The Presence of God

After community breakfast yesterday I visited the home of a friend, clambered over belongings 60cm deep and took in his joy at his painting on the wall.

The Presence of GodEarlier he had arrived late for breakfast but we unpacked again so we could chat while he munched on a large bowl of cereal.

We prayed for his parents and he told me that Mary backwards stands for both

You’re Really A Mess
You Really Are Magical

because life isn’t static but we are always coming out of tough times, recovering; or doing better, enjoying life.

I said it reminded me that we are made in the image of God (magical) but fallen and broken and frail (mess) and that Jesus gave his life to forgive and heal our mess and to restore and discover our magical.

My friend thought this was a reasonable interpretation of Mary backwards.

And I still count it a privilege after all these years to be asked for the simple act of brotherhood of a shared meal and to be given the honour of a private artistic viewing and to discuss the profound meaning of words backward.

I know we in the church (and more broadly) argue a lot about the presence/reality/felt existence of God and some say we only need our faith in the Scriptures and others that we find him as we sing or pray and maybe others think that a pilgrimage is required and perhaps all are correct together.

But I remember Jesus said what you do for the least of these you do for me as if he would be intentionally present to renew and reassure us and that’s what I felt after just a few hours sleep, an hour of setup, serving 40 breakfasts including one home delivery, two after we closed, praying with troubled souls and discussing backward anagrams.

Not tired. Renewed, reassured.

And I know whose presence I was experiencing, right where He said He would be all along.

Likewise the day before nursing a baby in the cool of the night waiting for him to settle into sleep. Likewise the next evening being alongside a daughter and her aged  mother as they negotiated the challenges of daily life and shared grief with nobility and tears and laughter.

The presence of God is everywhere when we forget to look at ourself. Life is not one long selfie.

And just as well… I take a terrible selfie…

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Difference between ‘feeling’ and ‘being’ anxious unlocks an answer

“…for nothing be anxious.” *

I think there is a difference between feeling anxious and being anxious.

Photo by Jesse Therrien

Anxiety is a normal, perhaps even healthy, feeling when faced with the unknown, the unsafe or the unwanted. Usually this feeling of anxiety resolves when you pass through the situation and relief follows or, if your anxiety was justified, more concrete thoughts, actions and responses are required.

Sometimes it is the psycho-emotional effects of feelings of anxiety that help guide you through challenging situations – heightened vigilance, physical alertness (adrenalin), cautious progress.

But what if it is not so much that you ‘feel’ anxious, but that you are ‘being’ anxious; that you find yourself continuing in anxiety with or without an initial trigger.

Many of us in life can find ourselves weighed down with all the mental and physical responses of anxiety for hours, days or months. We are being anxious and we have forgetten how not to be anxious.

At such times, phrases such as the Biblical epigram for this post, “for nothing be anxious”, can seem infuriating and mindless to the person who would rather do anything but be anxious.

When our friends or spouses or colleagues tell us to ‘get over it’ when that is the one thing we can’t seem to do, we feel even more anxious. That is presuming anyone but ourselves even knows. In most cases, these predicaments are carried with silence, a supreme act of the will considering the turmoil inside.

So when the Bible says ‘for nothing be anxious’ do we have yet another voice condemning and consigning the anxious person to deeper isolation?Read More »

Mental health gets healthy $1.5 billion

The mentally ill are the most invisible of sufferers in our society and this has often been reflected in government policy and funding.

Having worked for years at a grassroots level with the chronically mentally ill, there are few issues I feel more strongly about than increasing support for people with mental illness, their families and those who care for and treat them.

Keep reading to see what Treasurer Wayne Swan said about his mental health funding initiatives in tonight’s 2011 federal budget speech.

And check some early response to the announcement in this report from the ABC. It qualifies Mr Swan’s announcement by showing that the funding is slow to be rolled out and there will be other losses along the way.

Read More »