Tag Archives: spirituality

M- Meander River, Tasmania.

Welcome to the Meander River for Day 12 of our Alphabetical Tour of Tasmania during the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

The Meander River is true to name as it flows from its source high up in Great Western Tiers Mountain Range via towns like Meander and Deloraine, until it flows into the South Esk River at Hadspen. From source to mouth, the Meander is joined by fourteen tributaries including the Liffey River and descends 930 metres (3,050 ft) over its 112-kilometre (70 mi) course.[1]

Meander at weir

The Meander River, Deloraine.

“Many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea.”

Mikhail Lermontov

As you may recall, we’ve spent the past few days hiding out in Launceston with friends. So, today we only have a short drive from Launceston to Deloraine where we’ll meet up with the Meander River. After all our driving, you’ll be pleased to hear this will be a quick 41 minute trip covering 52.3km (not that I’m being precise and hanging on each and every second. I promise that you won’t need to bring a stopwatch.)

As an alternative to driving, I did consult with my in-house, Tasmanian white-water kayaking expert about the possibilities of kayaking from Launceston to Deloraine. After all, we’ve been driving everywhere and it would be good to get out there on the water, especially when we were there in January (far too cold now heading into Winter!) While he didn’t discount kayaking completely, we agreed you’ll be reported to Missing Persons long before you reach Deloraine, and even the most intrepid adventurers will be offering their rescuers profuse thanks. “You’d be exhausted!!” Not only is there the not insignificant matter of the River’s never-ending twists and turns, there are also white water rapids to overcome.

Train

Train Parked.

So, I guess that means we’ve all agreed to drive and we’ll meet up at the Train Park in West Parade, Deloraine.

Rivers intrigue me. Much of the time, they seem so benign and it’s only in times of drought or flood, that we generally stare beyond their obvious facades probing for answers to life’s imponderable questions. Rivers can run deep, and yet they’re so reflective in a purely superficial sense. I love taking photos of reflections dancing over the river’s facade, especially when there’s just the slightest ripple through the image just to remind you, that it is indeed a reflection and not the thing itself.

Indeed, reading through numerous newspaper headlines through the last 150 years or more, I’ve sandwiched together Meander’s ever-changing tides…

DELORAINE. The Meander River has overflowed its banks, causing a very heavy flood…MEANDER RIVER FROZEN OVER.DELORAINE. Wednesday. The Meander River at Deloraine was frozen over this morning from bank to bank. The frost was the severest ever known in the district…After it is taken in to the Deloraine water scheme, it is treated with chlorine to kill bacteria … to make it safe to drink. (Continued on P2) MEANDER RIVER POLLUTED Continued from Page 1. HIGH E COLI…The recent rises in the Meander River have greatly assisted anglers, and large catches have been reported. All Ash were In good condition, A number of platypuses have been seen near the Deloraine…DELORAINE FISHING STARTS – The river fishing season started yesterday, and the banks of the Meander River were lined with fishing enthusiasts, all endeavouring to catch the first fish of the season…LOBSTER IN TROUT. – Mr. L.D. Cameron, of Deloraine, caught a large brown trout weighing 2¾lbs. in the Meander river below the weir on Tuesday. Its stomach contained a 3-inch freshwater lobster. Lobsters have not been seen in the river at Deloraine for a number of years…

I guess this just confirms what Heraclitus said:

“You cannot step into the same river twice.”

Meanwhile, as we peer deep into the Meander our hopes are not dashed. Our son finally manages to spot a platypus with its bill sticking out of the water. Being a mammal, the Platypus must return to the surface to breathe but it still needs to get spotted and they’re notoriously shy.

Me being me, there is only one thing more important than seeing a platypus in the wild for the very first time in my life. That’s right. That’s taking THE photo.

Black Swan

This black swan made for a much better photograph than the elusive platypus.

 

Of course, we all know that if I was wanting to photograph a platypus, I’d be much better off going to the zoo. However, as you would appreciate, a photo taken out in the wild out trumps a zoo photo any day, even if you can’t see the subject.

Mind you, it seems that Geoff has seen quite a few platipus in the wild. Geoff’s aunt who used to live at North Scottsdale, used to have a resident No-Name platypus living in their creek. Geoff’s even seen this platypus walking across their gravel driveway around dusk heading off hunting downstream.

