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I had a rough day yesterday. I got a diagnosis of a new injury in my shoulder which really pulled me down. I thought of this sunset I saw in Tansania last week and share it with you here.


I find peace when I'm watching a sunset. I find strength thinking of the power of the sun and it's effects on us. A great way for me to deal with pain is to visualize and to not push pain away but to create space and to be mindful of other things besided the physical (or emotional) pain. 




Zürich - Dar Es Salaam - Zürich

Sunday I left for a mediation and workshop with an NGO in Tansania. Three days of meetings, mediation talks, trainings later I'm back at home. 29h of travel, 20h in the plane and tired. 

I had to stretch my mind and use all the skills and principles of mediation, conflict resolution, OD, social skills and training I have learnt over the past years. 

The meeting was awfully organised. There was no agenda, no preperation of breaks, participants lists, no food or coffee/tea organised. Participants came and went and I had to constantly change the agenda. This made it very difficult to work in a consitent way.



I saw a the beautiful indian ocean and from far the paradize of Sansibar but otherwise nothing of this beautiful country. 


A strong impression I carry away is the renewed awareness of the importance of strong and positive values which are commonly agreed upon and "enforced"/lived are for an organisation. 


Now that I have finished my last official mission for my past employer I am free to move into the new and to discorver, develop and dive into this exciting phase. 


Impressions on the way to Dar


Above: after take off in ZH and in the area of Lucerne 

Below: approaching Nairobi



Below: Landing in beautiful Africa


Leadership lessons 

I learnt alot about leadership (and managment!) during the 7 years in IFBC. One of the strongest impressions and learnings has been that organisational change depends and requires personal change. 

Change emerges when people act into new behaviors and break unhelpful patterns, embrace relational interaction and accept work priorities that are in accordance with the values and goals mutually agreed upon.

In terms of Human Relations and staff: I will listen and follow my and others gut feeling. Staff that doesn't accept the leader and think he or she is the right person in the right position continually undermine his/her role. 

Small things matter: I observed how small changes started to have big effects. Some staff members stopped greeting others in the morning and there was a pattern of lack of communication on conflictuous matters. Through my remote work and many trips I didn't realize this was happening and when I did realize I should have intervened much faster and stronger.

I had a mandate last week with a large team of 30 officers. It inspired me to see how they develop their team-culture, value rituals and pay attention to maintain a high level of trust in each other. 

The quote of Leonard Cohen is teling: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”


To have a good team performance (and individual performance) we need to see the crack not only what it is but also what it allows... light comes in. 



The grip of Materialism

This annimated presentation is worth a few minutes of our time. 






the small, big beauties of life - no more words needed




To live and die

One of the tasks of faith is to prepare us to live and to die. Interestingly it is one and the same process and the key elements are the same. 


In facing the the question of what I fear in death, I have discovered what I fear in life. The loss of control, the giving-in-to-the-unknown, the loss of ability to stay on the path of experience and the need to trust in the goodness and love of God. 


Our societies teach us the myth that we alone are in control of our destiny and path. And whilst doing heaps of development work on a personal level and with others, I am aware that this is just one ingredient in the dish. 


Today I choose to trust that in pleasure and pain there is a seed of hope and life planted by a living and loving mother and father. 


Transition time

My plans for the next phase of my life are slowly becoming clearer! That is a good feeling! I like transitions, pioneer situations, changes and the "new". But it's nicer when I start seeing it emerge than when I have to let go of the old. 


It has been on my heart to start a not-for-profit organisation focusing on helping persons build positive gender identities  in developing countries. This will include a special focus on children and men who suffer injustice, violence and other forms of mis-treatement because of their gender identity. There are many organisations and actors focusing on women (and thank God for them) but very few talk about men who experience tortuture, rape, sodomy, beatings in detention, prison, IDD camps or conflict and post-conflict settings. 


Together with friends we will register an association in the next weeks and start formulating plans and objectives and spread the word.


