Tag Archives: Adelaide

Bus for Pilgrim

Dear Sor Juana,

Once more I am spending a lot of time in my familiar precinct in my city of Adelaide. So much of my life has been spent around the edges of Victoria Square in various buildings on Wakefield and Flinders Streets. Laneways, verandahs, park benches, lift wells, stairs, sliding doors, like needles through which strands of my life have been threaded. While some of the locations have had makeovers, there is little they can conceal, and my familiarity with them, and them with me, brings an everyday informal embrace.

I wandered over to one of those buildings this week, sliding a door to find a person not even realising or respecting that a meeting was going on – such had been my practice years before. Fortunately I was greeted with a smile and an invitation to step into the space again. This building has changed over the years, a community room has been added, a few more car parks and its interface with its surroundings has created places for the homeless to seek shelter and impatient civil servants to get to their morning coffee quicker. This building is a church – not my church – a church that holds the name for people like me – Pilgrim.

As a teenager I caught the bus from Pilgrim Church. In my twenties and thirties, I sang there and worked with others from the community on social justice issues primarily around apartheid, peace and anti-racism. I have had many friends over the years for whom Pilgrim was and remains their worshipping community. But it was in my teens that I first began my friendship with this place, on the steps with my fellow travellers on the Bowmans bus to and from my home in the north eastern suburbs.   The Lincoln green and dusty gold bus was an insulated community, the bus drivers rosters were more familiar to us than the timetable. We knew them all by name and they knew us. I even babysat for one of them from time to time. Our daily chaperones’ kept us in order and we kept them company. The journey each day to and from school (about 45 minutes each way) was a camino all of its own. We would share stories of what the day might bring in the morning, although the morning commute was a lot quieter than the conversations and debriefs of the day on the way home. Loves were won and lost, homework shared and problems solved together, design and strategy to manage siblings, teachers and parents were mutually exchanged.

The bus was my first experience of community. I learnt what it means to travel and tell stories travelling, to know what it means to start and end a journey, to listen and talk in chapters as sometimes we would have to wait another day (or another week) to hear the next instalment of a tale. I learnt about trust and grew in my own confidence of holding a space and being held by a space. The bus was an incubation chamber and from that place I was able to step into the world where all these buildings around Victoria Square could hold me in all the years to come. The concertina door opening and closing each day and night breathing life into me and squeezing another giggle out of me before heading home. The Bowmans bus, an archer with his arrow, reliably hitting a bullseye into Victoria Square in the morning and at day’s end delivering this pilgrim, with the same precision, to Shepherd Street.  Sor Juana, only now do I see the imagery of this bus for this pilgrim.

Bowmans Bus in front of Pilgrim Church - amazing what you can find on line!

Bowmans Bus in front of Pilgrim Church – amazing what you can find on line!

Trinity Spring and Harvest

Dear Hildegard,

In less than three months I will be taking my pilgrimage off shore to Italy, Ireland, UK and a UAE.  I am preparing in various ways the body, mind and soul. I am reflecting on the work of David Whyte as central to the journey; and knowing that it might be just as important not to be prepared. I am remaining as open as I can be to the elemental experiences that lie ahead.

As part of the preparation, I have been reviewing Whyte’s The Three Marriages. I remain drawn to the thought that “sometimes the best thing we can do is to hold a kind of silent vigil beside the part of us that is going through the depths of a difficult transformation” (p340f).

I have actively been keeping vigil and the liturgical seasons of Lent and Easter have been a wonderful companion to me in this time.  As the Easter tide opens, I find I am falling in love with myself and  my work again.  This is both a relief and a joy. I have some of the symptoms and signs of falling in love. I find myself smiling and giggling. I think about what I am going to wear and what I am going to look like, people are saying I am looking younger and brighter -even glowing!  There is an innocence and awe  too. Child-like, I am embracing this new beginning and trying to come to this new space, fresh.  I am still finding old habits creeping in and at times the old lover haunting me like a phantom or even stalking me like a domestic violence perpetrator. These moments are now infrequent and more often than not, impotent.

For Whyte it is not a work-life balance, but a marriage of marriages. This trinity is three marriages: to our self, our partner and our work.

“Doing something innocent, dangerous and wonderful all at the same time may be the perfect metaphor for understudying one of the demands made by a marriage of marriages: the need to live in multiple contexts, multiple layers and with multiple people all at the same time without choosing between them. A kind of spiritual and imaginative multitasking, but in which we attempt to be present to everything occurring, to have a foundation that will hold them all and not be distracted by passing details” (p352).

The foundations are holding me well and the tedium of distracting details are falling away as they no longer serve me (or in reality never served me at all).

I am in a virtual and real time cornucopia.

I am reconnecting with old friends. I have been selected to present at the next TEDx event in Adelaide. I have had surprise visits from people special to me who have done me the honour of seeking me out in their precious time in Adelaide. I have received happy news of love and commitment. I have been greeted and affirmed in familiar and surprising places.  I am blessed. And on top of all this, my physical pilgrimage is getting closer by the hour.

As the snow melts in your homeland Hildegard, and the spring flowers start to find their way to the sun (the Easter season makes more sense in the Northern hemisphere than in the South), I can see and feel and touch and taste and smell and intuit that spring has come in my heart too.  The steps I am taking in my journey seem a lot lighter right now. (This could well be preparing me for what lies ahead and so be it.)  But for now, my basket is overflowing with all the fruits of the season and the season is both spring and autumn.

Your love, dear Hildegard, of all things green, and your instruction to be green and to do green things, I think is not just about creation but also about ourselves. I hear it as a call to renewal and spring time.  You reflect that when we warm ourselves by the fire in the winter, it is to store the heat and energy to move closer to the light so we can stay ‘wet and juicy’ and catch the greenness of good works and the energy of the heart.

“The soul that is full of wisdom is saturated with the spray of a bubbling foundation” (cited in Fox, M  Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen p.64). The intimacy that occurs when we connect ourselves to our foundations, keep watch and allow for both the spring and the harvest is a pilgrimage all of its own.  The journey is fuelled by the energy of love that delivers abundant justice for ourselves and the planet – all fruits of our labour and our love become visible once again. Maybe Whyte’s Three Marriages is your Trinity ?

“A flame is made up of brilliant light, red power, and fiery heat. It has brilliant light that it may shine, red power that it may endure, and fiery heat that it may burn” (Hildegard of Bingen The Ways of the Lord p.68).  The marriage of marriages weaves my commitments together. Being in love with more of those marriages brings a harvest in my season and the green shoots of spring in yours.