Wednesday, 9 April 2014

I Am Free

...And in the distance I heard thunder, felt the dark; then the first, fat "Ppt." on the pavement. The darkened circle on the ground heralded the rest, falling, pouncing on the ground in a determined stampede of heavy drops. I lifted back my head, reached out my arms, closed my eyes, and breathed deeply. Heavenly, earthy smells of hot pavement, old earth, and steaming relief of the water surrendered into a petrichorical symphony playing into the clouds. Oh, the clouds. Like a pulsing, energetic, fluorescent glow...strength in the sky; fear, wonder, beauty, all at once, I am in awe, I am in awe. Light, glowing aquamarine reached through the clouds with evanescent fingers, and swallowed the sky whole in its glorious light.

I was in it. With it.

Saturday, 22 February 2014


The first rays of sun die into heavy morning; a tired morning; a morning devoid of great expectations. Blank faces and lethargic bodies mill onto the platform as the trains come and go in a blurring whirlwind of noise and dull metal. I have joined the ranks of part-time nine-to-fives and I make the most of it. Short-lived. Smiling at others for several moments in my fresh-faced naivete, I feel like a fool when my attempts at beauty are met with vacuous stares that reach beyond me though they look at me, through me. The Train comes.

Ours is a holocaust of a different kind. Hitler is known for packing precious humanity onto cattle cars and sending them to their deaths. Cramming onto the train full of distracted, aching, numb souls, the semblance between genocide and mass soul-death at the luminous hands of mobile media sinks into my stomach like a steel ball. Why won't anyone smile back? Please, somebody. Smile back.




Choking on the apathy.


I remember light. I was reading Isaiah today, and now I understand something a little better: my role in this. 60, verse 2. "For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you." I see this darkness on the platform, on the train, in the vague stares of the crowd, even in my job, where I had hoped to find hope.
No, not here.
Jesus is my hope, and this is yet another heavy reminder that only in Him is light. And now in me. The Lord has arisen upon me. Now, Oh Lord, let your glory be seen upon me. This world; this train needs glory and beauty. Make it yours.

I am not drowning anymore. Jesus pulls me into light and I become it. I am not used to daily blankness, cattlecars, or the numbing monotony in between, but sweetly, I am not used to Jesus either, in a way that surprises me into a fuller relationship with Him over and over again.

Being light in a thick darkness is extremely difficult. There is no easy way to be so, and yet in Christ, it is impossible to be blotted out by the charcoal smears of apathy either.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden."

Friday, 31 January 2014

The Lord is My Strength

I am going away for two weeks tomorrow, and yesterday my 'to-do' list was long...longer than I was pretty sure I'd have time for. I was panicking badly, a sickening whirlpool was drowning icy stones into the pit of my stomach and I worried. I made the decision to worry and then I lost control of it. I wasn't getting inward sanity back anytime soon.

Dramatically rattling off my checklist to mum made my worry excuseable. It sounded longer when I said it out loud. But the more I said it out loud, the more I felt weakened and beaten inside, unable to control anything, incapable of making up time, helpless to change deadlines and keep records. Repeating my weaknesses to myself was making me weaker. They were pummelling me into the dust and taking away my strength, confidence, and so much more importantly, my joy.
Then the sweetest thing burst out of my mouth, all but unbidden.

"The Lord is my strength."

The sudden appearance of the phrase made sense. I'd been reading the Psalms; the words were caught in my head-- but I did not call them into my mouth.

What does it matter that I was feeling weak and overwhelmed? His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

Lean on him. Lean on him. His power is made perfect in weakness. The Lord is our strength. The Lord is my strength, and I am not worrying anymore. Make Him yours.


This embodies the kind of calm strength I get from Him.

P.S. It is my blog's anniversary on the 2nd of February. It has been such a great year. Great, like God is great. Not always comfortable, not always safe, but most definitely a roaring storm of challenge, beauty, necessary fortitude, and love. It has been good.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Ungentlemanly Gentlemen and a Vague Old Lady

It is pouring. The grey drops have become one huge drop and the world is in a flood of wet tones, mixing somewhere between white and black, saturating everything. I am driving home.


I could swear that is the smell of burnt rubber. The car in front of me on the cramped and slowing roundabout is limping forward at a tortuously dwindling pace and I all but stop. I have been praying for this moment for days; I've been praying for a moment to help in an adventurous, slightly daring way. Only when I follow the tyre-less car into the conveniently close fuel station and park on the opposite side do I realise just how adventurous and slightly daring this is. Water is falling out of the sky as if a gargantuan jug is being emptied onto our little piece of 7-11 ground. The leak in my car has already rendered me quite damp...then again, I could still be minimally dry...
I don't let myself think twice. Out I bounce with an inordinate amount of frantic energy, closing the car door quickly behind me, but heaven knows that the rain has already moistened every dry patch that existed on the right hand side of the car. Whatever. That is beside the point. The point is that I am now standing in the pouring rain; beautiful, blue dress saturated in a matter of seconds; patent point-toed heels filling; sock bun appearing beneath my hair. I fling off the shoes and dash for the other car. Standing in a vague shambles beside the delapidated vehicle is a woman with a glazed expression on her face. I've never changed a tyre before. I immediately make a mental note to learn. Over the sound of the rain I yell, "Can I do anything?! Are you alright?!" to which the reply is nothing but a stunned, " car..." okay. This might be harder than I thought. I look up and realise that there are four capable-looking (and very dry) young men inside the station, and start beckoning them towards us. No more than one moves towards the door, and even he stops just inside the lip of the entrance. Oh heck. Ungentlemanly gentlemen are not what I need at this moment. After yelling for him to help change the tyre, he blinks his eyes in an extremely aggravating way and smugly states, "Call RACQ".

