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The writings and art that follow reflect the experiences of people who have been part of the life of St. Mary's Towers.


Lines Written at Broughton Pass:

Here limpid streams surround untainted earth
Secure from tyranny since Nature's birth
To such steep rocks, the sons of freedom fly
“Lords of the lion hearted and eagle eye"
No other road besides this rugged Pass
Admits the roaming herds to steal the grass
No highway here for highwayman to ply
A th riving trade ...
No wrangling ...
No shop keeper ...
No public here ...
No mob ...
Nor brazen statues, brazen lies to bear
No public meetings called with private crews
No nouveaux riches…
No quakers anxious to save human life
Save when their shepherds with the blacks have strife…
No civil officers so deep in debt
That only creditors aught good can get.
Here from all these, O Nature, keep keep me free
Beyond this Chrystal stream my dwelling be
Thy shady forest dark and meadows green
Refresh the soul where no such men are seen
Here harvests yield the unaluminous bread
No sky blue here, but milk from udders shed
Seated beneath the fig and climbing vine
We quaff the unadulterated wine
Or heaped with blazing logs our ample hearth
Resounds with social hospitable mirth
As in the olden time Come Briton come
Be no man’s servant make the woods thy home.

Thomas Mitchell (incomplete) poem; 1792 - 1855
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Douglas Park

There is a place,
Gum wooded in its brown valley,
River bounded, Englished to green and colour at its core,
Sandstoned, bricked and timbered, castellated and barned,
Jumbled to a symmetry of form
that off handedly ignores its parts
Into a triumphant whole.
It is a place where a tilted cemetery dreams of a kingdom
Now and then encountered; a place of silence
Where the sorehearted traveller rests the limbs
Of bruised life
and sleeps.
It has been a place of men,
and holds the soft, hard flavours
Of Australian maleness; casual and forgiving
Gruff, astringent, awkward; strangely gentle
With the broken ones who claim its austere sustenance.
It is a place
Of healing, where the Spirit of its first people
Has long walked; where weariness has met delight,
Where chance transmutes to Providence, and one is cradled
Quietly, with no fuss
It is, above all, a place
Of God; whose voice, clipped to clearness as a muffled bell
Is always heard.
For here the inner ear
Is tuned by the long habit of the place itself
Which has learned, and teaches, listening.

Jane Chapman
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Caroline Jones A.O. - Collection

Caroline Jones is a writer and broadcaster who worked at the ABC for more than 40 years - on current affairs programs such as THIS DAY TONIGHT, FOUR CORNERS and Sydney morning radio.
For 8 years, on ABC Radio National, Caroline presented THE SEARCH FOR MEANING programs, in which hundreds of Australian men and women told stories of their lives. Four popular books were published by ABC Books from transcripts of those programs.
Caroline's fifth book became one of the 10 best-sellers of 1998. Published in print and on CD, it is called AN AUTHENTIC LIFE -FINDING MEANING AND SPIRITUALITY IN EVERYDAY LIFE.
In 1988 Caroline Jones was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. In 1997 she was voted one of Australia's National Living Treasures. In 1998 Caroline was appointed an Ambassador for Reconciliation by the Aboriginal council for Reconciliation.
Caroline often visited St. Mary's Towers in her own search for meaning. Like so many who find there way to the Towers, she may have been touched by the natural world and its beauty. The following sketches reflect some of her experiences and are reproduced here with her kind permission.
(click image for full size view)

Across the Dam, Sunset on Retreat. Douglas Park, January 1988
Watercolour on art paper. © C. Jones 2010

Consider the Lilies of the Field. Douglas Park.
Watercolour and pen on art paper . © C. Jones 2010

The Cemetery. Douglas Park.
Pencil on art paper. © C. Jones 2010

Fred's Gladioli.  Douglas Park
Watercolour on art paper. © C. Jones 2010

Bunya Trees.  Douglas Park on Retreat, January 1988
Pencil on art paper. © C. Jones 2010

Untitled Still Life.  Douglas Park
Ink wash and charcoal on art paper. © C. Jones 2010

Untitled (Round Flower Garden).  Douglas Park
Watercolour on art paper. © C. Jones 2010

Over the Dam. On Retreat St. Mary's Towers January 1988
Watercolour on art paper. © C. Jones 2010

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The Longing

Seeking you Lord I enter our prayer-space.
Quietly trusting I’ll find you there;
Sometimes yes, I feel consoled by your touch,
Other times no, I seem to be alone.

