Harriet (my wife) and I have been travelling overseas every two years to see the world. In between we have been seeing parts of Australia which is a very large country. We are also a member of Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific (a holiday share organisation) where we have available free accommodation in 3 star apartments around Australia. These are largely free of cost.
We both love history and it is very profound to us. People express their ideas on life in the way they build and arrange their living spaces. It is a bit hard to go back to 79 A.D. when Pompeii as a thriving Roman city and was buried with so little warning by 5-6 metre of Volcanic ash from Mt. Vesuvius. Pompeii was literally frozen in time.
You can easily spend a whole day walking the original stone cobbled streets looking at all the houses, temples, public baths and shop fronts.
People express their ideas on life in the way they build and arrange their living spaces. They maybe largely ignorant of you and the way you live and where you even live. Here are some years and countries we have been to:
- Trip 1: 2003: England, Trip 2: 2005: Italy, Trip 3: 2007: France, Trip 4: 2008: Canada,
- Trip 5: 2009: England again, Trip 6: 2010: The South Island of New Zealand,
- Trip 7: 2011: China trip, Trip 8: 2012: a two week holiday up in the Kimberleys in Western Australia,
- Trip 9: 2013: Scenic Tours: Amsterdam for two days then a river cruise for 14 days from Amsterdam to Budapest on the Rhine river with Scenic Tours. See this website. We then personally caught a train to Prague (six hours), stayed for two days and then we flew home via Singapore after 3.5 weeks of being away. We came back on the 29th of July
- Trip 10: 2014: South Africa and Madagascar and now with Voyages to Antiquity … Cruises to Ancient Civilisations in May 2015
- Trip 11: 2016: THE USA HOLIDAY for six weeks from 23rd September – 8th November
- Trip 12: 2017: Japan for 16 days from the 4 – 19th August 2017Trip 13:
- Trip 13: Voyages to Antiquity: …
Cruises to Ancient Civilisations in September 2017. We sailed from Lisbon
(in Portugal) to Rome over 17 days across the top of the Mediterranean Sea
… we saw:
- SPAIN: Cadiz, Malanga, Valencia, Barcelona
- FRANCE: Carcassonne, Marseilles, French Rivera
- ITALY: Florence (by bus), Rome …. Colosseum etc.
When the trip finished in Rome, Harriet and I took another week going up by train to Lake Como then down to Milan for two days. Then we flew home to Brisbane via a night in Dubai. It was six hours from Milan to Dubai and thirteen hours from Dubai to Brisbane ….. a long way to travel.
On the way up to Lake Como, we stopped off at Assisi for two days then Vernon for two days then Bellagio, Lake Como for two days. Then we went down to Milan for two days on our way home. I came back home with about 5,250 ++ photos of the whole trip.
See our Travel Blog at this website:
See the different countries we have been to and the many posts on each county.
Photographs from March 2003 at the ancient Roman town of Bath in England ….. Harriet, my wife and I went on a four week holiday to England. We had an amazing time for a whole day in the ancient city of Bath. The baths are from the first and second Century from Imperial Rome. Founded by the Romans as a thermal spa, Bath became an important centre of the wool industry in the Middle Ages. In the 18th century, under George III, it developed into an elegant town with neoclassical Palladian buildings, which blend harmoniously with the Roman baths.
The Recycled Man
It is now twenty four years from this period of time in my life = 2019. In this time I have called myself the ‘Recycled Man’. I still cannot drive but my wife can drive me around or I use public transport. One major consequence of this new life is that I now have a passion to build inner community with many people.
Harriet and I as a married couple are experiencing a real renewed joy of being together. When we were married 44 years ago in December 1975, we talked about how we were like the eagle and the sparrow. I was the eagle who flew high in the heavens and saw the big picture of life and Harriet was the sparrow who saw more the detail of life. Then we would say how the eagle had to come down to the ground or it would starve and the sparrow had to frequently fly up or it would grow so fat, there would be no flying.
Some of the things Harriet and I are experiencing together are these sorts of things:
- Primarily we have a Christian Spirituality which we share a richness together
- We are really experiencing the beauty of an amazing home, garden and acreage at Chambers Flat, Queensland, Australia. We live in this amazing house built out of rejected materials. See our house and garden if you haven’t looked at these before:
- OUR HOUSE ….An Overview
- OUR HOUSE ….The Actual Garden See the photos of the house and garden and the history of how we obtained rejected materials like the Supreme Courthouse stone (where the Law Courts are now in Brisbane) …. two loads for nothing in 1980. They dumped 100’s of cubic metres as fill and built a school over the top. The stone was cut out of the Kangaroo Points Cliffs in 1877.
