Friday, November 9, 2012

And the children drew Jesus

 What does Jesus look like?  In the age when digital photography did not exist (except probably in God's mind) we today suffer from a lack of an image of what Jesus actually looked like.  This is a good thing in a way because it allows us to tailor-make his looks to our needs.  Happy. Sad. Gentle. Authoritative.  He looks just as we want Him to look (though He acts only as He wants to, and cannot be bribed!).  Possibly the best people to really picture Jesus are the children because they are freer in their creative thoughts.  My Australian friend Alfred Arena shared with me about the Year of Grace activities at the three parish schools on the Mornington Penninsula in the vicinity of the Port of Hastings on outer Melbourne, Australia, where he works.

One of the methods used by some of the children was to combine a photo of the student with another of the iconic face of Jesus cut up into horizontal  strips and alternately pasted to form a composite that alternate from one to the other. A sort of Jesus reflected in us.  “I find that the collage made up from the different drawings is most interesting from a photographic point of view too” Alfred ointed out; “not to mention the resonance these images have when one reflects of the Face of Christ.”  
He added that the idea came out of the Pope’s encouragement to reflect on the “face of Jesus” in this coming Year.  “Dutifully, when visiting the three parish schools, our parish priest requested that as part of their religious education activity,  the teachers would invite the children in their respective classes “to use their imagination” and make a drawing of the Face of Jesus. These three parish Catholic primary schools have a contingent of 500 children so one may well imagine the volume of material that was to be produced. By the end of the exercise the interior of these schools were decked out with wall to wall pictures of the Face of Jesus."
Alfred said that “when I noticed the first pictures that where posted on the school’s main pin board in the foyer at St Marys primary school where I work, I was somewhat confused at the array of so many that looked like distorted faces of Jesus. They reminded me of a recent news segment where an old lady took it upon herself to restore an old beautiful fresco of Jesus in a chapel in Spain with the result that a British news commentator described it as now looking like. “A monkey wearing an ill fitting tunic”. Unquote.

“I asked our religious education coordinator at our school  if the children were at least provided with a model they could work from. The reply was that that was what the parish priest asked for; to simply ask the children to use their imagination to draw Jesus’ face. So I didn’t pursue the enquiry further and left it at that. When during the week I visited another of our Parish primary schools - St Brendan’s – I noticed that one of the teachers used a little prompting in the way her children approached the task of drawing Jesus’ face. The pictures on her classroom windows showed a composite face of Jesus. One  side of the picture was an A4 size photocopy of Jesus’ face found in many common and popular icons while the other half was an attempt to hand draw and complete the face by the student. This while producing some excellent close representations was also marred by many unsatisfactory results full of distortions.  I pondered a while what were all these would be Faces of  Jesus  saying to me. In theory there is only one Face of Jesus they should all resemble instead of all the hodgepodge of distorted images or close approximations.

“Could there be a parable in all these images perhaps? Well I thought that for every Christian Jesus must be the human model we ought to grow into and that for everyone of us there is a present condition that we fit  in that could be as remotely  far from the true model Jesus and as variant as the children’s pictures showed. Many of the drawings show a face with a beard, others with no beard while others showed a face with a Hitler’s moustache. Others show an image of Jesus with Bugs Bunny eyes, or looking more like Queen Elizabeth wearing a crown. And on and on.   It made me sad to think that if  – as the overwhelming majority of the ‘Face of Jesus’ depicted – Christianity is so far out of sync; where is Grace in this Year of Grace?  

"In my confusion" said Alfred, "all I could hear without any distortion whatsoever and unanimously was just the name - Jesus. Every picture was titled Jesus or Jesus Christ. And perhaps that is all that is necessary at this point in time and in our futility; until we see him ‘face to face’. And finally it occurred to me that one other common and unmistakable characteristic was that even when you account for all the distortions what all the children drew was  un-mistakenly  a human face. There is no myth or metaphor in the mystery of the  Incarnation; this is an event in human history.  And God became incarnate and became man and dwelt amongst us; or one could say that God has become  At One with us. Or as we familiarly recall – Emanuel – God with us; no matter how strangely our countenance might be.”   

