We cannot run a marathon unless
we take that first step.

There is a world out there
that needs change,
needs hope, and needs

Nothing will bring about these things
unless we decide
to be the change,
the hope and

the love
in this world.

Church is not about buildings or
rules, laws and regulations;

it's not even about vocation

or sacrament.
The Church is the people

who follow Christ.


What does
that mean, to be
Is it about
practise or education? Is it about


Is it about morals or ethics or principles?
Is it even about devotion?

What if it wasn't about any of these things?

What if it was about something entirely different?

What if it was all about


A relationship with God.

To relate to God and

with God.

A God whose heart is for the broken

and the dying, the poor and the neglected.
Not only that, but whose heart is also for

the CEO and the spoilt child,

for the comfortable and

for the passive.

For those who are too good and those who
never will be.

Relating to a God like that might change lives.

It might change the world.

But change
requires sacrifice.

Love necessitates
a price. And to change

the world would take
a great price.
It would take suffering.

It would take

a cross.

"You are the salt of the earth."

Matthew 5:13

Every second

Push. Push! Now breathe slowly, just breathe. Another one gone, so close. She says soon. Man, I hope so. It's so warm in here, how long has it been now? I really need a drink. Ice, lovely. I suppose it'll have to do. Thanks dear. Look at him, he has no idea what to do with himself. So clueless. It's cute. He still acts like a little boy sometimes. I love that about him. Yeah, yeah, hold my thighs, I know, I know. You don't have to tell me a - Oh! I'm pushing, I'm pushing! I can't give anymore lady! AH! Oh God... Oh God... It's... It's a girl!

Oh man she's holding my hand! Score! What do I do now? Ok, ok this is good. This is great! Right, act casual. Maintain eye contact. Wait, how's my breath? What did I eat last? I think it was pizza... I should really learn to never eat at parties. Ok focus! She's smiling. Slide the hand around the waist.... like that. Hozaa! She stopped. Is this is it? Is this the sign? Oh man, just go for it. She's leaning! Slowly... slowly... and... bingo.

I can't believe we ran out of milk; cereal without milk isn't cereal. Well, technically it is but that's not the point. It gets all mushy inside your mouth and dry and then you have to drink something or - wow. Is that what I think it is? Oh! It is! Mcdaddy fries and a llama what do I do now? Should I open it? Of course I open it, what else am I supposed to do, name it and take it for walks in the morning? Ok stop being silly. Argh! These envelopes never open easily. They always tear. Geez I'm nervous. Are my hands shaking? I think so. Ok just go for it. The board of... bla bla.... which one of these are they on? Maybe the- Oh! I passed!

The food tonight hasn't been as good as usual. Did they change chefs or something? The menu's still the same. What's eating him up? He's been distracted all evening. Smile a bit silly. There we go. To be honest I can't wait to get out of here. I just want to go home, change into my jammies and curl up on the couch with a good DVD or something. I know I promised him we'd go out but maybe he'll be open to it. You never know. It's great night outside though, he'll use that. Oh crap! This dress is new! I'm such a clutz sometimes! *sigh* Hun can you get me another napkin? Hun? Why is he kneeling? Oh my.

Do these machines always have to make so much noise? I don't get it. But heck there's a lot I don't get. Like the custard they serve for lunch, why does the woman always ask me which one I want when she knows they've only got one flavour in stock? And they say I'm the senile one. Sheesh. I never eat the thing anyway. They should serve something nice once in a while. Like apple pie. Hang on, hospital apple pie. Ha! I'd like to see that! Or maybe not. Susie made a killer apple pie. Always was a whiz in the kitchen, that woman. Gosh I miss her. One day, one day. I'll have to make do with my dreams for now dear. My dreams... I should get some sleep. I'm awfully tired.

