Wide the grass plains
Fans dance invisible
Racing their backs
“In a spiral galaxy, the ratio of dark-to-light matter is about a factor of ten. That’s probably a good number for the ratio of our ignorance-to-knowledge. We’re out of kindergarten, but only in about third grade.”
In questioning existence
It’s purpose and
Our place in the universe
The disprover looks for evidence from the Galaxy.
No matter how extraordinary the measurements
Such as the size of the sun and it’s distance from the earth
The ratio of dark to light matter
The number of atoms in each molecule of carbon
The countless number of solar systems
The disprovers find no evidence of purpose or cause.
I wonder if they
might be looking
In the wrong place!
My father lay dying. It was 5am in the morning. I leant down and kissed his forehead. I love you dad, I whispered not sure if he registered. I walked over to my mother who had been standing a little away from his bed and held her in my arms for a good while. The taxi would arrive any minute. The plane back to Brisbane departing at 6 am. Whatever happens you’ve done your best mom, I told her. I could see she wasn’t convinced. She had loved this man for over sixty years. A dutiful devoted wife. He is my life she told me. With that I kissed her on the cheek and left her tending to her waning paramour. My mother had nursed him for almost 5 weeks single-handed and as his health declined over that time so had hers. She looked tired and frail. She was afraid.
Before leaving I had counselled her to call for medical assistance. Because of her faith she had not yet done so. Ultimately it was her call as Dad was by now incoherent. As much as I disagreed with her position I respected it was her decision.
Returning to Brisbane that afternoon, I received a phone call from a family friend. He informed me that my mother had finally conceded she was no longer able to care for my father at home by herself. She also conceded that it was time to seek medical assistance. She had called a doctor to the house and he had acted immediately calling an ambulance, which rushed my father to hospital. My friend told me the doctor took one look at him and said; call an ambulance.
Five weeks earlier it turned out, he had experienced kidney failure and that had been the main reason for his demise. He was saved at the last minute by miraculous medical intervention and ultimately recovered in hospital, albeit with some complications. For a man in his mid eighties he did very well and as I heard, gave the nurses plenty of cheek whenever he got the chance.
Why did my mother and father take so long to call for medical assistance? The reason is that they are practicing Christian Scientists. Part of their faith is that they use the power of prayer for healing. They do not believe in medicine.
Please know that I am not going to get into any derisive commentary about their faith or the way they practice it. I am also not going to attempt to fully explain their convictions or the current practices of this religion. What I do want to discuss is the paradigm of what I perceive to be: a closed mind or a fixed belief causing harm. As you can imagine there has been a lot of soul searching in my family around all this. You can probably imagine the conversations. The polarity occurring between the belief at one end and the non-belief at the other. So much so that for some including my mother there is extreme guilt for calling in medical assistance. At the other end there is extreme anger for her not doing so. Another polarity is that once medical assistance has been called then all prayer through Christian Science must cease. One excludes the other. I do not understand this and I have to ask, why?
What I do understand is that our thoughts are a powerful source of energy. In a sense, we are what we think. Thoughts can change the world. One has only to attend an Anthony Robbins seminar, listen to Esther Hicks or read the ideas supporting Quantum Physics to appreciate this. One has only to practice it oneself to realise it. I do understand the reasoning behind attending to good thoughts, to working to keep positive attention and in the case of Christian Scientists to read the bible and the Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker-Eddy to affirm and deepen scriptural knowledge.
What I don’t understand is why a practice or faith has to become non-inclusive of other practices or faiths. Especially when in the case of Christian Science, holding exclusively to a belief, clearly had detrimental consequences.
It is certainly a human trait to lock into mindsets and beliefs, which is most likely an attempt to create security in what is perceived as a world of insecurity where anything can happen and usually does. Somehow it seems that we believe that our fixed beliefs will keep us safe. How often does it happen that we hold a fixed idea about something only to have it wrenched from us at the point of crisis? Why wait for crisis?
Some would say this is an ego state that attaches to fixed beliefs in the vain hope crisis will be averted through the enforcement of certainty and control. Controlling beliefs.
To the fixed state it appears that even when the flow of life is interrupted the indication that something is calling for our attention is not regarded as a signal for inquiry or change.
If a more open state of mind is developed to foster sensitivity to the interruption of ‘flow’, might it be possible to also keep ideas about life in a more fluid state? Perhaps it might be possible to move from controlling beliefs to ‘operating beliefs’? Beliefs that represent our values and yet are sensitive to change, to new dynamics, to interruption.
This is not to imply that we should dissolve all morals and ethics, rather, to see that when disorder and disease arise it most likely is a sure-fire sign that something needs our attention.
What I want to say to Christian Scientists is that—is it not possible for a faith that was born around 200 years ago to evolve? Is it not possible that the practice of Christian Science and medicine, be it eastern or western, can become mutually inclusive? Of course there needs to be respect and consideration for different needs. However what I have always experienced as a young man growing up around Christian Science is that medicine and matters to do with the material world became a source of fear. Not to be talked about. Not to be discussed. In my experience the very act of wanting to talk about or discuss this conundrum was shunned. Avoidance won the day.
