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Year12CHS1984

Here is a major blast from the past. I joined this Friends Reunited site a number of years ago at the invitation of a friend. I don’t generally take much interest in these invitations but since it came from an old friend I decided to. I have not really paid much interest to the site until today when I had a few minutes up my sleve and was clearing all the mail from another email account and decided to have a look at the Friends Reunited site. Well someone had put up a photo of our year 12 class. I have no pictures from my childhood as we moved around more times than I’ve had hot breakfasts and always having to take only the ‘necessary’ items. It was a major blast from the past to see this photo talk about memories, some you want to forget and some you want to remember. If you’re interested in seeing a younger more handsome me way back when you’ll have to click onto the photo to open it to its full size, the scan is not the best but if you look in the 2nd row from the back and 3rd from the left hand side of the picture your curiousity will be solved. My goodness, where we ever that young. PS, that’s Colyton High School, Colyton NSW, class of 84.

Historians of music probably reject the rivalry shown between Salieri and Mozart in the popular play and film Amadeus. However it makes for a good story. Salieri recognises the pure genius of Mozart, and in the play and film is often portrayed as being mocked by God through Mozart’s gift for music. Salieri prays to God to be able to be a great musician but always sees himself as but a shadow of Salieri. I feel a lot like that tonight. I hear beautiful music sung by others, that sounds much like the voices of angels from heaven, but all I can manage is to sound like a seagull squawking over of chip at the seaside.

I already know some will read this and disagree with what I’ve written, but I know that there is a vast difference than being able to mimic sounds like a well trained parrot, but I also know that that parrot spends the rest of it’s time squawking. The trouble is when I see a note on the staff, I can hear it in my head but it doesn’t come from my lips the same. I feel frustrated when people say ‘listen’ and ‘sing it back’, as if it’s that easy, and I can’t. Though it could be worse, I could perhaps not be even able to hear and appreciate good music. So best be thankful for the small things in life.

I was stopped the other day while putting in some documents for my Discernment profile. The fellow wanted to make a time with me to talk about a theology of caring. I have been pondering over his request. What is a theology of caring. I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and really thought about that concept. We commonly refer to theology as the study of God. However, if we look at the root word theology (theologia) it in essence means the logos (word) of God. Caring is the adjective of ‘care’ which is derived from the Middle English word which means sorrow or anxiety. In its adjective form then caring means to have regard for, to attend to, to have an interest in, to have concern for someone or something. A theology of caring then perhaps is best viewed as an understanding of how the logos of God has regard for, attends to, has an interest in or shows concern for someone or something.

It struck me then that in developing a theology of caring one must begin with understanding how the logos of God acts in the world. St John of course wrote and the logos (word) became flesh and tabernacled (dwelt) among us. If we want to understand a theology of caring we simply need to see how Jesus acts in the world. A theology of caring then is expressed in and through the incarnation of God in the world through Christ.

We could look at many examples of the way in which Christ (the logos of God) cared for humanity. This is simply expressed by St Matthew, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners, welcome strangers, take care of the sick. Perhaps this is the point one begins in developing a theology of caring.

The discernment process continues. I got home today to find a letter from the Archbishop inviting me to attend the Vocational Discernment Conference on the 27-29th July. The conference is an opportunity for the Arch and his examining chaplains to meet those seeking to enter into diaconate and priestly formation – and vice versa. The weekend will be a series of interviews, group discussions, and discernment exercises. This weekend, along with all the written reflections and other paper work will be used by the examining chaplains in deciding whether or not inquirers show the necessary qualities and motivation to enter ordained ministry formation or whether their strengths lie in taking on some aspect of lay ministry in the Church. Please pray for all who will be attending this conference.

What’s the difference between Qantas, Jet Star and Virgin Blue – you can get decent service and meals on Jet Star and Virgin. As a Qantas frequent flyer I’m appalled at the continual decline of service and catering standards of our supposed national airline. It seems that short cuts and cost cutting is not only taking place in the maintenance of our flying kangaroo but so too are the standards of service and catering, thankfully the later does not jeopardise our life. On a two and a half hour flight from Cairns to Brisbane during what is usually someones dinner time the best our airline could come up with was three small oat biscuits no bigger than a 50c piece and the tinniest tub of “cream cheese”; served with not a lot of smile. At least on Virgin the staff always seem happy to be there and you can get a decent sandwich even if you do have to pay a little for it. Many years ago my uncle was long standing Qantas caterer. When the catering was moved out of Qantas kitchens and outsourced he said that would be the decline of the quality of Qantas catering, no words have been so prophetic. The food is taking a dive, the staff no longer look like they are happy to be serving you, and the planes look like they have not been cleaned in ages. Come on Qantas, get your act together. What sort of image is our flying kangaroo giving to our visitors.

