Saturday, 31 December 2016


New Year's Day, 2017.

Along with many people I know, I've become suspicious of New Year's resolutions. My own have tended to be too ambitious and too will based - setting me up for failure some time around mid-January. But I find myself still strongly drawn to take stock around this time of year. I want to reflect on where I am and what the coming year invites and promises, on how I might be different or freshly available.

A member of Benedictus invited us to a New Year's Eve picnic yesterday, at her beautiful property out near Tarago.

Jen is a potter and there were some delightful and quirky juxtapositions to enjoy.

As well as the vista of the Lake George wind farms, seen from the other side.

It was a wonderful way for a few of us to gather, pause and connect with the bush on this threshold of the new year and a great blessing.

Then this morning, Neil and I re-read David Whyte's poem, 'What to remember when waking'. I was particularly struck by these lines:

What you can plan
is too small
for you to live.

What you can live
will make plans
for the vitality
hidden in your sleep.

For me, this is a lovely and timely reminder not to clutch at the shape of life and vocation: 'what you can plan is too small for you to live'. It's an invitation to yielding or total self-giving - wholeheartedness - trusting that in and through this self-giving, I will become available for and open to what is still to unfold and yet also present to enjoy what is already, not letting an orientation to the future squeeze out delight and joy in the here and now. In place of will based resolutions, it asks me to be disposed to participate in 'the vitality' that is the source and the redemption of things.

I hope I remember this not only today, but throughout the year!



Wednesday, 21 December 2016

How Long is Long Enough?

This morning, for one reason and another, my retreat time was curtailed. I was late starting and had a lunch appointment which meant I'd be early finishing.

I felt anxious about my lack of time. Would there be enough for what I needed? Would I touch into that deep place of refreshment and simplicity?

Then I had a false start. I headed off to the Botanic Gardens, but when I got there it felt all 'wrong'. The carpark was full and the gardens seemed unusually busy and noisy. I hadn't brought my customary thermos, and I really felt like a coffee. I started walking towards the back of the gardens, but realised I didn't really want to be there. So I paused, and decided just to head home. I could get a cup of coffee and sit quietly in our courtyard. I could walk to lunch. I could relax.

As soon as I arrived home, I knew it was right to have come back.  I stopped fretting about the supposed lack of time, and the time I had became enough. Because the necessary time is really just the time it takes to drop into stillness and quietness, the deeper current - and that can happen in an instant.

Sometimes it's true that you can only make that drop when you have a certain sense of spaciousness - a morning, a day, a retreat. But if you don't always have that, sometimes just an hour can be enough.

Here's our tea tree, coming into flower.

I thought of the hints we get from the gospel stories of Jesus taking time where he could. Sometimes we hear of a whole night in prayer. But other times, we glimpse him just taking a breather in someone's house, away from the crowds. Or a pause by a well, while the disciples go off for food - until a Samaritan woman comes along, that is.

How long is long enough? The spaces we need can't always be snatched, encroached upon, limited. But sometimes they will be - and that's just how it goes.

This week is Christmas week. I'm conscious that January will have a different rhythm. We'll be away for two weeks and then I'm in New Zealand leading a retreat. I may not manage much blogging in that time, but I hope for spaces of stillness and quietness in the midst of it all - for myself and for you too!

Here's one of our gallant clumps of seaside daisy, whose indomitable spirit always cheers and inspires me.

May we all be gifted with the perseverance and resilience we need to be bearers of hope in these troubled times.

Christmas blessings,


Wednesday, 7 December 2016


I mentioned in last week's blog that I've tended to expend quite a bit of energy 'letting' myself have these retreat mornings, justifying them to myself, telling myself they are necessary and OK.

This week, I simplified it a bit. I began them in the first place because I felt called to do so - called to allow more space for prayer and simply 'being' in my life. I continue with them because that sense of call has not fundamentally changed. So, this is just another practice - like meditation - which I commit to whether it seems productive or not, whether I feel like it or not. It's just practice ...

So off I went to the Botanic Gardens to practise. As soon as I arrived, I felt as you do when you enter a sacred space - immediately drawn in, immediately calmed and quieted. I thought later that maybe it's because, like cathedrals in some other cities, the Botanic Gardens have for years been a place prayed in, reflected in, wandered through and loved at a deep level by the people of Canberra.

This was the first flower that captured my attention.

After that, I took quite a few photos ... and sought simply to be there. The word in the Hebrew bible is 'henini', 'here I am'. I was attentive and inattentive, present and not fully present. Hanging out, trusting that if a bush were burning somewhere, I might notice it despite everything.

And that even if a bush was not burning today, the practice of availability is what ultimately matters, what ultimately serves.

I hope you enjoy these images of the life I encountered this day.