Sunday Everyday

Character: Who Are You When No-one is Looking?

After 50 or so years I have learned a couple of things.  One of them is this.  You can tell the character of a person by who they are when no one is looking.  Who they are when they don’t need anything from you. Character is who we are as a person and it influences the decisions that we make in life.  It is also a strong indicator of what we believe.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”
Abigail Van Buren

Coming from a sales perspective, people will sell you all kind of things.  Ideas, doctrine, philosophy, theology, programmes and quick fixes.  There are a lot of things that we can build our lives on and put our trust in.  The greatest legacy we can leave our children and grandchildren is not money or fame, it is character.  Character is built on goodness, integrity, kindness, faithfulness, honesty etc..

Spending most of my life in the institutionalised church environment,  I learned a lot about scripture, doctrine, 5 step programmes, volunteers, serving, giving etc..  In other words, a lot about how to belong in a church environment, about how to ‘DO’ church. I didn’t learn that much about character.  How to ‘BE’.    Now in my latter years I realise that the most important teachings of Jesus is about fruit.  What you produce.  It is about who you are when no one is looking.  It is about what you are feeding to other people.

  • How do you taste?
  • How do people experience you?
  • How do you treat the sales lady at the grocery store?
  • How do you speak to your neighbour?
  • How do you live alongside and support those who are weak or disabled?
  • How do you help the poor the widow the marginalised?

Jesus said:  Man looks on the outward appearances but He looks on the heart.

This is what He is saying: “I am more concerned with who you are inside?  What is the condition of your heart?  It means more to me that you are kind, loving and gracious than what job you hold, what church you attend or what doctrine you subscribe to”.

Character is something that is intrinsically within a person and is above race, religion, age or gender, and even education and one’s personality.

“In temper he was Earnest, yet controlled, frank, yet sufficiently guarded, patient, yet energetic, forgiving, yet just to himself; generous yet firm.” 

J. T. Duryea

“His conscience was the strongest element of his nature.  His affections were tender & warm. His whole nature was simple and sincere – he was pure, and then was himself.” 

J. T. Duryea

Attorney Samuel C. Parks wrote “that for a man who was for the quarter of a century both a lawyer & a politician he was the most honest man I ever knew. He was not only morally honest but intellectually so – he could not reason falsely – if he attempted it he failed”.

These  quotes are describing President Abraham Lincoln.  This was a man who was known for his good character.  Here was a person you could trust, who was steady, reliable, fair and just.

Let me ask you this: If your work colleagues, your neighbours,  your school mates, your pub mates, your family and extended families were asked to describe YOU, as these people have done about Abraham Lincoln, what would they say?

We are told to be imitators of Christ.  Who was above all:  loving, kind, just, compassionate, accepting, wise, peaceful, gentle, good, meek, even-tempered, honest, merciful, gracious and I could go on.  Surely if we are followers of Jesus Christ, this is the type of people that we should be.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
John Wooden

Cherry Tree

You know a tree by its fruit right?  Different kinds of fruit trees can quickly be identified by examining their fruit.  If it’s an apple tree, you should get apples.   Jesus says that this is the way that we are to determine people.  He gave us some wise instruction:  ‘By their fruits you will know them’.

Matthew 7:15-20 MSG

“Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.

I have a potted lemon tree on my front balcony that I have had for several years. It has vigorous growth, looks amazing, is in a stunning pot,  but it does not produce any lemons.  It is the most frustrating thing ever.   Do you know people like this?  They look good, they seem to be doing the right things but they don’t actually produce anything good.  They don’t GIVE.  They don’t contribute.  They take the watering, they take the feeding, they love the sun and the warmth but they don’t produce anything.  They don’t contribute.

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In Luke 12 Jesus tells a parable of a fig tree.  He says this.  A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, for three years he came to this fig tree to get fruit but it never had any.   He tells the farmer to cut it down.  The farmer says to give it one more year, if after fertilising it and caring for it for another year it does not produce fruit, he will cut it down.

Buddy Stallings puts it this way:

‘In Palestine a fig tree was particularly important. In several places in Hebrew scripture the health of all of Israel was symbolized by how fruitful or not the fig tree was. Jesus hearers no doubt knew of this literary reference, and the mention of a fig tree would have immediately caught their attention. Over the years I have taken some comfort from the Gardener’s suggestion that the fig tree be given another chance, another year before being chopped down, as further evidence of the wideness of God’s mercy.

But recently reading Rohr’s new book, I came upon a new insight. The overriding point of the book is to differentiate between the True Self and the False Self. Rohr claims, as others have, that our True Self comes from God, is given to us and resides with us forever.

