Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Melancholy, when you're a RLP (or will you be a RLR?), you'll use the real stuff, won't you?
Strangely enough that very weekend Jacob and I were away at an unveiling service up in the Kaipara. During the service they had communion and they used....wafers. I forgot how much I don't like them!
So in answer to your question...
My dearest anarchy, of course I will always use the real stuff, especially now that I am an RLR ;)
Monday, December 04, 2006
TIME: 4:25pm. I arrive in Avondale suitably pajama’d in my dark Auckland-City-Hospital blue “Emergency Room” scrubs. I park on St Georges Road, about 15 metres down from The Hollywood, our cinematic shrine-to-be for the next 24 hours, and find my marathon crew. It’s all about to start! [read more]
Sunday, October 08, 2006
So Hope, Aimee and Briahna these are the photos I took especially for you...I hope you all enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them!
Miss Hope Read
the photo that I took for you is of the daffodil walkway. I love the way the trees arch over the pathway as it winds off into the beyond. I picked this photo for you 'cause it reminds of where you are at in life - on the brink of an exciting journey, who knows where life's path will lead you; it is beyond what the eye can see.
the photo that I took for you is of a cheeky pigeon who was vying for my attention while I was trying taking a photo of something else. He was quite cute and playful and came very close so that I could take a photo - I think he liked having his picture taken because he stayed very still. He reminded me of you because I know that you like to have your picture taken too!
Miss Aimee Read
the picture that I took for you is of some flowers in the gardens at cornwall park. I picked it for you because although the flower is called a 'Bluebell' it looked very purple to me, and I know that purple is your favourite colour. I hope you like it!
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
(Sunday July 30th)
trial set up
Friday, September 01, 2006
Of all the spaces we have worshiped in it is by far my fave.
The roof leaks, its drafty and cold and has no insulation, the toilets are regularly without toilet paper; there is a mysterious leak in the kitchen; but it has that magical thing, that thing that money can't buy - a great vibe.
Maybe its because it is the first time we have been out on our own as a church community, maybe its because of the sense of connection/affinity we seemed to have from day one with some of the other groups who use the building - I really don't know. But it is there.
In the words of Reuben Dunn "We went looking for a building and we found a community". which is of course what being the church is all about.
Here are some photos from the journey so far:
First meeting (July 30th 2006)
EPR Gig (August 18th 2006)
Friday, August 25, 2006
Friday, July 28, 2006
Claustrophobia. I remember having this intense feeling, occasionally, growing up. At the bottom of a ruck in a schoolboy rugby game; the time my brother shut me in my wardrobe which only had a handle on the outside; once when some friends put me in the boot of their car as part of making a short film. It was feeling of being smothered, of not being able to escape, of being confronted with a situation outside of my ability to control. This very real feeling is what filmmaker Lodge Kerrigan evokes, slowly but surely, in his latest directorial effort, Keane... [read more]
The first documentary on my festival list this year was Black Gold. I must admit that this was one I put on my list more because I felt I should see it (being the great consumer of coffee that I am) than because I wanted to, or thought it would be a great film. Happily for me I was proved wrong... [read more]
The Method [NEW]Marcelo Piñeyro/USA/Italy/France/2005 Worlds of DifferenceA LOW BUDGET psychological thriller which explores the dark, competitive side of human nature, a la Lord of the Flies, Piñeyro’s film does not so much stir our thinking as it does raise our eyebrows. Seven executives apply for a high level job and are put through a bizarre interview process which turns into a ramped up ego-fest competition. The ‘survival of the cruellest’ concept in itself, though not new, is certainly rich enough to support any number of explorations, but Piñeyro fails to capitalise, producing a series of ill-conceived character interactions that are neither convincing, nor particularly poignant. It plays more like a Spanish soap opera.—JP
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Monday, July 17, 2006
It all started Wednesday morning when I managed to put a hole in my stockings and spill berocca on my white cotton shirt in the 10mins before I left the house for work. Maybe I should have seen the weirdness coming after that. But I don’t really believe in omens. So I simply brushed it off and got on with the day – just in a different outfit than the one I’d intended.