Oslo thoughts

I just arrived in Oslo for a meeting and am staying for the x-th time in P-Hotel on Grensen. It's a simple but nice hotel with wooden floor (very important to me as I hate carpets in hotels...). 


The trial of Breivik is omni-present. I question the wisdom of giving him so much air time, media space and coverage. A fair trial he shall have but not more attention to his crazy ideas and ideology. 

Reading the swiss news I read again of a case where a murder took place and the weapon was an arm machine gun that should not have been kept by this private citizen. 

I wonder how many people need to be killed, injured or threatened before the rules and laws are made more strict so that less guns and weapons are in the hands of civilians!  


The Exotic Marigold Hotel

This is a beautiful, thoughtful, light-heavy, film about 6 retirees from the UK who choose (or find themselves in the situation) to move to India. They are hosted by a fascinating and loveable man who is managing a run-down hotel his father built.


The film beautifully shows the importance of facing reaity and the dangers of falling into positive reframing but also the pitfalls and consequences of passive agressiveness towards the unknown and new. 


I won't reveal more - just go and check it out! :-)




Life's experiences

I was updating my CV for a job application today and thought "crumbs, I have done so much already and I'm only 38!". 

Do you know this feeling?

It was quite a nice realization to see all these experiences, learnings, illnesses, delights, failures, ups and downs and to know that I have weathered so many storms and am still here! :-)


 Nov 2011 in Namibia



The Melati Resort in Koh Samui was one of the first luxury hotels I stayed in together with Jael, Chris and Laurence. It was a huge gift that we could relax here a few days and I love remembering the fun we had in the pool, kayaking, indulging in great food etc.


I remember standing in awe seeing the huge pool, bar in the water, getting wet, cold towels to refresh every few hours, the amazing range of food.  


when will healing come?

When will pains end? 

When will freedom to move return? 

When will energy be made available for the nicer things in life again? 


I try to enjoy the small things every day. The coffee, a talk with my wife, meeting an old friend for a coffee, playing Billiard with my son, seeing the spark in my daughters eyes and feeling her energy, reading a touching book ... but with constant pains even those nice moments are shadowed. 

But - I am not alone. I feel peace and thankfulness for life and know that in all things I am not victim but a loved and loving human. 


I am so grateful for my family, my many and caring friends, for safety where we life, for clean air to breath, for a huge range of food and water, for a loving God, for culture to bath in, for nature to marvel. 

Thanks to my great family for not loosing faith and hope and patience when I'm not fully present and working to cope with pain, to my friends who listen, care, challenge, love me and to my parents, brothers and sister who keep showing love and support. 


Picture taken in Namibia in Oct 2011 




Why I don't attend a formal church - part 2

My previous blog made me think more about the title. I am aware that there are more reasons (of course!). 

My journey since leaving the church has helped me to become more of a follower of JHWE and searcher of truth and light and love.  I have become less judgemental and more quiet and been able to integrate faith in my life in a much deeper and more authentic way. 


Being outside formal church structures, roles and expectations helped me take a spiritual path on which I had to take off all the religious "clothes" and to re-assess, search and re-assembly a belief pattern and meaning of what it means to be a follower. This process was challenging and not something I enjoyed. But it did reveal a construction of faith and identity which wasn't consistent or healthy.  


In the past years I have searched, tasted and embraced spiritual practices from the mystics and especially learnt to treasure silence and solitude. As Christian Rutishauser (Jesuit Priest in Lasalle House, Bad Schönbrunn) said "words need to be balanced by silence in order to be meaningful." 

Or as Richard Rohr says... we need to learn to fall upwards. 

This process of learning from mystics, budhists, christians, and other religions is one I'm just embarking on and through all the fears and dark nights it takes me - it's helping me heal and discover the source of love and life. 



The now and not yet

The theology of the Kingdom of God advancing has struck and marked me for many years. The belief that sometimes (and we are not in control or knowledge of the "when"), the Kingdom of God reality breaks up, touches down, strikes, surfaces, reveals itself... in the here and now on planet earth. These are wonderful, touching, healing, empowering, life-changing, defining, wholsome and holy moments. 

