April 28, 2011
If we sit and think for a moment, how much of our life is spent doing what we have to, not what we want to? Having had the privilege to travel the world for the past 30 years, I have seen first hand that the majority of the world’s population do not have to grapple with that question. Every day is about survival and providing the basics of life; safety, security, food and education.
In the west we not only now have the ‘leisure industry’ but also the ‘wellness industry”. You can even go to university and get degrees in this area. Life seems to me to have a focus on self and we are very ego-centric. We place a great emphasis on the individual and not on the family or community. Just look at our attitude towards a house. If a young girl falls pregnant, hey guess what, does she stay at home with mum & dad, nope, we say she has rights for the local authorities to provide her with a house. Where is the family responsibility?
How much of my day is taken up with activities I have to do? Many of these activities are contributing to the benefits of others, many are simply because of the role I play, either as husband, dad, colleague, manager, leader, friend……
We watch society drive to a greater output with less input. We want results at the least possible investment. Discussion is continuing with regards to the official retirement age. I believe it has shifted upwards here in the UK by a couple of years. The national coffers cannot payout the pensions any longer at a sustainable rate.
And so its good for me to embrace this truth that today, most of it will not be spent doing what I want to but rather what I have to!
April 26, 2011
Mike enjoying the power boat!
As I sit in Mike’s room thinking and reading in the early morning, I was struck by the word “spirit” again. The NT refers to the “Spirit of God”. In Greek, this means a wind, breeze, blowing.
Some months ago I read an article on whether our approach to life was that of a power boat or a sail boat. With the power boat, we load the fuel and at full throttle speed from point A to B trusting in the design of the engine. With a sail boat, we are totally dependent on the wind patterns. We could ask the question, do I trust the engine more than the wind or visa versa? A sail boat will only allow you to go where the wind permits. It means I have to be work together with the wind. With the power boat, I am in control, whether there is wind or not, I can get from A to B.
In my humanity I have a tendency to a power boat, I like control, fast processes and know what is happening. In my walk of faith, I want to be a sail boat, totally dependent on God, trusting in His leading and direction. But then I come back to my thoughts of this morning……If God is spirit, i.e. wind/breeze then isnt the correct design of the craft a sail boat!
April 25, 2011
Hope through the mist.
How bizarre to join in the Easter Sunrise Service at the cemetery just a few yards from where Mike is buried. I stood there thinking about the ladies coming to the tomb early morning and finding Jesus not there, neither death nor a big stone could hold back the power of God. How wonderful to be in the mist and see the sun bursting its way through. A sign of hope for those of us that believe in Jesus and His resurrection power. We don’t understand it all now, but we will in the future, for now we live in a mist.
April 22, 2011
With friends, taking time to smell the roses of life.
“Dead stop” and “take time to smell the roses of life”
Death stops life as we know it. It suddenly brings an end to a person, job or relationship. We cognitively know this and subjectively from a young age prepare for it as we are exposed to the experience, usually with the death of a grand parent of other older family member.
The path I had not been prepared for or taken the time to think about was how suffering slows you down. I had heard the term “take the time to smell the roses of life”. We live at such a fast pace today. The gap between change is now at the point of non-existence. Young people grow up so fast but are there less mature adults today? Is the profession to be in for the future that of the psychologist as there will not be enough of them to help all us stressed people! But I find myself “slowed down” to the point where; I see things that had gone un-noticed, priorities have been re-aligned, behaviour adjusted to my core values, stress is absent, pain has brought courage and boldness, I sit and watch or think, I move from global to local, from macro to micro in my thinking and paradigm. I notice the speed of others lives and recognise I too operated at that level for 30 years. Watching their lives, I hope they are not missing out on cherished relationships, that life is passing them by. We take a two week holiday and say as we go into the second week, “im now starting to relax”.
So where is the balance? Is the fast pace of life all about ‘me’? I know I have a bias to be ego-centric, that greed is a strong driver. If its not for material gain it may be for position, title, worth. How do I balance the fast pace of the environment I live in and have to engage in, whilst maintaining a healthy speed of life myself? As I reflect on the past, how would I, could I, have done it differently?
To be honest, I dont have answers. I simply know that death stopped my son in his tracks and the suffering I endured through his death has totally slowed me down in life.
April 20, 2011
As I was jogging through the park, ok, moving forward at a faster pace than my usual whilst swinging my arms, I noticed a group from the Art college taking photo’s of a girl dressed for the occasion. I thought to myself ;
“the camera will capture the outside, what you want us to see, but what if you were to have an X-ray of the inner person, what would we then see: disappointment? love? happiness? depression? loneliness? joy? anxiety? fear? worry?……….”
There are those two sides to us, what I want to project and what is going on inside. So when I am asked how am I doing and I say FINE, it could mean, Fantastic, Incredible, Neat, Excited or it could mean Fearful, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional.
It’s interesting that we place a lot of emphasis on the outer, looking for, in fact seeking approval, love and acceptance. I notice how many younger girls are caught up in their bodies to gain acceptance. I see others put on a mask to hide what is really going on. 1 Samuel 16:7, “For God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Is it not great that Father God loves us and accepts both the inner and the outer of us, tell us He loves us as we are and wants to accept His love in the person and work of Jesus on the Cross? Jesus likes me even with the X-ray of my “heart” in His hand!
April 18, 2011
I have noticed when the sun is out I want to visit Mike’s grave side. So yesterday before church, Kath and I popped up there. We have always wondered who would be buried to the right and left of him. A few months ago and elderly gentleman was buried to his right. Yesterday we noticed flowers in a bowel where the headstone will go on the plot on the left, but no evidence of a burial. But then Kath noticed a small circle, so we presume the person had been cremated and then the ashes put at this plot.
