The Swan Has Landed

GUEST POST BY SISTER LAURA SWAN

I find myself heading “Down Under” to be with two Benedictine women’s communities, to lead retreats for them. They insisted on sending me in Business class (my first time ever), which was quite the experience. Given my reputation for having an energy field that affects technology in unique ways, I didn't touch the technology (a big screen, a thing that looked like a smart phone but wasn't, buttons and knobs everywhere), so the plane didn't go off course. Yes, I figured out how to make the chair into a bed. Interesting, flying north to south for 15 hours, meant total darkness. I only saw sun on approach to Sydney--sunrise. But this makes sense. Since this insomniac wasn't going to be able to sleep, I listened to one entire audio book! Worked for me. 

Mother Hilda welcomes Sr. Laura

Hilda, their abbess, drove us through Sydney so I could see the harbor and the opera house. We drove south through the Royal National Forest (a two-lane road) and further south, past Botany Bay (where the infamous prison was located and Captain Cook's first "sighting' of Australia), further down the coast and up a "mountain" to get to Jamberoo (an indigenous term that refers to the area being favored for a ‘walkabout’). They're way out in the country with about 400 acres of mostly undeveloped land. This area is considered rain forest, and was hit by those terrible fires a few years ago.The nuns placed me in “the barn” which has a studio/cottage on the rear. My ‘neighbors’ include five roosters, wombats (I learned that wombat pouches are “backwards” so when mom goes digging through the dirt for dinner, the babies don’t get hit with the dirt. The babies’ heads hang out between mom’s back legs), magpies, birds called Kookaburras whose sound is like laughter (makes me laugh!), two squawking ducks, and serene cattle who ‘moo’ on occasion.

 

Welcome supper for Sr. Laura

 

Processing into chapel

Because the nuns are up a mountain and away from any cities, the sky at night is very clear. I feel I can reach out and touch the Milky Way and Orion. On sunny mornings, the sunrises have been stunning (the roosters are not going to let me sleep in anyway). The nuns, who were founded 175 years ago, have a unique chant tradition. I’m slowly getting used to the psalm tones they use. The canticle is cantored by two nuns in harmony, with a response line for the rest of us. The Our Father is also chanted in harmony. So beautiful to hear. The nuns of Jamberoo Abbey are lovely and down-to-earth, an international community. 

It is gift for me to be here, to enjoy the similarities and the differences. In the retreat we’re focusing on a lived experience of the Rule of Benedict, but I feel I’m in the midst of women who could be teaching me.

 

 

Icon of Our Lady

Comments

  • Comment posted by Janice J. Ariza on August 17, 2023 at 10:03AM (10 months ago)

    The place is amazing! What a fantastic opportunity to be experiencing this community in Jamberoo to share, teach, and learn The pictures along with your story truly make it come alive.

  • Comment posted by Lynn on August 16, 2023 at 7:57AM (10 months ago)

    What a beautiful description of your surroundings. I can't wait to hear more. ;)

  • Comment posted by Anna Peterson on August 15, 2023 at 5:01PM (10 months ago)

    You will be gifted by this experience and you are a gift

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