Monthly Archives: January 2018


via Daily Prompt: Agile


Redbank Gorge was worth the short scramble, but I’m not as agile as I once was, although, in my head I’m still in my twenties 😀, but I’m definitely not fragile! As a child my parents took us on country walks. And my friends and I would sneak off for escapades in the surrounding countryside collecting tadpoles or frogs, chasing fish or floating leaves in streams. As I grew older it became more about nature as an interest in itself. And later still, I understood nature to be integral to my spirituality, something our whole family shares to some degree. Whether it is a serious trail hike or a simple bush walk I feel whole and nurtured in the bush, and I do anything to make it happen, agile or not. It’s not about the conquest or possession of nature, it’s about emersion and relationship.


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Filed under bush walking, Country, nature

Loopholes For Sanity

via Daily Prompt: Loophole

I hated highschool. Mine was a place of aggression, violence, bullying and assualt. It wasn’t a safe place, though few would admit it at the time. I guess what’s normal for you is the norm. Truth is though, I was bored witless. I loved learning but I didn’t like the way we did it. Additionally we had 1,400 kids crammed into a school built for 900. I’d drift off for most lessons, only to be rattled awake by a yell to pay attention. My report cards were replete with comments “Paul would do better if he focussed, if he paid attention, if he didn’t stare out the window so much. I still find conferences and events like that from time to time. I remember several of us getting into trouble, putting rats on the benches in science, setting the gas port alight as a flame thrower, water fights in the quad, shorting the electrical system, altering clocks it was such fun.

I needed a way out, I faked my mother’s signature a few times to write myself an “excused from school” note, but I knew that I could only do that now and again or risk falling under suspicion. But I don’t know why I worried so much, because one day in year 10, I decided to wander down town. I worked out that roll call was fisrt period in the morning and first period after lunch, and many teachers were slack in the afternoon – or were glad not to mark as absent the troublesome ones 😀 so it was possible to turn up for roll call and then disappear. That first time I wasn’t missed, so I did it again, and then I kept doing it, it helped me survive the institution of school, and yet I learned a lot about people and life and places. I went with a mate to his parent’s record bar (remember those?) and listen to the Top 40 free, we’d go to the shops, have a pint at one of the pubs and even take in a floor show (another loophole was that they rarely challenged your age back then). I was an absolute wizzard at pool and snooker, I could have passed a final exam with distinction had it involved potting balls. There was a fabulous bookshop (before the advent of franchises) where I got lost down the aisles reading. Chatting up the girls from the local TAFE and being chased out of the Newsagent for fear that I was nicking comics, (well … ahem …). I wouldn’t advocate it, I’m not denying it either, but nor am I ashamed of it, it is what it is, and somehow, in a counter-cultural way, it helped me. I’m thankful for the loopholes in my life, they helped to form me and I’m happy about that.



Filed under life

A Study In Sadness

via Daily Prompt: Study

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Yes it’s old, perhaps struggling to function on the day it was abandoned (which I think was around Boxing Day), punished by its owner, or at the very least, by those who stole it. The car gave everything and more as it was designed to do. I don’t grieve for machines normally, I’ve never named any of my machines (I do wonder if the robots soon to be more common among us will engender affection) as some are wont to do. I swear at them, perhaps that is a form of endearment 😀 I can be sentimental sometimes – I’ve kept my Tangerine Mac! But I don’t actually grieve machines. I grieve for life forms.

However, there is a sadness I feel for the disregard of the environment, the fire risk to the bush (I’m surprised it didn’t create a bush fire), the flora and fauna were at risk. But also a disregard for the possibility of redemption, even if it only meant recycling some of the parts. But what I really grieve is the thinking that wants to destroy, that sees no other possibility.



Filed under cars, Country, life, nature

Entertain the Other


Two movies I find deeply engaging are Chocolat and Babette’s Feast. They are not the same and yet they have some similarities in that relationships and love win out. In Chocolat Vianne fights the attitude of a whole town in France that is locked into a puritanical observation of the ancient privations of Lent. Vianne wins the people, and eventually her main detractors, by showing interest in the people, by offering hospitality, entertaining them, showing them love, most especially the unloved and rejected. Vianne is a soul friend, a confidant, a counsellor, a change agent.

