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TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seasoning Our Words with Grace

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

~Colossians 4:6 (NIV).

There are many encouragements in the Bible to speak respectfully and dutifully—for instance James 3 and also, particularly regarding the verse above, 1 Peter 3:15.

“Seasoned With Salt”

Even though we know excess salt is bad for us, we do still tend to further season our food with it, to make it tastier. Additionally, salt is a purifier; it prevents common decay.

Our words are to not only be tasty and therefore inviting, they’re also to be free from the weighty burden a lack of grace might carry upon the other person or people on the receiving end of our speech. And this is something we don’t get right all the time. At least our apologies on these occasions can be “salted” to taste!

Paul’s context might have been evangelistic but there’s also an equally important broader context. Our words should be seasoned with a gently salted grace, etching a soft presence of purity into all our communications.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

From Predator to Protector

The instincts of the horse are remarkable, and the gaining of trust, initially, is central to further rapport. The horse views a human being approaching it as a predator—it is inwardly wary. As soon as the human being, however, seeks to make a competent, loving rapport with the horse, they’re afforded the loyalty of the horse that instant.

It’s like the horse is won to authenticity.

Horses, like probably many animals, have the instincts to divine the inner motivations and condition of heart of the person in their midst. If we are not ‘safe’ within ourselves, in our approach, the horse is going to sense it. The master of body language, a horse will ‘smell’ our fear.

It’s said, for this reason, that the horse is a mirror to the human soul within.

The Fundamental Question for the Horse

The implicitly fundamental question a horse asks, via its nature, is: “Am I safe?” Trust is forever held back until their question-of-instinct is answered in the affirmative.

Horses will only give their full allegiance to the person engendering a full spoil of love toward them, and this, from a sense of good identity existing from within that person.

So What?

As far as life is concerned—i.e. our interaction with it—what are we... the predator or the protector?

Are we engaging with life in ways that give-off love? Are we a friend first and foremost of ourselves? Or do we have identity issues that are blocking not only the rapport we could have with others, but also the rapport (and peace) we could have with ourselves?

If people do not feel safe with us, they won’t trust us... I mean really trust us.

We will be viewed as predators and not protectors.

And to perpetuate this would be to fall short of the target for life—to miss the mark.

Instead, let us learn something from the marvellous relationships horses have with their masters’ and mistresses who’ve established that close bond; that one etched in authenticity, love and trust.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Defending Our RIGHT to Be WRONG

“Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will have lost the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life.”

~David M. Burns.

There sits the wisdom of humility. And it’s so hard for us, isn’t it?

It’s locked into our emotional DNA—our resistance to being wrong. Our pride positively loathes it.

These facts above should be a good warning to us. There is, however, a better way!

Blessed are the Wrong – for Theirs is the Fear-Free, Learned Future

We are fantastically blessed to get past our pride, smashing it against the rocks of our egos, and begin to actually embrace being wrong, saying our apologies, and being otherwise utterly truth-filled. (As much as we can be, anyway.)

What a liberating truth it is that one right—that to be wrong—stands with God, and we with it are blessed. Central to this premise is the fact of our sin. We celebrate not the sin, but the Saviour—Jesus smashing our sin like we smash our pride.

A New Modus Operandi

We love being wrong because it points us to the way of the future where we can become deservedly right.

Being wrong won’t stop us; it pushes us on way past it.

We take a humble, truth-based pride in being wrong, and people are amazed at the sincere depth of our ardent compunction. God is made real in these moments.

And so is the heavenly virtue of courage made real within us.

Our faith is fortified in fitful pangs of the Spirit’s power when we claim our right to be wrong, holding it firmly and cheerfully; most resplendently so others might be blessed to know—that through us—there is an unswerving justice beyond our egos.

Imagine living with no fear of failure. This is a reality when we can calmly defend our right to be wrong.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Silence – Relationships’ Fiendish Nemesis

“It doesn’t have to be like this... all we need to do... is make sure... we keep talking.”

~Prof. Stephen Hawking, in Pink Floyd’s Keep Talking, 1994.

