A very welcome pause

by | Jul 24, 2019

On the road around the Great Orme Llandudno Wales, December 2018

This morning, I was expecting to be at the Downing Centre, a court house complex in the centre of Sydney. I had been summoned, although not yet empanelled, for an 8 week criminal case. However, late yesterday afternoon I received the cancellation email with delight. Delighted, not because I wanted to get out of it. I am committed to and happy to support our jury system. In fact I was amazed at the number of people who said can’t you get out of it using this excuse or that. If clear thinking, intelligent and compassionate people are excused from jury panels for this reason or that, we cannot expect to have a robust trial by jury system and this is unfair for those relying on it: victims, defendants, judges, and society.

No, my delight is because I was to start jury duty immediately following such an intense period of professional development. I have been feasting on ideas, insights, inspiration and invitations in so many streams of my life as I have participated in 5 different professional development events on 12 out of the past 14 days! Such a feast! Now I welcome the pause created by the cancellation of this jury summons.

This feast commenced with “A Conversation with Matthew Fox” hosted by ANSD (The Australian Network of Spiritual Direction) and held at “Avila” the home of The Grail in Sydney. Matthew commenced by leading us in a spiral dance as we chanted “The Earth is our Mother, we must take of her. Hi ya, Hi ya, hi ya, ho. Hi ya, Hi ya, hi ya, ho. The Sky is our Father, we must take care of him. Hi ya, Hi ya, hi ya, ho. Hi ya, Hi ya, hi ya, ho.” We then explored with Matthew, Kerry Hide, and in small groups evolutionary consciousness and how we in the spiritual direction community manifest and participate in this arising consciousness in our day to day practice. Matthew drew on the four paths that he sees as integral to the the spiritual journey: via postivia, via negativa, via creativa and via transformativa. Like the dance we commenced with and the conversation that followed, these paths are spiral in nature, drawing us both inward and outward, sustaining and expanding the prophet and mystic we are called to be in and for the world. And this world which is on the brink of an environmental and ecological crisis, as well as a crisis of disconnection is so desperately in need of mystics and prophets.

Common Dreams: Sacred Earth, Original Blessing, Common Home, was the 5th Progressive Christianity Conference, for which Matthew Fox was one of keynote speakers along with Dr Anne Pattel-Gray, Dr Norm Habel, Rev Rod Bower, Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black, Commissioner Ro Allen and Rev Dr Margaret Mayman. I found I was been challenged and stretched, affirmed and disturbed, swinging between despair and hope, motivated and inspired. And also delightfully entertained by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir, Musicians Rachel Collis, Kavisha Mazzella and Heather Price. Poets Roje Ndayambaje and Joel McKerrow and Improvisations by Alex Sangster and Ian Turnnidge. Some of the challenges arising for me from the conference include:

  • Why have the Churches not looked into and acknowledged there past and present ongoing oppression of Aboriginal people, their culture and their spirituality?
  • What domination systems do I participate and perpetuate: ethnic, cultural, gender spiritual, sexual, economic?
  • Do I conflate “fitting in” with “belonging”?
  • How do we speak of God within this ecological crisis?
  • Is despair frozen anger and hope anger in action?
  • If I had enough hope and enough courage to be ferocious what would I do differently?
  • How am I being invited to “act up and act out” such that I bear witness to a hope that things can be different?
  • Rosa Parks stayed in her seat on the bus.

No wonder I welcome the pause this day. And yet I have had two more wonderful professional opportunities.

As a Disaster Recovery Chaplain, Tuesday to Thursday last week, I sat at the feet of Rev. Dr Naomi Paget a Crisis Interventionist and Chair of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters, Emotional & Spiritual Care Committee in the USA. We explored “Operational Stress First Aid” which equips us to support and care for others under severe stress or in trauma situations, “Managing Personal Relationships During Crisis” – focusing on maintaining healthy personal and work relationships in stressful settings, and; “Resilience for Stress Management During Crisis” – giving a greater understanding of stress, both positive and negative and ways to build a level of resilience. One of the most significant insights for me was recognising the difference between stress reaction and stress injury. The three days were very empowering.

The final feast this past fortnight was offered over the past 4 days by Rev Dr Michael Patterson from the UK, focusing on Pastoral Supervision. While I have been in supervision for nearly a decade, I have only recently commenced training in Professional Pastoral Supervision. These four days have provided a firm foundation as I become conscious of my incompetence and fledgling competence as a trainee supervisor. It was a graced opportunity inviting me to “widen the tent pegs of my heart to make room for the other” as I offer radical hospitality to others in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous circumstances.

So, so much to ponder, such richness to nourish my soul, inform my mind, affirm my heart and deepen the divine wisdom breathing within. Yes, this day is a very welcome pause.

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