Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vito's Ordination Song

I was re-listening to Michigan earlier this week and was struck by how beautiful the last song on the album is. The lyrics are so great.

I always knew you in your mothers arms
I have called you son
I've made amends
Between father and son
Or, if you haven't one
Rest in my arms
Sleep in my bed
There is a design
To what I did and said

 I also made the link for the first time that it's dedicated toSufjan's friend, Vito Aiuto, who is the front man of The Welcome Wagon, whose album Sufjan produced.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ripping the frills from this war-torn skirt

I used to think I was a no-frills kind of person. In fact, I formed my whole identity in high school around this belief. I didn't need what the world said I needed; I could live a "no-frills" life; I could cut my hair short and dye it black and say stuff you to the establishment.

I think I still like to think I'm a no-frills person. Give me a beautiful sunset and I'll be happy, I tell myself. The concept appeals to me. The kind of life where contentment reigns, where the simple things bring pleasure.

But then I look at my actual life, and so much of it is a striving for frills, for that next fun experience, that beautiful object, the next poignant sentence, the next beautiful song.

I'm actually not so no-frills after all.

But I worship a God of no-frills. Paul in 1 Corinthians shares how he chooses to live a no-frills life to give God the glory:

"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power."

The thing I love about Cross Cultures (where I work) is it's lack of frills. Every Thursday we meet in a pretty drab church hall (not ugly, just not beautiful either), sit around old tables and chairs, eating a home-cooked meal and talking about life. We come as we are. We have bible study in small groups that gather in the basement of the church. There is no fanfare, there is just us, the words of God and the seeds of faith.

I love this.

But then part of me dreams of making pretty handouts and decorating the hall and creating engaging videos and inventing a podcast for stories of how Jesus has changed lives. I want the frills, and even think that the frills will bring more fruit.

And then I realise the foolishness of my thinking. It's not about the frills, it's about the words of life.

Of course I rejoice in the creativity of God, and the creativity he's given us. I want to be creative and enjoy others' creativity. But I so often worship the works of my hands, resting on "man's wisdom" and not God's power.

In my heart I go and distort God's good world, seeking frills. But I have to re-learn that it's when the frills fade away that his wisdom will prevail.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Brown Owls Take 2

Tonight's our second Brown Owls gathering.

For the uninitiated, it's a bunch of crafters who meet in a pub in Brunswick every fortnight to hang out and craft together.

Kris (the dreadlocked one) and I did book sculptures last week. It was good for me to learn how to do them, but didn't really suit the vibe. Every one else was doing something with wool - crochet, knitting, or making pom poms.

There's only so many books you can fold, and only so much time you can spend folding. So I did a last minute dash to the wool shop today. I'm going the lazy route and will knit a scarf.

I've made a few scarfs in my time, but none of them wearable (in my opinion). And let's face it, Sydney doesn't really get cold enough to wear a woollen scarf.

Melbourne, however...

So, I'm making a stripy scarf out of these colours. I really like the greeny/yellow wool. I don't even know what colour to call it. It's slightly more green in real life.

However, I'd forgotten how expensive wool is. This scarf better be awesome!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The least-laborious Labour Day

How to have a lovely Labour Day:
Take one good friend and drive south to the Mornington Peninsula.

Pick up one of your good friend's acquaintances at her lovely old cottage which has a well, an old cedar and a hammock.

Drive from beautiful beach to beautiful beach, wallowing in the shallows and lying on piers.

Drink coffee, eat lunch, and visit an opshop.

Do this all under a blooming sun.

Drive home at sunset. Go to a very cheap gig featuring some of your old faves. Enjoy.

Darren Hanlon

Tali White ex Lucksmiths

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sally Seltmann

Sally Seltmann (ex New Buffalo) played at a free outdoor festival by the Yarra tonight. I rode down on my bike after dinner to catch her and ended up catching some fireworks too.

Sally was charming as always. I just wish I'd had someone to go with!

Melbourne was HOT today. Sydney kind of weather - humid and 29. I'm in denial that winter is coming. I refuse to accept it.

I spent the day wandering around the city by myself - going to the art gallery, a second hand book fair and a pop-up cafe. The solitude is nice, but it gets old pretty quickly. Looking forward to making some solid friends soon...

I met a lovely girl at Sally Seltmann's merchdesk who I will hopefully see at gigs, but methinks I'll have to wait till my journalist friend from Sydney moves down here in April before I can truly say I have a gig-going friend.

As you can tell, I'm taking my camera everywhere at the moment. It probably reflects how hyper-aware I am of my surroundings. Everything is new and interesting, worth documenting. Plus I have Lightroom now, which makes things fun.

the sunlight proper

some of my new friends

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

crafting by pub-light

So we went to Brown Owls, despite the rain, and despite the trepidation of meeting strangers in a pub we'd never been to.

But the communal crafting was great! There were 10 of us all up. Mostly people were doing crochet, but Kris and I made book sculptures.

