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  • Along the Track

  • We Need Christmas

    For many of us, it may seem to get harder each year to gear up for another Christmas. The pressures of commercialisation, the rush to get everything done, coping with family pressures and tensions at times can make it difficult to capture the mood of Christmas.


    The first time I experienced double-glazing, it wasn’t only the warmth that was impressive, it was the silence. You could watch the noisy world outside and hear virtually nothing. 

    Silence is a simple, yet complex and powerful thing. We can be silent, remain silent, we can enjoy it, be afraid of it, avoid it, use it. 

    Grief is a Lonely Journey

    When my father died and the family came back from taking him to his final place of rest, the school buses were picking up students at the end of the school day as usual. It was a shock. Nothing had changed! The world had not stopped because our father had died! I think that upset me more than anything else on that day.

    Bringing the Past to Life

    Over the past twelve months I have been writing the family history. Rather than a catalogue of facts and statistics or a genealogical table, it has been an attempt to give some insight into the story beginning in 1858 of Michael, the heavily pregnant Catherine and their two little boys who left their home country knowing they would never return.   

    Wattle and Gum

    Beside the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we thought of Jerusalem. Ps 137:1

    When the Jewish people were taken into exile in Babylon, they mourned for their country and its ways. It was a deeply sad time for them. Some of the most beautiful prayers and psalms were written during this exile. Sometimes it was the small things that reminded them of home, of their life lost – a bush, a tree, a familiar song.

    The Getting of Wisdom.

    Every day we are faced with many choices, some great, some trivial but they all make their mark and in their own way, they change us. Good or bad habits start by small decisions. Virtues grow out of daily choices. Every day we rethink old decisions and make new ones. We grapple and struggle, we commit and repent over and over again. Every day of our lives our souls, our spirit within grows a little more into God or a little more into self, more focused on our own priorities or our decisions may lead us to be more open and wiser.

    The Book

    Helen Garner wrote in her book, Everywhere I Look, about a visit to her home by Australian author and friend, Tim Winton. At the time Helen was sharing a house with a recently born-again, very fundamentalist Christian. She left Tim with him, ‘the big black Bible on the table between them’. When she returned, Tim was alone. What happened? Winton said: “I told him to give the book a rest and let his life be the witness”.

    The Challenge of Faith

    The last census taken in Australia indicates that religious belief is on the decline and the numbers of those who espouse no religious belief is on the increase. For many, the Christian ethos appears tied to the past, its beliefs antiquated, out of step with modern times.

    Lessons from Chooks

    I recently watched six bantam silky hens being gently herded around a back lawn. It was a novel and very calming experience. The owner of the hens told me that she does it every day for half an hour or so. “This is how the hens know I love them”, she told me, “so they give me an egg every day”.

    Story Telling

    Is it time that we started telling new stories? We hear so many bad stories, bad news, talk of catastrophe and predictions of doom and gloom, so many twisted facts and opinions. It is easy to fall under their spell, to fall into despair and begin telling our own stories of woe, our own predictions of how the sky is falling in. When we are served such a diet, it is not difficult to see where fear and suspicion come from, where prejudice and hatred are born and fuelled.

    Being Hopeful

    Loneliness is a dreadful thing. It has sometimes been described as a living death. That’s not being over dramatic. There is a reluctance to even talk about it, to share the feelings that drag us away from others, to talk about those things which make us turn inwards.

    Soundtrack Music

    During a boat ride on Loch Ness the guide vividly described the memory of his first supposed encounter with Nessie. “She rose up out of the water”, he said “and began swaying to music only she could hear.”

    Being Fantastic

    Recently I went looking for a book in one of Melbourne’s biggest bookshops. Over many years, I don’t think I have ever been in there without buying something. I was looking for a rather interesting book reviewed in The Age that promised to ask ‘The Big Questions’ about philosophy, doctrine and religious practice. After some time I found it, and other religious books…….. in the Fantasy Section!

    Life to the Full Takes Time

    Initially van Gogh harboured thoughts of becoming a preacher but decided instead to learn to draw. He wasn’t much good but he persevered for years before things began to improve. He transformed himself into one of our greatest artists. Haunted by a sense that time was running out and that he might not live past forty (he died at 37), he painted 860 paintings in ten years. His best-known works were all painted in the last two years of his life during what could be called a chance move to the south of France.

