Speak boldly and with passion, but also listen with an open and humble heart! ~Pope Francis
We have been very blessed over the past few weeks to have had a theological feast in our diocese, courtesy of the Adult Faith Formation Office and Council, as well as the Catholic Schools Office. We have been visited and theologically nourished by James McEvoy, Richard Lennan, Richard Gaillardetz and then by all of the presenters who spoke at the BBI e-conference. All of these speakers and events have drawn good numbers, but of course, there are very few new faces who come along to listen to, and to be engaged in, amazing faith formation and conversation. It has been an absolute delight to be with good people of faith, and to engage with them in deep listening and conversation.
It is Sunday evening and I have just come in from the Hiroshima Day Service at the Adamstown Uniting Church which was coordinated by an ecumenical group of people known as ‘Christians for Peace’. They have been gathering to mark this day for the past 30 years in order to highlight our need to work together for peace and justice in Australia and the world. I felt very much at home, because to my surprise, I knew a lot of people there and our prayer was heartfelt. Many of those who gathered for this prayer are part of my network of Ecumenical, Social Justice and Interfaith friends.
As I look out from my desk at home, I find myself gazing at our beautiful Magnolia tree which is in full bloom. When I see this, I sense the change of seasons has begun and that feels good because the sun is ‘starting to get warmer’ and winter is beginning to fade. The changes of seasons are like life, some I find more pleasing, while others are challenging and yet we must get through them. In many ways we are blest to live in a part of the world that does have four seasons to experience and celebrate, and to provide us with a corollary for life.
I have returned home from being up north where I welcomed a new grandson into the family and where I spent just over a week at the Proclaim Conference. The past week of caring for two little ones and ensuring our daughter was supported once she arrived home from hospital has been very busy and yet at the same time life-giving. There is nothing quite like being in the role as key nurturer to take you mind off ‘work matters’. I think I call this the spirituality of presence or, as Pope Francis calls it, the art of accompaniment. I recognise it takes a good deal of energy to live in the moment.
I am scribing this message from my daughter’s home on the Gold Coast, as she has just given birth to another son and I am caring for the other two boys. As you can imagine the schedule is a busy one and so I don’t imagine this will be a lengthy message, as I write between pick-ups and hospital visitation and preparing meals and doing the washing!!! Mum and baby are doing well and we thank God for the blessings of the safe arrival of another member of our growing family.
I recognised during this past week that it would be difficult for me to put thoughts to paper because of our local news headlines coupled with those national headlines of family violence, the rescue of the young boys in Thailand and some personal family matters. These have left me feeling flat and sad, without words, really. I imagine many of you are able to identify with what I am trying to say and I had contemplated just using the word ‘silence’ for the message.