Saturday, December 19, 2015

Lean the light of Christ into the heart of the world

On 25 December 2004 my husband Karl and I made our way on ferry across gleaming waters to the paradise of Langkawi Island in Malaysia.  Christmas on honeymoon, on one of the most glorious islands of the world!  Little did we know that a mere 24 hours later the world would look so different for so many when an earthquake hit Sumatra and sent shockwaves in the form of very disturbed waters, in fact a frightening tsunami rushing towards the coastlines of many nations.


We went for a morning walk after breakfast on the morning of the 26 December, to find a great recession of water and wandered around looking for shells thinking this was some peculiar island low tide phenomenon.  In the bliss of honeymoon, I found myself totally forgetting the advice of a former geography teacher - to always run in the opposite direction when you see a strange pulling back of the tides.  Then the waves started coming in again from the right and swirling around toward the left, turning over a jet-ski and surging under a yacht that managed somehow to stay afloat.
It was then that we decided to rent a motorbike, to move onto higher terrain and away from the uncertain waters.  We rented a bike and headed off, but Karl stopped along the way to see if we could dry off a poor drenched kitten affected by the first set of waves.  Then Karl panned the video camera around and we saw a dark wave of water headed towards us.  And we could see it was not going to stop at the shore. 
“Get on the bike!”
But we could not see the ignition which was tucked out of sight as the hotel had started it for us!
“RUN! RUN!!!”
So Karl and I ran a short distance up a curved bridge and watched as the water surged over the road, and under the bridge upriver, like a river in flood, but in the wrong direction.  We realised we would have been stuck in the water if we had not stopped by the side of the road.  And then the sight of the muddy homes filled with water, the wrecked cars and damaged property.  But no loss of life that we knew of on Langkawi Island.  Little did we know that a couple hundred kilometres north of us in Thailand, people by the thousands were losing their lives.  The local paper showed the rising toll of deaths, but we remained strangely numb to the reality of the facts.  It was only when we came back home and watched footage my Dad had recorded for us that the tears began to flow.

When Christmas time comes with such tragedy, it reminds me of the reeling shock of recent world events, so close to the celebration of our Saviour’s birth.  This can throw us into confusion and dismay.  We don’t know how to process the horror of such uncontrollable events.
But the light that shines so brightly through the coming of Jesus to earth, who was willing to suffer unimaginable pain for us and carry the sufferings of the world, outweighs the greatest turmoil and puts us into a place of perspective once again.  The question is, how do we shine the light of hope into a world disorientated by such uncertainty?  How do we shine this light into so many great and diverse needs?   
Friends of ours, Don and Margie Cook, began an organisation called Hands on Houses ( to build homes for the very poor, widows and disabled people in coastal villages of South India.  They have been there for 8 ½ years and have built 131 houses with a small team of 4 and then 12 local men.  Margie and Don are planning on starting Hands on Houses in Malawi too, hopefully in 2016, and are currently waiting on donations to make this a possibility.
The inspiration of this couple shows me how it is possible to take the light of Christ and make it a reality to so many in need of light.  How Jesus causes resurrection and rebirth to take place through ordinary people like you and me, so that other ordinary people can experience these miracles too.  People whose lives turn around by acts of mercy, acts of kindness.  Widows and disabled people who have never heard of the love of Jesus, now see it demonstrated through hands of love and action that bring them a new hope for life and a complete turnabout of destiny.
But how do we see the afflicted in our own neighbourhoods?  When we can’t be with people who have been affected by these disasters around the world in a physical way, we can look to see the people God places in our day to day life and shine our light of hope and possibility, right here and now - in our churches, our workplaces, our families, our communities.  And we can listen for the prompting of the Holy Spirit about where to reach out with the loving action of God’s compassionate grace.
Our church is neighbours with a township called Vrygrond, a community of many mostly African nations all gathered into one place.  Some other inspiring friends of ours, Anton and Elana Cuyler, left England where they had been living for some time, and came back to their homeland trusting that God would show them what to do when they got here.  They felt to come to Muizenberg, and were led to the Bay Community church.  Incrementally over the past number of years, God has opened door after door and led them step by step to reach into the Vrygrond community with hope, love and empowering action.  The miracle of the Sozo Foundation is bringing hope to people with often fewer options in life, opening doors of education, home improvement, vegetable gardening, and training young people in skills that can create job opportunities for them.

