I've been thinking about death a bit lately. This is partially due to the recent passing of my grandmother, but also due to some well orchestrated coincidences in my day to day living.

The week leading up to my grandmother's funeral was a really strange cultural experience for me. I was gathered with my mother's side of the family in Tasmania, observing the varying ways people had of dealing with their grief. My mother's side are diverse lot with very strong personalities and varying attitudes to things like ceremony, religion and what should and shouldn't happen at a funeral. It was interesting seeing how the louder, seemingly irrepressible members of the family all coped with what was obviously a painful process.

As for me, my reaction was possibly the strangest of all. When I learned last year that my 81 year old grandmother had secondary cancer of the pancreas, I began the process of grieving for her. I knew that the advancement of the cancer and her age and general health meant it would not be a long time frame, and simply prayed that it would not be a painful decline. I also realised that 80 years is a good life for a child of the depression with diabetes. She was at peace with herself and with the Lord, so in a way her death was simply a natural end to a beautifully lived life. All these conclusions I arrived at some time in December. So when her time came in May, not only did I feel at peace with it, but having gone through a lot of the grieving processes earlier, I felt sort of… nothing. I don't mean that to sound harsh (I know it probably does) but I just mean that there was nothing unnatural or mournful about the experience. Sure there was sadness in the loss of a loved one, but as I said, I had dealt with that long before we arrived in Tasmania.

Nanna had left a request for her grandsons to be pall-bearers at her funeral, so the six of us (well, 5 grandsons and a great grandson) bore the coffin out of the church. So there was me with 4 strong men and an energetic teenager all of whom were obviously fighting back tears carrying a coffin through a church packed (and I mean packed) with people of all ages trying to sing "To God be the Glory" around their handkerchiefs. There was so much crying going on, and yet sadness was the last thing on my mind. I felt like I was from another planet. Or like I was watching a documentary on a ceremony from some exotic culture that I didn't understand. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life.

On a more cheerful note, my small (well, intermediate sized) group had a discussion on Heaven this week. We listened to a chapter about some kids in China who had some visions back in the 30s about life in Heaven. I'm usually sceptical about things like that (I'm usually sceptical in general) but whether their experiences were genuine or not, the ideas in the book and the scriptures they were based on got me thinking. I like to keep my head in this world as much as possible. An eternal perspective is important, but I usually don't like trying to imagine life in Heaven because I have trouble imagining an existence outside of time and space. Stupid limited brain! But the descriptions these kids gave of their visions of Heaven, real or not, got me excited about a world where my stupid brain, not to mention my stupid body, stops being limited and can experience and enjoy the glory of God the way it is supposed to be experienced and enjoyed. Forever.

And then tonight I was listening to an oldish Newsboys song called "Forever Man". I started thinking about the idea of living forever and accidentally blew my own mind. That always happens when I start thinking about these things too hard. So instead, I started blogging… and there you go. Now you too can go blow your own mind.

Far from home


Garry with 2 Rs

My love affair with the city of Darwin (that's a weird metaphor, but I'm gonna stick with it) took another hit today. I faced the long march through town to the state government services office to renew my driver's licence. After so many years of strategically getting it renewed while I was at home, I am now stuck with a South Australian licence. As Darth Vader put it in Episode 3:


I am genuinely upset about this. That piece of plastic was about the last piece of Darwin I had left. To distract myself I took myself to the movies (at first I was reluctant to go with myself. I have my reputation to consider, and people might start to talk. But after I flashed myself that trademark roguish smile, how could I refuse?) and saw Mr Bean's holiday. To tell you the truth, I went along fully expecting it to be crap, but I was pleasantly surprised. Obviously no movie length production is going to be a shade of the old Mr Bean TV shows. You couldn't get away with just being dumb for an hour and a half (Although Jim Carrey has made quite a career out of it).

