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A Confused Sunday

So, I didn't get to post an entry yesterday, so allow me to recap.

Yesterday was Saturday, and a market Saturday at that. We arrived at church just after 9am and set up the Youth Ministry market stall (to raise money to help fund the youth ministry costs). We sell second-hand puzzles, donated by people who take good care of their things, so all the pieces are reasonably expected to be there.

I found my Children's Church advertising sign, which I strung up at my stall, and at the insistence of the person running the market, I gave away free balloons to children. I felt a bit creepy, calling children over to give the free stuff, or following around the property trying to give them a balloon.... I let some pass because I was creeping myself out. I couldn't help reminding myself of the clown in 'It'. Not a resemblance I crave.

I took my book to read at the market, but my sister also had a stall, and so she sat with me most of the day, for those 5 hours, and we chatted. I think I made about $50, which is reasonable enough. I have made more, but I have also made less.

Plus, I found a great pair of Doc Marten boots at the market! So, I bought them. Ooops. But also, yay!

After the market, I packed up the stall with some help from the Verger and a very generous parishioner, and then went and got the boxes from my car, which I had bought on Friday afternoon - a box of toilet paper and a box of paper towel.

When I had gone to the shop to buy the paper hand towel on Friday, I had arrived only to discover that the interleaved hand towel comes in different sizes, and I didn't know which size to buy! I had a guess based on the brand - I vaguely recognised the blue and white... and there was only one size of that... but still, I wasn't completely sure. So I called the Father and asked him to check the store cupboard and tell me the measurement for the paper towel. He had told me the measurement and the brand, and I had duly found a box with the correct brand and measurements and bought it. Well, now, Saturday late afternoon, I finally got around to it. I first checked the storage cupboard to see if I needed to bring the box over and refill it (there are 3 places on the property where we keep it and I wasn't sure which ones needed topping up). When I opened the cupboard my heart sank... the only paper hand towel in there was a roll, not interleaved... and yes indeed, it was the brand and size the Father had quoted.... oh no...

I got a pen knife and opened the box I had bought... yep! It was rolls, not the interleaved variety that fitted in our dispensers. Clearly the Father didn't realise that the rolls we have are just left over from when someone had previously bought the wrong kind. Alas! And I had not realised that the box I bought were rolls. I checked now, and no where on the box did it specify. Bother. So, I told the Verger, and said I would take it back on Monday and see if they would let me exchange it.

Then I finished the pew sheet, printed it out, printed out some papers for Sunday School, and prepared my Sunday School box with all the things I needed for the lesson. Then I went back to the top room of the office.

"Where's the box of hand towel gone?" I asked the Verger.

I put it away," he said.

"Away? Like... in the store cupboard?"


"Didn't you.... didn't you hear what I... but I told you... they are rolls. We needed interleaved. I was going to take them back on Monday."

"Oh. No, I didn't hear you say that."

"But I.... Alright. I will just put them back in the box."

"You will? You can put the box back together?"

"You broke the box?"

"It's in the recycle bin."

"I- I- But... *sigh*"

So.... now we have a whole boxfull, worth about $60, of rolls of paper towel we don't need and I can't return. I will just have to go in and buy a second box, the right ones this time, the blue and white ones in fact. *facepalm*

After this disappointment, I set up a scene of the Emmaus road on one of the tables for the children to act it out with figurines.

We ended up leaving church last night around 6:15pm, and once home we had dinner and watched some 'Call The Midwife' before I made a prototype of the Sunday School craft. I managed to be all finished and ready to pack up for the night at 8:50pm! Amazing.

♦ ♦ ♦

This morning went very well indeed. I had one child at the early service, and five and the later service. The children adored the scene I had created of the road to Emmaus on the table, and had fun acting it out.

Morning tea delivered only two people who had need of speaking to me - about our running low on paper towel (yup, that old doozy), and the heater not working (fixed it - childlock was on).