These beautiful people inspire me with hope once again.  I see how it is possible to take one small step into your field of influence and beyond into the corners of the world, and lean the light of Christ into places of great need.  To start seeing lights lit up all over the place as we join spirit with the many people all over the world who also have a heart to see the miracle of transforming love overcome the darkness.  We agree with the heart of St Francis, that yes, the darkness cannot extinguish the light of even one small candle.  And when we light the flame of love, we will find around us the lights of many flames and the flames when they burn together will show that love wins out over chaos and tragedy every time.
Take some time to meditate on the Hope of the world - how nothing takes God by surprise and how the light will always outshine the darkness in our own hearts and lives and into the furthest reaches of the world.  How God reorients our hearts to His compass of peace and gives us a God-view of events. 
As we intercede for the people of this world, we will not underestimate the power of our prayers, these humble prayers. When we are rooted and established in Christ, we are moved to do what God calls us to do and be who he calls us to be at such a time as this.  We take hope in the coming of Christ.  Again and again, He comes into the heart of the world’s greatest need.  And we know that rebirth and resurrection are miracles He will continue to alight in the hearts and lives of people, as He reminds us of the miracles of His birth, death, and resurrection.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And so we know and rely on the love of God.
As you listen to this spontaneous song, Open up let the light in by Bethel Music, allow the light of our Saviour to radiate through every situation in your life and every part of your heart.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Contemplative Acts of Laundry

(This chore in our house is something I have to "get around to doing".  It is not something that fills me with anticipational excitement!  This poem is about allowing myself the pleasure of living in the moment while doing the laundry, to allow it to become a contemplative act.  The full stops between the stanzas allow for a pause and also indicate the time frames between the stages of laundry in my house - definitely not an all-in-one activity, but rather done through "stages of contemplation" :-) )

I remove wet laundry from the washing machine
Into my basket, I search for unseen socks
Lining the side of the barrel.
I carry the weighty basket up the passage
Through the kitchen and onto the outside bin.
Then I take the first garment
And choose where I want it to go.
All around me the garden is waiting to be heard,
Asking to be seen.
Every time I hang up my washing there is:
A mountain before me, trees, birds
Chickens cluck clucking, the sky and clouds of the day.
There is fragrance and colour, the whisper
Of a great yellow wood tree
And the invitation of the garden to be noticed.
I feel each garment, and peg, peg, peg
Peg up the laundry with my prayers.
I come back to it dry and take it down
Onebyonebyonebyonebyone draped over my
Great-bundle shoulder.
And I look and notice, look and notice.
I smell the fresh dry smell of the washing.
I take it to the bed and let it fall.
I fold, fold, fold
I feel the creases and press the garments.
I sort and organise, I pack into the cupboards
And breathe in the smell, breathe in the smell
Of the garments now packed away.

J Graser

Artist - Richard Boyer

Feel it, think it, do it!

I feel the way the music
Forms my body into responsive acts of mercy
Mercy to my body looks like this:
No restriction, just listening all the way
Repeating the phrases, lifted arms, legs, hearts
All the way through the music
Into the dance.
I even forget where I am when I am taken so.
Every bit of box explodes off bit by royal bit
It was like everytime my feet gave an involuntary twitch
I knew I could never hold back into the pew ever again.
It was like every time I hear another note
My feet are going to leap into action
And my body is going to writhe and shake
And twist and level the ground!
The music is going to take me and my body
Into places no prayer could ever take me
In my mind.
This dancing body is going to surf the waves
Of every sound as the boxes pop, pop, pop
Off of every muscle, ligament and nerve
And the freedom searches out
The beat in me, and takes me into
Ever new territory of the music dance music
Ever new places to put on my dancing shoes
And feel it, think it, do it!

