Friday, September 28, 2007

Spell with flickr

Something that has been a pleasant distraction on a day when preparing sermons and writing essays are taking it out of me. Passed on by a friend out in the aether.

from the site:

C a R O

Cute, eh? :-)


I always suspected I was a bit of a nerd, but now thanks to a quiz I found on Louise's blog, I have confirmation. Serious confirmation. says I'm a Highly Dorky Light-Weight Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

So it seems that I am now to be known as a Highly Dorky Light-Weight Nerd (perhaps if I'd been able to lay my hands on a hard copy of the Periodic Table within 15 seconds, I might have done better as a Science Nerd).

I'm sure my mother would be proud.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Summer placement details confirmed!


Today I received word that I have been offered a place in a CPE course over summer at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

This is exciting because out of the three centres I applied to, Peter Mac was my first choice. This is partly because its Pastoral Care Department operates in a slightly different way from the traditional hospital chaplaincy model (which I am interested to check out more fully), and partly because I am keen for the challenge that will be presented in the context of a specialised cancer hospital, where pastoral care needs will most likely be more intense, as patients will be more strongly confronted with life/death situations than in a general hospital.

For the uninitiated, CPE is Clinical Pastoral Education, which is an intensive course in pastoral ministry, based on an action-reflection model. So for the 11 weeks of the fulltime course, I will be largely engaged in actually doing pastoral ministry on the wards of the hospital, and spending time reflecting on that work in private, via journalling and theological reflection; within a group of peers, and also in individual sessions with my supervisor. There is a double dimension to CPE, both to develop practical skills in pastoral care, which involves things like skills in empathetic/reflective listening; and also to look at my own self and what I bring to the pastoral situation- the gifts to be celebrated and built on, and baggage/issues to be dealt with.

So, it will be an intense and full-on experience: personally challenging as well as academically demanding- but great- I can't wait to get into it!

A hot time in Hobart

I was rather distressed to hear of the massive fire in the Hobart CBD over the weekend, centring on the Myer store in Liverpool St. Given the way in which the Myer city store is connected with other shops and the whole Cat & Fiddle Arcade, it's a miracle that the fire brigade were able to contain the fire pretty much to only the Myer building, with minimal damage to the surrounding shops.

Unfortunately for Myer (and the Heritage factor of Hobart's CBD), the beautiful Heritage fa├žade fronting onto Liverpool St has been totally destroyed, along with all of Myer's stock and internal structure of the store.

This photo was taken by a Hobart guy, Ian Stewart, who I don't know personally, but have seen a fair bit of his work zooming around the intenet. (He also took some amazing photos of fork lightning during a wild electrical storm over Hobart a couple of years ago, and of the bushfires on Hobart's Eastern Shore a year or so ago). His online photo gallery contains more pics of the Myer fire, (and lots of other stuff) and is here
(don't be put off by the ad for the site which will probably come up first, just click the link at the top which says something like: "through to deviantART")

Thursday, September 20, 2007

One for the book-lovers

Of course, I found this quiz on the blog of the biggest book lover (and book-hoarder) I know- Thanks Avril! :-)
(and apologies for the appalling font qualities below, but for some reason, I just can't make it look any prettier- the code just would not be edited!)

Like Avril, though, I wasn't sure of my first answer:

You're The Dictionary!

by Merriam-Webster

You're one of those know-it-all types, with an amazing amount of
knowledge at your command. People really enjoy spending time with you in very short
spurts, but hanging out with you for a long time tends to bore them. When folks
really need an authority to refer to, however, you're the one they seek. You're an
exceptional speller and very well organized.

... so I decided to try again, with some different answers. And I think this is more like it:

You're Watership Down!

by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're
actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their
assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they
build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd
be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

The need to be strong... and vulnerable

One of the things about being a candidate for ministry is that the Theological College appoints each candidate with a Faculty Advisor, to assist with working through the process of formation for ministry.

Last week I had a meeting with my Faculty Advisor, and as part of our conversation, I shared with him some general details of a pastoral situation I had been involved with, in which I had made a rather significant stuff up earlier in the week, which had caused me to feel pretty low (and to be strongly annoyed with myself for making what I considered to be such a stupid mistake).

After he let me finish my tirade of self-deprecation, he asked me whether, in my relationships with friends and others, I felt the need to always be the strong one.

"Do people come to you with their problems because you are always the strong one, or are there relationships you have where you can look to others to be strong for you?"

