Tag Archives: Assisi

Dancing with Speeches #28 Francis of Assisi

While we can’t be completely sure St Francis gave his speech, a cosmic rhapsody, the Canticle of the Sun is attributed to the 12th century monk from Assisi and is the inspiration for this week’s dance from the vantage point of the River Murray.

Dear Friends,

I speak to you today from the banks of an ancient river, lost to the inland and often struggling to find its voice. Home to an abundance of creatures and more likely to be silenced by others than to speak for herself. She rests gently between two banks and gets separated by man-made devices who regulate her passage across the land.

The creaks in the house boat give a little, adjusting to the changing temperature as day breaks, as the earth beneath expands opening up to welcome the rays. Next comes the warmth from Brother Sun as he finds his place in the sky, settling in to cast both light and shadow. There is no place to hide, all of creation is conspiring you to applaud and rejoice in the wonder and beauty. The smallest of creatures the ants make their way to water, collecting nano drops of hydrogen and oxygen to sustain their tiny lives. The pelicans rise in formation from the fog on the river, with their head wind breaking captain pointing them to food from her vantage point. Corners of the sky compete on how blue they can be (the west is winning).

Teeming with life and promise, the day breaks confident it will unfold and ready to receive what is offered. The day brings yes and, not yes but. Here is some fresh air would you like birdsong with that? Here is some greenery, would you like all the colours of the rainbow as well? Here is some laughter, would you like sighs and crying so you know what joy is?

All affairs of the heart leave you poetically speechless, overwhelmed by the astonishing thought that you are loved back for who you are, no strings attached, unconditional, pure. When Creation sings her song to you, wooing you and wowing you with her beauty, seduction is inevitable and surrender the only option.

Rapturous and voluptuous clouds confirm Brother Sun readily accepts the instruction to shine. And in his shining, he fills every nook and cranny, finding himself slipping through cracks no one thought possible, even at times, appearing as if coming from the bowels of the earth, refracting off complicated sets of angles and mirrors masquerading as flints and glass. He banishes fog bringing clarity by burning off the clouds who get in the way, letting them fade and dissolve. Letting the sun do his work is a lesson for us at any time – light is the most powerful of all instruments when it comes to revealing truths.

Be seduced my friends and yes, surrender. Surrender to the light and to majesty. Bow down to the ants and look up to the pelicans, prostrate yourself to the sky – they are your teachers and you are their apprentice. Let the Master of the Universe with his first brother, Sun, shine in your life, into the dark and dank places to reveal the truth of who you are: full, completed and a loved piece of Creation.


PS: Long before Brother Sun was named by Francis, a mighty warrior hunted the Murray cod and made the river.

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Source accessed 9 July 2016

Out on a limb

Dear Sor Juana,

I am in the northern hemisphere for the beginning of Lent. The season makes more sense on this hemisphere. Early hints of spring: swallows find their way to medieval rooftops and the snow starts to shrink in the distance.

Spring goes out on a limb, stretching into new spaces, not always quite ready to be occupied.

Working to the edge of our discomfort is where growth happens.

Out on a limb

Out on a limb.

Sor Juana, you were in my thoughts while I looked over Assisi, I wondered how you started your Lents? Perhaps you took yourself to the edge of your comfort zone, to find out just how far you needed to go? Francesco and his Friars, ceaselessly tramping around their world joyously proclaiming, working and praying would have had more than the echoes of their voices bouncing off the stones! Building fame through faith and fortitude, was not what his father had in mind for his son – taken to the edge for sure like so many parents past and present! Standing in front of the baptismal font at the family church of San Rufino I took pity on all parents who in good faith welcome a child and then the child belongs the world, and we get taken to our growth edges. As a mother this happens first in our bodies, our hormones, our blood and bones. Then the time comes and we burst with new life. (Perhaps pregnancy is a bit like Lent too. I am in the early stages of my grand mothering apprenticeship and find I am remembering pregnancies and the journey to parenthood most days.)

Going out on a limb is part of any journey. You take a turn in the road, come across an obstacle that needs to be traversed, limbs appear at many junctions and you can go around them, ignore them or go out on them. The uncomfortable places lead you to rely on the generosity of others, wait patiently for the moment to pass, or perhaps be silent to listen and feel explicitly what lesson the limb is inviting you to experience. Staying with the limb and not retreating to a comfortable place is what Lent is about for me, it is where you see the buds appearing, first signs of fruit and nectar being gathered up to make honey.

Biting into harvested fruits and honey is another season and another kind of courage.

Random thoughts on Conducting

I am travelling and among the many opportunities that are coming my way, I have been reflecting on the ability to conduct. Conducting means to organise or carry out, to lead or guide; a transfer of energy. I conduct often for our playback company and it is a mix of a MC and director role, it is a very specialised facilitation practice and I do think of conducting as a practice, just like meditation is a practice. I see conducting all around me. In the mother who orchestrates outcomes to meet her needs; not quite facilitating, more manipulating; the father whose conducting is akin to being master and commander rather than a channel or a vessel. Other elegant examples though appear in the travellers’ aide who enables information to flow to empower and reassure what is going to happen next; in the candle that waits silently for me to light it at the tomb of the saint; in the book gifted by a friend that remains pristine until ready to receive my thoughts.

What situations lend themselves to being conducive? Surely the sunset on the Po delta and sister moon in her fullest glory on the Grand Canale; the blue summer morning sky hosting the swallows circling over the shingled roof tops of the Tuscan valley; the warmth of the fresh wheel of Parmesan cheese about to lie in rest for the next thirty-six months; the taste of fresh produce from the octogenarian’s garden while the nonagenerian shares his memories. My task is to allow myself to receive the transfer of energy and to recognise the conducting of the other – be it human, natural or divine.

Each time I plug-in a device to get recharged, I am reminded just how much I rely on conducting! And the metaphor is not lost on me!

While I travel, I am not disconnected to what is happening at home and I won’t use this blog to reflect on the conduct and conducting of various ALP members in Canberra – that is for another day. All of Australia seemed to be witness to a Shakespearean drama unfolding before its eyes more riveting than any reality TV. The lack of a facilitator or conductor on the set a definite gap.

I do wonder what cabinet, caucus or even the House would be like with a facilitator/ conductor? A chance of harmony breaking out?

I love this little video explaining facilitation.

While I watched the cheese makers today in Parma, I thought about how they were guiding, transferring their energy, conducting the milk, turning it into cheese with their skills, a few simple tools and a blend of knowledge, timing and genuine love of all the ingredients – from the special grass for each of the cows through to the wooden slats holding the 12 metres of cheese row after row quietly sitting in the dark waiting patiently to be ready for release into the market place.

Playback training in Toronto

Playback training in Toronto