Marriage Equality – #VoteYes

So in my current contemplative and unemployed state, realising I have not really said much about marriage equality, I figured perhaps now is the time. Up front, hence the title of my blog post, I will be voting yes! For my friends within the LGBTIQ community please forgive me if my wording is not quite right. I am not an expert, I am a human being on the journey of life with an opinion I guess.

I have watched social media and seen the hurtful comments that have been made predominantly by the nay sayers but I’ve also watched as the nay sayers claim vilification. I have watched as ‘Christians’ have used the scriptures to ‘back up’ their decision to vote no. Honestly it’s painful to watch, so many people in the LGBTIQ community having their lives, but more than that, their very identities as human beings judged, condemned and slandered – that is what is so painful.

I am a heterosexual woman, I have been married for almost 28 years (more than half of my life) and I am an ordained minister, so yes a Christian. I will not quote scripture here this is not a biblical reflection; however, I do believe it’s a theological reflection. I am sharing from my understanding of the nature of God, my understanding of the nature of humanity and my understanding of the relationship between God and creation (probably specifically humanity, but we’re all part of the bigger picture, we’re all part of the whole of creation and the cosmos beyond our understanding and knowledge.)

I think the key word to focus on at this time, as the surveys begin to arrive in our mailboxes, is equality.  I am seeing the comments about gay marriage, same sex marriage, but for me this is about marriage and equality, it is about affording our neighbour equality, the right to marry the person they’re in love with, who have already made a commitment to each other and would like to celebrate their commitment in the act of marriage. And lets not forget the rights that are afforded to us married hetero’s that our neighbours are denied.

Marriage in the ancient world was not about the celebration of love, it was something quite different, and as a heterosexual woman something that I would never enter into if we were talking ancient worldview. I believe that God is beyond gender, God is Spirit but it seems rather than accepting that each of us are created in the image of God, exactly as we are, we spend so much time trying to create God in the image of us, or more specifically in the image of a man. Our sexuality is part of our identity, part of who God created (if that’s what we believe) and as part of the whole that’s exactly who we are created to be. The next thing for me is that I believe God is a God of love, not hate and anger. For those reading this that profess a Christian faith I trust that in the gospel’s you encountered a Christ that worked for justice, for equality, people who the elite felt where undesirable Jesus stood with, not because he saw they where undesirable and felt sorry for them, but because they were human beings, flesh and bone, actually just like him. I am not saying we dismiss peoples sexuality, because to do so is to deny that part of their identity, I would say the same thing about colour, we can’t deny because when we do we deny identity – BUT ultimately we all hold a common bond, we are all creatures of creation, human beings on the journey of life, we all desire a place to belong and the majority of people desire to find a partner where there is mutual connection, mutual respect and mutual love and when this is found why would we not want to celebrate.

Heterosexual friends, married and unmarried for that matter, it seems that we are the majority, the elite’s, and I say that not in any way proud, because so often it is this group that causes harm, that strives to remain in that status feeling powerful, Why? Well I think it’s about superiority, it’s fear of loosing our place. Well to me that’s just plain wrong, because if we have any desire to use that status it ought to be a desire to see justice and equality for all. As for the fear, I’ve noticed a few comments about it demeaning the understanding of marriage (sorry can’t remember the exact word, but that’s close enough), really? If you’re happy in your marriage and you share the joys of anniversaries and celebrations, the joy of love that has been joined together in marriage, isn’t that something that you feel all who would choose to marry ought to have the experience of sharing? Or is it perhaps that your experience has not been good and this is a perfect arena for projection? I am trying hard to understand the true underlying reasoning for voting no, I am trying to understand how abuse and demeaning of a neighbour can even begin to be justified, because honestly I can’t see it as right or as Christian. I would like to see people who aim to vote no provide a response that is not quoted from the bible or purely from an elite heterosexual position, a response that has been thought through, contemplated and reflected on, that is respectful of neighbour, but even as I write that I struggle to know what that response might be, because I can’t see one – I owned my position at the beginning before you get cross with me!

