Today is what I call ‘the perfect Melbourne day’. Two degrees as I wake. The dawn light shows opal clear sky, earth damp with rain and the flowers in pots at my back door showing no frost damage at all.
Everything feels leisurely. A slow breakfast with friends around my kitchen table: coffee, toast and home-made raspberry jam. And laughter. Warm inside. The temperature outside is creeping towards eight degrees and the sun full out.
I want to prune the roses. I am doing it slowly and thoughtfully, stepping back to check the progress, stopping to talk with passers by, thinking of the shape of bare branches that will hold new growth,. Then thinking about my new blog. Picturing it on the page. Not a big issue. Day to day life can be many small things filed behind ‘life’. Like today. Small satisfying things.
Three words I have heard lately stay with me. Slower. Deeper. Wiser.
I remember, as I clear the earth around a freshly-sheered rosebush, an experience from Cambodia. I was in a village among people who had only recently encountered foreigners with their alien ideas like western democracy. With a group of families there I shared the one main meal. Then, in the hot sun of noon, the old people rested as was the usual practice, in hammocks strung between the poles under the shade of their home. I was invited to join them; in my fifties I didn’t feel old but was glad to be out of the sun. There followed a conversation I will never forget.
’Don’t you have human rights in Australia?’ ‘Why do you say that?’ ‘You are so old and you are still working’. I know the life expectancy here is 57 so I don’t argue. ‘What am I supposed to do?’ ‘Rock in the hammock and speak wisdom’ ‘What if I can’t think of any wisdom?’ ‘Just keep rocking’.
Slower. Deeper. Wiser. If only I could do it. If on this clear cold day I can hold my worry about the fire in Wat Kundung, and about the work of tomorrow, and about the friend who is in hospital far away … still relish the laughter and peace of this day.
Bishop Tutu once wrote to me personally; I had written to invite him to a landmine conference CPR was organizing.
I will type into this blog the words that he wrote, then I will ‘keep rocking’.
I pray that we may help to make the world more hospitable to life, to laughter, to joy, to peace, to prosperity, to caring, to sharing, to children, to people, to trees and grass and stars, to beauty and goodness and compassion, to justice and equity.Bishop Tutu circa 1995