No such thing as mistakes

No such thing as mistakes

Tiptoeing around your heart I am anxious not to leave footsteps, not to leave a mark,

a bump or a bruise that might point to things we’d rather ignore

while curiosity pulls me, sucks me in deeper in deeper in

I let the sweet smell of you sink through my skin, through my blood, thick, warm life

It settles to my core

No moving, no thinking; just being

immersed in touch, electric and thrilling, smooth intimacy

Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis

Some of you will know that I have been spending much of my time this year reading, thinking and dwelling on death. Most often when I tell people the topic of my honours thesis they say the obligatory, “Oh cool!” quickly followed by some quip about how morbid my research must be.

Well, to a certain extent, of course it’s dark. But that’s only one dimension of it. As I have found, there is a lot more to this death thing and how we talk about and process mortality than we often allow. In spending time contemplating the end of life, I have come to see there is a beautiful kind of peace about it, a real sense of synergy and potentiality. Life, it seems to me, is metamorphosis, motion, a series of lines towards transformation. Death is one very significant part of this metamorphic process. We turn and return ad infinitum.

In trying to make sense of some of these thoughts (and can I tell you, things are a right mess inside my mind at this present moment), I have turned to poetry. No words can fully encapsulate what I’m trying to say; my thoughts are still barely formed, no more than a slither, a whisper of understanding. Perhaps that is all they can ever be, just some half-formed ideas behind some words on a page.

 

Metamorphosis

Living is dying is one.

Is returning to the soil and sand,

Dissolving, melting into land

Flaking, breaking, dissipating

Crumbled edges fray, abating

Becoming roots and wet debris

Till only atoms rest of me.

Living is dying is one.

After You

After You

After You

After you.

After you go,

Forget you not to listen hard.

Ignore you not the songs of stars.

Be thankful for your life they said,

The rhythms and the lines you thread.

Delight in joy, receive with grace,

Learn and love the other’s face.

Let go, release hurt’s layers deep,

Cleansing, rapid rivers weep.

Pain is growth, but not forever –

Accept the sting, hold fast the tether.

Remember truth and mystery

Paradox has set you free.

Nicola Parise – 2014

Radix

Radix

Radix

I dig my toes into cool, wet soil

Dig them deep and let them sink

To the source

So I may draw up life –

Whole, rich and free –

Until my feet are roots

Knotted and gnarled.

 

Radical, from the Latin radix, contrary to popular conceptions of being subversive, refers to a centred grounding in the source of truth.

Too often in the swirl and commotion that is modern life, I find myself uprooted and floating from one opinion to another, confused and troubled by competing agendas.

These are stormy waters indeed. And trying to tread water for too long is exhausting, unsustainable.

Of course, it’s always good to flex and develop muscles through exertion. That’s what gives us resilience.

But when resolve becomes petulant stubbornness then perhaps it’s time to reconsider.

I’m not entirely certain from where our anxiety to know, be and do everything comes. But I do think that it is far too easy to be gullible, which I suppose is not too surprising when you consider the constant stream of media and information telling us to do more, be more, consume more. As long as we listen to this misguided voice, we will be forever unsatisfied, trapped by feelings of inadequacy.

It’s refreshing, nay liberating to have a centre to which I can confidently return. No matter how distracted or muddled my mind and heart become, I have the assurance of a gracious and eternally deep Truth.

As someone who believes Jesus Christ is Lord I am seeking to draw closer, grow stronger in Truth, justice and mercy, to live my life with integrity. And the only way this can possibly be a reality is if I sink myself firmly in the soil of Christ’s life, sacrifice and resurrection.

Disposable

Disposable

“We are living on the planet as if we have another one to go to.”

― Terry Swearingen

It doesn’t seem that hard a premise. Resources are finite. And continual growth does not come without sacrifice. I think we get that.

And yet we prefer excessive consumption with little regard for the consequences.

We’ve been told that human activity is causing serious climatic changes, including an increase in wild storms, extreme temperatures and severe droughts.

But we delegate those problems to someone else, somewhere else, just so long as it doesn’t affect our convenient lives.

Humans are selfish. That’s no newsflash. It takes a lot to motivate behavioral change, especially if there is no apparent personal incentive.

 “Live simply, so that others might simply live.”

It’s a nice sentiment – one that may be too outdated now for addressing the issues that face us. The reality is it’s no longer a matter of living simply for the livelihood of others, but also for our own. The damage we have actively wreaked on our home is astounding and whether we wish to accept it or not, we all play a role in that destruction – a thought that is at the same time depressing and sobering.

If I am honest with myself (and you dear reader), I must admit that all too often I do not take these concerns seriously enough, guilty of endemic apathy. Being passionate about the injustice of the degradation of our planet is not a bad thing. Being lazy and choosing to do nothing about it is.

I served a man at work today wearing a shirt with Terry Swearingen’s words on it. The bold, white letters poked and nudged at my conscience. It really is ridiculous to think that such extravagant lifestyles, which we have come to expect as the norm, our deserved right as heirs of ‘advanced society’, are sustainable. In actual fact, there’s very little ‘advanced’ about such a blatant lack of logic and foresight.

So, as 2014 etches into its groove I will start to make new habits now to reduce the impact my life has on the environment and the future generations who will inherit it.

It’s terminal.

The lungs are crusted with cancer,

Weighing down the chest

And sending us into the depths of paralysis.

Rivers, once intended for life

Sustain nothing but death,

Grime seething and frothing

On the banks. Brown fish float belly up.

We stand a few metres above the fetid water –

Closer than we care to acknowledge –

And we stare, eyes glazed with indifference,

Wheezing with each strained breath.

Nicola Parise 2014

Word Becomes Body

Word Becomes Body

 

The air is fresh and cool as tiny droplets fall through midnight.