There are so many injustices in our world, all injustices begin with us, humanity, all resolutions begin with us. This injustice of marriage inequality is one that ought never have been open up to public opinion (that would’ve required good strong leadership, need I say more?) Our LGBTIQ neighbour during the next few months will be exposed to abuse, condemnation, their lives laid vulnerable, open to the vultures of creation that want to peck them apart (sorry for the use of them) it’s just plain wrong. No-one had a say in who I married, no-one was able to stop it happening, what right does anyone have to prevent two consenting adults who are in love saying ‘I do’ sharing their vows and celebrating their love?

I stand firm in supporting marriage equality, to the point where until there is marriage equality I won’t preside at another wedding. I can’t with any integrity participate in an act that currently discriminates. As Christians we are called to stand against injustice, to be the prophetic voice in the face of injustice and this is a great injustice. For those that don’t profess a Christian faith to put it in another term this is a denial of rights, human rights. Over the next while my prayers are with all neighbours who are part of the LGBTI community, that you will be surrounded by people who care for you, love you and will support you through this exercise born of poor leadership. Vote YES and put an end to one injustice that ought never to have been opened up to public opinion.

 

 

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Back in Brisbane

Having being back for a number of weeks now, life is beginning to settle into a pattern, of some sorts. The 14 months I spent in Sydney seem almost like a passing memory, albeit a little turbulent. I spent my first 2 weeks back home necking antibiotics for the first time in about 10 years with a few moments of feeling sorry for myself. Part of the self pity is down to the fact that I had no-one to make a cup of tea for me or make me homemade soup (under my supervision of course) but among the self pity is a huge change that has occurred in my life,  because this is the first time I have ever lived alone. Mr Revthreads and me are still very much together, but alas the bottom line is that his work life is in Sydney and it became a bit of an old Meatloaf song situation, “I will do anything for love, but I won’t do that!” Sydney was no place for me. The majority of my previous blogs have been around travel, but as my next trip isn’t until January 2018 and my previous trip was a whirlwind I’m taking the time to share some reflections.

I’ve arrived back in the city I called home for 17 years of my life before I temporarily took leave of my senses and headed south. Sydney is a city so full of people, heads down focussed on their lives, a city so full of cars that if you dare to take a second too long to take off your handbrake horns begin to bellow, I seriously had moment that reminded me of being in India. It’s a city so densely populated, the best way I can express it, hopefully respectfully, is that it seemed so full of individuals that it often left me feeling lonely and so after a while my senses returned and so I’m back in the city I call home.

While I’m definitely home, It’s a strange and new encounter for me, I have a wonderful unit close to the city, I have the grandie Revthreads down the road, I get to see Mr Revthreads on weekends, but along with living alone another big adjustment is that I’m unemployed with a fair bit of time on my hands. Fortunate enough to be able to rest in the space of unemployment, thank you Mr Revthreads for your love and support, I find myself contemplating what might be next. I dream of writing something, making something, creating something, it’s almost as if this step has awakened a creative side of me that has been either never engaged or somewhat made dormant within. I’ve worked my whole life, never really had maternity leave when my girls where born, mortgages and bills must be paid, the drive to be successful encouraged at every turn. Of course bills still have to be paid but I’ve begun really contemplating around the idea of being successful. What the hell is it to be successful?

The great Australian dream, as I’ve understood it, is to own your own home, a sign of success, well after 14 months in Sydney and being in that housing market as a renter watching houses and units go on the market for a million dollars plus, does this mean that we are creating an environment where many young people, and not just young people, will either be viewed as unsuccessful or feel unsuccessful? The drive to succeed, the symbol of success is reduced to a physical dwelling place. People defining themselves on their possessions, where they live, what car they drive, what latest gadget they have purchased.

What is it to be successful? I’m very serious when I suggest that success ought to be life-giving not commodity building, we are all caught in the latter, I believe, or at least the vast majority of us are. The idea of life-giving for me is to have a sense of peace and purpose, a place to belong that is more than a building, it’s not my place to tell anyone else what success is for them, that’s possibly part of the problem, we are told what it is to be successful, rather than spending sometime to consider and reflect for ourselves, if we have the luxury of space and time to do so!

