World Service #13 Christmas 2020

I hope you will allow me a little indulgence in this end of year edition.
I am including two of my favourite songs .

The first is by the late Leonard Cohen, simply entitled ‘Anthem’. I first heard it at a Richard Rohr retreat in Canberra some years ago. In the context of self-reflection, it made a big impact: I was completely blown away!
It is a denunciation of perfectionism and contains such poetic wisdom. So beautifully done!

The second is a song from the Late Late Service in Glasgow, which I visited in 1995. I play it every Christmas morning.
It picks up Leonard Cohen’s theme in the context of the paradox of the Christian assertion that ‘God’ expressed God’s self in space and time as a human being. Is Christmas Cohen’s crack in the Universe?

The centre-piece of this edition is a YouTube video that was shared with me. A beautifully filmed, heart-warming story that begins with a woman returning to a bushfire-ravaged part of Victoria for the funeral of her next door neighbours, who lost their lives in the fire. What happens next is amazing; I share my reflections on the process that unfolds; surely an excellent example of how one person’s intuition leads step by step to unexpected places. A copy of my commentary is below the video.

I hope you have a safe and happy Christmas and enter the new year with inspiration and hope.

The process of acting on intuition: Strathewen


World Service #12

This program was put together on the eve of the declaration of polls in the US election.

Looking on, I am reminded of a comment by Miroslav Volf – that elections and enacting policy are one thing, but solving problems demands a ‘conversion of desire, responsible moral agency (love and solidarity), courageous truth telling and persistent hope.’ Well-said, but easier said than done!

Here are three young American women with southern accents expressing just such commitment. Be a Light by a trio calling themselves Charlotte Ave sing of such things. They demonstrate  the only way I know forward – for each of us to be evangelists recruiting others to join the creative movement for love and justice in whatever realm we choose.

Wendell Berry takes up the theme of peace. He reads his poem, Peace of Wild Things.

This poem is included in the second edition of Tools of the Trade: Poems for new doctors (Scottish Poetry Library, 2016). A copy of Tools of the Trade was given to all graduating doctors in Scotland from 2014 to 2018. How wonderful that the Deans of all the medical schools in Scotland should equip new doctors with poetry as a means of nurturing their virtuous vocations! We also may immerse ourselves in resources that inspire and encourage positive spirituality and strengthen that spiritual life by practicing what nurtures us with others day by day.

Film buff, Steve Parker and I recently previewed a new film together, soon to  hit our cinemas. Corpus Christi is a Polish film, based on a true story of a young Polish man who always wanted to become a priest, and did so by impersonation. In Film Chat with Steve Parker we discuss some of the themes this film evokes.

Awe and wonder are two of the great spiritual virtues. They bridge the sciences to our humanity. This short demonstration is like a meditation leading to beauty. I think awe and wonder are a great antidote to self-motivated hubris.

In this edition of Sun Spots I propose Kubler-Ross’s Stages of Grief as a more universal model; thinking about how we have been responding to the COVID lockdown, with echoes of behaviour we observe during the USA election campaign.

You may have noticed that in each edition of The World Service I try to include something that reminds us of human diversity. It is so important to our own spiritual growth that we engage with others different to ourselves. I have included a short trailer of a film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, simply called Human. The complete film is accessible on YouTube.

With NAIDOC Week approaching, I have included a short film produced by KPMG, outlining their stance on Aboriginal Reconciliation. For me, this film illustrates the consciousness of  soul-based corporate organisation. It illustrates a radically post-industrialist approach, reminiscent of principles I applied during my leadership of the Oasis Centre at Flinders University. The governing metaphor is the heart, from which spring the values of the organisation and the expression of those values.

The KPMG film leaves us with the challenge of imagining. Appropriate introduction to a beautiful rendition of the Cranberries song, Dreams, by the Zoom choir, Irish Women in Harmony – a group of 40 incredibly talented Irish female musicians, as part of a fundraiser that took place in June 2020.

Please enjoy.
Let me know what you appreciated
And send links to material that inspires and encourages to


World Service #11

This World Service takes a bit of a turn away from personal wellbeing toward the post-COVID agenda – the kind of world we might want to build post-COVID.