He refers to it as an “internal humming reverence that finally must be honored.”

The False Self is our creation, our persona, the sense of self we develop to meet the world in the way we think the world desires us to be. It is the part of us that wants to be noticed; it is always looking to be somewhere and some thing other than what it is, bending in the breeze of every fad or fashion.

A fig tree living as an authentic fig tree is one that is prolifically fertile. The True Self of the fig tree is to abundantly produce fruit;  it is the tree’s reason for being, its joy, and its purpose. In the parable the fig tree, which is not producing, is living some version of the False Self, something other than for what it was created, for true fig trees produce abundantly’.

 

Jesus teachings show us that He wants us to be our true self, to have good character to produce good fruit.  Fruitfulness, peace, self-awareness, rest, wholeness and demonstrations of loving kindness to those around us is what Jesus desires for us.   He wants us to be people of good character, who produce good fruit.   He is not interested in our dogma, doctrine, rules and regulations around ‘doing’ church.  He is VERY interested in us ‘being’ his presence or being ‘like him’ within our communities.  He cares deeply for people and his creation and he wants us to care also.

This flies in the face of a lot of the behaviour that we see demonstrated today toward those who are different to us.  To homosexuals, to refugees, to the downtrodden, disabled, homeless, drunkard and the drug addict.  What is our true character toward these who Jesus calls the least.  He said:  whatever you do to the least of these you do to me.

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Are we loving?  Are we kind?  Are we inclusive?  Are we merciful and understanding?  Do we contribute and support in practical ways?  Are we nourishing and feeding those around us and those who we intersect with?

These are the true tests of good character.  This is the true litmus test of a Christ follower.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Jn 13:34

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on-line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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Our Apprentice Chef is Deaf and We Adore Her

When I am not writing for this blog or for other endeavours,  I am employed as the volunteer coordinator at the non for profit cafe ‘Now and Not Yet’ in Warrandyte.   This role is a delight for me in so many ways.  I am  constantly amazed and humbled by the incredible people who wish to volunteer to support their community.  Community, at least in this part of the world, is vibrant, alive and well.  People are kind, generous and selfless and it is these interactions that give you hope for the world in which we live.  Especially a world which at the moment seems to have lit itself on fire.

Volunteering is at the very core of caring for community.  No one has made it through life without someone else’s help.

Let me tell you a story about one of our very special volunteers Lisa May Parker.  Recently I asked Lisa to write down her story of becoming a volunteer at Now and Not Yet and between the two of us, some gesturing and a lot of texting we managed to get it all down.  You see Lisa is deaf.  When she joined our team she fitted in perfectly.  She is smart, a quick learner and very efficient.  It was us, the staff, who had the steep learning curve.  Working in a busy kitchen cafe can be a little dangerous at times and people rely on vocal cues to let each other know what is going on.  “Behind”  “Hot Hot”, “Coming Through”.

How do you do this when the kitchen hand is deaf?  Well you learn new ways of communication.  I would like to commend the staff at the Cafe, especially Jack Lawrence who has done an outstanding job of making Lisa feel comfortable and included.  For a young man he has shown wisdom and kindness beyond his years.

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This is Lisa’s letter to us:

My name is Lisa Parker.  I am 45 years old and live at Crowley Road Healsville.  I am a deaf woman and have only been employed once before at a laundry in Tasmania.   I found out about becoming a volunteer at Now and Not Yet cafe in Warrandyte through a friend.   I started as a volunteer  in the kitchen doing food preparation in October 2016, after attending a training and induction night with Lisa Hunt-Wotton and my interpreter Tamara.

For the first 5 months of shifts in the cafe I was accompanied by a deaf interpreter Tamara.  Tamara came  to work with me so everything could be explained to me in normal working hours. Tamara remained quite inconspicuous, not hovering around the workplace, but sitting out of the way, and just acted when needed. This helped the chef Jack and everyone else to understand what was required in this situation.  I received government funding to be able to have Tamara and it is common practice when a deaf person starts in a new job.

It was a steep learning curve for me and for all the staff in the cafe but they were wonderful and made me feel very welcome.  Everyone was so caring and helpful. At times some communication was difficult  but everyone tried so hard to make me feel at ease and now it feels like home.  When I first started, Jack the chef took photos of the menu items and laminated them and posted them around the kitchen so that I could easily see what was needed.

It wasn’t long until I moved to volunteering two days a week because I loved it so much.

