A Prayer for Openness

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I don’t travel alone much, and when I do, I feel the whole process interiorly – from the planning of itinerary; to the packing, the transit and the journey.

I was reminded of one particular stay in Sydney two years ago when I was there for a conference. It was night, and many of the participants had either travelled in groups or were familiar with the locality. To add fun to the story, it was wet and quite cold that winter night, but because I was a Melbournian going to Sydney, I had decided on principle (and in stubbornness) that I wouldn’t need an umbrella with me. (Melbourne winters are not for suckers.) We had to organise our own meal and I was getting hungry and tired from the commute, and I was without the securities of shelter, familiarity and knowledge.

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Sydney in the rain, by night, 19 August 2014. Image credit: G. Anderson.

I mustered courage and ventured out nevertheless, with a borrowed umbrella, and walked around the precinct awhile. Businesses were closing and people were going about their regular routine, leaving work, etc. It was not a tourist district, so everyone looked as though they knew where they were going. I did my best to imitate them, and found a haven of authentic #Japanese fare open, as if just for me. The interior was cosy and intimately lit (dark!), and I was the only customer at the time, yet there was something warm about it (apart from the steaming hot #miso). The service staff spoke little English but we managed with smiles. どうもありがとう 🙇

This was not the #Sydney I had known before, it was something else altogether, and in part, I think it was because I let myself be vulnerable yet reliant on whatever strengths I had in me.

When was the last time you lived with openness of spirit? Are you being called to openness? How can you be a welcome for someone today?

 

 

Prayer for Openness

God of Love,

Your birth knew no welcome on a barnyard floor

Your childhood estranged from the land of your home.

As an adult you lived among outsiders and lepers,

the lost and the forgotten, on the edges of sociability.

Rejected and renounced, to be abandoned by your kin

You were left to die alone, save for a few.

Even in rising, you were found unrecognised

yet remained ever faithful to the truth that is Love.

God of Love,

In knowing this, and in all you’ve given me,

Make me a haven of welcome and warmth,

that I too, may be open, to your coming again.

#spiritual #insight #instafood #restaurant #door #doorway #opendoor #travel#memories #fcjasau #mission

ICYMI: Article in ‘Kairos Catholic Journal’, Vocations Edition 2015

This week in Australia, we celebrate National Vocations Awareness Week.

In case you missed it, we have an article published in the Kairos Catholic Journal for the Archdiocese of Melbourne, which you can read here:

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I’ll Ride With You

This morning in a central Sydney café, a group of people were taken hostage by armed men, believed to be militant Muslims. (Read here for live updated reports.)

That there is a hint of religion involved or what claims to be the message of Islam as a motive for the siege has created waves in the wider community. For some, it is a unified solidarity standing up against terrorism and racism. For others, it is fear.

And so started a movement through social media: “I’ll Ride With You”. You can read how it began when one woman noticed another taking off her hijab in public so as to protect herself from outward recognition.

We can take so much from the story, and say so much about today’s events, but in the quiet of the night, this story has shed some more light on the meaning of Advent and the forecoming feast of the birth of the Christ.

It all comes back to us in how we treat one another, in how we live with each other. Here is companionship in everyday life.

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We are busy during this time of year,  so terribly busy, and we all have our tasks to get through. But this story has shown me that as urgent as our meetings and deadlines are, more imperative is the awareness of our need to pause and connect with each other, to say to another, “Whatever you’re going through, it’s ok. I’ll ride with you. We’ll journey together.”


Let us remember and pray for the hostages and their families, the negotiators and security forces as well as for the perpetrators themselves. Love is stronger than hatred, light more saving than darkness. Let us work and live for peace among ourselves.

Speak Up on Mental Illness

Keeping-Company.com FCJ SistersThe death of Robin Williams has struck a cord with many people. Many were shocked by it, saying that they could not have imagined someone so uplifting, funny and well-loved, succumb to suicide. But to put it bluntly: that’s life for you, and the indiscriminate and unbiased nature of mental illness. Unfortunately, an uncomfortable silence continues.

And that’s the point of Australia’s R U Ok? Day, appropriately following on from yesterday’s World Suicide Prevention Day. Far from being “just another” good cause or campaign to support, these initiatives seek to dispel social taboos and myths on mental illness and offer support to the multitude affected by this condition, by making connections, encouraging conversation and opening up.

Even if you haven’t personally experienced depression or anxiety, or witnessed a mental breakdown, chances are likely that someone around you has or is going through it right now.

You don’t have to be a doctor or medical professional. You don’t have to be a counsellor. You don’t even have to know them very well or be their best friend and confidante. All you need to do in this kind of accompaniment is to be open-minded, open-hearted and compassionate so we can speak up on mental illness.

Let’s all be a little kinder to one another and to ourselves today. Let’s all be a little gentler and more welcoming with our time, presence and availability. A few minutes or a few words to someone in need can help them and make all the difference. 

