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.
Welcome back to Term 3 and what better way to begin than with our Teaching and Learning Conference at Newcastle University.
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.
There are weeks when this message gradually unfolds and last week was one of those occasions. One of the big topics emerging for the Australian Plenary Council of 2020/21 is around the role of women in the Catholic Church. For most of us this does not come as a surprise - and yet I sense a degree of resistance, particularly from those in leadership.
I hope your consciousness was raised during Refugee Week in Australia. On Thursday, 21 June, our shortest day, I stood in silence and in solidarity with over one hundred others, on King Street, at Civic Park, in support of Refugees across our globe. This is a weekly event, however more gathered on this day because of Refugee Week and World Refugee Day (June 20). I also hope some of you attended the Unity in Diversity Festival at Hamilton, or other events that may have been held across the diocese. Those people who come to our shores show great courage in choosing a new way of life, away from their homelands, their culture, language, food, work, and all that is familiar to them.
This week, I am scribing my message earlier than usual because I am up north for the weekend helping one of our daughters to prepare for the birth of her next child. I will be occupied with living in the present in order to assist in preparing her, her family and all of us for this new reality. In writings around rites of passage, this is called the liminal space, the space of being ‘not there yet’. It is a time of anticipation but also a time of fear and wondering, for what may or may not eventuate, a time of unknowing and yet a time of trusting. In these liminal spaces, we really do need each other because we face the unknown.