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Hope that got your attention. I’m going to cease using the wordpress account for my The Mendicant Mind and Body. If you want to follow me then come to mendicantsoul.info and upadate your links, subscriptions there. It still has a few kinks to iron out after the transfer but nonetheless still works. Hopefully I might even write a little more … yes, yes I know you’ve heard it all before.

Blessings

Nathan

It has been ages since I last posted here. Most people have probably given up checking here for any new updates. No matter.

I entered formation at the beginning of this year, along with commencing my B Theol degree. I am enjoying spending more time with people I have got to know through study and formation. Though I have to say the actual formation program and degree has been somewhat less …. enjoyable. I’m undertaking a full time program as well as the demands of formation and field placement.

The long and the short of it is that I seem to have ran into a snag as far as managing the load. It has meant looking into some of the reasons behind what seems to be the underpinning issue … more on that at another time. Suffice to say for now there have been some interesting revelations that have caused me to really look at how I proceed with the next step … again more on that later.

Right now I wanted to simply see if wordpress had kept my blog and whether or not I would be able to still post here, it might be come a useful outlet at the moment.

That all aside. I have been placed in a parish not too far from me and it is excellent. I’m having a really good time there so far and am looking forward to continued involvement there.

I know at least on of my friends will be both shocked and proud to learn I went to a library today; yes on purpose. I heard that there was an exhibition on at the British library of Scared texts from Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The exhibition was excellent. The range of collection of books was fantastic. I got to see texts which date back as early as the first century, as well as complete manuscripts like the Codex Sinaiticus. It was amazing to see these texts. It really does bring a new dimension to one’s faith. To see these gives a little sense of well the Bible (and the others) are real and not made up just a few years ago, or with the printing of the KJV Bible, but are old, old as 1st Century. Amazing is all I can say.

Well after a lot of delays I have finally arrived in London. At first my QF plane was delayed from 1115 am (which they had called to let me know about the day before) to 2.15 pm. We finally boarded the aircraft at about 2.45 but did not leave the aerobridge to take off until around 4 pm. The meant arriving in Hong Kong for my transfer to my London flight was delayed such that I had 20 minute to get from the BNE-HKG plane and get onto the HKG-LHR plane. All very amusing since originally I had something like a 6 hour change over time at the time of the initial booking and as it turned out barely made it.

Anyways. OMG I just love London. Right now I’m in Piccadilly Circus and there are so many exciting shows on at the moment, all my favourites, and some new ones; Billy Elliot, Sound of Music, Joseph, Les Miserables (a classic of course) oh and so many more. How to choose only one to see. Anyways I’m off now to St Pauls and a few other places. Not going to spend all my time here at the computer.

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.

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.  

Recently I sat through a viewing of The Divinci Code; an interesting drama and mystery, but not more. I’ve actually not been all that interested in viewing it, but did so out of interest and because the person I was viewing it with was interested in watching it with me. What I’m intrigued about is how readily some people are to accept Hollywood dramas regarding religious content and matters of faith yet quick to dismiss the reality of a personal experience of the Divine. That is, it seems to be that movies such as the Divinci Code take questionable material and some how sell it as fact and people will believe it; perhaps because they need to, perhaps it helps them to ignore the reality of a personal faith, perhaps it offers an easy way out for them to not do their own soul searching about what it is they believe in.

What is more interesting to me, is that people assume that because of the Church’s sometimes dubious and roller coaster past that when ever something comes along ‘putting down the Church’ people are quick to dismiss the reality of a lived faith with God. The trouble with this is that it assumes a shallow understanding of faith and belief in the Divine. It assumes that those who have a faith and belief in the Divine do so only because of the human existance of the Church, and not the lived experience of a personal encounter with God.

I would be the first to admit that if I relied on the frailty and sometimes unworthiness of the Church I would have no faith or belief at all. As some who know something about me know I like many people have more excuses to distrust and dismiss the Church than reasons to believe in the Church. Fortunately for me, my faith and belief in the Divine does not rely on the humanity of the Church alone, for all it’s frailties, faults and positivities. My faith is based on a living encounter with the Divine in my life.

I’m aware of brief moments in my life when I have truly encountered a moment (even if for a nano second of time) of being in the presence of the Divine. In small, miniscule ways; through looking into the eyes of a dying person, washing the feet of a woman with infected sores, seeing a baby born, watching a person make their first Communion or Confirmation, being a part of a football team who pray together (not to win but to give thanks to God and intercession for their loved ones), seeing a person survive tremendous abuse, I see that there is a God who is alive and who does carry us when we most need it. There are times too when it is much harder to express; but moments when, for a blink of the eye, I see and touch the presence of God. This is from where comes my faith and belief in the Divine, not some man made Church which seems to agree or disagree at the drop of a hat.