In fact I love it so much and have gained so much confidence that I have enrolled for an apprenticeship.   On July 15, 2017, I started my first day of employment at the cafe as ‘apprentice chef’.

I do my training at the cafe under Jack and a lady from the apprenticeship course comes to the cafe fortnightly to train and teach me.

This has been the most wonderful experience for me and I highly recommend the volunteer programme to others.  I was never made to feel  different or inadequate and have been supported and encouraged every step of the way.

 

Me and Lisa.                                                                   Tamara, Lisa and Jack.

Can I just add that me – Lisa artist – not Lisa Chef – is wearing an apron covered in paint as I was working in the art studio that day and not in the cafe LOL……. Otherwise it looks kind of strange as the chefs are immaculate.  Sorry Jack and Lisa.

 

Religion As Reality Avoidance

Religion as reality avoidance

Addict

American shame researcher Brené Brown describes the current generation of adults as “the most obese, in debt, medicated and addicted adults in human history”. I don’t think I know many people who would seriously disagree with that assessment.

What’s driving this trend?

I would say it basically boils down to one thing: reality avoidance.

The world is just too painful and difficult a place, so rather than deal with the distressing reality of it, we find all kinds of creative ways to distract and numb ourselves.

Some go shopping, even when they don’t really need anything and can’t afford it anyway (sometimes half-jokingly but tellingly referred to as “retail therapy”). Others begin to indulge in eating sweet or fatty foods; at first, they find comfort in it, but it soon morphs into something they need in order to survive. Many immerse themselves in social media, spending every spare moment presenting a curated version of themselves to the world, all the while carefully hiding their true selves. Some are addicted to work; for others, it might be porn or sex; still others find themselves enslaved to alcohol or drugs.In one form or another, addiction is all around us.

(As a bit of an aside, you might think the world has surely always been just as painful as it is now, if not more painful. I would agree with you. In which case, why the recent massive increase in addictive and compulsive behaviours? I’d say the key difference is that we now live in an age that is driven more than ever before by image. From TV and magazine ads and celebrity idols to the carefully crafted perfect personas with which we are bombarded hour after hour on Facebook, we are surrounded by unrelenting pressure to look the best, be the best, know the most, earn the most, have the nicest house, raise the nicest kids. And, conveniently, the consumer model quickly steps in to constantly pepper us with an array of products and services that will help us achieve those very things. It’s a double whammy: we feel more pressured than ever before to live up to an idealised image, and we’re offered more promises than ever before to help us do it. The prevalence of addictive and compulsive behaviours is simply evidence that these promises never deliver.)

But there’s another form of addiction that I haven’t mentioned so far, yet which is very common and very subtle – and which serves exactly the same purpose as all the other addictions we’ve already talked about. I’m talking about being addicted to religion.

Now, most evangelical Christians today would vehemently deny being addicted to religion. They would say they go to church, believe what they believe and engage in the religious activities in which they engage not because they are compelled to do so, but because they choose to.

Well, okay… but bear in mind that many alcoholics also claim they could stop drinking whenever they want to.In fact, there’s one main reason why I believe religion is a major addiction, and that is that it very often meets the definition we began with above: it’s a near-perfect form of reality avoidance.

It seems to me that much of the focus in organised religion is around convincing ourselves that if we believe some things hard enough, get sufficiently involved in certain activities, worship (by which we basically often mean sing) passionately enough and generally put enough effort into being good, we will have the security of knowing that we are in the winning camp of those who have God’s divine stamp of approval come judgement day. (If you don’t believe any of this is entrenched behaviour sometimes bordering on the compulsive, just try questioning the way things are done in your church.)

Meanwhile, what is very often missing from Christianity as it is commonly practised in churches up and down the land is any acknowledgement of the reality of what it means to be a human being in a broken world.Think about it: how many sermons have you heard about how to be a better this or a more effective that; how to be an overcomer and a giant-slayer; how to know God’s amazing destiny for your life; or how to perpetually walk in victory?

If your experience is anything like mine, I’m guessing the answer is somewhere near plenty.But how often have you heard anyone in church talk about dealing with crippling fear or debilitating shame, coping with the heavy burden of regret, or even surviving the reality of serious illness or death? And yet, if we’re honest, aren’t these the things we all have to live with and cope with pretty much every day of our lives?

When church becomes mainly a way for us to feel better about ourselves while avoiding dealing with the messy reality of our shame, our pain and our brokenness, I would say it’s stopped being the life-giving body Jesus intended it to be, and has instead become a narcotic: a shot in the arm that gives short-term relief but ultimately brings necrosis and death.