When you’re there I truly know in my heart,
Sensing a deep affirming warmth within,
It seems we will never be apart.
And I know I am loved.

When you are away, I miss your touch,
My prayer just seems to wander,
And I enter the day alone,
Hoping still to find you another time.

Faithful still I seek you again,
Yearning for your love in prayer,
Yet finding only dryness and pain.
And I feel I am failing you.

Day after day I faithfully return,
To read your word,
To seek your face,
To feel your comforting embrace.

Until I cry in despair!
How much longer must I wait?
Questioning if you really care.
And I doubt your love.

Then from the depths of my heart,
Wells up my deepest desire,
Tears roll down my cheeks as I say:
All I want to do is love you.

Offering up this desire in our prayer-space,
At last my Lord you are there,
Your warmth again fills my heart.
And I am home.

Through long patience and fidelity,
Lord you have shown your loving care,
In deepening my longing for your touch,
You purified my prayer.

Hand in my hand, good times and bad,
I know now, my friend, you are always there;
When dryness returns, hope will carry me through,
For then, I will remember your love.

Andrew Ballesty 1992
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Com Panis

Com Panis
Eat bread with me.
Let us sustain each other
Both above and below the salt of the earth:
Including all.

Break bread with me.
Let us heal each other
And let our broken-ness nourish us both:
And nurture all.

Ingest bread with me.
Let us grow together,
Gentling the very fibre of the other’s being:
Then tending all.

Talk bread with me.
Let us explore the love
That is manna to us both, each to each:
And reverence all.

Walk bread with me.
Let us go together
To our shared Emmaus and the love revealed:
And cherish all.

Encounter bread with me.
Let us search together
The surprises and delight in our mutual meal:
Thus serving all.

Be bread with me
And I will be bread with you:
Sustenance and healing;
Growth and loving:
Travelling, discovery, joy.
Bread of Life, from the harvest
That is gathered, flailed and threshed,
Kneaded and fashioned, for the loaves
That feed a hungering all.

28 Sept, 2005.  Anon.
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Courtesy

“I sleep, but my heart is awake.
I hear my Beloved knocking"  
Song 5:2

 

As my senses sleep,
And my soul strains to hear your stillness,
Light the knocking comes.
Urgent, gentle rapping of soft, insistent echoes
Circle-rippling through the emptiness that
You yourself have hollowed,
Hallowed,
Held.

Soul-quickening, my heart quivers.
Immobile now, all spent with wanting-waiting;
Stilled my house, my doors securely barred
Against the enemies within, without. To wait and want
I needs must be alone, my altar bared,
Lamp-trimmed, the oil barely flick’ring, the darkness
Secretive , and
Safe.

Knock louder! Call your need. I am asleep!
My heart is tendril-tiredness bound
Within its empty bed. Call your need –
It is the same as mine, but you are free!
Not free, my Love? Bound too, you who are boundless?
Tho’ limitless, you find me ready. but
Barriered,
Bereft?

Your knocking echo-calls me. Stirs the laden eyes
That sought the knowledge of your face. You have no voice.
Only your soft-tapping tells me that I must open
Not just the cherished, dark-held entrance of my soul,
But all my doors. You will not enter other.
It is a delicate opening, to a delicate lover, as I become
Desirable, and
Desired.

Anon.
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Easter Sunday

I have thought of light and dark as two,
As opposites, implacably at war:
And thought that I am Dark and only You
As Light can strive with me, embattled at my core
Of self, to save and make me impenetrable.
I have believed that I must choose between
Both Light and Dark, thus me and You; but now
Your Light, it would appear, insists on being seen
As brighter for my Dark. Where I am most in night,
Your shining there is brightest. Where I am most alone
Your deep enclosing call compels me,
To bring me to my home.
There is but one choice, no choice at all: for You
Shall make the Light and Darkness only one.
Your Light makes my Dark golden, and my blackest night
Glows warmly as it liberates Your Sun.

