We are going to discuss communication. Clear communication; communication for connection and understanding, it is vital in almost every area of life but, my goodness, how often do we misunderstand, misconnect and misconstrue words!
There are five levels of communication, both for the words we speak and the level at which we listen, so we will have a bit of a look at these over the next few posts. It is pretty scary stuff really because most of us do not get past the first couple of levels!
For today though we will begin with poetry. This poem was written for a Toastmasters Speech back in 1998.
It came to pass; not to stay was one of my mother’s sayings. What she meant was that life is always in a state of constant flux and nothing stays the same forever. Of-course, forever is a very long time, but still you get the picture, the bad times will not last forever, there will be a change and conversely, the good times have no responsibility to continually bless us with an easy and comfortable life. We all know that for growth to occur there needs to be change, otherwise we would all stay as non-germinated seeds, with a potential for growth but actually not fulfilling any purpose or producing any fruit.
Life also has a habit of pruning us back, to get us into shape or to allow for new growth. It is like my lime tree, which a couple of months ago I cut back hard; it was just a lot of bare sticks but now Spring is here and it is full of new shoots, new life and the promise of a great crop of fruit next season because already it has little white flower buds popping up. Nature has so much to teach us about life and in nature we find the fulfillment of so many Biblical truths.
I have been thinking a lot about seasons; they complete the circle of life in nature and also in our own circle of our life; from birth to death. In nature each season has its purpose as does each season of our lives. This wisdom was penned by Solomon, said to be the wisest man who ever lived, about 1000 BC and recorded for us in Ecclesiastes Chap 3: V1-8.
The story of King Solomon, the son of David and Bathsheba, you can find in the Old Testament of the Bible; it is a rip roarer! Solomon is credited with writing Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. Along with Psalms (written predominately by David) these books make up the Books ofPoetry so as well as being full of wisdom, encouragement and practical advice for living, they are beautifully written. Some believe Solomon wrote the Song of Solomon in his youth, the books of Proverbs in his middle age, and the book of Ecclesiastes when he was old.https://ibtministries.org/
Wisdom is Wisdom and Truth is Truth regardless of where you find it. In December 1965 The Byrds released their Turn!Turn!Turn! album with the title song which basically word for word repeats Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. You can listen to it on YouTube. It is beautiful.
Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)
To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven.https://www.bing.com/
In the southern hemisphere, Spring is here. And I am so thankful for its arrival. We live in a location that has beautiful tree lined streets and parks and gardens bursting with colour. At this time of year our city hosts The Carnival of Flowers; it is a wonderful celebration to Spring. Covid 19 has shrunk our worlds and community events are restricted; so there can be no parade through the streets, nor can the Food and Wine Festival which partners the Carnival of Flowers and showcases all our wonderful local produce go ahead. Even so our public parks and spaces, as well as many private gardens, are looking as beautiful as ever and the city has come up with creative ways to showcase its beauty, to encourage locals and welcome visitors to celebrate, Covid style, our wealth of local beauty, produce and hospitality.
Still it is a good time for Spring cleaning so here is a little spring cleaning story.
The cupboard under the stairs is an Aladdin’s Cave. Not actually brimming with gold and precious jewels but overflowing all the same. When you think that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, well perhaps there is something precious in there. In fact, I know there is. Today it was all pulled out; the paintings that don’t see the light of day because there is already too much on our walls. The old violin, hugging memories of quick and nimble fingers dancing over its tired and broken strings, sleeps in its coffin case. The eskys, empty now but often filled with party cheer for happy social and family events have stories a plenty to tell. The crates filled with the belongings and memories of the now adult children wait patiently; one day they may be claimed. The cleaning gadgets which still enjoy frequent use and right at the back, hiding really, are the walking sticks and frames, quietly resting, waiting to be ushered into use as old age claims its victory over firm step and stride. You see, I told you there was treasure in there.
Hasty clean ups see benches swept bright, spanking clean and everything dumped into a box and shoved in the cupboard under the steps. So when it comes time to clean out the cupboard everything comes out. There is a bit of a ratio. About a quarter goes back in, all the treasures mentioned above; about a quarter is thrown out, about a quarter given to charity and the rest goes up into the shed. This just extends the inevitable moment of it being let go, but you see, the shed is way larger than the cupboard under the stairs.