So, when I catch up with Mum and Dad for Easter lunch, I’ll definitely be adding: “No Platypus Encounters” to my list of childhood grievances. I’m still not sure whether not going camping as a family, counts as a minus or a plus.

kids with Ro

The kids and I crossing the Meander River at Deloraine.

What do you think? Are you a camper, glamper or up there in your ivory hotel? And…does the presence or deadly snakes and spiders in Tasmania influence your decision at all?

I look forward to hearing from you!

xx Rowena

 

Gyuto Monks of Tibet in Australia.

Yesterday, I shared my serendipitous encounter where I met a group of Gyuto Monks from Tibet at my local beach in sunny Australia, not far from Sydney.

Today, I wanted to share a few more photos and delve further into what the monks are about and why they’re in Australia.

monks on beach.JPG

Photo: Rowena Curtin

After all, if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably need to have the details pointed out to i.e these monks wear the the same robes as the esteemed Dalai Lama and “are masters of Tibetan Buddhist tantric ritual and their lives are dedicated to practicing tantric ideals. To be with them, to observe and be touched by their humanity, is to see kindness in action.”

That said, I have read and posted about The Pursuit of Happiness  by the Dalai Lama and Howard Carter in addition to yesterday’s post: Accidents, Blessings & Tibetan Monks at an Australian Beach.

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Much of this is beyond my understanding and experience but I strive to place love, compassion and empathy at the centre of my life…values which are lived and breathed by the Holy men.

surfer zoom

At one with the wave. Photo Rowena Newton at Wamberal, NSW.

I don’t know if I’ve ever thought of surfing as a spiritual activity before but it has to be. Obviously, surfing is intimately connected with the ocean, the waves and nature and being close to the ocean always makes me feeling closer to God, feeling his wonder, majesty and spirit all around me. It blows me away. After all, God occupies our entire universe and isn’t shut inside a building.

In an interview with Australian Surf Champion Nick Carroll,  broadcaster Caroline Jones asked: “Is there something about the moment when you’re absolutely concentrated there on what’s happening, that is, a feeling that as well as being frightening, a moment of great peace, or joy or something very extraordinary?

He replied: “Yes, surely.If you want to put it into a religious framework, Eastern religions deal with moments like that better than what we consider are usual forms of religion because they do deal with cathartic moments. The Zen Buddhists deal with them very well. You get moments where your whole body, soul and mind are just concentrated on doing something in the surf. When it’s very big and you catch a wave and take off there’s usually, on a big wave in Hawaii, several seconds during that wave where you really throw yourself over the brink, you really have to forget about everything, totally, to make it. You have to forget about trying to do something, you have to just get up, trust your instinct and just fall into the wave. It’s during seconds like that that you seem to just  totally disappear, you as a being don’t exist at that moment. It’ hard to express, you throw yourself into the moment that you’re actually inside everything that’s happening, you’re inside the wave, you’re inside your surfboard and what it’s doing. You’re inside all the landscape around you and the ocean as it’s surging, you get totally inside the moment and it’s so intense that time disappears, everything disappears. You disappear, you’re not thinking of you Nick Carroll or whoever. It’s way beyond that.

If you’re going to make a very big wave you have to be totally unified with everything that’s happeneing. You have to know absolutely everything the board’s doing, what’s happening with the wave, where the water is on the wave, how fast the water’s moving up the face of the wave, what’s happening with the wind, where there might be a couple of people in the way, and I don’t think you can know about that if you choose to take the form of thinking that we do in our everyday lives, where I’m very aware of me, Nick Carroll. Your brain just can’t handle it, it has to throw stuff away to fit it all in. And so a lot of what it throws away is the useless stuff, the ego, the “I’m Nick Carroll, I’ve got fears, worries, doubts etc”___all very useless stuff. To take all that information in about what’s happening, to get right inside it, you have to ignore a lot and discard it.2.”

I experience this myself through my writing, photography and also through playing the violin. I know that sense of merging and oneness and it’s incredible.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed riding the wave with the Tibetan Monks of Gyuta, even if it was only from the shore. Unfortunately, we left before they hit the waves…not in their robes but in the safety of board shorts and life vest.

