Tag Archives: Willunga

Winter comes early to Willunga

Dear Sor Juana,

There are signs that autumn is settling in and while she has not quite fully made her home, the leaves on the vines are starting to turn, the mornings are cool and the last of the summer fruits are finding their way to the table. Apparently the word autumn comes from Latin via the Etruscans making the journey to autumnus via augere meaning “to increase”. What are we increasing in these days? After the harvest, we find we have more darkness, more coldness, more nakedness in the European landscape.

The Kaurna people call this time Parnatti – before winter rains, while there is still the potential of bushfire and the south easterly winds are licking the coast line. The mixture of our natural and exotic species can be confusing but somehow it resolves in the sunsets.

Aldinga Sunet

Aldinga Sunset

Dear Sor Juana you too would have faced the confusion of introduced and indigent in your landscape too, inside and out of the court and perhaps you too had your own sense of what the season should hold and how it would play out. The season you joined the court brought you more notoriety and harvest for your words and your thoughts before you chose silence – your winter defiance to authority making no more of your poetry and playwriting.

Before  photo: Meme Thorne

photo: Meme Thorne

Ancient redgums that have stood for generations, and long before colonisation were felled this week in Willunga – a town whose name means “place of trees” in Kaurna. It seems developers, local council officers and planning laws conspired together, indeed decreed, they be felled. The travesty leaves me in silence.  This is not a harvest of wood for fires and warmth, instead it is a desecration now fuelling anger, heartache, homelessness for the creatures who found sanctuary and food.  A new species of homeowners will come, and the money made from this fall will be cursed by the ancient custodians of the land.

Homeless Photo: Michelle Crawford

Photo: Michelle Crawford

The clash of two worlds is sawdust on the place where the evergreen faithful Eucalyptus Camaldulensis once stood.  Their crucifixion via chain saw and planning law, short sightedness and lack of imagination has brought winter to Willunga earlier this year.






You can read and see more images here

Blessings between Saturdays

In between the Saturdays of the wedding rehearsal and the wedding, I went down to the place, between the trees, where we walked to mark the path to enter the sacred space. I sat at the picnic table and ate a pie from the local bakery. I was joined by three magpies. Two were fairly young and the third was standing at a distance from the younger ones. One of the younger ones was full of courage, bounded up and literally stood a few centimetres from my hand on top of the table, the other sang sweetly at my feet, while the third one looked on. I couldn’t shoo them away, they refused to budge. So I asked them what they were doing there … And they asked me the same.

I had gone there, to be in the space, alone, to prepare for the next Saturday. On that day I won’t be there alone. I will be in the company of family and friends – all witnesses to the marriage of our youngest daughter. I wanted to see what was on the horizon, in the foreground, what the backdrop looked like and to ask the landscape to talk to me. The stringy bark gums shedding layers, the gentle sound of the brook rippling, the wind fondling the leaves of the old redgum were supported by a lively orchestra of parrots, honey eaters and … magpies.

My Dad was a maggie through and through (a Port Adelaide supporter) so I mused that the older bird watching on was his totem come to let me know he was witness too. The three magpies – a feathered trinity. It was emotional.

This place is a sacred meeting place for generations for the Kaurna people and I wonder what the elders would tell me about the magpies visiting the mother of the bride on a day between the Saturdays? Perhaps they were affirming my action to take the moment, and holding me there so I would enter into it? Perhaps they were heralding me onwards and reminding me that between Saturdays it is right to stop and soak it in? One thing I was confident of, I was being blessed and loved and honoured and the Universe had sung my Dad to me and is with us, with me.

When I think back to the “between the Saturdays” of my wedding, I remember being by the water tank at the back of my family home learning the lines of my vows so that I could confidently recite them and not repeat the words from the priest. I remember wanting to be able to know them “off by heart” because they were going to last me a lifetime. I did learn them and I do recite them to myself from time to time when I need of remind myself. I have found that at different times in my life one line has been more salient than another – for richer or for poorer ; in sickness and in health. I was always a bit confused that richer comes before poorer and sickness before health. I am definitely richer than ever and sickness is more at our door than ever but they now come together in a way that makes perfect sense to me now. My father walked me down the aisle of John XXIII as the sun set on a hot Saturday evening in February. Our daughter will walk between her Mum and Dad, along a path strewn with leaves as the afternoon sun reaches its height in a park at the back of a colonial courthouse where for thousands of years people have gathered as families to share stories and food and delight in the spring that never dries up. it was in this place she joined a croning ritual for my 50th birthday. It is a place I go to for making decisions, for respite and just to be. This place will bless those who gather and in turn we will bless the space between us as John O’Donohue has described ” in the parched deserts of post modernity a blessing can be like the discovery of a fresh well … When a blessing is invoked, it changes the atmosphere. .. It is ironic that so often we live like paupers though our inheritance of spirit is so vast” (xv To Bless the Space Between Us).