    Soaked in Miracle

    "To grow up Catholic is to be especially lucky as an artist because you are soaked in miracle and mystery and symbol and smoke and the confident assertion that every moment is pregnant with miracle and possibility and stuffed with holiness …..”  

    So wrote the late Brian Doyle, poet, award winning author, international speaker.   He was an extraordinary ‘man of words’ with insights that graced our world during his short sixty years of life. 


    Easter Joy

    It is not unusual to see in the media Christians being described as curmudgeons. Curmudgeons are defined as grumps, with little or no tolerance, at times self-righteous and not suffering fools gladly, full of stubborn ideas or opinions. If others see us that way, if that is how our ways of living and our beliefs come across, what a travesty that is! There is a saying that Christians are "so heavenly minded they are no earthly good." Sadly, people of faith, those who follow a religious tradition are often portrayed as serious, humourless, out of step with the ‘modern’ world. We are not seen as people of joy. That’s a great pity. The resurrection reminds us that we are called to work in the here and now, to make this world a better place, a fairer place, a happier place, to work to bring about the New Creation, to be Good News people.

    Crucify Him!

    It is easy enough to stir up a crowd, whip up anger, to find a quick answer to a problem, to play on fear and suspicion. It was in Jesus’ day too.

    Early in the week the people were welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem:
    A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
    “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
    “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
    “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
    When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
    The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

    Mt 21 8-11


    French poet and mystic Simone Weil wrote that: Grace is like little sparks, the little explosions within the world of gravity that invite us to repay war with peace, fire with water, hatred with love.


    Recently I heard a person tell the story of her great, great grandparent who came to Australia as a thirteen year old. His brother had been previously transported at age thirteen for stealing a handkerchief. A group of little boys were playing and grabbing the handkerchief out of the pocket, it was a dare, with terrible consequences. His younger brother (aged eleven) missed him so much that two years later he also stole a handkerchief so he could join his brother. That’s how he came to be in Australia.

    Letting Go and Beginning Again

    George Bernard Shaw is reported to have said that the only person who never makes a mistake is the person who never does anything. He may well have said that but so have a lot of other people. It simply makes sense.

    Telling the Truth

    When the Israelites fled from Egypt and began their long journey home, Moses came down from the holy mountain with the commandments, the foundation stones on which to base their new society, their new nation. These were to be the building blocks of a just and fair society, where people not only cared for each other but a community which encouraged all to live in harmony with God and with each other, a society where individual rights were respected.

    The Best Christmas Gift

    On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Mtt 2:11

    The Gift of Christmas

    While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:6 – 7)

    Staying Mindful

    During November, we remember those who have died and those who grieve for them.

    When a loved one dies, a part of us dies too. Our life will never be quite the same. They remain part of us not just in our memories; we carry them with us daily in who we are and what we do and hope for. Sometimes we yearn for the day when we will be reunited. We hang onto that hope as it can help us to bear our pain and the fear of death.

    The Lantern Bearers

    At a recent funeral these words from Rosemary Sutcliffe’s poem, The Lantern Bearers were read:
    It may be that night will close over us in the end, but I believe that morning will come again.
    Morning always grows out of darkness, though maybe not for the people who saw the sun go down.
    We are the Lantern Bearers my friend: for us to keep something burning, to carry what light we can forward into the darkness and the wind*.

    Someone will Remember for You

    Alzheimer’s or any form of dementia is cruel. It is difficult to stand on the sidelines as this insidious disease takes hold. If we were witnessing an accident or some mishap, we would step in and do what we could to fix it. But there is no cure. It just keeps on keeping on until the end. Everyone involved feels this pervading sense of helplessness.

    The Wedding

    At a recent wedding this short, beautiful blessing poem was part of the ceremony:
    Today you see down a mountainside
    Out over the islands to your sure horizon
    Your sight is sharp, your goal clear, and tides
    Of love lap around your desiring

    Voices from the Past

    Sometimes TV shows can hook you in. I have become addicted to a rather dark, police drama series on TV, because of the acting and particularly because of the script. It is extraordinarily good, thoughtful and at times, almost poetic. Just about every episode offers some gem, something that makes you think, something that makes you reconsider the mundane things of life, the ordinary, the things we take for granted, to see them in a new and perhaps more appreciative light. I will let you guess what the series may be.

