Thoughts July 2006

Thoughts for the Month

The Jesus I know is no cold, hard Iron-Christ; nor does Jesus deserve to be reduced to smug, glib and uncompassionate irrelevancies when the real meaning of His love is what people need so desperately.

“Who is Worthy?” Ted Kennedy


Continuing to celebrate the coming of the Spirit in this Pentecostal Season, we reflect on the Spirit in two commentaries. Also, this month we celebrate NAIDOC WEEK—the poem was given by Mary and is apt for us to reflect on at this time. Other words enable us to take time reflecting on culture and land.

July is National Tree Day. The tree we planted in memory of Ted has been moved and is doing well. Maybe this year we can plant one for the land the Church, Medical Centre and Presbytery stand on, asking for protection for this sacred place.

We are only dimly aware of the numinous quality of this ancient land we inhabit. We know its beauty, but rarely do we recognise this appreciation as the call to the deeper experience of sensing the sacred presence within the land that is sometimes felt as a tangible silence. Awareness of this sacred presence was the milieu in which traditional Aboriginal culture and spirituality developed its relationship to the land, and drew its wisdom and depth. Aboriginal people learned over thousands of years to respond to the numinous quality which they sensed emanated from the land and they felt themselves to be in relationship with the land through this sacred presence.

Excerpt from The Call of the Sacred
Online Catholics 106&107 by Margaret Smith
Imagine how you would feel if every time you opened the newspaper your culture was denigrated and attacked. Imagine how you would respond if your self-esteem was constantly maimed and abused. When I read attacks on my Aboriginal culture, my soul is sickened at the very root. When the culture of a people is ignored, denigrated or, worse, intentionally attacked, it is cultural abuse. It is abuse because it strikes at the very identity of the people aimed at; it attacks their sense of self, it attacks their connectedness to their family and community
Culture makes us what we are.
By Muriel Bamblett
As we enter NAIDOC Week let us reflect on the degree we really understand another culture.

The above quote from Margaret Smith helps us to move into this space.

This is the poster which was chosen for NAIDOC Week.
It was painting by Charmaine Green from Geraldton WA.
The theme is Respect the Past — Believe in the Future.

Pentecost Sunday

The opening lines of today’s first reading say “They were all in one place together”. As I reflected on these words I came to ask myself “Why did they come together in one place” It seems natural to assume that each one felt moved to share and celebrate the memory of a common rich and powerful experience; the experience of Jesus who touched them so profoundly that their lives could never be the same again.

What brings each one of us to this place? Most probably we can all answer that it is the same Jesus. But, if we ask ourselves, “What is our experience of Jesus that brings us together” and, further, “why it is to this place that we come?”, our answers may be very different?

Jesus tells us in the Gospel that “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father; the spirit of Truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.” The Spirit of Pentecost speaks uniquely to each person, in the language that each needs to hear and understand. The Spirit that has filled this place for the past 30 years has spoken in the language of the original people of this place, bringing hope, comfort and sanctuary.

The Spirit chose to speak through two extraordinary people, and moved them to testify to Jesus. For those of us who knew them, they changed the course of our lives so profoundly that we can never be the same again. Like the disciples on the way to Emmaus, we who experienced this Spirit, can truly say, “Did not our hearts burn within us as he explained the scriptures to us on road?”

The people who listened to the disciples on the first Pentecost heard them speak of the mighty acts of God –but which mighty acts of God did they bring to mind for them? What was it that was so captivating? It is my experience that the Spirit alive in this place calls us to proclaim the good news to the poor, the dispossessed and the down-trodden, to join them in their struggle for justice, to set captives free and so on. Today as we celebrate Pentecost maybe we can ask ourselves where the Spirit is leading us in our struggle to remain faithful to this mission.

Geoffrey George

Trinity Sunday

I am sure many remember the story that St Patrick used to explain the Trinity ; a shamrock with one shape but three distinct leaves. This was to show that there was one God and three persons, Father, Son and Spirit.

As I reflected on the idea of Trinity, the words came to mind— “All shall be one”. One of the horrible aspects of our life today is the idea of hierarchy. In society and the Church there is hierarchical structure, starting at the top and proceeding to the bottom. You might imagine a ladder with rungs.

Take a moment to think about who you see at the top and who is at the bottom of this ladder.