We’ve all been there. Loggerheads are synonymous for many relationships where the simple yet confounding art of conflict resolution evades the best efforts of the couple or friendship in question. One, both or all individuals seem incapable of getting beyond their collective silence—at times on one issue. The dynamics are not only difficult to know or predict, they’re movable—none of us live statically, especially as it pertains to our emotional realities.

Yet, someone has to break the impasse.

Usually it’s the same person. One is characteristically ‘broken’ first, thinking “What’s the use in this chilling silence—it’s only eating away at the both/all of us.”

In the final analysis it doesn’t matter who does it; preferably all partners or friends can become skilled at it, but realistically some will never get it. (Our worldview is best when we accept that.)

When Did We Stop Talking?

We’ll often not consider that a big part of the problem in the first place is that we stopped talking. We slunk off into that world of our own, for an hour or a day or a week (or longer), and we let it fester—beyond what was ‘good space’; that healthy distance all couples and friendships need.

How many of us have ‘coexisted’ or endured a damaging silence with each other and lived or shared a third-rate partnership or rapport? It didn’t make things better. And for what—pride? I guess we’ve all been there.

And, still:

It doesn’t have to be like this...

The good words of the professor echo through our hearts when we’re on the verge of a faith-fuelled and humility-inspired surrender. Common sense has made its grand entrance. Five minutes further and we’re there. We go to them without the hankering baggage, single-purposed, wanting them to know we’re sorry for whatever we did.

A fair-minded and fair-hearted person on the receiving end of this truce-ventured communiqué will generally respond. (And even if they don’t, we did our bit, didn’t we? If they don’t respond—and we have to be prepared for that—what are we going to do? Certainly remaining penitent, balanced and unemotional is best advised.)

And Life Can Begin Again...

For the relationship, talking facilitates many things; harmony, trust and respect are breathed back in.

It seems like such a basic thing—one that’s hardly worth mentioning—but the impetus to breaking the calamitously fiendish deadlock is evasive in most of our hearts. In the heat of battle waged we want to ‘win’ and losing doesn’t pay much, forgetting that in relationships ongoing battles mean both of us—as well as potentially others—will ultimately lose.

Life for the relationship can only begin again if someone starts talking.

Do it in faith. Take the bold risk. Then see what will happen.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

The GIFT That Keeps On Giving

Book shelves hold many useless things... until they’re either used or given away.

We are generally a very materially-rich people. We accumulate things and many times we get enjoyment and use out of them. But often things lose their lustre and we forget we even have them.

Then suddenly we think, when we’re struggling financially, “What do I have that I could perhaps sell-off?” We get into de-clutter mode. Off we then go to the pawn store to get what little they might offer us; it’s always less than we thought we’d get.

And whilst we’re out we think of the stuff nobody wants and we see an opportunity shop, so we stop by and cram those items into the bins at the side. The pawn store experience saw us belittled, but the visit past the opportunity shop was a cathartic experience... why? How can it be that ridding ourselves of those ‘useless’ items saw us more powerfully blessed?

We will never feel better than when we give ourselves away.

The gift that keeps on giving is the one that people find meets their momentary needs. For us to give what we can is God’s spoil of grace over us as we see the greater difference it makes to others’ lives. Suddenly that useless thing is now useful again, until it finds its way into a neglected corner again and it’s given away to the next person.

We can’t take any of this stuff with us.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Beyond the Blackening

“... and the time came when the risk it took to remain in a tightly closed bud became infinitely more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

~Anaïs Nin.

Dates are peculiar things. The 22nd of September will always be memorable for me, for instance. Whenever the clock strikes 8pm on that day it’s almost like I have a minute’s silence for a time when a previous life ended and the new one began.

The ‘Non-Existentness’ of Death Doesn’t Fit Well

As living beings we cannot comprehend the ‘form’ of death. (And by death I don’t just mean loved ones who’ve died; I’m talking the death of anything or anyone special to us, for instance, divorce as a prime example—the relationship ‘died’.) Death is in many ways a sort of ‘nonexistingness’ that just doesn’t fit with our schemas in an existent world. We cannot deal very well with the gap of ‘not seeing’ that once-acutely special person, relationship or thing anymore. It is beyond our truest understanding and recognition. The pain diminishes with time and processing but the mystery of that loss never does.

