Port Augusta: Staying with Sisters of Mercy

I am at Port Augusta right now. As I drove in I saw the magnificent Flinders Ranges. They reminded me of the Remarkable (range) in New Zealand. I love the contrasts of this country. I am coming in from the desert to find mountain ranges and a river system.

I picked up a few supplies from the supermarket and this old guy recommended I go to the dry desert garden. So I grabbed some food and off I went to take in nature. I learned about the magnifient mangroves which grow in salt water and provide enormous food for other creatures.

I then went into town and my friend Elizabeth called me. It is interesting Elizabeth is a Catholic nun, yet when we first met she was exploring spirituality. That would be around 2003 that we met.

Anyway, she kindly allowed me to stay at the Sisters of Mercy house overlooking water and mountains. Apparently the Baxter Detention Centre is across the water but it is much smaller but it is a maximum security jail with as many guards to refugees. I find it amazing they are housed in jails, but that is the way of it right now, until it changes. She said there was need for people to go into the men’s jail. Apparently the jail has 300 men there. Same size as the jail in Adelaide. There are some religious groups that go there and as females they realise it is probably not possible for them to go in. I feel for the blokes, very frustrating being in jail. Yet I can hear the voices that say you must punish their crimes. I don’t know about that, I feel illuminate, educate, restorative justice (meet the victims, apologise), is more effective. How do you learn from mistakes by locking someone up, isn’t it wiser to go through what went wrong, why it went wrong and the impact it made on others. That is how you develop empathy. I don’t think an eye for an eye works. As Gandhi says it makes the whole world blind.

Elizabeth and I have circus in common and she is missing it. She is an acrobat and does amazing hand stands. She told me she loves teaching kids pyramids. AT the moment she is working in a primary school, she is enjoying the kids, but I feel it is not really her thing. She said she wants to be a Chaplain. She would be good at that. What you notice immediately about Elizabeth is her purity as a person. She is very kind and the other sister Ann said she is ‘can do’. I really like that. Of course the Catholics are known for social justice. So they take an active interest in refugees.

Ann is an older nun and is involved with aboriginal women and is having a gathering today where they all get together. She is also a midwife and she said the way children come into life matters. She also believes in creating supportive, loving environments for new babies. Sinmilar to Emily who I met in Alice Springs who has a wish to work with pregnant women and bring babies into the world humanely. I love that.

The other lady was from Vietnam Nyguen. She had a quick smile and a warm heart. She had concerns about the Mekong Delta. She was born in the South but her parents are from the North. She is also working with children at the primary school.

They made me a lovely dinner and we talked about our journeys. I shared about my world trip and this trip and what I am learning. They told me about their work in the community. I think working with people in a humanitarian way would be great. My heart is there also. Yet my life is seemingly to travel this way and see what happens. I do love my freedom and I love not knowing. Funny huh, that is half the fun is the mystery of life for me.

Port Augusta is a town of 14,000 people so it is not very big. They are part of a catholic dioscese that represents the north of South Australia. It is a small group and they get on well.

Ann confessed to me she does too much and there is some resentment. I suggested to honour herself and say ‘i love you but no’. That saying no is not a bad thing you are just expressing your truth. the challenging part about being a nun is that everyone expects you to say yes. If I was here I would say ‘I will pray about it and get back to you’, if no is hard. The core issue is what is selfless service. From my perspective you can’t give anything until you have worked out your own issues, otherwise you project them onto others. I feel get clarity first then serve. I am kind of doing both but hopefully not causing any harm as I go. To love yourself in this sense is not vanity, it is to love who you are because you are happy. When you are happy your first reaction is to give to others, so it becomes a joy to give not a duty. I gave Ann a very special pendant I have. It is handmade and I gave it to her to remind her of focussing on the voice within. If you are tired, rest, if you feel to go here then go, just trust that. We cannot possibly fullfill other people, that is there job. I feel empowerment is the way. Perhaps by example people learn rather than being told how to be and what is holy. My sense is to just speak your truth and let others find theirs. I do believe everyone has wisdom when they access it. People are going through experiences and we learn from hardship. It was my greatest teacher. Kindness can be present and love is a wonderful gift to give someone, without expectation of change.

So we had some wonderful discussions Ann and I, I really enjoyed meeting her and saw such a light in her eyes. Liz is also amazing and committed to her faith. We all sat around at 7.30am (eek what a time) and had a prayer session. I like to join in and be present. They read scripture, they played music and sang and then they announced who they are praying for. I noticed there was talk about sin, I don’t resonate with that, I felt that inwardly. I did a prayer where my wish is for people to see fear or what some call sin, as love at its core. That we can look through the fear and see the origin of love and expand that. I also ask that I can allow life to be what it is without force, to be love is the essence of my prayer. I noticed a pause and knew I did challenge them particularly around sin, but they generously said something like ‘mercy of the lord’. I enjoyed my time with them and I love that we all do our best. I love that we are all different and it is good to come together and explore the flavours.

I see that we live in duality (love, fear), people are either in a positive or negative state of mind. We have choices around that. Always we learn from our projections in life. When we return to sanity or love and own our thoughts, then peace is naturally there. It is a natural birthright, we just have to practice remembering the world is actually love and kindness. That means questioning negativity, I feel. The drama will disappear. There is a great saying ‘what we resist persists, what we look at disappears’. that is we see through it. The work I am doing is non resistance, desiring, intending, allowing, surrender. The latter is let go of control.

My blogs will always be peppered with this philosophy as this is what I feel moved to communicate. I am not into tolerance, I am into acceptance of difference, to learn from conflict, to learn from peace. Ultimately we know when we are there (as they say), we feel happiness. We are in harmony with ourselves, this is the key to peace in the world.

Anyway, I’ve blogged non stop for 2.5 hours and my shoulders are getting sore. Such is passion. I feel I have to communicate these words and I will continue to until I no longer feel to.

I am off to Adelaide now, have no idea where I am staying, will play it by ear.

I wish you much happiness today, all is good.

Love and peace

Mohandas Gandhi

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”