We are almost there. One more sleep until the big day. This 4th and last week in Advent has been one of new experiences, new lessons, new light starting to shine.
I’ve found myself thinking about connections. Who & How I now MAKE time for people in my life, how do we choose, have I and am I choosing wisely?
At this time of year we often find ourselves planning for Christmas day and New Years celebrations too…
- Who are the people we most want to spend these special times with?
- Who have we shared them with in the past?
- Why & What is important for me to MAKE time for?
As Christmas approaches I am thankful; truely deeply grateful that I have the choice to be able to choose to MAKE time for those special to me and for those who have been unexpected gifts in my life. All the while still being open, listening in prayer & learning simply one day at a time…
NEWS ARTICLES + READING
1. Lily & the Snowman - MAKE time for what you love.. >> CLICK HERE (or see below)
2. Hair Stylists Giving Free Hair-Cuts to Homeless >> CLICK HERE for article + see video below
3. Santa delivers Clothes to those needing it most >> CLICK HERE + see video below
4. Keanu Reeves wrote about this picture of himself >> CLICK HERE
“ Focus on the now and you will never have to rush anything. Too many people don't realize the power of the present time by spending it everywhere but in the present moment.”
5. Richar Rohr & Inter-faith >> FULL TEXT CLICK HERE
“Matthew Fox describes how Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh "speaks of the centrality of going deep if we are to do inter-faith work when he says: 'Through the practice of deep looking and deep listening, we become free, able to see the beauty and values in our own and others' traditions.' Yet, to get to the point of seeing the beauty and value in others' traditions, one must look and listen deeply into one's own. One must practice some path along the journey that leads to depth. One must enter the well of mystical experience.“
6. Fr Richard Rohr Wisdom >> CLICK HERE FULL TEXT
“God seems to honor and use each individual path. As Jesus put it, "There are many mansions in my Father's house" (John 14:2). Honestly, what else is possible? God clearly creates and allows diversity in endless forms. But it is also helpful to have reference to the common elements so that I know I am not alone and my ideas are not just my own but from the One Holy Spirit. If we can remember that we all came from God and are headed back to God, whatever circuitous route we take, I think it will help us be more humble and patient with each other. Each group and era has its own preferred symbols, rituals, scriptures, and words for things, but let's not ever let them get in the way of what they are all pointing to and leading us toward--union of the soul with God.”
IN OTHER NEWS
- I donated blood for the first time in Australia on Wednesday. It was painless and pretty easy. Apparently by donating 500ml of my Vampire Candy I saved 3 lives. Amazing. I highly recommend donating - you’ll be glad you did.
- I was fortunate enough to find some free Lego this week. As I walk or run in the morning I'll often have a wee glance to see what people leave on the sidewalk for trash // collection. I'm a big fan of recycling and up-cycling. This week i found a flat screen TV and a bag of Star Wars Lego. Thank you God.... only in North Sydney!
- I completed a new piece of Artwork this week too. I enjoyed experimenting with incorporating the sketch into the wood bark // hole in the plank of wood. Thanks to George Washington for the wise words too;
"Liberty; when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth."
- One of the sisters in the section where I live feeds a wee family of magpie birds. She really takes the concept ‘we are all connected’ from Laudato Si to heart. Seeing that she’s away I offered to feed them. So, morning and night for the next few days i’ll continue to feed the family of 3. I didn’t think I would ever been doing this, but by being open, new experiences have appeared!
Feeling a magpie gently take food from my hand is fresh. I feel softer for it, and more connected. I’m working on names for them too - any ideas let me know...
- We are all connected. We must MAKE time to choose our connections and be OPEN to the connections that God has waiting for us.
- Choose GRATITUDE. Choose CONNECTION. One day at a time.
Happy birthday to Jesus. Wishing you all a Christmas that is filled with gratitude, joy, inner peace and tenderness to all those that surround you.
God Bless + Namaste
December seems to be racing away on us. Zoom. This 3rd week in advent has been filled with lessons, learning and has lit up some bright new experiences…
NEWS ARTICLES + READING
Some of my favourite articles from this past week are below...