Anon.
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QUOTIDIAN:

It is the dailyness of our loving that entrances me;
The quiet comment; the soft referral of a question
That is sure of as soft an answer.
There is no chance that we may pass each other by.
You are ever close, stepping serenely to my whatever pace.
We talk in feelings and in murmurs:
Half-sentences that find silent completion in the other’s being.
We assume each other’s presence,
Unsurprised to find the assumption correct,
Yet heightened by the reminder of a touch,
A smile,
A gentleness that flows between us,
A glimpse of mischief,
A sliding tear.
Even as we turn willingly, outward to others,
Our backs are secured, each to each.
.
We move often as one, sometimes as counterpoint,
Always in relationship.
And when I miss my step, you match me rather than admonish me.
When I wander aimlessly , you lend me your purpose
And make it ours.
You are complete, yet you say I add to your completeness, as you, oh yes so surely, hold me to uncover mine.
You are my experience and I – mysteriously –
am part of yours.
Shall we move closer to each other yet?
This is your promise and my wishing,
Though not what I’d imagine, as you seem so very here already.
I await your quiet surprise for me …and yet, who knows but that in the end
I too may surprise us both?

S.M.T. 26.4.08
Anon.
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Sonnet on Romans 6:11

I have gone once more into the golden dark
Where void is not empty, and where lightness is;
Where freedom and obedience are one,
And joy is my Beloved’s, and I His.
I have found, since our beginning, unawares,
That I have put Him on, as flesh enfleshed
And now it is not possible to be
Other than Other, He and I enmeshed.
And I have asked, how is it,Love, that I
Knowing Your beauty, can forget your name?
‘Tis not forgot,’ replies my heart’s desire,
‘My beauty and your True Self are the same.”
If I am Other, so shall I be free
To reverence others, as You reverence me.


The Response.

“Come then once more into to golden dark
Where void is not empty and where light occurs;
Where freedom and obedience are one,
And joy is my Beloved’s, and I hers.
You have learned, since we began, all unawaress
That you have put me on, as flesh enfleshed.
And now it is not possible to be
Other than Other, you and I enmeshed.
And you have asked how it may be that you,
Knowing My beauty, can forget My name?
‘Tis not forget: Know this, My heart’s desire,
My beauty and your True Self are the same.
If you are in Me, so you shall be free
To reverence others, as I reverence Thee.

Anon.
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The One I Love

The One I love…
Waits, gently insistent,
Trusting my inconstancy,
Touching my weakness with sure strength.

The One I love…
Calls, breathing my name
As tho’ I’d never a name before,
Framing my syllables with delight.

The One I love…
Comes, with a fierce tenderness,
Gathering my willing blindness
Into a fiery assent.

The One I love…
Hides, causing me to seek Him
With a lambent longing that
Fragments me into wholeness.

The One I love…
Withdraws, holding me at a cradled distance
Until He can bear my need of Him no longer.

The One I love…
Moulds, forms, fashions me
In a hungry flame that coruscates
My very being.

The One I love…
Dies, momently yielding up what He is
In a consenting passion that
Demands my company.

The One I love…
Lives, vibrantly, exuberantly alive
And fuels my appetite and zest
For loving.

The One I love…
Is. He graces my living with freshness. Endows my grief
with meaning. Grants my loneliness
A home. Binds my wilfulness
To obedience. Burns my anger
To compassion. And calls me –
Oh so willing- to a death,
That we may be
The One I love.

Anon.
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Trinity Icon

The Icon draws me in
Toward the Table
The Trinity waits for me.

Each person is relaxed
Patient in his waiting
They seem to know I'll come.

Jesus says, "Don't be afraid.
We welcome you with love
Come sit with us at table."

I notice his hand –
It points to the cup
And I am afraid.

I know it's the cup
Of suffering and pain.
He asks me to drink.

I hesitate
I look away
Yet still I am drawn...

Their charism is strong
And irresistible to me
It overrides my fear.

I take another step forward
And sit at their feet
I am ready.

The cup is offered
And I drink
While the Trinity looks on.

It is sweet to the taste!
This surprises me
I had expected bitterness.

But no - it is the sweetest
Most succulent wine
I have ever tasted!

I savour it
And feel a glow.
I am lit up from within.

"This cup will bring you pain
But your suffering will bring life
For it is mixed with mine."

"Drink deeply," says Jesus
"Take in my burning love
As we become one..."

"We shall give you a new heart
And put a new spirit in you
This is our promise to you today."