Interesting question (also a bit too bloody insightful for my liking! Damn you, Chris Mostert!! :-)

It certainly got me thinking about my network of relationships, and I realised that there are quite a few, where I feel that I am always the strong (and sometimes even "wise") one for others, and that this seems to define the normal pattern for those particular relationships; (and that this could even say more about me, and my need to be strong for others, than their need for me to be strong for them).

But as I thought further, I realised that in addition to these particular relationships, there is a whole other group of relationships I have; longstanding, deep friendships with people who I love dearly, and know well, and who also know me well. These are more balanced in the sense that we can 'take turns' at being strong and weak for each other. I feel safe with these people to share my insecurities and vulnerabilities.

I was especially grateful that in the wake of my 'pastoral stuff up' of last week, I had a visit from a couple of such friends, who were passing through Melbourne on their way to Tassie for a conference there. It was great to be able to share with them some of what had happened, and my feelings about it all. It was therapeutic (as well as just downright enjoyable) for me to spend time with them.

As I see how many friends like this that I actually do have, I feel very blessed and privileged that there are so many people who carry me in their hearts and for whom I can do the same, as part of our relationships of mutual strength and weakness that have lasted so long.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

What an exciting week!

This week I am surrounded by a number of friends and colleagues who are experiencing significant points in their own ministry calling and directions.

after participating in the Synod Selection Conference last weekend, some friends have just received news of their acceptance as candidates for ordained ministry, to commence next year. Whilst the news from the panel wasn't good for all of them (as not all the applicants were accepted), there is the opportunity to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn, and trust that the future directions will become clear.

Secondly, a group of 6 final year candidates met yesterday with the Synod Placements committee, as part of the process of matching them with their Internship placements to commence next year. So an exciting time for them as they are looking at their next step after leaving the Theological College at the end of this year.

In the midst of all this flurry of excitement, emotion and change for others around me, it's kind of nice to be just tootling along with my own study, knowing that most of next year will bring 'more of the same' for me in terms of the focus of my life- just keeping my head down and beavering away on the various subjects I'll be doing.

Talk Like a Pirate again!

Yes folks, it's that time of year again.... International Talk Like a Pirate Day is coming up next Wednesday, September 19. (I thought I'd get in a bit early to remind you, as I'll be in Sydney for the next few days).

For ideas on how you can get some Pirattitude to help you celebrate this auspicious day, check out the website:

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrr.... me hearties!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

An advantage of being married?

The other day I was reflecting to a friend that, although as a single person, I don't at all regret my lot in life, but it has occurred to me that there would be one distinct advantage to being married.

A married person (and of course we are assuming a good, healthy relationship here) would be in a position where he/she could take turns at being in charge/ taking responsibility/ making decisions; and wouldn't have to always be the one who had to make decisions or be responsible for their lives, on their own.

I think the one thing I like least about being single is the fact that the buck always stops with me, I can never relinquish responsibility for making a decision about my life to anyone else, and sometimes this can be so exhausting.

Today, I discovered another potential positive to being married (or at least living in a household with someone else). When you stuff up, and feel really crappy about it, and all you want is for someone to give you a big hug and tell you it will all be ok- there's someone there who can do that.

I could have used one of those hugs today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Today I met a beautiful man

Now before you go getting all excited about this, let me explain.

I think I have mentioned before in my blog that my local congregation, Brunswick Uniting Church, has embarked upon a new program, to try to increase our connectedness with our local community. Called "The Olive Way", this involves on three mornings every week opening up the church complex as a kind o drop-in centre, staffed by a couple of volunteers from the congregation.

We have signage out the front on Sydney Rd, inviting people to come inside, either into the church itself for some quiet reflection or prayer; or to the coffee house at the back, where they can have a cup of coffee or tea, a biscuit or piece of fruit to nibble on, and a casual chat, a read of the newspaper or the like.

This week I have been fairly buried under the weight of essays and CPE applications, and was tempted to try to swap my shift this morning for another week, but am really glad that I didn't because otherwise I would never have met John (not his real name).

John is an older man, who lives a suburb or two away, in a Housing Commission flat on his own. He spends a fair bit of his time at the Brunswick Club, which is across the road from our church. This week there was an article about "The Olive Way" in the local paper, and I suspect John had read it, and was talking to one of his mates at the club about coming over to check us out. His mate didn't want to join him in this adventure, so John wandered in on his own this morning.