The Three Loves

Love isn't something easy to define. It's abstract, vague, enigmatic. The closest attempt at a definition I've ever heard is "Love is the voluntary renunciation of rights". If you looked it up in the dictionary you'll probably find a lot of definitions that have to do with the things people associate love with - feelings, emotions, hope, security, happiness. Love does have a lot to do with these things, but it doesn't begin with them. You can't say that love is a feeling as much as you can't say that chocolate ice-cream is a chocolate, even though chocolate is precisely what you taste, what you experience. All these things are facets and products of genuine love, but they aren't the thing itself. They're not the root. So what is? The answer is choice. We love someone or something because we choose to. We choose to give them more importance, more time, and priority in our lives. Often we'll find ourselves putting them - voluntarily - before our own interests. Because we love them. The willingness to let go of what we're entitled to. That's where it all begins. But certainly, this isn't something that comes naturally to all people. Most people struggle with love; none of us can claim to do it perfectly. It's something that has to be learned through experience. But how do we learn to love? To love well?

One The love of God

The alpha and the omega - where it all starts and ends. God is the author, perfecter and embodiment of love. It's because we're made in His likeness that we're even able to love and it's through experiencing Him, directly or indirectly, that we learn how to love. God is the easiest thing to love and, paradoxically, the easiest thing to hate. God is perfect and infinite, always good, always right, always forgiving, always hoping. It's not hard to see how His qualities always win our hearts over. These same qualities can infuriate us - experiencing the infinite will always point out the limitations and shortcomings of the finite. We'll never be as good as He is. He'll never lose an argument. And, most frustrating of all, it is never His fault. But to know this and take it against God is to relinquish everything you have been given so freely in pursuit of a feeble pride. To say no to the one person who is best equipped and ever available to help us. If we let go and return, just making one step, opening the door a crack, we'd find His love isn't based on our acceptance or our ability.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Luke 15:20

Loving God is so easy to do because He chose to love us first. He created us. He disciplined us. He forgave us. And He saved us from ourselves. All because He loves us. And no matter what we will ever do, He will always love us. Realising this, and experiencing it, can bear only one inevitable outcome. To love Him back.

Two The love of Others

You might not have noticed, but we live in a world filled with other people. What a shame. People that take the last seat on the bus. People that cut us off in the queue. People that smell. Interacting with other people is a necessity of living. Loving them is not. It is perfectly feasible to live ones life not caring for anyone beyond their ability to give us something we want. This thing could be a home, a job, company, a discount at the supermarket, even emotional attachment. If in all these things our focus is only on ourselves, what we're getting or experiencing, then based on our definition love hasn't entered the picture. And the scary part is that, because of our fallen nature, prioritising our own interests is what we're programmed to do. And we all do it. A lot.

But the first love will also inevitably lead us to the second. Slowly we begin to see aspects of God in His creatures. Think about it this way, God is good and the source of all goodness, so every time you see someone say or do something good you are seeing a part of who God is. You are seeing God in them. Think of your favourite hero speech from a film you've seen. That feeling of righteousness, of truth, of defiance in the face of evil, that's of God. And it's incredibly attractive. It feels right. This makes moving from loving God in Himself to loving Him in others flow easily. But there is a step beyond this - to love someone else for themselves, just as loving God in Himself. This isn't as easy as the first love, because unlike God, they're not perfect. They're going to make mistakes. They're going to mess up. And often they're not going to deserve it. To move past this is in no case easy but to do so is to achieve something truly beautiful - to love as God loves us. To make sacrifices and go out of one's way for another person just because they are, is to mirror the Creator and the Saviour. To take joy in them. To be interested in them. To look at what they do and take as much pleasure in it as if you had done it yourself. And to do this because it has been done to you.

Three The love of Self

You'll notice that loving yourself is the third step in the cycle. Which is odd as society deems that this is where it starts. Everything around us tells us to please ourselves, to make ourselves happy, to treat ourselves with some fancy shower gel. And loving ourselves is important, but we have to put it in context, so to speak.

The third love is not really about making ourselves happy or treating ourselves. Not that it's wrong once in a while, it's just not the point. Loving God and loving others, being led to a state of mind which always looks to put others before yourself can make self-love seem like a dirty concept. But think about it more in the sense of accepting yourself. Ah. To be other-minded is something divine, but if not coming from the right heart it can also be a form of escapism. Because when you're always thinking and working for others then you never have to come around to facing who you are. And for a society which promotes loving ourselves, there's a good number of us who find it hard to come to terms with who we are. To accept the way we look. The way we speak. The way we're not quite as good at football. The way we're too tall or too short. The way that in some form, we're just not good enough. And the hard part is that it's probably true.

