Saturday, February 24

Early morning rain gave way to light drizzle bringing a welcome relief from endless days of heat.Our friendly Kookaburra who is very tame, allowed me to walk up within arms length to take these pictures. He
enjoyed a tasty morcel beside me on the ground.
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Saturday, February 17

Symphony of Creation

My youngest daughter Rachael had asked me to write lyrics for an intended musical composition, based on an article I had written entitled "Immortal Quantum Faith".

As a result I composed Symphony of Creation which is a poem that celebrates science and faith moving forward together.

No longer need they be considered as having irreconcilable conflicting differences.

It commemorates my faith in the spirit of creation itself, inspired by the majestic nature of our infinite universe and the sense of wonderment in engenders

Symphony of Creation

Form, of mystery, light spread out from sing-ul-ar-ity
A form, continues, with each breath, symbol of my life as yet
So, let me know no more, that I may know the splendour
Of the light filled, ONE agenda

Form, is it but our own reflection, illusions of our expectation
Hidden in the time of present, lonely in its own pure presence
Continued on, deep within us, calling forth, our own surrender
Of the light filled, ONE agenda.

Form of worm hole travel backwards, space time changes state
The conscious mind now existing, listens always, emotions birth
Thoughts will now last forever, guided by a spirits a light
To the light filled ONE agenda.

Form of ONE, itself to know
Form of two, a desire of ONE
Form of memory, the ONE it knows
The ONE true Light of Love

Monday, February 12

A Wayward Tourist.

Nature, over billions of years, has shaped a marvellous Australian landscape, an ancient backdrop to our mere 230 year old, post-British-invasion, cultural identity. Since the early British colonies, the Australian cultural identity has developed and changed from that of a near British replica that failed to honour or acknowledge indigenous Australians, to a multicultural enlightening urbanised mass reconnecting with a sense of place in our environment. Inspired by Mark Twains enthralling account of his 2 month lecture tour of Australia in 1897 entitled the “Wayward Tourist,” I have composed this article which looks at early Australia and how it has developed as an emerging young nation with a unique melting-pot identity.

When Twain wrote the Wayward Tourist in 1897, Australia had just recovered from the effects of the earlier land boom and was enjoying the highest living standards in the world. His lectures speak diversely of Australia’s many endowments, although not shared by the aboriginal community. Twain devotes several chapters on their plight, at pains to point out a people downtrodden from colonisation yet retaining remarkable skills as hunters and trackers. He deplores the ultimate decimation of the Tasmanian aborigines with a brilliant yet savage use of “black humour”; please excuse the pun!

Our sense of humour and romantic notion of the bush still persists, as was epitomised by such remarkable poets as Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson. Lawson was a city bound chap; only venturing out in the bush briefly for a month during his life. Hardly surprising with such a population concentration in the eastern seaboard, exasperated ever since due to a lack of arable land. Today Australia remains one of the most urbanised countries in the world.

I also think our own sense of humour and lack of reverence to authority is still prevalent with a propensity to “pull one legs” so to speak. Amongst good friends it's even acceptable to affectionately refer to an older colleague as a “silly old bastard”. Twain himself appears to have become susceptible to having his own leg pulled by the locals as he refers to a story of a sheep eating cockatoo.

At that time of his visit, before the advent of Federation at the turn of the century each State was loyal to mother country England. After Federation that commitment continued with huge sacrifices (60,000 killed in WW 1 from a population of 4 million) in both world wars. It was perpetuated further by Prime Minster Sir Robert Menzies who served as Prime Minister between 1939-1941 and then uninterrupted from 1949-1966; retiring at aged 70.
Menzies was more English than the English themselves. Famous author and archaeologist Jared Diamond (Author of Collapse; why civilisations collapse and Guns Germs and Steel) remarked at a recent lecture when last visiting Australia that during his earlier visit in the early sixties the country was a carbon copy in thought and culture of England. Menzies presided over a period of rapid post war growth, fuelled by migration under the White Australia policy and exceptionally high birth rates. There were 4 million births between 1946 and 1961, and that group known as the Baby boomers still have considerable political clout.