To put it another way, if church has become a hamster wheel and the thought of getting off the wheel fills you with trepidation, that’s probably a very good sign that you need to get off that wheel and take some time out.

Addiction – whether it’s to hard drugs or religion – ultimately never leads anywhere good. What God desires is not endless religious activity or outward passion, but truth in the inward parts.

To me, the first step towards this is honestly facing up to the pain, the struggle and all the weights we carry around with us.

The way to wholeness is not through denying pain and seeking to apply a religious bandage over it. The way to wholeness is to bring all of our pain, our messiness and our failures to Jesus in the midst of a loving, authentic community, and to receive the cleansing word of acceptance from God and from those with whom we have chosen to share our lives. The sad thing is that it’s often very hard to find such communities within the established church.

Lord, deliver us from religious addiction; and lead us instead into the all-embracing and healing light of your love.

[ Image: bejealousofme ]

NAIDOC Week 2017

Hi all.  I have had some fabulous feedback regarding NAIDOC week.    Thank you for your interest and passion about our indigenous brothers and sisters.

I am really keen to be educated in the area of our First Australian history, stories and needs.  I am the first person to admit that I am stumbling a bit in the dark and am on a huge learning curve.  Therefore I really value your feedback and guidance.

In that spirit let me direct you to an amazing team who are all over this issue and most missional issues.  TEAR Australia are passionate about educating people and supporting equality and justice.   I personally know many of the team and they are just all around amazing humans.   This LINK will take you to some fabulous information and resources regarding NAIDOC week.  They give very practical suggestions about how you can help, subscribe to find out more.

“NAIDOC Week was initiated by the inspiring Aboriginal activist and Christian leader William Cooper, who asked churches to start praying for his people. As people of faith who care deeply about God’s vision for restoration and justice for our Aboriginal brothers and sisters let’s walk together as we revisit the original meaning of NAIDOC week. Featuring videos, blogs, reflections and prayers from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders”.  TEAR Australia

I encourage you to get involved.  Love Lisa.

Grasstrees-600x900

Grass Tree Gathering: Safina Stewart

 

 

 

 

The Fight for Justice in Australia

NAIDOC

Continuing in the spirit of the week of NAIDOC, I have posted this prayer written by Brooke Prentis and published on Common Grace.  This prayer acknowledges the struggles and injustices of the Australian First Nation people.  This blog is a social justice platform.  However, we cannot do the work of social justice on this planet if we do not first fight for the unification and justice of our first Nation people.  If we ignore their suffering we are hypocritical.

At the end of this prayer is a list of injustices that we can pray for and repent of.

The history of our nation deeply affects the present and our future.

For over 60,000 years, 300 Aboriginal nations with over 600 dialects of language dwelt on the continent we now call Australia. Over 2,000 generations of Aboriginal people lived and died here.

In 1770 Captain Cook landed on Possession Island and began the dangerous story of Australia, which for Aboriginal peoples is filled with dispossession, disease, death and ongoing disadvantage.

As Christians we know the reach of sin, how it smothers its way into everything. All Australians are harmed by what has happened to Aboriginal Australians.

Only together, with lament and grief, apologies and forgiveness, friendship and solidarity, can we build a strong reconciled Australia (Source).

We cannot say we did not know.

Common Grace is a movement of Christians who are passionate about Jesus and justice.

Bringing together Christians from many parts of the Church, the Common Grace community is rich in diverse understandings and perspectives on any given topic.

Yet at Common Grace, we share a fierce unity.

It is a unity that is birthed in our common experience of receiving the grace of Jesus. It is a unity that is continually forged by our common desire to be more like Jesus.

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26 January prayer

Written by Brooke Prentis, Aboriginal spokesperson for Common Grace

God of Holy Dreaming, Great Creator Spirit, Papa Jesus,

We come before you today as a Christian community to pause and reflect with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters.  We pause to take a moment to show compassion to Aboriginal people at this time of grief and grievance.  Whilst not all of us will understand this Lord, we ask that you help us to see, hear and feel the struggles of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters.

We pray for strength and healing at this time that brings forth feelings of loss.  We recognise the loss of family, loss of land, and loss of freedom.  We say sorry for the times we have wronged Aboriginal people, the times we have not treated them with dignity, the times we have not stood up to racism, and the times we have not listened to their stories, their fight for justice, and their cry for compassion.

Dear Lord, we pray for a way that we can celebrate together, not as one unified group, but for a way that celebrates our diversity.  A way that encompasses all cultures, and celebrates and commemorates our past, both the good and the bad.

