Tag Archives: communication

Thoughts on Palm Sunday , or how I didn’t become a chaplain.

http://www.gardendesign.com/ideas/art-botany-les-fleurs-animes  The Pansy from J J Grandeville's The Flowers Personified 1847

The Pansy  from J J Grandville’s The Flowers Personified 1847

In my mid-forties, when I was brimming with confidence, and, yes, hubris, I contemplated a career as a chaplain; specifically a workplace/industrial chaplain. With this aim in my mind, I enrolled in a few courses to learn some basic counseling and communication skills.

The outcome of one such course, Basic Preaching Skills, was the opportunity to deliver a Reflection at our church at our first Palm Sunday service of the 21st Century.  I was very touched by the love and support of the congregation for my endeavours, but I am thankful that, later on,  the employers of chaplains were less supportive, and sensibly turned me away.

With Palm Sunday, tomorrow, I have been remembering my brief stand at the pulpit, so many years ago,  and thinking how my faith has changed. In my  own Palm Sunday terms, I suspect I have fallen off the untamed colt/donkey.

Here’s an extract from my Reflection, which, as some of you may surmise, is based on a poor understanding of theology and an idiosyncratic interpretation of the Bible.  The Reflection is titled Wild Rides.

“From babyhood in Bethlehem, onward to manhood in Jerusalem, God has given his people a leader, a healer, a companion in humanity, doubt and faith. This man has gathered, ON THE WAY, fame, friends and followers, and the requisite enemies, too. He is Jesus in the tradition of Abraham, Moses, Jacob, David, Elijah… he’s the Son of Man who could be King. But on Palm Sunday, there is a pause, a change of pace, between the restoration of Bartimaeus’ sight and the whirlwind that follows the triumphal entry to Jerusalem; …….  Jesus, the man of humility, outspoken critic of pomp and ceremony, pauses, lifts his feet off the ground, and takes a ride. He IS the WAY.

In Mark’s description of Palm Sunday, we see a Jesus who momentarily stops directing and healing and preaching, who allows himself to be; to be adulated, to be carried forward, to be King. This creates a challenge….but the challenge is not so much to the owner of the colt, or to the Roman and religious authorities. It’s a challenge to us.

The challenge, I believe, is to be; to be like Jesus and accept God’s gracious offer of a ride into a faith that will move mountains. God loves us for the faith of our comfort zone, a faith that is scheduled and timetabled, that will take us through the week, through 40 days, or 40 years, if necessary; but on Palm Sunday we see God offering a deeper faith of infinite implications and dimensions, and unbounded journeys.

Jesus is the Way. Through him, through Palm Sunday, we know we can accept God’s offer of a faith that moves mountains. God doesn’t offer crowd control, or silent, unchurned stomachs, or freedom from screaming. But, if we accept what, undoubtedly, will be the wildest ride of our lives, God’s underpinning hand of steadfast love will not let us fall. …….”

Hmmm….well, as I said, I do seem to have come unseated from my ride in recent years  but I haven’t been trampled, yet. Which means that, despite my doubts,  I still find great comfort in prayers offered by friends, by our Minister, and members of our church. And, in various past crises related to hospitalization, I have valued, beyond measure, the support and calm guidance/prayer of hospital chaplains.

And I  value beyond measure all the loving thoughts and good wishes that have come my way in response to my previous post.  I am happy to report I am starting to feel almost as perky as these beautiful pansies, given to me on my birthday. 🙂 ( I am also happy my path led to blogging not chaplaincy, even though I have the utmost admiration for chaplains and the wonderful work they do . 😉 )

Palm Sunday thoughts in the company of birthday pansies.

Palm Sunday thoughts in the company of birthday pansies.

© silkannthreades

Minutiae

The days are busy; the evenings too. Not with big, important tasks;  just  the minutiae of daily life… . bread to bake, clothes to lavender, meals to prepare, groceries to buy, dishes to wash,  feet to scrub, vases to fill, socks to find,  hair to brush, a friend to visit, a neighbour to chat to, a letter to write, an email to send, a text to answer, and phone calls to make and  to receive….

My mother is improving and gaining strength. She will return home soon, we hope. Her  progress is good. I phone her once, sometimes twice, a day. A hospital is a busy place.  Our conversations are brief.

But I  grab a moment of the call, to talk to my brother or my sister; whoever happens to be with our mother when I phone. They are tired. I hear it in their voices. Whilst one sibling is at the hospital, the other cares for the house and my father. Care responsibilities are 24 hours.

Later, when it is 1 in the morning here, I may phone my sister again. It will be 10pm in Cairns. We discuss the day’s events. I am yawning and, suddenly, my sister switches from talking about hospital matters to something about ‘hammering nails’. I am silent for a while, wondering what this means. My sister is silent, too, for a moment. Then she laughs and asks, “What did I just say?” “Something about nails,” I reply. She laughs again; her great,big, only-my-sister-can-laugh-this-way, laugh. “I fell asleep. I was talking in my sleep,” she says.  A short while later, it happens again. We hang up before our words become any more incomprehensible 🙂

There are other calls to make at other times. To friends; to my aunt, in a rest home, to let her know that her sister is okay; to my uncle and my aunt who are moving to their retirement home. To others we Skype. My father likes to Skype chat. He types well and knows how to use those emoticons 😀

Thus are the smallnesses that occupy my days; that keep my fingers flying, my voice activated, and my brain engaged (mostly).

But there are other smallnesses that rest my body and mind; that communicate by ancient paths and provide calm and continuity,

and call forth joy every morning.