Anyhoo, the bottom line of this sharing is that I’m going to try and be a bit more active on here, read it or leave it, that’s OK, but as I watch the news and the world I’m going to share my thoughts and reflections and I in

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So long Sydney.

It’s just over a year since I left Brisbane for a shot at life in Sydney, the main priority was to be with Mr Revthreads. Alas, 14 months later I am back on home soil in Brisbane. It’s not that I don’t want to be with Mr Revthreads, and all about Sydney being a hard place to crack, the draw back was the ever growing grand baby revthreads and the knowledge that mr Revthreads will come home most weekends.

My time in Sydney was very turbulent and even in a big city it’s a lonely place and I do thank God for the very good friends I had and made whilst I was there. Sydney is, without a doubt, a very pretty city but other than the beautiful people I met, for me that’s where the enjoyment ended. It’s a city that even if I fell head over heels in love with, I could never afford to buy a home, not where we were anyway and it was very nice there, Rozelle/Balmain area to be precise. I’ve missed the warmth of people at the grocery stores, the greetings as people pass by, the ability to see my grandchildren regularly and the warmth of the sun on my skin.

Of course I am paying a price, I only get to see Mr Revthreads on his weekends off, but I know that it will be quality time and it’s not forever, but it’s still a huge cost. That said, we have a little pad in Brisbane that we will call home, we will both get to see the grand babies more regularly, when I lived in Sydney we only managed to get back once a month, now it will be pretty much weekly.

Since I arrived back in Brisbane, my feet have been set free, for weeks now in Sydney they have been covered in socks and boots, but now they’ve been liberated and my trusty Birkenstocks are out, my toes feeling the fresh air. My winter jacket is already away, my jumpers swapped for t-shirts. I walked into a furniture shop today for a browse and was greeted by the staff first of all asking how my day was before asking if I needed any help. At the grocery store the woman on the checkout engaged in conversation, I have never met here before but she took time to engage. Now you may be thinking, but that’s their job, but I have to say I encountered very few experiences of this in Sydney, particularly in furniture shops.

Anyhoo, this is not about bashing Sydney, but about rejoicing at being home, and thinking I will now get an opportunity write a blog about our recent trip to the UK, my favourite writing topic, travel, and I’ve not had the space to do it because of the move. So I’m back, it’s time to find a job and in the meantime do some of the other things I love, my blog, yoga and spend time with the grandies.

 

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Blue Mountains, Weekend Bliss – Part 2

Well time just gets ahead, but you know Blue Mountain experiences ought to be shared. So after a day walking from Govetts Leap to Pulpit Rock, we woke the next day knowing we would be homeward bound by lunch time. The last morning of breakfast by the roaring fire, our stuff packed and ready to go, today our aim was to walk the Grand Canyon Track to Evans Lookout. We set off, on yet another medium grade track, eyes rolling, untrusting, lets just see, we began the track. There were no other walkers about, it was still early and we began descending down the steps, and continued down the steps, and continued, still no other walkers in sight. It was quiet, it didn’t seem to be anything spectacular, just a shit load of steps! By now it was clear we were heading down to the valley and we must have descended at least 1km down, yep all good, but we know we are gonna have to get back up that 1km!

Evidence of life emerged as some very eager walkers charged past us, this giving us confidence that we were at least on the right track. We continued on and finally hit the valley and a whole new world emerged, it was absolutely spectacular, you could hear water flowing all around as it ran off the steep rock faces, the lush greenery ran along the path, creeks, springs not sure which but they were there, the water crystal clear and fresh, it really is breathtaking. Mr Revthreads felt like he’d ended up in a scene from Lord of the Rings, where as for me I felt it was very Jurassic Park, so put a bit less dramatically it was untouched and just so. We entered through a gate, what the gate was for at this stage we had no idea, but once through the gate we were just amazed even further, we could understand its name, it really was phenomenal. we’d been walking for well over an hour, we walked under waterfalls, we looked down where the sign indicated “very long drop” and it was indeed a very long drop. Then we scratched our heads, metaphorically of course, as we arrived at a warning sign. We were obviously half way if not more than, through the track and it is here that they decide to tell you that you need to check the weather before you walk this track. It went on to explain why – well flash flooding of course and then it suggested that canyoners need to be good swimmers and abseiling experience doesn’t go amiss, well, what use is it half way through the walk? Anyhoo, on we went.

