my mathematical misery, and we would discuss the ways we would disrupt the social norms that were so abrasive to us (Katie was going to wear a ripped black t-shirt and spikes to our formal). We also thought about our life plans over them (the baked goods). Katie went from wanting to be a lawyer to a police woman over the course of the year, and oscillated between the two on a fairly regular basis. But I never could have anticipated the exciting story that would unfold!

When she left school she did law for about a semester, before she upped and left, PA’d for a while, then went to London. She opere’d for some crazies, studied at Le Cordon Bleu, lived in Paris by herself as she worked at Laduree, then finally returned to Sydney where she got a job at Tetsuya’s in Sydney. She then bought a house and is renovating it to sell, and does food styling and other freelance gigs on the side. SHE HAS A CAR. Sorry, but, to a poor uni student who lives with her parents, that is huge. SHE HAS A FREAKING CONVERTIBLE!

 

Earlier this year, I met up with Katie for the first time in about 3 years. It was with some apprehension that I walked up to her door and pressed the buzzer, anxious that the time and distance may have severed our friendship beyond hope of rekindling.

As the door swung open, I was harassed by two dogs who were impossibly glad to see me, and a stunningly beautiful Katie with whom I fell back into comfortable conversation. Over the course of the next 3 hours or so, my dear friend and I caught up over her fantastic creation of dragonfruit pavlovas. We filled the time reminiscing, storytelling and giggling; so many CRAZY things had happened in her life over the intervening years. It made me feel decidedly boring! (Almost as inspiring as ‘A Million Miles in a Thousand Years’ by Don Miller)

We then proceeded to make plans for her garden, search for her fugitive dog, and sing Disney songs at some obnoxious decibel in her car as she dropped me home. We laughed a lot.

Katie is brilliant. She is fantastically intelligent, and always has been. But her intelligence is sui generis; she doesn’t think the same way others do. She is innovative, yes, but she’s also creative – the distinction being that one manipulates what already exists, and the other conjures up new things. Katie is a creative chef who pushes the boundaries with experimental flavours and techniques. She is a generous friend, who delights in sharing her creations; she loves food, and she loves making people happy with food.

(She recently made these for her friends: brilliant!)

I definitely recommend her to ANYONE who wants a dinner party or function that will surprise and woo your senses in a very unpretentious way.

This is her blog.

This was born out of a season of frustration.

Time and time again I had tried to improve myself by trying harder. To love people more selflessly; to honour God more fully; to die to myself and live for Him who died to bring me life. But these were goals unattainable to my own resources. I got to a pretty low point, where I just felt a bit battered, to be honest.

That’s the thing about the grace, though. It comes and ministers to you when you are most broken. Like a cool breeze on a stifling night, grace whispers that you will never have enough fuel to be enough; but that that is the point. You don’t have to muster it. You can stop striving.

There is an inarticulable release over your heart when you abide in grace. Falling to your knees to cry for help isn’t so much an experience like grazing your knees before a stony and distant dictator, who will consider your plea with callous disregard. It’s more like crumpling into your sofa after a horrible day, sobbing without dignity, and just letting your confusion, vulnerability and inability to do it all be transparent before your father as he collects you in his strong arms and lets you feel a strange comfort in dropping your bundle at his feet.

The closest approximation I can give is this:

It was a few months ago, I think. I had overloaded my day with things to do, and was already running late when I sauntered up to get the train. I passed a neighbour whose Mum had been very ill, and he unloaded everything on his mind to me. Twenty minutes later, I was meant to be at my destination, coffee ordered, and catching up with another friend. I called ahead to apologise and got a stony reception. I remember the moment when my heart breached its capacity. Climbing the stairs, two at a time, I had reached the top when the pins began to needle my eyes. Two steps further, and it was like I had been physically bruised. This sounds melodramatic, and I certainly felt embarrassed, but, in short, I began to tear up, then turned around and ran home. By the time I fumbled my key through the keyhole and prized the door open, I was sobbing. But in those silent sobs that sound more like emphysema than tears. My brother was at the piano just adjacent to the door, and I could just hear him call my name over the music thudding in my ears. He came from behind, and silently took my arm, swiveled me around, laid my bag on the ground and wrapped me in his arms.

That moment was the safest I have ever felt in my entire life. I just cried and cried like a little girl, but he didn’t care and neither did I. Five minutes past before I began to speak, but when I did, the things I spoke of were so unfiltered that I was surprised I was letting my brother see my thoughts for what they were: of how even when I try with all I am to please people, I still let them down, time and time again; about my devastating lovelessness for other people’s pain; about my claustrophobic selfishness; about my overwhelming tiredness that resides in the marrow of my frame. As I spoke these words, unveiling the most undesirable parts of my self, my brother said nothing. He just held me with his strong arms and let me deconstruct the facades I painted myself with each morning. When I had finished, he spoke gentle words that filled my heart like the crisp air of a morning run after a night in a stuffy room. The relief I felt was physical.

What I’m trying to illustrate in this tangential rambling is that sometimes we have to get to a point where we have been so assaulted by life that we are just too tired to try to fix it all anymore. We have to get to a point where we feel in our bodies, not just know in abstraction, that we can’t. We just can’t.

Sometimes that resignation can lead to a disengagement from the troubles of the world. ‘If I can’t fix it, I will detach from it.’ For me, it’s usually the point when I feel almost numb and indifferent to the pain of others that I realise that my heart has reached its saturation point. When I went to pray for the people traumatised by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan yesterday, I felt nothing. I tried to conjure up empathy, but none was forthcoming. I realised that it had been building for weeks; in disinterest towards a friend’s burdens, an absence of any desire to go out of my way to show love to those in need… It builds silently, but its mortar is robust. For me, it takes the painful realisation that not even detachment will insulate me from everything that is broken before I let my guard down.

It’s from that posture that we can run to our Father and collapse into His arms, and be real about our inadequacies. When I stop spending my energy holding up the pretence I have constructed about my competencies to do it myself, and (I’m sorry if this is unbearably sentimental and cliched for you) literally just cry it out to Him who is able… the relief is palpable.

Anyway, I’m sorry if that was a bit over the top for you. That’s me! Melodrama Central.

The point of all that was to say that crying to God for help, rather than trying to manufacture the things you observe as deficient in yourself, is not only healthier for your sanity. It’s also practically far more fruitful.

This is a song some friends and I wrote. It’s kind of about that cry for help.