Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sing with Me

Anyway, so Mum asked about the format of my fantastic quiet time. Its a format that I have been working on for a while, trying to find something that works. There are three key elements.

The first is the intro. I have a great love of poetry, and I find such connection in it, so I begin by reading a poem. I have a book called "Essential New Zealand Poems" and every night I read one. The absolute Key to my quiet time is that I have stopped putting pressure on myself for everything to mean something. I just read it, and let it be what it is. I like it/I don't like it/I connect with it/I don't connect with it. Whatever, it just links for me the world of my ordinary life, and the world of my relationship with God. So I read one poem, ONLY one. If I REALLY like something, I might underline it, and sometimes a line from the poem might stick, and then it gets written in my bible. "What he sees in my meandering mind I do not know" (James K. Baxter) was a sticker. It's written in there above Joel 2.

Part two is the Prayer. I'm not naturally a prayer. That is, I have the attention span of a butterfly. I can maintain prayer for about 2.5 min on my own. Much better with other people. But pre written prayers REALLY help me. Psalms are just the best prayers I ever pray. Basically any song. So finally I thought, what's wrong with that? Maybe its not ideal, but it REALLY works for me. I have found this amazing book of prayers called "A Diary of Private Prayer" (John Baillie). They are beautifully written and intensely challenging. I can pray them with ALL my heart. I have never had such a real prayer life. So that's part two.

Part three is the Bible. Again, the key is letting it be what it is. I have a pen. I have a bible. I read one section a night. ONLY one, even if its only two verses. I read it, REALLY read it. If I think something is strange, I put a question mark by it. If it's great it gets an exclamation mark. I write things in the margin, I underline ANYTHING that strikes me in any way. I really READ. I don't try to apply it to me, I don't try to get the message. I READ it, and LISTEN to it. What does it SAY. Not what is the message, is it meaningful, anxiously trying to see what secret message God is trying to convey to me. I just read it. And, of course, I get more out of the bible than I ever have. I finally hear its voice. I see themes, I hear echoes, I see it work itself in to my being, into my life. Ah yes, finally it has meaning, now that I've stopped trying to give it meaning. What a relief.

So I read a poem, a prayer and a section. Not a random section either. I read through books, and through genres. I have read through the New testament, Job and now through the Minor Prophets. Jonah is hands down the strangest book I have ever read. Read it one day, without your Sunday School Glasses on. It is just the most ridiculous story. What it means I don't know yet, but it certainly struck me. It takes practice, this reading without the self induced internal pressure, but I am getting the hang of it. It takes a while for the meanings to sink in with me, that's what I've discovered through this process. I wont get it tonight, or tomorrow night, but maybe next week I will realize what these words mean.

I also write my own poetry somewhere in there (which you can read here) and most nights I read a section out of a great devotional that my Mum gave me "Water from the Rock". It sounds like a cliche but its crazy how often all of the elements combine and speak to me with one Voice.

So this is my format, apologies for the long windedness.


I have pain in a place I would rather not have pain.

I went biking yesterday with the Commune out at Bottle Lake. Let us say, I was petrified, but I pushed myself, and I actually really enjoyed it. So me and Simo packed the bikes again on the car and went out biking down Hoon Hay Valley, better known as the Valley of Peace. Beautiful it was, but a bit painful down below. I still have my (very) old biking muscles from years of biking to school, so I found it much easier than I had expected. It was awesome to get out into the beautiful world, so nice to be in the country only five minutes from my house. I love Christchurch....everything is so close. Then we came back and did the garden - pulled some weeds (quite a few), tied up the tomato and dead headed the roses. Now not only is the house incredibly tidy and organised, but the Garden is too. So, after my blog, I am going to toddle off and find some sites about organic gardening. I got inspired watching a program with my parents about Prince Charles' organic farm.

I am worn out at the moment. Just worn out. I carry a burden I don't know what to do with. The pat answers don't work for me.

Why do I never blog when I'm just happy? You can see, I am happy most of the time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Presidents of the USCA

I'm back at Uni, and it feels good. Other than the inevitable stress of the great 'assignments' unveiling, looks to be an exciting and interesting year. My assignments this year will definitely push me outside my comfort zone - I have to do a photographic essay and a structured controversy among other wild and wacky things. I know, I would choose Sociology as a discipline, full of overly well meaning lecturers who are not content with the standard (and not particularly accurate) methods of assessment. It means that I will stress about assessment, but also that I will get way more out of the course. Which is good. Last years 2nd semester was a real learning curve for me, because I didn't really put in the usual amount of effort, and I am so disappointed. My marks were okay, but I didn't really get enough out of the course. I did one called Sustainable Development, which is precisely my field of interest, but because I didn't put in the work, I missed out so much on the content. I got a pretty okay mark, but I didn't LEARN. So it was a good lesson.

Holidays have been....interesting. Some parts good, some not so good. More valuable lessons, and some hard disappointments to deal with. My plans did not eventuate, but I need to learn again to trusts His good plans for me (over and above my own).

Spiritually things are good. I have finally found a format for quiet times that really works for me, and a way of reading the bible that makes it meaningful. I feel like I am growing. There are always frustrations - I am frustrated with my own inability to live up to the standards I set myself. I am frustrated sometimes in my church community. But on the whole, I am contented. I am growing, and that is a great feeling. I can hear His voice again, and that is the best feeling.

Emotionally, I am a little battle worn. I am tired and a bit strung out. Finding it hard to process some difficult emotions. But again, learning curve.

On the whole I am happy, and excited. Looking forward to studying, learning, growing, and (more immediately) having a tidy and organized house!