1. Dancing Guy Caught On Camera >> CLICK HERE + Watch Video >> CLICK HERE
2. Canada’s Support for Refugees >> CLICK HERE
3. Faithful Gay Couple Welcomed in Detroit Parish >> CLICK HERE
4. Jesus Had 2 Dads Sign >> CLICK HERE
5. Chisel Skills, German Craftsman & a Christmas Tree >> CLICK HERE + Watch Video >> CLICK HERE
The book SELLING ALL continued to be my reading focus this past week. Some areas highlighted:
1. The choice of commitment - Permanent vs Perpetual…
Permanent (descriptor of lifelong commitment) vs Perpetual (freestanding, unchanging substance or condition, usually qualifies movement)… “I am a perpetual learner no matter how much I know” (p 95)
2. Distinguishing between the vows as legal obligations and as poetic and prophetic language. The bible is really a book of metaphors, with large deep meanings. The 3 vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience can be metaphorical in many ways too.
3. Importance & development of relationship with Jesus Christ as central to Religious Life.
“The person whose experience of Jesus is such that it draws her out of herself, beyond herself, in a movement of unitive desire that consumes all that she is and can be to the exclusion of any comparable or even mediating love of another human being feels the need to commit herself to him by the irrevocable gift of her life.” (p 81)
This is a real development for me over the past few years, and definitely more so over the past year. I guess as a young fairly secular person it’s easy to hear the world Jesus and think of that crazy guy standing on the corner spouting out "Jesus Saves". But really, when you look past that guy on the street and look past that hesitation and fear you feel you can then open your heart, learn and get to know Jesus as teacher, as person, and learn from the metaphorical book called the Bible.
I have been and i’m sure you will be astounded by the wisdom, knowledge and love that the ways of Jesus can bring into your heart and soul. Just like Buddha for Buddhists, Jesus is a teacher for Christians.
Standing on the corner for that guy is the way he express’ himself... i can't judge, it doesn’t make it wrong. But that’s his choice, his way. My advice; FIND YOUR WAY. Look beyond the craziness, fear or hesitation you feel. You’ll be glad you did…
“Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. Everyone who asks receives; everyone who searches finds; everyone who knocks will have the door opened.” (Matthew 7 : 7-8)
"It's hard to overstate the importance of what happened in Paris over the weekend: Ministers from 195 countries adopted by consensus a legally binding agreement to fight climate change. The Paris agreement aims to help the world abandon fossil fuels this century and, specifically, stop global warming "well below" 2 degrees Celsius and, if possible, below 1.5 degrees. "
>> CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
I was asked this week by Caritas NZ ((Julianne Hickey)) to create 3 images to help promote the wonderful news from Paris and emphasize our view on the situation intertwining Laudato Si..
My 3 images are below + >> MORE HERE
I’ve been really enjoying trying to challenge myself a bit more with Yoga. doyogawithme.com has been and is a free wonderful online Yoga class solution. I would highly recommend checking it out.
Walking and running continues to be part of my daily routine. MAKING time in the morning to get outside is crucial… Healthy body, healthy mind, healthy spirit.
Some pics from my walking and exploring Sydney adventures are below.
Ministry day this week was again at Villawood detention centre. It's a hard time of year for alot of the detainee's. Being apart from family and friends is tough. Unfortunately too one of the new visitors seemed to ask alot of questions. It was hard for me because that's not how I act when I'm there. It's really important in these situations not to ask, but just to listen, just be present. If the detainees want to talk, let them. But if not, that's ok too. Letting your actions speak first is crucial. Focusing again on what I CAN do; I CAN go there, share a laugh, a smile, some food and remind them that all that is needed to walk in patience and stay positive, 1 day at a time.
As we say in Maori "Kia Kaha" (Stay Strong), or in Maltese "Ghamel Kuragg" (Have Courage).
- FIND gratitude and seek positive goodness in all you do. If a guy can dance and be happy when picking up rubbish - why can’t we all be like that?
- FUNNY-NESS and humour are all around us. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Play music, dance and smile.
- FOCUS on forgiveness, look at yourself and understand that the ways of others are not your own. Let them be them, and let you be you. Shine on...
“Let us show this love in our acts. Bearing with one another. Forgiving & forgetting"
St Mary of the Cross MacKillop
The second week of Advent has graced us with her presence. We are invited to develop our hearts with gratitude; for what has been and what bright light is still to come. I’m very grateful for the past week, for laughter, silliness and the courage to walk 1 day at a time. My wrap up is below…
NEWS ARTICLES + READING
I have continued to read on with the book SELLING ALL this week. It’s heavy theology but I’m really enjoying the challenge and the depth. The chapters focused on formation for religious life and its history. There have been some dark days and dark ways in the past but we are making positive changes. Gone are the days of one-size fits all. We know it didn’t work and I’m proud to see that many congregations have made the bold steps to trust and to change.
