There is nothing like being with a community other than our own to notice the ways they do ritual. I think of our late Sister Stephanie as the incense comes out here and permeates the chapel. Statio is important, an opportunity to stop and catch one's breath before entering the chapel. I'm content to slip into my stall beforehand and spend moments in silence. The nuns reverence one another in bowing toward each other as we depart. Their chant is a blend of traditional (Gregorian chant notation), borrowed from other monasteries (mostly Stanbrook and Christ in the Desert), and of their own creation. Nice to experience.

Speaking of chanting in harmony, the Kookaburras offer their own "sacred chant" to God along with the magpies. And in the evening the cicadas sing their own low chant. As for the roosters -- simple male competition!

Kookaburra (photo by Penny via


The nuns weave the old with the new. They have four traditional stained glass windows (of our monastic foremothers) that date to about 100 years ago in their original monastery. Then they have two lovely icons--of Madonna and Christ and of Christ--then an icon of an aboriginal woman with several images typical of Australia. A nice blend of old, traditional, and contemporary.

Another ritual is tea, or as they say here, a "cuppa." A sacred tradition occurring mid-morning. But on name days and solemnities, tea is more formal with too many delectable choices. 

The midday meal is their main meal which is eaten in silence while music plays. The refectory is a series of single tables that form a U configuration so we are looking toward one another. I've appreciated watching younger members serve the older, frailer members: from pouring water into their glasses to dishing up dinner. Always with a gentle smile. They seem to know what their elders' preferences are. A great sign of respect.

I've witnessed their gift of hospitality. Besides their lovely presence to their neighbors and guests, Sister Magdalen--aware that I still hadn't seen a kangaroo yet--arranged to take me early in the morning to the hills behind us and we found a group. They like to "dine" at dawn and dusk. Part of the challenge is learning to "see" them as they blend in so well with their environment. Their gait is graceful, much like our deer. And the young ones are cute! 

Farewell supper for Sr. Laura

There were tender farewells as I leave with some sadness...and also anticipation as I head into Sydney proper to be with the Good Sams (Samaritans who are Benedictine)."

And an Australian blessing from all the Jamberoo Sisters sends me on my way.

Australian Travel Blessing







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