I stay at the table
Surrounded by love
And the courage it brings me

Trish Coleman
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Whatever Lord

She said "Whatever, Lord"
And found peace...
Can I say "Whatever, Lord"
And really mean it?

I am fearful of the whatever’s...
What can be,
What might be,
What could be...

I pray for healing,
For relief of pain,
To be able to stand upright
And do what needs be done!

Can I accept whatever comes?
Can I trust so fully
That the Lord will hold me
In the palm of his hand?

"Come my little one,
Let me hold you near,
Let me take your pain,
Your anxiety and fear.

"My peace I leave with you instead
And I will give you faith and hope
And the strength to endure
“Whatever comes' ".

I give you my "whatever, Lord"
Though I'm not sure how sincere...
I believe in your love and faithfulness
“Strong and Constant is Your Love".

Trish Coleman
26/8/2006

Inspired by Barbara Johnson's
"So, Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy".
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Together We Are Strong

Help me to carry,
I beg and I plead,
My cross is too heavy
Help me...

I look at him, beside me,
All battered and bruised,
As he asks in earnest:
"Help me...

"Help me to carry
The Cross of the Kingdom
As it weighs so heavy
Upon my shoulders."

I am surprised
And humbled yet,
That he should ask me
So weak that I am!

How can I help?
I ask in dismay
I can't even carry
My own little cross!

Yours is so big
I'd be crushed by its weight
"But no," he says,
"Come, just try...

So we link arms
And balance the weight
And somehow, support each other
To carry the cross...

He's right, you know,
It's not so heavy
When we work together
When we share the load!

"Don't despair, little one,
Don't give up," he says,
"As you can see,
Together we are strong!"

Trish Coleman
13/10/2006

Inspired by Sieger Koder's
"UNISON" in `A Time to Celebrate — The Folly of God'
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Sweet Wine

Sweet Wine
Blood of Jesus
Flood my spirit
Course through my veins.

Sweet Wine
Blood of Jesus
Fill my heart with courage
Help me face and
conquer my fears.

Sweet Wine
Blood of Jesus
Burn within me
Provide precious healing.

Sweet Wine
Blood of Jesus
Enter every part of me
And bring strength to my bones.

Sweet Wine
Blood of Jesus
Pour yourself with abundance
Into my very being.

Sweet Wine
Blood of Jesus
Become one with me
Enter the depths of my soul.

Sweet Wine
Blood of Jesus
Fill me with trust in you
Help to welcome you.

Sweet Wine
Blood of Jesus
Be my sustenance
Be my life.

Be with me Lord
At every turn, every obstacle
Help me find peace and joy
In 'whatever' you ask.

As we travel this road
Stay close to me
Hold me in your arms
Never let me go.

Trish Coleman
3/11/2006
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EVEN THOUGH...

EVEN THOUGH
The fig doesn't blossom
And there's no fruit on the vine...
Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord
I will exult in God my Saviour.

EVEN THOUGH
My pain goes on
Suffering with no respite...
Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord
I will exult in God my Saviour.

EVEN THOUGH
I ask, I plead for relief
And feel no response....
Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord
I will exult in God my Saviour.

EVEN THOUGH
My heart grows weary
And my Faith is greatly tested...
Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord
I will exult in God my Saviour.

EVEN THOUGH
I cry out in distress
And reach the edge of despair...
Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord
I will exult in God my Saviour.

For I am truly gifted
With the love of my God
Yahweh – my strength,
Who says, "Fear not, little one,
I will not let you go.

Yes, I will rejoice in the Lord
I will exult in God my Saviour
He who is ever faithful
He who is my strength
And who will never leave me.

Inspired by Book of Habakkuk 3:17-19

Trish Coleman
28/10/2006
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Be Still

Be Still
And know that I am god
Be Still
And let me love you

Be with me
In intimate silence
Be with me
Deep in your heart.

Leave behind you
All cares and worries
Leave behind you
Fears and uncertainties

Focus your senses
On the beauty around
Focus your senses
On the sounds of nature.

I know there is pain
Allow it to be
I know there is pain
Give it to me.

Let me share
Your burden
Let me share
Your load

Be Still
And know I love you
Be Still
I am your God

Trish Coleman
13.3.99
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Two Gifts

Sitting in the dark
Desperately alone.
Where is the hope,
The love I crave?