Dear Lord, we know that you are all seeing and all knowing.  We know that you have seen all that has gone on in this land since time began. We pray that you help all Australians to see as you have seen through all the pages of our history and our present and our future yet to come.

Dear Lord, we thank you for placing Aboriginal people here in this land, we thank you for their care and stewardship of your great creation for thousands of years.  We thank you for their survival against many odds. Dear Lord, may we learn to respect, appreciate, and acknowledge, the oldest living culture in the world.

Lord we ask all these things in your Almighty name, Amen.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Injustices

Compiled by Brooke Prentis, Aboriginal spokesperson for Common Grace

  • Invasion
  • Dispossession
  • Stolen Land
  • Stolen Wages
  • Stolen Generations
  • Lack of Treaty
  • Slavery
  • Lack of recognition of The Frontier Wars
  • Massacres
  • Genocide
  • Loss of Language
  • Lack of return of Ancestral Remains
  • Lack of protection of Sacred Sites
  • High rates of Prison incarceration
  • High rates of Juvenile Detention
  • Denied access to medical attention in custody
  • The NT Intervention
  • Paperless arrest laws
  • Forced removal from Homelands
  • Proposed nuclear waste dumps without consultation
  • Poverty
  • Racism
  • Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
  • The New Stolen Generation
  • Life expectancy gaps

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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The Funeral Industry and our Disconnection from Death

Tuesday Talks with Amanda Meath – The Funeral Industry and our Disconnection from Death.

I would like to welcome Amanda Meath today on Tuesday Talks.

Amanda has one husband of 17 years and three children; dog (Snoops) died a few months ago and yes we had a funeral.

I have just completed a Certificate IV at the Gordon to become a celebrant and Amanda was one of the course instructors.  Let me just say that Amanda did an outstanding job.

Amanda has spent over twenty years working within the funeral industry in a variety of roles, including arranging/ conducting, embalming and Celebrancy.

Amanda is so passionate about funeral work that she passed that passion on to me.  Believe me, I never thought I would be excited about funerals which just shows what an incredible legacy Amanda offers in this area.  However I do share Amanda’s concern about our disconnection from death which is why I have asked her so join us today.

Lisa:  Amanda what makes a 17 year old girl want to become a funeral director?

Amanda: It wasn’t my first thought, I wanted to be a Forensic Pathologist (mid 80s, think Quincy M.D.) At the suggestion of my English teacher I did some work experience with a local funeral home and realised that there was so much more to this than just dead bodies!  I grew up with a strong sense of social/community responsibility, and this was exactly what I knew I should do.

Tree reflection in the book

Lisa:  Can you help us understand this career?

Is a funeral director and an embalmer the same thing?

Is it common in the funeral industry to get training in restorative arts which is: restoring, bone structure, facial muscles, wax treatments, eye and mouth modelling, the use of cosmetics , etc?

 

What part do you find the most rewarding?

Amanda:  Terminology can vary from company to company but in general terms A Funeral Director will arrange and conduct a funeral, this entails: meeting with the family, determining the type of services they want (no two are the same), arranging all the details.  Far too many for me to list here.  Then ensuring the smooth running of the service.  This may sound straight forward but it takes a very knowledgeable, organisised and competent person with clear communication skills, who is also compassionate, patient and understanding.

An Embalmer has the qualifications to embalm a body.  This is a Diploma of Mortuary Science.  Not everybody is embalmed and not every funeral home has a qualified embalmer on staff. Embalming is an arterial injection process that will preserve and sanitise a body. Each person is washed and dressed before they are placed in their coffin, their hair is done, men may be shaved, their eyes and mouths are closed.

In smaller organizations it is not uncommon for staff members to operate in every area of the business.

When I was younger the part I found the most rewarding was simply ensuring everything went well because at the time I saw this as a good result for the families. As I have moved forward in my thinking I believe that educating people about the process of grief is so much more important. The way in which our Western culture deals with death – our own and that of others.  We are outsourcing our loss. We need to be a part of the process, not just a spectator.  If we can change the fear of death, and encourage conversation then we as a society will be better prepared for it when it comes.

Lisa:  Some people are shocked at the work that goes into preparing a body for burial, I know our class was.  Some people are confused as to why you would go to all the trouble of preparing the body of a homeless person or perhaps someone who will not be viewed before the burial.

I know you feel passionately about the sanctity of death.  Could you share your views about this?

Amanda:  Dignity.

We all deserve dignity even in death.