Thursday evening Jacob and I headed off to the TNZIFF official opening function, and the premiere screening of ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’, one of the centrepiece films for this year’s festival. The film, which explores the birth of the IRA, weaves a complex story centring on the relationship between two brothers. True to director Ken Loach’s signature style, there are no 2 dimensional straw-men in this story. There are no heroes or villains. There are only fragile human beings, desperately attempting to make the best possible choices in the worst of circumstances. It was certainly not an easy watch. But having seen a number of Loach films before, and knowing the subject matter, I expected this. However it was all apparently too much for me. Early in the film there is a torture scene. Now, as I have mentioned on numerous occasions, I’m a bit soft. So the moment a British soldier began waving a pair of pliers threateningly in the direction of a captured IRA soldier, I knew it was time to shut my eyes. Apparently this wasn’t enough.
After dry reaching a couple of times, I blacked out.
I can’t really explain the reaction. Maybe it was because I couldn’t escape the sound. No threatening music in the background, just the sound of the chair on the floor, the sound of the pliers, and the screaming. Loach has an unnerving ability to bring the action so close that you feel like you are actually in the room. It took me about 10mins with my head between my legs to properly regain my equilibrium. Nothing like that has ever happened to me while watching a film before, and I have to say the experience un-nerved me. I don’t even think it was the most difficult scene to watch in the film, nor do I think the level of violence was gratuitous. The story is after all based on events that have been historically verified by both sides of the equation. Perhaps that was what made it so difficult for me to stomach; the knowledge that this was not just a movie. Real people, not unlike you and me inflicted this level of violence on one another. Both believing that their ‘side’ was justified in behaving the way they did. And then came the Civil War, further blurring the lines between who was right and who was wrong, pitting brother against brother; literally in this story. It felt somewhat ironic to me that I was in the midst of preparing a sermon entitled; ‘Forgiveness is the New Revenge.’
I spent Friday feeling slightly dazed. I got home around ten past five, only to find that I didn’t have my house keys. Jacob was at a movie and the Ritchie’s were away on holiday, so I camped out on our patio in the cold and the quickly descending dark and attempted to work on my sermon without the aid of my computer, my notes, or any of the books I had been reading. Jacob got home around 6:30pm - just as I was beginning to lose feeling in my toes. I have never been so grateful to be inside and in front of a heater!
After guzzling a hastily made panang curry, I headed off to the going away party of a friend of mine. It was a while since I had seen her so it was great to catch up with her before she heads off to the thriving metropolis of Hamilton. But, after my weird week thus far, I was not in the best or most patient of moods, and I was feeling a tad unsociable, even for me. So finding myself in a room full of people I had never met, (there were literally only three people in the room whom I had ever met, two of them only in passing on a couple of occasions), was more than a little overwhelming. I tried to stick with polite niceties, but unfortunately some curious person asked me the inevitable question – “So what do you do?”
I hate being asked about my job. It’s hard to explain why. It is certainly not because I don’t like it, or because I’m embarrassed about it. But I feel reticent about talking about it to strangers, especially Christian strangers, largely because the moment I say the words “I’m a pastor” people see me differently. There are judgements and expectations that seem to come with the label and I’m not sure that that is entirely a good thing. It makes me uncomfortable. The conversation that followed on this particular occasion really only added to my frustrations:
“So what do you do?”
“I work a couple of days a week for my church, and 3 days a week as a medical receptionist in a physiotherapy clinic.”
“Wow, that’s cool. What do you do for your church?”
“I’m a pastor.”
“Really? What kind of pastor are you?”
(Huh? (Short moment of stunned silence) Ummm...hopefully a good one????) “What do you mean by that?”
“Are you the Youth Pastor, or the Children’s Pastor? Or the Worship Pastor?...”
“Ohh, (internal sigh of relief that question actually makes sense), I’m the Associate Pastor.”
“Really? So, is your husband the pastor?”
“Oh...so he's also an associate pastor?”
“Ah...no. My husband is a librarian.”
Stunned silence fills the room. One of the girls I have met before does a nice save:
“Oh that’s right; your husband works at the Philson Library at the Medical school...”
I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to having to answer to questions like these. It frustrates me on so many levels. I’d be willing to bet money that if I was a guy I wouldn’t get asked what kind of pastor I was, just where I was serving. I guess this is where my reticence comes from, at least in part.
When I decided to go back to University to study theology, I did so because I was responding to what I perceived as a call from God on my life to do so. When I made the decision to apply to become a licensed minister, I did so because I was continuing to respond to that call, with the support and encouragement of my friends, family and church community. And now almost 2 years later I find myself weighing up whether or not I take the next step and apply for ordination. On some level the decision feels like a done deal, though in others, I’m just not sure.
