All posts filed under: Keeping the Faith

Let Your Soul Sing

I glance to my left and see a line of puffed-up chests. Chins are lifted, eyes the same, or squeezed shut. The chests, they puff with words and breath that climb in a collective up-current like those that catch sheets on clothes lines or carry dandelion seeds away. Me, I struggle to squeeze the words out my suddenly-swollen throat. All the voices: the young ones, the old ones, the tenors, the sopranos, the soft ones, the bellowy ones, the gifted ones, the tone-deaf ones; they all muddle to make one magnificent noise, one hallowed space. We could be anywhere. Anywhere they sing – at the footy, in a choir, at the Olympics, at a state event, at a concert, at a rally or at church. We could be singing anything: the national anthem, a team song, a chart-topper, a ballad or a hymn. Singing releases endorphins (the pleasure hormone) and oxytocin, the hormone that both reduces stress and strengthens feelings of trust and connection. Countless studies vouch for the benefits of singing – particularly collective singing – …

Putting the Brakes on Generational Cycles

There’s a statistic I recall from one of those lose-weight-quick, boot-camp-style television shows that shocked me: obese parents are 80 per cent more likely to have obese children. The show was about breaking cycles of obesity in families. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at that figure (the numerical one). We see similar patterns perpetuated in other nasties – abuse, divorce, poverty, alcoholism and so on. Parents who unwittingly pass bad habits onto their children. “I’m gonna be like you, dad, you know I’m gonna be like you,” Harry Chapin sings in that ‘70s hit, Cat’s in the Cradle. We know from experience that parents don’t intentionally set out to bestow their weaknesses on their children. We want the best for our kids. Yet the cycles continue. It’s what the Bible calls a curse: a generational curse. One of the Ten Commandments has some pretty stern words on the matter. “…I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of …

Ants, Porn and Stopping up the Gaps

As I watch yet another trail of ants wind its way along the windowsill, across the benchtop and into a cupboard, I wonder what God was thinking the day he made these tenacious critters. I understand their admirable qualities – the team spirit and industrious work ethic – but they’re not the descriptors that spring to mind as I’m washing their little black corpses off the sausages I left thawing on the bench. I am an ant-killer. Surface spray is my friend. I wipe those team-spirited, industrious ants with my mean, green dishcloth and flood out their syrupy lodgings with burning hot water. They have died in their hundreds, but still they return. I know what needs to be done. We need to find their entry point, and block it. But on a 1950s house, that’s no small feat! There are potentially more ways in than there are ants! Which is exactly the way I have felt about the nasties my children will face when they are old enough to “Google it”. Like the steady …

It’s Small, Slimy and Can Kill

It still shocks me what is said on social media with its few degrees of separation. The no-holds-barred statements laced with hate, the offensive name-calling and the lies. They hide behind their tablet, computer or smartphone and muster the most loathsome messages to pierce reputation and self esteem. The pack mentality of those who follow suit is the lowest game of follow-the-leader. Speaking of pack mentality – we’ve seen it alive and well at the footy with the Adam Goodes booing controversy. No one should be subject to public, repetitive, malicious words delivered from the anonymity and distance of ‘the crowd’ – whatever form that takes. The problem is nothing new. In fact, the problem is a very small slimy thing that also gives much delight in devouring mum’s apple crumble or pulling silly faces or kissing our beloved. “The tongue has the power of life and death,” Proverbs 18:21 reads. The tongue – as a symbol of our individual voice and right to use it – is a dangerous weapon. Never has it been more important to …

Six Ways to Use Your Ears Better

Pop used to turn his hearing aid down when his wife started nagging him about keeping the house tidy or eating too much cake. Pretty sure he did it in church too, when the ladies’ choir started their warbling. He admitted as much before he died many years ago, his wet eyes a-twinkle, leaning in to share one of the perks of old age. Selective hearing. Kids are masters in the field. My four-year-old teenager knows how to roll his eyes and has been caught in the act after mummy has hit broken-record point with the asking and asking and asking of “shoes on” or “eat dinner” or “pack up toys”. It’s a look that says, “I heard you the first time, I just decided not to listen!” Selective hearing. But we shouldn’t give the young and the old too hard a rap for something everyone in-between has surely struggled with. We’re not very good at listening these days. We have two ears and one tongue yet for most of us, the dominant compulsion is to talk …