Australia remained somewhat of a cultural desert for artists until the late fifties and early sixties when a number of important cultural centres were finally established that supplemented the earlier establishment of the Australian Broadcasting commission in 1932 ( The ABC ). In 1956; The Australian Opera, 1959; the National Institute of Dramatic Art and in 1961 the Australian Ballet. Despite these additions Australia continued to import most of its culture from abroad particularly from the “Dream machines” from what was being manufactured in America. Roy Rogers and tales from the Great Dividing Range featuring cowboys and Indians dominated my childhood memories, as did spitfires, fighters and tales about adventures set in England.

Today I still think we suffer from a lack of home spun culture. Not many people realise that more attend culture and art in Australia than Sport, but the institutions that serve us, including all popular mediums continue to be under funded and forced to import and rely on an ever increasing slice of programmes from overseas.

The post war period continued on at times in blissful ignorance, with racial prejudice and abuses never far away, hidden away by a majority who enjoyed a seemingly carefree existence, much like as is described by author Bill Bryson’s account of the life and times of Thunderbolt Kid in America when he recalls that “growing up was easy. It required no thought or effort on my part. It was going to happen anyway”.
In Australia Aborigines were still not considered Australian citizens until finally as a consequence of national referendum they were given the vote in 1962.

It was in the sixties that most of the earlier post war respect for authority was challenged with the arrival of the flower power generation who protested against the establishment and authority. More liberal ideas flourished which brought improvements for a more open society but I think it was also a time of self indulgence exclusive to those who fully endorsed its self serving ideology.

Since then culture and diversity which was a feature of the aborigines has been more recently adopted by the Australian Government. Multiculturalism has been introduced to the Australian way of life with varying degrees of success. As a country we have the highest rate of intermarriage between first and second generation migrants.

Further to these positive changes is a changing attitude to the land. I think this aspect is well summed up by Jarred Diamond when he talked about Australia and what has changed from over 40 years ago when he was last here. It was all about the Land, he said, the new spirit within the country that acknowledges it is not here for us to do with it whatever we please.We have a responsibility to preserve it for ever. He saw grounds for cautious optimism. I also see the same glimmers of hope for our old land; Politicians of both persuasions are finally coming to groups with the need for land care conservation and looking after the environment.

To day I think the most striking difference Twain would observe in Australia is our changed attitude to the land; this would be a real revelation.

Sunday, February 11


The next project being undertaken by the Malawi Support Group are building works at Ntandire for a church and hall in Shantytown. The above photo and those on the linked Malawi Support Group website were taken on the 10th December. They show the celebratory mass dedicating the area and of a people overjoyed at the prospect they will have somewhere to meet. I am pleased to report we have sent off US $9,340 and already 200* 50 kg bags of cement, 20 tons of stone and 21 tons of sand costing US $2,340 have been purchased from these funds. The work has begun in earnest as foundations have already been established with the different sections laid voluntarily by the respective christian communities of Ntandire. I hope to bring more photos as work progesses.
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Friday, February 2

In Sickness and in Health -by Eddie Laloe

This sad yet uplifting story is written by Fr Eddie Laloe, Chaplain at Kenyatta hospital. The article was published in the January edition of ''Africa" a publication of St Patrick’s Missionary Society. The story is juxtaposed with the ancient Song of Solomon.

My beloved is mine and I am his –2:16.
Saturday evening. The lifts, the stairs, the wards are crowded with visitors from all over the country; people in Kenya are very attentive to all who are sick. Hard to do any work and I decided to get out of the hospital early.

I was about to move when Sister Teresia, another chaplain, led to me to Floor 8. When I got there she told me, “Consolata is quite sick. Total kidney failure and the doctors have informed her they are unable to do anything more for her. She and her husband have been planning for a long time to marry. Maybe we could have the wedding here. It would have to be soon.”

We talked with Consolata. She was quite puffy, breathless and really looked old. But yes she wanted to celebrate her marriage with her husband, Emelio.

From snow –tipped Mount Kenya
Their home was on the slopes of Mount Kenya, a wide snow –tipped mountain more than one hundred and thirty miles from Nairobi. Teresia said she would arrange to contact him by mobile and tell him to come as soon as possible. I asked her to tell him to avoid any complications, just come himself and we would do the rest.