But loving ourselves is just as important as loving God and loving others. It completes the circle and can only really be done once we've been through the other two. It is the second reversed. To look at ourselves, just as we are, with the eyes of the Father. To know that we are loved even though we are not worthy of it. To know that we're accepted. Just as we are. So then how can we judge ourselves? Who are we to say we're not good enough? Who are we to reject ourselves? Once we learn this love, possibly the hardest of the three, the cycle moves more easily. We learn to accept others' faults more easily once we've learned to accept our own. And we learn to love the Creator more when we really love the creation. To look at what you've done and take as much joy in it as if someone else had done it, that is the third.

Looking for that "thing"

This week I watched the film Kick Ass. My opinion of the film generally coincides with what other people told me they thought of it - that it doesn't take itself seriously. The plot wasn't terribly ingenuous and not that much goes on. The most likeable aspect of the movie are the characters. Except for Big Daddy's voice. I think his constant exclamation of "Oh child!" a little, well, 'the call is coming from inside the house'. You get me.

One thing did remain with me after the film finished, it was something the protagonist, Dave, said:

"Not saying there was anything wrong with me. Just that you'd have a hard time finding a hook. I mean, I wasn't into sport... I wasn't a mathlete... or a hard-core gamer... I didn't have a piercing, or an eating disorder, or a thousand friends on Myspace. I wasn't funny. Like most people my age, I just existed."

Going through the teen years can be a pretty gruelling experience. Setting aside all the havoc hormones are wreaking on the body and the pressures of trying to succeed academically in an ever increasingly competitive world, there's the social scene to consider. It's a pretty well established fact that people like categories. Once you start to be able to form an opinion on something you're labelled into the cohort who's beliefs are akin to yours. I remember when I was in my teens most of this labelling was associated with music. You had the rappers, the party people, the skaters, the rockers, the technophiles, the punks, the popular people. The list seems endless. And you couldn't escape one label or another, somehow you were always fitted into some form of group. Even if you deliberately tried not to, a group would be made out of the people trying not to fit into a group. And the world keeps on turning.

The University years dissolve this social herding and brings forth the era of individualism. Studying an area that you specifically chose for yourself and being amongst a large student body in an environment that encourages you to mingle, meet new people and get involved in whatever floats your boat can do wonders for your development. Now the tough questions begin: what do I care about? What do I want to work towards? Can I achieve everything I'm setting out to achieve? I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the environment and opportunities today - even on this tiny rock of an island - give ample chance for everyone to succeed in what they set out to do. But then, what if you're not so sure about that?

Some people are born knowing that they want to be doctors, pilots, teachers, forensic anthropologists, but some people aren't quite so sure about their calling. Many have very evident passions and talents - captain of the football team, the aspiring dramatist, the talented pianist. But then a lot of people are middle ground. Average. Run-of-the-mill. Not really bad at things but then not quite having a field of expertise. Liking different areas but without any sense of a true calling. The drifters. The doubters. The people who just seem to exist. And this can be the cause of a lot of distress. Because no matter how non-chalante one can appear to be about the subject, everyone desires to have their own "thing" - that one field where they're the resident consultant. The one passion for which they will work and strive towards.

I think most people eventually find out what it is they feel their "thing" is. For some maybe it lies in family - certainly these days being a good Mom or Dad is certainly no easy thing. Or perhaps it's being a good friend to those who need an ear or a shoulder. There are no easy answers to such insightful questions, certainly none that I can attempt to give. There have been endless stories, poems and songs written about the human desire to discover its purpose in life. In the end, we're all trying to find our place in a very big world. I don't think we're made for one single thing, one mission. We're a little more varied than that. We're like pen-knives. We're multi-purpose. And to make it more complicated, we change with time. The saw gets replaced with a spoon, the can-opener with a corkscrew. We have no directive. No instructions. In the end, we're just here. We just exist. We're what we are. Us.

And you know, I think there's a purpose behind that.

Picking it up

My apologies for not blogging last week. I really wanted to, but I've been swamped with trying to study for an A level in a week, which really is much less fun than I thought it would be. There'll be a post later this week.

In the meantime, take a look at this shiny thing right here!