We always wash the stone, Kathy removes weeds from the flower pots and we just thank God for our lovely buddy. We thank God for his miracle mercy that Kath and I were at home when he died as I could so easily of been on a trip. Its never a sad time, quiet the opposite. We are filled with gratitude to God for the brilliant life Mike had, the wonderful son he was to us, the faith he had in God and all the wonderful memories over 18 1/2 years. We also thank God for the healing all four of us have had through the grief process. None of us are the same people we were on July 31st 2009. The grief process has cleared and thinned a lot of trees in the forest that were hindering others from growing into their full potential. Important values have been painted in bold. Emphasis of desired activities have been underlined. Relationships have been thought through and highlighted, ones that are positive and I want to engage in.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” Jn 12:24
Putting Mike in the ground.
April 16, 2011
Wikidpedea says of the word tradition “A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past”. Have we as a family implicitly or explicitly formed a tradition, a ritual or belief around Mike’s life? Its an interesting thought as we do not set out to create a tradition, but because of strong values or feeling’s we find ourselves marking a date, passing on a story, creating an event.
- Mike’s birthday has so far been marked and we as a family find a special way to remember his life.
- We like to watch certain movies he would have liked and remember where he would have laughed.
- As to the day of his death, well although it was the 1 Aug, we cannot relate to the date, more the Saturday morning. We have only had one anniversary so not sure about tradition yet.
- Will we pass down items to next generation…..doubt it.
- I certainly dedicate my pit fires to Mike, especially the first one of the season.
- Will we tell his story or just stop talking about Mike as time passes…..NEVER!!!!!!
The Big Pineapple
Every time we have visited Australia we have the tradition to visit The Big Pineapple. This past visit without Mike was for old time sakes. After we left Akila discovered it had closed down. Even if the new owners open it up again, it seemed right to bring a closure to somthing that was not the same without Mike.
April 15, 2011
Am I yearning for yesterday? Do I live for tomorrow? Do I savour the preciousness of the moment?
Give thanks for yesterday, pray for tomorrow but celebrate today.
Yesterday is gone, I cannot change it. Tomorrow may or may not come, circumstances could change. Now is real, its here and now, squeeze every bit of good out of it. Find the good in the bad, see life in death. Look at the now and be creative.
Have a coffee with Kath and add a flower, take Laura driving and buy a cake, sit and chat to Akila and put on an old family video of when she was small, play a game with all of them after supper, phone a friend and tell them how much you appreciate them, talk to the sales assistant, thank God for the health you have to ride the bike, get up early and see the sun rise, go to a hill top and watch it set, sit in the garden when the sun is out, observe the brilliance of nature all around………
And so “why be anxious for tomorrow, tomorrow has enough cares of its own”, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”.
- Akila Quad Biking
April 12, 2011
Spring has not been a time I have specifically noticed until the first spring after Mike’s death. I now live with the whole spectrum of moods from weeping to laughing, from total apathy to energy for projects. The external environment has a major influence on those moods. Winter with its cold, grey, wet, bare, muddy dark surroundings does not help with the sad times. On the other hand, when I see little green buds, small lambs in lush green fields, blue sun filled skies, my soul is lifted, depression is left behind and the “feel good” factor gains momentum. Light has the effect to draw me out, darkness sends me in. Spring brings hope, new life, new beginnings.
My heart goes out to those who are caught in conflict, especially those in concrete jungles of man-made cities where there is so little natural beauty to see the spring. To those for whom it is not safe to venture out, where today is about survival, never mind smelling the roses of life. But even as I say that, nature has such a strong survival ability. I expect in amongst all the rubble and mess in Japan, little shoots will come up, in Australia, after all the floods and devastation, life will poke its head out.
April 10, 2011
I have listened in recent weeks people expressing their desire for friendship. As I probe deeper I start to wonder just how much we are willing to invest to develop and cultivate friendship.
What a joy for the phone to go on Saturday morning at 12:30 am and hear my mate Todd on the other end of the phone telling me some breaking awesome news concerning his business. I smiled and thought “now that’s a friend, he knows he can wake me in the middle of the night to share in his joy”. Three weeks after Mike died, Todd and I walked along a beach in the USA in a tropic storm and cried over the death of Mike. Todd has been there for me 18 years ago when Kathy and I had a marriage crisis. He and his wife Karen have journeyed with us, knowing the joys and the pains. I have watched and listened to Todd share as he goes through the pain of decline in his business and all the associated issues with that. I listen as he tells me of pitfalls and danger areas in his life. I have found inspiration from watching Todd grow his business and develop a strong positive culture.
As I think about our friendship, I see two characteristics that have been evident. One, openness and transparency. There is no subject off-limits and we are both very honest in expressing our feelings and emotions, our weaknesses and ambitions. It’s so nice to know you wont be judged and what you say is safe. I can trust Todd. (Naive of me!!!) Secondly, we have some awesome memories, but they didn’t just happen, we purposefully created them. Many of my favorites are when we have created a great moment, sitting around a fire talking, sharing over a meal, walking on a beach in a tropical storm, as well as some truely amazing fun times.
Whats bizarre is Todd is in Philadelphia, USA and I in Carlisle, England, but distance does not hinder maintaining the friendship. We SMS, Skype, phone almost weekly and meet up when we can. So when I hear of the desire for close friendships I wonder whether we are willing to invest and be an open book.
Friends....safe to let your hair down!