    The Gift of Imagination

    It is a delight to spend time with small children. Sometimes it seems as if their imagination knows no limits. They can see heroes or monsters or all things magic, even in the most mundane. Books and films which explore and stretch children’s imagination (and our own) have become popular again in recent years. We can think of imagination as something for kids, an optional extra as it were, but it is a precious and enduring gift from God for people of all ages.

    My Autobiography

    Years ago, in a course on Mark’s Gospel, the lecturer reminded us of the importance of choosing words carefully. Mark’s Gospel was brief, straight to the point, showing great economy with words, he said. Why? The lecturer explained that writing materials were scarce and expensive so writers in those days had to choose wisely what they wrote, which sayings, stories, events and words were to be included.

    Not Smiling

    As I write this piece, I am sitting in a large, very, very busy IT store.  It is noisy – people are waiting, some patiently, some becoming increasingly frustrated and angry, others are bargaining, a few being tutored….and no-one is smiling.  I wonder why?  Outside the IT store in this large and very busy retail complex, people are rushing from one shop to the next, intent on getting the tasks done. After all, it is Friday. But no-one seems to be smiling.  No-one seems to be enjoying this experience. I wonder why?


    What do we See?

    The late Fred Hollows was an ophthalmologist who became famous for his work in restoring eyesight for countless thousands of people in Australia but more so many other countries where such an operation was rarely available or where people could not afford it. He was dedicated and tireless. An advertisement appealing for funds for his foundation is still run on TV at regular intervals – it is a wonderful clip depicting the joy in an elderly man when bandages are being removed. “What did he say? What did he say?” Hollows asks. ‘I can see again! I can see!’


    On a long drive recently I listened to talk back radio. For over an hour there was a very spirited discussion which tried to answer the question; Do we have to make comparisons to be happy?

    Bad Dog

    One of the daily newspapers included the story of a lawyer who, when working for Legal Aid, had to defend a seeing eye dog called Toby who used to walk down to the shops each day and take a large tin of dog food from the supermarket and bring it home in his mouth. His elderly owner thought he was getting it from the Salvos. The supermarket owner knew about it but was unconcerned.

    A Sense of Place

    A new road is to be built to by-pass the town near where I spent my childhood. There are several plans on the drawing board but the most likely options mean that the old house where I lived will be demolished - if not, it will be the old school on the opposite side of the road and the other few neighbouring houses.

    How We Speak

    Words matter. How we speak, what we say and how we say it, how we describe things matters. How we address each other, how we speak to each other or about each other matters. Words are powerful – they can be invitations, they can welcome, encourage, amuse, express love and gratitude, hope and enthusiasm. They can inspire and touch people’s hearts and they even invite dialogue.

    Peaceful Co-existence

    For a brief period I lived in the beautiful town of Marysville. The Australian bush looked down on this picturesque little community where old style guest houses gave such pleasure to holiday makers for decades and decades. They were beautiful rambling buildings which spoke of a by-gone era. Some had been meticulously restored and tastefully modernised. The surrounding bush invited slowness and quiet and nothing encouraged haste or speed. The pristine creeks and waterfalls were incredible.

    New Life

    Victor Frankl, was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor, in fact he survived the degradation and abject misery of three concentration camps. At a later stage in his extraordinarily fruitful life, Frankl wrote ‘One very important aspect of life after such an experience is that everything gets precious, gets piercingly important.

    Living in Exile

    Deep down, each of us has a longing for God. Sometimes it nags at us, other times we take it for granted, other times we just put it aside, some say they don’t feel anything like that at all. But we all have a restlessness, a sense of incompleteness, a desire to do something else, a sense of wanting more, of seeking to better ourselves in some way, and that’s where God finds us.

    How is Your Eyesight?

    We can see a lot by just looking. Or very little at all. I was wandering around in a famous art gallery some years ago and one of the guides was speaking about one of the great art works to a small group of onlookers. I had just taken some time to look at that particular painting so I stayed to listen. It was incredible. She revealed features I had not noticed, details I had overlooked, colours I had missed.

    Finding Treasure in the Field

    A friend of mine spends a lot of his spare time looking for the treasure in the field, any field or creek or patch of bush will do. He joins many others who systematically scan sections of land using metal detectors, in the hope of discovering buried treasure. He hasn’t found much but, ever the optimist, he continues to search for the elusive treasure.