Because it is the 5th Sunday of the month, we don't have a service at the nursing home, nor is there an evening service at the church. Hurrah, we all thought. Until we realised there was a baptism at 12pm, and at 12:30pm. That doesn't involve me, but it does involve the Verger, which therefore kind of involves me. I spent the time cleaning up the Sunday School room.

After the baptisms, I went in and cleaned up the children's corner in the church.

Then... there was a concert taking place in the church at 4, and the mucisians had asked for the church to be opened at 1:45. Well, it was now 1:45, so the Verger opened it all, turned off alarms, and turned on heaters... and at 2:10 we were finally set to go home. Got home at 2:30, had some lunch from a box and watch an old episode of Big Bang. After this I suddenly remembered a job the Father had asked me to do: acquire a rabbit for tomorrow. So I made a phone call and organised a rabbit (success!) and then it was 3:30, time to go back...

The concert started at 4, and we were just in time. I must say, absolutely fabulous concert!  Started with a marvelous Elena Kats-Chernin piece. Gave me the shivers. So haunting. And the violinist started from the side and walked in and up the aisle of the church while playing, wearing a floaty dress and no shoes. Perfect for the piece. It made me realise... I have wanted to buy an Elena Kats-Chernin cd ever since I first heard her piece Wild Swans on the radio. When was that... I was in Uni... it was before my exchange to France... so it would have been.... 2007. 2007! That's 10 years ago! That's 10 years of "I want to buy one f her cds", of "I will buy one of her cds soon", of "I must buy one of her cds." So that's that! On payday, I am BUYING one of her cds at long long last. I spoke with the violinist afterwards (we have met before at other concerts they have held at the church, and we have even caught up for coffee to practise speaking french together). Anyway, she suggested a shop locally that would sell such cds. So, I will go there! Payday, here I come!

After the concert the Verger packed up, while I went to the church shop to find a toy bunny with the Father (I'll explain the rabbits tomorrow).

Then... at last... home time.

Although I am feeling really overwhelmed. I have to work tomorrow, my day off, from 8am until 12:30, so that means 7:30am-1pm are gone, straight up, from my day. Then the rest I will have to spend studying because I have a Greek tutorial at 6pm, and I am falling behind. I also, in a bought of wild, caffeine-induced optimism, on Saturday promised my sister I would go to her house to help her with sorting on Tuesday... but then Tuesday evening I have Young Adults, and then it is Wednesday again, the first day of my working week and the busiest day, requiring a lot of interacting with others. I can't do this without bubble time! I am already dreading it. Dreading, dreading, dreading. The Verger suggested I call my sister to cancel. I think I may have to. How lame of me. I have to be unreliable, and to let people down. But I also have to take care of myself.

I already have been struggling a bit today. I found out some stuff, which I can't really talk about, but which makes me feel quite betrayed and unsupported by someone I thought was a really key supporter of my youth ministry. I don't really know what to do there... it's not venting I need, but help with a plan. Goodness, this work can be gruelling and thankless. But I can't say I wasn't warned.

And I am also trying to deal with text messages. I feel a bit inundated, plus I have been getting a few lately that I find kind of cross the line... complimenting my looks and such. Plus some from someone else needing emotional support. Man, I am only good at this if I have regular bubble time to switch off, recharge, take care of me.  ...

Yeah, I am going to have to cancel on my sister. Bother.

Whiskey. Book. Bed. Gilmore Girls. Now.

This evening my brother had invited the Chap and me to join him at the cinema to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  It was bizarre to be going out at night. The newly arrived chill was biting through my clothes and invigorating my lungs. I was reminded of all the other times I have felt like this, usually out with friends.

Well, tonight, I was going out to the cinema, and I was actually here, on the way, with two other individuals my age, and I was feeling cool in my jeans (I almost always wear long skirts - just because I think they are pretty).