This same week, between the Saturdays, a young friend bought back from his travels Br David Steindl-Rast’s new book 99 Blessings. My young friend had met Br David in Edinburgh at TED Global. They connected and his book travelled half the world with an inscription and blessing to us. The lightness of the book seemed to be a feather in the breath of God itself, being blown to me on the wings of airlines and in the care of the next generation … I am so blessed and so grateful! What a delicious filling in between these Saturdays!

I am being drenched by love. I come to Saturday confident that a community of creatures, indeed the whole universe, is intent on bestowing blessings that bring union to time and space, the visible and invisible, past and future.

On Saturday, at the wedding, I am going to read John’s blessing for a marriage, and having sat on his land in Ireland earlier in the year, adding my voice to singing the Beatitudes as a storm began to roll in, truly I know the maggies are with me. Never before has “when two or three gather in My name” rung as true as it does for me this week, between the Saturdays.

I come to this Saturday knowing that it is in the in-between spaces that revelations unfold and blessings abound.

Courthouse Gardens, Willunga

The Most Delicious Garden

Cecllia and Sarah's Wedding

Cecllia and Sarah’s Wedding

Dear Hildegard,

What a joy to welcome you to St Joseph‘s Willunga on Sunday! You had travelled such a long way over land and sea, time and tide. Yet you arrived fresh, alert and ready to engage with us all.  To hear your voice in word and song and story brought us, brought me, closer to you again. I loved hearing about your anxiety, your annoyance with the leadership, your passion and care of your vocation and visions.  When your music sprung to life in three dimensions I think I there was a wisp of what heaven might sound like.

I took myself back to the Rhineland and to Rudesheim to those rolling hills, and the music I heard told me of that landscape.  Both the eye and the ear could see and hear the beauty of the sound of your song. I was struck by the love and relationship between yourself and the women in your life in a new way. The sisterhood seemed to complete you, and the convent, and indeed your vocation, a vessel to express that solidarity with women was intense and  tireless.

Being the celebrity you were, women were drawn to you and leaving their homes and fortunes to you must have been quite a challenge to their fathers and brothers – to say nothing of potential suitors!

De Virginibus

O beautiful faces

You who behold God and build in the dawn,

O blessed virgins, how noble you are,

The King has contemplated himself in you,

has foreshadowed all heavenly beauty in you,

and because of this, you are in yourselves the most delicious garden,

sweet-scented in all your beauty.

The garden bequeathed to us from the dawn of time does not appear to be separated from our human form in this stanza, with human flesh and nature melting into one.  These days our planet is struggling and that separation, almost an apartheid at times, is finding so many of us outside of the garden and being banished from its beauty.  I think you and Rachel Carson would have some wonderful conversations and all the women of my time like Karen Silkwood, Dorothy Stang, and closer to home the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council would be your sisters in a new way.  Those conversations would be about the most delicious garden, a feast for the senses and how we need to be there more often, and restore ourselves and our planet to that garden and women throughout the ages tending to that garden and bringing forth fruit and raising up a generation to care for it.

It has brought me to a new understanding of your favourite phrase and metaphor for yourself as being a ‘feather on the breath of God’. In hearing the haunting lilt in Emma Horwood‘s beautiful rendition of your song; I could imagine you as a feather floating in the air.  You allow the spirit, the ruah, the breath of God to send you to new horizons, gently allowing you to be in the slipstream, the gale or the sea breeze taking you to a new place. I was also touched by considering the breath of God is the place of voice – it has a capacity to hold sound and yet the feather is so light the sound of silence is once again understood as God’s language as John of the Cross said.  I have come to know this is true through my own meditation.

What a delight to have a taste of the most delicious garden you knew in your time, revealed to me in mine, through your letters, story and music carefully crafted and packaged so that I could enjoy it in the little church in my village.  Thank you to Emily Sutherland, Emma Horwood and Shona Benson for bringing you to us all.