Perth Personalities

Perth is the capital city of Western Australia. Its population nears two million. I meet three of its personalities.


Beth Roberton and her engineer husband Jeremy have built a retreat complex in the Mandaring forest hills above Perth. It is near the airport and ideal for pilgrims in transit. It is named Nathaniel's Rest because Nathaniel was himself (John 1:45-47) and they want retreatants to be themselves. Beth also founded the Spiritual Companions Collegial Network in Western Australia and, with others, sustains Dayspring Centre for Christian Spirituality and Counselling an open community offering a safe and sacred space for nurturing the journey towards wholeness in God. It is this ecumenical network which has invited me to lead three Day Retreats in Perth's Nooranda Uniting Church. The first day is for spiritual directors on Celtic Insights into Soul Friendship. Igniting the Flame, on the second day, introduces the general public to a Way of Life. The third event invites church and post-church people to learn about The Great Emergence - ancient roots and future routes. Up to fifty came each day and heartfelt inter-actions flowed. There will be fruit. Beth is a marvellous and generous host.


Revd. Dr. Gregory Seach is the new Warden of Wollaston Theological College in the Anglican Diocese of Perth. We were introduced through Dean Spalding, a friend we knew in Melbourne, who is finishing his Ph.d at Wollaston. I spent a day with the Formation Candidates, who include three from Southern Sudan, who are training for or exploring ordination. They have been studying Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s 'Life Together' and invited insights from The Community of Aidan and Hilda on principles and prayer rhythms that can build community. One of them, Michael, drove me to St. Paul's Church, Beaconsfield, Fremantle. Someone purchased a large block of land next to it. Now members live in thirteen houses whose gardens lead into a common courtyard where they meet on Fridays around a fire. Their hall is always full. Muslims pray in it on Fridays and a Five Dollar Breakfast is offered on Saturdays. Spiritual Graffitti on the walls attract talented artists. In a sand circle dances, accompanied by Russian chants take place for the healing of trees and the world. They asked if the Community of Aidan and Hilda might provide a Soul Friend to the project. Please contact me if you have an inspired suggestion.


Ian is Uniting Chaplain at the University of Western Australia. We met him for a briefing session beside Perth's glorious Swan River, complete with black swan and dancing dolphin. At that briefing session I learned that he had advertised a Chaplain's International Lecture with me speaking on Soul Friendship and Celtic Leadership, and that he would like me to commend and help launch his new book 'If Anyone Thirsts: Biblical Spirituality From the Desert'. Within a day I had to prepare a lecture and read the book. Such is pilgrimage!

Ian and his wife Margaret discovered my 'Complete Celtic Prayers' at The Biel Centre near Scotland's Perth.They developed a passion for deserts. Ian has set up an organisation called Spirit Journeys, which organises pilgrimages across the deserts of Australia. See They will now drive Judy and I into the desert for the Koora Retreat. In this, my final week, will I get my just deserts?

Posted at 01:16am on 11th May 2015
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