I realise I am not going to resolve all the issues around dogma and fixed beliefs in one short reflection. I do want to share my experience around this and trust my family will respect the discussion. What ever happens from here I do know this: there has to be a basis of mutual respect and love when dealing with different faiths and beliefs. If my parents had decided not to call for medical help and my father had passed away I would have been very sad of course but ultimately would respect this as, their way. I do not agree with it and would urge anyone in this situation to encourage an alternate course of action.
In my heart I see that it is not about faith-to-faith or intra-faith exclusion, where one practice cannot work with another. I see that the flow of life is inclusive and inter-connected. Perhaps we will all know this one day soon enough. Perhaps even this last statement might constitute an ‘operating belief’.
MChallis © 2015
When attempting to recall what has passed,
or working to see what lies ahead,
our memories and predictions
will take us only so far.
Inevitably, to see all that was and all that could be,
we must humbly and boldly return
to images born,
through the gift of imagination.
Neither this nor that
A perfect in-between
The compression of a universe
Into one indivisible point
An expansion of a universe
into all points
A noun for oneness
Great heart lives
In the sea of dreams, where
The gentle soul knows
The wonder and power
Of even the smallest ripple, and to
Touch just one
With love’s caress
Is testament profound
To a life well lived.
They have a ball here,
the rainbow lorikeets, the pink galah, the dove.
Along and up and down
the ridge line of this hill
like an airway
a real high-way upon which they fly;
the joyful chattering squawks and squits
of sheer intent,
quickly to the next excitement:
a blossom, a floral, a pod
And then again to
to go together
to make this urgent
to make it all such essential fun.
they call us in
who bring us
through the eye
the elder-wise mother
who is sister
daughter, lover, all
holding space apart
for us to enter
at the beginning
brightness resting in
and upon the earth
the tender choice
The un-discovered country;
in his eyes
when he praises you.
He attempts to hide the nervousness.
The rate of his breathing increases.
His father never gave him praise.
Never gave him glory.
Never it seems, made him the special centre of the moment.
And yet now he works this gift for you;
does it with no experience.
Is motivated by the desire to see you grow.
To see you swell with growing.
He stumbles over foreign land.
A son: your father.
Not measured by calibration.
Not perceived in weight or wonder but
as hard stone,
the slow carved mark
You walk with him.
Your hand in his.
The path new, yet well worn with wishing.
This image is an invocation:
Father and son, two friends like fire,
like kindling, like warmth.
If we imagine this for many sons and
for many fathers
it will not be
so much further off.
Crumbs of heaven
yet you and I
know nothing of manna or prophecy.
In the midst of
well trodden, unbidden
habit’s anvils weigh us.
Yet attest this to one small place of untouched bliss
where we may grace the light
now and so often
in barren land.
The foreign treader
of a dawn held wish
unfurls from our robes,
hangs us at an altar,
and no-where attempts to keep secret the name of commitment
from the carol of lip or tongue.
Silence the two-headed voice beyond the shroud,
hear this life and the secret of light.
Entwine and wind
anticipate the suspence of l imitations
and the future of what will be possible.
stir, sweet one
nurture our convergence.
take rain from sky
take the way tall men straighten your stance
take the students of dance
see the little ballerina stretch her toes
see her mother warm with the floodlight
take your plea to the judiciary
take your eye to the statue of David
smear on the dust of Somalia
rub raw the frost of Croatia
refresh your aim in the heights of Angola
but do not stop only at this
take every impediment
trust every promise of clemency
stumble if you will
fall under cease-fire
take it all
take the watchmaker
bent over time
with fine tools
clasp each second
take the sculptor who
chisels and scalpels for the grandiose
later in your armchair
fold creases in your newspaper with care
be with every nourishment
be with the cloth of your nakedness
make sail for your harbour of origin
remember the milk of your mother
warm or cold or sweet if it is so
with the ambidextrous mouth
of a soldier
fed with death in his jungle
be the bystander, be the bi-partisan,
the cripple, the timeless,
be it all
take each increment
take it all
MChallis © 2015
a moonlit evening
looking up into sparkling eucalypts
The moon is reflected
In every droplet
On every leaf,
Simplicity has sent her messengers
With the brush and rustle of an evening breeze
These celestial missives begin to fall
the moon more eminent
There were painter’s clouds that day;
broiled and tumbled,
moving inner silence across an easel.
a concrete mind mixed and etched
one long brush-stroke;
the tarmac before us.
Excited engines carried us along
and carried by us
an air befriended…
with the convertible top thrown down
your hair streamed behind
olympic colour; a spectrum of extraordinary.
Your head held back a sunrise laugh
and all the wind
belonged to exhilaration.
Ahead of us, the horizon captured another sky,
a mist-green hail filled sea; that ominous litany.
A pallet knife scratched its lightening
and the danger of no potential
that kept us moving on.