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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Collaboration

I was reading blogs recently by Joe - http://theojoe.blogspot.com/ - and I was struck by the potential for collaborative thinking through blogging. I am a strong believer in leveraging other people's knowledge and insights in order to develop and enhance our own thinking.

Joe has been exploring "Creature-Divine Relationality." It is a great series of blogs and highly recommended. I am returning to a paper that I began writing regarding "Christian Community" with a strong focus on John 13:35 - " This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

As I begin to work through this I intend to post sections and ideas on the blog and seek to make the most of the creative theological thinking that is out there. This medium presents a great opportunity to explore theology for the 21st century. Too often, Christian blogs appear to present as the final authoritative word whereas I would like to think that I leave room for questions and dialogue.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hazy Shade of Grey

The last couple of days the temperatures have been in the mid-to-high 30s. There have reportedly been over 60 bushfires raging across New South Wales (NSW). The weather was in the 30s today and normally that would mean blue skies and bright sunshine but today there was a grey haze that seemed to increase as the day went on.

By 4pm today there was only a sliver of blue sky as the haze from bushfires over 100km away was taking over the landscape. My kids were playing in the pool after school but at 4.30pm we took them out because, as well as the grey haze and the increasingly strong smell of fire there was also the prospect of a storm. Then, in what is a first for me in my 8 years in Australia, the daylight outside turned to a dull yellow colour and soon it was like dusk. The storm didn't eventuate except for a few flashes of lightning and a couple of peals of thunder.

Later as I sat with my 2 oldest sons watching TV we noticed the room get brighter as the haze began to be slowly blown away. Then we saw a beautiful red sun framed brilliantly against the grey skyline. All in all it was a strange and beautiful day in many respects. When my wife went out after 6pm after the threat of a storm had passed she decided to clean the pool. In the pool she found ash. What a day. We are very fortunate to live near the lake and a long way from fire danger and I am only too aware of those people whose homes are threatened and the many, many firefighters who, even now, are fighting the fires and risking their lives in the process.

Without wanting to trivialise what is a very difficult day for many people in NSW by reducing the day to a pithy anecdote the scene this evening did cause me to ponder about the changing nature of life and how light and darkness co-exist and pass around us intermingled at times. Those who have followed my blog will be aware of my struggle to come to terms with and live with and through mental illness. This evening, when I saw the bright red sun illuminated in its stark contrast to the thick grey haze, I realised that in the midst of the "greyness" that life so often brings the sun can still stand out as a beacon of hope.

Today I became very aware of the haze. As it thickened it took my attention until I found myself surprised at driving around a bend in the road and spying a swathe of blue sky. It is easy for us to become so aware of the shades of grey that we forget that there is a blue sky of promise. The blue sky promises light and warmth. It is interesting how the sight of that blue sky lifted my spirits today. As the haze gradually cleared one could sense a palpable sense of relief as if we had been blanketed in a depressive weather trough.

Depression is a reality for many people; it is a reality for many Christians. Denying it or confessing joy does not banish the grey haze that can envelop the sky above us. In the midst of depression God remains with us. Our heavenly father does not retreat when circumstances change and often he will offer us a glimpse of blue sky as an indicator of hope to come. Christian hope is not wishing; it can be a sense of longing for an otherness that will transform our current reality but it can never be divorced from that reality.

Sometimes a red sun will appear. There is no break in the cloud and the smell of burning fire is thick in the air with its concomitant emotions of fear and uncertainty. The red sun can be a sign of victory; despite the best efforts of the fire the sun cannot be vanquished. Even more so, the sun will take the grey cloud as a backdrop with which to reflect its splendour in even brighter array than normal. Yes, there is hope, but it comes in subtle ways and often arises from out of darkness.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Still here...

It has been a while since I have posted. I am attempting to be as honest as I can in reflecting on my own life's journey. I am currently preaching a 4 week series for a local church. I have already covered Jospeh in prison and Moses as he wrestles with God's call. Over the next 2 weeks I will speak on David's adultery and subsequent repentance and then finish with Elijah's flight into the desert and his slide into depression before meeting God on the mountain.

What links all of these messages is that God meets with us in our humanity with all of its potential and all of its weakness. This past 2 days I have been off work with a virus but this has coincided with a low point in my increasingly cyclic world. I have felt very depressed for the past 3 days and yesterday was assailed by all kinds of self doubt and fears. It is very difficult to plan for the future when you don't feel that you can actually do anything.

I know that I am very intelligent and gifted because people tell me but I have to muster the strength for a fight against the depression which comes over me from time to time. I take my medication faithfully and I pray often and I know God's presence in my life. A friend of mine wants to pray for me for healing of the bipolar. On the one hand I am keen to give it a go but then again I am not sure if it is something that will be healed. Do I lack faith? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Today I am starting to feel myself emerging from my present dark place. Personally, I find that talking about my journey helps me and also encourages others who struggle with mental illness. I do get afraid sometimes for where my life is headed but I am also blessed with some incredible friends and a fantastic wife and 3 inspirational boys. I know that if it wasn't for my wife and children I would be in a far less happy place.