If you or someone you know is in crisis, click here to access a list of services available. And that’s the truth: there is help available, there is someone willing to listen and there is someone who cares.

Photos from #LighttheDark Vigil for Asylum Seekers (Melbourne)

My family and I made it to Federation Square in Melbourne city to help shine light on the darkness that is the tragedy of detention centres like the one on Manus Island, which allowed 23-year-old Iranian asylum seeker, Reza Berati to suffer unjustly and die. Regardless of political leaning, every life is sacred and every human being deserves to be humanely treated and cared for.

Here are some photos from our night out. I was especially delighted to have met up with Sr Margaret Claver fcJ who joined us. I wish to express grateful thanks as well, to all who supported this night, through prayers, messages and thoughts, to help express an Australian culture that we can be proud of.

An individual flame is small, but together, we can shine a light so bright, for hope, for peace, for humanity, for all.

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Melburnians stand tall even before it gets dark.

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Sr Margaret Claver fcJ meets us at the vigil after a long day. Thank you.

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Laying down of lights, messages and tributes in memory of Reza Berati and all asylum seekers.

Finding God in the Rain

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Photo: Geralyn Anderson, Nov 2013

It’s unseasonably wet for this time of year in Melbourne. This week, the weather is mistakeable for winter, despite being in the middle of November.

I stayed overnight at the FCJs’ last week and walked down to Mass at the Redemptorist monastery. As I proceeded to leave, I saw a friend of mine who was surprised to see me. He greeted me with a smile, and after exchanging a few words, he noticed the rain and so went to get me an umbrella.

I didn’t really need it but I accepted his gift and head off.

The beautiful thing is the grace of kindness, compassion and now, memory. His one simple and seemingly unnecessary act of wholehearted warmth toward me, has given me a blessing that far outlasts the incident.

So to him, I thank you.

Perhaps you can reflect on the simple, unassuming ways of giving, of blessing and of generosity in your day today. Have I received or will I give?

The World as Icon #2

Waking up in a different neighbourhood is an interesting experience. I walked down to Mass this morning like one of the locals, but took in the sights and sounds of the residential streets, as if fresh air. Although this is still Melbourne, still the same city, I could not help but feel such newness.

One of the things that stood out for me was this tree:

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Image: Australia, by Geralyn Tan for Keeping Company. 2013

And I thought to myself, “My, my, Australia, with your eucalypt and gum nut. No where else in the world is there a place like you.”

So today, I pray for Australia, for all its inhabitants, and especially for its people who share the responsibility for its protection, sustainability and continuity.

For our leaders and policy makers, for the poor and disaster-struck among us and for those who long to call Australia home.

As a nation, may we strive to live out the words of our anthem, always in a spirit of hospitality and generosity, for indeed it is true that “we’ve boundless plains to share.”

Amen.

Migrations: Pilgrimage of Faith and Hope

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Image credit | ‘Crowd’ by James Cridland

19-25 August is Migrant and Refugee Week.

A media release from the Catholic Migrant Office reads:

Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) will launch their annual Parish Resource for the celebration of Migrant and Refugee Week (19-25 August) at Australian Catholic University in Strathfield on 19 August at 10am.

The Parish Resource is developed each year by ACMRO as a way of sharing and encouraging reflection on crucial information about migration, and the teaching of the Catholic Church in this area.

This year’s theme for the resource is taken from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Message for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees: “Migrations: Pilgrimage of Faith and Hope.”

Bishops’ Delegate for Migrants and Refugees Bishop Gerard Hanna says that migration is deeply linked with faith, and that this year’s parish resource reflects that.

“Faith and hope are inseparable in the hearts of many migrants, who deeply desire a better life and not infrequently try to leave behind the “hopelessness” of an unpromising future. During their journeys, many of them are sustained by the deep trust that God never abandons his children and this certainty makes the pain of their uprooting and separation more tolerable and even gives them the hope of eventually returning to their country of origin”, he said in a letter introducing the resource.

The kit was designed by students from ACU National who each year volunteer to create an inspiring design.

The front cover design is based on the theme “Migrations: Pilgrimage of Faith and Hope” and the design was inspired by people around the world who are helping migrants and refugees, and images of migrating birds are representative of people who are on a pilgrimage or journey.

The resource includes the Holy Father’s message for Migrant and Refugee Sunday; a message from Bishop Hanna; migration statistics; a game for students on migrant life; a migration story; Catholic Social Teaching on mandatory immigration detention; the Sunday Gospel and Homily suggestions, as well as prayers in a number of different languages.

Download “Migrations: Pilgrimages of Faith and Hope” parish resource for the 99th World Day of Migrants and Refugees here.

For media enquiries, please contact Beth Doherty on 0407 081 256 or media@catholic.org.au | Source: Catholic Religious Australia

We remember and pray for all those who are travel in search of a better life, and especially for the asylum seekers. We also pray for policy makers and governmental leaders to open their hearts to the plight of these people.