“…it is a mutual process in which both the candidate and the congregation are testing the formers vocation to Religious Life (not her quality or value as a person).” (p 66)
:: Excellent ARTICLES & PODCAST ::
1. Baltimore Parish group welcomes LGBT >> CLICK HERE
"St. Matthew's prides itself on inclusion. Besides its ethnic and racial diversity, the Sunday liturgy is signed for the deaf. The sign of peace ritual extends for more than five minutes. Through LEAD, gays and lesbians have been formally invited into the mix. The result has been gratifying to those who have been extended a welcome."
2. SOSJ e-News >> CLICK HERE
3. Number of women Religious about he same as a century ago >> CLICK HERE
4. Starting Religious life vs Student Debit >> CLICK HERE
5. Eating Disorder Recovery as Spiritual Transformation >> CLICK HERE
“Honesty authenticity and transparency are the way to go” + “Look for the activities that make you feel like you’re part of something bigger, because you are.” Chelsea Roff
SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
I was blown away by the offer of free tickets to see the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House on the weekend. Mozart and Elgar were the composers featured. I had heard of Mozart but not Elgar… Sorry Mozart fans but Elgar’s composition left him for dust. The music was beautiful. I guess we never know what surprises are around the corner.
O and apparently the the Sydney Opera house looks like "Nuns in a scrum?" (nuns in habits in a rugby scrum - *hand for forehead*)
YOGA + NATURE
I’ve been really missing Yoga classes, and the prices in North Sydney are a bit scary. Never fear, I've found doyogawithme.com - you can play any of the videos for free and the downloads to save to your computer are really reasonable too. I’m enjoying it more than going to classes, you’ve got plenty of privacy and space. Namaste.
I'm also delighted to have found a new bush walking // running spot too. Although i did experience my first Australian ant bite... all part of immersion & discernment!
ARTWORK + EXHIBITION OPENING
I've been beavering away on a new piece of art for a refugee cause this week (pic below).
We also had the opening of an exhibit showcasing stories and portraits of refugees in Australia here at Mary MacKillop Place museum. Wendy Sharpe is the featured portrait artist. Pic below of the opening (love her shoes with Angel wings!) >> FULL STORY HERE
I met some new detainees this week and the work in progress continues to set healthy boundaries. It's really important to self-care and set healthy boundaries when hearing such sad stories. In order to keep going back you need to care for your spirit, put your oxygen mask on first, then help others with full joy and full love.
We were delighted to be part of the first profession for Denise on Sunday. It was a stunning day, she did very well and there was much love abound. I’m going to really miss her around these parts!
Key things: Laughter is crucial - ALWAYS. Healthy body, healthy mind.
Some days you're just being tested. Keep laughing. Always keep finding the funny side… Keep what's left of your sanity!
The season of Advent has begun. Within the Catholic church it is a time that marks a waiting… the celebration of the birth of Jesus is coming. It is a time when Christians start to reflect on what has been and perhaps what is to come. What has been for me during this week is below…
I’ve read a few good articles this week. These are worth a read:
1. El Salvador Martyrs (2nd Dec, 1980)
December 2nd marks the anniversary of a tragedy when members of the National Guard of El Salvador abducted, raped and executed four American churchwomen in 1980.
>> GLOBAL SISTERS REPORT ARTICLE
>> NY TIMES ARTICLE + VIDEO (video only is just below)
2. The Reality of War >> DALAILAMA.COM ARTICLE
3. LGBT News this week >> NEW WAYS MINISTRY ARTICLE
4. The Medicine of Altruism >> ARTICLE ON ALTRUISM
Definition: Altruism or selflessness is the principle or practice of concern for the welfare of others (opposed to egoism ).
I embarked on a new mission to tackle another rather large book by Sandra Schneiders (or Sandy as i like to call her - humour is clearly essential when conquering her mammoth books!).
The reading this week focused on discernment and vocation; helping me to understand // see in words some of the feelings I felt and have…
“…the call is coming both from within and from without in a way analogous to the felt call to be an artist or an actor or a scientist. It is a convergence of interior factors such as an attraction, talent, interest, experience, desires, ideals, and even realistic fears and awareness of personal limitations…” (p 12)
Compassion is something that I always try to put 1st when making decisions and interacting with others. I may not understand and agree with others, but if i can step outside of my own world and approach things with a compassion heart then I find that my world view continues to change profoundly.