Friday, October 26, 2012

A bird in hand....

One of my dad's favourite pieces of advice to me whenever I had to make a serious decision on something was that a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.  Coming from a banker and father I still feel it is good advice (even though I didn't always agree with him at the time).  I've found that it's generally better to be a bit shorthanded now than to risk too much and then to find you have nothing.

I remembered this quote because I was talking to a friend the other day who had had enough of her husband playing the "little boy" and selfishly thinking only of himself and not of her feelings.  She told me that it has been the story of her 20 year marriage and that enough is enough.  She was going to take the matter up once and for all and sort it. Better to be alone than to be badly accompanied is her philosophy at the moment. 

My reaction to that was that if you had to ask my wife about me she would probably say the same thing.  We men somehow don't always seem to grow up... before it's too late and we'll have dropped a mill stone on our toes.  But the thing is, too, that we have now been happily married for 37 years and though the bliss of the honeymoon is well and truly over, and in the past year our two kids were happily married too,  we still move on.  Together.  Now, in my early days of retirement, I find that I have a chance to start afresh, to take my marriage and work on its flaws and fix them.  Even if it may need surgery at some point.  

Most probably it will be solved by the swallowing, not pills but..... my pride.  I am learning to ignore what irritates me in what she does and am trying to be a good partner to her (I can her her muttering "finally" if she'll read this!!).   It doesn't mean I have to become a floor cloth she can wipe her feet it, it simply means that I have to start seeing things the way I did the first time we met.  And do the things I did in those long ago days.  That was what sparked it all off in us.  That's what will keep us together.

Talking of fatherly advice, I am reminded that Jesus' own advice is pretty much the same on this.  Die to yourself for others.  It doesn't have to be a painful death.  It means more "yes" than "no" I suppose, keeping well in mind, though, that saying "yes" to something or someone would also mean saying "no" to someone or something else.

So to go back to my friend's dilemma..... saying no to her marriage because she's had enough of his chauvinistic approach, might be saying yes to a life that could be worse, no one to share with, no one to thrash in her mind because he's "a fool", no one to come to her aid if she falls and hurts herself or has an accident. 

Better the bird in hand, I guess, than two in the bush.  Robert Browing said it nicely, "Grow old with me, the best is yet to come."


I am no marriage expert, but I was wondering if the reasoning I expounded above will hold water if there are serious marital problems in a relationship, such as infidelity or infertility? 

In the latter case, I would say: yes, definitely.  In the former case, I would say: could be, because infidelity wasn't always there in the relationship and, once upon a time, love brought the two together.  They need to look at themselves and ask:  Have we worked enough at the relationship (even to always looking good for the partner as the years pass)? Have we died to ourselves at all or expected the other to submit to us?  Are we ready to forgiven and be forgiven for taking advantage of our partner?

And, you know what, this trend of thought will take us right back where it all started.... better a bird in hand (with all the known problems) than two in the bush!  (Or to use biblical terms: better the devil you know than the one you don't!) 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Preparing to say goodbye...?

Just expressing some reality truths about life - the only definitely and undenaible thing in our lives is that one day we have to go. Death may be such a depressing thing to think about yet it is unavoidable.

I have just returned from the hospital visiting one of my old friends.  Mid-sixties, like me. In the week since I last saw him he has regressed tremendously. Last week it was the usual fun or light conversation between us. "Just here for some tests but should be home by the weekend."   

This is the weekend now and he seems worse than ever.  Could barely speak to me.  We communicated though.  I suggested he ate something but he didn't want.  Managed to persuade him to have some soup.  The morphine is slowing him down but it is at least killing the pain.  The breathing is noisily empty and resounding.  He is dying I said to myself. But then, we all are.  Aren't we?

So my mind stopped playing tricks on me. Why do we fear Death?  Is it perhaps because we are never really prepared for it?  Or perhaps because we are very attached to our life?  Let's face it, we are probably all attached to this life and don't really want to lose it because to some extent we don't really know what awaits us on the other side.  Oh, I am presuming you believe there is something on the other side, right?

So why do we fret?  Are we tied to our possessions and worry who'll get them after we're gone?  Or perhaps what will happen to all the lovely collections we cared for?  Or the investments we made to live a happy future?   How would all this effect your thoughts on your own death?

