YES moments

This is the subject line of the most recently received email in my Gmail account. It’s an invitation to share the stories and photos of participation in the ‘yes campaign’ for the now-closed Australian Marriage Law Survey.

But this phrase, YES moments, presents a bigger invitation to me – it invites me to listen to the many moments in any given day to which I can assent. Today is a perfect spring day in Melbourne, sunny and still. As I write, the sound of chirping birds and trickling water waft into the house through an open door.

While my mind is focused on preparation for upcoming meetings, problems to resolve, things to do, Spring invites me to pause, to acknowledge the YES that I can hear within.

There’s power in these YES moments, power to lift our spirits, remind us of what’s important, encourage us to go on.


“IT” not “I”

There’s a resident critic in my head, whom I have thought of as ‘me’ or at least a part of me. This part of me offers an ongoing critique about everything; an ongoing commentary about what I see, what I hear, what I do, what I plan to do, what I think, what I write. And, conversely, what I don’t see, hear, do, plan, think, write …

This blog testifies that I haven’t written anything for months … and the critic is both giving me grief about it AND telling me I can’t.

It’s complicated!

But, here’s something I read recently that’s helping me (The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, p.118):

‘Learn to distinguish it (your inner judge) from yourself, to recognize its “voice” and its effects on you … Begin to think of that commanding voice as “it,” not as “I.” Remember it only sounds like the voice of God’

So, it’s back to writing, starting with signing up to NaNoWriMo, with its goal of writing 50,000 words during the month of November. I know, that’s a big leap – from nothing to 50,000 words! So, I’m working on a revised target – to write something, anything, every day in November and when “IT” tells me I can’t do it, “I”will do it anyway. Here’s to November.

Quantum Entanglement Meets Mindfulness

Did you see the news report last week that announced that “Chinese scientists have used satellite technology for the first time to generate and transmit entangled photons — particles of light — across a record distance of 1,200 kilometres on Earth”? This is more than 10 times the distance previously achieved using land-based fibre optic technologies.


“A cornerstone of quantum physics is a process called entanglement, where the properties of two particles — such as spin, position and momentum — intimately affect each other, even when those particles are separated by large distances.”

Last year, I attended a silent retreat which introduced me to the idea of quantum entanglement as a way to understand how prayer ‘works’, especially contemplative prayer. As we observe the way things are and prayerfully contemplate how they should be, praying for healing and wholeness in our world, this affects the object of our prayer. When we pray in this way together and agree on what we know is God’s way, we unleash a power that affects the other.

I recently attended another silent retreat with the enigmatic title of ‘One’. Here, I was introduced to these words from Teilhard de Chardin, French philosopher and Jesuit priest (1881-1955):

We are ONE,
after all,
You and I,
together we suffer,
together exist
and forever will
recreate each other.

They come together in my mind with the idea of quantum entanglement. The more I observe the other as one with me, the more I understand that my actions forever impact the other and vice versa. The expressions of hatred and violence in the world, while removed from me, none-the-less affect me. They chip away at our common humanity.

Conversely, every action of mine that works towards the healing and wholeness of the other has the power to do good, even if I can’t see any change.

The very action of publishing this spins, positions and sets off a momentum that affects the other, further calling me to the discipline of mindfulness.

I invite you to ponder this with me; we have the power to bring change to our world.

Lost and Getting Lost

I was three quarters of the way through the book Out of the Ice, when I lost it.

It happened at the Melbourne Airport. I carried it into the airport, took it through the scanners, read it while I sipped on coffee, left it in the bathroom, retrieved it again, and stuffed it in my handbag (against both of their wills) when my pick-up arrived.

That’s the last I saw of it; when I got home, it was no longer in my bag, or my car.

I was enjoying that book, it’s described as ‘a tense, eerie thriller set in the icy reaches of Antarctica‘ and it was living up to its billing. Did Laura really see a boy trapped behind a wall of ice in a cave? Can she really trust that young man (whose name I already forget, but who appears so friendly)?

I googled the local library. They didn’t have it on their shelves, but one of their sister libraries did; I placed a hold. It took over a week to arrive, but finally I got the email to say I could pick it up.

I checked it out on Thursday last week and took it with me to a medical appointment at Melbourne Private Hospital. In the tram on the way in, I found the chapter where I had left off and read the next. The mystery deepened.

I arrived in time to go the bathroom, locate where I was going, announce myself and debate with the receptionist about whether I needed a new referral.

That’s when it hit me: The book! The bathroom!

This time, there was no retrieval.

I’ve cut my losses, marked that book as ‘read’ on Goodreads and laughed over the story with my friends.

‘I can’t believe I’ve lost it twice,’ I say, ‘I guess I’m just not meant to know how it ends.’ (Don’t tell me!)

‘If I had a copy, I wouldn’t lend it to you,’ someone replies.

More laughter.

But deeper down, I know it’s symptomatic.

And I hear the call – again – to be more aware, to practice mindfulness, to pay attention, to slow down.