When I first began to consider the possibility that maybe God might possibly be calling me to ordained ministry, I approached that possibility with extreme caution. I’m not someone who makes decisions lightly. I gave the idea plenty of time to brew before I took any steps forward, and even when I did those steps were tentative. From the very beginning I was always adamant that while I was happy to explore and test out whether or not my particular call to ministry was real, I was not willing to justify my right to even have a call to ministry. That is not a battle I feel called to fight. And yet I often find myself in position where that decision feels compromised by the judgements and expectations of others.
On top of that, I hate the perception that I am somehow different from other people, more special even, because of what God has called me to. The way I see it, all of us have a call on our lives, none more special or important than any other, just different. Yes, God has called me to do this, but it doesn’t make me any more special than Jacob, who serves God in response to an equally strong call, but in a very different manner and context. I neither want nor need special robes, or a special chair. I’m still just me, Melissa: daughter, sister, friend, wife, lover, pastor. I still get grumpy and occasionally shout. I am still useless without at least one coffee in the morning. I still talk to inanimate objects and food while it’s cooking. And I still have a thing for white Asiatic lilies. I’m still just me. The only difference is that I have chosen to take a step in a particular direction because I believe it’s the way that God would have me go.
This has been a much longer post than I intended. But it’s been a weird week; a week of strange occurrences, frustrating conversations and a thoughtful malaise. And this post only covers half of it!
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Saturday, July 08, 2006
HT: to dissonant bible which led me to the link
Thursday, July 06, 2006
I guess it's a good thing he didn't post his review on the beaver trilogy there.
I enjoyed 5 x 2, despite feeling uncomfortable at times. Nothing has yet tipped three dollars from its 'the best film I have seen this year' pedestal, but the New Zealand International Film Festival is coming...and it is only July!
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
After the wedding practice on Friday evening, it occurred to Jacob and me that we were now free of commitments until 4:30pm on Saturday afternoon. Nice. We took the opportunity to take a walk round the boardwalk at Lake Okareka - also gorgeous. Thank-fully we did manage to remember to take the camera with us. Here are some of the better photos...
All in all it was a lovely weekend - although I have to say I am absolutely shattered (energy wise) and my brain is toast. I feel like I could sleep for several weeks and only just be back to normal. On Sunday morning I found myself struggling to answer simple questions with any clarity - a bit embarrassing really! But I have to say it was all worth it, especially to see the warm glow emanating from the bride and bride-groom to be, dancing to the Jazz Band at the Blue Baths on Saturday night. Definitely the most gorgeous of all the sights we saw over the course of the weekend.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
On Friday the 11th of June 2004 (two years ago today), Jacob and I stood together in the barrel room of Mills Reef Winery and Restaurant (Bethlehem, Tauranga), and in the presence of some of our good friends and family, we were married.
Today being Sunday, and being rather a busy day for us, we decided to celebrate our two years of marriage yesterday by doing some of the things we love most: we went to 'La Cigale' french style markets in Parnell, and had some traditional paella for lunch; went wine tasting at fine wines and brought a bottle of Craggy Range Block 14 Syrah; enjoyed coffee together at Brasil on K'Rd; watched 'the Breakfast Club' on DVD; went out to dinner at 'Delicious' in Grey Lynn. Yes, all of those things in one day!
It can feel a bit false to pick a particular day to commemorate your relationship (we ignore Valentines day for this very reason), but I honestly feel like the time we spent, and the things we chose to do together do say something about who we are, and our relationship to one another. These were not 'special' things that are out of the ordinary for us, but things we do together often. These are things we chose to do to celebrate, not our wedding day 2 years ago, but the relationship that we have now, today.
I will leave you with Jacob's words to me on this day, two years on...
Two years on.
Two, meshing, morphing, joining.
Two becoming one.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
On Saturday afternoon, I wanted to attend the workshop on Cross-Cultural Ministry, but I found myself distratcted by the beauty of the campsite, so I abandoned my plans, grabbed the camera and spent the last part of the afternoon attempting to capture the atmosphere on film instead.
These are a few of the images I took:
First course (a shitake mushroom soup served with creme fraiche)
Jean working her magic in the kitchen
Main Course (a shrimp curry served with rice flavoured with thyme and star anise)
If you want to see how her assessment went then click here to see the mouthwatering results!