To view TV coverage of the event and of the monks surfing: http://www.nbnnews.com.au/2016/10/05/surfing-monks-create-waves-in-umina/

Have you have any experiences with the Dalai Lama of the Tibetan Monks of Gyuta? I would love to hear your experiences and how you felt.

xx Rowena

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Hopefully some of his calm brushed off on me.

Sources

  1. About the Gyuto Monks of Tibet in Australia

2. Caroline Jones, The Search for Meaning, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1989 p. 56.

X- Native Indian Poem #atozchallenge

X is dedicated to the anonymous, unknown poet whose words have somehow gained a life all of their own, flying so far beyond the nest that they’ve never found their way home.

Even though I’m middle-aged, I still remember giggling at reading “anonymouse” at the end of poems when we were kids. It doesn’t seem so funny now!

Virginia Woolf has suggested in A Room of One’s Own, that much of these anonymous poems could well have been written by women, whose writing was suppressed through social stigma.

I don’t know.

However, I decided to share a Native American poem, which continues on the theme of life being a journey and the importance of coming together as a community.

~TO WALK THE RED ROAD~

Long road winding began in the stars,
spilled onto the mountain tops,
was carried in the snow to the streams,
to the rivers, to the ocean…
It covers Canada, Alaska, America,
Mexico to Guatemala,
and keeps winding around the indigenous.

The Red Road is a circle of people
standing hand in hand,
people in this world, people between
people in the Spirit world.
star people, animal people, stone people,
river people, tree people…
The Sacred Hoop.

To walk the Red Road
is to know sacrifice, suffering.
It is to understand humility.
It is the ability to stand naked before God
in all things for your wrong doings,
for your lack of strength,
for your uncompassionate way,
for your arrogance – because to walk
the Red Road, you always know
you can do better. And you know,
when you do good things,
it is through the Creator, and you are grateful.

To walk the Red Road
is to know you stand on equal ground
with all living things. It is to know that
because you were born human,
it gives you superiority over nothing.
It is to know that every creation carries a Spirit,
and the river knows more than you do,
the mountains know more than you do,
the stone people know more than you do,
the trees know more than you do,
the wind is wiser than you are,
and animal people carry wisdom.
You can learn from every one of them,
because they have something you don’t:
They are void of evil thoughts.
They wish vengeance on no one, they seek Justice.

To Walk the Red Road,
you have God given rights,
you have the right to pray,
you have the right to dance,
you have the right to think,
you have the right to protect,
you have the right to know Mother,
you have the right to dream,
you have the right to vision,
you have the right to teach,
you have the right to learn,
you have a right to grieve,
you have a right to happiness,
you have the right to fix the wrongs,
you have the right to truth,
you have a right to the Spirit World.

To Walk the Red Road
is to know your Ancestors,
to call to them for assistance…
It is to know that there is good medicine,
and there is bad medicine…
It is to know that Evil exists,
but is cowardly as it is often in disguise.
It is to know there are evil spirits
who are in constant watch
for a way to gain strength for themselves
at the expense of you.

To Walk the Red Road,
you have less fear of being wrong,
because you know that life is a journey,
a continuous circle, a sacred hoop.
Mistakes will be made,
and mistakes can be corrected
if you will be humble,
for if you cannot be humble,
you will never know
when you have made a mistake.

If you walk the Red Road,
you know that every sorrow
leads to a better understanding,
every horror cannot be explained,
but can offer growth.

To Walk the Red Road
is to look for beauty in all things.

To Walk the Red Road
is to know you will one day
cross to the Spirit World,
and you will not be afraid…

Native American Wisdom

xx Rowena

 

R-Rumi Replies #atozchallenge.

Dear Rowena,

The sweetness of the flower lies within and I thank you for taking me inside your soul and bathing me in love. Acceptance is such a simple gift and yet it peels back the clouds, allowing the sun to shine in.

Hold onto love but not too tight for it needs air to breathe. Love is like a bird. It must be set free, so it can fly and spread its wings across the sky. Love dies in a cage.

Eating ice cream at Sunset

The Fledglings.

Yet, you already understand these things. It is just when it comes to your little fledglings that you’re not so sure. Yet, you have taught them well. One day, they will grow too big. They must leave the nest and yet those heart strings always bring them home.

Of course, they cannot live on milk alone!

Meanwhile, you my friend who has been so focused on writing and chasing your questions to the end of the earth inside your head, must leave your cave. Re-embrace the world, wrapping your arms around her heart and shouting your joy from the rooftops. Don’t hide yourself away!