We came to another gate at the opening of a cave, it then became apparent that the gates closed the path off probably during bad weather, I wasn’t over happy about the cave, and needed to just edge in to make sure it wasn’t a long cave and that it did open out again, otherwise I was off back the way I came. Drama averted we carried on and yep the ascent began, we’d go up a few steps and down again, it’s was almost like there was an intention to trick you, here we go, no not yet, kidding. I can laugh now, but I couldn’t breath at the time, I wanted to crawl, I did a burst of running and thought I might die as a consequence, the only way I could explain what was happening was that the beating of my heart was present in my head, yes my head was having it’s very own rave party courtesy of my beating heart. We thought we had reached the top, but it was just a sign pointing to more steps to Evans lookout, we made it, and Evans lookout was spectacular – definitely worth a go!

For us now it was in the car and back to the big smoke of Sydney.

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Blue Mountains, Weekend Bliss

Leaving the big smoke of Sydney behind us, we hit the highway, Blackheath bound. Following a pleasant journey, well once out of the Sydney traffic, we arrived at Jemby Rinjah Eco Lodge, our home for two nights. Nestled in the bush off Evans Lookout Road, our hut, (well it was a cabin but hut sounds far more effective and adventurous!) Anyhoo we arrived at our hut, the fire was roaring. Of course it’s important to explore your surroundings,  the hut was not huge but there are just the two of us,  our bedroom which was up on the mezzanine floor was very pleasant, it’s wall length window allowed the trees to become part of our sleeping space. The bathroom, compact but all you need, except a flush on the loo, the hut comes complete with a composting toilet, which is a wonderful thing in an eco lodge, it just seems weird not flushing. So exploring done, fire still roaring and then like magic, you hear it calling, yes it’s the cheese and wine wishing to join you for the evening.

After a pleasant evening and pleasant sleep we woke to an array of bird calls, each one singing a celebration of sunrise, the birth of a new day. The sky was blue, the air fresh and crisp, peace abounded. After a spot of breakfast it was time to don the walking boots and prepare to head off. Being the die hard walkers that we are, we of course drove to the information centre to get a map, we needed to decide which walking track to take.  The very helpful woman at the information centre suggested we do the walk to Pulpit Rock (ironic considering its my weekend off from the pulpit!), apparently it’s graded as a medium walk so should be fine. Next stop Govetts Leap to commence the walk.

We headed off, found the track and commenced with a descent, of course every step a reminder that have to get back up at the end of the walk, but hey we’re fresh and we’re motivated. The air is fresh, the greenery along the pathway is unkempt and quite overgrown, but it certainly adds to the fact that you’re in a national park. Wildflowers line the track, the green of the trees interrupted every so often with beautiful tiny white and pink flowers, the golden display of Banksia’s. The walk to Pulpit Rock took us across the top of the cliffs, the ridge. At the lookouts, you almost gasp for air as you look down and see the trees that cover the valley below, a carpet of green spread out in splendour. The sheer drops and rock faces, the layers of time visible, ledges and overhangs, trees growing from anywhere they are able to place their roots. I take photo’s but I know that no photo will ever do justice to this magnificent sight (well not an amateur with an iPhone at least.)  We walk through puddles and mud realising that the natural flow of water is journeying down to the trees down below, waterfalls gracefully hang down the sheer faces, like veils of silk and lace, they catch the suns rays, the water becoming  a rainbow spring.

The scenery really is breathtaking, its creation and nature in full glory, as you look down at the carpet of trees in the valley you can see the courses forged by the waters over probably millions of years. We watched as tiny birds weaved in and out of the trees, then we heard the majestic sound of an eagle and turned to see it soaring through the air before resting on the top of a tree.  We sat for a while at the lookout and just looked in awe at  the beauty that lay before us.  We watched as the eagle swooped and soared, then it was time to turn back.

