It’s Not Goodbye.

I’ve been neglecting path: ethic. More to the point, I’ve been avoiding it.

It’s not that I have nothing to say. I always have things to say!

But it’s just finding the time to sit down and write it, and write it well. And I’m definitely a proponent of finding the time to write. So when I say, ‘I don’t have the time to write for path: ethic,’ what I’m really saying is that I don’t want to make the time to write it.

That sounds quite rude, especially to those of you who read, so let me explain myself further.

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I See You!

‘If you could choose,’ I said to the Handsome Sidekick one day, a few months ago, ‘would you rather receive recognition from your peers, or from the general public? Bearing in mind that the recognition from your peers might mean that you earn less money, than if you were to become famous in a mainstream sense.’

He thought for a while.

‘I guess… my peers?’ he said. ‘I mean, sure, it would be great to have both. But I suppose I’d rather have people who I know really value this stuff, also think that my stuff is good.’

‘Yeah,’ I said. ‘Me too, I think.’

Of course, neither of us is in the position where we have to worry about choosing between the respect and admiration of our peers or our fans! But I have been thinking a lot about recognition lately, for a few reasons.

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The Week Links: in which our blogger makes music.

Last night I got out the electric piano. I’ve not played it in the almost two years we’ve been living here, and I promised the Handsome Sidekick I would help him out with a song on the game he’s about to release, so I sat, Schroeder-like, on the floor, working out the key and the bassline, and it was So. Much. Fun. It’s one of those moment when it really hits home just how important those ‘non-core’ subjects like music, art, sport, and (at least, here in Australia) languages are. It’s been over 20 years since I last had any formal musical instruction, and so much of it is still there, beneath the surface.

Music’s great, isn’t it? So are music teachers. So are parents who pay for lessons.

Hope you all have a musical day! Enjoy your links…

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Know It All.

Recently I mentioned to some friends that I had so much yoghurt, I was considering making labneh. (I didn’t, partly due to the lack of required olive oil, and partly because I didn’t think anyone in the family would eat it apart from me). One of my friends said she’d felt ignorant, when she didn’t know what labneh was, but then thought, ‘…of course you can’t know everything!’

And yet!

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Dressed for Success?

I have a friend who is awesome (yes, Alicia, it’s you), and who knits. A few months ago, she wrote about taking some scarves she’d knitted out with her, planning to leave them anonymously for people who were homeless or otherwise on the streets. Coming out of a store, she met a woman who asked her for some change, and my friend offered her a food voucher, and asked her if she’d also like a scarf.

The woman asked if she could have the purple one, and then changed her mind—there was a friend of hers at the shelter who loved orange, so could she please have the orange one instead, to take to her friend? Of course, Alicia insisted that she take both: one for herself, and one for her friend.

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Say a Little Prayer for You.

I never really enjoyed church when I was growing up. The church experience comprised:

hard wooden pews, shiny and still smelling of polish.

itchy wool tights, and patent leather shoes.

few or no other children to play with afterwards.

hours out of my Sunday, which could have been better spent reading.

It was a boring, lonely, and uncomfortable experience, during which the priest would issue that invitation – ‘Let us pray’ – and everyone would bow heads and close eyes. I tried to pray, but it never seemed very real. Even then, I didn’t really feel like anyone was listening to me. Perhaps I was in the wrong church? Perhaps I was saying the wrong prayers? Or perhaps there really wasn’t anyone listening?

For whatever reason, I never found the relevance in church, so once I was able to, I stopped going. I don’t miss it, and I haven’t stepped inside one for some years, but for all the boredom and irrelevance, Easter was, I think, the one religious ceremony I actually enjoyed, mostly likely because we got to light a fire.

(Also, chocolate.)

Nowadays, I appreciate the long weekend, and hot cross buns, and Easter Egg hunts. We often spend some time with my sister and her family. I’m aware of the religious aspect, but it’s far in the background, more a memory than anything.

Then recently, my friend Kate offered to say prayers for her friends during Triduum. I had a moment’s contemplation about that, before I asked her to include me in her prayers.

I had a moment’s contemplation about it, because obviously I’m not part of her church, or any church. I don’t believe in the Easter mystery, and while I’m willing to cede that Jesus may have been a real person, I don’t think that he would have been an incarnation of a deity. It seemed not only odd to ask for prayers, but somehow fraudulent. Why ask for prayers at all, given my own ambivalent attitude towards them, and gods?

I remember as a child, family friends telling me that they would keep me in their prayers, or that they would be praying for me. That didn’t bother me so much. I did find it a bit weird when complete strangers said it. It seemed like it was almost an impingement on my right to not pray, or that they were trying in a roundabout way to convert me. Obviously, I was just that cynical, even in my youth.

Later, when I was in the high school chapel, or in church at home during the holidays, I would use the time we were supposed to be praying to tick off ‘to-do’ lists in my head. I’d think about the English essay I needed to write, or the boy I had a crush on, or what I was going to do on the weekend. I’m not sure if I used the word atheist to describe myself. But I railed against the idea that I could reach any kind of god simply because I was in the appropriate environment, and I didn’t feel strongly enough to pray on my own, when I was out of that environment.

Prayer has not been part of my life, in the way that I know it’s been part of others’. Perhaps I lamented that once, but I have certainly made peace with it. I do take time to sit, to breathe, even to practise some kind of meditation, such that it is. I need to ground myself in that way, to keep my patience. And that is the extent to which I can relate to prayer: the quietness, the stillness. But my meditations are just about me, breathing and finding my calm, not about a higher power.

And yet, for all that, I don’t dismiss the power of prayer. I think that there is a lot we don’t understand about belief and how it influences actions – and reactions – to the world around us. I still think there is something beautiful and wonderful to be found in rituals, whether they’re religious or not, and it is possible that rituals are the only things I miss about going to church.

But in the end, I came to a conclusion about what it really means when people tell me they’ll keep me in their prayers.

It means they’re taking time out of their day, devoting time from their busy lives, to think of me. It is a reinforcement of my value as a person – as a friend – to them. And as intangible as it is, there is new hope and energy in the world on my behalf, because they have cared enough to put it there.

Regardless of anyone’s beliefs, that is a precious gift indeed.