But the other part of this understanding of the "now and not yet" - which many churches struggle with - is the "not yet". How does the "not yet... healed, changed, transformed, inspired, holy, healthy, redeemed" impact and influence our life and faith? How do we deal with suffering, pain, not-restored but believing? 


The temptation and danger is to deny the other end of the pendulum and to not hold the tension of believing both the kingdom of God which does break-in and the belief that it doesn't always change our present reality and norms. 


I wish to live in the awareness of both and most importantly doing it in such a way that I communicate that life is a privilege, not a right. 


Why I don't attend a formal church

I have often been asked lately "Mark, why don't you go to church"? 

My first immediate response is that I'd like to know why this question is of interest to the person and what the motivation for asking is.

"Not going to church" or being "unchurched" (which I really don't find to be a very nice way of being classified!) isn't something I chose like I choose a  "2go-grande-double-shot-cappucino". It has been a process of many years and many concious choices not to primarily identify my christian home and playground through formal membership in a church. 


I deeply believe that being a follower of Christ is someone you choose to be day to day and I choose to live this live in communion, fellowship with others. "Others" are many different people with whom I have various kinds of relationships. To some I have a very regular, close and comitted relationship with accountability. To others it's a journey where we encourage and rejoice and share our challenges and sorrows regularly or whenever our paths meet. 


By choosing to be a follower of JHWE I say yes to share in the joys and suffering of my neighbour. 
One of my biggest disappointments is that so often the church that claims to be the church of Christ doesn't show to be a compassionate fellow disciple. Church in my understanding always says yes and practices compassion expressed suffering with the needy and poor. Unfortunately the church I often encountered was the one that wanted to celebrate the healing but not suffer the sickness.  


Johannes von Kreuz wrote about the dark night in his famous poem. How touching and real!


I wish that the chuch as we re-build and re-live it in formal AND informal ways is a place where pain is endured, healings celebrated, persons loved and compassion excercised in fullness and without setting of conditions!  


Der Rabbi

Ein Rabbi hatte eine Unterhaltung mit Gott über den Himmel und die Hölle. Ich werde dir die Hölle zeigen, sagte Gott und führte den Rabbi in einen Raum, in dem ein großer Tisch stand. Die Menschen, die am Tisch saßen, waren ausgehungert und verzweifelt. Mitten auf dem Tisch stand eine gewaltige Kasserolle mit einem Eintopf, der so köstlich roch, dass dem Rabbi der Mund wässrig wurde. Jeder am Tische hielt einen Löffel mit einem sehr langen Griff. Obwohl die langen Löffel gerade eben die Kasserolle erreichten, waren die Griffe länger als die Arme der potenziellen Esser: Da die Menschen die Nahrung nicht an den Mund führen konnten, konnte niemand etwas essen. Der Rabbi sah, dass ihr Leiden tatsächlich schrecklich war.
 Jetzt werde ich dir den Himmel zeigen, sagte der Herr, und sie begaben sich in ein anderes Zimmer, das genauso aussah wie das erste. Dort standen der gleiche große runde Tisch und die gleiche große Kasserolle mit Eintopf. Die Menschen hielten wie die nebenan die gleichen langstieligen Löffel –aber hier waren alle wohlgenährt und rundlich, lachten und unterhielten sich. Der Rabbi verstand gar nichts.
Es ist einfach, erfordert aber eine gewisse Fähigkeit, sagte der Herr.
In diesem Zimmer, musst Du wissen, haben sie gelernt, einander zu füttern.

[Irving D.
Yalom: Die Reise mit Paula.]


Full head...


My head is full today

full of options 

spaces filled with fear

some with optimism 

thankful for what is 

hopeful to overcome some limitations 

pains coming and going

decisions to make 

pleasures to enjoy 

loved ones to love 


Dimensions in Space

Here's a cool visualization of the dimensions in space.



World Development

Here's an interesting animation of the world's wealth and health development from the SIDA (Swedish Developent Agency).


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