Originally, I only went because the last few times my brother has invited me I have had less than zero interest in the film suggested - in fact I have actively wanted to avoid said films. This time the film he suggested wasn't abhorrent to me, so I said yes, just for a change. And I really loved the film - it was wonderfully silly, full of characters to care about, and a pretty awesome armband on the character of Gamora *craves for those heady Cosplay days*.

I had to stop and take notice - I was out with that whisical evening air, and it may have only been my brother and my husband, but these were two people my age whom I like and we were going out. This was a the social outing I had been craving lately. And just because it wasn't with the group of friends that I had been imagining, it was still a moment to be gratful for.

I have been trying to reach out a bit to some friends lately. Texting, facebook messaging (which I hardly ever start without a specific message that requires communicating), trying to arrange skype dates. Not much luck so far. People be busy. I do tend to keep to myself - I am good at talking with people and interacting, but I am also an introvert in so far as I need my alone time to recharge, so with a job that is incredibly social, when I come hom I usually just want to get a book and a blanket and close the door. Not enough alone time and I feel spread too thin. Thin enough to crack. So... I guess I must be recharged because I have been craving social activity, friends, laughter. I want to talk about things. I hear a song, and all I want to do is pick up the phone and talk with someone about it! But people are busy for now... I only hope that when they do get some time that I still have this energy to exist in that space between myself and other people, where we meet each other, rather than existing only inside the limits of my own physical body.

It can be hard, looking back on times where I had a whole group of friends who all wanted to do things together, so making arrangements was easy. Sometimes I wish so much I could go back to those times. But then I look at my life - my beloved chap, my sense of purpose, the amount I have learned and discovered, and I know that, were a door to open right here, in the empty space in front of me, that was a door back to that time, I would pause and then realise I would not want to step through it after all. Sometimes I have to think that to remind myself to appreciate all this, right now.


Normally a Public Holiday is when you would normally be working but for some significant community observance you have the day off.

For me, it is the opposite. Tuesday is normally one of my days off, but today was ANZAC Day, so instead of having a weekend day, I was heading to work at 8am, to be ready for the special 9am ANZAC Day remembrance service.

I did get to return home afterwards from 10:30ish until 1:15pm, when I headed back in to work for the service at the nursing home.

Home again by 3:30pm, only to realise I was meant to put some data into a computer for the church shop, and it has to be done by Tuesday each week. Oops! So I went back into work a third time to get it done, hoping that since it was a public holiday the Tuesday deadline would be extended. As we arrived (I got the Verger to come with me since I was a bit uncomfortable driving in to church and hanging around alone in dark buildings) we saw one of the parishioners working hard in one of the many jobs he volunteers in - still working so hard in the cold and in the dark!

Unfortunately for me, someone had come in already and taken the very thing I was hoping was still there, but lucky lucky me they had left enough clues that I could infer and piece the data back together to enter into the computer. Phew!

So, that was rather a bit of work for a day off, and a public holiday to boot.



Called to Joy

Advent is a time of joyful expectation. Yet it is easy, especially in these times of division and conflict, to get bogged down, overburdened by the weight of all that we are carrying in our lives and in our hearts. Going to sleep stressed or worried is a reality for many people, and it can even seem that happiness at the moment is tantamount to callousness.

So how can we live out our vocation to joy amid today’s present evils or looming uncertainty?

In a word, gratitude.

Brother David Steindl-Rast OSB, in his book Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, states, “It is not joy that makes us grateful. It is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
Similarly, Dr Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, in her book Daring Greatly describes joy as “a spiritual way of engaging with the world that’s connected to practicing gratitude.”

Now, “gratitude” is one of those nice words. It sits alongside words like “forgiveness”, “love” and “peace”. They are lovely ideas, but putting any of these into practice isn’t always so nice.

Can you think of a time you stood before a wrong that you didn’t know if you had the strength to forgive? Or where you came across a person that made you doubt your ability to love? Or where you were confronted by ideas so contrary to your own values that you wondered if peace even had a role to play in the circumstances?

