A Day At The Beach

A family of five were enjoying a day at the beach. The children were swimming and building sandcastles.

In the distance a little old lady appeared. Her grey hair was blowing in the wind and her clothes were dirty and ragged. She was muttering something to herself as she picked things up from the beach and put them into her bag.

The parents called the children together and told them to stay away from the old lady.

As she passed by, bending down every now and then to pick things up, she smiled at the family. But her smile wasn’t returned.

Many weeks later they learnt that the old lady had made it her lifelong crusade to pick up bits of glass off the beach so children wouldn’t cut their feet.

Jesus said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

The story is from A. De Mello Prayer of the Frog p.169


Walking The Imagination

There I was in Disney's world waiting for the darlings to finish a ride before dashing to the next one. I was licking an overpriced icecream and watching the world go by.

A 70 year old man came by, stopped, and asked me for directions. We chatted for a while. Long enough for me to learn that he was here by himself. He wasn't escorting grandchildren about. He was here for himself.

Now I know there are men who frequent children's play areas for evil reasons. Yet I would like to think that he wasn't so motivated. Rather I would like to think, as our conversation indicated, that he wanted a day off boules, wine, and adult talk. He wanted to give his imagination a day out.

I wonder if I will be courageous enough at 70 to go to a children's theme park or to the zoo when I tire of being a grownup. "Goodbye bills, housework, and normality, see ya later - I'm off to walk the imagination."


What's Happened to Disneyland?

Disneyland, Paris. America transplanted into Europe. It is a children’s wonderland with no leaf out of place, no discarded cigarette butts, no flaking paint, and no beggars at the gate.

Beggars at gates are quite common in Paris. The supermarket, next door to where I was staying, had a regular beggar, as do a lot of shops. I always tried to put something into her paper cup.

Disneyland is a fantasy world that is only for those who can afford NZ$700 per day [that was the entrance fee for my family!]

Yet I had expected this sanitized, expensive view of reality. What I had not expected was the lack of imagination.

Somewhere, at some time, creativity stalled. The Disneyland I visited 30 years was imaginatively similar to the Disneyland of today. Nothing very much has changed in three decades. Sure, there were a few more rides that went a little faster [sometimes a lot faster!] and there were the gimmicks from the latest Disney movies. However there was little in the way of cutting edge creativity and exploratory use of the imagination. One would have thought, for example, that after three decades they could put us in gravity-less bubbles and propel us into space?

What has happened? In these days when cinematically we can create just about anything, why isn’t it happening at the most renowned children’s playground in the world?


Bring An Egg

Hi everyone,

It’s good to be back in Aotearoa.

Here’s an interesting story I heard in Paris:

There are a few black African tribes that settle conflict with the symbol of an egg. When the conflict has lasted long enough for there to be significant damage to individuals and the community, the feuding parties are invited to come to a meeting holding an egg. The eggs are put together to form a nest. The idea is that the nest [community well-being] needs to be mended. The conflict has escalated to such a degree that children aren’t being feed and the market place isn’t working.

The eggs also represent fragility – they need to be carefully handled, just like people. And they represent, like other fertility symbols, the possibility of new hope - that a desire for the good of all might triumph over damaged egos and vested interests.

Maybe all the bishops could bring an egg to Lambeth in 2008?