Inaugural 2011 Community Retreat

The following statement expresses some steps taken at our first retreat gathering in January 2011 to develop an Australian branch of the Community of Aidan and Hilda.

Community of Aidan and Hilda (Australia)

During our inaugural retreat (14-17 January, 2011) at Norlane Baptist Church in Geelong (Wathaurong land) we spent our last formal session discussing our experience of the retreat as well as our hopes for the next steps.   A number of reflections emerged.  An attempt to summarise these reflections follows.  We felt a common substance had been uncovered and the combination of silent spaces and play, family life and monasticism had been inspiring.  This was facilitated by the well-planned, monastic and child friendly spaces at Norlane that Brent had helped to develop during his time as local minister.  It was recognised that our personal expression of the Way of Life is the essence of this dispersed community and while there is a desire for semi-regular dialogue and meeting we may be disappointed if we expect often and deep connection.  However, we should use current technologies to our best advantage to help with building relationships while we express our ‘true self’ locally, making the Way of Life as real and as tangible as possible despite the tyranny of distance and sometimes sense of isolation.  While we may belong to local expressions of church this community may help fill in the gaps and assist our ‘local orphaned bits’.

The beginnings are here for this community to develop further.  We were reminded that it is wise to expect some conflict along the way.  The Way of Life can be envisioned as a ‘wild seed’ that is spread far and wide.  Our common vocation is to continue to feel for how it sits in our lives and local communities as well as across the country.  One clear way forward is the desire for another retreat sometime in 2013.

Heather and Sue from Buderim on the Sunshine Coast (Qld) expressed their passion in forging an indigenous Australian spirituality and attending to the healing of the land element.  They described how the spirituality captured in Ray’s various written works had ‘hit the spot’.  We were inspired to hear of the way attentive prayer had begun to transform their relationship with the land and local non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal communities.  Praying for the land and with the people of the land seems essential for much God-given healing and creativity to be released.  The Buderim community develop creative symbols that sustain prayer and amongst other things transform choking weeds into ‘beloved enemies’ as camphor laurel plants become holding crosses and staves.  There may be in these initiatives particular symbols that better fit our Australian landscape than the renowned Celtic cross.  Buderim seems like an ideal location for the next retreat and we will explore this possibility.

Another point of clarity is the need for the Australia page on the Community of Aidan and Hilda website to be redeveloped so that it reflects the developments arising from this retreat as well as a wider range of community writing and relevant information.  It will probably be best to arrange an Australia focus more so than the current state based focus on this page.  Matt is committed to his ‘Musings from the Suburbs’ blog while Heather would like to develop a complementary blog ‘Musings from the Bush’.  We also invited Heather and Sue to provide a summary of their Buderim activities.  Belinda and Brad both enthusiastically expressed interest in providing regular written pieces that could be accessed on a redeveloped Australian website, for example via a pdf file or e-newsletter or for the regular Aidan Way publication.  Matt will outline some proposed website changes and consult with members. 

The final exciting development arising from our discussions was the decision to form an Australian Caim Council.  While the purpose and structure of such a body will more fully emerge, we have four initial members from various states: Belinda (Vic), Heather (Qld), Matt (NSW) and Wendy (Community Soul Friend) and an initial plan to meet via skype or other suitable means on a 6 monthly basis with intervening email contact and liaison with the international community as necessary.  Matt will chair the first meeting sometime in June 2011.  The initial meeting will review the actions contained in this document and anything else that seems significant.  Brad (SA) indicated that while he is happy to be consulted he is unable at this stage to commit to being part of the new council.  At session’s end we were satisfied that we had been able to take some significant steps in formally birthing the Community of Aidan and Hilda in Australia.