© silkannthreades

Winners in my book

In my previous  post   I wrote, amongst other matters,  about baking delicious, crunchy rye crackers, using a  recipe  by New Zealand caterer, Ruth Pretty.

Rye Crackers

Rye Crackers

I mentioned that ” I had to  bake the crackers about 15 minutes longer than suggested, to get the degree of cracker-ness that I like..” and I said “…. but, my goodness, they are good.”

And, my goody-goodness, within 24  hours of publishing my post, I found this comment in my inbox…

ruth pretty November 11, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Hello and yes they are lovely crackers. You mentioned that you needed to bake them 15 minutes longer than recipe said. They look much thicker than how we make them so that will account for the longer time. Ours are thin and crisp. I will try them thicker as that will be an interesting change. Keep cooking!

Yes, a comment from  Ruth Pretty herself!!!! … with helpful advice as to why I may have needed to cook my crackers a little longer than her recipe suggested. Now, I am an iddy biddy blogger in the middle of itty bitty  nowhere, so I nearly choked on my cracker crumbs to see Ruth’s comment on my blog: a) BECAUSE SHE NOTICED; and b) because she CARES enough about her recipes, and her work, to follow what is happening to them on the blogosphere.

In my world that makes Ruth Pretty AWESOME. I can’t tell you how many times I have  commented on author/poetry/artist websites, because of my genuine interest in someone’s work or book, and received no feedback; none, not a bite, so I give up, disappointed, and wondering why said persons even bother with a web presence.

Sophia Stuart,

Sophia Stuart

writer, photographer and award-winning digital media advisor in her article, New Hollywood (Digital) Dating Rules  for the Huffington Post, writes “You need real people to manage your Social network presences. Try not to outsource. It won’t be your voice. This is too important to farm out. And if you engender real loyalty from your audience, not only will they follow and friend and respond to you and your brands — they will tell everyone they know (many more people than you know, when you add up the network effect) and this is the best bit — they’ll do it for free (but only if they really like you). There’s no substitute for a true relationship.”
Her article should be compulsory reading for anyone wanting to establish a digital presence. ( And just so you know, she follows her own advice to the letter….communicating with  Sophia [or her IL persona  teamgloria ] is a delight, a true delight )

I am not sure who directs Ruth Pretty’s digital strategy; perhaps Ruth herself but  she clearly  knows how the relatively new internet world/market works.

I am not currently in the market for a new recipe book  but, if I were, I would definitely be looking at one written by Ruth Pretty. For one thing, I now know that the recipes will be accurate (v. important!), and, should I have any difficulty , Ruth is  willing to help me get it right.

So cake tins and chefs’ spatulas off the bench, and raised, to Ruth Pretty.

And now it’s time for my cuppa and a Rye Cracker slathered  with my favourite manuka honey.

Crackers, Ruth, Sophia, manuka honey, teamgloria; all winners in my book; oops blog. 🙂

© silkannthreades

Make your comments count!

I dislike clutter, INTENSELY. I create it inadvertently, I put up with it sullenly, and I do try to reduce it, but its advance is relentless. It  INVADES, stealthily, despite my best efforts at prevention.

Here’s my kitchen on a clutter day. Some will laugh at my concept of clutter but I have a very low clutter- tolerance; my children will attest to that.Help! I need Clutter ControlBecause of my distaste for my own clutter, I try to keep my blog page as simple as possible. This is mostly why you won’t find stats on my page, with one exception. I have a spam counter. I include the spam counter because a)  I want to see how bad the spam problem is and b) I want to make a little, daily protest (however feeble and futile) about the scourge of spam.

So, how bad is the spam problem on my blog? Pretty bad, I’d say, but unlikely to be much worse than that experienced by other bloggers.  Am I right or am I right? (Please tell me I am right. It would be too embarrassing to find out that I am the only one subjected to spam! ) Since I began blogging last year I have had 2455   real comments and  4098 blocked spam comments. I think that’s not only bad but sad, too. Sad, that spammers, with their illiterate nonsensical blither, out number all the wonderful, genuine people who do comment and communicate on my  blog.

But, with spam being cheerily filtered by numerous spam filters, and out of sight most of the time, is there any point in stressing about it, or grizzling about it, or even making a faint little protest about it? Why, yes, I believe there is a point; just a tiny one.

Here’s why: how would you feel if every day, hour after hour, persons unknown, went along your street throwing pamphlets and paper onto the ground and every which way. You could sweep up a few and maybe city street cleaners would sweep up a few more. But, in a very short time, your street would be impassable, unusable, ugly, unbearable and eventually unlivable. And none of those scenarios includes the tremendous waste of resources, natural and human, that would be  involved in such an inconsiderate and random pamphlet distribution. Although we can’t see spam in this literal way, this, as I understand it,  is what spam does to the internet. It fills up a lovely open internet highway with rubbish; it wastes space and time and deprives us of speed and our ability to use the internet to its full potential.  Put another way, spam on the internet is something like dirty oil in your car engine ,or contaminated fuel in your gas tank. It mucks up the works.

How much it can muck up the works was evident earlier this year when a cyber war, related to spam, nearly brought the internet to its knees. Remember this? http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/science/jan-june13/cyberattacks_03-27.html

So, what can we do to mitigate the consequences of spam. Not a lot, l would suggest, but, at the very least, we folk on WordPress can activate our spam counters and out comment, those scummy scammers till they have to hide fearfully on the fringes of the WordPress world.  LOL, as if! But, surely, worth a try?

© silkannthreades