I ran away today
From all –
Curled up in a ball
I hid

Never one to give up
But now –
Too much to bear
Too much all alone.

Today is Pentecost
Day of Spirit
Time to celebrate
But not me!

Can’t raise a smile
Or be happy –
There is too much
Hurt and anger

Tears of frustration
All I can find
To bring to this
The Spirit’s Day.

No more “happy face”
This is me Lord!
Tears flow again –
Do you hear me?

Let me sleep
To silence the demons
For no more strength
To fight.

Yet through the haze
Mid the confusion
Two gifts I see
Being offered to me …

Courage is one –
Courage to stay
And confront the pain
“Courage, be not afraid”.

And the other?
Right Judgement –
The gift of choice
The gift of trust

I sense a new resolve
‘Mid the pain and dark
The courage to remain
The will to move on.

Trish Coleman
30th May 1993
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The River and The Bridge

The River and the Bridge (excerpt)

Now even the rocky cliff face is too far from the river.
The River of Love seeks the river without.
I know deep down what needs to be done.
Will I be faithful?

Through the cool of the Eye (of the Needle) I descend,
In search of the river, in search of my heart.

At the bottom of the gully I come to a cave
Formed by water and wind, water long gone on its way down.
Is this close enough to Love? Fear still lives in me.
I see what the water has done,
Worn down the rockface, propelled trees and boulders in its wake.
Sometimes Love can be tumultuous,
Love can be strong,
It can leave its mark.
The water has shown the way down
And feeling the Divine pull anew,
I now see a new path to descend.

As I begin again a new resolve claims me:
‘If it’s what I really want to do, I’ll do it!’
I feel the force of this resolve, it is real
And I embrace it.

Prayers form my descent:
‘I am a man of courage! Help me not to run from myself, from You.’
‘If I really want it, I promise I will do it!’
Help me to see what I really want. No pushing, no willfulness –
Just uncover what might be hidden.’

The going down takes its physical toll,
And all the while I feel the River’s draw.
On I push engaged in a Holy Quest,
A task of faithful endurance,
One of faithfulness to Love and to myself.

I see it emerging from behind the trees: the river.
I come to its bank.
It is smooth, engaging, graceful.
Light reflects off its surface.
I feel the movement of the River within me.
I lay on its bank, far from the bridge, and I wait
Too exhausted to think.

Time passes.
I feel like a kid again.
Down the river people jump from Tower Rock and into the water.
Playfully I entertain the same idea.
I feel like a kid again.

‘I would’ve done it you know’ I say.
‘I would’ve done it if I really, really, really wanted to.’
Love knows and Love revels in my faithfulness.
I feel peace and joy flowing from my gut.

That night I have a dream.
I wake up knowing that another piece of the wall,
The one I place between me and Love,
Has fallen away.
I lie there in the morning light and let this truth soak in.

A.Mc. - D.P. 2010
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Victoria Fitzpatrick

Victoria's retreats at Douglas Park led to the following paintings of her experience and are reproduced here with her kind permission.

click to enlarge

The Tree of Life. © V. Fitzpatrick 2011

click to enlarge

The View Beyond. © V. Fitzpatrick 2011

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St Mary’s Towers - 2012

Soft day ... light rain,
Breeze soothes, caresses,
Blessed silences seeps
into marrow bone.
Prodigal fecundity –
sweet grass mown,
sheer, steel web,
Silent companionship –
strength on the way,
The Word sears deeply – healing, restoring,
God’s very self – our very own ...

Mary, Mother
gentle presence,
softly croons love songs
of a child she once sucked
ad walked with to death,
Enfolding her mantle
around bruised spirits,
she croons the same love songs,
walks the same road ...

Marea Roberts RSM
22 January 2012


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Within!

Every night
The dark is long
Every heart
The desire is deep
Every one
Hearing within a silent Being
Still and waiting
At the bottom of a dry well.
Water within water
Nothing within nothing
Freedom within freedom
Love within love
Divine within me
And I within Divine
When everything within everything
That’s where God meets me
And I meet Him
And We are one
Everything becomes one
One from within
To one from without.

I see,
There is a night darker than any night
There is a day brighter than any sun
There is a power stronger than any strength
Graced moment! Quenched desire!
God alone is life…

Khoi Nguyen
August 2012


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