Tag Archives: courage

Promises to tomorrow #52 #courage

The last post in my blog each year has been a thank you to the readers and sojourners and usually an introduction to the theme of the coming year.  I know the pilgrimage ahead is going to be rocky and in those rocky places transformation will unfold.

I do want to thank you faithful readers who have stayed the course with me this year of promises to tomorrow.

I am wondering and wandering around in my mind’s eye labyrinth, walking past stones I didn’t know were there the first time, passing back over paths with new information and insights I didn’t have last time round. These are hard, dark and difficult days. Opening up to the shadows, the discomfort, the disturbing, requires courage.  Intuitively, I reach not to the why, but into the feelings. The same blind, unconditional love I poured out on my husband and continue to shower on those closest to me, I now need to turn to myself.  A dear friend encouraged me to make 2018 the Year of Self Compassion.  I remember I have Stephanie Dowrick’s Forgiveness and other Acts of Love on my book shelf. I first read it in the late 90s and found it a real salve and intimate guide to living more wholeheartedly and more gratefully, but I haven’t picked it up for years. It is a book I have bought and recommended many times for others after loss, betrayal, a crisis or an accident.  I know there is something about courage to be found in the pages and in the summary of the first chapter she writes:

Courage is what it takes to be fully human. It’s what pushes us to survive the daily navigations between the known and not-known; to deal with the inevitable to create useful distinctions between what we can change and what we cannot. It is what will allow us to go into our own particular versions of hell. It is what will give us the grace and strength to re-emerge and still find life worth living.  – Stephanie Dowrick

I say to myself: Breathe deep, take courage, walk on pilgrim.  Look for the scallop shells on the way, pointing a path forward to the shore.

Sea Shell



Promises to tomorrow #42 #Vows

I haven’t been able to get to write on Sunday as is my practice. Two young lovers betrothed and commitments already made in state law, were consolidated with nuptials in the heart of a forest this week. What an intense time for our family. So much we are asking of ourselves and each other – turning emotions on and off like a tap just to get through. Love and respect around every corner and being held deeply and consistently by those who know how to hold and be held.

Forest floor layered

Slivers of light

Breaking into hearts

Witnesses wait

Fairies are found

Music glides

Bands of gold

Trussed peacocks

Humble ground

All season vows

Bonds and binding

Promises to tomorrow

Rose petals dried

Perfume distilled

Showering lovers

Remembering my vows: “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.” I kept my end up on the good times and bad and felt the scales definitely tipped not in my favour for the sickness and health one. It is a big vow to make and one that you don’t ever really fully understand until you are in it. I did OK on the love and honour one and notice that it ends with all the days of MY life, not all the days of your life.

The vows we make to ourselves are as strong as the ones we make with another. The promise to tomorrow to be true to myself in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love and honour myself all the days of my life, is actually harder than the marriage vow to keep. Regardless of our marital state making such a vow to yourself is worth it – because we all need to be own best friend first and where ever we go we take ourselves. Vows are not made to another but to yourself, to hold yourself to account, so in the darkest days you have love, in the saddest days you have courage and the wildest days you can grasp the rudder and stay the course, and in the sunless night you remember the moon’s powers.

Pilgrim! Walk on! is the promise to tomorrow and for every day forth. To keep walking the path where ever it goes in trust, courage and humility knowing all the while it is your path that you make by walking it. The instruction for walking is one foot in front of the other and it is that kind of walking that also needs to have pepper and salt moments looking the heavens as well as looking to the ground. Courage will come on the wind and in a new voice sourced from the same love that started the journey.


“Lucy looked along the beam and presently saw something in it. At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an aeroplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross. It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow. It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them. After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. Drinian steered after it not doubting that it offered good guidance. But no one but Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.”
C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader


Promise to tomorrow #38 #breaking

Holding the space between flight and fight is a constant challenge. Running towards is also running away, standing up and doing one thing, is also to reject other options. There are actions and reactions. Broken hearted remains, shards thrown into the air, searching for some magic dust to bring them altogether again for a seamless fusion.

 “God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open.”

Hazrat Inayat Khan

Staying the course to remain open to being broken seems to require a steadfastness of holding onto stillness that isn’t masquerading as paralysis. Blinded by the light when caught in the headlights invites confusion. This. Whirring of synapses trying to rewire themselves into some kind of order and then the unsteady, stop, start, inelegant dash to get out of harms way, stumbling, leaving a trail of fallen hurdles.   Watching at close quarters when each step is broken down to its essence, in slow motion the body and brain vie for supremacy. The body I witness is a track for the race between drugs and disease. The soul intact still housed by the body. The mind making its way through the brambles to find a path yet to be worn.

The shards will get rearranged once they are no longer in the spotlight. Not the same shape as before and perhaps some may not fit quite neatly together any more, and they will re-arrange, but first they have to be unlocked to find their way out.