I asked myself: How do you imagine your own death to be?  And I drew a blank. I hoped it would come fast, without too much pain for me or for my family.  That they would not suffer because of my sudden loeaving.  I would - in typical fashion - exspect that all my "to do" lists would somehow be up-to-date and that  everything unfinished could be finalised quickly and easily by my children. It's a trait I inherited from my parents but especially from father.  He was organised even to after his demise.

Would I leave through an accident?  At home in my room.  Or in a hospital bed as my friend now was. Time would tell.  This blog might even still be doing the rounds when my candle gets snuffed. Yet I feel I do not really fear the passing on.  My bags are ready though, to be honest, I am in no hurry to leave, as the jovial and influential Pope John XXIII had said in the early Sixties.  I trust in my Maker and know that He knows more than I when it is time for me to go.   And I hope it will be Home.  Because what is death?  It is like a ship that leaves the harbour and sails to the horizon, getting smaller and smaller in our sight.  But as she disappears from our sight on the horizon, others are seeing her coming and are saying "Here she comes!"

Monday, August 20, 2012

How wrong can wrong be?

Obviously the reference in the heading here is to sin!  I am presently doing the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius and have just completed a few intensive weeks of reflecting on sin in the world and in my own world.  I was particularly intrigued with the many ways in which sin has evolved in our lives, how we allow it to master us and how it controls us. Here are some thoughts on... 

The Sin of One Person

Consider the effect of the sin of one person on others and you will realise that here we are talking of a person who chooses definitively to go against God. This person could be like the rich man in Jesus' parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16: 19-31). Imagine what it would be like for a person to be totally closed off from God's love.  When you use your imagination to reflect on this situation with modern-day counterparts and based on the current century's sad history of sin, violence, genocide, and injustice, you will realise that things haven't changed much since Jesus' time.

It is not that easy to think of what goes on in such a person's mind when one decides to take on God and go against him directly.  Does one really realise the enormity of one's actions? I think that to sin against God you must really be stooping so low in your life that you cannot distinguish the difference between good and evil, right and wrong.

If you will have have made yourself insensitive to this interior balance, you will have become an "evil" machine that reacts like a human being that does what "it" likes and feels it wants to do, instead of the conscientious human being that God created so that He can shower His blessings and love over His creation. In the Lazarus/rich man parable, the rich man has become everything that is despicable, a greedy, rich and unfeeling person who is unable to see favour in other beings. To him they are probably all equivalent to dogs.  I just read of one of my countrymen who was arrested for keeping East European girls as sex slaves to be used for prostitution. He had lost the dignity of calling himself a human being in the way he reacted with other God-creatures.

Taking the modern image to this parable a little further we can also see how some political leaders can become dictators when they lose all sense of their leadership including their sensitivity to their subjects by imposing their own will on them.  And by not respecting that of their subjects as well.  They see themselves as Gods and their subjects as no better than dogs.  History is littered with similar figures... Hitler, Amine, Hussein, and Gaddafi being recent additions from our lifetime. 

But closer to home I am sure many of you reading this know of someone who has left his/her partner for another purely for the excitement that this brings to their ego.  Yet they fail to see the demoralising and somewhat degrading effect this can leave on their partner.  A jilted wife may say "If he can do it so can I" and the story continues to grow.  The ripple effect of one's sin on another has continued to increase and others may be hurt in the process.  Perhaps even their children, if there are any.  And the sin continues on its inexorable way of destruction of life.

I concluded that when a person is able to become something like any of the above examples then one will have lost all of one's humanity. And becomes no better than an animal.  We may know people in these circumstances and perhaps try to ignore their plight by persuading ourselves that it is not our business to interfere.  But isn't that like compounding the error?

I think....that is what sin does to you.  The march of the sin of one that rampages on....inexorably. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Where Heaven meets Earth

When we come across a particularly beautiful and tranquil place we often mutter "It's Heaven here!"  But is there a place where we can go to which is where Heaven and earth actually meet? 

