Monday, 14 October 2019

A Sunday retreat

I wrote this post a week ago.  I put it on hold because I wanted to word myself a little carefully: in these troubled days one should do no less.

Last Sunday I went to a retreat being held by the Catholic Lawyers’ Association.  I'd been looking forward to it.  I’d even turned in at a respectable hour the night before. Unfortunately, it was the night Daylight Saving kicked in, and inevitably I slept late by an hour.  As a result I arrived at Corpus Christi College just as Mass was starting.

Chapel, Corpus Christi College, Melbourne, Australia

The chapel used by the seminarians is simple but beautiful.  There were 14 of us present.  Mass was said by Fr Forbes and followed by morning tea.  This gave us a chance to get to know each other, since not everyone comes to the monthly Mass and breakfast.  It’s tempting to namedrop, but I won’t because it might tend to draw the enmity of certain people:

Suffice it to say I had a couple of “you're one of us?!?” moments.

Morning tea was followed by some lectio divina in the college library (I opted for a sermon by Guerric of Igny).  After this, fully ten of us said the Rosary at the Marian grotto, which felt remarkably empowering.  Communal prayer seems to allow people to be vulnerable.

The most enlightening bit of the day was an hour of adoration of the blessed sacrament.  People sat or knelt as they (and their knees) preferred.  I’ve often heard of how people get so much peace and joy from adoration, but I hadn’t really understood it till now.  Faced with Him and His blessed mother I felt like I’d never want to be anywhere else, for any reason.  If I got nothing else from the retreat, that would have been enough.
So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life [John 6:67-68]
The last formal part of the day was a further address from Fr Forbes on the forms of prayer.
Lunch was provided and it gave us a chance to talk a bit further.  Again: no names, no pack-drill.  Many of those present sensed that being openly Catholic was likely to be career-limiting.  There was a broad feeling that it will get harder and harder to reconcile faith and career.  For my own part (this is of course a personal view only), I think we may run into trouble well before that point.  That is, I think many lawyers from a range of faiths may find that their will to uphold and serve the law will corrode in the face of enmity.  This sort of thing has had me questioning my commitment to the SES.  That is, I've been painfully aware of the venom associated with the laws on the Confessional.  I've also listened with pain to rhetoric from Premier Andrews echoing the old trope of Catholics as primarily the agents of the Vatican, and not of their own country -
"I've made it very clear that the law of our state is written by the Parliament of Victoria, it's not made in Rome and there are very significant penalties for anybody and everybody who breaks the Victorian law," the Premier said.
In the SES context, this has been making it less easy for me to make myself pull on my uniform and serve my State and my community when there are calls for help.  Principally, now, what keeps me going is loyalty to my crewmates and a belief that, with this service, I can honour the image of God written on other people.  It's not always easy though.

Not unlike Star Trek's Arturis, I do think that with a measure of prudence frank conflicts of duty can be avoided ("The Borg Collective is like a force of nature. You don't feel anger toward a storm on the horizon. You just avoid it").  But that isn't wholly the point.  I have an abiding concern that, eventually, more than a few may look at the polity we serve and say: I didn't want to have to choose.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Wine and weariness

It's been a rejuvenating sort of day.

I was asleep by 2300 last night and didn't bestir myself till 0910 today.  I felt a bit better for the sleep, if not as much as I'd have hoped.  Facetime with Grace and Rachel wasn't a goer (they were watching LSU play Florida, which I thought was a very good reason!).

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I repurposed the time to go down to the shopping centre at Barkly Square to get a haircut and buy some new shirts for work.  They'll go with the new suit I bought last week.  I'm a little shocked to find how out of style my work-clothes were!  Well, no matter.

Haircut hair...
I went back to my digs and had a quick meditation session with the Calm app.  I'd been promising myself a decent run and headed off down the Capital City Trail for a round trip of 14 kms.  The weather was warm but enough cloud to keep the sun off so conditions were perfect.  I seem to be more and more antisocial these days, which makes me love running more: you can do it alone.  I don't know... People are just... I don't know.