Our two children have left home and doing some new things.
- Our daughter Claire Aitken was married to Kieron Jarvis on the 24th June 2017. This was a very significant event. See the Wedding post for photos and what I have said as to why it a very significant event.
- Our 35 year old son Anthony has come to live with us again after ten years of being away. He acts as a tour manager for firms who engage him. These firms sign him up because they are bringing in international music bands into Australia. He has to work out all the tour details for each band. He is very detailed, practical and organising …. he loves it!! He takes after his mother Harriet.
We all went to Melbourne in July last year to attend the funeral of Harriet’s mother Heather Kent. Heather was 97 years old and the funeral was packed out. There were even people there who Heather wouldn’t have seen for 20 years. Heather was a real family woman. Anthony suddenly experienced the value of family. Anthony was also one of the pall bearers along with other grandsons. That is why Anthony has come to live with us again after ten years of being away. He has become very family orientated and wants to look after us in our later years. He has come to love and appreciate our house built from recycled materials. He has come to help build ‘The Aitken Legacy’ longterm.
He has become very focused on tree houses and has selected a large tree down the back of our bush block land. He has already built the initial platform 4.5 metres off the ground. The dome is still to built. He has formed a Treehouse Club on Facebook. He has about 347 members already from around the world. Also see the Treehouseclub on Instagram with hundreds of Treehouses around the world.
In November last year, he flew over to Oregon, USA to meet Michael Garnier who has a whole business in building tree houses. He came back with a whole suitcase of special hinged bolts that you can use on a tree without hacking into the tree. He getting really serious. See the section at the end of this post OUR LAND OVERALL ANTHONY, OUR SON, BUILDING HIS TREE HOUSE ON OUR LAND ….. September 2016 …. Initial stage.
As I said before, for twenty years, I had run my own business in Landscape Design and Construction, doing very creative individual designer gardens for wealthy residential clients. I was more an artist than businessman. I thought of a landscape as would a sculptor in a solid medium, but I saw it as a three-dimensional piece of space which people walked through. This space changed with time as it grew and changed with the time of day: shadows vs. sun patterns, boulders, colour, plants, trees, earth-forms, solid structures and water.
These were the ingredients in a subtle flow of landscape design and construction. Rather an intangible product to sell and run a business with!! Two specific posts of my past gardens are these:
- Greenmount Beach Resort: http://www.kenaitken.net/my-past-work/greenmount-beach-resort-1980-2008/ 1980-2008/ … 28 years on from when I did the garden in 1980
- Sheehan’s Garden: http://www.kenaitken.net/my-past-work/sheehan-garden-october-2007/ in October 2007 …. House and Garden in West End, Brisbane … 23 years on from when I did the garden in 1984
I wanted to be successful in making money but the creative side and the financial success of the business were in constant tension. With the landscape business I was in, there always had a severe downturn in winter.
The year of the accident, I had very little work and money was very short as a result. It was the worst year for business I have been through in twenty odd years. I felt under incredible stress and my wife Harriet and two teenage children were really feeling the pressure as well.
I was under such extreme pressure from the lack of work and at a point of desperation. I as ready to give it all away. I didn’t know which way to turn as I had invested years of study and resources into my chosen career and now it seemed fruitless. I had finished a B.Sc. at University of Queensland in the early 1970’s and had completed most of a Graduate Diploma in Landscape Architecture at QUT in the late 1980’s. I found it is impossible to have business and exam deadlines running together and on one very important project, I had let an important exam assignment pass by.
I was more an ideas, admin and marketing sort of person, good at the design side but not so good at the practical implementation side of the business. Because of the fluid nature of a garden, it was very difficult to be involved in just design, without having to get fully involved in the production side.
Give me any site, no matter how difficult and I would come up with a range of possibilities which were practical. I had a very sharp awareness of what I wanted to achieve but not always the best to make a profit even though I always planned to make one! However, I loved doing what I did.
