Be Amazing

duck

If the things about you fail to inspire or amaze you
sort out the problem by being amazing!

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The waking breath

One of the things I am trying to do is attending to the first waking breath of each day – to notice it, and contemplate it and the ones that follow.  I am hopelessly miserable at it.  I miss the noticing almost 90% of the time, and I am trying!

I have 55 years of habit to break!  A habit of taking for granted the fact that I can breathe and live; a habit of assuming that the air I breathe has sufficient oxygen to do what it needs to do to make my body work; but also, most importantly for me, a habit of failing to dwell in the simple amazement that I get to live, to breathe, to experience, to engage, to think, to grow, to wonder.

I can spend most and sometimes all of the hours in any one day simply not noticing or treasuring the fact that I get to live.  I can be alive but not living.  Now I am wanting to form a new habit.  The habit of noticing.  I am trying to cultivate an attitude of amazement.  And while I am struggling with attending to the phenomenon of the first conscious breath of each day, when I do, the day that follows seems to have a deeper richness to it.  Those days become laced with gratitude.

Our last remembering

I wrote the following poem a few weeks ago for the funeral of a woman from the Bryndwr part of The Village Church – thus some of the specifics come from her story.  I wrote it as an imaginative exercise as I thought about the flash of memory that seems to be a common element in the experience of dying – at least that is what those who didn’t quite die tell us!

The invitation for those of us who remain, I suggest, is to accumulate memories for that final flash of memory.  Continue reading

wind

I visited the Meridian Wind Farm at Makara yesterday.  There was wind to farm – plenty of it, and even some maintenance high in the howling wind – a man with a job I am glad not to have.

the man with a job
I am glad not to have
climbed the innards of
a wind turbine
to carry our repairs
on the outside
as the wind off the strait
pummeled the land
and the forest of trees with
any unnecessary branches
already snapped off
invited me in
to inform me
that I belong
elsewhere

Red Cod

Red Cod

Aged eleven
I biked to the wharf,
my grandfather͛s fishing rod,
carefully carried,
sheep͛s-heart bait and knife
in my school bag.

In the murky half-light
fish factory waste spilling out
herring fish could be foul-hooked –
offering brief shudders of indignation
as I hauled out one after another
for no good reason,

it haunts me.

As does that afternoon, four to four-thirty
the great haul
red cod, some ten or twelve
one after the other
the thrill of the bite
the audience and admiration.

A man with his daughter,
observing the latest fish
mouth gaping beside
the glaze-eyed others
asked me
what my intentions were.
My answer in an instant
oh you don’t
eat them, they have worms.

He turned away
leaving a stare that troubled me.
Not knowing where to look
I observed blood and something else on my shoe.

Once I met a diver at Akaroa.
My daughter and I were sitting with lines over the edge,
me, of all people,
offering advice about waiting
and her feeling the world about to end.

He was full of his morning swim
at the heads and the
shoals
of red cod
hundreds
darting below him
shimmering
his eyes full of the wonder of them

and me
still wanting to pluck one out
for my daughter
to have a memory
she could do without.

martin stewart 2016

Decommissioning Prayer

I have been asked several times lately if I have a liturgy for the closure of a church building.  In many traditions the prayer of closing a building is described as reconsecrating – in the Presbyterian tradition we only commission a building for a purpose and decommission it when the time comes for it to be moved on.

This does seem to be a season of moving on.  The decline of many traditional expressions of church life has led to the letting go of church buildings.   Continue reading

the first glimpse of our demise

Anne, my wife, remembers mounting a heated and prolonged and out of character protest on the eve of her tenth birthday and her mother struggling to reassure her that an age with double digits is actually quite common. I wonder if there was more to what the nine year old was seeing.  I am trying to recall when and how I began thinking about death.

Window

On the eve of her birthday
a protester in the kitchen
I do not want to be ten!

The mother
gained composure –
quickly

for the protester
had received a glimpse
of her own demise

A window had been opened –
innocence
to awareness,
infinite
to finite,
life
to death

Though we bear this ‘gift’
from the tree of knowledge
there is, still,
a nine-year old
deep within
raging

at some point

all of us
begin
living life
as a negotiation

martin stewart 2016