But what makes it possible for us to overcome this ‘blackening’ phenomenon known to all of life is new life; a life now differently defined, holding respectfully to the past but not bound by it.

‘Timing’ Issues in Grief

The journey that takes us through grief into the moment of pain past even the pain of previous—that pain of staying solidified in the grief as opposed to breaking out to blossom—is not bound by time or anything we might propose. It simply arrives.

Earlier, I referred to the significance of dates; these now as markers for progress through the grieving process.

It is dates that provide us with a yardstick to progress. We encompass the entire spectrum of ‘returning’ emotion; painfully considered dates that now bring more calm perspective—beyond the blackening, on past the whitening, and now into the reddening, we marvel at how time’s seemed to have changed.

But times haven’t changed; we have. And thankfully so.

We have grown adept at fitting ourselves to this new form of living—that life thereafter. No longer do we hear ourselves repetitively saying the same things over and over. That time has finished. And we are thankful for it, for it was intrinsically part of our grief. We’re also ravenously thankful for those dear ones that listened.

POST SCRIPT: For those already enveloped in their grief—blackened or whitened as the case may be—keep something like this tucked under your pillow as a hope for that day when colour returns majestically to your world. This is because it will.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Acknowledgement: Abigail Carter, The Alchemy of Loss (Sydney, Australia: Hachette, 2009). Ms. Carter’s three-division structure, “The Blackening,” “The Whitening,” and “The Reddening” is a great way to look at the journey through grief to eventual recovery unto a place where life truly begins again—most often with better perspective. Anaïs Nin’s quote is taken from Ms. Carter’s book.

One Humanity, One Justice

We yearn to be brothers in arms, sisters of grace. Together we travel this existence, come what may, until we no longer do. Teamwork may be cliché but this, here, is never such like. “One” is something altogether too simple for the many that are perhaps confused by simple things, for simple things are inordinately hard too often.

Simplicity is a paradox.

We foolishly extricate our love from our brothers and sisters of humanity—others just as religious as we are. Why do we insult the intelligence of others by insulting our own intelligence? I have in mind here those calling superiority over other faiths; paradoxically the way of arrogance... a thing Jesus would have nothing of, and indeed deplored. Do these warring people really know him?

We are one. We are the same.

Drunk we are to the excesses of our own immortalised greed.

An issue ever more important there never was; not even ‘the gospel’ is as important as the unification of the world, for the gospel truly is the unification of the world.

This is as much about empathy and sacrifice as anything.

Do we do these things anymore? Are they endearing to us?

Our common purpose: to take on a role whereby we heed the inherent call of our souls to the magnification of our minds and hearts in living for another. There is nothing else to life, truly. All of life is subsumed in this alone. Think about it.

One humanity. One justice.

It might not be possible but we believe it is. We see so many reasons to doubt and our thinking flails, and still our hearts will not let us off, thank God. We abide, for if we do not we’re ready for death—certainly not deemed for life.

There is something right there in front of us.

We cannot choose to ignore it but, ironically, we will. We do it gutlessly and reprehensibly.

Standing as one is the simplest thing as we surrender our rights so someone else may have theirs. We get repetitively good at it. We ‘learn it’ into our cardiac muscle memory. And we receive. Let another give to us their rights for choice, for grace, for love. Let them be blessed in this. Let it be a holy gift and may we be truly thankful, grateful, always paying it forward.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Sanctity of Childhood

As the kids assemble in their rows,

abuzz with noise and excitement,

anticipation and fellowship becomes them,

wonder and enlightenment.

As orders are barked from the front,

conformance is readily seen,

acknowledgement of the fact it is,

the mood here’s ever so keen.

Fills it up back to front,

parents as well to bear,

announcements commence – quietness... hush,

students begin to share.

What is it that we can but see,

that thing on the tips of our tongues?

wonderment pursed and personified,

students singing at the top of their lungs.


Children are it! They capture something in us that we always want re-captured, bottled and time-capsuled.

Together Children Are Joyful and Obedient Live-Wires

The poem above I drafted whilst waiting for my daughter’s school assembly item to commence. As always it was well worth waiting for. There is something very golden and pure about the electricity that children bring to life—especially as they gather together.