WELL. Fine.

"Excuse me Ma'am, do you have RACQ? ...yes?" I decide to take control if this spineless creature will not. "They're right down the road," The ungentlemanly gentleman cuts in, irrelevantly, before the vague old lady all but screams, "I can't drive there!--"
"Do you have a phone?" I wrench the conversation out of his grip into my more focused hold. "...yes? Do you have their number?" "" Right. I turn to the ungentlemanly gentleman, still standing in his dry haven, surrounded by his magazines, lollies and bubbly drinks. "Do you have RACQ's number? ...yes? Would you please call them for her?" The passive, glazed look has remained on his face. He resembles a dead opposum, but that comparison lingers in my mind for a second only. I want to get out of the rain. He nods in his self-congratulatory idiocy. Thank goodness. With one final look of encouragement to the vague old lady, and one final flash of the eyes to the ungentlemanly gentleman, I leave, running back through the flood to my car. The shoes have filled with water. The car is damp. My hair is a mess. However, a ridiculously wide grin has appeared on my face. I just braved the rain and a dead opposum to help an old lady. This is how I want my life to be. I am living, and it is brilliant.

But I am going to learn how to change a tyre.

Friday, 3 January 2014


Perhaps you have felt it too. New years have always held inordinate amounts of promise for me. Waking up on the first morning of the year is like turning to the first page in a new notebook; it is a clean slate ready for writing; ready for stories and lessons and wonder.
I honest-to-goodness rode on the back of a motorbike for the first time in my life that day. I took a swim in the wonderfully weedy and muddy dam at the bottom of friends' property. And I sailed around two different lakes in the same day. I cannot explain what helium rises to my lungs when I remember it. It is an amazing, twirling confusion of weightlessness and evernescent breath that empowers beyond the limits of imagination-- that harnesses the soul in all the adventure it has experienced and pushes it to more greatness. I want this year to be lived that way with every step. I want a life that thrives off this: the deep loving of others and the harsh fervor for contagious adventure. I want to pull people along on expeditions to the unknown and laugh at the time to come as I boldly walk into the can't-see-beyond-my-nose fog of the next year. This year must be full of exciting change and exploration. It must shake me up in the best ways. It shall. I will not let this year be anything other than that which will glorify God in the ways that he has for me. I will take joy in beauty and sorrow alike. I will love the unloveable. I will wear beautiful dresses. I will be seventeen. I will love the One that created me, and I will love the life he gave me in all of its imperfection.

Perhaps it is not a simple coincidence that the completion of our journey around the Sun is called a revolution? Go on out and change the world, one glorious moment at a time.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Immersed in Beauty

We went to New Zealand. Here is the rest of the story.

17th of November – Sunday – 2013 – entry 136

"How in the world can a massive, heavy, metal bird lift above the earth like this? My first overseas flight since I was two, and I got a good one. It was rainy and overcast on the ground; the same clouds are now under me, golden and whipped into frothy puffs of sunkissed glory. This is wonderfully impossible. This is the stuff of my imagination. Reality has hit the mark that my imagination made in the ether; now I will have to dream up new things(...)"

18th of November – Monday – 2013 – entry 137

"It is hard to feel anything but awe when you are sitting by the shores of one of the bluest glacial lakes you have ever seen. I'm here, cold, in a lovely red jumper that is comfortingly warm, and I have beside me a cup of plunger coffee. I'm on one of a series of boulders that blotch the shore in a beautifully untidy splat, and I am alone. I and God. I always thought that photographers touched up the photos of these lakes to make them look bluer. Now I know God does the touching up before they even take the photo. But you look- I look, and all I see is the arm of God sweeping over this land. Ridged, white-capped mountains edge, bold and silent, around the edge of the lake, and the peaks on the far side are all but obscured behind a heavenly curtain of cloud. How I wish more adjectives had been invented before I saw all these things that cannot – will not be described(...)"

19th of November – Tuesday – 2013 – entry 138

"It is a quarter past eight. A whole quarter past, and the Sun is still up in the sky; it is setting, but it will be nine before it has set completely. The motorhome is much too much too bumpy. I'll finish the entry later.


Today we walked along the Hooker Valley. This is a four-hour round trip trail that meanders this way and that towards a silty little lake, smattered with little icebergs, at the foot of Mt. Cook. The grandeur is incomprehensible, literally. I stood there and wondered, then walked for four hours staring up at the mountains (...) The peaks always looked so close, but I never got closer to them, even with all my walking (...)"

