To New South Wales And Something New

Farewell State of Victoria. Farewell house of Lyons Lee and its marvellous family. Brent has combined the abilities of a Government Chief of Staff with the cheerful servant spirit of Christ. On our last night we saw The Lion King. Sadly Belinda was unwell as I left next morning, but Brent's Dad took sport-loving Thomas to school, Belinda's mum looked after her daughter, and Brent drove me to the airport before beginning his day's work.

New South Wales. A warmer climate, a slower pace. Matt takes a day off work to meet me at Newcastle airport. Before I climb his front steps I see this notice on the door: 'Before you take another step remember the indigenous people who walked this land before you'. I enter their garage. It is a gym, a prayer chapel and a guinea pig parlour all in one - a sign of our holistic way of life?

I am given a newly built room in the home Matt shares with his wife Sophia (a psychiatrist who works with oncology), the two girls Keziah and Xanthe, and four year-old Jonah. The family intentionally built this room to make possible its commitment to hospitality. The children are high energy. What’s the trick? Each takes it in turn to chime the Buddhist-style gong followed by the silence which precedes each meal. And they are permitted to use screens of any sort only at week-ends. Ideas here for our Way of Life followers?

The difference between the Victoria and NSW itinerary styles is as vivid as difference in God’s creation. Brent fixed his programme as a driver in a thriving denominational headquarters. Matt’s programme came from his home relationships – like those at a Nazareth carpenter’s shop perhaps? He contacted fellow students on his spiritual direction course: an Anglican vicar arranged a deanery meeting. Another friend runs a faith exploration group which invited me. A couple he got to know invited their friends to a house meeting over supper. The family know a group of Dominican sisters three blocks down - Sister Jenny is godmother to Jonah and they offered me their spare flat at week-ends. They invited their Associates to hear about our Way of Life. Matt and Sophia took me to mass on Palm Sunday to meet various friends, and arranged an interview with their Bishop Bill. Matt also worships with the Quakers but decided it was time to make friends with Stephen, the Dean of Newcastle Anglican cathedral, and Mark, his colleague. The cathedral put on an event. The windows depicting Aidan, Hilda, Cuthbert and Oswald almost looked down upon me as I spoke. All these events were combined with the book launch.

Then there is the one-to-one time with the family and their friends. One friend, who came out of a Christian community but still gathers a group of men in a pub, tells me that Matt is his mentor. There is the Caim Council by Skype in which I am a guest participator. I was due to travel 700 miles to Sophia’s parents and spend Easter in a nearby monastery hermitage. This and other personal meetings have been cancelled for health reasons. So I shall be alone in their house over Easter praying for the soul of Australia and thinking of all my friends and pilgrims on Holy Island to whom I send my love and hopes for a life-giving Easter.

The climax is yet to come.

Posted at 17:05pm on 24th March 2015
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