Children exude joy. As adults and parents there is a great deal we can appreciate about life from the eyes of children. God is teaching us things through them.

There was a military sort of order on display at this particular school assembly—like little ants those children worked happily to the command of the school staff and there, again, is a golden lesson for the most superior of us adults: work obediently and cheerfully when we do.

God possesses the child; we, however, are given the strictest responsibility to ensure children in our charge are well cared for and loved—this, so the spirit of life within them is not quenched in the process of their growing up.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Way of Implicit Trust

Implicit trust – the concept – is the place to get to. It trusts at all times until that trust is, of course, betrayed. Then the trust is necessarily severed. It cannot survive; certainly not the way it was. But the person who trusts implicitly is able to sever their trust without a moment’s resentment – they can also re-trust if and when that’s warranted.

There is hardly a more poignant issue pertaining to life in this world than trust. Everything hinges on it, simply because everyone relies so heavily on relationships—whether horizontally with people and our world, or vertically with God.

Conditions of Trust

These were ‘hit on’ in the initial paragraph. We cannot trust people who betray our trust and prove unfaithful to us. It doesn’t mean we have to feel nasty toward them; quite the contrary. This is because we can understand that for them, their character and our mutual circumstances meant that they made a choice to betray us. Sometimes they only understand the betrayal afterwards, when we mention it to them.

The Power ‘With’ Us – the Betrayed

The pleasant way of implicit trust, i.e. of dealing that feels no guilt for simply doing what is just, is very empowering.

Where people betray our trust flagrantly there is no encumbrance on us that trust must be returned. They can try and restore our trust. But it is our choice to trust or trust again, for we’re not compelled to trust.

Still, Implicit Trust – the Panacea

When we feel the empowerment of not being forced to trust those who don’t warrant our trust we are freed to invest in implicit trust.

It’s that free-flowing relational faith that is mentioned above. There are no barriers to this trust for those we trust.

Notwithstanding the sweeping ‘conditions of trust’ explained further up, the more purely we can trust in our normal day to day lives, the more we will enjoy life—it’s really that simple.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Understanding and Accepting Common Human Insanity

To reach the head of someone is to reach them pre-heart – their heart remains, unconvinced. Yet, to reach their head is a massive task and their very humanity will struggle tooth and nail against it.

We are maddening creatures, truly we are. Ask any parent who forever prays they might ‘get through’ to their child. Or ask the employer who must harp and harp and harp for their employees to work safely. Finally, there’s that person we know who’s still searching spiritually—they take years of investigating ‘faith’ and are still no closer to committing.

These are insane situations—but they are just as equally ‘us’ as anything. We’re all prone to stubbornness; it just depends on the issue. Yet, some are more stubborn than others.

And, still again, we will only convince ourselves!—God revealing same to us, changing our thinking.

Four People

  1. The rebellious child.
  2. The drug addict.
  3. The nonchalant employee.
  4. The confused spiritual/God-searcher.

All of these above have their issues. They staunchly hold values and beliefs—as we should—but these against the prevailing wisdom of those who know better.

We must reach their heads on an intellectual level before we can hope to penetrate their hearts. (And from ‘head to heart’ alone can take years!) But getting into someone’s psyche is an inside job, literally. We cannot do it apart from our tacit influence. And then we add time and prayer to that mix, hoping that God will tip a miracle of reason into the mind of the afflicted.

The main point is it’s insane to expect to change people, especially people who cannot yet decide, or who haven’t discovered, how to change themselves, or that that’s even needed.

Do we see here that we are practicing insanity by not understanding and accepting the insanity of humanity’s nature?

Others’ Transformation is Beyond Us

Transformation truly is a God-blessed reality and truly only God can do it, through a willingly compliant individual.

And, still, we’re expected to play our inferred part.

Parent/teacher/employer/spiritual adviser, knowing this above surely now infuses us with patience—we do not have the sort of control we thought we might have. We also do not have the sort of responsibility for others’ transformation that we often pressure ourselves with.

This is not a cop-out; it’s an important acceptance that aligns us with others’ genuine plight.

This should help relieve the pressure. Our role is defined. We are patient because we know how much we and they are relying on God.

And this is peace for us; a pure, God-intended peace.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This is the Very BEST Train!

