Saturday, February 28, 2009

Movin, movin, movin...

I am very pleased (if somewhat exhausted) to say that I am almost ready for the arrival of the removalists on Monday morning (and it's only Saturday!). Mum and I have been working hard (Mum probably more than me, given that I had to spend a day at a Victorian Council of Churches training day on Thursday, whilst she stayed home and packed up the kitchen. What a woman!), and now it's almost all done.

In fact, today we ran out of boxes, so the nice man from Kents who estimated how many boxes I would need mustn't have looked in some of my cupboards (I am thinking particularly of my Nutrimetics 'warehouse' here).

But anyway, all of the hard work is done, and there is only some easy stuff like clothes and linen and some last minute things (like my laptop!) that need to go into the boxes that the removalists will bring with them when they come on Monday morning.

One of the 'hardships' about having everything packed is that it's not possible to cook meals any more, so Mum and I just have to go out to the pub for dinner tonight... it's such a hard life, especially when the local Bridie O'Reilley's does such a great steak :-)

Friday, February 20, 2009

After the funeral...

Now I'm home in Melbourne, I've been reflecting a bit on the last few days, and although it's been sad, and was a bit hard being in New Norcia, knowing that Glenn wouldn't be there (as spending time with him had been a significant part of all of my previous visits there), I do feel a sense of peace, and am glad that I went over for the funeral.

I met up in Perth with a friend called Peter, from Sydney, who I had met through Glenn on a previous visit to New Norcia, and we travelled up together in a hire car. When we arrived in New Norcia, Abbot John was waiting for us in the guest house and spent a good hour or so with us, talking about what had happened, and sharing some of the things Glenn had written in the long letter he left for him before he died. That conversation effectively answered most of my questions about Glenn's death, without the need for me to actually ask anything.

Our time in town was a fairly subdued time, but there was something about the inherent peace and sacredness of New Norcia that was very healing for me. Peter and I did some therapeutic polishing of brass in the church vestry on Tues arvo in preparation for the Requiem Mass on Wed, and had an Abbey Ale in the hotel each afternoon we were there. (Sorry BB, I didn't bring any back for you ;-)

The funeral Requiem Mass itself was a beautiful event. Abbot John presided, and his liturgy and homily were stunning, from all angles: liturgical, theological and pastoral.

I thought his most masterful and astute stroke was to make a very firm and unequivocal statement right at the outset about the unconditional love of God, firmly asserting that even though Glenn had committed suicide (and he did use the "S" word a number of times throughout the service, not shying away from it, as happens in some funerals for suicide victims) there was no question of Glenn's standing with God.

After the eulogy, Glenn's sister-in-law, who has suffered from depression for the past couple of years, spoke quite powerfully about the issues surrounding depression, and how important it is for people to talk about it, and get the support of those around them to help them fight it.

All in all, it was a very positive time, even though experienced through tears and sorrow. Abbot John asked Peter and I to participate in the mass by bringing up the bread and wine for the Eucharist. He said that he was wanting to involve as many people from various areas of Glenn's life as possible in the service, but thought it best not to ask us to read, or actually say anything, given how emotional he thought we'd be, and I was grateful for that.

It all went well, and there was a procession from the church to the cemetery a few hundred metres away, and a brief graveside committal. I think the event was a good tribute to Glenn's life, an opportunity to mourn his death, and also a chance to worship and give thanks to God. The church was full to overflowing, with a huge diversity of people there, showing how widely known and loved Glenn is.

Peter and I left New Norcia on Thurs morning, after the usual morning offices and 7:30am mass, which Abbot John dedicated to us, sending us on our way with the prayer and blessing of the community, which was very touching and special. From what John said to us the previous night, I think the community was moved and thankful that we had made the effort to come from the east to stand with them at this difficult time.

Before we left town, we went by the cemetery to say a final farewell at Glenn's grave. So it's been a very intense time, but the overall experience has left me feeling quite at peace (although not looking forward to all the work of packing up and organising myself for the big move).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

... on the hop...

I arrived home in Melbourne from my Tassie holiday tonight, noting the colour of the sky around Melbourne, heavier than the usual Melbourne smog, thanks to the bushfires still burning just out of the city.

Since arriving home I have collected my mail from my next-door neighbour (a huge bundle for only 2 weeks away!), eaten some yummy ( but not very diet- friendly) takeaway fried rice for dinner and have packed another bag for my quick trip to WA for Glenn's funeral.

I will be on the plane at 6:05am tomorrow, and will meet up with Peter, a friend from Sydney, in Perth, and we will drive up to New Norcia together. Glenn's funeral is on Wednesday morning: a Requiem Mass in Holy Trinity Church at New Norcia, followed by a burial in the NN cemetery, and a light lunch afterwards.

Arriving on Monday afternoon, will mean that Peter and I will have the chance to settle into the place, and prepare ourselves emotionally for what will be a very difficult funeral. We'll then stay on Wed night and head back to Perth on Thurs morning.

This means I will be away from Mon morning till Thurs night, which will probably have an impact on my packing and "preparing to move house" program, but it's important to me to go to this funeral of such a dear friend, and I'm sure things will all get done eventually, so I'm not particularly stressed about it (after all, Mum is coming to help with the final stages of moving and packing, so she will certainly whip me into shape!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Double sadness

I am currently on holidays in Tasmania, but am aware that people may be wondering about what's happening re the current Vic bushfire situation.

I am due to commence my placement in Myrtleford-Beechworth in early March, and so expect to hit the ground running when I get there. At this stage I am conscious that the fires have affected pretty much all of my future parish, with Beechworth, Yackandandah and Stanley especially affected, and I think, still at risk from the current fire situation.

I am also aware that one couple from the Myrtleford congregation have lost their home. I'm not sure if there have been any other losses, but guess I'll find out soon enough.

I am feeling a tad frustrated, as if teels a bit obscene to be here in (Raining) Tassie, having a holiday, whilst my future parishoners are facing such terrible things in the face of the bushfires; but as a wise Presbytery Minister pointed out to me, the time for caring action will come when I get there, so until then, I am keeping the people of the parish (and other fire affected areas) in my prayers, and trying to enjoy my holiday, and recharge, relax and recreate so that when I get up to Myrtleford, I will be of use to the folk there.

On a different, but also sad note, I heard today the tragic news that my dear friend, Dom Glenn Swallow, a monk of New Norcia, took his life over the weekend. This came as an utter shock to me, and to others who knew and loved Glenn. At this stage funeral details are not known, but I am hoping that it will be sometime next week, and am hoping to get to WA for it.

I will write more once I get home and things settle down a bit.