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Magazine No.130 [ March 2015 ]

On what it might mean to live well.

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Inside this issue

Farewell To Peter Newall: Poet, Scholar And Spiritual Companion by Peter Willis
A Falcon, A Storm Or A Great Song? by Nicholas Rundle
Eremos: ‘Safer Than A Known Way’ by Peter Newall
Farewell To Richard (Dick) Franklin (1925 – 2015) by Jim Franklin
Deep Connectedness by Dick Franklin
When The Heart Cracks Open by Sarah Bachelard
Why Do We Create ‘Sacred’ Space? by Annette Maie
David Johnson’s ‘A Quaker Prayer Life’ reviewed by Kate Scholl
Eremos Information and Membership


The recent deaths of two Eremos elders – Emeritus Professor Richard (Dick) Franklin and Rev Peter Newall – prompted me to reflect again on what it might mean to die a good death, and what it might mean to live well. Not surprisingly the two are linked. At the end of his life, Jesus can say, ‘I have finished the work you have given me to do’. That seems to me something to aspire to.

Sometimes when someone dies there is a sense of fulfilment; the person dies feeling they have sung the song that was theirs to sing. At other times those who remain don’t have that consolation – only the relief that at last their loved one’s suffering is over. Obituaries provide a longer perspective. Peter Willis and Nicholas Rundle both knew Peter initially through Eremos in Adelaide. Their obituaries provide complementary reflections not only on Peter’s life, but also on the importance of spiritual friendship and community. Jim Franklin provides a moving and often humorous picture of his father – ‘a scholar and a gentleman’. Dick’s connection with Eremos also goes back a long way. He was for many years a member of an Eremos group in Armidale.

We are also able to let these men speak for themselves through their writings. Peter’s ‘Eremos: Safer than a Known Way’ reminds us of the founders’ vision of providing a community for those‘dissatisfied with a Christianity without paradox’, who found themselves ‘a long way from thehaven of infallibility’. Eremos also provided hospitality for his writings. He found there a spiritual home that supported him in drawing ‘marrow from the bones of daily experience’. Peter, the poet,is very evident in this piece, both in his language and his way of looking at the world.

Dick‘s approach in ‘Deep Connectedness’ is very different. In the book from which this piece isextracted, he uses the tools of philosophy to seek a synthesis or integration of the findings ofscience, religion, the nature of consciousness and the implications of all of this for how to live‘well’ – an ambitious project. Yet, while Peter and Dick might have had different approaches, they shared a desire for connecting head and heart through participatory (experiential) knowing. Connecting head and heart (participatory knowing) is also evident in ‘When the Heart Cracks Open’. We are glad to be able to publish the full text of Sarah Bachelard’s presentation at our Annual Gathering. Like Dick, Sarah is keen to provide hospitable space where people can meet at the edges. Such meetings, she says, require a certain ‘detachment from the ideologies we identify with’.

Annette Maie reminds us that the human need to seek sacred space is healthy for us and that this is supported by recent brain research. Finally, Kate Scholl’s book review affirms the value of Quaker spirituality for modern pilgrims in search of the sacred.

Until next time,

Frances MacKay

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