No, you need some sort of plot, which really wasn't what the Mr Bean of old was a about. Nonetheless, despite having a plot the movie worked quite well (what?). It was more like strange situations which were amusing in themselves, made funnier by Rowan Atkinsons' amazing physicalisation. Old school Bean was just normal situations with an idiot walking around in them, being weird. It worked because, and only because Atkinson is such an amazing performer.

And the point of this brief film review? I don't know.

Far from home (and feeling it)


Garry with 2 Rs

I've had a nice Easter. I went along to Good Friday and Easter Sunday services at Westbourne Park Uniting. Some of the people there have decided to call me Martin instead of Garry. Apparently it's terribly clever and amusing to call me by some randomly made up name rather than the name I was born with. Those crazy kids!

I was out to dinner with my family this evening and decided to order rigatoni of the amatriciana flavour. Employing my linguistic knowledge, I wondered aloud whether it would be pronounced "rigatoni amatriciana" or whether a more correct Italian form would be "rigatoni amatriciani" (If you happen to speak Italian or …chefish could you leave a comment with the answer? I'm still genuinely curious). My sister looked at me in a manner which suggested I was spontaneously growing a second nose and asked "why would it change?" I wanted to throw my pasta at her, but it hadn't arrived yet.

Far from home


Garry with 2 Rs

I generally avoid going to Koorong Christian media stores because I just end up getting up getting enflamed with righteous fury (make that obsessed with self-righteous annoyance, but who's counting?) at the gross display of semi-religious commercialism on display, all claiming to be a resource centre for believers. Anything you can stick a fish on (it used to be WWJD) you can buy in Koorong. Don't get me wrong. They have some very useful materials in there. But they also have a whole heap of crap. My sister once found a "what would Jesus eat?" diet book. No, that's not one of my carefully crafted snide comments. That actually happened.

I dunno... what's it been? Ten days since my last blog entry? I'm starting to become a serial blogger, I think I may be developing a problem. Nonetheless here are some things that have made the last few days good for me. Were they good for you?

I went to Adam Hills' stand-up show 'Joymonger' at the Thebarton Theatre on Friday night. He was really funny, but the more impressive thing was how genuine he was. Just being himself, telling stories about things that annoy him and things that make him laugh. He had a really positive message and angle, which was refreshing after seeing a lot of performers stand up and be negative about themselves or others. That was really cool.

Australia mopped the floor with South Africa. Obviously I'm talking about the cricket world cup, as opposed to some sort of monumental tectonic upheaval resulting in the continent of Australia literally mopping some floor (probably the floor of the Indian Ocean, which admittedly is very wet) with the country of South Africa. Clearly this is a highly improbable event at best, and it was a waste of your freaking time to have even suggested it. I apologise. The point is, or was, that Australia's national one-day cricket team soundly defeated that of South Africa. One more for the good guys!

Josh Lyman kissed Donna Moss tonight on Australian television. This would count as one for the good guys, except for the fact that both parties were, and remain thus far, fictional. Nonetheless, it's about time. As Donna herself put it, "it was bound to happen sooner or later".

On Saturday night I babysat (babysitted? Babysunk?) my cousins, who are 6 and 4 (at last count). Catherine, the six year old, introduced me to her new favourite musical, believing it to be one that I might be interested in. She was quite amazed to discover that I'd actually already heard of Cats. Boy oh boy am I going to be cousin of the year when they get around to asking me if I can play anything from it...

I have just four days left on my CELTA course. This is a very good thing. Not that it hasn't been enjoyable, just a whole heap of stress and an intense workload. Still, it means my job prospects are good here in Adelaide and, more importantly, good in Europe. Trust God to come to the party just when it looked like I was starting to lack direction, hmm?

Oh freak me sideways, this is by far the longest blog ever. No way has anyone stuck around to read this far. And to prove it, I take this opportunity to announce my candidacy for the position of chairman of the Western Australian branch of the Country Womens' Association. Drop me a comment letting me know what you think if you've actually read this far.

Far from home



Garry with 2 Rs

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