Faith Journey

Monday, 17 September 2018 19:05

Walking in the dark

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bigstock Hands Holding A Burning Candle 45272758 300x300

There are times when the spiritual journey we are on takes us into the darkness. As a metaphor, ‘darkness’ expresses those experiences where the way forward is unclear, and the real meaning of what we are (or are not) experiencing isn’t immediately apparent to us.

We can resist these moments and imagine that they are a sign that things aren’t as they should be. As someone said to me once: ‘I made a deal with God: I believe in him and he makes sure I have a nice life’. So when his ‘nice life’ began to evaporate, my friend thought it only fair that he should stop believing in God…

Thursday, 23 August 2018 17:00

Taking a Step Forward

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Hiker at crossroadsThere are certain moments in your life when you are confronted with a choice: do you continue on the path you are currently following, or do you take a turn to the left or the right? You weigh up all the options and you attempt to take into account all the information you have at your disposal…and then you decide.
That works for many of the decisions we need to make. However, it doesn’t work in the journey of faith. That’s because we need to consider more than ourselves, or simply those factors that we believe need to be taken into account.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018 13:38

Who’s in, who’s out?

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JourneyIn his recent communication, ‘Rejoice and Be Glad’, Pope Francis gently touches on this important question: who will be saved? It is a thorny issue for, on the one hand, we want to acknowledge the centrality of the person of Jesus Christ, and the fact that it is only in him that salvation resides. And yet, on the other hand, the role of the Church (and each one of us in it) includes recognising and celebrating the ways in which God is clearly at work in the many people whose lives reveal they are very close to God – whether they experience themselves as ‘belonging’ or not.

Monday, 25 June 2018 11:05

Alone or Together?

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bigstock Group of People ParkBelonging is part of being human. Right from the start we are nurtured in the womb of our mothers, and placed into their arms for nourishment, comfort and security. Things get a bit complicated after that, of course, as we seek to establish ourselves and assert our autonomy, but the pattern is set: human beings primarily discover who they are in relationship.

Monday, 21 May 2018 14:56

God’s not waiting for you to be perfect

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Grandmother serving granddaughterHave you ever thought of yourself as ‘holy’? Holiness is a tricky word for most of us. In my experience we don't tend to associate it with ourselves or even with the people we love. If we think of it at all, we think of holy people as being the saints, men and women before our time who don't live the sort of lives we live.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018 17:18

Allowing the questions to come

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Pope Francis"Rejoice and be Glad". With these words Pope Francis begins his latest offering to all members of the Body of Christ, and to all people of good will. I encourage you to read it yourself. In the meantime, here are some thoughts…

In number one we read: "The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created. He wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence..."

Thursday, 15 March 2018 16:26

People of the Earth

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Indigenous Body PaintingHave you heard of the Bundian way? It’s an ancient walking track linking continental Australia’s highest point with the east coast. It is considered be the world’s oldest walking track, predating by centuries the fabled spice route of the east.

At a gathering two or three years ago I listened to the Aboriginal elder, Uncle Ossie Cruse, recount the rediscovery of the track and its significance for his people. I was struck once again by the instinctive connection to the land that the Aboriginal people possess. So deep does the connection go, that when it is broken they become a people adrift…unsure of themselves…lost.

Friday, 23 February 2018 16:59

Calling on the Force

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Light sabres

I am in the Star Wars generation. That is to say, I was a boy of 13 when the first Star Wars movie came out, and the larger than life characters and good vs evil storyline burst on to our screens. I was old enough to appreciate what I was watching, and young enough to half hope that it was all real. With the latest instalment of the franchise due to hit our theatres soon, it is on my mind.

So much has been written about this movie, and its connection to a number of the central elements of the human spiritual quest, for it to be impossible for me to do it justice here. I focus instead on one concept that has made its way into the contemporary zeitgeist: ‘may the Force be with you’.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017 13:51

Going forward by letting go

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Person's hands releasing a balloon into the skyWe are almost inevitably the products of our society and our age. As such we are formed in an expectation of how things are best achieved. If we want to do something, get somewhere, or change something, we set about working out how best to bring that about. We make a decision, come up with a plan and off we go.