Similarly, gratitude takes a certain courage and a certain strength to live out.

Our current culture emphasises reward as the result of individual work ethic. “Success” is plastered everywhere as the main goal toward which we all ought to strive. And success, while a relatively fluid term in itself, is implied to be linked with skill and knowledge leading to good careers that pay us well to that we can not only be independence, but also have more than others. Ultimately, we may finally be able to achieve the remarkable feat of … not needing anyone.
In a culture where needing others is a form of failure, no wonder so many people find themselves feeling both isolated and like failures.

Gratitude can turn this idea right around. To be grateful is to acknowledge that you are not solely responsible for where you are and what you have. The very act of connecting with a sense of gratitude bring an awareness that we are connected to others, and to a benevolent power that moves in the world.

But being grateful can be challenging in good time as well as in bad.

Some people fear that being grateful for their own achievements, attained through hard work and discipline, would imply that the credit is not theirs. Being told “everything is a gift” can sound like a cheap platitude, when they actually worked hard for what they have.

On the other hand, some people find just as hard the idea of being grateful when times are tough. Not only can it be hard to find things to be grateful for, but being grateful for something so simple as food to eat can raise questions of “why have I been given so little?”

Along with these two extremes, of fabulous ‘success’ and bitter want, it is so easy at any time to forget gratitude altogether amid the workings of daily life.

But gratitude is a way to engage with the world that neither denies the suffering of others, nor of ourselves. It is not putting on a happy face, or turning away from difficult truths. It is finding the good among it all, even when that good is very small, and seeing God’s presence with us in that goodness.

Heart of spiral fire

I am spinning in circles of ecstacy, and sometimes I get so dizzy I stumble.
I bump into another, and I giggle, expecting them to get the joke, and to laugh with me.
Instead they look at me with caution, and hurry away, muttering to their friends.

I burn red. What have I done? What must they think?
I wanted us to rejoice together. Now they want nothing to do with me.
They think I am unhinged, but the only thing unhinging me is my desire to love.

Still I burn. I can feel the flames leaping deep within,
an ecstatic fire, fanned by the breath of the holy one.
I want to share it, but my words get tangled,
and even I don't like what I hear.
No. No, that's not what I meant.
The only vocabulary I have is theirs,
but honestly, I am not trying to say the same thing.
At least, I think I'm not.
Maybe I have misunderstood them as well.
Maybe they are wrestling words as well.
Tiny little things. Bursting.

And now I want so much to share from the deepest parts,
but I am afraid;
afraid of an 'oh, that's nice'.
At best.
Because there is a gulf between me and you
that cannot be bridged by words.
That cannot be bridged,
only be filled.
Filled by Love.

And it is already filled.
Look and see.


Stories make us Human

I'm telling you in advance. This is a loooong post. Super long. I have put it in 'chapters' to help ease the progress.
And it leads me onto topics of faith/spirituality/religion.
I have been putting off a post on this topic for a long time now, since I knew it would be a quite an undertaking. But I must write it. The past few days have handed me too much on the topic to ignore.
While this post is long, I do feel it is one of my more meaningful ones...

Image from: creationswap.com

Tale as Old as Time

As you have probably figured out by now, I am a bibliophile. While I try to live simply, I just can't resist a book. They leap into my hands whenever I leave the house. (Also when I am at home, but they are usually already mine, so it is not so dangerous). But while books can contain stories that are rollicking good fun, I take stories much more seriously than mere entertainment.

Stories have been around for as long as humans have. Our ancient ancestors sat around campfires sharing stories. They painted them on cave walls. They wove Dreamings or envisaged mythical creation stories. Since the dawn of time, stories have told us who we are.

Even in this modern age, when even books can start to look like a niche or antiquated idea, we haven't changed that much. What is Netflix for if not to transmit stories - more and more, whenever we want, as much as we want. We can't get enough of them! And that, I think, is of great importance. It tells us something about what it means to be human.