Teresia said, optimistically, that she expected he would come the next day. I said to myself he might turn up Wednesday or Thursday.

I was in the office after the first Mass on Sunday. Teresia came and said, “The man is here.” I asked her, “What man?” She said,”The man for the wedding”. I had forgotten.

He came in, a young looking man. He had received the message late the previous evening. He left his house at four in the morning, walked a considerable distance to the road, eventually found a mtatu (small bus), got to the nearest town and eventually made it to Nairobi.
Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills (2:8).

We explained to him that he could marry there and then, no rings, no wedding dress…..just themselves and God. He kept shaking his head amazed that, after waiting and postponing for so long, things could be so simple.

Two People in Love
Next, up to the ward. Consolata was weak and dull, but lit up when seeing Emelio. My Lover is radiant and ruddy, he stands out among thousands (5, 10)

I explained to the ward sister that Consolata was going to get married and, while we could do the ceremony in the ward, it would be better if she was allowed to go to the chapel. She said. “I never heard of a wedding in a hospital”, We did one on Sunday three weeks ago “.

Once she agreed, she was totally helpful. She organised the wheelchair. Consolata put on her dress and came down in the lift. Meanwhile we arranged for a married couple to be a witnesses, bridesmaid and best man.

The very simple ceremony started, about 7 people altogether in the chapel. Anxious about Consolata's lack of energy we moved the mass along quickly, preached for 60 seconds flat that marriage was not about rings or cakes or dresses but 2 people loving each other and accepting each other for life. Then came the ceremony itself.

Consolata was sitting until then but now insisted on standing, supported, for the exchange of vows.

“Emelio, do you take Consolata as your wife? Do you promise to be faithful to her in joy and sorrow. In sickness and in health. To love her and respect her all the days of her life?” “I do.”Consolata, the same quastion, "I do ".

That’s the core of the marriage. We had no rings. It didn’t seem to matter. Though I was trying to rush things, Consolata seemed in no hurry, three or four times I asked her, “Are you feeling alright” She never answered. Instead she just said each time, “I am so happy.”
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for the winter is past, the rain has come and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come (2, 12)

In the Shadow of Death
If you have never shed tears at a wedding, you are likely to shed tears at such a wedding. Weddings are joyful but when celebrated in the shadow of death there has to be pain in the heart. Why was Consolata so happy? They had known each other since primary school. She had been young and beautiful.

She knew that now she was no longer beautiful and that however much she might hope for a miracle her days were numbered.But Emelio truly loved her and had come bounding over the hills to let her know that even if she was now weak, no longer beautiful, no longer able to work, he loved her. He had not withdrawn that love.Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm (8, 6).

At this wedding Mass they shared for the first time together the one Bread and the one Cup. They signed the register and we left the church.

We had bought a few sodas and someone has bought a simple cake. Consolata was in no rush to be back in the ward. This was the day she wanted to hold on to. The cake was divided and we took a few of the sodas.

The Bridesmaid stood up. “This is the most wonderful wedding I was ever at. Today I have really understood for the first time what marriage means. It is, indeed, not about a wedding dress, rings, food or photos. On a wedding day you can be so anxious about everything that you cannot understand or enjoy it. To day I have seen that it is about a women and a man loving each other forever and telling that to one another before other people. I wish we could all know what a wedding is really about”.

I, too, realised more clearly that we should let the wedding liturgy speak for itself. Let the words, the actions speak out. Don’t cover things up with flowers, processions, carpets, long drawn out words, fancy singing. Don’t let a photographer, in shabby jeans chewing gum, take away the dignity. Keep it simple. And let the simplicity speak.

A Story Simple and Profound.
Consolata was in no rush but eventually she was taken back to her ward. She rallied a bit and left the hospital a few days later with her husband.

Who is coming up from the desert, leaning upon her lover? (8, 15) She and Emelio went back to their home on the side of Mt Kenya.
Within 3 weeks she was dead.
She died knowing she was totally loved.
For love is strong as death …its flash as flashes of fire…Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.