Across from me is a string of multicultural splendour—all colours, shapes and ‘makes’ of the human rainbow. As each different person on this train I’m on does ‘their thing’ there is one thing astoundingly noticeable—everyone is different and yet there is an unspoken respect humming within the car. You can just feel it.

Three mobile phones ring in short succession—each phone’s ring tone so different from the previous one.

Difference... beautiful difference.

The feeling in this train is something I’m trying to find the words for... it’s capturing something we all need.

It is tolerance—blissful, accepted, brandished tolerance. And I think:


On any given day, and indeed, to-day, humanity can reach its very God-blessed best.

Even on public transport, I am home.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Each Death’s Impact

Hypothetical discussions are always challenging. One recent discussion involved the posing of the following question, which I thought was glacially poignant:

All things are not equal.

‘Glassing’ injuries and fatal shark attacks get much more press due to the issue of sensationalism... we just don’t hear of many of these deaths. There is automatically a distinct level of public interest.

Why do we not get just as interested in road deaths, fatal drug overdoses and suicides—all of which kill far many more human beings than the ‘sensational’ deaths or injuries mentioned above?

We have become dead at the level of our emotions regarding some of the more ‘common’ forms of death. Do they just occur ‘to someone else’s family?’

When we do not see the personal story behind each death we lose sight of what has really been lost; then we see someone left behind after their loved ones have died, perhaps tragically, and it suddenly hits home.

The very personal question is, “How do we approach death that occurs around and about us?”

Death is as much about life as births and weddings are.

Have we become numb to it?

And if we are numb to death, are we then both personally more susceptible to the mugging reality of death (i.e. the effects of grief if the death of a loved one occurred), and to be dissonantly unaware of the true suffering of those in the world around us?

There is a pure and divine sanctity about death—one we’re to respect, or we slowly become less human and certainly less connected with God than we perhaps could be.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Voluntary Vulnerability

Vulnerability is the key to building trust in relationships. People will not trust those who don’t risk of themselves for the relationship.

People who’ll allow themselves the emotional freedom of being safely vulnerable will afford for, and within, their relationships a halcyon of trust rarely otherwise seen. There will be, for that rapport, a level of social mastery over many interpersonal situations.

But, Why Risk It?

Many will, however, ask, and rightly so, “Why be vulnerable in the first place? Perhaps it’s a risk too high to accept.”

At times the risk is too high. This must be weighed, of course. Some people will just take advantage of the grace we’ll give all-too-freely.

Especially in relationships where there is a rapport of low trust, this is the typical concern; but trust can’t be built-up without taking risks—and safe vulnerability is the way forward.

Vulnerability Manifests Trust

If we’re going to be vulnerable let it be used to show people our trust of them—foundationally by access to the safe parts of our inner selves, and via the giving of unconditional concessions of value as way of vouchsafing the commitment.

This is why emotional intelligence is such an important issue; those who are not safe within themselves will not be free to give of themselves voluntarily to be vulnerable and they won’t also be free to give unconditionally—i.e. for the right reasons.

The emotionally intelligent person, however, is able to be vulnerable without being overwhelmed in disabling fear because of the risks of reprisal.

Dignified Vulnerability

We must understand that by being safely vulnerable we’re completely dignified in our approach, and it’s probably best considered humble. We’re consummately humble—which assertively protects our interests as well as theirs.

Love it is that facilitates dignified vulnerability.

To be voluntarily vulnerable is to be Jesus-like in our relationships—it is to live the beatitudes.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Simply Grief

Grief is getting used to a new reality.

How many of us have had this ‘new reality’ foisted upon us? Too many people will raise their hands... grief is not just about dealing with the death of a loved one—though that is grief primary!

Grief is about getting used to the death of anything we’ve come to love and behold.

It is then the matter of getting used to a life without that much cherished thing or pattern for living. It’s coming to grips with things well beyond our control. This process takes time.

And grief becomes all of us at one point or other.

Perhaps one the best skills we can come to learn, apply and eventually master is that to grieve well.

This is simply to get to a place of true unequivocal acceptance quickly. This is not a process, however, that we can cheat upon. It will take as long as it takes.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.