Gathered in the church, with hushed lights and quiet hearts, we wait to receive the gift of grace and life, freedom and joy.

We have come. To worship, to adore and to marvel at the mystery of God made man.

I am overwhelmed with a messy mix of gratitude, love and confusion. How can it be that the One who designed the forces of the universe, shaped the building blocks of life and enabled the complexities of thought and emotions could care so much for us that God would become incarnated, made present with all of creation, to share in  pain and fears, hopes and desires?

In Christ, all wounds are healed, all outcasts welcomed and all captives set free. In a world that promises so much and rarely delivers, these are hard words to believe. Indeed, such a vision is impossible to achieve without love in its purest form, unadulterated by selfish human ambition.

As we remember the birth of Jesus, I realise it is for this reason that I choose to put my faith and hope (foolishly or otherwise) in the God of Love who promises to bring about the restoration of all things, the righting of wrongs and the total liberation of humanity.

 

The Birth

Word made flesh.

Love embodied, traced in the folded skin of a chubby babe,

Light which burns with passion, will never fade

And now to enter in with our creator

Eternal Embrace.

 

Nicola Parise – 2013

Flying High

Flying High

The other weekend I flew to Adelaide to celebrate my dear friend Lucy’s 21st. Yep. That’s right, I travelled 1,375.7km and back again, all in the name of a good party. And can I tell you, it was so worth it.

The weekend whooshed past, as you might imagine, in a flurry of laughter, good food and new friendships, set against a stunning backdrop of incredible views, overlooking the city of Adelaide and the ocean beyond.

What a privilege it was to be welcomed into her family so warmly and included in that special moment.

The poem below, I wrote as a birthday gift.

If anyone can learn to fly, it’s you Lucy!

 

 

Learning to Fly
For Lucy

They say that it’s impossible, illogical, maybe even magical
And on first impressions they’d be right.
But look a little deeper, probe beneath the surface, draw a little nearer and seek the other side
– The upside down
Or, rather, right side up –
And you’ll see that they were wrong.

They say it’s crazy, pure madness, simple idiocy
And judging by this world’s standards they are right.
But have courage and be brave, dare to break the rules they set and always check before you jump,
Because there is a difference between confidence and carelessness.

They say, “That doesn’t look like fun.”
And if appearances were the extent of reality, they’d be right.
But know that things are seldom as they seem.
In the pain there is joy, in the doubt there is hope, in the struggle there is immense satisfaction.

It may take a lifetime of failed attempts, but when we finally do take to the sky and soar on wings of Truth and Love, then we will know what it means to live, to freely live.

Nicola Parise 2013

On Bad Writing

On Bad Writing

“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” – Thomas Mann

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I have come to that stage in the university experience where internships are no longer avoidable. They are an inconvenient truth that sooner or later require acknowledgement, nay, engagement. And yes, that does mean doing a whole lot of work for free. Then again, that depends on your definition of currency, but I guess, satisfaction and personal growth are not commonly accepted as legal tender…which is another conversation entirely, best left for another day.

As I was saying, internships. They are important, apparently vital even, especially if the tools of your trade happen to be words and ideas.

I may have boarded the train a little later than most folk, but, I am pleased to announce that I am now a legit communications student, with a fully fledged writing internship and all – YAY! *cue dance music, festive hats and exuberant celebrations*

Unfortunately, as I suspected might be the case, writing internships are not all beer and skittles (sneaky, sneaky). In fact, writing can be quite the troublesome fiend.

Just when you want to sit down and smash out that article, ‘poof!’ you suddenly lose your ability to use language. You think you have a smashing idea for a story and ‘slam!’ you face plant it as soon as pen hits page, realising that brilliant epiphany has far less substance than you initially thought.

Mr Mann, Thomas if I may, you were right. Mann were you, oh so gosh darn right.

Perhaps this difficulty is the result of rampant perfectionism strangling nascent wordly genius. Or perhaps it’s simply the fact that sooner or later, you’ll have to accept that sometimes, what you write is shite (props for poetry, eh?). Admitting to your ego that you suck, is perhaps one of the hardest things you will ever do.

Now, the twist: accepting that it’s actually ok to write something terrible from time to time frees you to write. Sounds obvious. Maybe that’s because it is.

As I was whining about the woeful excuse for a creative writing assignment I had produced, a fellow writer friend of mine said to me with a large, cheeky grin, “Nicola, you’re a writer because you write.”

It is so easy to get caught up in the idea and image of ‘being a writer’ that we forget what it is we were doing in the first place. We forget to tell the stories that must be told. We forget to pass on the insights and wisdom that have been shared with us. Quite simply, we overthink and we forget to write.

And so, on that note, here’s to writing badly, failing miserably and sucking big time, all of which require us simply to sit down and WRITE!

Tangled Threads

Tangled Threads

Tangled Threads

 

A Tribute:

To a wise, passionate and courageous woman who lived and loved intensely. The world was truly blessed by your presence.

 

I long for truth

Not a clean, even truth

But one messy and tangled.

 

I will tease and pick at the threads

I will not give up no matter how tight the knots

I will stretch them out, wrap them around.

 

And then taking several strands, I will weave

Over and under, over and under,

Experimenting boldly with confusing colour combinations.

 

I may get it ‘wrong’

But you will soon see there is no ‘wrong’ or ‘right’

Only possibility,

 

Which, ignited by ideas, will inflame my heart

With passion and creativity

And really good conversation.

 

We will talk as we weave, weave as we talk

Discovering, stumbling on old insights with newfound reverence

Our eyes alight with joy and excitement –

 

Till in unison, we cry, “That thrills me!”

 

Nicola Parise 2013