 A Community of the Spirit

There is a community of the spirit.

Join it, and feel the delight

of walking in the noisy street

and being the noise.

Drink all your passion and be a disgrace.

Close both eyes to see with the other eye.

Open your hands if you want to be held.

Consider what you have been doing.

Why do you stay

with such a mean-spirited and dangerous partner?

For the security of having food. Admit it.

Here is a better arrangement.

Give up this life, and get a hundred new lives.

 Sit down in this circle.

 Quit acting like a wolf,

and feel the shepherd’s love filling you.

At night, your beloved wanders.

Do not take painkillers.

Tonight, no consolations.

And do not eat.

 Close your mouth against food.

Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.

You moan, But she left me. He left me.

Twenty more will come.

 Be empty of worrying.

Think of who created thought.

 Why do you stay in prison

when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.

Live in silence.

 Flow down and down

in always widening rings of being.

 Rumi

 

Lastly, I know that you have suffered much but you have also found out you have had it good. That there will always be somebody worse off. Never play self-pity’s harp.

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”― Rumi

 

Yacht at sunset

Yacht at Sunset

I said: what about my eyes?
God said: Keep them on the road.
I said: what about my passion?
God said: Keep it burning.
I said: what about my heart?
God said: Tell me what you hold inside it?
I said: pain and sorrow?
He said: Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.

Rumi

 

Well, I’d better get this to you before your train departs.

Love and Blessings to you my friend. God is with you.

Rumi.

 

R-Rumi: Letters to Dead Poets #atozchallenge.

 “Late, by myself, in the boat of myself,
no light and no land anywhere,
cloudcover thick. I try to stay
just above the surface, yet I’m already under
and living within the ocean.”
Rumi

Dear Rumi,

It’s been such a long, long journey through the desert, without so much as a camel to transport  my weary body across these unrelenting desert sands.  Thirsting for water, my mouth dried and parched, I’m thirsting for water. Water! Water! How I long for even a drop of water!

Then, there you were.

An oasis…a soothing, watering oasis. Not just a drop or a sip but a river flowing into the vast oceans of the Earth.

Tenderly, you grasped my hand, lifted me out of those desert sands and your words bathed me in their healing balm. Hope flowed through my veins anew and gaining strength, my eagle wings were restored. At last, I flew once again to the sun.

I became whole.

Birdwings

Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you are bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralysed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as birdwings.

Rumi

And so, I carry these words forward and sprinkle them all over the desert, longing to reach other lost and weary travellers struggling along the road. Indeed, so many are lost in the desert without a map, a compass or any kind of food and without the hand of a friend, will surely perish.

For while each of us travels along their own “road not taken”, we can have an understanding. We have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to absorb one another’s joys and sorrows and to share them like a banquet. While we do need times of solitude and time away to reflect and rejuvenate ourselves, we were not meant to be alone. We must all join and hold hands and become one. Forget all these barriers which divide and focus on the whole. Be one people on one planet with one moon and one sun. That is precious and its future lies in the palm of our hand…just like a pearl. Don’t drop it. Whatever you do, don’t drop it. We only have one Earth. We have to hold on. Keep holding on. Our waters, our skies, our birds and fish, the leaves and every blade of grass are all intimately entwined, dancing with the air we breathe.

What are we doing to save it?

Rumi, no doubt you will relate to being a scribe. That sense that you are no longer writing the words on the page and that someone else is more of the driving force. Writers have always known this force. Is it the muse, the Holy Spirit or just a part of myself, which is somehow estranged from my everyday voice? I don’t know. I wasn’t going to write you all of this.

As I ponder all of this, all around me, there is only darkness, punctuated by the light of the moon and the stars. There is no lightning bolt as we speak. Indeed, the heavens are absolutely quiet and all I can hear is the crash of the waves on the beach. Taste a distant sea breeze.

Where are you? I know you’re so much more than simply words in a book and that somehow your spirit lives on in all around me…a man of God. Or, do we really end up in the Earth waiting for the world’s greatest mystery to finally unfold.

Wean Yourself

Little by little, wean yourself.
This is the gist of what I have to say.

From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,
to a searcher after wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.

Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo.
You might say ‘The world outside is vast and intricate.
There are wheatfields and mountain passes,
and orchards in bloom.

