Community in Conversation Reverend Andrew Manning

2016-04-20 06:00
Reverend Andrew Manning Photo:

Reverend Andrew Manning Photo:

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I LOVE the season of autumn, the poet Keats described it as a “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”.
Here at the coast it's true impact is only experienced as a fleeting moment at around dawn when you get a sense of it, before the heat takes over again.
But in that moment of the cool breeze my autumns spent in the interior flood my mind and I'm reminded of the changing seasons of life.
We all have those moments that are given meaning more from our past experiences than our current circumstances. This could explain why letting go of the past is so hard. Our true context is the sum of our experience more than the fleeting moment of our present circumstance.
We often only consider the seemingly influential moments of our past, but the autumn mornings whispering of change, though in themselves uneventful, have shaped our minds and hearts and effected our reactions to our current (so called) realities.

As I realise how different my experience of “that moment” is from my neighbours, I realise that life is full of that contextual discrepancy that is obvious only when we approach the same thing so differently and have so many excuses for our actions.

Only when I allow myself to reflect on my past autumn's, does my today make real sense, only when we all allow each other to reflect and share on our past autumn's will we collectively make sense of our today, together.
It's not only the sunny beach days, nor is it only the winter snow that shape our lives, it's the whispers of change the expectation of the different, it's the hope of the harvest that effects our state of mind and reaction to each other and our circumstances.

I am told that in traditional Zulu dialogue, the greeting sawubona (hello) was only made after the well being of the individual and their family had been established. For only then do we actually see each other and not our preconceived or prejudiced concept of the other. Imagine if we took the time to continually determine how the person we are speaking to is entering the moment of our conversation.

Imagine if we first determined their state of mind and their concerns and their 'distractions' before we made our conversation all about the interaction between us and them.
Imagined if we truly “saw” the person standing in front of us for who there are.
In our dialogue we erroneously demand centre stage of the person's life to whom we are speaking. I realise, in my autumn­, how arrogant we have become.

Who will join me in changing the conversation.
In “seeing” the other and engaging in dialogue “with“ rather than talking “at”.
Who will pause long enough in the moment to accept that it is a lifetime of ordinary moments of expectation and change, that we are becoming who we are.

Autumn reminds me of being incomplete. No longer summer and not yet winter.
Autumn reminds me to hope - the harvest is nigh.
Autumn reminds me of victory - we've survived the storms and the heat of summer.
And it reminds me of the cyclical nature of life.
Most of all it reminds me that life is much more than we see in the immediate, in the present.

As Keat's wrote in his Ode To Autumn: "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Close bosom friend of the maturing sun.
“Conspiring with him how to load and bless," may this autumn bring you to a place where you conspire to be a blessing to your community.
- Reverend Andrew Manning


Here at the coast it's true impact is only experienced as a fleeting moment at around dawn

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