    Bringing Out the Best

    A multi-award winning winemaker told me once that ‘there’s nothing much to it really. I just bring out what the grape has to offer. It’s already there.’ I think he was being a little too ‘humble’ but there is an element of truth to it. One of the joys of working in a school is to watch a good teacher at work, encouraging, affirming, challenging, recognising the latent skills and bringing them to life, bringing out the best in her or his students.

    The Year of the Rooster

    For Chinese people this is the Year of the Rooster. No offence is intended to those people who fall under this zodiac sign but my father used to say that rooster’s crow as the sun rises, hoping that everyone would think they are responsible for it!

    Our Need for Ritual

    Are you ever struck by the increasing number of roadside memorials appearing in recent years – bunches of flowers, a photo, perhaps a cross, a handwritten message or some personal memento?  These expressions of grief are sad reminders of a tragedy, a life lost in unhappy circumstances.

    Roll Back the Stone

    The raising of Lazarus (John 11:38-53) is a complex and poignant story. When Jesus hears that his friend is ill, at the point of death, he delays, he puts off going to see him. He leaves it ‘too late’. When He does arrive, Jesus is deeply moved by the death of his friend and by the grief of Lazarus’ sisters.

    Being Remembered

    There is a sign in a hospital foyer I visited recently which read:
    Those who die in God's love go only as far as God . . . and God is very near.
    What does it mean to die in God’s love? To answer that, it’s worth taking some time occasionally to read the obituaries which appear in the daily newspapers.


    For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139: 13

    So it’s your birthday.  Another year has passed. Another year older and a new one begins.


    Winners are grinners and losers can make their own arrangements…or so the saying goes. Winning is considered to be very important in our culture, as is success in work-life, achieving some sort of importance or status.  We tell our children they can be anything they want but sadly (pardon the pun) that isn’t true. Emotions like sadness don’t have much place in our culture today because there is so much focus on beauty and success, light and happiness.

    Love is in the Air

    The motto of the secondary school I went to was translated (in those days) as ‘seek the things that are above.’ I didn’t understand what that meant. It was never explained, only perhaps that we should be working at getting to heaven. It always seemed to me to be concerned with ambition, doing better, being a bit above others. Recently, I saw that motto translated as ‘set your minds on the higher gifts’ which comes from the prelude to St Paul’s great hymn to love written to the Christian community in Corinth


    Fleeting Glimpses

    Some time ago, Clive James wrote a very poignant article during a lull in his struggle with leukaemia. It contained the following extract:

    So I look out into the garden with anticipation as well as apprehension. My Japanese maple tree is now in its first flames. Last year I saw the transformation as a sign of the end. Now I prefer to see it as a portent of spring. 


    Justice or Mercy?

    Pope John XXIII wrote in the biography of his spiritual journey that mercy is the most beautiful attribute of God. Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his first encyclical (God is Love) that mercy is in reality the core of the Gospel message; it is the name of God Himself and now, Pope Francis calls us to a Jubilee Year of Mercy.


    Reflecting on the Journey

    Perhaps the words of Pope John Paul II best summarise the Camino experience:

    Duc in altum! (Put out into the deep) These words ring out for us today, and they invite us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence….


    Buon Camino

    On the way to Spain, I read an article about Stan Grant.  He vividly remembers the day he and the other aboriginal students of his age were called to the principal’s office and told that there was no place for them at that school. They were now at a legal age when they could leave school so, ‘go now’ they were told. Not surprisingly, that has stayed with him for the rest of his life – ‘there is no place for you here’.


    The Pilgrim

    ‘If you are not hurting, you have not done the Camino.’ That’s how our guide and companion finished our twelve-day, 240 kilometre Camino. And all of us were hurting somewhere.  It is not an easy walk!


    The Voices Within

    Pixar’s film called Inside Out tells the story of a young girl Riley who is uprooted from her life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. At this difficult time, Riley is guided by her emotions - Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. It is a clever take on the importance of our emotions and the role they play in our everyday lives, inspiring us, warning us, advising caution, helping us to rejoice in the good things of life.

    The Perfect Prayer

    One of the fondest memories I have of my father is of him kneeling in prayer by his bed first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I never thought of him as an especially holy man but his faith obviously meant a lot to him, even though in many ways life had dealt him a pretty tough hand. But, as he often said, he was always grateful ‘for many blessings’.