Post Script: I feel I need to add another couple of thoughts to this post. Firstly, God is God and He hates evil, regardless of where it is found; in the Church, in government, in business and in homes; God does not bless evil. Conversely, He loves a heart which has turned, is turning towards Him and He is able to bless those people, regardless of their circumstances. There is a lot about our sojourn here that we do not know or understand but we can know these two things:
(1) As far as it depends on us we are to live in peace with all men (Rom 12:18)
(2) We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do goods works (Eph 2:10)
Today we have another short poem about life. Sometimes life is difficult and impossible to understand. Sometimes it feels as though we lose a lot; it is stolen from us and we cannot see why this has to be so. The Truth of life generally reveals itself. We need to be authentic people, seekers of truth, brave enough to face Truth and to be Kind. Kind to ourselves and kind even to those who hurt us. I hope you will like this poem.
Open your eyes, lift your disguise,
Find new sight,
See from another perspective,
Under a different light.
Ponder on great mysteries,
Heartbreak and Pain,
Wonder, Wonder Why?
Why you don't hear the words spoken
that might warn the Thief is near
and you're to be heartbroken.
Rest in the dullness of pain,
Have tears cleanse the soul like rain,
Wait on Time's precious healing.
Harken Truth's revealing.
The Thief comes only to steal.
I have been thinking about my Father this past week. On Friday August 31st 2001 he passed from this life and two days later, the first Sunday in September, it was our first Father’s Day without him. The following day at 12.00 noon we celebrated his life; if you knew my father you would understand that a 12 noon funeral service was exactly the right time; he was a straight down the line sort of man.
My father was not a perfect man but he was a good man, a remarkable man really and the life principles he taught live on in me, and I hope, to a degree, have been passed onto my own children. Baptised at 18, he spent the following 68 years committed to his Christian Faith. For 60 of those years he was a lay preacher and delivered his last sermon the Sunday before he passed. I was not there but I am told there was not a dry eye as he spoke to the congregation he so loved and said his farewells.
Interested in civic and community service, my father was an elected Local Government Representative for over 20 years, a long time member of the Base Hospital Board, chairman of the city’s Road Safety Council and the elected representative for the local Grower’s Association, which each quarter took him to meetings in the state capital where along with growers from other regions he lobbied for fair market prices and represented the interests of primary producers of fruits and vegetables.
He was quite an enigma; a farmer who drove a Rolls Royce! He was invited to solemnize many marriages and preside over funeral services. He baptized scores of people and could be called in the middle of the night to the hospital to sit with those who were sick or grieving. Because he was good with people he was often invited to Chair meetings; the Scouting Executive, the local School of Arts committee, the organizing committee for the primary school reunion are a few I recall.
To pay the bills, he was a farmer and a fairly progressive and forward thinking one at that. His Church and community service was a labour of love for which, apart from the occasional reimbursement for travel costs, was given freely but rewarded generously. My father taught me there is no love without sacrifice, a lesson which was completely backed up by my dear mother who also made many sacrifices for her family.
The poem I include here was written for my father when it became clear that this time he was going to lose the battle against cancer.
Death the thief came stalking, creeping up with stealth,
No respecter of persons, power, privilege or wealth,
Shrouding those remaining in grief.
Though life it be resplendent, the days be very brief,
Of all men we are most wretched if to life our last bequeath,
Finds us lying in a coffin, covered with a wreath.
Be thou not self dependent, for none will escape the calling,
Death, it knows no defendant, but will knock on every door,
Young or old, rich or poor.
At the end of life, will I ask; Could I have done more?
More for whom? Or what?
More for man, to prepare his soul, to help realize his heavenly goal.
Though Death should be the conqueror,
Let him not the victory win.
Through Christ we are victorious, over death and over sin.
The soul will take its flight on wing,
Joyful praises sweetly sing,
For Death has opened up the portal to life of the immortal,
Grave, where is thy victory? Death, where is thy sting?
This Saint is going Home,
To live with the King.
PS. The word Saint is used here in the Biblical sense; not in the sense of a canonized saint by some earthly church organisation but in the sense of Paul’s Greeting to the Ephesians Chap 1: V 1& 2 .
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
So today it is just a short poem. Following my last post on Sacrifice and Self I have been thinking about the cost of life, sacrifice and the gifts we are given. We tend to forget that everything in this world has a cost; if it is a blessing to our lives and we have not paid for it ourselves, then someone else has paid the price for us. There is no greater example of this than the cost paid by Jesus for us to be reconciled with Father God.
The Cost poetry by Estelle D.
For something to be found, first it must be lost,
And if our prize is of great value, there must also be a cost.