As he sat and told us bits of his life story (which was certainly not the story of an easy life), there would be times when John's face would light up with a beaming smile, as he remembered something significant from his past, and then he shared that with us. He struck me as a pretty gentle soul, who struggles with a number of things, but doesn't let the struggles define his attitude to life, and so despite any of the negative influences in his life, he is pretty positive to be around.

He told us that he had had some connections with the Methodist Church in the past (mainly through his parents), and so Barry, my fellow volunteer, asked John if he would like to have a 'tour' of our church building and hall, out of 'historical interest', so off they went.

We had commented earlier in our conversations about the weather, and how the light showers we experienced throughout this morning were nice, but nowhere near enough rain to make any kind of dent on the drought. When John was about to leave, he told us, almost sheepishly, that he had prayed for rain when he was inside the church.

As Barry and I packed up at 1pm, and had to battle utterly torrential rain to get to our cars, I couldn't help but grin at the interesting timing of John's prayer for rain, and the sudden downpour almost immediately following.

Now, I know many people with deep, theological brains tend to scoff at the prospect of things like praying for rain, which would imply that we view God is an "interventionist God" (which I have been told is not such a good image of God). However today I couldn't help but wonder if maybe there is some connection between the rain and John's prayer, not because God is an "interventionist God", but rather because God is a loving and encouraging God, who seeks to reach out to his little ones in ways that they can relate to.

I hope John comes back to visit us again sometime. Maybe his mate will be brave enough to join him next time.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The marvels of modern technology!

On a lighter note- I may have mentioned that I seem to be surrounded by a number of friends who are currently expecting babies (and the three couples who immediately spring to mind, it is the first child for all of them!)

Last night, one of these couples (complete with le bulge) came for dinner, and because I am the achetypal Queen of Clucky, I had instructed them to bring with them any pictures from ultrasound or the like that they might have, so I could cluck away to my heart's content...

Well- I think I hit serious pay dirt! Not just a photo, but a DVD with video footage of the ultrasound, complete with sound, so as we sat around my laptop watching the outline of the baby moving around in utero, we also had the running commentary from the doctor as he performed the scan, and answered the questions that my friends were asking him as he went.

We could even see cross sections of the baby's organs, including the chambers of the heart, as it beat happily away- how amazingly cool is that?!

But as cool as this technology is, it's not half as cool as the mere fact that this baby exists; and is growing and getting ready to make its* debut in the outside world in just a few weeks. Certainly put me in mind of the words of Psalm 139 (which just happened to be the Psalm set in today's Lectionary):

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

* This couple has chosen not to know the sex of their baby, and whilst after looking at the ultrasound, I could possibly hazard a guess, I have been instructed to keep my speculations to myself! :-)

Strength to Love

I'm currently writing an essay for my "Theology of the Human Person" class on the topic of Desire and Love. As part of the reading for this, I have been looking at a book titled Strength to Love, which is a collection of Martin Luther King's sermons on the topic of love.

Picture if you will, the man himself preaching the following words:

Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered to hatred and violence... For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way...

To our most bitter opponents we say: "We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you... Throw us in jail, and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom, but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory."

Martin Luther King. Strength to Love (Hodder & Stoughton: London), p.40.

The power of these words, first preached in the early 1960s, stopped me dead in my tracks, and moved me to tears. It also made me re-examine some of my own interactions with people this weekend which were less than loving. King here is advocating a radical and sacrificial love for 'enemies'... and yet I had trouble behaving in a civil way to people I call 'friends'.

Not one of my greatest moments. :-(

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It's THAT time of year again...

Yes folks, as a current resident in Melbourne, I can't help but notice that this week marks the beginning of Finals time for the footy.

In what can only be described as a miraculous second half of season, the Swannies have managed to scrape into the top 8, and on Saturday night (after only a single round's interlude)
will again meet Collingwood at the G.

Surely the Pies can't beat the Swans twice in a row... can they? To help prevent this, I expect my mother will be donning all of her red and white finery, for an unadulterated evening of screaming at the TV as the match unfolds. So good luck to anyone who DARES to ring my parents' home on Sat night! (... unless they want to talk to Dad... which no-one ever does... :-)

Oh well, there's nothing left to say, except,


Cheer, cheer the red and the white,
Honour the name by day and by night,
Lift that noble banner high,
Shake down the thunder from the sky
Whether the odds be great or small,
Swans will go in and win overall
While her loyal sons are marching
Onwards to victory