Monday, 22 April 2019

Tragedy

Hi everyone,

Easter has finished hard.  There's the terrible bombing in Sri Lanka, for one thing, but also a tragedy closer to home: yesterday two SES members from the Port Campbell unit, who were also volunteers with Surf Life Saving Victoria, drowned while conducting a rescue at sea.  A third member of both organisations was badly hurt.



This terrible accident will hit SLSV and Port Campbell SES hard.  The SES volunteers I know seem to be feeling grieved by it - even ones like me with no connection to the Unit.

I could dress it all up in flowery words, but I don't think they'd add anything.  People have lost husbands and partners, brothers and fathers, co-workers and mates.  It's a terrible thing and that's all you can say.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Running and Recovery

It's Sunday evening and I'm just now realising why my head hurts: I haven't had a coffee all day.  It's also 8:15pm and I don't much feel like a coffee because I also want to sleep.  I'll just press on as I am then.

It's been a busy weekend in most respects.  Saturday saw me drive up to Croydon to race in the 5km track event in the Victoria Police and Emergency Services Games.  Weather was not on my side, alas.  I got there just in time for the afternoon events to be cancelled on account of lightning.  Rotten luck!


I drove back to my digs with a stop on the way for groceries.  After some attending to some SES paperwork I headed down to Our Lady's for vigil Mass.  The gospel reading today was the parable of the prodigal son.  I think the thing to remember about that passage is that it says very little about what it is to be a son, but a great deal on what it is to be a father: the father saw his son at a distance, and was looking for him to come back.

Stained Glass of Pope St Pius V at Our Lady Help of Christians Church, East Brunswick, Victoria, Australia
I was utterly worn out by evening and crashed into bed at 9pm.

Today started early, getting up about 6:20am to drive to Ballarat for the Emergency Services Games half-marathon.  Conditions weren't promising, with steady drizzle and wind.  However, the course itself - the Steve Moneghetti track around Lake Wendouree - is all that you could ask for: mostly flat with some undulations.  I was getting a cramping pain in my right calf after 5kms but decided to just tough it out the rest of the way.  I didn't medal, but my time was a comfortable 16 minutes faster than I'd expected.  I was pretty happy about that.



I was back in Melbourne for a quick Facetime with the girls, who had had a fun evening playing on four-wheelers with their friends.  Lord but they were tired.  I got through the rest of my SES backlog and decided I could do with a nice recuperative walk to the Great Northern Hotel, where I could enjoy a nice recuperative pint or two and maybe some chips.  The GNH is rapidly becoming my favourite pub: not excessively noisy, wide selection of IPAs, a big beer garden and dogs are welcome.  Really, what's not to like?  I took a recent copy of Spectator and enjoyed a couple of beers and unwound a bit.


Which brings me to now.  I've had dinner and prepared this post.  I know I should write a casenote but I really want a good night's sleep, so I think I'll have a cleanup and turn in instead.  Overall it's been a satisfying weekend.

What have you been doing with your weekend?






Sunday, 17 March 2019

The laboured weekend

It's been a shorter weekend than it felt like.

Friday ended with the news of the massacre in New Zealand, with pointlessly unhelpful comments from Senator Anning, and with utterly predictable responses from the usual suspects of politics, media and entertainment.  May I predict the next few weeks?  The usual platitudes about thoughts and prayers (the last is annoying, coming from people who are unlikely ever to pray); some sort of reforms to New Zealand's gun laws; a few hackneyed editorials about toxic masculinity, and then finally back to normal in three weeks at the most.  The reaction is as clockwork as it was after the Port Arthur massacre, the killings in Aurora, Colorado and the Gillette razor commercial.  Yes, I do think all three can be grouped together, as can many other incidents great and small.  The world - or at any rate the West - has only one reaction available these days, and that is hysteria at the greatest volume possible.



As a result, when Saturday dawned I couldn't even be bothered getting out of bed and lay there until a little after 1000, which is unusual for me.  But, in the end I got my arse in gear and got up and went up the street for a 7/11 coffee.  My hair was such a straggly lank mess I covered it up with a cap and I made a mental note to get a haircut.  When I got back I set to work preparing a SMEACS briefing for the SES presence at the Festival today, of which more later.  My fairly ancient (10 year old!) laptop was struggling and had reached a point where I could type in a sentence, then go and get a glass of water, and then come back and see if the sentence I'd typed had appeared.  I struggled on for a while and then decided I was at the end of my tether and went down to JB Hi Fi and bought a new, modestly priced Lenovo.  I'm typing on it now and getting to like it more and more.  Oh yeah... and I got a haircut while I was about it.


It was a beautiful day and I was tempted to go to the beach but couldn't fit it into the plan for the day.  I settled on a run instead.  Fifteen kilometres along the Capital City Trail, which I really didn't manage at all quickly and just had to slog through it.  Post run, I went to Mass at Our Lady's and then to do laundry (in the process of which, I stepped up the road for a beer).  I ended the day drinking with a few of the housemates on the patio.

Today was an early start to oversee the SES attendance at a Festival run by Banyule Council.  There's not much I really need to say about that.  The kiddies love the little Rescue truck and they especially loved Paddy Platypus.  It was a hot day and so there was a bit of willpower required to keep going and showing our best faces.



Festival completed I came back to my digs for to put on some civvies and go to the pub for a much-needed pint of IPA.  I must have been a bit dehydrated still as it hit me fairly hard and I opted to buy a couple of stubbies to go rather than try to drive home partly wasted.

And now? I'll finish this post and go for a shower and finish the copy of Spectator I bought the other week.  I still have the deep sense of lassitude I started the weekend with.  I suppose it's still the business in New Zealand and the dreary predictability of the aftermath that's getting me down.  I might take a mental health evening at the beach tomorrow after work.  I've never found a better preventative for one's troubles than drowning them in sweat or seawater.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Back in the Heart of It

I had a stunning moment at Church this afternoon.  I really want to share it now.

I didn't do an Ash Wednesday post.  By way of recap, I attended church and received ashes at St Francis' on Lonsdale Street.  This year I've decided to use Lent to sharpen up a number of areas of my life, including as regards the vocation that I find myself answering.  As well as that, I've settled on attending Mass twice weekly and Confession once weekly.

I haven't mentioned this before, I think, but for many months I've self-excluded from Communion.  That is, I didn't feel I could seek absolution because of the way I was living my life.  You can't be absolved, after all, if you have no firm will to cease sinning.  And no absolution = no communion.  Fair enough.

Well, on Friday I attended Confession and received my penance, which I've performed.  And this evening I found myself at Mass at St John the Baptist in Clifton Hill.

St John the Baptist church, Clifton Hill, Melbourne, Australia
Not having committed any serious sins since Friday, I was able to receive the precious Body and Blood.  As I did so, I had an overwhelming sense of rightness.  I felt like I was finally back in the heart of a family that had missed me and that had desperately wanted me back.  It took in my own family and Grace and Rachel and The Ex and was bigger than all of them and included them all.  Proof of the Real Presence?  Good enough for me.

Why on earth did I stay away so long?