J Graser

Artist - Margaret Rice Oxley

The Youness of You

Fingerprints all very telling.
You can't get away from your
Snowflake uniqueness
Or the way no two dog's noses are the same.
You're one of a kind
Trying to fill that poor man's shoes
When he can fill his
One of a kind shoes much better.
The trick is to find out what
Your fingerprints are meant to
Stick all over.
Forensic science has got to
Pick up the essence of you
All over the place you
Assign your energy to.
You're a firework prism
Blasting black holes into galaxies.
Inventions of your own style
Creeping through your pores
Are self-lighting bulbs -
All those ideas need a place to roam.
So do it! Be yourself.
Spread your opinion out of the
Cage they tried to shun you into.
There is no cage big enough
Can hold the power in one original thought.
Your DNA plays music heard
Through no one else's veins.
It's a joyful abandon to settle back
Into the youness of you,
To feel the pleasurable zing
Of the skin you're wrapped in.
It's like, what's coming next?
No one else is going to see it the way you do.
You are one beautiful grow up upper
Filling the infinite space of you
With a great big YES,
Born-alive in the nowness of now.

J Graser

Artist - Christian Schloe

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Let my mind climb up the tallest mountain

Little did she know it,
The subtle glance
The not so subtle telling crease in the corner of the eye.
How much had changed,
And change came that time with the sting of a bee
Looking for nectar in the summer flowers.

Everything turned on its head
Did a cartwheel into the future, past, whichever
Direction, jumped on the trampoline
And laughed, what a laugh!
I have never heard such a laugh!

I expected something so different
And all I heard were tears and laughter
Tears and laughter.
All my creases welled up that day
It was sprinkling tears of rain, tears of rain
Into the light of a trampoline day
When everything turns on its head
And says, "What now?"

The sting of these summer days
Has wakened me up, to breathe
And simmer, breathe and simmer.
To let my mind climb up the tallest mountain,
Do a handstand
And accept the upside-downness of
Everything I've come to understand is life.

Birds flying down into the sky
With blood pumping in my brains -
And the rush you get when you get back up on your feet
And suddenly everything becomes crystal clear
And you know which way to go.

J Graser

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Art of Acceptance

In quiet, quietness I hurl a stone
Into the water.
Still, the ripples
The ripples extend
As the stone sinks.

I wait at the shoreline
Until the water
Rests into a reflection
Of clouds, sky, clouds,
Until the water sleeps before me.
Until the water reflects
My body standing by the
Water, in silence.

An occasional breeze
Shimmers the surface,
But the deep is still
The deep is calm.

The stone is on the bottom
Together with the other stones
Anonymous, settled at the bottom
As though it has always been

And yet quivering vibrations of
Unseen molecules within
This anonymous stone
All remember the picking up,
The being held, the moment
Of decision, the being hurled
Into the centre of these
Deep waters.

Rain, wind, snow, rivers, hail
And the water receives it all.
Evaporates a tranquil acceptance.
And after every storm,
The quiet, quietness.

J Graser

Monday, October 19, 2015

Alive to the Present

The sun warms the hairs on the back of my neck
And my closed eyes glow red with the lids.
My brain suffused with this light
Calls the seeds of my thoughts to dance out of their pods
And grow, grow, grow.

Into the present I am able to fly
With the wings Sophia calls, When-am-I-going-to-be-able-to-fly
Only-in-Heaven wings.

The sun glows through my fingers pink red orange,
The light does this to my blood
Makes it look like a Japanese lantern.
I am alive
It is the present.

My breath rises and falls like the wind
What it does to the wheat fields pulsing.
My breath does the same, then I feel my heart
And the blood that pumps through those ventricles.
I am alive
In the present.

Everything they told me at school
Was to prepare for my future and make sure
I make enough money to live, eat, sleep, succeed, rise to the top.
But they didn't tell me I would find the meaning of life
In being alive,
To the present.

