Living fully the gift of life

17th June 2021
Tributes for Noel Davis express beautifully the gift he was...
Noel Davis, poet, educator, friend, partner, spiritual guide, lover of nature, of dance and of play died on 27th March 2021. Noel and his partner of 30 years, Trish Delaney have been supporters and collaborators with Eremos for many years.
His poetry was a frequent part of our Retreat Days and often seen in the pages of EREMOS magazine. He led workshops for Eremos and participated in several of our anniversary events.
His loss is deeply felt especially by those closest to him and we offer our sympathies to Trish and his friends and family. News of his death evoked responses from people through the Eremos Facebook page and beyond. Those who have written express beautifully the gift Noel was to so many and we share those with you here.

Remembering Noel Davis by Rob O’Brien

Noel gently sat down next to me at a Shekinah Creative Centre celebration in 1990. He had a folder with a manuscript of poems on his lap. With his soft voice and broad smile he asked me if I’d be interested in responding to his work with art images. He planned to have his manuscript published. I was moved by his request to ‘respond’ rather than “These are images I’d like.” I thought, “What a trusting man.”Whale Fun Mother Calf

After more discussion, Noel left the manuscript with me. Never had I read such deep, personal, spiritual or challenging words about Life, Living, Being, Breathing, Giving, Receiving, Pondering, Simplicity, Spirituality, Discovery, Loving, God and much more. Images of ink on paper with watercolour came to me immediately. Before long, my images were more about the connection to Noel’s poems and I began to learn how to draw all over again, being influenced by words that were alive on each page.

A partnership began that included Shekinah Creative Centre people, Noel and Trish with words and images. Heart Gone Walkabout: Poems, Prayers, Lines and Spaces was created and published in 1991.The success of this partnership led to Campfire of the Heart in 1994and a collaboration with five other artists for The Heart Waking and Breaking into Dance in 2007. The Spirit’s Bloody Sheep Dog and In gifting each other with truth and love remain favourites. I learnt from Noel to trust your heart. Thank you Noel for what you brought to so many from your own huge loving heart.

Thank you to Rob for sharing his artwork for this story.

Noel Davis by Vivienne Goldstein smPentecost Fire

I believe it was Mary of Nazareth who introduced us. It all happened 25 years ago, the day I was handed a prayer sheet with a reflection which began: Whatever happened to Wild Mary, to that spirited village woman, who broke the chains and shattered the moulds that tried to tame and angel her… As I read, the room began to spin for me… suddenly the woman I had thought of as “blue and white and perfect” became real, as real as my Jewish aunt. And there was hope that I could become a real Marist Sister. With all my heart, I thanked God for Noel Davis!

Soon afterwards I wrote to Noel’s publishers for permission to make copies of “Wild Mary” for a reflection with secondary students. The very next day, my work phone rang. The voice asking for me announced himself as Noel Davis. I was overwhelmed, but his warmth and openness put me totally at ease and, within a minute, he was telling me how he had met Wild Mary.

Over the years, through phone and email, and eventually in the joy of meeting, Noel was ever gracious. I never ceased to marvel at his openness and simplicity, the way he would share his latest reflections, even asking for an opinion! His eyes would sparkle with delight as he told how a certain turn of phrase had come to him. Then, there would be a deeper sort of glow when there had been a particularly significant insight.

Yes, Noel has had a profound influence on my life. I will be forever grateful to him and to his beautiful wife Trish for welcoming me into their circle of friends.

You may have left this earthly life, dear Noel, but your influence remains in the lives of so many of us and, I suspect, you are not all that far away. What a joy for you to meet Wild Mary, to say nothing of her Son! Do thank her for having introduced us AND enjoy the Dance, dear friend! Magnificat!

Comments posted on Eremos Facebook page

  • I am grateful for his kindness and wisdom Rod
  • I did not get to meet Noel but I treasure his words and wisdom deeply. Craig
  • his words a gift..  Heather Rose
  • Beloved contemplative poet. His life was a hidden monastery. His heart was gentle.  Cynthia
  • Ever grateful for his writing. Ann S
  • Always gracious, always generous and always hospitable. Rest in peace, Noel. Your wonderful words will live on in print and in the hearts of us all. Deepest sympathy to Trish, family and friends. Anne B
  • Noel's writing - prayers and reflections - have been a gift to me and to the communities with whom I have worshipped.  Simon
  • I was so very sad to hear of Noel’s passing. A good friend and lover of the written word. You will not be forgotten. Your spirit will live on through your many books. My heart goes out to Trish and family at this unbelievably sad time.  Nanoya
  • Ohhh that’s sad news. He had quite an influence on me.   Lee-Ann
  • I appreciated the wonderful gift of his words and wisdom. Elizabeth

Remembering Noel Davis by Alex Nelson

Though restrictions introduced into our lives in 2020, designed to protect us all from the spread of the Covid-19 virus, limited our social interaction, I sensed that Noel and Trish were often in our thoughts during that time, as we were in theirs.

I first met Noel in the early 1970s. I had the good fortune to be a guest with the Marist Brothers School Community in Dundas for a couple of years while I was a part-time student at Macquarie University and an assistant priest to the parish of Rydalmere. I was struck by his presence, and recall thinking to myself then that Noel is someone whom I would really like to be like. And I still do. Though he has gone before us into eternal peace, blessed vision and play, I continue with gratitude to sense the gift of his life to so many of us through his friendship, expressed in conversation and in his poems, reflections and prayers.

In his company, as well as through his writings, at times I saw Noel’s play, delight and compassion embrace the flora, fauna and people of our country. He brought light for me and for others to see ourselves in our various environments, and he invited us to discover and celebrate there our mutuality, interdependence and connectedness.

I have appreciated his years of sharing with friends and strangers his faith and spirituality that unfolded in his own spiritual journey. By returning to his writings, over many years I have found there for me a pacemaker’s constancy and an anam cara quality of company. Of his many poems, those that disclose him standing at some edge of wonder and awareness resonate well with qualities of spirit that members of Eremos express in living their spiritual way.

His poem below, Climbing with Bare Bones of Belief and a Strengthening Faith, describes for me a place where many of us may have found ourselves at times. I recall it here with gratitude to Noel for living his life into these words and images.


Dialogue With HopeThere are no creeds, doctrines, dogmas
no titles to fasten my rope to the rock face.
Below me there’s what I’ve left behind
and the wounds and scars that mark my way.


With me there’s the grieving
and the struggle with guilt.
There’s the story too of a man with a vision
and a passion for his mission
the memory of his followers
and their life changing experience.
There’s the truth of my own life experience
and my reflections along the way
the guidance of the silence
the counsel of dreams
the trail food of the mystics
the presence of my companion on the rope below
and the inner imperative
to trust that persistent, small voice
befriending my discontent and dis-ease
intent upon me living fully the gift of life.
Now I’m looking to see
where to hammer my next peg
            to fasten my rope.


                                                            Noel Davis, Together at the Edge: Trust me, 2011, p 19.



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