Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Back to Basics

School and work are back.
And so is the community life.
Vespers on a Monday.
All together on Wednesday.
Drinks on a Friday (sometimes)
Breakfast on a Saturday.
Sharing each others lives -
the highs and lows,
the good and bad.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Lent is just over a month away...

What are you doing for Lent?
What am I doing for Lent?

Let us know...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Don't Give Up

I read this on Alan Creech’s awesome site.
It seems quite good advice for all of us living the community hope:

How do you start and "build" a small community like this?

You do it and you do it and you do it. You keep on and on and on.
You don't give up.
You never quit. You assess and reassess.
You listen and pray and talk to people.
You go through pain and frustration and more pain and more frustration (that part has never stopped).
You know why you are doing what you are doing.
You do what you believe to be the right thing.
You remain open to the Holy Spirit to correct you, internally and through others. You reject modern notions of "success" and keep on going anyway, even when they say you're a failure, even when you think you're a failure.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Retreat Day 2

So quiet here.
Great two hour walk through the property, then a swim and a few pints of James Squires at the New Norcia pub.

I am feeling a little flat today.
So many things I want to think about, do, be etc etc.
The good thing about being here is that the silence, prayer and balance give space for the issues to come to the surface, and an opportunity to deal with them more carefully and deeply than in the hurley burley of running around being teacher, dad, husband, friend etc etc

I have a few good chats with Malcolm, the minister at Coralie's church, who has come here for the first time. His views on Chritian life are refreshing and full of vigiour and vibe. We don't always agree, but dialogue bvery quickly helps you to clarrify your own position.

Some books I've been reading here are:

Beyond the Walls : Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Life

Light through Darkness

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Currently on retreat at Holy Trinity Abbey, New Norcia, about 150 km north of Perth.
I am spending a lot of down time - reading, chatting and internet browsing!
Strangley, all of these things are a preperation for prayer, both my private prayers, and joining with those of the monks in the divine office. Slowing down means less over thinking - as those who know me well are all too aware I over do..
What a change from wanting to pray so desperately that it was all effort and no grace, all me and not God...

Lovely too, that community member Linda, who works in New Norica, was here at the same time.

At lunch with the monks yesterday, we were privelaged to share the table with Terry Waite, the Anglican priest who spent 5 years as a kidnapped hostage of the PLO. A very gracious man with an open heart and a wonderfully healed perspective on his ordeal. Honestly, the people you meet in monasteries!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Civility and Language

I wrote this in one sitting.
It’s probably heresy or just plain flawed…

How do you “speak” as a Christian?
How do I “speak” as a Christian?
How is this any different to a “Non Christian”?
Does it make a difference any way?

Maggi Dawn writes on her blog beautifully about what it means to act and speak like a Christian, away from the “niceness” and “agreeing-ness” that characterises so much of our interactions in church .She met the all round interesting biblical scholar and church analyst John Drane, and managed to get to take him for a drink. Apparently he was pretty non-plussed until he heard her say something interesting and then launched in and began the conversation, without many of the usual social niceties (and Maggi, if you read this, I am happy to be corrected if I have miss represented your blog entry…)

We are all so bloody nice all the time that it negates the value of any passionate, vital discussion.

In community, this issue becomes vital of course. When sharing your life closely with others, being polite, being courteous, using your manners, all grease the wheels of community life. However (and a big one at that...), this shouldn’t stop us from speaking what we think, debating an issue, being passionate, being involved, bringing justice, loving others enough to do and say the hard things – and learning when to speak, when to not, and how much, or how little, to say.

Perhaps we also need to allow people to think out loud, to formulate ideas in relationship, without jumping down their throat if they are not us…

It reminds me of a story I heard about the German biblical scholar Gerald Von Rad (in Eugene Petersons book, Take and Read) that when asked to speak at a book club he avoided all small talk and preliminaries, speaking instead about Abraham, mystery, darkness, faith and prayer – all in 2 or 3 minutes! Whilst Peterson can’t remember what the specific content of his talk was, the impression he left lingered on. Von Rad chose his words to express what he wanted to say, no more, no less, and consequently opened the door to who he was.

The economy of our language, the content of what we say, the importance we attach to our words, and how we let them go, all identify our “Christlike – ness” and may well bring others to the table of faith.

