Scenes from the first day in Sydney

Scenes from the first day in Sydney
D, the Opera House, and the Bridge

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A new blog site...


I decided upon my return that I found the blogging too enjoyable to let go of, and a great opportunity/reminder to take some time each day for reflection, thankfulness, and appreciation. You are cordially invited to visit that new blog at:


Monday, August 24, 2009

Last Blog for Now

Well, the time has come to wrap up this show as the tertianship is officially over and I head home tomorrow to the States. It has been grand and full of grace, and I am so grateful for your coming along for the ride along the way. It seems anticlimactic to end without a picture, but in a sense, that also seems just right. There is no way to capture adequately the essence of all that I/We have experienced. In fact, this is one of the great lessons of this time here-- that there is a time for holding on and for letting go, for enjoying the sweetness and savor of the moment and the people and the place, and then to say thank you and goodbye. It is a story that we experience in so many different ways: loving and then losing one's love; starting a project and then bringing it to completion; teaching and letting oneself be taught... setting off from home and eventually making one's way back again.

Classically, as my former students will recall from our study of the Odyssey, this is the cycle of separation, initiation, and return. What do we have to show from our travels? Besides the scars, there are stories, glorious stories.

If you have enjoyed these posts or found any of them helpful, I am so pleased. There is a good chance that I will begin a new blog in the fall devoted exclusively to exploring the resources of Ignatian spirituality, so do stay in touch.

Cheers, and blessings be with you all!

Fr. David

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday, August 21st

I said goodbye to Simon, Johann, and Peter today. Both Simon and Peter return to the U.K. and Johann to Germany. But since Peter had some extra time, we drove down to Manly Beach for lunch, his last walk along the shore of the Pacific, and a rather extravagant dessert at Max Brenners, a chocolate bar. It was a Belgian waffle drizzled with dark chocolate, accompanied by sliced bananas, strawberries, and vanilla ice cream... wow! What a way to end tertianship! These are more photos from our walk down to Flint and Steel beach on West head.

Things are quiet around here as all the tertians have departed, except for Gilbert. His sister is visiting from California for a week, so I'm more or less on my own for the next three days before leaving on Tuesday. While I feel a bit restless to do some last touring, there is a part of me that needs a little space and quiet time. We'll see how these days unfold...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Just a few more days in Oz

With my departure date looming, and the farewells to several of my Jesuit peers over the last few days, the end of this amazing seven months is weighing in an impactful way on my heart. Those of us left have been taking small day trips, enjoying last meals, and soaking up the last drops of one another's companionship. As the numbers of young-er Jesuits dwindles in many places globally, we feel especially grateful for the gift of these seven months with one another. So, naturally, goodbyes are hard. Yesterday, Johann, Peter and I went to West head again-- just a short drive, but it feels like a world away. Above is a picture of a sizeable lizard sunning itself in the late afternoon.

Enjoying the view...

Our farewell lunch with Arthur at the Circular Quay in Sydney Harbour-- a real treat!

One of the colorful lorikeets enjoying a sip of nectar in a flowering tree...

The Sydney Harbour bridge at night on the way home from the airport.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Two Days Reflecting on Collaboration

As we're preparing for departure, we spent the past couple of days reflecting on a very key issue for many of us working in church related organizations and Jesuit ministries: the nature of collaboration between Jesuits and our various lay and religious partners. Collaboration and teamwork of any kind always has its challenges and rewards, and the same is true in this case. Our conversation was enriched by the participation of two laymen and one woman religious, all of them in roles of leadership within Jesuit organizations. Their stories and perspectives heightened awareness of a sense in which even long time partners in ministry still feel like guests and in-laws, and that Jesuits tend to take most of their privilege and social capital for granted. They also helped to raise our consciousness around the challenges of collaboration with people who pick up and move after a few years, who don't understand the challenges of making a living in today's economy and the costs that come with commitment to a vocation within Jesuit schools or ministries. While these issues weren't so new to most of us, the conversation was enriching and valuable for all of us. And there were plenty of stories and examples of the way in which collaboration and partnership in the service of our mission has created great opportunities for friendship and growth.

Just a week left for me here in Oz...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Expressing Gratitude and Appreciation

These pictures were taken in Ku-rin-gai Chase National Park last Thursday... I don't know that I would ever tire of the natural beauty here, though I suppose it could be possible that I would take it for granted if I lived here. Perhaps that's one of the good things about being a tourist?

As our program draws to a close these days, we've been about the business of reflecting on the fruits of our experiences here in Australia, the graces we've received, the lessons we've learned, etc. As you know from your own experience, when we spent time counting up our blessings, we can experience a sense of well being and fullness that is quite deep and lasting. But even as good as it feels to us when we take stock personally in this way, there is something even better, even more marvelous, when we express this gratitude to others, and to God.

This morning we had a chance to give feedback to the leadership of the Australian province of the Jesuits, and in all that, there was this palpable sense of being privileged, that is, to be grateful for that which we could never earn or merit... this gift of seven months here in this beautiful country, the hospitality of the hundreds and hundred of people we met along the way, and maybe most of all to one another for friendship, which is a gift beyond measuring.

There have been times when I've heard people say to me or to others, "you're worth it," as if to suggest that somehow we're entitled to the good things that come into our lives. To be honest, I think that whether this is true or not, it misses the boat entirely. Somehow, feeling and expressing a sense of unmerited privilege and deep appreciation is so much more satisfying than thinking that I am entitled. Does this resonate with you?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day Four of Retreat

Spent the afternoon at Newport Beach, just a half hour from Pymble. Since we're in winter here, the water is still really cold, but it was still nice to sit on the beach in the sun reading and reflecting. One of the great gifts of these seven months has been to live in the moment for a change. While some people are more naturally oriented to reflect on the past and dwell on what has happened to them, or to regrets, I tend in the opposite direction. Usually, I lean my energy into the future with plans and projects, and while all that is fine and good, especially because I find my creativity engaged, it also leaves me with anxiety and a sense of deadlines. During these seven months, I have discovered the simple but nonetheless marvelous experience of doing nothing, of having no specific aim or purpose in mind, and of even playing. I know it's come up here in the blog before, but this is something I want to remind myself of for the future, when I'm back into fulltime work and tempted by my usual work addicted habits.

I need to pay attention to what God is calling me to in the moment-- it is often fairly simple and not mysterious. When eating a meal, what is called for is paying attention to the food and the company. When working with a person in crisis, it is usually about listening and being fully present. When it is about washing dishes, it is about washing the dishes... nothing to complicated. This means slowing the mind down a bit, and paying more attention to doing one thing well at a time (not text messaging while driving, for instance, or other forms of "multi-tasking.")

I am making a commitment to the Ignatian mindfulness prayer we call the Examen... something I have always done instinctively, but which is all the more important when we find ourselves busy.

And then there is the commitment to making time for friends... simple things, not rocket science. Living in the moment... finding sacramental presence in the now, feeling it in my body more than trying to know it with my mind. How does this all sound to you?