Warning Sign

For me, one of the most attractive qualities in a person is vulnerability.

When they let down their guard, allowing feelings to bubble over – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Not a sign of weakness but strength. No longer is a person prepared to mask their sadness, loneliness, confusion – to go it alone in stoic silence.

For many a year, I stood in silence, unable to articulate myself in a world I found overwhelming and confusing. I flinched at the touch of loved ones, and remained tight-lipped even when surrounded by lifelong friends. I was a closed book. I felt misunderstood, and I was for I never revealed anything about my inner world.

In 2005 a colleague sensing my unease asked me point-blank ‘ You have never really shown your vulnerable side to anyone, have you?’ .We were out at Friday night drinks. I did not respond, I just ordered a double gin and gulped it down.

That was 11 years ago, I still recall that confronting question for at the time, it was true.

August 2016, and I am commuting to work in Sydney from the South Coast. On the train journey, I listen to my Mothers iPod to pass the time… And when I feel inspired, I write.

I have reacquainted myself with the band Coldplay, in particular the album ‘ Rush of Blood to the Head’ song eight’ Warning Sign’. I have been listening to this song on high rotation. Lead singer Chris Martin sings from the heart, lays it all bear for the world to know he is missing his lover. It is an achingly beautiful song, sung by a man who is clearly suffering loss and hoping that through song things can be mended.

It struck a chord.

Vulnerability in song form – it is ever so moving, ever so relatable. One connects with the honest tone of voice, the emotional turmoil evident in the lyrics.

It is an enabling song, about connection between people.

And that is what being vulnerable promotes – human connection.

No wonder I was so god damm lonely!! Why oh why Mr Martin did your song fail to break me in two, let the flood gate of tears unfold. How did I miss the bleeding obvious’ Warning Sign’?

Put simply, I  wasn’t ready to acknowledge my own vulnerability and was scared witless by this quality in others.

But now, different story. I have perfected the recipe for human connection – trust, familiarity, love, honesty & a desire to be present.

There’s no place like home

I was five years old when I played Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ, in the St Michaels Catholic Primary School Christmas play.

I was Dorothy version two – the meaty role was divided between two ‘actresses’. Though I had no more than 5 lines, I still recall the tears that welled in my eyes as I pronounced to a packed audience at the Thirroul R.S.L club ‘ There is no place like home’. I had practiced that line over and over, to be sure that I could click my heals at the same time whilst fixing my gaze on the theatre goers.

I am sure the tears were the result of nerves, staged fright & excitement but now, 32 years later, those words have served me well. For it is true, there is no place like home, the sleepy seaside town of Austinmer, 2515, South Coast, NSW.

And with the click of my heals , I find myself back there, my family home, nestled between the lush green escarpment and crystal clear ocean. The place of my childhood, the place I return to as a grown women, to relax, rejuvenate and unwind .A place where I know I am loved, welcomed and safe.

There is no place like home, there is no place like home.

Take me to Church…..

There was a conversation I had last year with an Anglican Priest in Dulwich Hill Sydney.

Over black coffee we chatted for two hours and it transpired that yes, he was interested in hosting a student intern. His questions for me, would I be interested in taking up boxing and joining him on tour of Syria?

That conversation was one of the most interesting I had ever engaged in….it was magical, joyous, life affirming, and it was over too soon…So today, 8 months after my path crossed that of Fighting Father Dave Smith, Australian of the Year Nominee, Work Record holder & all round awesome person…. I returned to his hood, his church, his parish, his people, his Sunday Celebration at 9.15am.

But he was not there – He was doing a peace tour of Iran…

Fighting Father Dave Smith, Martin Place, Sydney

Fighting Father Dave Smith Artwork, Martin Place, Sydney

Physically he was far from home, but by God did I know I was in Fighting Father Dave’s Parish!!
For a start I was set upon my a young boy of 6, he ran down the foot path as he saw me approach the church. He handed me a prayer book and asked if I had ever been to church. I said ‘ yes, but not this one’. He looked puzzled by my answer but let me enter.

Church started at 9.15am, but people arrived when it suited them. This made me smile.

A church band consisting of a drummer, saxophone, piano, guitar played glorious tunes, backed by glorious singing voice.

Children ran joyously around the church during the service. They were free to express themselves even more at what felt like intermission, a Sunday school sing-a-long for kids, complete with instruments for all, dancing and hand gestures. Hard to tell if the kids enjoyed it as much as the adult congregation?!

The open mic announcement mid service were indeed my highlight. Updates from Dave’s wife about the Iran tour, and his boxing for peace work. Parishioners followed with updates on aid work in Fiji, volunteer roles available etc. My favourite announcement was that one parishioner had been unsuccessful in her submission to this  years Archibald portraiture exhibition.

There was singing, sermons, a 5 minute ‘ peace be with you’ approach to spreading the good news, morning tea, birthday cakes, conversation galore, I was clearly an out of towner and people were keen to hear my story.

The morning had it all. Everything except the man himself- Fighting Father Dave Smith.

But by golly gosh was he there….He was everywhere.

A testament to the community man that he is, the church was buzzing with joy, conversation, compassion & kindness, for the young, old and the curious ie me.

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