An interesting legend I recently read goes that a particularly learned monk who lived in a monastery built far away in the wilderness, found details of this place where earth and Heaven actually meet.  In his heart he had this sudden urge to go and start living there till the Lord would decide it was his time to be called home. 

So he wrote down the details of the route he needed to take, said his farewells to his fellow brother monks and left in search of this ideal place.

He walked down valleys and up mountains.  He passed through forests full of wild animals and poisonous insects.  He suffered hunger and pain as well as great heat or bone-biting cold. Yet his wish to reach this ideal place was so great that it drove him on and on.  He continued to travel at a fast pace so he wouldn't dally.  He wanted to get there as soon as possible.

One day he checked his papers again and realised that he should soon be reaching his goal.  He saw a building in the distance which was also clearly marked on the chart he had.  It stood out starkly against the great wilderness of the mountainside. All alone.  Somehow he seemed to be familiar with it but not wanting to waste time in useless thinking he pressed on.  Now, after all these months of painstaking travelling he was finally nearing his goal.  

As soon as he got to the door he found it was closed.  With a beating heart he knocked and the door opened.  There in front of him was his fellow brother monk who was responsible for the entrance to the monastery.  He received a great welcome and soon they were joined by all the other monks of the monastery who further fussed in greeting him .  He had been away for quite a few months but now he was back with them.  They even rang the monastery bells in joy of his safe return.  But the monk realised that he had come back from where he has left.  Because he had already found Heaven and was living there...yet he hadn't realised it.   

Does the same happen to us?  Let's praise God for the present and wish less for another (unattainable) place which we might think is ideal for us, where there are no crosses to carry and neither problems to face daily. 

We will never find such an ideal place in this world because there's nothing like Heaven.  Really!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Saying YES or NO

This is an interesting thought don't you think? 

We say YES to many things in our life as much as we also say NO to others.  But what is behind these decisions of ours?  Do we realise that sometimes they can have too far reaching consequences?

I remember being on holiday in London and receiving a call from a friend back home whose daughter had just given birth that afternoon and there were complications.  The new born was taken with urgency to one of London's top child hospitals for emergency life saving operations. My friend was asking if I could go that night to see that all was alright.  The enormity of my automatic "Yes, I'll see what I can do" hit me a few minutes later....I did not know the parents, nor they me.  I knew no one in the hospital and I was not direct family, so they wouldn't let me in.  And now it was late evening and dark, they wouldn't let me in anyway. I decided to sleep over the dilemma.

My thoughts were obviously influenced by the bright day that arrived next morning, so off I went to the hospital. On the way I continued to debate what the hell was I doing here after all.  But something inside me persisted and I walked into the hospital and blurted my real story to the receptionist who somehow believed me.  A quick check through the computer to see where the baby was came up with no answers.  She phoned various departments, all to no avail.  But she came back with the story that if this was such an emergency then it might not be posted on the system yet.  Could I wait patiently for a while longer?

As eternity ticked away I was suddenly called to the desk where I saw the parents who had also just arrived and were worried to death because the baby couldn't be traced.  They were informed who I was and as they looked at me in consternation I explained I was a family friend from back home.  But they were so confused that all they could say was "thank you but we'll take it from here".  So off I went feeling a bit stupid but at least with a quieted conscience that I had at least tried to do something.  At least the grandparents would be satisfied with my attempt.

Over the following weeks the news from London was positive and the baby had undergone quite a few successful operations...and was going to be fine after all.  Nonetheless I still felt that my "Yes" to respond to the grandparents' call  was really a instrusion more than a help.  I felt I had probably messed up more things in the anxiety of the moment than being of any real help. 

Jump forward by just over a year - the baby was now one year old and walking.  The family was coming for a summer holiday to their grandparents' home and I was one of friends invited to dinner. The young parents recognised me and we got talking and all my fears were brushed aside as they showed me how that unexpected visit by the "stranger" had effected them.  They said that though they felt that the sky was falling on them at the time, at least they knew someone, unknown, cared.  So perhaps there were others in this world who also cared.  They were not alone.  

That child is now more than 2 years old....a strong willed girl who I am sure will go places.  I have photos of her when she was 3 days old and as she is now, but though I would like to share them with you here I feel that it is a breach of privacy.  

