MAGAZINE NO. 154 [APRIL 2022]
COVER by Bridget McKern, for the story behind this image see page 9.
Funding of the colour cover for this (printed) issue has been generously donated by an Eremos member.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
EARTH AT CENTRE STAGE: AN EXPRESSION OF CREATION SPIRITUALITY by Kim Langford
FALLING TREES by Shé Hawke
I COME FROM A LAND DOWN UNDER … CONTEMPLATING AUSTRALIAN MEN THROUGH
A SPIRITUAL LENS by Noel Giblett
INCENSE by John Foulcher
FOOD AND SPIRITUALITY: BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER by Valerie Albrecht
ADDRESSING THOU by Pauline Small
CAROL KILBY’S ‘EVOLUTIONARY DANCER:
OUT, IN AND ON THE FRINGE OF THE CHURCH’
reviewed by Judith Keller
POETICA CHRISTI PRESS by Jean Sietzema-Dickson
THE SIGH OF A SUBURBAN SAINT by Ross Keating
‘STUDIO’ ANNIVERSARY EDITION NUMBER
reviewed by John Foulcher
I met Rev (then Bishop) Bruce Wilson and Colin Alcock at one of Eremos’s first public meetings with a well-known Christian leader. Eremos was a voice in the wilderness at this time. Colin spoke at East Lindfield Baptist Church. Apart from the retreats, public and regional meetings, they had a well-stocked range of books on the spiritual journey. My wife Lynda and I still have many on our bookshelves. Eremos has seen many changes in its forty years. People have come and go. But the original purpose has remained: to strengthen the Christian faith with a deeper level of spirituality and to promote awareness of the changing Church and secular culture among its target audience, people looking for more from all denominations.
In the November 2021 issue of EREMOS, I suggested that members send their reflections on forty years of association with Eremos in this, our fortieth year. So far, amid the complications of the pandemic, the floods and the festivities of the Christmas season, only Tom Glynn has made a submission. That’s OK – we have two more issues to go, so if you feel the urge to share your reflections about Eremos with us, there’s still time.
Tom’s thoughts suggest what many of us felt in the seminal years of Eremos: that conventional churches were caught in the web of their own rules and conventions, that we needed to explore our spiritual lives with courage, not fear. In the past forty years, many churches and places of worship have adapted to the rapid expansion of knowledge and understanding which marks the past four decades. Many have not.
In order to explore the ways in which spiritual life in Australia has changed over this time, Eremos is conducting an online public forum which will be hosted by noted author and broadcaster Meredith Lake on Sunday 5 June 2022 (see p 41). All are welcome. It promises to be a rewarding and challenging afternoon.
This issue of EREMOS is dominated by poetry. People regularly send poetry to us, and we do our best to publish as much as we can. For the April issue, we received some very fine poems from Shé Hawke, Ross Keating and Pauline Small. As well, Jean Sietzema-Dickson brings us a portrait of Poetica Christi Press, a small Melbourne-based press dedicated to the publication of poetry with a spiritual focus. And we also review the fortieth anniversary issue of Studio, which has published creative writing exploring religious and spiritual issues over the same period EREMOS has been in existence. The synchronicities between the two magazines is intriguing.
I’ve always thought poetry and spirituality make good bedfellows. Both are concerned with the truths beyond the material. At its heart, poetry is a way of trying to put into words the things for which they are no words. If you know what you want to say, then say it. Don’t waste a reader’s time dressing it up in the guise of a poem. But if something is trying to identify itself from deep inside you, poetry may be the medium through which it can make itself known.
Several years ago, I had a recurrent flashback. In it, I was about sixteen, lying on the lawn in the backyard of my suburban home, looking up the sky. Mum was taking the washing off the line, and I could hear the pegs falling into the wicker basket. Through an open window, I could hear one of my brothers making a cup of tea in the kitchen. It must have been the weekend, because I could hear a football match on the radio. I could even remember the teams. The feelings associated with this fragment of memory were very pleasant. On the surface, there was nothing extraordinary about it, so why was it continually bubbling up in me?
I decided the best way to find out was to write a poem about it, not knowing where it would take me. The poem went through about thirty drafts and I worked on it for over six months. It never felt finished. Then, almost randomly, I added a line about halfway through the poem: ‘Dad was seven years gone.’ Suddenly the reason why the memory kept recurring seemed obvious. My father died suddenly when I was nine years old, and my adolescence had been lived in the shadow of that trauma. This seemingly ordinary experience was actually extraordinary because it must have been one of the first times I felt released of this dreadful experience. The poem, ultimately called ‘Listening’, had brought this into the light. Poetry, like religious faith, had plumbed the depths of me, gently and unflinchingly. The act of writing the poem was indeed a spiritual experience.
But it’s not all poetry. This issue also contains three fabulous articles. In a timely fashion – given the ecological disasters that have been inflicted on our country over the past three years – Kim Langford suggests it’s time we took ourselves off centre stage and put the earth there. For too long, she says, we thought we could treat our environment as a bit player in our existence rather than its director. Exploring similar ground, Judith Keller reviews Carol Kilby’s arresting Evolutionary Dancer. Also in a timely way, Noel Giblett writes about the stunted spiritual lives of too many men in this country and the terrible consequences this has brought about, both in men themselves and in those with whom they deal. The truth of this has been seen in the abuses of power which shockingly came to light in our federal parliament last year.
In a lighter, more genial vein, Valerie Albrecht explores the historical connection between spirituality and food, in both our own culture and cultures around the world. In this vivacious article, she explores the ways in which the veneration of food breaks down the duality of spirit and body, enriching the whole person.
The whole person. Integrated. That’s what we need to cultivate in a world trying to tear us to pieces.