Occupy Faith

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Multifaith Week 2009 in Melbourne

On Sunday morning, I attended the Sikh Gurdwara at Blackburn
as a guest of my friend Jessiee Kaur Singh.
To find out more about Sikhism go here.
It was a beautiful experience.
The shrine pictured above contains the holy scripture entitled the Gurū Granth Sāhib
People come in (queues are separate for men and women and they sit separately),
place coins in a large receptacle, bow/kneel and go to their place of prayer.
Large screens are either side of the shrine with excerpts of the scripture
which are chanted.
The scriptures are displayed in the language of the Sikhs,
then in English, and then phonetically.
It was easy to chant along with the rest of the congregation.
Providing music and leading the chanting
are the three men pictured below.
The man behind the holy scripture read from the scripture.
There were announcements - but not in English, sadly.
And then little girls came around with boxes of tissue.
We took one and then a man came around with dollops of
sweet mixture from a bowl.  "Healing" whispered Jessiee.
A different take on Communion, thought I, since the Sacrament can
also be taken as Healing. 

Before the service I had seen people "laying the table" in a manner of speaking for lunch.
Each place was laid with a metal compartmentalised tray, a metal cup, and a spoon.

I counted sixteen places across eighteen rows.

But when I came from the service I found that there were a couple more rows.
Then where we ate was at tables.

It looks like the place settings go on forever.

I estimated that there were about 400 to 500 people fed at this sitting.

Apparently, about 5000 meals are served a week on
Wednesdays and Sundays.
Although, if people come to the Gurdwara and need
food on other days, they will be provided for.

Needless to say, with such crowds hand-washing
is important and extensive hand-washing facilities are provided.

All this happens by donation and helpers are on a rotation roster.
I spoke to a group of women relaxing after their morning roster.
They do the last Sunday of the month.

As you can see from the list of needs above, all this is donated.

After our meal, we went across to the Darebin Parklands
for an Aboriginal tree-planting ceremony.
Pictured above are Jessie Kaur Singh of
Reg Blow of the Maya Healing Centre; and John Bellavance of

was a beautiful and impressive woman
as she commemorated and committed the
Peace Tree to the earth.

Uncle Reg prays for the tree with the didj.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Karen Armstrong speaks on Compassion here.

Help Karen Armstrong to write The Charter for Compassion


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Journey to Silver Wattle: reflection and nourishment among Friends

As Lewis Carroll had the King say to the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland -
Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

To-day is a new beginning.
Quakers in Australia have long held a dream -
a dream for a study centre.
To-day the dream comes to fruition as
Quakers move into Silver Wattle
beside Lake George in New South Wales.

In the next few hours,
I will be leaving my home in Melbourne
to drive to Silver Wattle
where I will serve as chief cook and bottle washer
for the interesting collection of people
who staff and organise the Centre
and who will come to the Centre
for courses and retreat.

My trusty eleven year old station wagon
is packed to the gunwhales.
I really don't know how to travel light.
But food is a serious and creative busines
and I want to be sure there are certain things in place.

In the wagon are
  • boxes of herbs to begin a kitchen garden
  • boxes of preserves - jams, marmalades, syrups, chutneys, pickles, sauces - with thanks to Pat, Tessa, and Belinda.
  • there is a large plastic container full of recipe books.  I am sure there will be people at Silver Wattle who are passionate about food.  They might like to leaf through the recipe books and chose some favourites. Communal menu preparation, perhaps?
  • There is a shopping trolley full of books for study and for reading: a variety which includes Eric Rolls and Teilhard de Chardin and books about the Tao.  Also in there is Advices and Queries and the Rule of St Benedict, that classic of Christian communal life.
  • Then there are various kitchen appliances like my Kenwood Mixer, the Furi knives, the cafe griller, the blender.
So the journey begins.
A new project at Silver Wattle.
My journey from Melbourne to Lake George.
A new chapter in my spiritual life.
New friendships to make.
A beginning to be held in The Light.

Click on the Silver Wattle picture 
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