Saturday, April 17, 2010
RIVER DAY WAS ALL I HOPED AND MORE
A peaceful afternoon beside the Sacramento River at Redding, California. February, 2006
At this moment I am torn between walking and writing. Guess which won. Walking will be wonderful. It is a gorgeous autumn day and I'll take my camera. I need to write about yesterday while it is fresh. I will be thinking about it a lot in days to come. It may even prove to be one of those defining moments in life.
I love getting together with my friends. It's always wonderful to see my friends although it's also impossible to catch up with everyone. We've been having River Days, led by Julie, wife of our Pauanui Pastor, every 3rd Friday of the month for more than 12 years. I'm not sure exactly when River Days began but they were well established when I came on the scene late 1998. River Days are inspired by these verses from Ezekiel 47:12 (New International Version)
"Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing."
The meetings have a strong focus on the Presence of God and the Power of the Holy Spirit. They are open to all women and there are always new faces. Some folk come from far away, 2 and 3 hours driving. Yesterday we were a small group, about 25, but some of us had driven nearly 2 hours to be there. We treasure these days and I am so happy to be free to go.
Our Speaker had recently returned from the Himalayan area of India where they support a health program and a Church which is growing faster than they can afford to build. It's an extremely poor area and it was good to hear the work so far has improved the health of the people. The people, mostly displaced Nepalese, are being taught better health practices, (there were none previously), English converstaion, because it's very important for work opportunities and schools are being established. They found one village where not one person could read. The humanitarian work is done through donations and a N.Z. Government Grant, so Kiwis, be glad that someone is using your dollars very effectively. The original grant, I think, $24,000 was used so effectively to build latrines for each household there was money over and the original program was extended. To help you understand how valuable this work is, - the normal way for these people was to go out into the Tea Garden and each person seemed to have their own patch under the bushes. They are also growing veggies with a strong fence, protection from the free range pigs. The pigs are the 'clean-up' squad, eating the garbage, rubbish etc. in the village and the Tea Garden. Yes, you got it right!. Don't drink tea and don't eat pork! Elephants are also a problem. They come in and trample everything from the modest dwellings, to the gardens, rice fields, all in their pathway. We have a company in New Zealand which specialise in electric fences to control animals including elephants. The people are too poor to consider this and recently our Speaker discovered elephants can be controlled, kept out, by a chili hedge/fence so she is investigating it for her Indian friends.
Not only did our Speaker take us on a journey to the Himalayas but she took us on a personal spiritual journey which I share here because I think it is an exercise that we could all try. Who knows what you might discover!
After some teaching she suggested we take a moment to ask God what he had placed in our hands to use for Him. I immediately found myself thinking about writing. This is not a new thought. I've played around on the fringes of writing for years. I've written a few poems, I've written a few short stories, written a few Church Newsletters, I've journalled, and more recently I turned into a Blogger. I even did a course on short story writing once. I have no confidence in the quality of my writing. I enjoy reading it because it gives me a buzz to see my own words in print but I'm not so sure I write well enough for anything more serious. I enjoy Blogging and there is some very nice feed back, (I love comments), but this is all pretty casual. I don't have the discipline to be a 'Writer'. I'm pretty slack about grammar and I don't always flow well. I edit forever .... it's a wonder my posts ever get published. I was once told my writing was immature .... I have no idea what the critic meant then and I'm not much wiser now. So my reaction was .... I've tried that and I'm not a writer so lets ask the question again since I didn't get it right the first time. Well to cut it short, writing is what I have in my hand and I will just go on from where I am and see where it takes me.
What do you have in your hand that can be used for God and to build others?
Don't make a big deal of it because it's about what you already have and more than likely you are already doing it.
The second thing that became a defining and very beautiful moment came when our Speaker asked us to seek an answer to this question.
How does God see you?
There were some interesting answers. One woman had a mind picture of a dove and we all realised the truth of it. She is a very peaceful person to be with.
I saw a large garden bed of lavender with a very bright orange/gold coloured flower among the full flowering lavender. To me this expressed how I would like my garden ... perfume the colour lavender/purple and a little flamboyance but I also recognised that the desire for my garden is also a reflection of my spirit. Beautiful fragrance with a little flamboyance. Then my picture moved into a broader vision which I will find myself thinking about a lot in future. There was a stretch of flower beds, the golden flowers in full summer bloom. It was an expanse of green and gold with paths weaving through, in and out among the brightly coloured beds. This stretched toward a backdrop of trees, some with softly weeping leaves. The trees offered a place of rest and coolness from the heat and business of the golden beds. The path entered the trees beside a rock. A huge rock. My first reaction was, 'Why a rock'? This rock was weathered into shades of cream, almost white, through into many browns, smooth, and lovely to touch. I sensed the crannies where ferns might grow in the cool and where moss add to the texture. There were no sharp corners yet there were a variety of planes and curves played out in the light, changing as the light changes through the days and seasons. My immediate reaction was that the rock represented the hard places in my life made beautiful, peaceful and secure.
Since the question was ... How does God say he sees you? I am filled with delight. I could not write about myself like this. I could not see the combination of a beautiful fragrance wafting in the gentle breeze with a touch of flamboyance. I could not see the bright summery garden, full of vibrancy and light that is completed by the restful arbour guarded by the Rock.
Could God really see all this in me? Try it you might be surprised.
I think I was most surprised by the flamboyance and that it pleases God. There is a part of me always trying to break out and yet I work hard trying to keep it under control. Ha! I love the flamboyance but somehow the showiness of it embarrasses me and I want to hide it. Here God showed me that it fits perfectly with the delightful lavender garden and enhances it, bringing it to life. Maybe I try too hard to be conventional, maybe I'm trying too hard to hide an aspect of myself under a bushel. Maybe it is time to let loose with the purple hat, the rainbow of scarves and dance. Watch this space.
None of this has much to do with weight loss and yet it has everything. Our weight is such a small part of who we are. I'm sure it's as important to God as it is to us to be at a healthy weight but keep it in perspective girls ...(and guys). The day we let our weight and our weight loss efforts rule our lives we have lost the blueprint. The Blueprint is balanced. I'm sort of beginning to think that by trying to suppress the flamboyant side of who I am I have shut down other things that just might be essential to being the person I should be and that includes my healthy weight. Think about it for a bit.
I have spent hours recording and expressing myself. It is time to eat again and then the WALK with our camera.