Thursday, 25 April 2013

Me and my herbs

Since 2007 herbs have become a very important part of my life, not as a result of any real plan or sense of purpose, they just have and their names, scent, meaning, use and mere existence evoke a great sense of joy and wonder in my heart. I am by no means a herb expert, it is their simplicity and usefulness that appeals to me.

Today as I stood alongside a great big bottle tree planted in remembrance of a local Roma man who died in World War I, holding my Sage close, I thought of my herbs and how so many men and women gave their lives so I could grow and tend a herb garden in peace.  As we waved, clapped and cheered as the old diggers were driven past I was overcome with emotion and pride and Proverbs 15:17 came to mind "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it".  We have so many small blessings in our life, including a simple and delicious herb garden grown with love, but if brave people throughout history had not fought to protect our freedom who knows how life, and my herb garden, may look.

My herb garden has already become a symbol of love, faithfulness, discipline, self sufficiency and joy but now it has even more meaning.  I will not pick some rocket for my salad, basil for my pizza, mint for my chilled summer drink or thyme for my spaghetti bolognaise, I will not hold, love and smile at the sage and rosemary without thinking of, and giving thanks, for all those who have gone before me.  All those who have made the very act of growing and enjoying herbs possible.

We look forward to sharing our love of herbs at the Church Bazaar later in the year where we hope to sell Herbgully Herbs as part of the plant stall.  Our intention will be that each little herb takes with it love, joy, purpose and hope to each and every garden and gardener.

This all sounds a bit peculiar, and I am not sure there is any real point, but today just got me thinking that men in battle grounds 98 years ago, women in hospitals in remote and far flung locations, would have done things, made decisions and choices that have made it possible for me and my herbs to live and grow happily. 

It is impossible to comprehend how the things we do, say and choose today will influence the lives of future generations but they will.  Our life, not matter how small and insignificant, will influence our descendants, so let's live purposefully and lovingly and sow seeds of love and peace and joy, seeds  that people will get to harvest for generations to come, long after we have gone.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

The greatest influence in my life

I wish I could write the Bible, Jesus or Mother Theresa but I think A Country Practice may actually be the greatest influence of my life!!  Yes, the Australian drama series that ran from 1981-1994, I watched it faithfully for my entire childhood.  My husband does not like it when I refer to him as my Dr Terence Elliott but is the greatest compliment I can bestow on him.  I grew up admiring the tall, caring, passionate and intelligent Dr Elliott and the comment from Matron Sloan rings in my ears "You are a good man Dr Elliott", so too is my husband.

Not only did this show influence who I married it affected my career.  I loved the community of Wandin Valley, they all cared for each other, they stood up for what they believed in, many worked in roles that  improved the life of those around them such as Doctors, nurses, foster parents and teachers, when they had a party the whole town was invited and generally they were committed to a healthy and sustainable way of life.  My professional career to date has involved me studying and working in the field of Community Economic Development.  I actually was employed to support, promote and build inclusive, healthy and vibrant communities.  The best job in the world I thought.  This career path has meant I have always lived in smaller rural communities and when I travelled around Australia I got so much joy visiting all the little towns and experiencing their communities.

Proverbs 4:23 says "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life".  A Country Practice is not really the point but consciously thinking about what you watch, read and how you spend your time is the point.

What our family watches on television, what we read, who we spend time with; is it just harmless and funny or is it influencing the course of our life.  If we live in an environment where inclusiveness, tolerance and kindness is  abundant chances are this will impact on the way we behaves towards others.  We can surround ourselves with joyful, kind, generous, thoughtful people and this will likely impact on the way we behave. 

The great news is the choice is  all ours.  You can blame the influences of the world or you can simply make different choices. Proverbs 27:17 says "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another".  I am not making a comment on what anybody should or shouldn't watch, read, listen to or who people should spend  time with or go to school, I write this only to highlight all these little, seemingly insignificant things, can impact on your life in a significant way.

What has been, or is, the greatest influence in your life?  Be honest, it can't be worse than A Country Practice!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Plodders have a place - don't we?

I am a plodder, it has  taken me a long time to come to terms with this, but I am absolutely at my happiest when I am plodding.  I can not recall ever being in a hurry to do anything much, a 'late bloomer' I think my mother use to say, but in fact I have just always been plodding along.  So from this point on I am going to be a proud plodder. 

The only solid evidence I have to suggest that being a plodder is perfectly acceptable is the wonderful and wise parable of the tortoise and the hare, and surely that is enough to base my life philosophy on, isn't it?

Unfortunately plodding is made difficult in this modern day, fast past, winner takes all society but I think there are definite health benefits associated with being a plodder.  Young people might not be in such a hurry to grow up if plodding was encouraged, the divorce rate may be lower if everybody just sat still for a little bit and thought about it, stress and anxiety would have to be reduced and road accidents and fatalities may also go down if people weren't in such a drastic rush.

