Wednesday, 24 May 2017


It rained last night and the morning looked rinsed and sparkling. There were clouds around and a reasonable breeze, but it was sunny when I arrived at Lake Ginninderra and the raindrops glistened on the leaves of the trees.

I was struck immediately by a sense of the vivid presence of the life around me - a glossy feathered magpie stood in the middle of the car park singing, a small green shrub caught the light and the breeze spoke through the casuarinas. I was struck also by the many different species of tree in the small area of John Knight Park - perhaps the variety seems more obvious in autumn, as each tree turns (or not) in its own way - a plane tree, a sweet-smelling poplar, and then the bright yellow leaves showing up against the white-barked gums.

I tried to photograph the flurries of leaves falling, but ended up with a fair bit of indeterminate grass. But I had a little more luck with the moorhen on the rock, and the reflection of leaves in the water.

Then I made my way to the Benedictus island, where we celebrated Easter. A favourite spot for my retreat mornings is coming to be the 'back' of the island, in among the casuarinas, looking out across the water. It's sheltered a bit from the breeze, and from passing traffic. And it's amazing that, so close to the town centre, so close to the busy bike path and park, there is this tucked away place where the water birds forage in the lee of the island, the occasional water rat swims by, and the trees carry on their hidden life.

To be more fully present to all these presences is to begin to experience being part of a larger whole, to know myself (in Mary Oliver's words) a member of 'the family of things'.

I thought about the talks I'm preparing for a clergy conference where (inevitably) the theme touches on the question of the future of the church. Sitting contemplating the world like this I sense the invitation for the church is to let go self-concern. It's not about us. It's about simple availability for love's sake. The busy anxious church will not serve the deepest needs of our world, in fact will not even 'see' the world it purports to want to serve. Learning to see though - it's an invitation that is both gift and task.


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

May Days

We have been having the most beautiful May days - crisp, sunny, still.

It's a while since I posted, but most weeks I have been managing my retreat mornings (well, quite a few anyway!). It's just that I haven't done so well with reflecting on them on the blog. But - as when any practice gets ragged - what is there to do, but begin again?

Here an image from earlier in the season - when I spent time in the Aranda bushland during Lent.

Today, though, it was the Botanic Gardens that called. On arrival, as usual, the space stilled me and filled me with gratitude for the time and the beauty of things. The banksias are flowering and magnificent.

The colours are almost impossible to believe, as is the intricacy and delicacy of each flower.

I was struck too by the clarity of the light across the woodlands. Light and shadow were in sharp relief, and the dew sparkled on the leaves.

I thought a bit about the relationship between shadow and light - both part of things, helping define each other. Seeing it in a landscape is one thing, of course. Embracing the shadow with equanimity in our lives and the lives of those we care about is something else again.

But touching, immersed in mystery, I sat and prayed and was renewed.