I always treated every person in my mortuary as if their family were standing beside me.  People feel disconnected from their loved ones physical form after death.  If we could be more involved in this process we may reach a place of acceptance sooner and also start to chip away at our own fear of death.

Lisa:  I remember you saying in class that the whole arrangements of funerals happened too quickly.  Why is this?

How long can a family wait before needing to do a burial?

Amanda:   As long as is needed.  There in no right or wrong, it needs to be an individual approach. There are many cultures that have a short period of time between death and burial. However these tend to have a hands-on approach.  Jews sit Shiva for the deceased (seven days of mourning) and Muslims wash and prepare for burial the bodies (women for women, men for men) of their loved ones. Western society has a tendency to stop for a few days or so, acknowledge the death and then try to go ‘back to normal’. I think that if we are unable to be hands-on with funerals for our loved ones, then maybe a longer period between the death and the funeral may allow us time to process the reality and make better choices based on clear thinking rather than rushed `what-do-I-do-now?’ thinking.

Lisa:  Personally I think that our society is very dislocated from death.  In your opinion, what ways could we improve our views and the facilitation of death?

Amanda: Our society is terrified of death.

We work tirelessly to keep it at bay, we teach our children to fear it, because we fail to teach them about it. So when it comes we are shocked and unprepared to accept the loss.

A culture that is in denial will always struggle with acceptance.

Death is certain.

Understanding death does not mean that you miss someone less, or don’t feel the same grief as others, but it may allow you to learn to live without the person in your day-to-day life, with more acceptance.

Being afraid of death is a barrier to achieving a good death, says Caitlyn Doughty in her book “Smoke gets in your eyes”.

In it she advocates for being more involved in the funeral process, demystifying it.  This is confronting for a lot of people as they just want it all to happen and go away.  However it is this “head in the sand” approach that has enabled the funeral industry to choose the options available to us for funerals, rather than us doing this one last thing for our loved one as we used to.

Dandelion Flying

Lisa:  Some people may find this topic very morbid and yet not one of us will escape death.  . Some people can’t even say the word ‘died’ or ‘dead’.  We hear words like “she passed”,  or “he went to be with the Lord” or “she’s gone”.  Even our language is weird.

 

Do we need to learn a language for death?

Amanda: This is a very hard thing to change because people are very comfortable with the language that they use, and see no need to change.  Any change needs to come early in life to have an understanding, to have respect and compassion but to embrace the reality.

Lisa:  Finally, what are some practical steps that can assist people to prepare for death?

Amanda:

  • Pre-arrange your funeral. This can be done with or without a funeral director.
  • Be very clear and detailed about what you want.
  • Not just the ceremony but the type of coffin, type of committal (whether you are going to be cremated, buried or other).
  • Talk with your family about your decisions.  Be aware that some of this may change over time so review it every 10 years or so.

Amanda thank you for encouraging us to think about death in a more practical and natural way its been such a pleasure to have you on Sunday Everyday.

Thanks to Amanda I am a funeral celebrant so should you need help or assistance in this way please contact me.

Lisa Hunt-Wotton Celebrant

***Finally Amanda, do you have any books, resources that you could recommend people read?

Smoke gets in your eyes – by Caitlyn Doughty.  It is American and we do things quite differently here in Australia, but an interesting story about a young women’s journey from apprentice cremator operator to education advocate for healthier attitudes to death and dying.

Should you wish to order this book just click on the image and it will take you to Amazon.

A young mortician goes behind the scenes, unafraid of the gruesome (and fascinating) details of her curious profession.

Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty―a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre―took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.

 

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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Psalm 23 – Father Emu

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community (Source).

NAIDOC originally stood for ‘National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee’. This committee was once responsible for organising national activities during NAIDOC Week and its acronym has since become the name of the week itself. Find out more about the origins and history of NAIDOC Week.

NAIDOC week is from 2 to 9 July 2017.

For our mediation this week I thought that it would be appropriate to share this brilliant indigenous version of Psalm 23.

Rev Ron Williams was a “bushie” pastor, traversing thousands of kilometres around the
back blocks of Australia, stopping at Aboriginal camps, visiting prisoners
and others in adversity.

Emu Natural Incubation

PSALM 23 
By Rev. Ron Williams

My big fella boss up in the sky is like the father emu.
He will always look after me and take me to green grass,
And lead me to where the water holes are full and fresh all the time.
He leads me away from the thick scrub
and helps me keep safe from the hunters, dingoes and eagles.
At night time when I’m very lonely and sad,
I will not be afraid, for my Father covers me with His feathers like a father emu.
His spear and shield will always protect me.
My big fella boss always gives me a good feed in the middle of my enemies.
In hot times he makes me sit down in a cool shade and rest.
He gives me plenty of love and care all of my life through.
Then I will live with my big fella boss like a father emu,
that cares for his chickens in good country full of peace and safety,
Forevermore and evermore.

