Tuesday, 21 June 2016


June 21 is officially our shortest day of the year, or you could say that it was our longest night. In the southern hemisphere we call it the Winter Solstice

No matter which way you look at it whether you call it midwinter or the darkest night, the Winter Solstice for many people is a reflection of how they feel about life ­- especially at this time of the year. In the midst of a dark, cold and lonely time of grief and loss, depression, separation and isolation; there are many who seem to get stuck in their own Winter Solstice. Someone who had suffered a long bout of depression called it ‘The Dark Night of the Soul.’

Worldwide, interpretation of the Winter Solstice has varied from culture to culture, but most cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time. (Wikipedia)

You may not have even given it a thought, let alone celebrate it as the ancients have done, but the truth is that everyone one of us will at some time experience our own emotional / mental / spiritual Winter Solstice -  our own darkest night.

The longer it goes on, the more we begin to think when will this darkness lift? When will the sunlight dawn upon my life again? Where is the hope of Spring … of new life … of being touched again with the warmth of love? The ancient writer of Ecclesiastes wrote some comforting words: 
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace

Out of the darkest and most challenging situations we can choose to grow and evolve, just as a majestic butterfly emerges from the solace of a dark cocoon, awakening and bursting forth into the sun’s light and finally exuding the magnificent beauty that has lain hidden within. The message of Winter Solstice is one of the exquisite magic of transformation and change that weaves our soul’s truth with the physical world.**

Another ancient philosopher has said:
“What the caterpillar perceives to be the end, is to the butterfly just the beginning” ***

So … may you embrace God’s peace and comfort to turn your darkest night into your brightest day, and your scars into stars; and may you experience fresh hope in your darkest hour. After all, it is always darkest just before the dawn. 

Warmest greetings
Chaplain Gary

* Ecclesiastes 3 (New International Version)
*** Buddhist saying

Tuesday, 29 March 2016


 I wonder just …
  • how many parents or teachers been exasperated by rolling eyes and the distasteful comment "whatever"?  
  • how many parents have become despondent about their parenting style when they see their teenage & adult kids no so much ‘go off the rails’ but turn their backs on the values & principles taught & hopefully modelled to them as young children with "whatever"?
  • how many adults reach boiling point when they see other adults completely selfishly disregard the rights of others insisting on ‘whatever’ they want  
I often wonder about that word ‘whatever’, and how as parents and teachers we seemed to have missed so many opportunities to capitalise on teachable moments to the basic ‘whatevers’.


  • whatever we do or say will leave a lasting imprint on someone’s life for good or harm
  • whatever we say—or don’t say—has the power to give life or cause death to someone’s soul
  • whatever we want to achieve in life make sure that it is not at the expense of someone else
  • we can get whatever we want in life by firstly helping someone else get whatever they want ( a paraphrased quote from Zig Ziglar)
  • by focusing on the positive ‘whatevers’ of honesty, integrity, faithfulness, punctuality

The ‘Y’s’ (wise words) of WHATEVER:
integrity, honesty, trustworthy, punctuality, sincerity, beauty, charity, bravery, chastity, courtesy, empathy, sympathy, humility, frugality, loyalty, industry, mercy, modesty, purity, reliability, simplicity, sobriety, tranquillity

I encourage every parent, teacher, mentor & coach to have a fresh look at this non-exhaustive list of values / virtues. Resolve today to make a commitment to bring about shift in understanding to our young children and teens to the ‘whatever’ comments. Counteract every ‘whatever’ with a positive wise statement rather than a critical or negative inflammatory come-back.

I encourage every parent, teacher, mentor & coach to use every teachable moment especially for their toddlers, pre & primary school children. Use language that is focused on the ‘Y’s’ (wise words) of WHATEVER.

The last thing need yet another school program to teach values; or worse still introduce another form of religious, social or political based agendas of indoctrination. However, before we can get our children back to the simplicity of life and the responsibility and integrity of their words, attitudes and actions; we grown ups need to reclaim for ourselves this lost set of virtues and values that are indeed wholesome ‘whatevers’.

One very wise writer put it this way:

‘Finally … whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’  Philippians 4:8 English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)

Thursday, 31 December 2015

HERE WE GO AGAIN - in 2016

Just how many words or phrases can you associate with the phrase ‘Happy New Year’? In my brainstorming I have come up with quite a random collection:

  • Resolution
  • Déjà vu
  • Ground Hog Day
  • Been there done that
  • Bran Nue Dae
  • Looking forward - looking back
  • Milestones and markers
  • Rear-view mirror
  • Here we go again

… and so the list could grow!

Here we go again! Yes it is a new year – already! Where did 2015 disappear to? What have I achieved so far? And what do I hope that the rest of 2016 will bring? How will it all unfold?

As far as New Year’s resolutions go, I have been in the habit for the past umpteen years of making the same resolution every year: Not to make any New Year’s resolutions! Believe it or not I have always achieved that … up until this a couple of years ago. I must confess I made a different one: To make sure that every clock in our house & car was set at the right time all the time. How frustrating it is to go from one room to another only to look at the clock and be confronted with the thought “Am I two minutes early or five minutes late?*#!” So far so good ... for that New Year’s resolution has continued working!
I'm thinking I will return to not making any again.

One thing about beginning a new year that sometimes bothers me, is that it reminds me a  bit of ‘Ground Hog Day’ or Déjà vu. As each New Year that comes, if I keep doing the same things that I did last year and the year before that and so on, then more than likely I will just simply keep getting the same results as I have done in the past.

So for me to make 2016 a Bran Nue Dae (brand new day) that is different to last year, then somehow I must make a choice to do something different.

Travelling along the highway is relatively easy when you have a straight road ahead, but still one does need to make use of the rear-view mirror to keep track of where we’ve been or what coming up from behind; as well as looking out for the milestones, markers and signposts along the way to let us know that we are on track … as well as watching out for any potholes to avoid!

So … welcome to 2016. Happy New Year to you and your family. Welcome to new bloggers and welcome back to all you ‘oldies’. May this year bring fresh challenges and surprising rewards, and when you are tempted to have the attitude ‘here we go again!’ … may you be able to look at the task with ‘Bran Nue’ eyes of expectation and hope.


Chaplain Gary