Seeking myself in books

I have always been in awe of books. I remember buying books and opening them with hopeful expectation that within its pages I would find... oh, everything. Pure magic, absolute truth, meaning, God, myself. I was constantly anticipating a book that would unlock all the mysteries, reveal to me all the hidden things. I knew even then that books were powerful, and I sought the most sacred book of all.

Naturally, a child like this, brought up in a Christian home, looked to the Bible for salvation, hoping to find transcendence through its tissue-thin pages. Maybe being part of a religion with a sacred book started this all off for me in the first place. But I will admit that I did not find transcendence there. I found many other things, some of them deeply troubling (but my journey with the Bible is another story for another day). So I widened my search to include more kinds of books.

There were some that came close to something magical for me. I discovered books whose authors seemed to be searching for the same thing I was, and so I fell in love with Traci Harding's The Ancient Future trilogies. I found characters that seemed to be haunted by the same ghosts as I did, and so found kin in Charlotte Bronte's works. I found messages that resonated deep in my heart, so Dickens' A Christmas Carol became one of my treasures. But no book could unlock all mysteries to me, and grant me enlightenment, even if they did fan the flame of my heart.

I turned to the idea that perhaps I could write this book of perpetual transcendence. I think I may have set the bar a bit high there, since I have never managed to finish any book, since I can see straight up it isn't the miracle book for which I had hoped.

And then, studying theology, in my course on the Hebrew Bible, I came across ideas that beckoned these thoughts back to the fore.

We learnt about the Hebrew Bible as the story of a people. It was history as shared memory, a story that told these people who they were, that gave them identity and meaning. If we don't have a story, we become as people without a memory - people who don't know who they are.

The idea of Story started haunting me with nagging persistence, playing on behind my everyday thoughts, surfacing in my mind through the humdrum chatter. Story... story... story...

Do we get to keep our stories when we die?

During our Lenten book study this year, we read Abiding, by Ben Quash. Allow me to share with you a passage that stirred my mind to flame (and for my non-religious friends, bear with me - this is just what got me thinking):

"... another question [that] haunts the modern mind [is] whether there are 'whos' in heaven at all. Does the very fact of being a 'who' - of being someone, a unique, particular person - mean anything after we die, except in the minds of those who are left behind?

"I was surprised by a recent conversation with a chuch-going friend who said that she did not expect in any way still to be 'her' after she died. She imagined herself returning to the ebb and flow of the cosmos. And this expectation may be a very widespread one in the popular imagination. An eloquent account of it [...] is found in the final volume of Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, when the children Lyra and Will travel to the land of the dead, to release a numberless host of whispering shadows from perpetual darkness into a reunification with the vibrant cycles of material life. This release is, of course, a release into 'oblivion', in the sense that all personal consciousness comes to an end, but it is at least a form of living.

"[...] On what grounds can Christians sustain their hope for a heavenly abiding, in which the particular 'whos' that people are will find themselves safeguarded and treasured?"

Abiding, Quash, pp 228 & 236.

Quash answers his question by citing John 14:2, which says, "In my Father's house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?", along with the evidence he sees in Jesus' resurrection showing him still to be an individual, 'who', rather than some amorphous beingness indistinguishable from all other beingness.


But neither of these approaches satisfied me. The discussion here seems to me to be: do we get to keep our stories even after death?  One side says no, not at all, and the other says yes, absolutely. I think when it comes to God - to the Mystery, to the All, to the Truth-beyond-our-knowing - it is not a matter of either this or that, but always a matter of both this and that. I can't help but think that stories are more significant than something we live out and then shed. I am convinced that stories are more meaningful than 'entertainment'. They give us our meaning, and if I am to believe that life has any meaning at all, I have to believe that stories aren't tied simply to the material world, or to our homo-sapiens heads. If I am someone who believes in a beyond, then I am (intentionally or not) ascribing to the idea that there is a story bigger than us, bigger than our material life. And if there is such a story, where do our individual stories stand in comparison?