The Church is falable, despite how much we might try and make it not so. We are human, trying to interpret and express an encounter with the Divine. And we can do this only in so far as our human language and frailty can allow. Let us give thanks to God that our faith and belief in the Divine does not need to depend on the humanity of the Church, rather let us give thanks that our faith and belief is derived solely from a personal encounter with God.

One of the difficulties of helping people today to understand this (that faith is a lived real experience and not something we get from simply reading words on from an ancient manuscript) is that we cannot give them our ‘God experiences’. They need to discover this for themselves. The trouble too is that it requires that people be willing to be open and vulnerable to the presence of God in their lives. Often people can be to content to be wrapped up in their own sense of self and self-righteousness to bother to look at how God is speaking to them today. They dismiss that a personal experience of God can be real and lived and encountered, often doing so by finding the path of least resistance in attacking the humanity of the Church rather than encounterting the Divinity of God.

No, the Divinci Code cannot shatter my faith. My faith and belief in the Divine is not reliant on humanity but rather the Divinity of God and the reality of the Graces that God gives in my life. The moments of encounter with the Divine in the simple acts of being in the human world. The Church will fail us, as surely as we will fail the Church and God on more occassions than one. But it is important to know that God will never fail us and the Divine will continue to exist within the world for all of us. We simply need to open our hearts and minds, the be vulnerable, trusting, and open enough to take off our blinkers and see that God not only exists but God calls us into a relationship with the Divine.

Leave movies like the Divinci Code on the shelf of the video store. Or at least remember what they are, Hollywood selling it’s latest blockbuster. Take time to find your own ‘God experience’ allow God to become real and lived in your life. For it is here you will discover what is true faith and belief.

Well as they say, all good things must come to an end. As always I was a little saddened to leave the school community I had been a part of over the last 10 days. It feels as though I was just beginning to develop relationships with the school community and then it was time to leave. As always I am grateful for the welcome I receive when I attend TSS. The hospitality, fellowship and willingness to be open to sharing part of their life with me is always moving. Being a part of the preparations for Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation is a particularly wonderful experience. As are the opportunities to just hang out with students during lunch and other social occasions. Occasionally, there are boys with whom I seem to develop some connection who want to share with me some of the rewards and challenges of their lives as members of the school community. I’m deeply honoured by their trust of, and openness with me.

I am already looking forward to other opportunities to share part of the activities in the school as well our annual visit next year. My thanks to the school community, students, parents, staff for their welcome and hospitality.

Last year I facilitated a series of prayer workshops at St John’s Anglican Church, Canberra. It was then I met Rev Greg Thompson. Last night I was fortunate enough to be able to attend his Ordination as a Bishop in the Church of God and his installation as the Bishop of the Northern Territory.

The Cathedral was packed. People had come from near and far to be with Greg during his Ordination. Clearly this was a man who had touched many lives. The service was very moving with a mix of traditional and cultural. Of particular note was the reading of the Epistle in one of the local languages and the rousing singing by members of a local college choir.

Br Wade and I were invited to lead the prep school chapel services. Br Wade spoke to the Cribb (junior prep) Chapel students about faith, which like a mustard seed, grows from a small seed. He used the story of an Emperor who seeks to find a child to be his heir. The children are given a seed to grow. A Year later the children return with their plants. One child had no success, he grew nothing. He is chose. Why, because the Emperor had deliberately given them seeds which would not grow, and the boy was the only one not to try and trick the Emperor by bringing a plan which they grew from another seed. The Emperor was looking for the child who had honesty and integrity, this would be the Emperor’s heir.

Later, in the Upper Prep (senior) Chapel we talked about the importance of sharing. I used the story of the Knight who made Stone Soup. After being refused food by a village the Knight makes soup from a stone he tripped over on his journey to the village. He eventually encourages the people of the villiage to contribute to the Soup; feeding all the villiage.

I was impressed how engaging the students were during the Chapel services. Their willingness to participate was wonderful. Some of these students were also ones who were candidates for Baptism and First Communion. I knew that they had taken the story on board when a number of them refereed to it later.

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Diary Dates

9/5 - 11/5 Formation Intensive, SFC