Now on another note I have to say that one of the biggest surprises was the bloody track, seriously. The definition of medium grade track was “some steps and stairs – for people who “walk occasionally.” Now obviously after doing this “walk occasionally” means more than someone who just say walks to shops! Some of the descents and the steps where laughable, at one stage I looked at the “steps” and thought nah, I ain’t gonna get down there in one piece! This leads me to ask the question who decides what is classified as a medium grade track? what is used as a comparison? At some points I wondered whether it was a walking track or a rock climbing opportunity! It was so worth it, the scenery is breathtaking but there are moments when you wonder what the hell, I have been deceived this is not “medium!” Moaning over, I braved it, Mr Revthreads the ever trusty helping hand, and my trusty stick that I found that encouraged me along the path.

Once back we headed into Blackheath for a well earned lunch, we went to Blackheath General Store and what a wonderful veggie burger they served up, a lentil patty

topped with eggplant served on ciabatta bread with a pleasant side of fries, Mr Revthreads went the steak sandwich, apparently just as delectable as the veggie option. We explored the local area, walking down the streets that are carpeted with autumn leaves, rich red and golden amber. The streets filled with visitors taking photos. I did notice that rather than cut trees down around powerlines, the council cut a hole in the tree, yep true story looks like a meteor has smashed through the whole street of trees, looked quite bizarre. We wanted to check out a hat Hill Gallery, so we wandered down the street, my iPhone navigation suggested it was 700 metres away so we began walking, and walking and walking, but it just wasn’t to be, we’d walked significantly more than 700 metres, in fact we were pretty close to the site of our hut, so we turned back to go get the car. We had seen it the previous day but now it appears to have disappeared off the face of the earth! Mystery to be solved.

We returned to our hut, the evening was beginning to draw in, the fire was roaring once more, it was time to kick back ruminate on the adventures of the day and relax.

 

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Farewell 2016

Figured it might be a good time to write another entry, the beginning of a New Year with the acknowledgement that 2016 was a bitter sweet year indeed. Now I am not about to write it off, the year began with a beautiful wedding, watching the oldest Revthreads marry her man, this was followed with a wonderful trip to Hamilton Island with our good friends from the UK that had traveled for the Revthreads wedding event. We have had and continue to have the privilege of watching our beautiful Revthreads Grandson grow and learn new things, building a bond with him that, to be honest, I never imagined possible. I traveled to Fiji with my good friend and had a blast. But in the midst of all of this, came the biggest change and upheaval, far more of an upheaval than either of us expected and that has been Mr Revthreads relocating to Sydney followed by myself.

As I have previously shared the first few months in Sydney were dark days indeed, as we get older we forget how difficult it is to make new friends and build new networks, particularly when you have lived in the same place for a number of years and built those friendships and connections. There have been days that have felt like a dark cloud has descended upon me and the challenge to search for a break in the darkness has been long and hard, with the desperate hope that some golden light would shine through, providing the glimpse of hope that the cloud would lift, would dissipate.

Eventually I began my new placement, light breaking through, hope much more tangible, all of that said its not been a smooth run, there have been turbulent moments, but then I guess the reality is that, this is the life in ministry or indeed any role where there are different people with different expectations, so much newness.

I head into this New Year with a renewed sense of hope, as the year has come to an end there have been more light days than dark days, life is settling, somewhat, and there is a confidence that this chapter will ultimately be one of adventure, however it works out. There are joys that lay ahead, including the expected birth of the 2nd Revthreads Grandchild, a trip to the UK to visit Mr Revthreads mum – I have no doubt there will be more joys in different forms and shapes and tastes and I’m a realist, of course there will be more challenges but the dark clouds that descend always break, even if in the moment it feels like they never will.

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Bounty Island Day 3

So once more I’ve done my stroll down the beach, the horizon glowing warm amber and red, the warmth of the sun beginning to wake and ready to rise. The young men hard at work raking the coral and the seaweed that has been left on the beach over night. It’s my quiet space to look back on yesterday.

