Platform 9 3/4

I couldn’t resist. While on my way to Cambridge I passed the now famous 9 3/4 platform at Kings Cross station used in the Harry Potter movies. There were lots of people making all sorts of interesting poses here. Though I suspect many of them were unable to get through to the platform. For all the Harry Potter fans who visit here.

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Billy Elliot UK 2007

I just had to use that one liner from the show as the title of this post. Billy Elliot Esquire is the address on the letter sent to Billy from the Royal London Ballet, Billy of course uses the one liner in the play and gets enormous laughs from it. Funny, energetic, stirring, sometimes sad, moving, talented. These and many more words can be used to describe this musical based on the movie of the same name. If you have seen the movie, you still need to see the musical as there are moments in it that are not in the musical. Even though I had a seat up in the realms of the Gods it was well worth the lack of oxygen for three hours. The cast were exceptional in the song, dance, dialogue and well deserved the several rounds of standing ovations, particularly the lad playing Billy who delivered an engaging performance.

Looking at the high percentage of young men present I found myself asking what impact this sort of show, and movie, would have on the acceptance of young men in realms like Ballet which still seem to have somewhat of a sense that this is only for girls and as Billy often says, queers. I remember a few years ago meeting up with one of the lads I went to school with and I was surprised to learn that along with a number of other things he had taken Ballet while at school and had gone on to tour with the Royal Ballet (perhaps Australia’s on pre Billy Elliot). I wonder if these kinds of shows begin to open up this world to other young men who exhibit the same outstanding talent as the fellow who played Billy.

I certainly know that a number of young men I have met in schools there does not seem to be the same sense of barriers to young men entering into realms which have been more traditionally seen as “women’s” (the same of course can be said of the opening of traditional males roles to women). Perhaps the world is becoming more accepting of people’s talents and abilities rather than sterotypes. As I said, if you have not seen it, and it is coming to Australia soon, do get a ticket even if you have to pawn grandmother’s wedding rings.

Cambridge 2007

I first heard the Choir of Kings College Cambridge sing at the Sydney Opera House in 1998. They were excellent to say the least. Although I did not get ot hear them sing this visit, the boys were on summer break, I had previously heard them sing in their Chapel. I’m told that the Choir of St John’s College is better – could this be some version of College rivalry? This photo was taken on the ‘backs’ of Kings by the river Cam. You can see the Chapel in the background. Cambridge was extremely busy on the day. Sadly a lot of the Colleges were closed due to the summer break. I will be posting more photos from inside the College Chapel later.

St Paul’s Cathedral London 

Most people who read this blog will be somewhat familiar with the story of how I came to learn about the Society of St Francis, the Anglican Franciscan Community. Well, this is St Paul’s Cathedral London, UK; where it all began. Part of my wanting to visit the UK was to re-visit some of that early sense of call to vocation within a Franciscan religious community.

Not long after moving to London for work I started attending services at St Paul’s Cathedral. Later in that year some friends from Australia visited me while on holidays in the UK. During the ‘Red Bus’ tour we stopped to visit St Paul’s. While they were wandering around I noticed a small table at the entrance which had some pamphalets on it; the front had a picture of a ‘monk’ on it, along with a series of questions asking the reader whether or not they had felt called to explore religious life. Not to be seen by my friends I quickly folded it and put it into my pocket, only taking it out to read it later when my friends could not see what I was reading. Shortly after I made quick tracks to an internet cafe where I could find out more about this religious community. The pamphalet was an invitation to explore Franciscan religious life.

I emailed the vocation director who said he would drop by to see me while in London. I of course got cold feet and went out to the movies that day. He did however come and left a number of brochures abour St Francis and the Society of St Francis. The more I read about the life of St Francis, and how he tried to live his life in imitation of Christ, the more I felt that God was indeed calling me to live my life as part of a Franciscan religious community. I attended the vocation day at St Martins-in-the-Fields Church. Although it was a little while later before I actually joined the Society of St Francis, my visit to St Paul’s that day was one of the defining moments of my sense of being called to Franciscan religious life.

It was good to re-visit St Paul’s today. As I was sitting in the Cathedral one of the Cathedral guides came to talk with me. It was nice to share with her how my visit to St Paul’s had been such an important part of my call to religious life. It is good to be able to recall these moments. There are times when we can be too caught up in the busyness and distractions of the world and forget that it is God who calls us to live our lives as people of God. Thus in re-visiting those significant moments in our lives, either by physical journeying, or remembering through sharing our stories, we can continue to re-affirm not only God’s call but our response to God’s call. This is particularly important for those many moments when worldly busyness and distractions tempt us to forget that it is God who calls us and it is us who respond. 

  

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.

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.

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9/5 - 11/5 Formation Intensive, SFC