Our Father Benedict says:
“ Take care to avoid speech that is evil and degenerate.
It is also well to avoid empty talk that has no purpose…”
(Rule of St Benedict, Chapter 4)
Seems worth a thought to me.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Easy to say. Impossible to do apart from Grace.
I don’t say that flippantly. Experience bears us out.
What else could hold people together for 8 years and counting?
Friendship sure helps. So do meals and wine.
But sharing life closely has its ups and downs, its challenges and joys.
Marriage, children, job change, moving house, stress, all affect our relationships with one another and the way we gather.
On the other hand, we are lucky to travel together.
To have a group of people who really know you. Who care about you.
The children are lucky to share life closely outside of their immediate family.
Forgiveness is key –
Especially the forgiveness that comes with acceptance and letting go.
Being forgiven even before you stuff up is a gift beyond price.
Other communities have inspired us, and encouraged us.
Read about one here. Monkfish Abbey . Their offical site is here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

St Benedict

One of the main influences of our community has been the Benedictine Community of New Norcia. The men of the group started retreating there in 2000, and have continued visiting them, along with the ladies and others, ever since. We generally visit them for the Easter Vigil, and help with the liturgy as we are asked. It is a terrific time as we all live together in community for a few days in a beautiful old building, cooking, chilling, praying, chatting, drinking and caring for the children.

Our experience has been deepened by our relationship with Dom John (Hi!) who taught us much about prayer and life in the Benedictine way. He now runs the Dardanup House of Prayer, south of Perth, and browsing the chronicle on his site, has a vital and busy task bringing his wisdom to others.

Interestingly, we are not the only ones using St Benedict’s wisdom to support our community life. Grace community in London have recently run a Benedictine Spirituality night. They have posted some terrific resources here.

Some more on Benedictine Values in our community tomorrow

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

This blog is not dead

For all those wondering about what has happened since the departure of our resident artist, a small ditty inspired by (read ripped off from) Strong Bad from HSR;

The Pete man
Where did we go wrong?
It seems like only yesterday we were setting fire to Chris's underwear...
This one's for you man!

We cracked wise at the Pete,
For screwing up the jumble caper.
I hope we don't see his name in the paper,
In the obituariiiies,
'Cause that would mean that he's dead...

The Pete is not dead,
We're so glad the Pete is not dead.
Pete is not dead,
We're so glad the Pete is not dead.
Pete is not dead,
We're so glad the Pete is not dead.

(Apologies to the Brothers Chap and Strong Bad)

Miss you already the Pete (you squeaky guy you). Here's praying Tassie will be able to offer you all you expect and more. You'll always be a part of us even from a distance. We are all one in prayer no matter where we are.



One of our community rituals is Saturday morning breakfast out. Various combinations of us, including children, head to Leederville, and one of our favourite café’s for coffee(s) and breakfast.

Like all good ritual’s, it has along and varied history. It started as “Fat boy’s walking” when 4 or 5 men friends got together to walk, talk and breakfast. It was a special time and we all shared fairly deeply, and we often long for part of that time to come back.
But things change - marriages, babies, new homes – and these all changed the nature of our experience. Children started coming. We were more tired. Our wives and girlfriends wanted to come too (none of us had both simultaneously…). Now we all go, if we can, and start the weekend together before going our separate ways home, or to ballet, or shopping, or back to bed.

Our time is fairly short, we meet at 8:00 and are usually all gone by 9:30, but it is a stable fixture in our lives. I would go so far as to suggest that it is equally as important as our Wednesday night dinner and prayer times, in the sense that community is tangibly present, and that it is inclusive in that our children are part of it too. Coffee, of course, is a great equalizer now that the children can sip their Babycino’s along with our lattes, long Macs, and tea’s.

Now to theologise, how do we see Christ in our breakfast experience?
Simply a community gathered around a meal.
Choosing again to share life together – which requires constant choosing over other options.
As we share, plan, laugh, debate, we are drawing closer to each other, living out the spiritual experience of our Wednesday nights.

Perhaps others from the community have their own opinions?Chris

Monday, January 16, 2006

Ideas Ideas

Bit late last night, so in the vague hope of not embarrassing myself too much, here’s some sites which I regularly check out for my enjoyment,

Kairos Kisses: Andrew Dowsett's site. An adventure to find God’s place for him.
Maggi Dawn: Anglican priest in the UK. Ritual, Sermons, Theology. Great
Jonny Baker: Very experienced emerging church blogger from the UK. Great visual site with an awesome link and resources listing.
Steve Taylor: A local emerging church voice from NZ. His book “Outward bound
church” is fab.
Prodigal Kiwi’s: Another NZ site and one which is a fantastic array of spirituality, theology, reflection, politics and discussion. Good one lads!!

Check these sites out and let us know what you think.
Or leave a comment with your top faith sites to visit…

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A New Year

Ok Ok Ok!
The emails have been unrelenting! Are you guys dead?? Has the community broken up? Is the sky falling down?

The answer to all of these is, of course - no! Although things are on the move. We sadly bid goodbye to Pete last week as he makes his way to Tasmania to pusue his art further. We will miss his art, his dry wit, and his adventures at Curtin uni. You can see more of his art here.

So the community has changed. Over the next few weeks I will try to blog daily as an experiment in "thinking out loud theologically" about our community life and how God is seen and present in it. Hopefully other members of the community will join the discussion, as hopefully will you dear reader.

Some themes which spring to mind are silence, meals, children, breakfast, wine, retreat, monks. Any more ideas??