TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: Wisdom and resilience

The end of summer, the beginning of March and this is my first message for the year. Some of you may be wondering where I have been since the beginning of February. I have been fulfilling my role as mother and grandmother. One of our daughters, Angela, gave birth to Levi Arnold on 15 January.

Thank you to Sr Patricia Egan for reflecting on both the Plenary Council and our Diocesan Synod in Journeying Together; to Lawrie Hallinan for sharing with you the role of the Council for Mission; to Mary-Anne De Luca for writing about the Diocesan Council for Ministry with Young People and for our many attempts to engage with young people across our diocese, and lastly to Helene O’Neill for her words around women and the Council for Women in our diocese.

I hope that you found their insights significant as we engage in the Contemplative Dialogue process for the Season of Lent. It would come as no surprise to you that the topics around leadership, consultation, co-responsibility, collaboration, consultation, young people and women form some of the issues that have been identified in the consultations that have taken place for the Diocesan Synod and the Plenary Council. The intention of Tuesdays with Teresa is to keep you informed as to what is happening in our diocese, and at times, the wider Catholic Church.

Some of you may be wondering where I have been since the beginning of February. I have been fulfilling my role as mother and grandmother. One of our daughters, Angela, gave birth to Levi Arnold on 15 January, a few weeks earlier than expected. That required me to go to the Gold Coast to care for her three boys, while she and her husband Sam, welcomed Levi into the family. Needless to say, the past ‘40’ days have been monumental. I choose the figure ‘40’ intentionally because of its biblical connotations. I have washed, cleaned, cooked, consoled the baby, refereed fights between the siblings, wiped noses and bottoms, completed puzzles, coloured, taught one how to hold his pencil and to begin to write, read stories, encouraged sleep time, bathed little ones, listened to my daughter as she adjusts to the new baby and checked in on my other children and grandchildren. As Angela reflected, it is definitely easier to go to work!!!

I am sure many of you will recall the unpredictability of those early days of bringing a baby home and adjusting to them while the household seems to descend into chaos. Sleepless nights and days and the battle with endless tiredness cannot be understated either. Attending to a crying baby requires so much stamina, and managing all the new relationships that are evolving around this new little person requires great wisdom and resilience. I believe so much more is now expected of couples and families – lovely homes, cars, careers, children’s activities, education, technology, etc. Young couples are often doing this away from the support of their families of origin, or what Angela and I referred to as the village or tribe. It was important for the three generations to be under one roof for these first six weeks of Levi’s life, if not just for survival.

So yes, I did enjoy the cuddles as most people asked but the reality lingers.

I am grateful for all the work that has gone on while I have been away around the Contemplative Dialogue process – Building the Kingdom of God Together – Our Journey – in preparing our diocesan community for the second session of synod on 22 May. I believe the resources provide a wonderful opportunity for each person, should they wish to reflect and respond. Each week the invitation is to use our scriptures through Lent to reflect on Our Story, Foundational Statements, and our Concerns and Recommendations. Of course, the hope is that this will be done in small groups, but some may not have that opportunity and I hope, if that is the case, you are engaging with the wonderful resources each day of Lent.

There has also been an enormous amount of work around engaging delegates to the synod, and while it was imagined we could have up to over 400 delegates, at this stage the reality is that we presently have just over 200. Some people have been hesitant to step forward because of the commitment required.

This week you are being invited to ponder the amazing scripture reading of the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-10). While at the Cathedral on Sunday night, I was drawn in by the words of the hymn – Song of the Transfiguration, the text of which was written by Sylvia Dunstan.

Transform us as you, transfigured,
stood apart on Tabor’s height.
Lead us up our sacred mountains,
search us with revealing light.
Lift us from where we have fallen,
full of questions, filled with fright.

Transform us as you, transfigured,
once spoke with those holy ones.
We, surrounded by the witness,
of those saints whose work is done,
live in this world as your Body,
chosen daughters, chosen sons.

Transform us as you, transfigured,
would not stay within a shrine.
Keep us from our great temptation,
time and truth we quickly bind.
Lead us down those daily pathways,
where our love is not confined.

I hope you can see yourself reflected in those words as we contemplate this week’s theme of Worship and Prayer. Where are you being led and who with? What are the questions that disturb you? Who companions you as witnesses and the holy ones? Do you just stay in the shrine or what path are you being called to follow?

Let’s keep holding each other with faith, hope and love.

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Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is Director Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.