I particularly love the dinner scene because it shows some of the people joining together and enjoying a sumptuous feast, they love its flavour, texture, its combinations, it is a scene not of lust, but of joy, true unadulterated joy, a setting free. And that is Chocolat, it is a series of people being set free. In the end Vianne herself is set free of her own struggle, dealing with the unresolved grief of her mother’s death. You can access the movie as just a whimsical jaunt, but you can go deeper and access the idea that entertaining the other, attending to the other, actually changes the world, one relationship at a time.



Filed under community, food, life, Spirituality

Meditation: the static life

via Daily Prompt: Static


I really like and need meditation, I like its many forms too. Static mediation, sitting and focussing on breathing and being faithful to my mantra is my main form, and brings me joy. But another way of mediation I love is, as I have written before, is the use of the labyrinth, which can take any form or way you like. But no matter the form, the walking clearly isn’t static, and yet, the movement of the body acts like a mantra, it enables focus through rhythm. And so stasis, or the slowing of the inner self is possible. For me it is one of the greatest forms of prayer. It is mentioned in all the great traditions, and not least non-religion, and including Christianity, which surprises some, and is a point of dialogue and connection across beliefs. For me it is a greater connection with being and spirit, a sense of wholeness. It is said that meditation is a form of maturity in prayer, it is the setting aside of agendas and attending to awareness.

In the christian tradition, the antecendents of modern meditation are found in the lives of the desert fathers and mothers, those who formed commnities in the deserts of North Africa, the Middle East, and Syria. Their emphasis was on silnece, and contemplative prayer forms. I love the following quote from one abba Arsenius: “Why, words, did I let you get out? I have often been sorry that I have spoken, never that I have been silent.” which reminds me of Monty Python and a scene from the Holy Grail where God rails against the noise of “all those miserable psalms.” The point being that endless repetition without mindfulness dulls us.

I’m not sure where you’re at, or what you think of meditation, but what I do know is that the world could do with a bit more silence each day, a little more thought for the other, a little more engagement with becoming rather than just doing. A little more stasis would be good all round.



Filed under Alt-Religion, community, kayaking, labyrinth, meditation, Spirituality

Evocative Experiences

via Daily Prompt: Evoke


Definitely not appropriate now. Burning coal we know to be destructive to the atmosphere. Even early on in the industrial revolution smog was noted in English cities as coal was fundamental to machinery for transport, and manufacture, and it filled the air, polluting the atmosphere. I’m glad for other forms of fuel to supplant coal. It would be good to have a solar train! But, nonetheless, I love old steam trains (some would say addicted to them), they evoke strong feelings in me. My childhood comes to life again as I remember family outings, trips to far off cities, going trainspotting with my dad, going to a soccer match with my dad and his friends. The sound of the trains, which ran close by our home, the smell of the coal fire, the whistle at the level crossing, are marvelous memories. It was like they were alive, hence the term iron horse, or mechanical beast, equating life to them. Steam lives on through my inner child as it comes to the fore, with train trips, scale modelling, and museum visits, treasured memories are evoked and very welcome. For me, a steam train is a key to my past, an experience of joy, and a treasure-chest of rich memories, they are evocative of special times.



Filed under history, life, Trains

Carved Salt

via Daily Prompt: Carve



One of the places we visited in Poland was the famous salt mine at Wieliczka. The tour of the mine was certainly worth it. There were many highlights along the tour. One in particular was this carved scene – The Last Supper – found in a stunning chapel where there were many other religious carvings. If you look at the right of the photo you will also see a pilar, part of the elaborate, carved architecture throughout the chapel. It still grabs my attention, to think it was carved from salt. Salt of course gets more than a couple of mentions in the Bible, and is used as a metaphor for spiritual vitality in the New Testament. We came home with a grinder of salt from the mine for our culinary vitality, which we have jealously guarded and measured out, more for sentimental reasons. We have salt lakes here that yield edible salt, but after that tour of the mine, and seeing the beautiful architecture and art carved in the walls and ceiling, salt is not the same.



Filed under art, history, Philosophy/Theology, Spirituality