What promise to tomorrow? To have a big enough heart for the courage to stay open for breaking.



Dancing with Speeches #43 Barry Jones

The Hon Barry Jones delivered the 20th Don Dunstan Oration, and in covering a lot of ground, brought us two potential political parties of the future: The Courage Party and the Left Behind Party. Given Barry’s from the left I felt I was part of a rumba listening to him in real life deliver this great speech in the beautiful surrounds of my alma mater University of Adelaide’s Bonython Hall as part to the 2016 Festival of Ideas. Originally, the term rumba was used as a synonym for “party” in northern Cuba, and by the late 19th century it was used to denote the complex of secular music styles. You can read and listen to Barry’s speech here.

The Rumba Party

Before there was Labor, Liberal, Greens, Democrats, Republicans, Tories …. there was dance, there was music. There were celebrations, conversations, debate – public discourse in decision-making for the populous. And now we have public decision-making driven by smart phones and focus groups, where decisions are driven by popularity, celebrity and with little attention to facts, or the people with the lived experience effected by those decisions. Those left behind in globalisation are finding their voice in extremism, terrorism and the currency of fear is traded through facebook and twitter. The binary options are simplistic and the craving for simplicity in our deep complexity is strangling the lost art of conversation.

This is my manifesto for the Rumba Party.

I want a Party where people turn up with a plate of food to share. Where the party is hosted by someone who is willing to throw open the doors to their house and share their good fortune of running water, electricity supply, table and chairs with whoever wants to come.

I want a Party where you will find people gathering in corners in twos and threes sharing their lives and working out together how to love and support others in the room over nibbles and a glass of wine.

I want a Party who knows how to turn up the music, get on the dance floor and be willing to not know all the steps and find their rhythm in flickering candlelight while moving to the same beat of the drum and bass line.

I want a Party that knows how to clean up after itself and grabs a bin, a bucket and a mop when the celebrations have died down and the mess starts to form. I want a Party that can do the cleaning up joyfully and sing songs while they work.

I want a Party that has an invitation list and then welcomes anyone who turns up and gives them a welcome as a cherished guest even if they weren’t on the invitation list. I want a Party that respects the elders and can’t wait for the young to get up and speak, share a poem, do a dance, show us their best.

I want a Party. And I want to Party. I want a Party that is a verb not a noun.



Citizen Jones in full flight at one of the Festival of Ideas sessions.


Dancing with speeches #18 Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi spent a life in exile and lost a lifetime waiting and working for change in her country. She drew on the spirit of her people and the practice of nonviolence to keep her focused on her desire for liberation from military rule. The epitome of grace under fire, Aung San Suu Kyi always appears with a flower in her hair, beauty inside and out, a poetic defiance against tyranny.

Fearlessness maybe a gift, but perhaps more precious is the courage acquired through endeavour, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions, courage that could be described as ‘grace under pressure’ – grace which is renewed repeatedly in the face of harsh, unremitting pressure.

From Freedom for Fear speech, 1990.

The antidotes for fear are truth, justice and compassion and a relentless application of them in the deepest ethical application, even to the cellular level is a vocation for the bravest of souls.  To be brave with yourself first is the first step or perhaps we are just ‘half a shade braver’ as David Whyte suggests.  There is an invocation, a litany of invitations to go further with our truths and stop being delusional – the oppression and failure of human rights is down to us as well, those who are free, it is our privilege to act and address.  We are not separate from the equation, an unholy symmetry until all are liberated.  Fear is the order of the day where human rights are being violated and the stock exchange in fear is alive and well in our nations and in our own hearts.

The fear of betrayal and rejection in our every day lives, hold us to ransom, call out our terrorist traits, bring sabotage and conspiracy.  When there is darkness, and fog it maybe hard to find the sunlight to shine on us and purify our hearts and support our steps to courage born of vulnerability. The spark and flicker of the candle can be enough to hold on to, the half a shade of bravery might inspire others to be a little bit braver too. Never under estimate the smallest act of breaking open the ground for others to follow and add their weight to the ground – every collective action begins with one voice, one simple act.

The fears that kept our ancestors alive throughout the ages have disappeared, yet we are still afraid of the metaphorical mastodon and we haven’t necessarily made our fears as extinct as creatures they were designed to protect us from.  The deepest fear, Marianne Williamson says is fear of our own greatness. Imagine liberation from fear what wonders might be visible, what humanity might unfold and evolution be aroused.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Marianne Williamson

The fear of the other is alive and well in our time, in my country and the fear of a little one on the shores of our land seeking asylum speaks to me of an irrational fear. Speaking truth to power, working for justice and making compassion visible will be both inoculation from further fear mongering and a cure. Freedom from fear is a daily practice and discipline.

Arriving for conference Credit:http://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/aung-san-suu-kyi-tells-myanmars-peace-stakeholders-to-prepare-for-conference-04272016163531.html

Arriving for conference to prepare for government Feb 2016 Credit