 

Why the Male Emu is likened to Father God.  

It is the male Emu that sits on the nest and incubates the eggs. The father is the sole protector and the one who nurtures the chicks.   Leading them and teaching them.

Newly hatched chicks a stay close together and remain with the male for four months. They finally leave at about six months.  Emus are nearly fully grown at one year.

In the footage shared by 7 News, the father of the pack leads from the front, with his flock of baby emus following closely behind.

Indeed the emu, which also happens to be Australia’s largest native bird, seemed right at home as he directed and watched over his attentive followers.

Click Link to see footage of Super Male Emu leading his 40 Chicks.

Want an Amazing Life? Get Out Of The Box.

For goodness sake people.  Get Out of the Box

by Lisa Hunt-Wotton

Yesterday my son called to say that he had accepted the role of Technical Director in the Cirque de Soilel show ‘Luzia’.  Luzia is about light and water.  Inspired by the richness of the Mexican culture. The name Luzia fuses the sound of luz (light in Spanish) and lluvia (rain), two elements at the core of the show’s creation.  Cirque de Soilel, one of the modern worlds pinnacles of creativity.

My daughter in love, his wife, posted this on her face book page in response to his new appointment:

That which has the appearance of ‘suddenly’… is more likely the result of ‘steadily’. Rachel Hunt

Rachel understands better than anyone, that success does not happen over night. It takes years of discipline and hard work.  Creativity is back breaking, risk taking, going against the flow work.   This is a woman who works for hours a day refining her craft and her body.  She is an elite athlete and an aerial performer.

My son has also been working steadily and behind the scenes for 15 years to get to this position.  No holidays, no sick pay,  just a laser focus to his craft.  An incredible leader, mentor, director, and technical genius.  YES I am bias.

So today I reflect from the perspective of being a creative myself and from the perspective of watching my ‘child creatives’.

I love nothing more than sitting in a room with creatives.  Ideas bounce around the room at the speed of light and imaginations are let loose.  With no budget restraints and no black hats we can envision seismic  moments of wonder and amazement.  Arms fling wide, eyebrows shoot high and giggles ensue.

Then at the drop of a hat we go deep like submarines.  “But what effect are we after?”  “What will elicit the most change”?  “Is this provocative enough”? “Will it hit the mark and make a mark”?

In my experience true creativity is closely linked to justice.  Artists are most certainly our chosen vessels to reflect back our light and our darkness.  They interpret society and community.  The reflect the the best of us and the worst of us.  They push back against injustice and are the champions of the marginalised and misunderstood.  They are able to transform the unlovely into a thing of wonder.

Segue:  So why link Creativity and Justice

Creativity: is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations etc.: it is originality, progressiveness, imagination.

It is the mental characteristic that allows a person to think outside of the box, which results in innovative or different approaches to a particular task.

“Because of their courage, their lack of fear, they (creative people), are willing to make silly mistakes. The truly creative person is one who can think crazy; such a person knows full well that many of his great ideas will prove to be worthless. The creative person is flexible; he is able to change as the situation changes, to break habits, to face indecision and changes in conditions without undue stress. He is not threatened by the unexpected as rigid, inflexible people are.”Frank Goble

Justice is the quality of being just: to uphold the justice of a cause.  Justice is finding out why something is wrong and then doing something about it.  If you are a Christ follower then  Jesus and Justice are inseparable.  Justice is the sceptre and throne of Go. It is what He rules by.  Justice sits at the very centre of the character and nature of God.

Which is why if creativity doesn’t not promote justice in some way it becomes narcissistic and self centred.  It never really hits the mark.

I believe that artists sit and live in the margins.  We are boundary pushers.  We flick triggers and put our toes over the line.

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Photo Cred: Belinda Strodder.   My beautiful girl Rachel

If art doesn’t make you think, if it is not provocative in some way, then it is not doing its job.  Artists and creatives are the people in this world who are able to take the pulse of the community, feel the heartbeat of society and interpret it for the rest of us.

Unfortunately in doing so we are sometimes misunderstood, and or get ourselves into trouble.

We teeter totter between showing you the other side and pushing you off.

We are tightrope walkers, bridge builders, tension holders.  We strive to get the balance right.  How much is too much and what is not enough?

