The grasp

It's here. As I try to enter the realm of sleep, the thoughts run, start, stop, repeat, like a broken record.

I'm still thinking it. Feeling it. Thinking. Feeling.

How long more? How's the scenery from the other side of the gate? I don't know how to deal with it, in a mind unafflicted by dementia or ECT. Neither will that firm, prolonged grasp loosen its hold.

Give and take

Loving others, is a blessing, and a command. That means caring for that stranger, listening to that person whether they give a hoot about you or not.

However. A one sided love is a crush, an unrequited love, rather than a real relationship. Then, what do you say of the one sided friendship? What is friendship? I would think that, by definition, it implies give and take. Of care, of listening, of encouraging.

There is a place for investing in someones life without expecting return. But I assume as humans, we also need solid, two way, mutual friendships to keep us going, through the flat, the ups, and downs of daily life.

I find that you can't expect much (I've been told that I'm demanding), especially when you have a need. When the answer is always, I'm really really busy. Sorry, instead of listening to your packed schedule, what I'm really hearing is something about your priorities (I've also been told that I should hear what is said, rather than feeling the undercurrents).

After a long day, a quick impromptu meal and chat will be great. Openly sharing "matters of the heart", without needing to describe who's who would be good. On the weekend, it would be nice to go for a short drive, explore somewhere. Being able to ask without hesitation, without wondering if the answer would be too busy, or too far, would be amazing. Not doing the asking would be better. Just knowing that the friendship is mutually sought, enjoyed and appreciate.

It's tiring. It's not that I have all the time in the world and am exempt from whatever university students worry about. And neither is it that I'm bored out of my brains and can't entertain myself. It's an offer of friendship, to spend time together. This garden doesn't seem terribly conducive for plant growing. Ooo, we were talking about Jesus' parables involving growing seeds just today, maybe I accidently plagarised the ideas.

The fourteen year old wrote:

The plant of two,

Blossoming under tender care,

The alive and ever true,

Are sadly very rare.

The seeds are planted,

With a smile and nod,

The two are enchanted,

With each growing pod.

As the plant grows,

Towards the vast sky,

A wind of sin blows,

A shrilling and ugly cry.

The two grows apart,

The plant withers dry,

They grieve in their heart,

Not wanting it to die.

The two may arise,

From their petty feud,

And grow increasingly wise,

In granting the plant food.

Other plants are buried,

Under newfound flowers,

The results are not varied,

Destroying works of hours.

Tall and lasting plants,

Succulent in loyalty,

Lovingly grants,

An envied life in royalty.

Just an illusion

Would I have been happier in the illusion of a pleasant, albiet brief, encounter? Yes, if I hadn't asked, I wouldn't have realised that seeing, even acknowledging with a smile, doesn't mean that we really met. In reality, only I did.

A tad disappointing.

And a bit sad.

To echo those words, I don't think anyone, not even you, understand, the effort behind inaction, or minimal action.

I always plan to write when everything is bright and rosy, but those times are easily shared with good company, over good food. Whereas these thoughts are ones that don't make good meal conversations, and invite unwanted responses.

We are family

That was the theme for this year's church camp. Sorting through my photos from camp, I was reminded to finish writing this entry.

Is it bad to have a favourite church? I fell in love again with the church I loved, a group of believers who taught me, and continues to teach me, much about building a God-centred community, rather than building a social clique.

After being with mostly similar aged people my age, it was refreshing to be reminded about the full spectrum of life, from the very young, to the very old and dying. I loved sharing a room with a lovely lady my mum's age, who loves books, and an elderly lady who was there when our student accommodation was a nursing home. I loved waving hello to the beautiful baby with a serious face, and seeing his grandparents dote on him. I loved spending time drawing with the girl who could possibly be mistaken for my sister, reliving high school life with a teenager who's using the same textbook as I did years ago, listening to the dessert making adventures of all the ladies who are into baking, or hearing stories of parents who worry about their children growing up and becoming indepedent, and being listened to and encouraged by pastor and his wife.

I love how inclusive you are, and how even the bratty teenagers show love to, the man with a probable intellectual impairment, but who nevertheless has such joy, thankfulness, and humour. I love how you are Australian, Chinese, Singaporean, Korean, Japanese, Nigerian and more, being family through the same Jesus, though we look, talk and think differently. I've talked to so many friends who have lived in Australia for years but feel that they have nothing in common with the typical Caucasian Australian. And I share those sentiments (though I spent more of my life here than not). But it was in this church, and in this town (through classmates, and others I met through school), that I realised that the gap isn't as wide as we imagined, and that depending on the community I'm with, I can feel completely at home in this country though I don't have curly blonde hair, or pale skin with freckles. Even though I have zero interest in booze or footy.

I love how you share your lives with each other, and with me. I love how openly you share prayer requests, and pray for each other from the heart, rather than sharing prayer in a guarded, generic way. And in a short time, even after a year away, how we can talk about your children and grandchildren, your siblings, your schools, your work, your farms, your ministries, your struggles, the illnesses and deaths in your families, the joys and celebrations, with such familiarity. Truly living the words: "rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn." - Romans 12:15

Thank you for being such a warm community, a beautiful channel, and shining example of God's love. It's a love that inspires me to keep learning to love others and build communities that reflect God's love. May you all continue to love God, and love your neighbours.

Ticket inspectors

I've been taking the train almost daily. And seem to encounter ticket inspectors at least every second day. Today a huddle of them were standing in front of me. The man with a loud, gruff voice said, "get your tickets ready!" And the five ticket inspectors, mostly obese, in dark suits, started to pounce on the nearby passengers.

They come in hungry packs, and it's almost like a robbery when they surround you. Sure fare evaders will feel jumpy, and so they deserve that - for hitching free rides on the public transport system honest commuters pay for with their hard earned money. But, it makes me jumpy too, even though I always have a validated ticket. What if I didn't bring my concession card today, what if I misplaced the ticket in my wallet, what if...

They may be men and women doing their jobs, but whether it's because of their role alone, or because of their conduct, it's no surprise that they are universally hated:

"They are variously described as scary, intimidating, nasty, evil, horrible, harassing", the report said. "There is also a strong visual sense that people associate with [ticket inspectors]: moving in packs, black leather gloves, trench coats, big balding men."

The modern day tax collector.

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