    The Illusion of Faith

    Faith is irrational and therefore delusional.  Atheism, on the other hand, is rational, clear sighted and based on solid evidence.  Or so the argument goes.



    As I write this, we have been enjoying a beautiful day – no wind, a clear sky and, unexpectedly for this time of the year, around twenty degrees. So I went for a walk, as did many others. It was so interesting to greet others with ‘What a beautiful day’ and the most common response was ‘Yes, but it is not going to last!’ or ‘But it’s going to rain tomorrow!’ ‘Winter is on the way!’


    Year of Mercy II

    So how is the Jubilee of Mercy going for you? In your home, your parish, your school, your organisation, your workplace? Are people feeling more welcomed, loved, forgiven and encouraged? How are we reaching out to all those who, in Pope Francis’ words, need a sign of tenderness?


    Whoever has ears, let them hear

    Jesus spoke to a variety of people who could not or did not want to hear. It was not only the Scribes and Pharisees who came with their own agendas, wanting to trap him, to discount or disprove what he was saying, to quibble over words. They were ready with the answer before He had time to speak. Even some of those who had followed Jesus found what he was saying just too hard to hear and they walked away (Jn 6:66).



    When I was young sectarianism was pretty rife. It started at an early age. As Catholic kids we were often subjected to this little ditty – "Catholic dogs sitting on logs, eating maggots out of frogs." Mind you, we had ditties of our own about the proddies too.


    Being Enriched

    The Roman philosopher, Seneca is reported to have said that if you want to enrich someone, don’t multiply their belongings but subtract from their desires. 


    Year of Mercy I

    The Year of Mercy is an extraordinary gift, and an extraordinary challenge. In summoning the Church to a Year of Mercy, Pope Francis is calling on each of us to become a living sign of compassionate love.

    Happy in the New Year

    When you think about it, so much of our life is repetitive.  We get up at the same time, follow a very similar routine each morning, we go to work at the same time and do pretty much the same thing there most days.  Weekends might include some different activities but then again….? When do we give ourselves the chance to explore, to dream, to be creative, to try new activities, to try new ways of thinking?  And why is that important anyway? 


    A Christmas Blessing 2015

    The birth of Christ which we celebrate at this time is meant for everyone.  It is meant to be news of great joy for everyone. So when people look at our family celebrations, the family traditions we have established, the patterns of behaviour we have created at this time, will they see people of joy and celebration, people who want all people to know about this great event? Will they see us as prayerful, looking for ways this Christmas to help others?


    Some travellers who go overseas get very annoyed at people selling products in the street.  Sometimes these visitors can be rude or aggressive. Admittedly, these ‘traders’ or spruikers can be a bit of a nuisance and some can be very, very persistent, but in general they are only trying to earn a living in countries where employment or other such opportunities are pretty scarce. It’s a case of this or nothing.  They live in a consumer society, just as we do.



    Waiting can be a real drag. In a world of instant communication, fast food, and easy travel (the Monash excluded!), most of us don’t have to wait for much. Most things are usually ‘on tap’. But sometimes we have to - we wait for test results; we wait for our loved ones to come home; we wait for the birth of a child, some wait for the change of seasons they don’t like much…we just have to wait.


    When Someone Dies

    Death is never easy. We often surround death by so many platitudes that it is hard to confront or even to come to terms with our loss. With every good intention, those who offer sympathy couch it in well-meaning but false comfort (he/she has gone to a better place, God wanted them early, The Lord never gives us more than we can handle (That is not how I feel right now). I know how you feel. (No we don’t - we never really know how someone else feels). Everything will be okay. (A nice sentiment but that can make it feel as if you are dismissing someone's grief). At least he or she is out of pain. (Well I am not!).


    Who Are We? and Why Are We?

    When we have children, whether as a parent, or a teacher or a carer, much of our time and energy is spent showing our children that they are loved, helping them to discover what they are good at, where their talents lie. Much of our time and energy goes into passing on beliefs and attitudes and values, providing positive and life-giving experiences. We want them to know that each of them is unique, each is gifted and talented in their own way.

