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By Marcia Hardy in All Sorts

pondering on how can we adjust the beliefs and faith we grew up with to the world we now live in?

Since we shifted from Christchurch to Port Chalmers 18 months ago, John and I have been adjusting to
many changes in our lives with varying degrees of success. Now that I’ve joined the honourable company of the ‘retired’, I have more time to ponder and wonder and watch the people and other forms of life I encounter. Small things delight me. A fat wood pigeon balancing on the powerlines sways precariously. The changing tides and differing colours of the harbour, flocks of seabirds and occasional shipping movements, from small yachts to occasional tankers, along with accompanying tugboats, viewed from our kitchen window provide an endless source of fascination.
However, the rate of change can sometimes alarm us. When I talk with other ‘oldies’ we often commiserate about how difficult we find it to deal with the pace of technology. We struggle to make sense of our new ‘smart phones’ and computers which are now essential adjuncts to communication, and when we ring a help line we are even more confused. My favourite response is to say something like ‘I’m old and disabled and I need you to slow down!’ It works at the time but it’s not how I really want to see myself!
In church we sometimes look back nostalgically to the old favourite hymns, but when I actually read the words in those hymns when I’m planning worship I realise that we’ve come a very long way since the days when ‘men’ included women and ‘brother’ included sister as well. I can sing ‘Amazing Grace with gusto but do I really want to call myself a ‘wretch’? My favourite solution – old tune/new words can be helpful, but echoes of the old words persist!
Currently our gospel readings are taken from the sixth chapter of Mark. It’s a very busy period for Jesus and the disciples –it moves along at a dizzying pace with events tumbling on top of each other. It begins with Jesus being rejected by the people of his home town. He then calls the 12 disciples and sends them out in pairs, casting out demons and healing the sick. After the grisly interlude of John the Baptist’s beheading, we return to feeding the five thousand, Jesus walking on water and finally, more healings of the sick.
I’ve been wondering what it must have been like for the disciples as they followed along behind, trying desperately to keep up. How did they deal with the pace of change? Apparently they didn’t always do very well, as Jesus rebuked them for their lack of understanding and faith on several occasions.
So where does this leave us in our sceptical age? How can we adjust the beliefs and faith we grew up with to the new and bewildering world we now live in? Can we find a different perspective?
Recently we’ve been watching a TV series called ‘One Strange Rock’. It’s based on reflections by former astronauts as they’ve looked at earth from space. What comes through strongly is that, from space, there are no boundaries between peoples apart from the natural ones. We are one human race who must learn to get along with one another peacefully.
For many years I’ve told myself, when I find myself in conflict, to ‘find your compassion’. I wasn’t sure where that phrase came from but a Google search identified it in a speech by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a Muslim teacher who has worked to heal relationships between Muslim and Western communities in the aftermath of 9/11. ‘He founded the Cordoba Initiative, a non-partisan international organization that works to provide innovative solutions to conflict between Muslim and Western communities. In this speech, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf combines the teachings of the Qur’an, the stories of Rumi, and the examples of Muhammad and Jesus, to demonstrate that only one obstacle stands between each of us and absolute compassion — ourselves’
In 1993, John and I shared this favourite song/circle dance with family and friends at our wedding: Maybe this is the healing, that we share this feeling, and find a compassionate love, passing from my heart to yours, passing from my heart to yours, passing from my heart to yours...
Marcia Hardy