In the blood that is God's, beating through my veins
In the breath, blood, breath of my body,
Alive to the moment,

J Graser

Artist - Christian Schloe

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Destination is Now

All of these colours, I see them
As I reach into a nest with my eyes
And feel the bird of tomorrow
Wrapped in an egg shell,
Fly through my mind.

And I find myself in the memory
Of a ripe womb and tiny legs
Pushing for relationship
With the outside world.
Not ready for it yet.

Then my fingers fumble for the
Pieces of a great puzzle I did years ago,
While listening to The Hobbit on audiotape.
So many blue, white, green pieces -
It took forever to see
The bigger picture.

And I think about all that happens
In eggs, wombs and unfinished puzzles
And enjoy imagining myself discovering that
The destination is not somewhere out there.

But actually here, in the nest with bird's eggs,
Actually there in the ripening womb
Yes, and groping for pieces of a great puzzle,
I find the destination is not time-bound.

It is the moment you are reading this,
The destination is now.

J Graser

Artist - Elena Ray

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Change of Becoming

I am no longer a stranger to my former ways.
Embedded in a cocoon is one way
To get to know yourself, the
Intimate mess of it.

Morphing in stricture,
A grace-prison of selfless knowledge.
There are occasional sparks of light
As though I see visions of the future
In the darkness of my confinement.
And I have been re-introduced to my
Own younger self
And forced to spend time with her -
Not always keen.
But I'm learning to keep my opinions
To myself, and listen.
I am learning what it is to be present
To the deep Unknown.
I am learning that there is no space
To hold onto anything else,
But the change of becoming.
J Graser
Artist - Enoki Toshiyuki

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The monk in my dream last night

He came to us in a dream last night,
We were walking in the monastery forest
And he passed us by
As the fragrant air caught us in the nostrils.

He turned and asked, "Have you got some?"
Then he offered us what he had in his hands
From his livelihood, with humble generosity.

It was the perfume he made from the pine sap
He drew from the healing trees.
The monk made this into fine perfumes
For regenerating human beings.

The strong pine sap lingered at his fingertip offering
As we said, "No, we haven't."

"I will get you some," he said.

No expectation of us, this monk of honey bees, nectar
Pine sap and healing ointments.
This monk of benediction in the monastery forest
Offered kindness, welcome, quiet gifts of himself.

This monk offered us his presence.

J Graser

Artist - John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A pilgrim in your arms

I am beyond the mountain now
No more round and round for me.
Lord, it was too alluring to think
I could get somewhere by going nowhere.

I stepped away from the same old same old
And found myself a pilgrim in your arms.

People have become strangers of grace
Born into flesh with eyes mounted in souls
Looking into my eyes,
And greeting us silently.

I have a palm in front of me, holding nothing but hope.
I have a palm beside me, holding nothing but your hand.

Lord you are wise beyond your years,
I know your laugh from deep within
Is an earthquake to my old ways of doing and thinking.
And as the ground of my yesterlife crackcrumbles around me

I am finding your heart is a field with no fences.
I am looking and seeing with my deeper eyes.
I am hearing your voice packaged in many voices
All singing.

J Graser

Art photography - Rob Woodcox

Lord, let me receive myself with love

Lord, let me receive myself with love.

I walk towards myself,

As though I face me, in the lounge....
There I sit by the fire,
With creasethebrow thoughts on my mind.

I sit down, beside myself,
I hold my hands as my surprised face looks up,
To see me there.

I will look into my eyes
Into the hidden dark and hidden light

Then, I will embrace myself.

I will receive myself with love.

J Graser


Artist - Frederick Childe Hassam

I Come

Down the steps I come
Dry, thirsty I come, parched
I come.

I step into the water...
My feet in the well
My legs in the well
My hands, heart, soul
My head, mind, spirit
In the well.

I drink.
I bathe.
I float in the water
I drift.

I look at the sky
The birds, clouds

I will be ready to
Do your will once again
When the dryness of me
Is taken by your quench.
Until then,
I come.