Being away
Missing in action
Saying, No! too often

Primal, Yes!
Affirming the desire
Assenting to be here

I’ve written the above reflection after a long absence from this space and in response to something I read in Richard Rohr’s book, The Naked Now.

This pattern of retreating and reemerging is well established in all areas of my life and perhaps it will be with me all of my life. But, as Rohr says,

you cannot start seeing or understanding anything if you start with “No.” You have to start with a “Yes” of basic acceptance.’

So, here is my ‘yes’ to continuing to reflect, to muse, to ponder and to write in this space.

Love Makes A Way

bring them here(3)

This morning I participated in a public action in response to the release of the #NauruFiles last week. A few of us gathered outside the offices of Brendan O’Connor, who is the federal MP in my electorate of Gorton, to protest the Australian government’s asylum seeker policy of detaining people offshore, particularly in Nauru.

The Nauru Files show evidence of sexual assault, bullying, intimidation and worse. Detainees quoted in the Nauru Files express discouragement, hopelessness, mental and physical agony and ongoing trauma. And yet, the release of the files has barely caused a ripple in the media.

Refugee advocates including Love Makes a Way, Mums4Refugees, Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children, ChilOut and People Just Like Us organised a series of actions all over Australia, all of them lawful and peaceful, ‘to draw attention to and as a symbol of each person who has suffered from abuse and trauma as detailed in the recently leaked Nauru reports‘.

These have been ongoing all week at various politician’s offices. I organised the one at Brendan O’Connor’s Caroline Springs office via facebook with a friend I really haven’t seen for years.

Nauru files signSix of us gathered, including my friend’s two young daughters. We posted paper dolls with an accompanying explanation of what they represented at the entrance to O’Connor’s office buildingBring them here and then made our way to his 2nd floor office where we were met by six Victoria Police officers. When they realised we were a small group and we intended to hold a peaceful vigil, they radioed ahead to ‘stand-down’ reinforcements who were on their way from Melton. Nevertheless, two of them stayed with us for the whole 30 minutes we were there.

We read a moving poem about leaving home, fleeing danger and seeking safety. We affirmed our faith and our intention to welcome the stranger. We finished with alternate voices quoting from Martin Luther King Jr.

This last part is what I found most moving, so I include the text here:

Reader: “The ultimate measure of a [person] is not where [he or she] stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where [he or she] stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
All: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Reader: “We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls ‘enemy.’”
All: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Reader: “…we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’”
All: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Reader: “Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with the good.”
All: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Reader: “The time is always right to do what is right.”
All: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

On Sunday, the biblical text which we read and I preached from reminded us of ‘the great cloud of witnesses’; the people of faith who have gone before us and yet, in some mystical, spiritual way are still with us. The people who make up this great cloud of witnesses are not mere spectators; they cheer us on and lend us strength to continue the race of faith. Even when we feel most alone, we are never alone for they surround us and support us and urge us to persevere.


As the words of Martin Luther King Jr rang out in the hollow corridor space, and we affirmed that ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice’, I felt as if he was in the corridor with us. Our six swelled to hundreds, thousands. A chorus of ‘Amen and Amen’ could almost be heard and I knew that our action, seemingly insignificant, set against the backdrop of police laughter, was bigger than we can hope and imagine.

Indeed, Love Makes A Way.

Break Our Hardened Hearts

broken_heart1Complicit, guilty

association condemns:

break our hardened hearts


self-immolateTimWinton_Love Makes a Way

verb (i) (self-immolated, self-immolating)
to commit suicide by dousing oneself with petrol and then setting oneself on fire, especially as a political protest.


noun (plural complicities)
1.  the state of being an accomplice; partnership in wrongdoing.

Sean Kelly,  in his article, A despicable press conferencewrites:

One of the strengths of humanity is its ability to adapt to new conditions. The downside of this is our tendency to accustom ourselves to new patterns very quickly. The argument that this is how Australia’s asylum seeker policy is meant to work – the deliberate exercise of cruelty in order to prevent potentially disastrous decisions – is no longer shocking.

Perhaps we will feel that way about self-immolation, soon.

All of the above weighs heavily on my heart and mind after the news of a second asylum seeker, driven to desperation by Australian asylum seeker policy, has set herself alight in Nauru. I accept a certain level of complicity; the government of the day is subject to the people and I am one of the people.

This morning, we are beset by politicians trying to sell the federal budget, which was handed down last night, and at the same time, dismiss any suggestion of culpability in this latest tragedy. Questions are asked and side-stepped; interviewers move on. I find myself trying to hold on to the horror and the outrage and even my sense of guilt, but it fades as the next news item vies for attention. It bothers me that my heart is hardening, that the shock is wearing off, that I might yet become used to stories of self-immolation, and excuse myself of complicity.

How to raise again the value of ‘the currency of mercy’?

To have mercy is to have a broken heart … in order to be merciful, we must know how desperately we need mercy … we are a people who are empty

This statement from the Sisters of Mercy of South America speaks to our need. Let our hearts be broken over this.