I was more an artist than businessman which caused STRESS. As I have said before, In 1981, we built a unique natural house out of recycled timber which people often come out to see. It was for a fraction of the price of a new house. As I had run an environmental landscape design and construction business for twenty years, I had the skills to put things together like this. This is on our five acres of light open eucalypt bush at Chambers Flat, Brisbane. The house is largely of glass set into a post and lintel construction of 100 ++ year old broadaxed timbers and sandstone walls. The total concept of indoor-outdoor flow, has a nice ambiance to it and is great place to live and have a sense of belonging. See the website post on our house at www.kenaitken.net if you haven’t looked at these before:
TRANSFORMATION OF LIFE DIRECTION:
With my brain injury, I went from being:
|2. Life Gardener (Inner Sustainability)|
|1. Physical Gardener (Outer Sustainability).|
|1. Outer Sustainability: In a gardening and agriculture sense ….. can certain practices be maintained….. is what you doing now preparing the way ahead for new life? It was a very difficult business in which to make money, mainly due to the very non-standard and the seasonal nature of the work. My former life was not sustainable ….. my creativity in my business couldn’t be standardised vs. a successful business needs to be like a biscuit cutter …. Making a few $$ off large numbers of component|
|2. Inner Sustainability: In an ongoing personal sense …. Can your life be maintained to? ….. is what you doing now preparing the way ahead for new life? I have also discovered the significance of the Inner and Outer Life. Sustainability I have come to see, has to be a wholistic view on life of Inner, Middle and Outer Persons. Problems come because things do not change from the Outside to Inside but from the Inside to the Outside.|
and Outer Life:
Everyone of us has a private space in our lives that we carefully guard. I call it ‘The Garden of Life’ A garden is a personal space you can go out into and to enjoy the peace, the cool air, the shadows of trees, the sun shining with translucent light through tree leaves and palm fronds, the perfume of beautiful blossoms.
No one else comes there except yourself and your family. Even friends do not just drop in. They are invited out there with you after you have let them into your house. Strangers who come are intruders and will be dwelt with by the police.
It is the same with relationships. You have enter someone’s inner life with their consent. You do this by valuing the person with great value and listening intently to what they say, as though it absolutely important. By listening intently (consciously in a rational way and unconsciously with your intuition), you are as it were gently knocking on the door of their inner house. If that person trusts you, they will then invite you into the garden of their life. Then you can talk gently back and forth and then you have established a relationship with them. They will open their door of their inner life at a later time if you knock. To keep that process going is a Sustainable Relationship. If I act suspiciously or try and crash the door with a sledge hammer, I will not be let in. That is what I call an Unsustainable Relationship.
Some Inner Life Gardens are very ordered whereas others are very weedy. Some people do not know where they are. There are definite values and principles of life which really work in everyday life. I say ‘Go through open doors, not closed doors …. Otherwise you will get a very sore forehead. …. Look not at closed doors of the past but expect to find new doors of opportunity in Life in the future which will open up for you’. That is why I have become an Inner Life Gardener (Inner Sustainability) to hundreds of people around the world.
Spirituality: Spirituality is the unseen dimension of life. This unseen dimension of life has a direct effect on our lives here and now, if we let it.
It is a relationship with the universe and the personal higher power (God). We have an outer person (our physical body), middle person of mind, will and emotions, (our soul), inner person (our spirit). If our confidence and sense of identity is only in the first two areas, these can be taken from us in a moment but an ongoing personal relationship with a personal higher power (God) is a permanent restoring aspect of life (i.e. this is our definition of a sustainable life).
More specifically then, our spirituality is implicit, i.e. is inward, self evident and undefined. It refers to how the individual lives meaningfully with the ultimate questions of life, his or her response to the deepest truths as he or she comprehends these. There is a very real invisible spiritual world. It answers such queries as:
• Who we are as people?
• What is the meaning of life?
• What values should I live by?
It is much deeper than being a rational experience of the mind, or just a belief in something, but is a dynamic quality of life with interacts with everything you do. It has very practical effects on such things as your self image, your work, family, social network and the whole of life.
We all have a spirituality of some kind to explain the world. A spirituality is very powerful in the way it integrates our lives and the lives of many others. In the end, spirituality leads to significance in life. There is initially a Horizontal Spirituality which links us with each other, of me to you and you to me. Then it links us further to the physical world and it gives us directions on our relationship with the Earth and all other living creatures. Then there is a Vertical Spirituality which gives our relationship with a Personal Higher Power who is the infinite – personal God. Another way of describing this spirituality is in this way:
The Internal Spirituality: …. The Interconnectedness of all life: The Spirituality of the Interconnectedness of all
things between the living and non living …. This leads to a horizontal spirituality with the purpose to aid others to a better quality of life and belief system.
