PART 4. LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING: A little less conversation, a little more action please, or so long and thanks for all the fish

Please see part 1 as to why I am writing this….

Once again, the opinions expressed are my own, informed by my faith and experience and not intended to offend.

_____________________________

I think that dancing, laughing, eating good fresh food, loving nature, music and art are universal and are to be enjoyed by everyone regularly. Singing  is particularly important and powerful. But no one way of doing it is better than another.

Personally, right now I’m listening to Babel by Mumford and Sons, singing the old hymns, dancing with my children to anything you can have a good dance to, and I just got hold of Graceland again. I’m finally appreciating silence. As I teenager, without proper direction, hurt, confused and angry, I loved the prodigy – music for a jilted generation, the doors, nirvana, the cure (still love them), and the smiths but also U2 and the Beatles. I had a huge crush on Bono, from when he went down and picked that girl out of the crowd at Live Aid. And don’t tell anyone, but I think he is still my secret crush. I loved Cindy Laupers album – A Night to Remember. I can tell you the Beatles films off by heart, I watched them nonstop. (Although I was also watching Pink Floyd, The Wall, at the same time, and was falling in love with film because of the amazing Robert De Niro in Godfather 2 and Taxi Driver). My maiden name is Lennon, and when I was young, I found an album with a person with the same name on it. I thought he must be family. I could be wrong, but I think my dad said that he could have gone to a party with them all when they came to Newcastle in the 60’s. Like, OMG! I always loved John the best but also I really liked Yoko too, and I really liked the way that they loved each other.

I thought this picture was it, but still wanted the riches of our modern world. I was wrong. I  learnt pretty early on, again with hurt to me and others, that drink, drugs, sex and hedonism is fun but pointless and destructive.  Please forgive me, all that I hurt at that time.

jilted gen

King Solomon said it much better than me – Ecclesiastes is a great read. Solomon was richer and more powerful that anyone here today and this is what he concluded:

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil.

___________________________________________________________________

I’m learning that if I can’t explain it to a child, in a way that they understand, I’m saying too much. And that real laughter and sobbing can sound the same at first. They both take your breath away.

My body is beautiful, especially when pregnant. I do need to take more care of my skin, hair and teeth though. I do have a bit too much hair for my liking, but God is gracious! I’m thinking I may get the braces that I was too ashamed to get as a child.

I think we underestimate everything, especially ourselves. Nelson Mandela’s inauguration speech says it so much better.

I think everyone is a bit of nature and nurture and their own choices but none of these have to define us. I have a genetic tendency for hemorrhoids; it doesn’t mean that’s what I am.

Farting is just funny. In our house, they’re called windypups and they make us all laugh.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Art and science are not exclusive, they are meant to inform each other. Some of us have inclinations for one in particular, but maybe you can’t have one without the other, and understand truth fully. The universal is bigger than I can even start to imagine, and smaller than anything I will ever know. I just don’t have all the answers of how it all that stuff fits together but I’m glad that other people are curious and diligent to want to find out. From what I understand, quantum physics is basically about how things change their nature when they’re observed. And that things can be 2 separate things at the same time, a wave and a particle, dead and alive. Well, I think your right. I think we are observed by a being that for want of a better word we called god, and his observation of us changes our behaviour. And instead of reducing him to the size of a wafer on Sunday, he is as big as all the parallel universes that you can’t even begin to imagine. And I am both alive in Christ and dead to myself at the same time. My great teacher George Alexander said we have to hold it all in tension, all the conflicts of belief, because everything is two things at the same time. Although it is easier for our tiny finite, lovable, under-used brains that they are just one. And maybe this creator had the infinite galaxies for us to explore like in Star Trek or Dr Who but we’ve been too busy trying to take land, power and resources from each other, or by painting or nails and curling our hair – in a quest to make up for what is lacking inside – to pay attention to all the fun we could have been having. Or maybe we were so noisy, the creator needed the whole of the rest of the universe to rest in.

