Saturday, October 15, 2016

Reminding each other why it matters

I was messing about in youtube again the other day and discovered that Sara Groves eventually did post an official (pseudo) video to my favourite of her songs, Why it Matters, back in 2014. I first shared the lyrics of this one in 2007, then a youtube video someone put together in 2011, so I think it can come around again. It's basically a song telling us to remind each other of the gospel, so here is a five-year reminder.

I love it that she sings of our living, our thinking and creating, as our efforts of narrating about the beauty of The Beauty. (In another song she writes "this is grace, an invitation to be beautiful". That can be understood two ways I think - the grace of God washes away our sin and renders us beautiful in his eyes, through the work Jesus, but personally dispensing grace to others in our lives is also beautiful.)

Why It Matters 
by Sara Groves

Sit with me and tell me once again
Of the story that's been told us
Of the power that will hold us
Of the beauty, of the beauty
Why it matters

Speak to me until I understand
Why our thinking and creating
Why our efforts of narrating
About the beauty, of the beauty
Why it matters

Like a statue in the park
Of this war torn town
And it's protest of the darkness
And this chaos all around
With its beauty, how it matters
How it matters

Show me a love that never fails
Some compassion and attention
Midst confusion and dissension
Like small ramparts for the soul
How it matters

Like a single cup of water
How it matters

Sunday, October 09, 2016

On the therapeutic benefits and theological lessons of gardening

A photo posted by Alison Payne (@thisfoggyday) on

That is perhaps an overreaching blog post title. But Alistair recently shared this article from The Conversation on the therapeutic benefits of gardening, which I found fascinating – health, achievement, interpersonal skills, mental health, psychosocial functioning, existential purpose. You name it, gardening can benefit it.

For me gardening is also like having my own little sub-plot of a fallen world, as well as a living metaphor for sin. I can plant my plants or sow my seeds (I’ve tried growing some things from seed), and apply the water, but there are so many things beyond my control – the bug that got under the frost cloth and had a merry feast on my gardenia over winter, the fungus or mould that destroyed the silver falls, whatever it is that slowly killed the miniature roses (I think they got too wet and there was too much late coldness). Though, generally speaking, if you follow the instructions, things turn out well. It’s what the instructions are for. But then there’s the weeds! Oh, the weeds. They are very much like sin. Chickweed IS sin. Comes us everywhere. And you can’t possibly get all the tiny seedlings so you just aim for the big bits. But CS Lewis and Tim Keller and John Piper would be proud of me. To displace the chickweed, I am planting native groundcover flowers. Plants whose telos it is to be here. Plants that are the true meaning and purpose of gardens in Canberra. Leaving bare soil in a garden is like leaving your head empty for the devil to dance in. What is needed is that the soil is filled up with good and proper things. So I am ousting the weeds with native groundcovers. No more making mud pies, what I truly want is beds of flowers (and a holiday at the sea)!

Native plants also tend to thrive and have more to offer to local wildlife. They do better at serving and encouraging the good creatures around them. Make of that what you will.

(And since the miniature roses gave up the ghost I am replacing those with native everlasting daisies too. My natural resources degree has kicked in my environmental righteousness. Plus, while I particularly loved that yellow rose – I am sad about that one – roses in pots look like nothing in pots for months of the year, so I want less deciduous things.)

Saturday, October 01, 2016

How Great Thou Art - for gypsy hipsters

I really should write a thing, but for today here is a song. How Great Thou Art has always been a favourite, and I was humming away the other day so went looking for a good youtube. I started this one and thought, nope, that is not my sort of manly voice, but I let it run to the chorus and it got better. I love what the cello and double bass are doing (and the Gilbert-Blythe-esque cello player). The video is a little contrived, in a let’s-dress-up-like-peasant-hipsters-and-frolic-in-the-woods sort of way, but I kinda like it all the same (the irony is that they've left the 'When through the woods and forest glades I wander' verse out). If I get run over by a bus, you all have to sing this at my funeral – just so you know.

(I actually grew up singing the 'O Mighty God' version, which is quite different. It's another one of those hymns with many puzzling variations.)