Sunday 25 October 2015

Canvases Complete!

This weekend I had the wonderful privilege of sharing with a small group of women at our Contemplation on Canvas Retreat. We began the process on Friday evening reflecting on our past and the things that have shaped us in life. By the end of the night we had prepared the base of our canvas with different textures to represent stories and emotions. The canvases were left to dry overnight while we all got a good night's sleep to prepare for the big day ahead. 

The next morning we continued working on our piece by preparing the canvas. In doing this we symbolically embraced our past and celebrated it as part of who we are. It was then time to reflect on colours, symbols, words and images that depicted our present life moving into the future. We used guided meditation, listening to songs, reading quotes and pondering Leunig cartoons to assist us in finding the symbols that resonated with each of us.

Each person's canvas was unique, expressing the individual's journey. We shared in the group the story of the creation of our canvases. What an honour to be invited into each story in such an intimate way. Throughout the two days, we laughed together, ate together and were silent together. It was a wonderful experience.

After running this retreat for the first time, I am now set up to offer it to others. If you think this sounds like something you and a group of friends would like to do, get in contact and I can give you more details. I would love the opportunity to share the experience with more people.

Wednesday 14 October 2015


Silence is that point of hesitation
   where I peer into the light of my own reflection,
   where all becomes clear and my ambition melts away.
Silence is the hush before I breathe deeply
   and fill my lungs - no space left empty.
Silence is not the absence of noise
   but my choice to enter my own stillness - and be.
Silence is my soul's night time,
   a dark void to rest my weary spirit.
Silence is my sabbath where I realise
   I have been walking towards my own shadow
   and gently turn my face to the light.
Silence is not a space for sending forth new shoots,
   but for sinking roots deep.
Silence is a healing space,
   a balm for deep wounds
   and a knife to hidden scars.
Silence is not safe,
   a vulnerable opening for winds of change
   and exposing light to the dark corners.
Silence is .... transformation. 

Friday 9 October 2015

Ownership: Maintaining Control in a Fragile World

There have been a lot of stories recently in our media that have me wondering if our need for ownership is damaging our society. Many of us own the patch of land that we live on. We paid quite a sum of money, and perhaps are still paying, to claim ownership of our block, our little section of Australia.

The way our society views land as a possession has a huge influence on our attitude to sharing our land. The First Peoples of this land have a a very different view of the land. It is more about listening and being in relationship than possession and ownership. There is a lot we can learn from them. Is it any wonder that some people are so against accepting refugees into our country? The fear that we might lose control and ownership of our land is enough to have us metaphorically building our fences higher and stronger. But, is this land really ours to own? Perhaps, if we could learn to be stewards rather than owners of the land, we would have a much more generous view to sharing our land and welcoming the stranger.

Another area where people seem to assert their ownership is in the search for truth. We crave for some sort of security in life and so claim to own the truth. It makes us feel safe and gives us certainty in a fragile world. But, as soon as someone with a different truth comes along we feel under threat. Our own need to own the truth, to grasp hold of it defensively, causes us to react to difference in fear. Those who do not fit our picture of truth are excluded, oppressed or perhaps in a more subtle way, prayed for fervently that they might conform to our ways. Is the truth really ours to own? Perhaps, if we could learn to be seekers rather than owners of the truth we would have a much more generous view to sharing our wisdom with the wisdom of the stranger.

Patriotism, fundamentalism and materialism all contain an element of possession and ownership. As many of us heard in our churches last Sunday, Jesus answer to the rich, young man seeking eternal life was to give away his possessions. We could say, he was challenged to give away his sense of ownership. I wonder if he meant more than just material wealth? As we hold so tightly to the things in life that we most fear losing, do we really have the capacity to know the joy that they bring us. Perhaps our sense of ownership is what holds us back from living a life of love and compassion.