The External Spirituality: ….. The infinite-personal God …. Transcendent .…… outside the Created Cosmos …. This is a vertical spirituality …. Any healing and restoration has to come here then spread out horizontally to the spirituality detailed below.
For me, I in having a Christian Spirituality, means that there are two parts to the world: An invisible Spiritual Realm and a very visible Created realm. The first part ‘The Invisible Spiritual’ leads to a focus on the Presence of God through the Holy Spirit with what I call a Christian spirituality. It is a ‘Spirituality from Jesus Christ’. This is quite different to a Christian religious approach. See the differences below.
When I speak about Christianity, I mean a Christianity which is focused on the resurrected Jesus Christ. It is also focused on the Holy Spirit who He gave to be His personal representative to each person here on earth. It is a Spirit-filled Christianity and not a ritualised, hierarchal Christianity that has Corporation view of itself. Harriet (my wife) and I personally share in the life of this ‘Spirituality from Jesus Christ’. It is this life which has sustained us and our family of two children since my severe brain injury twenty one years ago. It enabled us to go on four week holidays around the world.
Spirituality is quite different to Religion. Spirituality is implicit (inwardly self evident and undefined). It refers to how an individual lives meaningfully with the ultimate questions of life, his or her response to the deepest truths of the universe as he or she apprehends these. It answers such queries as:
• Who are we as a people?
• What is the meaning of life?
• What values should I live by?
Religion is explicit (outwardly evident and defined) and is marked by four things: a cult, creed, code (ethics) and community (which is more inward looking). My concern and passion now is to make a major difference in the world. This is to connect and share with other survivors as well everyone around the world and share some of my hope and love for life.
The Explicates of a Christian Spirituality:
A Christian Spiritualityis built on an understanding that you and all things around you are here by a Special Creator who is The Infinite Personal God.
A Christian Spirituality is based on what God has revealed through His son Jesus Christ and His Word the Bible. It is based on an everlasting covenant that God initiated when He created man in the beginning. This covenant exemplifies God’s unconditional love for us, His grace and His mercy towards us through the death and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ. He has made a way for us to be accepted for who we are and not what we have done.
The essence of a Spirituality from Jesus Christ is God coming to us in the human form of Jesus Christ. It isn’t about us reaching to be spiritual or to find God. God comes to us instead and everything flows from that. Jesus Christ was not another spiritual prophet to lead us to God …. where all Spiritualities are considered equal in our Post Modern culture. God comes to us in the human form of Jesus Christ which opens up many new life possibilities where God through his indwelling Holy Spirit wants to a long-term relationship with us for all eternity. God wants us to be with Him forever ….. He is passionate about us …. He comes to us. (This is a non gender description and includes male and female personhood).
It is a question of identity deep on the inside. Who are you deep on the inside? The importance of identity determines your destiny. A new identity in what God thinks of you leads to a new passion in life and what you have called you to do. God thinks you are AWESOME!! He wants you to be with Him for eternity. To enable that, He sent Jesus Christ into the world 2000 years ago to bring this about.
This new identity was not based on your personal achievements in life or lack of them. It was not based on what other people thought about you or didn’t think about you. This what could be called a ‘Horizontal Identity’.
The new identity Jesus Christ spoke about was based on a ‘Vertical Identity’ ….. of who God said they were. This new identity that Jesus called people to was not in good words which they could believe or not believe in. It was demonstrated in power ….. things happened …. people were healed of diseases, the crippled walked, the blind saw, the deaf heard, the dead were raised and there powerful encounters with demonically possessed people. With a new identity, came a new sense of belonging which transcended their given definitions who other people said they were.
A Spirituality from Jesus Christ results from a Biblical Spirituality which begins with the Bible. There is a truth concerning God and the whole of life. It was a ‘True Truth’ communicated by God who sees the whole Cosmos as the large picture plus you and I as part of the detailed small picture. Seeing God is the Creator of all things, God knows the final truth. This truth was communicated by prophets and seers over many years and finally in person in Jesus of Nazareth who was God Himself in human form. These truths were collated in the Bible which consists of sixty six books written by people who didn’t often know each other over 1500 years ++ yet whose writing manifests an amazing unity. In this unity there is even a mathematical sequence which flows from the beginning to the end.