BUT if you ever have to decide whether to reach out to fellow people in this world, no matter how crazy or useless that might seem to you. please always say YES not No.  You don't know how much your support can mean to them.  And to yourself.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


How could I not share this post with is, after all, well related to my Cappuccino name!!

Anyway, for correctness, I came across this on the website "Picturing God! - Faces and Traces of the Divine" (which I, incidentally, thoroughly recommend):

decorative coffee

“I am learning to find God in all things. An endless discovery of all the places God is—and that is everywhere, from the cosmos to the microcosm. I love coffee, and particularly the coffee at Cuatro Sombras (the four shadows), a place in viejo San Juan. Puerto Rican coffee is superb. A great coffee first thing in the morning, accompanied by a tostada, is one way to feel grateful for all the goodness God surrounds me with.”

Submitted to by Claire Bangasser.

Do you find God in sharing a great cup of coffee or a well-prepared meal? Share your photo at Picturing God! 

Monday, July 2, 2012


Sports fans this summer have so far been regaled with a spate of international events that have glued many to their TV screens or even to their seats if they were among the fortunate to actually be present for them. Wimbledon, Queens and Roland Garros for tennis, Euro 2012 for soccer.  And soon, the World Olympics. 

I have  watched quite a few of the games that have been transmitted and sometimes I came out of the "gane" feeling that we have lost the meaning of sport. I was brought up from my young college days on the concept that the honour is not in winning but in having played the game. Is that what we still believe in as we strive to gain the victor's crown?  Perhaps there are still some remnants of this philosophy left in the Olympics that start later this summer in London but in the more commercialised sports - as tennis and soccer - I think we have reduced them to nothing more than gladiatorial events... where the participants battle each other to the "death" but without the bloodshed. Could we draw a parallel with a virtual computer game battle where we are able to work out our deepest instincts in a relatively "harmless" way? 

Or, perhaps, does this show up our real feelings for each other?  Our inability to control our inter-racial feelings within the context of a harmless game? And how harmless is harmless anyway?  When one sees body language which says more about the participants and the supporters than they would like to display? Such as clenched fists uplifted in defiance which sometimes may have racial or sexual overtones as if to indicate the submission of the opponent.   Or the fights fans get into during the games or afterwards in the streets around the stadia.  Caused by racial intolerance which reflects the fans' support of their stars/teams? 

Could the slogan for Euro 2012 be a trowback to that blockbuster movie "Blade Runner" about the future of sports?  Was Euro 2012 trying to add something else to the discussion when it proclaimed "Respect Diversity" and asked each national team captain to read our a statement in their native language to that effect?  This statement was the result of Football against Racism in Europe (FARE) - a network of organisations from several European countries - who set a plan of action based on the philosophy that "Football is the biggest sport in the world and belongs to us all. It should be the right of every person to play, watch and discuss freely, without fear. We want to see the 'beautiful game' played without discrimination.  Unfortunately, at all levels of the game, from amateur to international, there are incidents of racism and discrimination. Be it from fans, players, clubs or other football bodies, FARE believes that such behaviour, on and off the field, is unacceptable and unwanted by the majority of fans and players."

One great sportsman who would have definitely support FARE as he believed this maxim strongly was Paul of Tarsus,  the Apostle. In fact in his first Letter to the Corinthians he writes: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run [therefore] in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air."

And to his friend and companion Timothy, he advised "...if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules... Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called..... You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance,..."

Toi which, another apostle, James, added: "Blessed is the man that endures trial: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him".

Let's enoy sport for the clean enjoyment what it gives us.  Keep it clean for everyone.      

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy Father's Day

June 17th is Father's Day in most parts of the Western world.  So may I wish all fathers - alive or dead - a very good Day with their sons and/or daughters wherever they may be.

To my Dad (who passed on some  24 years ago - seen here with me in this 1955 picture on right!) -
MISSING YOU DAD!  Often have these urges to phone to let you know how we're getting on but I guess you already know that, don't you?  Thanks for everything you did - and are still doing - for me,  for your love and your guidance. Rest in peace.

And since I just received this thought below through Facebook I thought I'd share it with you all here too... it's so relevant to our relationship.....