    Celebrating Our Differences

    Some years ago I heard the story of a mother preparing her children for the visit of a friend who had only one leg. She told them not to stare at him or to ask any questions.  Just act normally! That, of course, heightened their curiosity and, inevitably, one of them asked “Why have you only got one leg?”  He told them that a friend of his needed it, so he gave it to him. And they were perfectly happy with that and went off to play.


    In the town where I live, the rather scruffy railway precinct has been developed into a car park. Old sleepers, rubble and rails have been removed, an old building has been relocated.  What was once a pretty unsightly area has been rejuvenated. As an added bonus, the restoration has revealed an unobstructed view of the wonderful, historic railway station building.

    Going Viral

    Isn’t it amazing how many times we see the expression ‘going viral’. It is supposed to be a feature of modern social media. When something goes viral, it spreads to a very large number of people in just a short period of time. But such fame can be fickle – we can probably only recall less than a handful of them after a short period. Going viral is not a sure foundation for fame or success.

    My Story

    Jewish philosopher Elie Wiesel wrote that God made us because God loves stories. It is a reminder that each of us has a story. It is unique, it is special.  It is ours alone.   If we look back with the eyes of faith, our story can reveal how we first came to experience the presence of God in our lives and how God’s Spirit has been at work in our journey, in the experiences, people and events which have shaped our faith. That is, for each of us, a very personal story of discovery. In a sense, God is a story being told in our lives.


    In My Weakness Is My Strength

    Gift shops seem to be filled with ‘inspiring words’ posters of late – love, joy, peace, every journey starts with one step and so on. One caught my attention recently - enjoy the little things in life because someday you will realise they were the big things. 


    The Extraordinary in the Ordinary

    It is often the simplest things that mean the most, that stay in our mind, the ordinary events that we tend to take for granted.  There is such a scene in John’s Gospel (John 21:1-14) when Jesus meets seven of his disciples after the Resurrection by the shore of Lake Tiberius. After Jesus’ death, these disciples had sought consolation in what they knew – they went back home to fish.


    A Reminder

     The novel Tale of Two Cities begins with these lines:

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us… 



    In a very real sense, we are created by the choices we make every day. Big or small, momentous or seemingly trivial, they all make their mark on who we are and what we might become. The vast majority of those decisions are about choosing things or deciding to do something that will make us happy, which we sometimes mistakenly equate to status, control and pleasure.


    Embracing Mystery

    The Hunter Valley offers some extraordinarily beautiful vistas. In the early morning the fog rests in valleys and over low lying hills. Recently I watched the sun rise out of the mist – there was a stillness in the air and, all of a sudden, six hot-air balloons emerged from the fog and silently floated across the valley.

    Appreciating and Growing from Difference

    We live in strange times. While more and more people are claiming atheism or agnosticism, there is a rise in fundamentalist activity everywhere with horrifying consequences at times. We tend to attach the term ‘fundamentalist’ to people of certain religious beliefs but there is also a rise in fundamentalist behaviour among those who profess atheism or those who espouse ‘no religious belief’.


    What Might Have Been

    Do you remember the song, made famous by Frank Sinatra, I did it My Way?

    Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption.

    The Oil Press

    The olives trees in The Garden of Gethsemane are very, very old and gnarled. They are some of the oldest trees known to science. Carbon dating showed that three of the eight trees came from the years 1092, 1166 and 1198.


    Come and See

    Every Easter our daily press contains a variety of articles about Jesus.   Many of them contain the disclaimer: “I don’t believe myself” or “I am not a Christian”, “I admire people with faith but I just don’t believe”, “Church doesn’t happen in our family but we had to go to a wedding”. One acknowledged that he might annoy people who have a religious regard for Jesus but, as far as he was concerned, he was just a man, a good one nonetheless!

    Running on Empty

    Have you ever been in the situation where you are running out of petrol, stuck in traffic on a freeway perhaps; running late for an important appointment; or driving on a country road with no towns or petrol stations in sight? Running on empty: How far can you really go? That can make us pretty tense, impatient, prone to making mistakes, taking short cuts.


    Decisions, Decisions

    There is a marvellous film on Youtube in which some children are asked to sit at a table in a room on their own for five minutes and not touch the marshmallow that is in front of them. If they don’t touch it, they get another one. Some of them go through agony, desperately trying to ignore it, a few last the distance but most just give in and eat it! The aim of the exercise is to try to work out why some resisted the temptation and others didn’t.