If we think we have found a treasure, and have not paid the price,
We can know that someone else has paid for us to have this prize.
For we have all been chosen to carry our cross,
To have our hearts purged of its dross,
To search for Truth, to suffer loss,
To find for ourselves that which was lost,
And feel privileged to pay the cost.
For today we have a parable. I have been thinking a lot lately about sacrifice. My father used to say there is no love without sacrifice and it is one of my beliefs that to experience happiness we need to be prepared to make sacrifices in many areas of life. To perpetually feed our ego might seem like a good idea but like a lot of things in life, what seems like a good idea turns out to be rather disappointing. Please read on…
ONCE UPON AN AGE in the Land of Paradox, bursting into light came two spiritual beings. They sang and danced for joy, for they both knew they were wondrously made. They were full of grace, beauty, charm and wonder. They were intelligent courageous and strong. They shone like stars for indeed they were the children of Father Sun and Mother Moon. They were given the names of Self and Sacrifice. Both understood they were of exceeding great worth and they were blessed beyond measure. With such knowledge they were given the freedom to roam the universe until the end of time.
Convinced of her own worth and desiring to be a good steward, Self decided to increase and add to her Self. She knew she had talents that needed to be carefully guarded lest someone should grab them from her. Self was a bit suspicious and even jealous of the talents she saw in others. But she knew the tangible signs of success that would add value to her Self; clothes, jewels, expensive cars, a big house, exciting holidays, looking good and of-course always being seen with the right people. Self was diligent in her efforts and her achievements were great but ALAS, that wonderful light that had shone from within was dimmed. It faded and flickered into darkness. Self became an empty shell; even her possessions lost their glitter.
Sacrifice knew of her own true worth also and she acknowledged that precisely because of this intrinsic value she received riches from the Keeper of all Abundance. These gifts she thankfully received and joyfully shared with others. Sacrifice valued her talents and knew they were unique. She saw others blessed with wonderful gifts also but she did not envy or criticise them because she knew the Keeper of all Abundance had enough for everyone.
A funny thing happened to Sacrifice. The more she gave, the more she shared, the more she received. Life unfolded as a wonderful tapestry. Sacrifice met interesting people, she was given opportunities to grow. She did not seek riches, fame, position or even self comfort but she noticed all her needs were provided in abundance. Sacrifice radiated a glow of warmth and light, others felt blessed to know her and Sacrifice felt blessed to be able to give up self. Sacrifice knew that her contribution was of great value; through receiving and giving, giving and receiving she became whole. Sacrifice flowed with the energy that sustains all life. This is the energy we call LOVE.
So which will it be for you and me who live in the Land of Paradox; where the first shall be last and the last shall be first?
Just as a postscript. Sacrifice does not mean that you let yourself be used as a complete doormat neither does it mean that you need to suffer continued abuse from people who profess to love you. If this is your situation please seek support and help. You are completely precious and worthy of respect and love.
One day when covering a Senior Biology class for supervision, we had a technology failure and could not follow the teacher’s instructions for the lesson. So I asked the students to work quietly on any subject they wished, my only requirement was that they be productive . One student decided to use his time to catch up on some English work and asked me what the word “sombre” meant. My explanation, and our discussion which followed, was the inspiration for this poem; to put the word in context I explained that a funeral might be considered a sombre occasion. While the students worked quietly, I went to the front desk and scribbled the bones of what became this poem.
A Rainbow of Colour poetry by Estelle D.
If you’re coming to my funeral, wear your purples and your pinks,
Reds and rose, peacock blue and greens, sunshine yellow and sky blue,
Or any other hue; a rainbow of colour; Yes, that will do!
Ban those colours which speak dismay,
Sombre blacks and boring grey,
Choose instead a vibrant shade to wear this day.
And make sure there is music to gladden every soul,
Though I depart, play no dirge or funeral march,
But let those songs, which spoke to me
when life was full and large, now speak and lift your heart.
Place no flowers on my coffin to whither and to die,
There’s enough death here, let’s simply say good bye.
Release no balloons; consider the whales and the turtles,
Only my soul toward heaven needs fly,
And it has already hurtled.
Be sure to speak with a stranger, someone not yet met,
Have a laugh and share a tale of how our paths have crossed,
For it is in reminisce, that living is not lost.
And dry your eyes, do not cry,
I always knew that one day I would die,
But if I’ve left a legacy, a memory or two,
Please allow my final word to you,
Spend your days in living, loving and laughter,
But serve God, The Father of the Universe,
And prepare your soul for the hereafter.