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What about this God of ours....

Carlo Carretto, Italian Church leader of the Fifties who left all and joined a monastic order to live in the Saharan desert, says that the promise of Jesus speaks of his presence, an activity of his spirit and of a revelation. “I shall make myself known to you”. In his book “Letters from the Desert”, Carretto reasons that making themselves known to one another is the task of lovers; a task never finished, never complete. There always remains something mysterious to discover in the relationship, an element of the unknown.

He writes: “Think of God; in Him everything is to be discovered. But in the case of God one thing must be made very clear. God is unknowable to humans directly. We can know him only through figures, symbols and signs. But they themselves are not God. Only God knows himself and knowledge of him remains a mystery for us. But in his love, God has decided to make himself known to us, to reveal himself to us. And that happens in a supernatural manner, in a language untranslatable on earth. A person who grasps this realisation can say nothing. He cannot repeat it…..God is unknowable and only he can reveal himself to me through ways which are wholly his, unrepeatable in words and in concepts beyond our understanding”.

Angela of Foligno, one of the great Italian mystics, says: “Before God the soul…can say nothing because it has no words to express itself with. In fact, there is neither thought nor intelligence that can reach that far, so greatly does it surpass everything, the ways of God cannot be explained."

Carretto concludes that as it was for Angela of Foligno so it is for all of us. “We feel the knowledge of God becoming greater in us little by little, as our love for him becomes greater. And of this knowledge we are unable to say anything. We know that it is a rich, mysterious, dark, personal knowledge of him; but we are unable to utter a syllable about what we know, about how He manifests Himself to us individually."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When I'm 64....

I don't know how many of you remember the Beatles song from the mid Sixties "When I'm 64".  It was sung, I believe, by Ringo Starr and featured in their film "Yellow Submarine", a full length cartoon movie. It was a song that has been with me for too many years, and though it was not really one of my top favourites then it has, over the years, featured as a sort of target. A date in the future when I'd reach that age.

S0 yesterday I finally reached that target....I now am 64!!  Yipee!! I had a fabulous day with so many text, e-mail and FB friends wishing me all the very best, good luck and blessings for the coming year. It is somehow nice to realise you are appreciated after all.

BUT today is the day after.  And so what was the big deal all about?  I suppose you can say that birthdays come and birthdays go but the Beatles song stayed with me throughout the years. So I gave it it's run for what that's worth...and came up with some thoughts.

The song talks about that fateful day in the distant future when, having lost my hair, I'd turn 64. In a way it's a  modern love song where the singer asks his life's partner what would she be doing when he was 64..... "Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine..." 

But I love the way he really takes the situation in hand and asks her "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?"   The thing I like about this song is it's really human approach to a relationship which we seem to have lost - or are losing at a very fast pace - today. The author obviously thinks that at 64 they'd be still together......   
I could be handy, mending a fuse when your lights have gone, 
You can knit a sweater by the fireside, 
Sunday mornings, go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me 
when I'm sixty-four?

Ah, how things have changed in the intervening 45 or so years when his song was written.  Do we still believe that relationships/marriages last that long?  Do we still believe that marriage is there to last a lifetime?  "Use and discard" is way we live today; nothing is built to last more than a few years...why should it when another, better version, is bound to arrive to replace what we have?  The same goes, it seems with families which tend t change format with every growing whim....and the poor children having to make out who their real mum and/or dad is!

How different I find that we are now at "age 64" than the times the Beatles envisioned for today.....Ah, grandchildren on your knee, Vera, Chuck and Dave! 

Am I being too pessimistic?  Perhaps. But then perhaps the Beatles too had a feeling that not everything would be so fine and dandy.  So let me close with the song's ending...

Send me a postcard, drop me a line 
stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say, 
yours sincerely wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form,
 mine forever moreWill you still need me, will you still feed me
 when I'm sixty-four?  

NOW enjoy the music and vision of John, Paul, George and Ringo from their original cartoon film...... 

click here>>>

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Life is what we are alive to...

“Life is what we are alive to. It is not length but breadth....Be alive to...goodness, kindness, purity, love, history, poetry, music, flowers, stars, God, and eternal hope.”