Are they obliterated by the sheer magnitude of "The Greater Story"? My friend and I used to fear the idea that after death we would lose our individuality and be incorporated into a great 'oneness', like a drop in the ocean. As much as the idea seemed rational, we resisted it, protective of our sense of self.

So are our stories so individually powerful as to stand in opposition to "The Greater Story"? If that were so, what would be so different between the beyond and right now, where we see stories coming into conflict, our sense of self standing in the way of peace?

I have another proposal: I suggest that it is both.

I imagine the 'beyond' to be a place where we discover that we truly are One. One with the One. United, one body (in the terminology of my faith: 'united in Christ', or 'the body of Christ'). This, however, does not imply losing our sense of self, our story, but having our story grow! Realising that everything is our story. Your story, my story, they complete each other. We will discover, that after all, they are one story. I don't know how that idea makes you feel, but it makes me feel inspired. It makes me feel connected. And I listen to that feeling, because (lover of Ignatian spirituality that I am) I interpret this sense of awe as being from God -  a smile of sorts.

Our story

Now that I have this idea developed to this point, I can't escape it (and nor do I want to, because it is captivating, compelling, and asks of me to rewrite how I read the world).

Yesterday I received a book in the post as a gift from my friends in the Danthonia Bruderhof Community. It is called Called to Community: The Life that Jesus Wants for His People edited by Charles E. Moore. It contains writings from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Joan Chittister, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Mother Teresa, Jean Vanier, Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove, Benedict of Nursia, and many lesser-known others. All these people have known what it is to live in community. And I don't just mean a neighbourhood, but an intentionally-lived expeirence of community with others, sharing meals, work and leisure - life, really.

I opened the book yesterday and read the Forward, by Stanley Hauerwas. He is another who knows what it is to live in community, and whose ideas I studied during my Christian Ethics subject, and whose ideas I loved the most, since they argued that our best ethics can only function in true community. Without it, we have little choice but to compromise to survive.

Anyway, he writes on the first page, "It is quite understandable that many people today feel the need for [community]. After all, we live in a social order that has confused freedom with the isolation of the self. We may think we know one another, but our 'knowing' only intensifies our isolation from one another. This is because, although we bump up against one another, we share no common story and no corresponding judgements about what is true, good, and beautiful. As a result, we become strangers to ourselves and to those we call friends. In such a social order, people too often confuse community with being in a crowd."

There is so much more worth reading in this book, but I shan't continue. I am pretty sure you can get is for free as an ebook, so if you want to read it, you can decide that.

Common life, common story

Having had this experience of community myself while at Taize, I understand the wholeness that can come when living with others in this way. I understand how in community life like this, individual stories can become one shared story, like music, each with your own unique part of course, but all integral to the beauty of the whole. Each individual. Each needed by the others. I remember realising at the time that the girls I lived with, even the ones I wasn't close to, had become part of me. My own self was augmented by their selves. The individual 'me' we tend to be focused on these days seemed so meagre. Yes, it was integral, and I didn't want to lose myself, but I realised that by sharing my life with these people I found that there was only more and more of me, not less.

My passion for community, and the being haunted by 'story' was all a continuum. But I only recently managed to put it together.

If my idea is that after this life we gain more story, like more parts in music, then the experience of community life can bring us closer to that now, in this life. Of course not all communities are healthy, and I certainly am not advocating cults. But community, done well, is a way of living even now in the kingdom of God. For me, heaven is other people. (For those who know Sartre's 'Hell is Other People' - I think it is a brilliant portrayal of what Hauerwas was meaning when he wrote, "our 'knowing' only intensifies our isolation from one another." In such a case as Sartre presents, it would be hell).

The Story continues

But I don't think my being haunted by Story ends here.