Who would have thought of serenading a bull elephant by playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata? Beneath the obvious act of compassion, lies the story of an elephant and the trauma this magnificent creature has suffered.  – which you find out reading the pianist’s notes. Yes, we need more of this amazing communication with animals. It is so humanising.

The pianist, Paul Barton explains on his Facebook page:

Mongkol is a 61-year-old former logging elephant. His captive-held life was spent hauling trees in the Thai forest. He lost his right eye and tusk in this brutal practice. Mongkol was rescued and brought to Elephants World to spend the rest of his days relaxing peacefully in freedom by the River Kwai. I discovered Mongkol is an extremely gentle, sensitive elephant who enjoys music, which I play to him occasionally in the day and night.

I hope you are able to set anxieties and tensions aside to really relax with this music and feel the love between the player and the elephant.

The film The Translators looks like a good thriller. Steve Parker thinks it may be one of many good foreign films being currently shown in cinemas because the big movie houses are holding back on releasing their big blockbusters. COVID-19, particularly in the US, has got in the way of the usual rush to see the new multimillion dollar commercial films as they are released. Off camera, Steve and I had a long conversation about the publishing industry. Plenty to think about for a more humane postCovid world.

‘Sun Spot’ shines on a person I have got to know over the last year or so. Al Stewart established the School of Nutrition and Diatetics in the Medical School at Flinders university. Since his retirement about thirty years ago he has thrown himself into innovative methods of solving complex problems through conversation. Eventually this led him to his own contribution to this field, which he calls Conversare. Al is passionate about promoting ‘conversational communities’. There may be clues here for those concerned with rebuilding community and welcoming the stranger.

I have turned to ‘Playing for Change’ again for a final catchy multicultural song to go out on. Personally, I find this kind of constant rhythm quite conducive to what I might call ‘positive meditation’ –  music lifting the spirit to happy places.

I hope you enjoy!


World Service #10

I wonder if, like me, in such a privileged situation in South Australia, life seems to have returned pretty much to ‘normal’ over this last month. I’m sure that is not the case for everyone in our seeming Covid-free State, particularly those who have lost jobs. And not for some other parts of Australia. Who knows what ‘normal’ means for the many countries who have little chance of getting on top of this virus.

The danger for me as an Aussie is that I’m pretty good at managing the tangible, but not so good with the things I can’t see or touch. I think the cultural tendency is that if I can’t see it, it’s not there, it’s not real, and I see no reason to change my self-interested behaviour – unless I’m in danger of a fine!!

One of my hopes is that the spiritual intangibles of kindness, thoughtfulness and appreciation of others, having been so evident during the bushfires and at the beginning of the pandemic, will continue to influence us and grow stronger among us, shifting our values away from a dependency on self-interested consumerism. In one way, the virus has forced us in that direction, despite fights in supermarkets for toilet paper early on! But clearly, unless there is a change to the way we depend on ever-increasing growth to sustain our economy, unless we change the way we view what is important for a good life, in all likelihood, post COVID, the spiritual gains will be lost to the hegemony of competition and the dollar, winners and losers and the ills of social dislocation.

In this edition:
*a comic segment about gloomy individualism in public
*film chat about parental expectations
*10 strategies for surviving the lockdown
*more on understanding the meaning of compassion
*a foot-tapper with a message to hum along with

I hope you enjoy it. Follow me on this website if you want to keep in touch with new editions as they arise. They are not regular. I only share when I think there is something worthwhile for me to say (in my humble opinion!). And I always appreciate your feedback and suggestions.


World Service #9

When asking an economist what he thought the government should do about continuing with Job Keeper and Job Seeker, a reporter got the reply, ‘It just depends on how nice they want to be’. Now there’s a great question! What is the importance of kindness and compassion in economics? Discuss. English actor Emma Thompson comes out with a beautiful contribution, summing up her view in a poem.