At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight
the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding.’

You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up
in the dark with eyes closed.
Listen to the answer.

There is no “other world.”
I only know what I have experienced.
You must be hallucinating.

– Rumi

 

How I’d love to share a meal and break bread. For eating together is a merging of minds, a fusion of souls when you don’t just park yourselves in front of the box and fix your eyes on the screen. You listen and you talk. Sometimes, when you dine at our place, you might even write Haiku.

Yet, I cannot linger over bread or even wait to share that meal because my journey must continue. I need to move on. For better or worse, I’m on an express train from A-Z and this is but a fleeting stepping stone along the way.

Unfortunately, it is already time to go. Yet, I leave knowing that we have fed each other’s souls such an array of fertile seeds, which with a touch of sun and rain, will surely grow into nourishing trees.

Our journey will never end.

Love and blessings to you my friend,

Rowena

Sources

The Essential Rumi Translated by Coleman Barks with John Moyne

M-Mary Stevenson “Footprints” Replies.

Dear Rowena,

Thank you so much for sharing how my poem has touched your heart and helped you through difficult times. It sounds like our Lord guided you to Heidelberg and gave you the love and community you craved. I don’t know much about hydrocephalus but it must be such a relief that you finally found out what was going on and had the surgery. I can’t imagine what it would have been like being so far away from home with that time bomb ticking and having no idea what was going on. You have great courage.

Our Lord understands us better than we could ever imagine and leads us through dark valleys and into the light, filling us with his strength. I have never understood why bad things happen to good people but I trust that our Lord will carry us through it all.

You have probably read this passage from Isaiah 40 before but I find it so encouraging

The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Love and God’s richest blessings to you and your family!

Mary Stevenson

M:Mary Stevenson: Footprints Poem

Dear Mary,

As a young 22 year old Australian backpacking through Europe, a friend I met along the road gave me a much treasured copy of your Footprints poem. Despite being a Christian most of my life, I’d never come across your poem before. All of a sudden, it was like all my matches had been lit at once, sparking such a fire. Naturally, the poem was particularly poignant being a traveller at the time. I felt understood…a very rare experience for me at the time!

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While backpacking is supposedly about seeing and discovering the world, it can also become a journey deep inside yourself. Without the structure of a schedule, having no fixed plans, being far away from family, friends and any kind of personal history and simply drifting with the wind, you could easily feel like an atom drifting through space. Such freedom is incredible and indeed, I didn’t even have a watch but it’s all too easy to slip into some kind of existential angst.

Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? What is this nagging feeling inside which I can’t quite explain? When am I going home? What am I going to do with the rest of my life?

Scan10428b

Of course, the quest to find true love, weaves its tentacles through all of this.

Personally, I also had a pool of excess fluid sloshing around inside my brain, which I sort of knew was there although I didn’t know what it was. I simply turned to my faith, writing, philosophy, psychology and the humble cup of coffee for the answers I desperately sought.

Overseas travel is quite different for young Australians. Given the high cost of getting to Europe, many of us save like crazy and then try to stay away as long as possible. While this makes for a grand adventure, it can also mean serious homesickness and dislocation. At least, it did for me and I wasn’t alone. I heard quite a few Aussies hanging out for the scent of gum leaves. I had a an Australia $5.00 note stuck up in my room in Heidelberg where I lived for about 6 months.

Scan10532

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin 1992.

As you could appreciate, I came across your poem at an intensely confusing and vulnerable time and it fortified me. Gave me such strength, knowing I wasn’t alone. That God was walking along this path with me and when the going got tough, he picked me up and carried me on his shoulders, just like a parent carries their child…right out of the quagmire. It was truly transforming. While The Bible is the word of God, somehow you translated its complexity into something I could understand, bringing alive God’s infinite love for me.

Thank you so very much for that. I know your poem still speaks to so many, possibly at a time when it might feel like the light’s gone out. Helping the broken-hearted to rekindle that light is  life changing.

I hope that I share some of that light with those I meet and through my writing. It is not that easy for me to have that physical presence but I try to share what you gave to me all those years ago…hope!

Love and God’s richest blessings,

Rowena

 Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

– by Mary Stevenson

This is the latest installment in my series of Letters To Dead Poets for the A-Z Challenge. Please click  here to catch up on Letters A-H. This list will be updated on Sunday.