20th of November – Wednesday – 2013 – entry 139

"Lord, help me love. Campervanning is not easy. If ever anything tested my character, it was campervanning with the whole family. Who you are in a campervan is who you are. And when I forget you, God, I am the worst. I love you, and help.

Today, I opened up the window while we were driving along the top of Dunedin. I let the icy wind just whip into my face and eyes while I watched the moving landscape slope and roll all over my vision in the purest greens and further out, the nostalgic blues. I've been reading during our drives quite a lot since our first day, but it was lovely to succumb to the sheer glory of closing my eyes and just knowing that Heaven on Earth was spread before me."

21st of November – Thursday – 2013 – entry 140

"BUTTERFLIES! A beautiful, three-story green-house at the Dunedin Museum; it had a little pond on the first floor, and then steps and bridges spiralled about, and everywhere – butterflies. The room held possibly thousands of them.

I am now so in love with the greens and the blues and the sky and the grass, and the beauty, beauty, beauty(...)"

23rd of November – Saturday – 2013 – entry 141

I don't know how to explain Milford Sound. I have completely run out of adjectives to describe it; I'll try. The cruise we went on was a two-hour ride that went from a dock through Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea...Looking up, these huge, huge mountains towered over us in greens and greys, rising out of the water to heights of one and a half kilometres, and plunging 300 metres more below the surface of the water. The water was deep and dark; looming rock overhangs bouldered out metres and metres above us; spray from the dancing, white waterfalls caught us as the boat went in close. Massive hyperbolas were carved out of the mountains all around, evidence of fearsome glaciers of indescribable weight, mass, depth, channelling towards that great silky mass of water that sombrely and elegantly moves out to sea. I didn't know places like that existed; I didn't dare to hope that I would someday see what I saw today."

25th of November – Monday – 2013 – entry 142

"I got sick yesterday, and I got worse today; this is bad because the feeling of having my head tightened into a vice seems to inhibit me from enjoying and gasping at my surroundings.
This afternoon, we parked the campervan across the road from the beginning of a short but beautiful mossy, foresty track. Even in what I felt was some half-state of delirium, I felt calmed and heart-warmed and loved in the trees. Green bales of moss clung to and hung from the soaked trees, rain pitter-patted through the leafy sky onto my muddy sneakers. My nose was blocked, which is sad because I can imagine that the smell of rain in a forest is one of the best things ever, but I'm sure it will be in heaven, so I do not mind so much. I got to taste it though, when drops spilled off my raincoat onto my lips(...)"

27th of November – Wednesday – 2013 – entry 143

"This morning, we woke up on the side of the road to the almighty noise of a coal train roaring past our campervan. Dad says I mumbled, "I thought for a moment that it was the end of the world!" before rolling over to snore a few times.
We went to the pancake rocks today and got mistaken for locals by asian tourists. They started taking photos of us as Dad confusedly stated, "what...are you...doing?" I played along with peace signs and exaggerated smiles. What they don't know won't hurt them, and hey, all us white folk look the same, don't we? (...)"

29th of November – Friday – 2013 – entry 144

"...We have come to rest at a place just short of Akaroa called French Farm Bay, (and speaking of rest, Jesus promises it if I come to him heavy laden. Where have I been today when I should have been with Jesus for goodness sake?!) The tide is out, leaving a plain of exposed, grey rocks. There are so many shells scattered amongst them and there are crabs underneath that dart back into the ground like shadows if you turn them over, but it is so lovely just to stand at the grey and blue centre of this broad funnel of luscious green landscape and breathe; and then; if I close my eyes gently and be still, I can hear the sound of a thousand little shell-dwellers moving, breathing, opening, closing...I hardly know what to compare it to, except perhaps the sound of rice bubbles when the milk has just been poured in. This God I serve; he creates beautiful things and these beautiful things give fleeting respite from the hard parts of life..."

1st of December – Sunday – 2013 – entry 145

"We are going home. What has been our house for the last two weeks is ours no longer and I will sleep in my own bed tonight. Oh joy. I believe that I will understand now how big and spacious our house is now that I will have something to compare it to. I will not be living out of a suitcase anymore and that is wonderful.

I have loved New Zealand. I will come back one day."


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Drive, Darling

It is sundown. Sunlight is wistfully dancing in golden floods of deep warm hues on the leaves of the evergreens outside. Clouds scatter across the sky like a tearing blanket, dousing it in colder purples and blues. I am not feeling well. Mind and heart have taken a beating and I'm wearing it; on my face, on my sleeve, in my heart, and I hurt.

I want to drive.

I can drive now. It took a while, but now I am on my own, window down, engine roaring in a pulsing rhythm that comforts me in a world that has gone a little mad. The wind swishes past my face and I let the cold air bite my nose and ears and cheeks; I let it tangle my hair. I love this; the freedom of knowing I am on my own. I am part of this incredible engine, I control it, I am powerful. I can drive. And for the moment, driving makes everything seem alright, even though some things are not, and I am home.