To meditate on this I completed a wee sketch. This one will go out to a close friend that is starting on a new journey, I’m hoping Compassion will always be with her (pic's below + more artwork >> HERE)
I was delighted to hear that some of the detainees have been released from Villawood Immigration Detention Centre since last week. One man had been in detention for almost 5 years! He's now in the community and taking small steps to begin a new life... small victories... *nana fist pump*.
It was good the go back again on Thursday and share stories and a listening ear... focusing on what I CAN do with action and presence - no words are required.
On a positive note; A Sister sent me a photo of something wonderful that is being done in Melbourne for refugees. They are writing messages of hope to those in detention and attaching them to bags of lollies - pic is below. This is something we can all easily do.
On this multifarious journey of religious life the support of family and solid friends is super essential. I’m very grateful that mum stayed this weekend and also really appreciated catching up with my extended family too!
There is a digital calendar that you can access for free by the good folks at Xt3 >> SEE CALENDAR
Key things: Patience and Compassion for all come 1st + Experiences of the heart can be understood on a new level with a bit of theological direction + Gratitude and Laughter is crucial - ALWAYS.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends (my absolute favourite USA holiday)... hmmmmm pumpkin pie.
The act of giving thanks is something that I wish could be the focus of every week; I'm thankful for connections and for long lasting friendships // good memories. What are you thankful for this thanksgiving?
This week's shenanigans are below...
ARTICLES + BOOK
I’ve read quite a few articles this week on spirituality + a book that my mentor has given me. I’ve found twitter is a great way to get the latest news. Global Sisters Report is a great source for articles + New Ways Ministry had a really inspiring article regarding Sr Monica and her work with LGBT people: CLICK to READ ARTICLE.
We ALL deserve love and dignity… that’s what the simplicity and compassion of Jesus teaches us to do.
Sr Joan Chittister is one of my favourite speakers and authors. She is the author of The Story of Ruth which i was given to read. This book breaks broke down 12 moments in every woman’s life and references the book of Ruth from start to finish throughout. It makes for smooth and empathetic reading. The artwork by John August Swanson was very much appreciated too - it’s slightly abstract, contemporary and relevant: VIEW BOOK.
I was very fortunate to have been able to nab a last minute spot on a one day course by STARTTS (NSW Service for the Treatment And Rehabilitation of Torture And Trauma Survivors): www.starts.org.au
The course was designed by members of the VIDC Visitors Group in conjunction with STARTTS. The workshop focused on understanding who refugees and asylum seekers are and the various emotional and stressful challenges they encounter. The training was directed towards volunteers going to Villawood detention centre and also those working in the community with refugees. It was wonderful to interact with others there and gain a huge amount of new knowledge all in one day… Never stop learning!
SASS + Humans of Detention
When i go to the detention centre each week I go as part of a group (SASS - Supporting Asylum Seekers Sydney). We had a meeting on Saturday that was very enlightening. I felt a bit overwhelmed to hear some of the stories from other volunteers and also gain knowledge on some of the recent Australian Government law changes.
It is lovely to gain a sense of solidarity (although i’ll admit that wish it was for another happier purpose!).
We are all out-raged at the lack of equality and loss of human dignity that is caused by the Australian government at the hands of it’s immigration policies.
My visit this week to the detention centre was as good as it can be… Thankfully we are all ‘glass half full’ volunteers and we are choosing to focus on what we CAN do. Going there, sharing stories, smiles and support.
Some of the students involved have created a website and Facebook page. I’m currently thinking up some ideas for artwork of them. Please check them out:
http://www.humansofdetention.com/ + https://www.facebook.com/HumansOfDetention/
SAINT CARDS PERU
One of our sisters sent through some lovely pics of my Gozo Bonkers Saint Cards this week in Peru. I thought you might enjoy them. It’s amazing to see how far the cards are traveling.
FYI: The Saint Cards are on hold at the moment while i’m on my Canonical Year. More to come soon. Please see the website and facebook page to keep up to date // for more: gozobonkers.com
WALKING // RUNNING
I managed to fit a fair amount of walking around Sydney this week (some pics below). I’ve found it’s really crucial to MAKE time for walking, especially after something like the STARTTS course. I also make sure I eat healthy; sustenance keeps me moving. I'm a big breakfast fan, and a fan of small meals (a grazer) - pic below of my daily brekkie - cherries are in season at the mo - yum!
Walking helps me to let all the information sink in too. Thinking through an Examen helps to realise what has struck me and what was important to take forward. A bit of music is a good option too… cheesy 80’s tunes anyone?
Key points from the week:
Never stop learning + Say YES to things that scare you + MAKE time for exercise + Focus on gratitude
Jane Maisey rsj