My first Barra

I think I can safely count on one hand the number of times that I’ve been fishing. In fact the times I did it would have been best described as fish feeding. When it came to fishing it made more sense to me to go out the the river, dump in some bait, and pick up some fish and chips from the local on the way home. But I’m no longer a virgin fisherman, I caught my very first fish, this little Barra. Unfortunately he was under the allowed ‘keeping’ size so he got to live another day. One of the girls I worked with at Pormpuraaw and her husband took me out on their tinny to do some barra hunting and croc spotting. Frankie, the RN I work with, told me the secret to fishing up a good barra, you have to whinge about how tedious fishing is. She got the catch of the day, a whopping 850 cm. Mine (pictured) was not much to speak of, but made me feel like I’d achieved something that day. Frankie and her husband are also the ones who netted some great crabs I got to be spoilt on. They were also exceptionally kind enough to share some of the Frankie’s catch with me, I’m so looking forward to that one. I feel so blessed to have meet the kindness of such people.

Pormpuraaw Croc

They don’t post crocidile warning signs for nothing. One of the ‘attractions‘ at Pormpuraaw is the crocidile farm. There are also a number of these babies which hang out on the banks and in the waters of Pormpuraaw. The one pictured here is a small sample. Myself and one of the other RNs saw a fella much bigger, we reckon it was easily 17 ft. We were both glad that he was one other other side of the river and there was a large drop between us and the water. One of the other RNs and her husband took me fishing and we saw this fella along with a number of others. So I can safely say now that those warning signs are not just to make the place look colourful. So if you are in the water, beware, and remember what they say – never smile at a crocodile.  

Baby Taipan

The Taipan is said to be Australia’s largest, fastest moving and the world’s most deadliest snake, I was only inches from it. One of the fellows I was working with noticed this little guy wandering around our driveway. I went and grabbed my camera and the guy thought I was nuts getting up close and personal for this picture. He said it was venomous but I had not realised how so until I Wikipediad ‘Taipan’ and found out.

See the entries on Taipans at, The Reptile Park, Bushman Films and of course in Wikipedia. Note in the Wikipedia entry that the snake was named from a word used by the Wik-Mungkan Aboriginal people of the Cape York Peninsula; the Mungkan people are one of the groups in Pormpuraaw.  

I finally finished the three discernment reflections I had to submit in application to attend the Diocesan Discernment Conference coming up later in the month. I have posted links to two of them; one on The Nature of the Priesthood and the other on The Nature of God. The other I referred to in the last post is a Life Sketch and I decided that it ended up a little too personal to put on such a public forum.

I found each of the exercises suprisingly challenging, but very rewarding. It was interesting to read over them when I had finished and was surprised at some of my thoughts. It will be even more interesting to read over them in a few weeks, years time. I found myself starting and stopping these reflections on several occasions – they just never seemed to end up looking like how I meant them too. In the end the pressure was on as the date to get them in was well passed and the powers that be needed them ASAP. So in the end I was pushed to make a decision and, well there they are. You are welcome to have a look and comment on them here or send me an email if you think it is particularly personal, or if you want to accuse me of being a heritic and burn me at the stake. In the end I went with what felt right to me and not what I think people want to hear. I particularly got a lot out of my Life Sketch, I’m sure the psychologist will have fun with that one for ages.

Oh, and just a side, I was given two large yummy crabs last night. The joys of being by the beach. I’m off to eat them now for dinner.

At the moment I’m supposed to be preparing three reflections for the Diocesan Discernment Conference later in the month. I have to say it is quite the challenge. One is a Life Sketch, how does one put down in a few pages how one’s life has been shaped toward inquiring for Ordination. What do the Examining Chaplains want to know? The exercise has been quite useful and I might even finish it this side of a thesis. In doing this exercise I have learnt not only how the various parts of my life have lead me to be the person who now offers for discernment, but it has also reminded me of just how unworthy I am to be called a servnt of God. That is to say, that my life has been less than ideal. There are a number of things I’m neither pleased about nor proud of. However, it does remind me that God calls people just as they are. I guess that is the message I would like the Examining Chaplains to know; that despite how human I am, for all my frailties and faults, it is God who calls me to serve.

The second reflection is The Nature of God. Well another mammoth task to get down to 1 – 1/2 pages. Who or what is God. In doing this reflection it dawned on me how the more we try to describe the nature of God, the more we are limited by our human ability to communicate the Divine. We have draw on points of reference that we as humans can relate to. However, in so doing, we already limit our ability to describe which is in essence a spiritual encounter with the Divine. It also dawned on me that we spend far too much time feebly communicating the Divine and not enough time experiencing the Divine. It is like what I tell students when they ask me do I believe in God. I can tell them of my experiences of God but I cannot give them my experiences. What they need to do is seek out their own personal relationship with God.

The final reflection is on The Nature of the Priesthood. One I’m finding a lot easier. However, the difficulty for me seems to lie in how is a Priest different from a Religous. For there are a lot of similarities. Notwhithstanding the reality that both stem from the same aim, that is, to live in a more purposeful way our Baptismal vows to live as Discples of Christ. What then is different, perhaps its in the leadership of the Church, the taking on of the repsonsibility to pass on the traditions and mysteries of the faith.

I’m sure when I finally get these done I’ll have something more useful to say about them. In the mean time, I’m enjoying the sun and warmth here in Pormpuraaw. It won’t be long before I’m back in cooler Brisbane, but I’m looking forward to spending some time with Br Ghislain from Taize when he comes to do some school visits.

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9/5 - 11/5 Formation Intensive, SFC