We began once more with our little routine of breakfast, then for me it was on to the little corner of the beach for a while, my dear friend went off to do some washing. Been on a small island there’s not a huge amount to do, but as I lay with the warmth of the sun gently resting on my skin I listen to the ocean gently lapping on the beach, reminding me constantly of the awe of creation, the ebb and flow of life, the rhythm of time. I lay for a while, read for a while, then as the gentle sun rays turn hotter it’s time for a dip to cool down.

My friend joins me after a couple of hours and kerfuffle commences as we decide to take out a tandem kayak again. As we head over the words run from her mouth ” we know how this is going to end? I’m going to fall in!” I remind her to stop and laughter already commences. We get the kayak, her turn to get in first. The rough sand and shales under foot put up a fight once more, she climbs in, she’s in and with the next little flow of water she’s out! Lack of gracefulness is an understatement this time, it was an almighty splash, as she rise from the water her poor knees look like that of a five year old that has gone a full round with playground bitumen. Gravel rash is definitely now an understatement, her poor knee looks positively gouged! Bloodied and sore she’s determined and she goes again, this time with success. We begin to paddle out on the ocean. The water is calm and clear, within a minute of my friend saying she can’t see any fish a whole school of sergeant major fish turn up, happily swimming around checking out the kayak. We paddle, then float, during the floating moments we’re able to get glimpses of the reef structures below, tiny fish dashing in and out. A guy snorkeling calls us over, there are two octopus below him so we dash over to check it out, I get a glimpse but that’s all. So I hand my underwater camera to the guy and ask him if he would take a couple of shots for me, kind man did just that.

We’d been on the water for about 45 minutes and the drum calls us to lunch so with trepidation we head back to shore, will she make it out of the Kayak? As we hit the beach, I dig my oar in to stabilize the kayak….she’s out and up on her feet, success. So I climb out, there’s no one around to help get the kayak on the shore, so using the water as our aid we pull the kayak as far on shore as possible. Quite proud we turn to walk for lunch, then out the corner of our eye we see said kayak floating off! Bugger, we stumble back only to be redeemed by a guy from the dive shop he calls out ” you go, I’ll get this.” Phew, that could’ve been messy!

After lunch we saw a few people parasailing, so in a snap decision I decide, why not? I’ve done it before but not from a beach start, I’ve seen them though, on the funny home video shows! So hooked up, instructions clear, the boat moves, the parachute opens, a gentle pull and I begin to rise in the air. There was an initial what the …. As I look down and think I’m just hooked on to this thing, but then exhilaration sets in, the clear ocean below just me in the air, flying without the big steel bird caging me in. It was pretty amazing. As the boat turned to begin the journey back a turtle in the waters below pops up, I’m sure she or he waved! Anyway concentration now needed, I had to watch for the instructions to get myself on landing course, arms out, now pull the left of the shoot, ok I need two hands, then I gently drift left, on course, gentle touch down, thank you very much! Amazing!

Then more lazing, until shower time, the conspiracy continues, this time we have no water. So our ritual walk to reception, which is filled with laughter and apologies, so we walk back. The maintenance man meets us and explains there had been a problem, no one had water but now all is well. We turn the tap in the shower full of hope and anticipation…no water, you have to laugh. The ritual walk commences again and the maintenance man returns, this time we’re informed we have to push the tap, he turns it off but we make him wait while we try, basically we just can’t work the taps, we get the nice young man to turn on the tap and leave it on we’ll shower immediately.

Dinner time arrives, a boatload of young volunteers arrive and the mealtime drum sounds. These young guys flock like they’ve never seen food, it was quite a spectacular sight, I’ve never seen such a scramble for food. Would there be anything left? Of course there was, but it was funny watching them.

After dinner the multitasking staff sing, the air filled with strong Fijian voices, beautiful. Then as we leave today, we along with another couple were called up with the staff as they sang us a Bounty Island farewell, quite beautiful.

Another eventful day filled with rest, relaxation, laughter and grazed knees, the sun is down, we take our glass of wine, stumbling over the challenging sand to our beachside bure for the last night, where we sit sipping our wine, listening to the ocean, recapping our day.

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