The books of the Bible are divided into two sections: The Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is the story the nation of Israel which predicts the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah came in the person of Jesus of the New Testament as the New Israel.
There are some striking parallels like an intricate Biblical clockwork within the bigger Biblical clockwork. This gives us even great confidence in the Word of God as the Word for the Old and New Testament.
The Covenant …. a Biblical Overview:
In the Old Covenant of the Old Testament is the New Concealed and in the New Covenant in the New Testament is the Old Revealed … Jeremiah 31: 31 -34 “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I
was a husband to them, “declares the LORD.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
34 No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD.
A ‘Vertical Identity’ … A Further Understanding
There is a very famous passage in John 3:16,17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved’’.
As I reflect on this passage it has a depth that is immeasurable …… God wants us to be with Him ….. for eternity. This then means:
- For God so loved …… God is FOR US and not against us, despite what we think or feel. He places great value on us.
- He gave His only begotten Son …… Jesus Christ is the means of that connection. It isn’t about us coming to God and hoping we have done enough good deeds or have enough spirituality to earn the right for God’s acceptance, but rather God has come to us and offered a final solution in Jesus Christ. …. that whosoever
believeth in Him …… means to choose to place ones entire direction in life into the
- hands of ANOTHER …. We trust God’s solution to work it out.
- should not perish, but have everlasting life …… God wants us to live with Him forever ….. to have a perpetual existence with Him. To perish means the opposite …. To be destroyed totally, to cease to exist in any form whatsoever.
In his very short life of preaching for only 3 and 1/2 years, He taught in a very famous sermon (the Sermon on the Mount), He taught some very radical principles of how to live in a new way of living in a new Spiritual order.
Jesus Christ came along 2000 years ago into a very Jewish culture. The Jewish Church in Jesus’s day had everything in a very tight theological and ritualistic box as what was acceptable belief and practice. Anyone in this box was in the Family of God. Anyone not in this box was not in the Family of God. These people had precise beliefs and rituals as to what was acceptable and what was unacceptable. The Christian Church today as a whole is very similar. Jesus Christ came along and preached something that was very different. He preached on a third alternative …. The Kingdom of God.
See the hyperlink on this website: JESUS’S BASIC TEACHING: The Kingdom of God as the Third Alternative:
The people who followed Jesus after His death and resurrection were initially called the people of the Way. They weren’t called Christians until later when the Christian Church was established at Antioch in about 50 A.D. There is lot in this name.
1. They had a discernible lifestyle, a particular pattern of life and a way of life and visible to all. This different lifestyle and way of relating grew out of their faith and gave testimony to that faith. To all who saw, Christian belief became identified with a certain kind of behaviour. Unlike our modern experience, there was an unmistakable lifestyle recognised by believers and non-believers alike. That style followed the main lines of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount and His other teaching to believe meant to follow Jesus. There was little doubt in anyone’s mind: Christian discipleship revolved around the hub of the kingdom. The faith of these first Christians had a clear social results. They became well known as a caring, sharing and open community that was especially sensitive to the poor and the outcast.
Their love for God, for one another and for the oppressed, was central to their reputation. Their refusal to kill, to recognize racial distinctions or to bow down before the imperial deities, was a matter of public knowledge. Believing and living were completely intertwined. The earliest title given to them reflected the importance of their kingdom lifestyle. They were not called the people of ‘the experience’ or the people of ‘right doctrines’ or even people of ‘the church’. Rather they were called people of ‘the Way’.
2. It is equally significant that the Christians were known as ‘the people of the Way’. More than just individuals who had been converted, they were now a people, a new community of faith which had embarked together on a new way of life. The first thing Jesus did after announcing the kingdom was to gather a community. To follow Jesus meant to share Jesus’s life and to share it with others. From the beginning, the kingdom would be made manifest through a people who shared a common life.
Their visible fellowship would be the sign and first fruits of God’s new order begun in Jesus Christ. Those who had left everything to follow Jesus were given the gift of community with one another. Henceforth they would belong to Jesus and be inextricably bound together as brothers and sisters in the family of God. The call of Jesus was not only to a new commitment; it was also to a new companionship, a new community established by conversion.
See the post on the Kingdom of God
http://www.newearthcommunity.org/?page_id=1502 This was taught by Jesus Christ 2000 years ago as the Third Alternative between the way of violence as advocated by the Roman Empire and the contemporary Jewish Religion of His day.