CREATIVE: It Should be on Everyone’s CV

Adult colouring-in. It’s a thing, and let’s not poo-poo it until we’ve tried it for ourselves, deal? Sales of colouring-in books for the post-childhood demographic have soared as people take to drawing within the lines to relieve stress and invigorate creativity. These popular publications ditch Thomas and Peppa in favour of intricate patterns akin to those adorning Persian rugs and Moroccan tiles. It’s very tempting! There’s no doubt I would enjoy pulling out the tin of Derwent pencils my parents gave me for Christmas when I still had a fringe and braces. I love sitting down with my four-year-old to help colour a picture. His are of dinosaurs and monster trucks, but the effect is the same. We get in The Zone where the silence is only disrupted for a “pass the blue, please” or “don’t bump, Mum!” Why does scratching a pencil back and forth over paper feel so therapeutic? The calming yet industrious feeling it calls up is similar to what happens when I bake a scrummy cake, snap photos with my SLR or write …

Proof of God.

You know those moments in life you wish you could bottle? The ones that make your synapses zing and your nerve endings tingle? The fleeting moment when you stand in awe of just how precious life is. – When winter light falls on our city just shy of dusk and, from an elevated view, houses seem to drink of it until their windows glow. Within, people are busy cooking dinner, bathing kids, debriefing after a long day, getting schoolwork done, lighting the fire, laughing at the dog. The tender motions of normal. – When you’re right and he’s wrong and the verbiage flies back and forth like a tennis match, only the projectile is heaving with increased breadth and ugliness, gaining speed and venom until you don’t remember the point you were trying to make, let alone what started the argument in the first place. You rub the palms of your hands down your jeans as if the friction might reignite your angry passion but instead, stealing a glance at your forever and always, you both start …

Peace, Come What May.

Shalom. Say it out loud – go on! Feel the way it stretches your lips, your mouth, your jaw, and weigh its depth of meaning on your tongue. It means peace. Perhaps a case for onomatopoeia – its sound mimicking its meaning. The word opens your lips in the first syllable, breathing out a net of “Sha-“ before internalising, even ingesting the concept in the second syllable, “-lom”. Peace is outwards and inwards. It is a state of being; within yourself and beyond yourself to the interaction of people, organisations and nations. Shalom is used as a greeting to this day by Jewish people, in place of ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’, communicating the orator’s desire for the recipient to experience harmony, completeness, prosperity and wellbeing in their life. It is the external peace between two entities as well as the internal sense of peace experienced by an individual. The 13th century Persian poet Rumi conjured it this way, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in …

Letter to the Gay Community: Is Same Sex Marriage Really What You Need?

Monday June 29, 2015 To homosexuals everywhere in support of same sex marriage, Do you believe that changing Australia’s Marriage Act will be the panacea you need? I’m genuinely interested. You have suffered severely as a minority group; shunned, bullied, locked up, medicated and even murdered for your sexual attraction. The treatment you have endured – and indeed, continue to endure in some pockets of society – is unacceptable. You, like anyone else, have the right to respect, love, acceptance and a life unhindered by prejudice. Like victims of any traumatic injustice, I understand your desire to seek acknowledgement and affirmation of your value and identity. My question is, will changing the traditional definition of marriage do that? We look to Ireland where law has changed to allow same sex marriage as a result of last month’s referendum. Have you noticed the vernacular of the gay lobby in the proceeding celebrations? The change has been lauded as “recognition” of gay people, “validation” of lifestyle, “acceptance” in communities and so on. Very little has been said about marriage itself. Could …

Going Deeper into the Comfort of The Comforter

Blanky is on the blink. The fine woollen blanket that has played the role of my son’s comfort thing for the past four years is unravelling with vigour. I see you parents nodding your heads as I describe the grimy rag that he totes from bedroom to lounge to kitchen to bathroom. It hasn’t been washed in… well… if I’m honest, I can’t remember when it was last prised from little blondie’s hands to take a whirl in the front-loader. He likes it spread a certain way across his torso when his head hits the pillow each evening. And then his chipolata fingers fiddle with the loose yarn at the edges, weaving in and out of the knit. He finds a strange comfort in the texture, the ritual and rhythm of holding Blanky in his fingers, close to his face, as his breathing slows and his eyelids droop. I have retrieved marooned pieces of poor, falling-apart Blanky and wondered how my darling is going to cope when the tatters of his comfort rug are diminished to a …