J Graser

Artist - Brian Scott

Monday, September 28, 2015

Inner Landscape

My mountain of heart valleys into deep red,  
It climbs heights into pink of dawn.

I ascend into my brain, view the territory, right and left
Rivers of thought, pathways of hope, doubt, dreams, fears.

I bungee jump into my chest and listen to my lungs
Expand, contract expand, each breath a gift.

It is time to pioneer the unknown terrain
Of the soul of my innermost parts.

I will dig into my spirit to search for secret treasure.
The deep will fill with my seeking eyes.

I will find the scroll of promises kept for me
And dance in the night to music composed for such a moment.

J Graser

Artist - Christian Schloe


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Meet me in slow time

Slow down our moments
Meet me in slow time
Plunge me into grace.

Stop the clock,...
Suspend reality...
Meet me in paints and song
Sing with me in oil pastel,
Drift with the tide.
Brush stroke me into being
Deep determined impressions
Of light, of dark,
Of coming into ourselves
Outside of time.

J Graser

The Sound of Amen

Fill my day with the sound of Amen
So be it, let it be.
Let the Amen fill my soul
Whisper it through my mind
The rest of it leans into your chest
At the feasting table
Breaking bread, drinking wine
I lean into your chest with the sound of it,

J Graser

Monday, September 21, 2015

New realms of my being

I am in the now moment with you

Loving Spirit.

I am a phoenix of fire and special tongues,
There is a surprise in every unfurling of wings.

 You are mystery and journey,
 The road of you leads ever onwards.

Spirit of my temple, I have not arrived in you,
I have begun to be birthed.

Some of me has passed away
To make space for your great furnace.

I have found the pleasure of ever unfoldingness.
The discovery of heart that grows large large larger in the dark and in the light.

I have found not arrival, but rather departure... into new realms of your Being.
Into new realms of my being
in you.

J Graser


The stillness of faith

Dip my weakness into your
strong pulsing heart.

I will hide there, all quiet
While your chest enfolds me.

I will listen to your rhythm
Moor me to the calm of you.

I will sit in the stillness of faith
And find my beating heart.

I will find my beating heart.

J Graser

Sunday, September 20, 2015


The wings have been
Growing on me now
For quite some time.
Feathers look foreign to me still,...
But I have become more familiar
As they've spanned out
Over the years.

And lately, even a slight updraft
Sends these wings trembling
For the sky.

I think I could be ready
To try them out soon.

My heart rises in the mist.

J Graser

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Drawing deep from contemplative wells

My journey so far, has led me to new places of grace where I find myself drinking from unexpected wells and getting that "eyebrow rise with a smile surprise" each time I come across a new experience of finding and knowing God. 

I have included a list of Favourite Links incorporating many of these gifts which have come to me recently - you can find these as you scroll down on the left.  But I would like to mention a particular few of them here: 

Pray as you Go is a daily podcast with music, scripture and questions for reflection which has become a contemplative well of grace in my life.  Each day a gift of music comes to you, from different worship expressions around the world, taking you straight into the heart of the moment.  Scripture is read and questions are asked, so that you may slow down and reflect, discovering what God has to say to you.  Quiet music is played while you think over and pray through the revelations which come in this time - a ten minute or so space of peace which sets the tone for any time of the day.

Abbey of the Arts is an online monastery encouraging a walk of contemplative life, as a spiritual monk or pilgrim in daily creative life.  This very supportive atmosphere releases a spirit of creativity and an encouragement to explore ever deeper in your relationship with God and yourself in community with others.

I have discovered music available at the touch of a button on Tunein Radio, where you can search for the music you like and set up a profile of your favourites.  I have found some wonderful calming music for sleep or for accompanying times of prayer and reflection.  Sleepscapes - Rain is one of these: and my favourite Abacus fm Nature Radio:  But there are so many to choose from!

A daily reading site I have grown particularly fond of is Northumbria Community - prayers and scripture readings for the different times of the day.

These are just a selected few of the resources that have been a blessing to my spiritual walk.

Which resources have been a blessing to your life?  Please do share!