    Lent and Almsgiving

    One of the benefits of modern media is that information is so readily available.  We can find out just about anything! We can stay in touch easily, communication is so much more efficient.  The world comes to our doorstep, even right into our lounge rooms. That can have many advantages but it can have its downsides too. Sometimes we can suffer from information overload and charity fatigue.

    Where Your Heart is

    The UN has set aside 2015 to be the “International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies”. Perhaps that theme might give us the opportunity to shed a bit of light on where we are in our life journey, what is important to us, what priorities we might like to re-assess as we begin another year.


    A Christmas Blessing

    So much of our Christmas imagery comes from the northern hemisphere, Christmas in a cold climate – the snow, the tinsel, the reindeer, minus temperatures, sparkling snow covered trees, quiet stillness, real Christmas trees, mulled wine, eggnog, snowmen, fire places and the list goes on!

    Xmas or Christmas

    Are you looking forward to Christmas? How will you celebrate Christmas this year?

    I read an article recently written by an atheist, one who believes that Christmas has become part of our general culture – it is just as secular as it is religious. He believes that religion has proved itself divisive and destructive time and again. And yet, he loves Christmas and refuses to enter a shop which substitutes ‘X’ for ‘Christ’ in ‘Xmas’.  


    A Matter of Time

    Augustine when he was asked to give a definition of “time.” “When no one is asking me, I know exactly what time is,” he said, “but as soon as someone asks me what time is, I don’t know how to respond.”


    Those Who Have Gone Before

    November is the month when we remember ‘those who have gone before’, ‘those who have died in the peace of Christ,’ those ‘whose faith is known to You alone’. During November we remember with love and gratitude the lives of those who have died and, in that recalling, they go on living in us. We are still connected – they with us and we with them.


    At First Glance

    Like it or not, at first instance you are being judged by how you look, how you dress, and how you carry yourself—and, later if you’re lucky, how you do your job.


    When Tough Times Come

    There are times when we are called on to ‘do it tough’. None of us is immune from suffering, disappointments, sickness, anxiety or depression.  None of these are pleasant, we do not seek out or wish them on others, even though sometimes other people cause us pain. Everybody knows what it is to suffer.  We are not alone.


    The Face of a Pickled Pepper

    When Nelson Mandela died last year, all forms of media flooded us with memories of his life and its impact.  And rightly so.  He was a remarkable man.  I was struck by one quote…well, more than one but this particular gem almost leapt off the page:

    No-one is born hating another person, because of the colour of his skin or his background, or his religion. 
    People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it’s opposite.  Nelson Mandela.



    Thy Kingdom Come

    In a recent episode of Compass about the building of an asylum seeker detention centre near a small rural community, many of the locals were bitterly opposed to having ‘these people’ anywhere near them. ‘Give them a match and tell them to set fire to themselves’ was one of the milder comments. It was deeply depressing and shocking.

    The Kingdom of God is Within You

    The Kingdom is not something to come, something about structures or rules or regulations or systems of belief. It begins, like the tiny mustard seed, in the heart of every person. That was an important part of Jesus’ message.


    The Kingdom of God is Here

    Jesus began his ministry after forty days and nights in the desert. He crossed the Jordan and walked back to the town of Capernaum in his beloved Galilee. He was about 32 years old. Capernaum was largely a fishing town but it was regularly visited by local landless peasants working as day labourers for the large landholders in the surrounding vineyards and farms.

    The Reign of God - Are You the One?

     John the Baptiser was a man for all seasons – a man with a message, even for today. He was an important figure in our understanding of Jesus’ role and in the nature of the Reign of God.


    Faith and Silence of God

    The Irish poet Antony Raftery said that, after all his ramblings, whenever he went back to Mayo where he came from, he would sit down among his own people and he would ‘become young again’.


    The Gift of Touch

    There are so many gifts we take for granted – like being able to see, hear, speak.  Imagine our life without even one of them. It is hard to appreciate, for example, how much we depend on touch.  Touch is not just about the physical. Psychologists tell us that touch is our primary language of compassion. Our faith life can benefit from a healthy dose of touch too!


    Impatience and Rage

    When I was young, if anyone in our family showed signs of impatience or bad temper, our father used to empty a box of matches on the table and we had to replace them in the box, one by one. If we ‘cheated’ and put a few in at once, he tipped them out and we had to start again!  It was a very effective strategy.