Reporting on Wild Goose East 2012

Tom & I at the Mustard Seed/Overflow booth at Wild Goose

Tom & I at the Mustard Seed/Overflow booth at Wild Goose

Tom and I are back home after several wonderful days at the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina. It was hot, humid and dusty but in spite of that we had a wonderful time. Tom was in fine form talking about intentional community and moving beyond the Western dream and I had fun speaking on reimagining how we pray.

Tom was in fine form

Tom was in fine form

More than anything we enjoyed meeting old friends and making new ones. Had lots of good discussions, shared lots about the Mustard Seed Village and Cascadia and just thoroughly enjoyed a relaxed but provokative festival.

Together with fellow Australian Dave Andrews

Together with fellow Australian Dave Andrews

I also loved the grievance wall and the opportunity for people to share their frustrations with life & faith

Grievance wall Wild Goose festival

Grievance wall Wild Goose festival

What I didn’t enjoy – having to check for ticks every day and came home covered in itchy bites.

Uninvited guests

Uninvited guests

You can check out my complete festival album on facebook. enjoy

Still to come for the summer – Creative World Festival in Mission B.C. and Wild Goose West 

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Umbrella Cockatoo Dances to ACDC

Tom and I are sitting in the Los Angeles airport waiting for our connecting flight to Seattle and after 14 hours on the trip from Sydney I need to do something mindless to keep me awake. When I have been back to Australia people always ask me What do you miss most? Apart from my family it is always the birds that I most enjoy coming back to. Here are some photos that I took around my mother’s house over the last couple of weeks that i thought you might enjoy – and don’t miss the video at the end – great for a good laugh.

Rainbow lorrikeet on Camelias

Rainbow lorrikeet on Camelias

Rainbow lorikeets are definitely my favourite.

Kookaburra sits on an old gum tree (or anything else)

Kookaburra sits on an old gum tree (or anything else)

kookaburras always make me feel that I am home even when they wake us up at 4 am.

Cockatoos always the most destructive

Cockatoos always the most destructive

Cockatoos stripped the orange tree of fruit while we were there – they can strip paint from a house too. However here is a lighter side of their nature – they love to sing and dance.

Lighten Up – Laughter is the Best Medicine.

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting to Ricci Kilmer, about how much we miss her daughter Catie at our Mustard Seed staff and retreat times. I remember her telling us once that we needed more fun in our meetings. Not surprisingly, she was often the one who came up with ideas of fun things for us to do together.

At one of our MSA retreats she made us all into chocolate tasters. We were each given a small piece of chocolate to savour. We each closed our eyes, and sat with the chocolate on the palm of our hand,breathing in the richness of its aroma. Then we got to taste it, noticing its texture, the way it tasted on our tongues and stirred our senses. With much laughter and hilarity we shared our thoughts. Then we opened our eyes and with relish licked the now molten chocolate from fingers.

savouring chocolate

The wonder of chocolate

I couldn’t help but think of this as I read the invitation to participate in this month’s synchroblog

One thing feels clear about the faith blogging world–we can be kind of serious most of the time.  Serious about beliefs, theology, and hard conversations about the intersection of life and faith.  It is serious stuff we’re talking about, but sometimes what gets missed in all of the intensity is joy & laughter & lightness.  It’s probably a good idea to learn how to not take ourselves quite so seriously.  The May 2012 Synchroblog is centered on the idea of what it might mean to lighten up a little–personally, spiritually, professionally, or in any area of our lives.   You can write about why that’s easy or hard for you, share something funny or humorous, or any other angle that feels easy and right (remember, part of this is about lightening up!)

Its true, I often think that most of us take our faith too seriously. How often after all do we imagine Jesus laughing or God enjoying a good joke. Yet I think that God is full of laughter and humour. It bubbles up in the wonder of creation – who else could create a dog like the Komondor.

Or animals that act like these

Or give us the imagination to do things like this first wedding dance video

Imagination, creativity, the very act of laughter itself show that God is a fun loving God. And it does even seem to improve our health as this articlesuggest. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise us therefore to discover that lot of God’s creativity can make us smile and feel happy.  Even compost gives you a high. The earthy smell of good rich composted soil, or even of compost straight from your pile produces bacteria that increase the serotonin in your brain and make you feel happy. As Pagan Kennedy says in her article How To Get High on Soil, 

Scientists call it “geosmin,” this dirt smell that lends the earthy taste to beets and carrots. It’s the flavor of life. Read the entire article

No wonder God’s first action after creation was to plant a garden and no wonder he calls us to steward creation. He knows that we are happiest when we have our hands (or our noses) in the dirt. Now that seems like something to really laugh about.