It’s really nice to be able to go out and have your destination within 5 minutes walk of your house. It reminds me of neighbourhood BBQ’s from my childhood. Growing up we knew all our neighbours and most of the people who lived within 4-5 houses of our house. All the kids knew one another and played together (though not always amicably). If you ran out of sugar, you knew you could pop over to the Corks or the Bells, because they would be bound to have some. If it started raining and someone had washing out on the line, you’d go grab it off the line and leave it on their doorstep out of the rain. If you were going to do something naughty you knew that even if Mum didn’t see you that Mrs Cork, Mrs Bell, Mrs Sharp or Aunty Leonie were bound to catch you out. These days, most people don’t even know their neighbours first names, let alone know them well enough to have dinner with them on a regular basis.
I have to say I miss that sense of community. We have wonderful friends who would be here in a second if we called, but to know that you can run next door in a time of crisis, even a small one, leaves you feeling incredibly secure. So I’m loving the fact that we now find ourselves living in a situation where we have friends just across the hall, and just over the back fence.
We are also getting to know one of our new neighbours; Gordon. He came around this morning to tell me that his cat had been run over on the weekend (very sad :( ), and that the people from number 98 had put their rubbish bin outside his house, instead of putting it outside their own (very funny :) - though not apparently from Gordon’s perspective!). Oh well, as a wise philosopher once said...’neighbours should be there for one another...that’s when good neighbours become good friends’.
Anyway, the following posts will be some short snippets of life in the month that was May.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
The upside of this is that I had an opportunity to chew through my overfull inbox, and make some long overdue replies to emails from friends. In amongst the rubble I came across this rather entertaining Star Trek mash-up vid, definately the funniest I have seen in a while - 'tune in and prosper'.
(Cheers to Darren Bevan for the original link. )
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
"bear in mind that they are edited, a little, by him and that I was really over them by the time I finished late at night so didn’t proof them very thoroughly – as you know usually I would get someone else to have a look and then come back to them myself with a fresh eye a day after finishing the actual material.) Basically (as you will also be aware but I cannot stop myself from doing it!!) I am trying to give a justification for the fact they are a bit rough and I know it."
Monday, May 22, 2006
Ten Plagues Finger Puppets
(I found the link via dissonant bible)
'There is NO DOUBT about it. KIDS LOVE the story of the 10 Plagues... Here is just the right thing to keep your children interested in the Haggadah... and GUARANTEE they don't fall asleep... Our 10 Plagues Puppets.'
Hmmn yes, maybe if you never want your kids to sleep EVER AGAIN!
If only I had found these before we started our 'Mo'town' series, they could have come in handy, or not...
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Saturday, May 06, 2006
It is time to drink coffee. Dear God, we praise this drink and give thanks for its discovery and development. We salute the coffee bean; its delicious aroma. Beloved provider of caffeine and giver of life.
Giving and giving and giving.
The scent of its bean is promise and rapture.
Rejoice and rejoice! Celebrate the dark, sweet and yet slightly embittered soul of caffeinated goodness. Behold the delicious flavour! Behold the soft caramel crema that swirls through a sea of perfectly frothed milk. Let us rejoice! Let this rejoicing be our thanks for coffee.
(Shamelessly ‘adapted’ from Michael Leunig’s prayer for tomatoes in ‘A Common Prayer: a cartoonist talks to God’)
I think it’s fair to say that without coffee in the morning, I am, well, less than pleasant company. As evidenced by the rather icy reception Brett received Wednesday morning around 7am, when he ‘bounced’ into Canteen (a café on Enfield St in Auckland city) with a smile on his face. I didn’t feel the need to return the gesture. Needless to say, my coffee had not yet arrived. Despite that I did manage to crack a smile by the end of the conversation, though not without the revelation of particularly good news. In truth, it didn’t really sink in until around 8:30am, when I found myself feeling ecstatic. I guess the caffeine had actually started doing its job.
I love coffee.
My favorite morning ritual, is sitting in the study with Jacob before we leave for work, drinking our morning coffee, slowly waking up, and doing our scripture readings. Our morning coffee and readings has become a part of the fabric of our life. Drinking coffee together, enjoying the coffee and one another’s company; reading God’s word together, and wrestling with the hard bits, together; these are defining features of our relationship.
Recently though, the coffee has been leaving a slightly bitter taste.
Not in my mouth.
In my soul.
Every morning, as I inhale that first beautiful aroma of freshly perked coffee, drifting from the kitchen, across the hallway and into our room as I finish getting ready for work, I find myself pondering not just the wondrous creation that is the coffee bean, but the awful plight of so many of the people who work to harvest it.