Even tonight, I opened a link on a friend's facebook feed (to an article entitled More Evensong, Please) and in it I find this: "To paraphrase Alisdair MacIntyre, we can only know what to do and who we are if we know what story we inhabit. Everyone is searching for a meaningful story."

I think when all these synchronicities occur together it is something I am being asked to listen to. Even if you would like to argue that we only notice these repeated things because we are already sensitive too them, then sure - but even then, I think we are made sensitive to them for a reason.

So, seems like I could do with reading some of Alisdair MacIntyre. Even a quick google search of him tells me he's my man just now.

Checking In... and BOOKS

Sorry I have gone a little off the air these past couple of weeks. Uni is back and I am racing to keep up with my Koine Greek studies. I am actually already a week behind (hoping to catch up on Monday with 10 hours of solid work).

On top of this I have been on a wonderful reading spree, and to get much read, one has to close that computer and social media and focus on just the book (and the steaming cup of tea). As I already mentioned, I enjoyed Cursed Child very much - very, very much. And after that nourishing jaunt back to the Potterverse, I needed more Harry Potter to cure my Pottery cravings. Thank heavens for drinkingcocoa's 'Snape: A Definitive Reading'. Exactly what the doctor ordered! I have been sneaking away to read another page. And another page. Loving it so much. If you like Snape, you absolutlely ought to read this book. It is fabulous.

In other news, today was National Bookshop Day here in Australia, and there is a very big push to save the Australian publishing industry and its authors after Treasurer Scott Morrison announced plans to allow mass import of books published in other countries when there is an Australian publisher who has the territorial rights to be the publisher for that book in Australia. The implications are massive and potentially devestating.  But I am so proud of the Australian publishing industry and its authors for pulling together so magnificently - their plan has been excellently executed:

National Bookshop Day, and so many people making a trip to the book shop, and there are lots of things happening at book shops, like facepainting, author readings and meet and greets, and artists creating artwork in store. Fabulous! And every person who walks in gets a free book:
In this book the issue is thoroughly explained, and then well-known authors write their thoughts on the matter. This book was also given away with many newspapers. And the hashtags #saveozstories and #bookscreateaustralia are dancing around the internet. It's so impressive how the industry and the authors have made themselves heard in loud and organised and intelligent ways. These people are strong and clever and loved. I feel such a wonderful sense of community in the book-loving echelons of Australia right now. Job well done! Awareness raised! And for anyone inclined to be generous with petition signing...

So, this means, of course, I bought another book today. *eep!*

Sounds amazing. Can't wait!!

Img credit: http://booktothefuture.com.au/?p=2979


Yet another of my religiousy posts.

I know most people on my flist aren't that in to religion, but I do work for the church, and my time living in the monastery was the most meaningful thing I have ever experienced, so please excuse my enthusiasm for this side of things. It is where my musings tend to lead...

Reading has taken an upturn. I finally finished 'The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything' by James Martin s.j. I am now starting on another Ignatian book, 'Inner Compass' by Margaret Silf. Am still reading the intro, but I like her writing voice. For the church book study we are reading 'God, Where Are You?' by Gerard Hughes, s.j. (author of 'God of Surprises'). So! It's all very Ignatian reading just now.

Hughes is writing about his experience attending a Jesuit school, and then joining the Jesuits and his time in the novitiate. Sounds all very severe and cold. He remained a Jesuit though, writing many books that were full of much spiritual wisdom, so I assume that his experience with the Jesuits is going to improve and time passes in the narritive.

Meanwhile, Martin and Silf (and Hughes also), are all into Ignatian spirituality and are wonderful at sharing its wisdom. I think times have changed a lot in society, and in the church as well.

Another Ignatian connection: The sisters at Taize, who took care of me when I was a volunteer there, were Ignatian. And it is thanks so much to their spiritual direction that I had my life-changing experience of God - a God who is closer to me than I am to myself.