Learning to lighten up for me would mean taking time to enjoy the humour of life more. It would mean taking more time for fun and laughter. Working on this post today has definitely made me realize that this is something I need to do.

Here is the complete list of posts

Chocolate Anyone?

On Monday (Valentine’s Day) we toured Theos chocolate – a must visit for anyone in the Seattle area particularly if you are a chocoholic.  They actually let you sample as much chocolate as you like.  I had no idea that the making of chocolate is such a complicated process.  It makes me wonder how anyone ever thought of it.  It also made me think of the incredibly complex nature of God – when you taste a cacao bean it tastes nothing like the finished product.  It is bitter and unpalatable (often the way many people think of God) but as chocolate it become a rich, delicious substance that we all crave because, guess what, it is good for our hearts and it makes us feel loved.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Thanks Chris and Naomi Lawrence for making me aware of this:

Volkswagen has started this new program called “the fun theory” where they explore new ways to get people to do things which are good for them or good for the environment. For example, it is noted that more people opt to take escalators than stairs even though stairs are much more healthy. So in Sweden, a team was hired to transform a staircase (next to an escalator) into a piano so that when people took a step, a note was triggered that would make a sound. The result was astounding. By making it fun, a ton more people took the stairs versus the escalator.

What Do We Do When Creativity Dries Up?

This week I have written a series of posts on imagination and creativity and had planned to write more this morning… but my creativity has dried up.  I am sitting in front of my computer screen trying to get my brain into gear and it just isn’t working.  Maybe it is the fact that I am looking out at what may be the last kiss of summer weather here in Seattle.  Maybe it is because I am trying to juggle too much.  Or maybe it is just that I am tired.

This photo is of dried out seaweed on the seashore. As I reflected on it this morning, it occurred to me that even here there is creativity.  Even when we feel dried out and our brains don’t seem to be functioning, God is still at work within us, creating from the dried our bones of our being something new and exciting.

So what do you do when your creativity runs out?  Don’t panic, relax and enjoy is my suggestion.  For me having fun is the most important thing at times like this.  Today I plan to get out and enjoy the garden one more time, go for a walk, get a rest and give my brain time to refocus.  I also plan to spend time reading and meditating on the scriptures.  All of these are therapeutic for me.  What I hope I can avoid doing is thinking about all the projects that I need to finish.

What renews my creativity may be very different from what renews yours.  The important thing is to know when we have reached our limits and not try to push ourselves beyond them.  One thing is certain – none of us can force creativity.  That is why an author’s freshness usually fades after the second or third in a novel series and why the third or forth movie sequel usually fades into oblivion.

So what keeps you on the creative edge personally?  How do you renew your creativity when it runs dry?  And what advice would you give to others who are trying to be innovative and imaginative?

Looking For Friends at Greenbelt and CCDA

Autumn is coming and Tom and I are on the move again – ratcheting up those water consumptive miles. So we want to make sure that every mile counts by getting together with friends at our various destinations

First a message from Tom for Greenbelt attendees… Tom Sine is looking for someone to have lunch with him at GB.  He knows he has friends who will be attending but at this ripe time in life he can’t remember who they are.  If you know Tom or would just like to help him with flagging memory join him for lunch near the speaker’s podium at the Grandstand on Saturday 28th at 1pm.  BYOB…bag lunch that is.  Or if you would like to get together at another time and make sure he doesn’t lost on the way to lunch let us know

Eliacin Rosario Cruz will also be at Greenbelt so if you are interested in connecting to him as well please let him know.

Second – Tom & I will both be at CCDA in Chicago September 7th – 11th. Again we would love to get together for fellowship, food and fun with some of our friends.  So if you are going to be at CCDA and would like to get together please let me know.  This is one of our favourite events of the year and we would highly recommend it to all of you.

Third – Tom & I will be back in the UK at the end of October. If you are interested in getting together or in hosting an event at that time please contact us.