My definition of plodding is not to be confused with laziness.  I like to achieve things, be involved in projects and I like to always give my best.  If I say I am going to be somewhere at a certain time it is very important for me to be on time and I pride myself on always doing what I say I am going to do. However, when my time is my own that is when I like to dilly-dally, just saying it makes me smile.

These are plodding words: dawdle, amble, hang out, loaf, saunter, dally, toddle.  On the other hand the opposite to plodding is hurry, push, rush, speed.  It gives me heart palpitations just thinking about it, but oh the joy that comes from plodding.
Plodding certainly enables me to build stronger relationships with the people I love, it provides the opportunity to observe and enjoy the many blessings in each day and it gives me the chance to do each task with purpose.  It is a lighter way to live whilst also giving each day greater intensity and meaning.

Admittedly, if you are a self confessed and proud plodder, the people you share your life with need to embrace and accept your plodding otherwise they may strangle you, which will immediately put an end to all future plodding.  Another great mistake is to deny your inner ploddingness, this just creates frustration and anger which robs you of the great joy plodding can bring to your life.

You will know that I have lived a happy and successful life if you walk past a cemetery in 70 years and my headstone says "In loving memory of a proud and dedicated plodder".

I have no opinion on that ... anymore

From the time I was sixteen, maybe earlier, I had very strong opinions on a great diversity of topics, including the environment, youth and alcohol, homelessness and probably politics and religion, things that I knew very little about.  If you sat still long enough I would give you a passionate speech about the latest injustice or global controversy and going to University just fuelled this passion for debate and argument.

Until recently I had fairly definite beliefs about success, homosexuality, women liberation, marriage, family, faith, equal rights, racism etc, all of which I was confident I was right about.  Slowly all of these ideas I held tight are giving way to one simple idea, which is love. 

 

One of my all time favourite books of the Bible is James, and in Chapter 3 Verses 17 and 18 it says "Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterised by getting along with others.  It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.  You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honour" (MSG).


What if we all just stop for one minute, stop thinking about ourselves and what we deem as right, and feel love towards the people we are bagging, judging, bullying, mocking, abusing or ignoring, how different would your world look?

I am becoming far less opinionated on nearly all topics.  Does this mean I stand for nothing; absolutely not, I stand for love, which is everything. Loving yourself so you choose healthy relationships, loving your children more than any amount of money, loving your husband so you stay faithful, loving truth so you never bend it, loving justice more than item produced using slave or child labour and loving your neighbour enough to say hello.

 

It is not new to proclaim "all you need is love" but as individuals and as a society we just don't get it.  World leaders have lost their lives for making this statement.  Many would argue love doesn't put food on the table or pay the bills.  For some reason the concept makes people feel very uncomfortable and it is hard to grasp in its entirety.

It is worth considering though, before you share an opinion, end a relationship, commit to  a purchase or make a decision, ask yourself if it contributes to the objective of "getting along with each other".

Saturday, 13 April 2013

So you think you are pretty clever

You wear nice clothes, you have beautiful children, you drive a lovely car and you own a home, or two or three - so you think you are pretty clever.  You buy organic food, you have an abundant kitchen garden, you don't eat preservatives, you have free range animals, you cook cakes from scratch and you eat 2 fruit and 5 veg every day - so you think you are pretty clever.  You went to a fancy school, you know big words, you go on exotic holidays, you can speak more than one language, you have sponsor children, you have a university degree/s - so you think you are pretty clever.  Your picture is in the paper a lot, you have hundreds of people follow you on Twitter, your blog is read by thousands, you take great photos on Instagram - so you think you are pretty clever. 

Who ever you are, what ever you do or don't do, I absolutely agree you are pretty clever but no more, or no less, clever than anybody else.  Most of your cleverness has been determined by the amount of unconditional love you received as a child, the country you were born in, the level of education you received and your genetics.  So much of your cleverness is out of your control.

So definitely believe you are clever, but you have been created clever on purpose.  You have been created clever to help your fellow human beings, to love your neighbour.  You have been created clever so you can make the world a better place, to bring joy to the lives of those around you and to love deeply.

You will experience great disappointment if you think your cleverness is purely because off you, and solely for your benefit.  Never think people you deem less clever than you should be treated differently to how you want to be treated, that is not very clever at all.  Never think you are the most clever, you are wrong. As Proverbs 27:1 says "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring", this is worth remembering before you start telling everybody how clever you are.

So whether you can read or not, whether you are good at maths or not, whether you are black or white, whether you have lots of money or not, whether you can paint, dance, sing or not, whether you are employed or not, whether you have no children or 10 children, whether you are beautiful or not, whether you have a home or not, whether you are young or old, whether you are hungry or not; the truth of the matter is you are so very clever.  The trick is turning your cleverness into joy, positive change, compassion and empathy - now that is clever.