Thursday 21 September 2017

The Privilege of Choice

At the beginning of the year 2000, my husband and I were about to embark on an adventure of living overseas for two years. As part of the whole process, we attended a week of training. The course covered cross cultural considerations, culture shock, communication and other skills we may have needed in living in another country. There is one part of this training that I have been reflecting on again the last week.

I think it was Andrew Dutney who spoke to us about risk and choice. The statement made was the more choice we have in life, the greater the risk. I don't think I fully understood what this meant until we came home from our overseas experience. While living in Tonga, grocery shopping was limited. There was one brand of powdered cordial, with two or three flavours to choose from. At our local shop we could only get unsliced loaves of white bread. There was no wholemeal, multigrain, soy and linseed, toast slice or sandwich slice. The longest section in the aisles was always the tinned corned beef. This had nothing to do with choice, but everything to do with the demand for the product.

We became quite accustomed to shopping with little choice for the two years we lived there. I will always remember our first day back in Australia. We stopped in Sydney for a few days on our way home. It was a couple of weeks before Christmas. The streets were full of shoppers and we decided to join them. I recall feeling completely overwhelmed by the choice on the shelves. Where would we start? How would we choose? It was all too much. If I chose this brand I risked the fact that I should have chosen any of the other ten in the aisle. Shopping was just one area where the link between choice and risk was evident.

Over the last month I have been very aware of other choices I have, particularly the choice of how I engage with justice issues that are very current in our society. I seem to waver with my energy levels. I would never describe myself as an activist. I certainly shy away from taking the lead on issues and would much prefer to turn up to an event that someone else has organised.

Recently, however, I have had a question running through my head, "If not me, then who?" Should I sit around waiting for someone else to come up with a bright idea, or should I get out of my safe little comfort zone and do something? In some ways there has been no choice. I have felt a compulsion, a responsibility to get involved.

So, what on earth does this have to do with choice and risk? Last week I was invited to be part of another event. I was given a choice. The issue does not directly affect me, even though I am very passionate about it. The person asking gave me an out. Just because I had taken a stand before, didn't mean I had to do it again. This struck me. I had a choice whether to get involved or not. I'll be honest, I was feeling tired and drained at the time and really wasn't keen to help organise another event. I could have said no, but all of a sudden I was very aware of the privilege of choice.

I could choose to be involved or not. Unlike my friends who have no choice but to be involved, who are directly affected, I could decide to bow out. From my place of privilege, I have a choice. But with that choice comes a risk. The risk, in this case, is far greater than simply choosing the wrong product in a shopping aisle. The risk is that my privilege will make me complacent. That I will let the passionate fire be extinguished by my longing for comfort and rest. That in my silence I may as well join the injustices.

There has been a lot of talk about privilege recently - who has it and who does not. It is easy for me to sit back and label those who have more than others, but perhaps the greatest changes for good in this world come when we realise our own privilege in life and make choices to stand beside those who have less.

Monday 18 September 2017

The Fall

I often wonder about the merit of sharing personal poetry. For me, writing poetry is cathartic and takes me to a deeper level in what I am experiencing I life. This one was written a week ago and for some reason wants to be shared. It is certainly not the finest artistic piece ever written and I don't want to share what it means for me, but perhaps it will speak into someone's situation out there.

The Fall

Running free across the grassland
how did she not see?
Obscured beneath the winter grass
     - untameable , wild
wild hair flowing, spinning
so distracted by the clouds above
that forgotten was the boulder beneath.
The boulder she once stood upon as a stage
for the performance of her life
heard only by industrious ants
and birds that settled awhile.

Dancing with the breeze
how did she not notice?
Lurking unseen in this broad expanse
     - seemingly harmless, familiar.
Familiar melodies hum
as she twinkles in the mysterious twilight
deaf to the rock's warning bells.
The bells whose chimes used to
keep her close, keep her safe
with invisible walls that
have become the bars of her cage.

How did she not see?
How did she not notice
     the trip...
     the stumble ...
     the imbalance ...
     the falling ...
     the thud of earth and body meeting?

The meeting of tears with dew on the bed of green.
The mingling of hair tangled in weeds.
The soaking of life's blood deep in the dirt.
She and the earth are one.

As her face turns to the sky
her eyes become deep wells
for those who thirst.
How did she not notice? How did she not see
that the stumbling block
hiding in wild grass
was merely her path to wholeness?

Thursday 7 September 2017

Disturbing Dreams

In Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' there is a song about Pharaoh and his dreams. It starts with 'Guess what? In his bed Pharaoh had an uneasy night'. The chorus then goes on to say, 'Poor, poor Pharaoh, what'cha gonna do? Dreams are haunting you, hey, what'cha gonna do?' I can say now, that I know a little of what Pharaoh was feeling.

I have been dreaming a lot lately. About a week ago I counted waking up five times during the night each time after a different dream. It was a restless sleep and in the morning I was too tired to even think about what the dreams could mean. Usually, I might have one significant dream a week and I welcome them when they come. At the moment, it is getting beyond ridiculous.

Whenever I remember a dream, I know something is going on. Yes, sometimes they relate to an event or a person that I have come across during the previous day, but the story and the characters are often trying to help me get in touch with something much deeper. I am a firm believer that our dreams help us to tap into our unconscious and as they are sometimes called, are God's forgotten language. Dreams have certainly been important aspects of my spiritual growth over time.

I have mentioned in a previous post about the benefits of working with our dreams. I find it takes practice to work with your dreams, but with guidance and repetition it becomes easier. This also takes time. Sometimes you can reflect on a dream on the way to work and that's enough, but often it requires a lot more working through and soul searching. This is my problem right now. Life has been rather full over the last few weeks and I don't foresee a reprieve for the next little while. The irony of all this, is that I know until I decide to make the time to work through these annoying dreams, they will keep occurring. Perhaps the answer to my own dilemma is to take a few hours to sit and journal. Maybe then I will sleep a little easier and life won't seem so full. Poor, poor Cathie what'cha gonna do? I don't need to find a dream interpreting Joseph, but need to listen to how God might be trying to get my attention right now.