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Artists don’t like platitudes and easy answers.  Artists navigate controversy, they see the injustices, they look through the bubble wrap that people cocoon themselves in, they see the paradox of life and the fact that broken-ness effects us all.

We are mystics and misfits.  We live in the margins and on the edges.  We sit with the lepers and the prositutes and talk easily with the addict and the homeless, we love the broken hearted and see the beauty in their grief etched faces and we try, oh how we try, to make others see too.  In our music, in our writing, in our painting, in our poetry, in our dance and in our photography.

Life is messy.  Life is mean.  But life is also beautiful and good and precious.

Mainstream institutions cringe at the bluntness and honesty of the artist.  They like their bubble wrap and their neat programmes.  They like their moral absolutes and rights and wrongs. But they miss the point.  Life is messy, its risky, its costly and it challenges.

Life does not fit in a Box.

Creatives know this, they ask you to reflect on it, to sit with it, to ponder, to contemplate, to hold the tension.  They open the box for you.  They offer their hand and help you get out of the box.  They have scissors to help you cut the box up.  In fact they will set fire to the box.  But this does not fit into busy church and intitutionalised programmes, so they evict us, minimise us, ‘shhh’ us and give us nice alternative, safe, words to say.

‘In my experience, the Christian painter or poet, sculptor or dancer, is regularly regarded as something of a curiosity, to be tolerated, humoured,  maybe even allowed to put on a show once in a while. But the idea that they are, or could be, anything more than that – that they have a vocation to re imagine and re express the beauty of God, to lift our sights and change our vision of reality – is often not even considered.’ N.T. Wright

But the story dances on, the narrative will not be quite.  Art squeezes out between the cracks in the box like vibrant magenta oil paint on a blank white canvass.  If the institutions evict us, or cringe at us, we will  live in the margins.  We will live with the marginalised and the rejected and the hopeless because we totally get what its like to be marginalised and rejected.

We love justice.  We try to walk with truth, we endeavour to be true to ourselves and true to our art. That is why we are willing to work back breaking hours for little pay or reward for decades.  We believe that there is more, so much more to the spoon fed messages that are being broadcast from pulpits and media outlets around the world.

N.T. Wright says so brilliantly:

‘The real ‘you’ is designed to be creative. The Christian mind is not simply a computer designed to process the truths of the gospel, turn them into moral imperatives, and instruct the will to act them out. The Christian is to reflect God’s image, says Paul in Colossians 3; and the image is precisely the image of the creator’.

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Luzia – San Fransisco Chronicle

Wright continues on to say that ‘we are… to bring forth new things, new life, different ways of looking at the world.we are God’s artwork. The word in Greek is poiēma, the word from which we get ‘poem’.

We are God’s poetry.  God is the free and exuberant creator. (me doing a happy dance).

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He made giraffes and chickens, oak trees and butterflies, sunrise and moonrise, the music of a waterfall and the smile that lights up a baby’s face.

We are to reflect the image of this God. (I like this God).  We are given our freedom as Christians so that we can help to fill God’s world with new artworks, whether it be what we call ‘art’, music or painting or dance or whatever, or the larger artistry which through love and service brings colour and life and hope to God’s world’.  N.T. Wright.

Did you get that, life and hope to Gods world, through art and justice.

We need creativity to bring about justice because; creativity breaks us out of the box.  People love boxes.  Make it neat, tell me what steps I need to follow.  Keep it simple.  Not only do we like boxes, we like them tied up nice and tight with a pretty bow.

Unfortunately life is not neat, it is not simple, its complex and time consuming.

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About the Box.

Creatives go:  “There’s a box”?

Which is why we need them so much.  Creatives are able to bring fresh ideas and vision about the way to do things and how to see things.  The are not afraid of mess or margins or change or risk.  They ask you to step out of the box for a minute and have a look around.

There is life outside the box, there is beauty to be found, there is space, and time and rest and joy – outside the box.  Go get tickets to a show, to the art gallery to the opera.  

“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.”Alan Alda

 

If the work here is meaningful to you, you can partner with me in a very real way through Patreon.com.

Patreon allows me to get support for the work that I do on this blog.    Patreon allows people to financially pledge to support artists, writers, musicians, and other creative people. Sunday Everyday has been on line since the first of February 2015.  Since that time I have been doing this in a volunteer capacity.  For the blog to continue I need your support.  You may want to give the amount you would spend on a coffee and muffin once a month or you may wish to pledge $50.00 a month or more.  Every bit helps.

Please help support my ministry and magnify my voice by pledging.

Thanks for considering.

Love Lisa

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