I noticed a short film about an act of compassion by a radio station, expressed by one of their announcing teams. The cynical side of me immediately questioned the motivation behind this display of generosity – buying a good name for their radio bosses immersed in the competitive fight for dominance of the air-waves? But there it was. As they say, ‘it is what it is’. In this case, generosity and compassion. ‘Good things happen, when people are good to each other’.

Steve Parker @ontherunmovies reviews a film currently in cinemas. It looks like a good view. In prior conversation I had shared with Steve how much I had enjoyed a three part series about Bill Gates, on Netflix. On camera, Steve turned the tables on me! So we have two film reviews!

A new album has just been released by a singer I had not come across before, Carrie Newcomer. For me, an appropriate name! But I came across her because in this new album she sings words by Parker J. Palmer – a wonderful thinker and writer in the field of education. I have admired his work for a long time. But in trawling through YouTube videos of her singing I came across this song – ‘You Can Do This Hard Thing’, so appropriate for these times.

I hope you enjoy this edition. Follow me on this website if you want to keep in touch with new editions as they arise. They are not regular. I only share when I think there is something worthwhile for me to say (in my humble opinion!). And I always appreciate your feedback and suggestions.


World Service #8

Recently I received a post from my good friend Steven Koski.

I was so tired but not the tired that required more sleep. I traveled to Santa Sabina Retreat Center for a silent retreat. I scheduled spiritual direction with one of the nuns hoping to be given spiritual work that would rejuvenate my tired soul and reinvigorate my passion for my work. Sister Helen had super powers. Just looking into my eyes she could see I was trying to convince the world, and myself, of my competence and worth. Sister Helen looked at me with kind eyes that held no judgment and gently said, “Steven, I know you’ve come to accomplish and achieve spiritual renewal. My suggestion is for you to do absolutely nothing while you are here. Just BE. Walk the grounds. Eat nourishing meals. Drink tea slowly and reverently. Sit in silence until you are silenced. Be present to the Love from which you can never be separated. Know you are loved apart from any work you do. You are loved apart from anything you accomplish. Rest in Love.”
The well of my own resources was dry. I feared others would find out.
I took time to drink from the waters of Silence and it quenched my relentless thirst of continually needing to prove myself.
I am loved.
You are loved.
We are loved apart from any work that we do.
Here’s the spiritual paradox – The more important and transformative the work you do the more important it is to know you are loved with or without doing that work. There is no more important work today than being used in service for the healing and restoration of this deeply broken world.
We can’t afford to quit.
Do what you can to refill the well.
Let your soul catch up with your body.
This moment needs the fullness and shining light of your beautiful soul.

Steven Koski 25 July 2020

What a beautiful story!

I am reminded of the Identity Life Triangle I shared back in World Service #5.
In this case, the External Other, Sister Helen, validates and affirms Steve’s WHO I AM and directs him away from his WHAT I DO to focus his attention on the person he is – one who is beloved. We catch a glimpse of the whole schema in action, from Steve’s presenting WHAT I NEED through to the External Other empowering him to revive his own vocation as the affirming, empowering External Other for others in their need.

Big hand to everyone fighting Covid 19 while trying to pivot to a fairer and just society.


World Service#7

In World Service #7:

A meditation that takes us to The Stirling Ranges in Western Australia.

More thoughts about the Drama Triangle and a short film of a person who transcends its negativity.

Steve Parker reviews a new film.

And we conclude with an old Cindy Lauper song that takes on new meaning during this pandemic.

As usual, we value your responses to the program and ideas and resources that may be shared with others.

So settle back, relax and enjoy what I hope will be for you a gentle, thoughtful, half-hour spiritual massage – what is inspiring us during, what for many, is a tough time.

We begin, as usual, by turning our thoughts to indigenous peoples.


World Service #6

As I go on this Covid 19 journey of discovery, reflecting on ideas and strategies that have helped me in my life, and sharing them, I find myself discovering more about who I really am.

Intuitively, I wanted to open the video with birds in flight. At the time, I was thinking about how such a strong commitment to ‘freedom’ in the USA, enshrined in their constitution, is creating a lawlessness and disregard for the safety of others in this unprecedented period of history. Everybody, particularly in the southern states wants to ‘fly’. They seem to be saying:’I have a right to fly!’