We tend to approach even spiritual things in this way. While that is alright as far as it goes, we need to learn pretty quickly that God cannot be managed by us in this fashion. The central task of the spiritual life is coming to terms with this fact. Until we do, our spiritual quest can be one of frustration and disappointment. In response to this frustration some simply attempt to try harder. They think of themselves as the problem. Some distance themselves from others (society, family, the Church). They think of others as the problem. Some distance themselves from God, believing that he either doesn’t care or doesn’t exist. They identify God as the problem.

 

Friday, 24 November 2017 13:36

The voices we listen to

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Woman listening

We regularly witness people SHOUTING at one another on social media sites these days. It seems that in an age that prides itself on its tolerance and diversity, tolerance often only extends to those who happen to agree with us. Raise a question about what someone has written on one of these sites and watch the fireworks fly! Our tolerance is often exposed as being but a thin veneer.

The loud and insistent voices try to claim our attention. They seek to drown out the quieter, more considered and reflective voices. And they seek to stifle our own inner voice. This is a problem for, without access to these more thoughtful voices, we end up being buffeted from every side, like kites in a storm.

 

Monday, 23 October 2017 18:33

Message in a bottle

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Illustration of a message in a bottle

I was working with a group of school teachers a few months back, trying to find the words to connect with every person in the room. Sometimes it is hard to make yourself understood when talking with just one person, so how can you be sure when talking to a group of fifty? You call on your experience, you try to read the room and intuit what is going on, and you make an act of faith.

At times I can feel like a castaway on a desert island, placing messages in bottles hoping that one day someone somewhere will read one of them and may even be provoked to respond. I write my words, or I speak them out, but is anybody reading…is anybody listening? Should I write nothing? Say nothing? Would it make any difference if I did nothing at all?

 

Monday, 21 August 2017 14:47

We will keep them in our prayers and thoughts

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Praying handsHow many times have you heard a politician or journalist, whilst commenting on a national disaster, complete their commentary by adding, ‘Our prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends at this most difficult time’? Sometimes I think to myself how very nice that is, and then other times I’ll be more cynical and say, “Really, is this guy going to actually pray for the family”?

This thought crossed my mind recently when a close friend rang to say her dad was gravely ill, and the family had been advised he wouldn’t live much longer. This friend, aged in her early 40’s and with three young sons, lost her husband six years ago.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017 11:24

Letting God be God

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Cartoon of a person holding a sign saying "No!"

Recently I was having a conversation with a young man. He was telling me that, as an atheist, even if God existed he would refuse to believe in him. He said it came down to this: God is not worth his time. He argued that even if he were to meet God face-to-face he would still say, ‘I refuse to believe’. He would not want to give God the satisfaction of having one more person believe in him.

I must admit that I found this confronting. Not for the first time it occurred to me that there is an element of choice when it comes to faith. Two people can encounter the same reality and one choose to say ‘yes’ to it, and the other choose ‘no’.

 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017 16:46

Taking a walk across the unknown

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Illustration of man in a boatThere’s a strange story in the Bible that is a favourite of mine. It concerns Jesus walking on the water and then Peter’s attempt to join him there (see Matthew 14:22-33)*.

At first reading, this story is not immediately relevant to us in our daily lives. The ability to walk on the water may be a miraculous curiosity, perhaps serving to highlight our own lack of faith, but that isn’t telling us anything new. We already know that faith can be hard to come by.

To understand this story we need first to understand that the Scriptures are primarily about who God is and who we are called to be in response to God. Through stories and events, songs and proverbs, letters and parables, God is seeking to teach us about God and about ourselves.

Monday, 19 June 2017 15:38

Makarrata

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Australian aboriginal dot paintingRecently I read a couple of opinion pieces in the newspaper about our Indigenous history. Both mentioned the word ‘Makarrata’, a Yolngu word meaning, ‘a coming together after a struggle’. The word has stayed with me, not only because it is a reminder of the ongoing struggle our Indigenous brothers and sisters grapple with, but also of struggles in our own lives.

How does this resonate with you? Have you ever found yourself in an ongoing struggle of some type? It might have been with your spouse, a child or in the workplace. Maybe you are currently experiencing a long-standing feud or tension. Such disharmony can make life quite miserable. We might wonder how on earth will we ever resolve the tensions. On the other hand, we might believe it is the other person’s fault, and resolutely decide not to make any move towards healing the situation. Unfortunately, the other party might also be thinking the same as you, and thus a ‘coming together’ is unlikely.

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