It’s not the first time I have thought about this. Jacob and I have experimented with numerous varieties of coffee beans, including various certified fair trade and or organic blends. But until recently the verdict has always been ‘too awful’ or ‘too expensive’. The result has been that we have tried to stay faithful to smaller New Zealand suppliers (like Coffee Supreme, Café L’Affarré, Atomic and Allpress) who import green beans themselves. While this doesn’t guarantee that all the beans are strictly ‘fair trade’, it does mean that a much higher percentage (estimated 70%) of it is bought from co-operative growing ventures that guarantee a much better return for harvesters. (If you want some stats on this you can get a lot of info from the company websites – Jacob and I also have a couple of articles, one specifically on NZ coffee industry which I can send your way if you’re interested.) So having done a little research, we rested easier. We were at least contributing something positive to the coffee industry.
Then I read Hope’s post on Fair Trade Chocolate.
It got under my skin.
Was it really enough just to do ‘something’? Could we try harder? Should we try harder? Maybe if Hope was 19 I could have delivered my complicated moral arguments about why it was ok for us to keep consuming as we were. But the idea of trying to deliver them to a 9 year old seemed unconscionable. Not because she wasn’t capable of understanding it, but because deep down I knew that the fabric of my argument was just too thin. Hope would be too clever not to see through it.
So we did some more research. Well, Jacob did some more research. (Librarians are kind of good at the whole research thing!) Eventually, after much discussion we have decided that it was time to change supplier. So as of the end of next week the Powell’s will be serving nothing but Havana. 100% fair trade*, 100% non-inflated prices, 100% fabulous coffee.
(*Havana sell some beans/blends that are not certified ‘fair trade’. Fair Trade certification is not just a set of standards you have to meet; it is also something you have to pay for. Some growers in poorer countries can’t afford to pay for the right to label their products ‘certified organic’ or ‘certified fair trade’ even when they meet the agreed standards.)
I’m not sure why we didn’t think about going with Havana a long time ago. We have been long time fans of Fidel’s on Cuba St in Wellington. I would rate Fidel’s, who serve Havana coffee, as one the best coffee experiences to be had in NZ. But you don’t find many places that serve Havana here in Auckland, and the beans aren’t right there in front of you to buy off the shelf in the supermarket. However, you can buy it direct from the supplier; which is exactly what we are going to do. Freshly roasted coffee delivered on an overnight courier. It’ll probably be fresher than the beans we currently buy. Nice.
Supply and demand. We demand something better…for everyone, and, voilà – supply.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
As promised to those of you out of auckland/nz, here are some pics of the new powell-ritchie residence. The new place is considerably larger than the MacPherson St house. Our new landlord is fantastic and is currently building a second bathroom/laundry for us that will be finished in the next few weeks. nice.
The new house lacks quirky features (no fountain, no bar, no spa bath and no wardrobe toilet!) But it is light, spacious and airy.
You will also notice that the new study is the nemesis of the old study. There is no chance that this room will retain the nickname 'bagend'.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Today is day 5 in house number 15.
I have a love-hate relationship with moving. I hate packing. I hate that the packing never seems to end. I hate the black ink from the newspaper which inevitably ends up all over your hands, and gets smudged all over your nose and forehead. I hate that the packing never seems to end. I hate having to scrub every windowsill, skirting and wardrobe corner to ensure that the house you are leaving is 10 times cleaner than when you moved in. I hate that the packing and the cleaning never seem to end. I hate carrying boxes from the house to the car, from the car to the new house. I hate that the packing and the cleaning and the carrying never seem to end.
But I love opening the boxes.
It's strange I guess, but the newspaper annoys me less at the other end. Maybe because there is something about unpacking that is strangely reminiscent of Christmas and Birthdays. Even though the things you are unpacking are not new, there is a sense in which you rediscover them when you open them up at the other end. And then you get to decide where they are going to go. The old merges with the new. The end product is at once new and exciting, comforting and familiar.
I love how every object is connected to my life and memory. Our dinner set is not just a dinner set, it's the dinner set my brother gave me; the milk jug is not just a milk jug, it's the milk jug my friend got us as an engagement present; my desk is not just a very difficult piece of furniture to move, it is the desk that my friend's dad gave me, it's the desk I am sitting at right at this very moment. It is also my favourite piece of furniture because I have had it so long, and because when I sit here at this desk I feel somehow connected to all those houses I have lived in, all the people that I have lived with.
I feel grateful that my life has been graced with so many beautiful people.