Here's my finished product.

It's not as neat/cool as the one Kris made me for my birthday, but suffices as a first attempt.

I got laughed at by everyone for expressing my fear of the Melbourne winter, that time when I will be able to see my breath in my own bedroom when I wake up. The mockery was so loud! Oh well... I'll have to buy a cute winter coat soon.

Brown Owls is happening again in a fortnight at the same place and same time, so if you happen to live in the inner north and want to come, just comment and I'll tell you the details.

Friday, March 4, 2011

She needs YOUR help

There's a story, it goes something like this:

There once was a girl who moved to a place where people spoke to eachother by the ring of a bell. This place was very flat, and had many bike lanes. It also had many bikes: some tall, some with gears, some with baskets - wicker and metal, some mountain, some road, some fixie, some elegant, some streamlined, some funcitonal, some beautiful.

She realised that to have a bike would be to have another mode of transport. A way of getting east to west, where the trams don't go. A way to cut through peakhour traffic. A way to get fit without even trying. A way to get to the shops quickly without driving.

So she mentioned this to some of her new friends, this desire to find a bike. At first she thought she would find one in the trading post, and she had a look. All the pretty old vintage ones took her fancy, but oh  my, were they expensive.

Then, one day, a lovely girl who she had been getting to know better over dumplings mentioned she had a bike she had bought a year ago and not ridden very much. She said she was looking for someone to give it to. She asked if the girl who wanted a bike, would take it.

The girl who wanted a bike was rather overwhelmed with the generosity of her new friend, and suggested she could buy it from her. But her friend insisted it would be a gift. And gifts are hard to say no to.

So, on Tuesday, the girl who wanted a bike was given the pinkest bike she ever saw. It had a basket, a light, a bell and even a fancy helmet. She was very excited to try it out.

So she hopped on it, only to discover the tyres were flat.

Thankfully, the girl who wanted a bike (and now had one) had a bike-smart friend to help pump the tyres up. While pumping them up, he noticed the front wheel wasn't spinning properly. So on his advice, the girl took the bike to the bike shop, where the bike fixers straightened the wheel and made it all better again.

After getting the all-clear, she hopped on her bike and rode it on home. It took no time at all, and it felt like she was flying.

That afternoon, she rode up to the shops, on the actual road, next to actual cars. She learnt to watch for opening doors, cars merging and pulling out, and trams. She learnt how to look confident even though she was freaking out inside.

She was happy with her bike. But it was rather pink. So pink that many people laughed when they saw it. She thought about spraying it another colour, and may decide to in the future. But for now, she thought, it's kind of funny.

But, she thought, it needs a name.

So, the girl who wanted a bike (who now has one) has asked for your help. What should she call her new pink bike??


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

in the midst of his foes

Everyone has school friends, and from what I have observed, most people have a complicated relationship with them. We change so much once we're unleashed on the world, it is sometimes hard to know how to relate anymore. What is in common is so far removed now.

But then facebook keeps the thread there somehow. Barely, it seems, at times. But there all the same.

And that's how I came to be sitting alongside a friend from school I haven't seen in more than 7 years in a cafe in Brunswick on Sunday afternoon.

Somehow, we'd not managed to catch up in Sydney, even though we'd lived there for long enough. She was in Melbourne for the weekend and got in touch with me after discovering I'd moved.

As we were chatting, she commented how strangely liberating meeting in another city is. Who can explain the lightness of being that comes when you leave behind the things of before and create a new reality together?

Of course we started where all rendevous' begin: so, what's been happening these past 7 years?? 7 years is a long time.

"So, I've changed pretty massively," I say, attempting to be shameless in my admission.

"Yeah, I know," she says. "I was so shocked when I heard you became a Christian, because you were such a rabid athiest...."

And so the conversation began.

It got me thinking about how much has changed since school. How Jesus has really gripped me to the point of no return, how he is my everything now. How I could never have imagined this in Year 8. How my friends could never have imagined this in Year 8.

But then I remembered that God is beyond our imagination, that his grace, his love stretches into the darkest places, and calls us out.

How he wants us to come as we are. And I came - a foul-mouthed, God-hating, God in my own right kind of person - to him, a rejected, broken man on a cross, who died for my rejection of God. Who stitched my soul back together with the threads of his own blood and anguish.

I was reading some Dietrich Bonhoeffer today, and was struck by his description of Jesus' death.

"Jesus died on the cross alone, abandoned by his dsciples. It was not two of his faithful followers who hung beside him, but two murderers. But they all stood beneath the cross: enemies and the faithful, doubters and the fearful, the scornful and the converted, and all of them and their sin were included in this hour in Jesus' prayer for forgiveness. God's merciful love lives in the midst of its foes. It is the same Jesus Christ who by grace calls us to follow him and whose grace saves the thief on the cross in his last hour."

I was a foe, and God loved me anyway. This still blows me away.