I think opposites attract is an important principle. Like repels like. Men and women are different for a reason. The colours of our skin are different for a reason. We have different abilities for a reason. I know it is comforting to stay with what you know, it is safer, but it is not right. Living in a community where there is just your own colour or background just makes fear of the other worse. Interracial marriage is one of the most wonderful things in the world. It’s tough, I’m sure, but I get a real thrill when I see it. (Kate and Consol, you’re beautiful people and I can’t wait to meet your little girl when she comes). Racism and sexism are born out of our of fear of the other, usually white men who have had their way for too long. Men have literally raped, beaten, abused and neglected those that were in your care – their women. There’s grace for them, but its time you took up the responsibility that is theirs. ‘You have caused confusion and delay’, as the Fat Controller in Thomas would say. Times are changing fellas, I would love to see a world where the African, South American, Indian and Asian nations have a more equal say, and take up the responsibility they hold, not being beholden to the whites, but lovingly, carefully, responsibly bringing their own unique characteristics to the world. I do have a evolving theory, that the African Americans/Africans have suffered more than most in this world, and maybe they have a really special place to play in the future. Many have tried to suppress their great spirit but none ever could. You are better than the guns, drugs and warring give you credit for my friends. And the Jewish people will always have a very important place in God’s heart. My Lord was Jewish, and I respect this people, including those in my family, that have gone before me.

Maybe the wonderful Latina woman, Imelda, who has cleaned many a house and toilet in Dallas, could be a better leader than we have now? Or her wonderfully bright and generous son. (And I don’t think you should ask someone to clean your toilet unless you’re sick or have a disability. No one likes doing it and maybe it is to remind us of our stinky humanity).

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Unlike my wonderful  father in law, who has taught me much, I don’t know enough about the other religions to really know how they fit in. The desperately wicked things that have been done in the name of Christ or by his people, from the Crusades, to slavery and child abuse by priests and cruelty by nuns, (see film, the The Magdeline Sisters), will be repaid, I have no doubt of that. But as I heard someone say, what about the countries who rejected God altogether? How many millions and millions died at the hands of Stalin, communist China or under Pol Pot? As my friend Jo and I concluded after studying Marx, Weber and Durkheim  for a semester “Yes, its nice in theory  but it just doesn’t work in practice”. Unless people are compelled to share what they have with others from a deep seated love of God, knowing that none of their possessions are theirs anyway, I think the socialist way can’t work because above all else, the human heart is evil. I really need to get into , The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. Ravi Zacharias has been blessed with an ability to say it all  much better than me! http://www.rzim.org/.   I do know that Jesus is the Son of God, and that those who deny that unfortunately are misguided. I think we have so much to learn from the Muslim community about diligence, the need for regular prayer, respect and family. But I don’t think good works get you to God. The true Buddhists can teach us about peace, respect and inner reflection, but my experience has been that without Jesus at the centre, it’s impossible to find true and lasting peace. Japan and the Japanese people will always have a special place in my heart, and I really do love their traditional food, design, ideas on space and order, simplicity, honour, respect for others and love of nature, more than most other cultures. I will try again to learn your language to understand you more. But worship the creator and not the creation.

LGBT community – I believe the Christian community owes you a huge apology. We have represented God to you in such a way that we have made you hurt so bad and made you angry. I should say, I only have vague ideas on this, and I am still thinking it all through.

When God said let us make man (human beings) in his image, I think ‘he/she/it’ meant just that. And God is the Father, Jesus is the Son, but I’ve only just realised that The Holy Spirit’s character is more like the female figure. Maybe something to do with mother nature, call her what you will. She is extremely powerful, wild, fun, a comforter, a guide, a counsellor , a teacher, is wisdom itself, is gentle, infinitely loving, and has a still small voice.  Her Son learnt from her, and she is the ultimate in obedience. She will not come to you unless she is invited, but she can sometimes knock really loudly. On earth, maybe men and women were meant to look like our spiritual counterparts but we, being us, have got it terribly wrong. And sin just means ‘short of the mark, like an arrow when it doesn’t meet it’s target, not that you are bad and evil and unforgivable. Quite the opposite.

I’ve learnt that it is almost impossible to trust an invisible all powerful being until you have had a human being on earth that you have been able to fully trust and who loves you. I personally couldn’t do it and wondered why the whole time I called myself a believer, why I couldn’t fully trust Him, when he said it was so important to do so. I know now I do trust at least one person on earth, and actually a lot more, and it has released me to trust God. Those of you who have got close to him and been rejected by the rules and hypocrisy of the church, who expected you to perform or be a certain way without loving you first and gaining your respect and trust, well I admire you hugely and I’m sorry for what the body of Christ has done.

I clearly can not speak for you all, but those of your community that I know and love, are some of the most loving, caring, fun, intelligent, creative people to be around. It is not our role to judge anyone, God alone is judge. My understanding  is that the bible teaches us to admonish and encourage those within our spiritual community when they sin, (and you are not sinful if you truly love, lust is sinful), not those who do not believe in Him. My marriage is not in any way diminished by you marrying (if by marriage we mean one partner for life, that we love who is our cheerleader and encourager for life), but I believe God’s plan was for a man and a woman, see above – like repels like, opposites attract. It’s tough for a reason. We can’t do it unless God helps us. My experience has been that my friends who are gay have been deeply let down by the same sex figure in their lives, and the love that they so desperately needed – and were more sensitive to not getting by design – was cruelly and painfully taken from them. The figure of God that should have been represented by those on earth was deeply corrupted.   I’m so so sorry.  I would like to listen to your stories. And better that a child be in the house of a gay couple being really loved, than in a house of hypocrisy and abuse.