This ‘Land of the Free’ is having great difficulty in having to be ‘locked up’, as it were. The whole US society is, and will increasingly, suffer as a result of not understanding the spirit of its constitution, and particularly the context when it was drafted. The so-called ‘right to bear arms’ is another example of the trouble a country gets in with this thinking; and the President is not slow to tap into this consciousness to justify his own narcissistic agenda.

This morning as I was about to upload the video to YouTube, these thoughts crystallised into a little poem, which I have included. This is triggering a recovery of my love of battling to get the right words to assemble into the framework of poetry, to sharpen my thinking.

That idea in the poem – that we have more power to shape our circumstances than we may think, seemed to emerge, as I put together the mish-mash of what has been impressing me recently.

In the process a more magazine-like structure is emerging – what’s being written in music, what film-makers are saying, as well as short meditations, poetry, and the segment I share about self-empowerment and kindness to myself and to others.

In addition, Real Time Heart-based Community Projects has given me the opportunity to have a Zoom chat each week, that I have called ‘The Dance Within’. Click on the link by my photo at:

Contact them if you want to offer something within the collective they have set up. And you might like to join in one of the activities.

Do keep in touch. I am always interested in what you think and are doing for yourself and others.

What I’ve Realised Project
During the month of July, email me a paragraph or two about ‘what I’ve realised about myself’ during the Covid 19 crisis. Your thoughts will contribute to future programs.

If you find the program helpful, ‘follow’ it and share with others.

Song Words


World Service #5 Healing

In this program, I continue to document what inspires and encourages me from what I see around me during this pandemic period, and to offer a thought or two about what has helped me in my own life. 

We begin, as always, with an acknowledge of our indigenous peoples, who continue to live with the pain of dispossession and marginalisation. I pay my respects to the Kaurna people on whose land I live, and to their elders, past, present and emerging. May we walk together in harmony.

Then a short reflection to remind us of the wonderful natural world that has been given to all humankind – a heritage that continues to teach and inspire us. 

I came across two poems from the lockdown that have maintained my hope and encouraged me. One is actually a submission to the UN, the other a beautiful response to a poem that has meant so much to her.

I continue to share my thoughts about one of the songs Alanis Morissette has written during this period. And, in response, I offer another life triangle that may be helpful for us to understand what may underlie the pain she shares. I have copied this part of the program into a separate document that may be downloaded. It’s at the bottom of this page below the video.

Thank you to Jo for introducing me to the wonderful talent of the Moffatt Brothers – we finish with them singing a Michael Jackson cover I think is so relevant if we are to maintain the momentum for a new ‘normal’ that is more fair and honest.

My apologies if you have already seen any of the videos I share in this edition, messages from our poets and musicians – and everyday people – reaching out to the world during the lockdown. I think it is worth continuing to ponder their thoughts, to continue to allow these voices from the heart to feed our own inner transformation, particularly at this time of Rage against injustice, linked inextricably to our history of dispossession by the more powerful – dispossession brought to sharp relief during this pandemic. 

I hope you enjoy and benefit from sharing this time with me.

If you would like to talk about any of these programs on Zoom, or contribute to them, the details are below.


Live Zoom chat every Sunday morning at 11, South Australian Time.


“I’m doing this for me.”

Sounds entirely selfish doesn’t it? But I wonder whether one of our most basic needs is to be able to share whatever we have to give for the benefit of others. Giving to others, whether it be through paid or volunteer work, creative ventures or our human relationships seems to me to be a basic need that brings with it a sense of satisfaction that I am valued.

Henri Nouwen once said, ‘We will never believe we have anything to give unless there is someone able to receive’.

I used this idea in my first book, An Improbable Feast, to stress the importance of listening. Listening enables the other to share what they may desperately want to tell. Listening is the antidote to closing in on one’s self. Listening is a preventative to the emergence of the emotionally damaging belief that ‘no-one cares’.

But it also works the other way. That for my own emotional good I need to express myself; and I do so with the intention of contributing to the project of human well-being and human flourishing. And that makes me feel good! Whether someone is prepared to listen is something else!