Jesus always spoke of inclusiveness—inviting all people in, no matter who they were. The Trinity— Father, Son and Spirit is not hierarchical. We are told all persons are God; all are equal.

So, why is it that God’s people put more emphasis on certain people; why is it that the Church has been structured so differently.

As we listen to the readings today let us imagine this God of Love; this Trinity of Persons, as one who wants sharing rather than competition, welcome and embrace rather than barriers and restrictions; a listening rather then telling and dominating.

Sheila Quonoey


From ancient times the message stick has been used in Aboriginal culture to call people from different tribes together.

Today, the message stick is a call from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s historic visit to Alice Springs in 1986. On May 1,2005, nine message sticks were launched from St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney, initiating a period of renewal across the nation.

These message sticks are being relayed among parishes and schools around the States and Territories of Australia.

The Message stick Relay will culminate in October 2006 with special celebrations in Alice Springs.

National Tree Planting Day

Trees can stir us so many ways. They stand tall and strong. They live long. They embody exquisite balance and attunement with the natural world. They are beautiful. We use then to build our houses and we burn their wood for warmth. We make furniture from them and we sit in their shade.

As children, we climb in them. We eat their fruits. We scent our homes with their fragrance. They are so quiet though. We may miss what they have to teach us. Perhaps, in order to learn from them, we too must be quiet. Let’s try that and see what happens.

Tree Meditation:

For the next little while, you are invited to experience life as a tree would. In other words, you would be as wood would be. Perhaps, you would be as if you were a fir. A pine would also be fine or a gum tree.

A standing position is appropriate for a tree meditation. Sitting will work too. Whether standing or sitting, find a comfortable, stable position. The essence of treeness is rootedness. So allow yourself to connect with the earth.

Imagine that you are the trunk of this tree and its branches, roots and leaves or needles. Put your mind in each part of the tree. Get a feel for how this tree exists in the world. Feel its movements, the flexing, the swaying, the weight of its limbs, and the strength of its wood. Observe the flow of pitch, the reaching for the sun. Leaves catch the rain and shake in the wind. Growing times and dormant times each remembered in the rings. You, the tree are not just what the travelling beings see. You are under ground as well. Observe how your roots have grown into the earth. From those early days when you were just a seedling, you have pushed deep into the ground, spreading, clutching, drawing in water and nutrients, finding the spaces under the earth where you can sprout a root or a hundred roots or maybe thousand. Cool and moist down there, but rich. When the wind blows, you shake and sway.

Now find again the stillness of your tree on a windless day—perfect rest while remaining upright. Your tree would like to show you silence, patience, and the lesson of being without doing. This tree mind is, if you can imagine it, sightless. No eyes, yet it knows the sun. No ears, yet it vibrates with the world around it. No nerves, no brain, no mental images. No plans, just a tendency to keep growing and sprouting and swaying, to draw up from the soil and to bloom when the time is right. To drop greenery when that time is right. To start over each year. It has no calendar or date book. No to-do list. It just does what it needs to do when conditions are right. And it stays right there doing it year after year. Time passes with no sense of time passing. The tree is always in the now. No worries. No regrets. No plans. Humans rush about. They are born, grow old and die, and the tree lives on. It persists in the cold and dark times. It lives a simple life though it is large and complex.

As you return to the busier world of human awareness, take with you from your tree encounter the strength to endure, the wisdom to respond to events in harmony with the ways of nature, and the flexible calm of your tree friend. Carry with you hope that comes from attunement to the cycle of life and peace drawn from these quiet moments of introspection.

© 2005 Tom Barrett

The Past

Let no one say the past is dead.
The past is all about us and within
Haunted by tribal memories, I know
This little now, this accidental present
Is not the all of me, whose long making
Is so much of the past.

Tonight here in suburbia as I sit
In easy chair before electric heater,
Warmed by the red glow, I fall into dream
I am away.
At the camp fire in the bush, among
My own people, sitting on the ground,
No walls about me,
The stars over me.
The tall surrounding trees that stir in the wind

Making their own music.
Soft cries of the night coming to us, there
Where we are one with all Nature’s lives
Known and unknown
In scenes where we belong but have
now forsaken,
Deep chair and electric radiator
Are but since yesterday.
But a thousand thousand camp fires
in the forest
Are in my blood
Let none tell me the past is wholly gone
Now is so small a part of time, so small a part
Of all the race years that have moulded me.

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