So, I am truly grateful to Ignatian spirituality. I was wondering about that, actually. I am a fully-professed Franciscan Tertiary, but if I could choose again, would I align myself with Francis over Ignatius now?  But then I thought of Pope Francis and how his demonstration of such a Franciscan spirit is so inspiring and relevant to our times, and I realised I can love Ignatian spirituality while still feeling aligned with Franciscan values. Plus, I then remembered, Pope Francis is a Jesuit! Hah. A helpful little message there.

And then there is the chap, who has a fondness for Benedictine spirituality. Ahh, what a pair we make.

I really need to organise another Franciscan gathering. I am meant to be the area convenor, but I am so nervous of asking too much of the members down here, most of whom are quite old now, that I am always reluctant to organise a gathering. Silly really, they would probably all love it. I do miss our monthly gatherings up in Newcastle.

But I am finding quite a sense of community in reading. All these Ignatian books on top of each other is giving me a sense of being surrounded by others of Ignatian spirituality. That is a beautiful thing. Books are amazing. I love books.

Speaking of communiy, when I was in high school, my dream was to one day own a castle. My reason for this, I have realised in hindsight, was not for the building (romantic as it would have been), but because in all my fanstasy novels with castles there was a community life around a castle. Squires and knights and stablehands and cooks...

That's what I want, what I have always wanted, loved and valued. Community. Leaving school was hard for me because I lost a community. I wanted to be a teacher because I wanted to work in a community. Well, the church sure fulfills that requirement of a workplace. And I am soooo looking forward to living in community too - sharing a house with others. I just wish I could live with all my loved ones in our own little village. And I know so many people who are lonely and craving community in one way or another... I don't think we are meant to live like this - so separated. And the spirit of distrust that pervades these times doesn't much help. I want to live a different way - be unapologetically counter-cultural. I guess I can be a bit of a hippy. :P

In ethical news, I am doing Plastic Free July - where I am trying to avoid all single-use plastics for this month. I haven't managed entirely, but I have been really making an effort. It has been fun to buy cheddar in wax. And only chocolate in cardboard and biodegradable cellulose wrapping. Means I have to stop and more shops, and spend more money (since I am always buying the good brands), but I am appreciating what I am buying so much more.  Peeling the wax from the cheese and then wrapping it in beeswax cloth to preserve it in the fridge instead of cling film... Buying blocks of butter instead of tubs. It is making me feel much more connected to the food and I love it! They said I wouldn't go back, and I think they were right! Oh, and today I made the most amazing salad with items from my veggie box, or that I bought from the store using my bamboo or net produce bags. So fun!

As much as theologically I don't think I would fit in with Mennonites or Hutterites, I do love the idea of their faith touching their whole way of life. For me, this ethical living and this community living is all a way of making my faith more than just an internal feeling. And boy, I am loving it. I don't want to go around converting everyone to some extreme take of faith, but I do want to be there for people who are looking for just such a holistic approach. A monastery for everyone.

I have been working more on my manuscript, Without Words, which is... I don't even know. A bit of a spiritual memoir, I guess. Goodness, revisiting some of that stuff now is amazing. Too look back at times when I was miserable and to see now how that fits into a story - and not just any story, but a life-changing story, a story that made my world come alive... To read back over my desolation now and to realise how much I value its place in my story...

Story.... so important...
But more of that next time...

A little 'ello

Just a little about me...
I'm a girl in my mid-20s. I adore reading and writing and music, but most of all I love exploring the Spirit.

I have been brought up an Anglo-Catholic Christian, but I love the beauty of all forms of spiritual expression, even atheistic expression. "God" isn't the only name for that great something behind everything.

I currently am studying Tibetan Buddhism, reading heavily about Universal Sufism, and undertaking my novociate to enter the Third Order of the Society of Saint Francis.

This is the path I walk. May you all be blessed on yours.


Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord.

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