This is a quote credited to Maltbie Davenport Babcock (photogaph) -1858 – 1901, a noted American clergyman and writer of the 19th century who authored the familiar hymn “This is My Father's World” among others. Originally this hymn was a poem which eventually was put to music, yet its wonderful words still ring true today and i am repropducing them below as they still have a wonderful ring to them today:

This is my Father's world:
     and to my listening ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
     I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; his hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father's world:
     the birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white, declare their maker's praise.
This is my Father's world:
     he shines in all that's fair; in the rustling grass I hear him pass; he speaks to me everywhere.
This is my Father's world.
     O let me ne'er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
     why should my heart be sad? The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

End of the Mayan Calendar?

Practically everywhere you look these days in most media you'll have noted that they seem to be filling their pages or airtime space with end-of-the-world articles or features, indicating the 21st December 2012 as the "prophesied" end of the world.  But what truth is there in all this?   If one had to look around at the disasters that are happening at the moment one would quickly be convinced that the end is close.  But it has been like this for thousands of years, and yet the world hasn't come to an end. 

Let's imagine for a moment this scenario......a conversation from several thousand years ago...
Mayan one: "Okay guys I've finished the calender!"
Mayan two: "But it only goes up to 21.12.2012"
Mayan one: "Ah don't worry about it we'll make a new one before then.  I would have carried on  but I ran out of room on this stone."
Mayan two: "Fair enough. Hey, imagine if people thought that the world was gonna end because you couldn't find a bigger stone."
Mayan one: "Yeah, but you'd have to be pretty stupid to think that wouldn't you?"

You've probably guessed that I don't find that the "end of the world according to the Mayan calendar" really convinces me.  I am more prepared to accept - as most scientists do - that one day the world will end and that when that day arrives we would already have already made the earth uninhabitable through our actions....and moved to another planet or killed ourselves. 

But don't you think that our own end of the world is really round the corner every day?  Death...our the only thing that we cannot foresee. So, don't you think that if we had to live each day as if today, now, was the last thing we would do before passing on to the other side, then the world would be such a better place to live in?  

Have you ever thought what could happen to all your unfinished work if you were to drop dead now?   Possibly someone could finish it for you out of respect to your memory, or that someone would evaluate it and decide that it didn't need to get done after all.  What would it matter to you at that point because you'd definitely have other things on your mind THEN!  

It could also be that at that point we'd finally have come to terms with why we had to suffer so much in this world and that now the "victor's crown" awaits us.  Or we could find out that, after all, that we'd got away with far too much in the here and now.... and have to really start suffering to make amends. 

Interestingly, I was reading 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 in which The Apostle Paul also takes up the end-of-days theme.   "...But this I say, brothers; the right time is drawn near."  He relates it more to a positive message that Jesus will soon return rather than our death (which is implied).  From now on, we should live like He is already here.  Married people should focus on more than each other.  Sad people should not merely be concerned with their sadness.  Happy people should look beyond their happiness.  Everyone should not be so concerned how they make or spend money.  Even though we make use of the opportunities the world gives us, we should not obsess over them.  "For the shape of the world will soon be gone" as Paul says.

One has to understand that Paul's "the right time" (above) is "kairos" in Greek. It refers to an event in time, a critical moment, a turning point in history. Since Paul expected the Second Coming any moment, he saw the time of his writing as a lead up to Christ's return. And in his reference to "the shape of this world is passing away", notice that Paul did not see the end of the world (i.e. its destruction), but its form or shape. Implicitly, Paul meant the rule and culture of humanity would give way to that of God.

The words of St. Paul still ring true today, even when the urgency of his message has
lost some steam. Despite the seeming delay in the Second Coming, God calls us to place
the cares, concerns, and routine of daily living into a context. And to remember who is
first in life. Our daily existence, with all its stress, should not get in the way of that

What are your daily concerns for the moment?
How can you detach yourself from them?
How can you place them in the hands of God?

The Last Word?

Make yourself at home here, come back and read some of the older cappuccino posts too, relax, reflect.... and comment if you wish....there's a comment button at the end of each post!
I hope to see you again in a few days time. Enjoy.