TBC…..

Love choices

A house call from the police, a trip to the ER and sirens blaring. These have all been part of our world in the last 2 weeks. Ok, so the sirens was actually our doorbell, which screams out the American national anthem with lights flashing at the top of our stairwell (unsurprisingly, not our choice). Over the past few weeks, it has taken to going off by itself, even with no batteries in it.  And, when you have spent 3hrs trying to get your stubborn 2 1/2 year old to nap, and it goes off just has he has, it is, hmmm, a little frustrating.

Then there is the police coming round to our door. Yes, this really did happen. It was after I had to leave the house for a while,  after a full bowl of cereal and a glass of milk were deliberately poured out on the floor by the aforementioned child, and I poured hot tea over my huge belly as I got up to stop him. This comes after a week of relentless and deliberate bad behaviour, which has mostly been out of character for our Wee Man but nonetheless exhausting and stressful. Someone needed a timeout, and it was me. I was sent a not-so-reassuring text a little later that “its ok, he calmed down once the police came round”. What?!!!!  How bad had we got? That’s what people do to bad parents. This did not help me to feel better. (It turns out this wasn’t an act of civil concern on the part of the neighbours, but that the policewoman actually lives next door and was coming off night shift). Either way, tensions were running high in our family.

And, then there’s ER. Nothing like the American TV show, or the ‘I-know-what’s-going-to-happen-next’ British version, Causality. Although if a camera crew had been following us throughout the day, the audience may have seen it coming. In the mental and physical exhaustion we were both feeling (these days running into each other due to lack of sleep), we dragged ourselves to a 6hr baby preparation class to find out how things are done  in the great state of Texas. As 7 very pregnant women and their partners wandered round the labour wards to reassure ourselves in a quiet mantra that we all would be ok, it became obvious that my husband couldn’t stand up. He was the only one of us needing a wheelchair. Things not looking good. With ‘Causality style hindsight’, we should have stayed at the hospital. But no, we came home. Things got worse, becoming an excruciating back pain, and it became apparent that emergency care would be needed. Of all the days, today was St Patrick’s Day (which the Americans have embraced with an excitable fever I have not seen at home), and a Saturday night. Not a great time to go to ER. But it needed to be done, and as he was kindly driven back to the hospital, I took Wee Man home, experiencing the worst pregnancy pains I’d had yet, praying baby didn’t think it was time for a grand entrance.

Cut to 10hrs later, husband comes home, exhausted, wife has had a few hours broken sleep but thankfully no baby. Huge amounts of drugs later and as husband tries to resume normal life by taking a shower, the shower head randomly falls on his back, sending him into spasms of pain once more.

So, we’re now a week on, husband is nearly walking again but still far from recovered, I have slept a little and Wee Man has regained some of his shaky toddler composure. But this period has been, and still is, very tough on all of us, with both parents in pain, patience stretched to its limits and love short on the ground.

In all of this, somehow, I managed to get to see the film ‘The Artist’. Being a little hysterical, I didn’t take all of it in, though I see why it won the Oscar. Among the many things I kept hearing about it, was  its originality, the fact it was in black and white, and about the dog. All very good. But what I hadn’t actually heard, was what it was about.  And like every good piece of art, it allows you to take away what you want. The overriding feeling I got as I left the cinema and later as I reflected on it, is how much love is a choice. In the film, despite the man’s proud and self-destructive actions, the girl still hangs on and loves him no matter what. That would have taken some hard choices. There are times when it is not healthy or safe to stay in a relationship – there is never an excuse for violence or abuse – but it seems to me that all to often when it gets tough, relationships fall apart and marriages fail. These few weeks have been truly hard. The two people I love most in the world have made my already exhausted and painful 8 1/2 month pregnant life extremely hard, not deliberately, but difficult none the less. And it’s at these moments, you start to question everything, your ability as a wife and parent and as a person. But through this and the no doubt hard times to come, I’m choosing to love first. I am grateful for an upbringing that showed that in action, and later on, a faith that reassures me that I can love because I am securely loved first. But it doesn’t stop it from being hard, or a decision none the less.