Valuing gifts

Over 40 years ago I first read a reflection called ‘Persons are gifts’. It contains much wisdom about valuing my giftedness and the giftedness of those around me. From time to time I would share the reflection in my ministry, especially with Year 12 students.

You may have had the joy and comedy of watching a child under 1 open a present. For those who have tried hard to buy the gift it can be very deflating – as all they are interested in is the wrapping with its colours and sparkles.

Before we laugh too hard at the baby’s behaviour, it struck me that teenagers and adults can treat the gift of another person in a similar way – too busy making judgments about the externals to focus on the gifted person inside.

So, in our relationships, let’s not get too focused on externals – in ourselves or others. Rather may I focus on my giftedness, lovingly placed there by God, as well as the God-given giftedness of each person in my life.

This will take the form of being kind to myself and others – as well as compassionate and accepting. Thus, our salvation comes in community through the loving character of our relationships.


Still, early morning

brilliant blue sky

mirrored in

mill-pond calm water

gently lapping waves

at water’s edge.

I am enveloped

in a living prayer

of grandeur

and gratitude.

For a brief time

I immerse myself

in this numinous moment

and revel in it.

To fracture or build

I sit here

in my home

of 35 years.

Familiar surroundings.


Outside the front gate

had been home, too.

The railway trees have been

a constant over time.

Their presence,

their flowers in season and with them

Bees and lorikeets

Have given me joy, and

a connection with the natural world.

Their summary destruction

Has been a blow

Leaving me

Feeling dislocated

Dismantling my emotions

Dismantling my sense of belonging.

What’s left? 

What’s next?

Guided by the Spirit

an answer came online

in a friend’s share:

‘Focus on building the new’.

Along with this prayer:

‘God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference’.



Cut down



Home for bees


and who knows

what else

 – no more.

Done in the name of


Do trees deserve

less respect

because they cannot speak to us?

We stand

witnesses to this carnage.


The workers do their job

But are owed no disrespect.

The government 

have the power.

We are informed

Not consulted.

We feel so much

and can do so little.

Our grief

has the backdrop 

of our 35 year presence


Part of God’s plan

Or a cul de sac?

Gum tree

A tree,

like all the others.


I am transfixed.


The pale trunk

grows this way and that

pale and shining in the sun.

The tree possesses

a unique majesty,

enhanced by the eucalypt leaves

standing out against trunk and sky.

Its spiritual presence

only enhanced by

the joyous cacophony of lorikeets.

A glorious example of

Scotus’ ‘thinness’:

the tree playing its unique role

in God’s plan by being

fully and truly itself.

A new year

May the sunshine of this morning

lighten your day and

any dark spaces of your year.

May the love in your life

for yourself and others

be the sun

enabling you

to see the shadows better.

May your relationships help you

to be more fully yourself

so that your actions

nurture your dreams

into reality.

Reflection: Christmas 2022

Reading: John 1:1-18

God is with us! Today we celebrate God’s self-gift of Jesus Christ. The prologue of John’s Gospel sets out a breathtaking and compelling scene. John the evangelist refers to Jesus as the Word. A word exists to be spoken, heard and enacted. How do I listen for God in my life? How do I act upon what I hear?

The Word was ‘with God’ and ‘was God’. The passage leaves us in no doubt as to the divinity of Jesus. The sweep of the Johannine vision is indeed grand. Since he was ‘with God’ and ‘was God’, the Word was also part of the creation of the world. Our first inkling is in the opening words of the Gospel ‘in the beginning’ which is an echo of the book of Genesis. The prologue goes on to to make it explicit: ‘all things came to be through him’. The passage goes on to clarify that we do not just exist because of Jesus but have life: ‘and this life was the light of the human race’. 

Lest we think only positives are covered in this passage: ‘the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it’. The example of Jesus continues to shine for each of us – and that example will lead us out of any darkness in which we may find ourselves.

‘And the Word became flesh’ ‘and we saw his glory’, ‘full of grace and truth’. The Greek word translated as ‘flesh’ could also be translated as ‘guts’. The passage emphasises that Jesus was fully human, too. Of all the gifts that Jesus brings, the Incarnation is significant. As God’s children the Incarnation is at work in us too – so we need to remember that God’s glory can be seen in humanity. In a world hung up on ‘deserving’, this is more grace from God that rains down on each of us. 

This Christmas may we remember to listen to God in our lives and act upon what we hear. May we remember that God created everything and that it is good. Jesus gives us an example of life – and can help us out of any darkness. Finally, God’s glory is in every human. Our task is to have our eyes open!

I wish you Christmas blessings and a peace-filled 2023. It is my intention to have a break now. We’ll see what happens!

Reflection: Sunday 18 December

Readings: Is 7:10-14; Ps 24:1-6; Matt 1:18-24

After three years of a pandemic-affected world, we are all tired. Some of us have developed better coping strategies than others but the grinding, ongoing nature of it all has taken and continues to take a toll. At such times, it is easiest to reach for the ‘anaesthetic’ or ‘analgesic’. That could take the form of social media OR binge-watching shows on multiple streaming platforms OR food OR any number of other addictions. But we each need to give ourselves space – to be, to reflect on what has been going on for me, to connect with our loved ones. Welcome to the shape of Advent 2022 – where our pre-Christmas time of personal reflection is both urgent and necessary.

So, have you given yourself time to stop and reflect? Or are you still running headlong from one commitment to the next? 

God is always present in our lives. But, like the sun, we can ‘pull down the curtains’ to try to shut God out. Conversely, we can never ‘make God present’ but we can have a consciousness, or state of mind where we are more likely to perceive God. We can engage in activities that encourage the perception of God. It is in this context that the truth of the responsorial psalm emerges: ’Let the Lord enter’. By engaging in such attitudes and behaviours we allow God to enter our lives, make us whole and holy, become our best selves – so that we might each be a small flame of truth in the world.

Reflection: Sunday 11 December

Readings: Is 35:1-6; Ps 146:6-10; Matt 11:2-11

The Third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for ‘rejoice’. This theme is begun in the first reading from Isaiah, continuing the theme of overturning from last week: ‘strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!’ In this time when we anticipate God-with-us, we have every reason to rejoice because when we live like God is with us, justice will reign and all inequities will be wiped away. Yet, living in this now, when we perceive that God is not yet with us, we need God to ‘come and save us’ as the responsorial psalm says. Further: ‘the Lord raises up those who were bowed down’. 

Christmas looks different for different people. Clearly Christmas is a time for lots of commercial sales – and there are plenty of ads on every possible media platform to encourage those sales. I’m not decrying gifts given with love – but the Scripture readings give a very different reason for rejoicing. The theme for today’s readings is emphasised in the Gospel. Why should we rejoice? The coming of God-with-us will be marked by justice: ‘the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed’.

Then, as now, injustice is visible. If we live as though God is with us, then our actions can bring the miracle of justice. God with us means living justice and right relationships in our behaviours every day. This brings the salvation of justice in this life – for ourselves and those around us.