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Showing posts from September, 2009

Seraphine

You have to hand it to the French: they know how to make movies. I watched this one in a tiny theatre underneath the town hall. There are only 8 seats, there is a line down the middle of the screen where it joins, and the soundtrack from the next, bigger theatre boomed through the wall , but none of that mattered. Neither did the fact that the dialogue was in French, for this is one film that could have got by without any dialogue at all. Two things carried the power of this masterpiece: the stunning cinematography of Laurent Brunet and an achingly beautiful performance by Belgian actress Yolande Moreau. The story is a fictionalised account of the life of Naive artist Seraphine Louis (1864-1942). In the title role, Yolande Moreau is present in almost every shot of the film. Seraphine is first seen gathering seeds and roots and mud and blood as ingredients for the paints she has invented. Her movements are slow and ponderous, her footsteps heavy, but she glides through the countrysi

Dancing With Your Shadow

Christian books on meditation do not lie thick on the ground. There's Anthony De Mello, of course and John Main and Laurence Freeman. There's a wealth of classic material if you can find it and if you can come to terms with the archaic language. Morton Kelsey has a couple of titles which include some reference to meditation, but after that my own knowledge of the literature is starting to wear a bit thin. Which is why I was very pleased to be lent this book a week or two ago. As far as practical advice on beginning and continuing meditation goes it's the best I've come across. There are some useful chapters on the theory of meditation and some advice on what is likely to happen as you settle down to a committed practice. Kim Nataraja has had a varied spiritual journey which began in Christianity and took the scenic route through various world faiths before arriving back where she started. She is now a leading member of the World Community For Christian Meditation. She

Poem

Below is a poem by American poet Mary Oliver, which is, of course, copyright to her. This morning, after our Wednesday Eucharist, I had coffee with Wes who talked to me about the Vacuum: the thing that most of the universe is made of. Wes is a physicist, and I can usually just keep up if he talks slowly enough and repeats himself a lot. He described the nothingness which is not, and never can be nothing. Later, in the afternoon, I had more coffee with Kathy and Murray, in order to continue a conversation we began on Sunday night. We looked at Murray's laboratory, where he makes very small holes for a living. A lovely woman sat at a desk making titanium needles so small they can't be seen, even with a microscope. Then I had a soy latte to Kathy's evident disgust but despite my phillistinism, she gave me some information on labyrinths and the poem. I liked it a lot. The poem, I mean, not the latte though that wasn't bad either and I haven't read the stuff on laby

Consciousness and Jung

No one should take up meditation unless they are prepared to deal with the consequences and nobody warns you before you start what is likely to happen. At least, no-one warned me. You sit in the quiet and get the chattering machine to be still for a while. Sometimes you succeed, admittedly not as often as you'd like to be able to boast about in a blog post, but sometimes. And sometimes is often enough, especially when you are diligent about getting in some practice every day over a lengthy period of time. Every time the stillness comes, unknown to you, a small drill starts and a tiny well is sunk down into the dark bits of your mind: the bits that lie forty fathoms deep beneath the moving, shallow surface. And when there is enough of the tiny wells, the flow from them becomes steady and continues even in the parts of your day when you are not meditating. Especially in the parts of the day when you are not meditating. Life changes happen. Old issues are raised. Light is cast into p

Back To Church Sunday

Back to Church Sunday is something dreamed up somewhere in Britain. The idea is simple really: get the parishioners to each ask someone to church on a designated day. Help them out a bit by providing a nice looking invitation card, and encourage them by showing some preparatory materials in church in the weeks ahead. It seems to have worked well in the UK, and, over the last couple of years, here in new Zealand. This year we thought we would give it a try, and I'm very glad we did. Our main congregation, at 10 am on Sunday morning, has typically had about 130 people present. Over the past year, my foot has been off the gas pedal and attendances have dropped back to about 100. I knew it was time to take stock and think about our direction as a parish, and we had drawn up and distributed a parish survey as part of a wide ranging review. Back To Church Sunday happened along at just at the beginning of the whole process. The introductory videos were useful. They were mostly short cl

E-Day

It was E-Day today. All over the country collection points were set up for gathering old bits of electronic junk together so that they can be recycled. So I gathered my bits of electronic junk. I laid the back seats of the car flat, opened the basement doors and began to move back and forward like an ant at a picnic carrying treasures from one spot to another. I filled the car. Filled it! It was piled to the roof and I had four large banana boxes on the front seat beside me. There were four Commodore 64s and three Atari STs dating from the mid 1980s. There were monitors and PCs and bags of old, nameless cables and power supplies. There were boxes and boxes and boxes of floppy disks. The people at the recycling station were fairly impressed with the quantity and mystified by the machinery; after all, they were mostly students doing a day's worth of community service and some of the stuff I gave them was manufactured before they were born. Today I dumped stuff that I had once year

Wedding

Last night I acquired a son in law. This was an event that was supposed to have happened in about a year's time, but events have an odd way of surprising us. My daughter Bridget has been seconded by her employer to their new branch in Qatar, and if she was to take her fiancee Scott with her, what with Qatar being an Islamic state and everything, a marriage certificate had to be produced. So, a wedding was organised with about two weeks notice. This was not going to be the main event, you understand but a sort of mini wedding: a prequel. But events have a way of surprising us. The idea was to have a small informal gathering with just ours and Scott's immediate families present and do the formalities, while a bigger grander wedding reaffirmation would be held on their return to New Zealand. We thought we might have a small family dinner back at our place afterward, but nothing fancy. So, I made sure the church was free on Friday night. A license was applied for and a dress sel