MAGAZINE NO. 142 [ APRIL 2018 ]
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
EREMOS COLLEAGUES FAREWELL ROB BRENNAN
VALE ROB BRENNAN by Wayne Hooper
A PARENT’S LEGACY by Rob Brennan
BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MOURN? by Ian Riley
BROADENING HORIZONS: EXTENDING THE PRIVILEGE OF PILGRIMAGE by Anne Deane
PRACTISING THE VOCATION OF AGEING by Neil Millar & Sarah Bachelard
‘LIFE IS A CABARET OLD CHUM – COME TO THE CABARET’ by Scott Cowdell
CONTEMPLATING CONSUMPTION AT CHRISTMAS by Linda Chapman
ROBYN CADWALLADER’S 'THE ANCHORESS' reviewed by Jorie Ryan
A POET IN THE PARISH by Jorie Ryan
THE NEW LOOK FOR EREMOS
Welcome to 2018 and our new look magazine.
Thank you, Linda, for your Letter to the Editor, reminding us that we are an evolving community.
Many of you will be aware by now that Robert (Rob) Brennan, long-time friend of Eremos, died on the 6th January 2018.
He had been holidaying with his muchloved partner Judy and her family on the Clarence river north of Grafton, in a beautiful place called 'The Gorge'. That evening about 6 pm Rob decided to have a swim to cool off. Sadly, he did not return. The following words are taken from an email from the family to Rob’s friends:
He has finished his life in the bush, at a place which was most precious and meaningful to him – the mighty Clarence River. We believe he left this life gently and although he would not have been keen on all the hullabaloo that surrounded it – we have a sense of peace from the knowledge that the open sky and the gentle waters held him at his end.
I shall miss Rob both as friend and colleague. His meticulous micro-editing went way beyond detection of typos, lapses in grammar, spelling and punctuation.
I have fond memories of some robust discussions not only around capitalisation but ideas raised in the articles.
So, who was Rob Brennan? A biosnap at the end of an article he wrote for the February 2001 issue of EREMOS states: ‘Rob Brennan is a one-time Sydney Anglican who, despite his distance from the institution, clings to his Christian position. He has worked as an actuary, national director of a missionary society, and owner of a computer software company.
The last seven years' work has been interspersed with the welcome diversion of trips to Central Australia’. Rob has been a long-time Eremos member and regular contributor to the magazine. He has also
served on the Eremos Council, first as treasurer, then as chair. There are several tributes to him in this issue. Carolyn Craig-Emilsen and Linda Turton speak of a wise, supportive colleague and friend. Wayne Hooper speaks as a member of the ‘Gang of Five’ – Bruce Wilson, Don Meadows, Colin Alcock, Rob and Wayne – which has been meeting annually ‘to discuss life, death and everything’.
Serendipitously and poignantly, I had an unpublished article by Rob called ‘A Parent’s Legacy’. It hadn’t been published because we had agreed that he would work further on it. Now is the time to publish it.
The theme of a parent’s legacy continues in Ian Riley’s ‘Blessed Are They That Mourn’. In this case, the legacy is a handwritten note-book of verses that include his mother’s responses to her daughter’s illness and death in 1945 at the age of four.
I wondered how much that experience of losing a sister, and bearing witness to his mother’s grief when he was only seven, had influenced his decision to become a doctor. Certainly, the experience of inheriting
his mother’s verses, his own life experiences and reflection on scripture have led to some serious theological reflection.
Ian asks, ‘How are we to reconcile this experience of inconsolable maternal grief with the second of the Beatitudes, ‘Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted’? (Matthew 5:4)
There is something in us – developmental writers call this generativity – that wants to pass on something to the next generation. Anne Deane tells us how Rev Dr Mel Macarthur through the ‘Broadening Horizons’ program shares his passion for pilgrimage with a group of young people. He says, ‘In a world that is about outcomes, pilgrimage is a place where we give ourselves the opportunity to be open to what bubbles up.’ For the young people, it’s about ‘transformation: growth in confidence, problem-solving and resilience’.
As we age, opportunities for generativity decrease, but perhaps not as much as we assume. According to Neil Millar and Sarah Bachelard, ageing can also be a time of sageing, involving gifts of mentoring
and sharing of wisdom.
They suggest practices – lament and what we could call a contemplative ‘undergoing’ – that help us to age well, to successfully complete the two movements of gathering our lives and letting them go. They conclude: ‘To struggle with anger, resentment, fear and despair to the point where resistance is finally spent and the broken heart opens more deeply and compassionately, is crucial in the journey of completion and relinquishment’.
‘All the world’s a stage’, says Shakespeare, and ‘Life is a Cabaret’, says Scott Cowdell (shades of Lisa Minelli in Cabaret). Scott suggests that fear of judgment can prevent us from hearing the divine invitation to come out of hiding and engage with life. He draws on René Girard and James Alison to expose the false sacred with its need for a punishing God.
Linda Chapman’s ‘Contemplating Consumption at Christmas’ explores our complex relationship with ‘things’. She leaves us with the challenge of shifting from a consumer to a contemplative
Finally, Jorie Ryan introduces us to two good ‘reads’: Robyn Cadwallader’s The Anchoress and her own book, A Poet in the Parish.
Hopefully, you will have received a letter by email or post advising you of the changes to our magazine, including the reduction from four to three issues. There is further information about this in News from the Council (p.46) and our production editors’ ‘The New Look for Eremos’ (p.45). We trust that these changes, along with your continued support, will ensure that we can continue to offer that respectful, inclusive, authentic and countercultural space where honest seekers can deepen and nurture their spiritual lives, not only for their own sakes, but for the sake of a world in need of healing.
Love and Peace