Anyway, after going for a run I set out for a warm-and-sunny afternoon drink at the Brandon Hotel.  The Brandon feels more and more like a home-away-from-home (even if it is only a couple of kilometres).  It's quiet and you can peacefully sit and read and have a few pints and maybe polenta chips.

Brandon Hotel, Fitzroy, Melbourne
It was only a bit after 1700 when I left and so I stopped off at the Great Northern Hotel for a glass of wine and a chance to read my book in the afternoon light before I walked the rest of the way home.  And after this, here I am at my digs again, having a few glasses of wine and wondering when my housemates will finish in the kitchen so I can go out and make dinner.  I know I could just go out but I kind of don't feel like talking.

Great Northern Hotel, Brunswick, Melbourne
I know I'm kind of a downer right now.  I don't know what it is: the world just seems utterly messed up these days, and I wonder what the point is keeping functioning.  But what choice is there?  A man must keep going.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Cribbing while tired

Do I look tired?  I feel tired.

It was an early start for a Saturday.  I was up about 0745 and as soon as I’d dressed, I was on the road for SES for the final assessment for the group of candidates we’ve been training through General Rescue. Today’s session put them through cribbing and lifting, and I found I was down to lead two of the three crews.  Cribbing and lifting isn’t my strong suit so I was a little uncertain how it’d go.

I needn’t have worried.  The crews had learned their craft well and performed excellently.  I certainly couldn’t have been happier with their work and they all passed.

The balance of the day was quiet for me: laundry, groceries, ironing and Mass.  And now a beer at the Charles Weston Hotel.

I do feel kind of flat now. Training this group has been a large whack of my life for the last 9 months or so. It’s a bit of a shock for it to be over.  I imagine I’ll put my hand up to train next year's new recruits as well.

The plan is an early night tonight, to try and shake off this fatigue.  I'll give dinner a miss as I had a huge lunch.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel like myself again.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

A beach, a bar and a barre

Hi everyone,

I just now prepared quite a lengthy piece about the retreat I went on today with the Catholic Lawyers' Association.  It's a good one, but after I posted it I began to have misgivings that it might get me and other people into hot water.  I've reverted it to draft and will sleep on it before I share it.

In other news, I've found a good route to run home on after work.  It's about 10kms along the Capital City Trail.  It needs some careful planning in terms of what I carry and what I leave at the office for the next day (must. not. forget. housekeys.) but it makes for a really good end of the day.

Yesterday I went a bit longer and cranked out 15 kilometres along a different stretch of the same trail.  It feels good to be running regularly again.  The weather's on the turn here, which helps: it's not bitterly cold during the day or even at night and so running isn't a penance.  Today was in the mid-20s and so after the retreat I mentioned before I headed down to St Kilda for some beach time.  It was warmer than the clouds make it look.  Nobody was staying long in the water however and so I gave swimming a miss.  I contented myself with lying on the sand and reading The Benedict Option.

By 5pm a cool change was clearing arriving and I called it a day.  The Empress Hotel had been advertising a new imported IPA they've obtained and so I stopped on the way home to try some (very good!).

I had no especial plans for the evening save for blogging and writing a quick letter to the girls and so I followed it up with a white wine and some fried eggplant which was much more filling than I expected it to be.

I came back to my digs and set to writing.  I still wanted a bit more in the fitness line and so I did a barre workout on Youtube.  I think I've mentioned before that barre is a perfect match for running and I used to do it somewhat regularly.  I found I was dreadfully stiff now however!

One thing came unbidden into my mind that made me mad, however.  I remembered a certain A-hole boss I once had boasting about how, when his wife was doing a home pilates workout, he'd make a point of slapping her about the head with his penis.  No, I didn't call him out.  I needed the job too badly.  I don't know what's sadder.  Discovering you have a price or that the price is remarkably low.

Not much more to add for the day.  It's been another good and satisfying weekend; all that remains for me is to make tomorrow's dinner, pack my bag and do the going to bed things.

How's your weekend been?