Good coffee. A walk in the bush. A catechism class for sixth-graders.
But also prayer, parish visits and cherished time spent in community.
In this month's installment of GSR's feature about the unique, challenging and very specific lives of women religious around the world, our panelists write about renewal and rejuvenation on a day unlike most others. The Life asks:
How do you spend Sundays?
Sarah Puls was a social worker before becoming a Sister of the Good Samaritan in Australia. She currently works with asylum seekers and refugees as a caseworker.
My favorite way to spend a Sunday is to go for a long bushwalk.
If I set out early, I am surrounded and uplifted by the early morning bird song of the Australian bush. The bushland where I walk most often is the land of the Dharawal people, who cared for and nurtured the area for many thousands of years. Currently, it is the home of a retreat house, a religious community, a farm and bush regeneration areas.
In the bushland, the characteristic eucalyptuses include tall gums with pale trunks and gray-green leaves, and shorter trees with bark that is dark and rough and makes you wonder if it met a bushfire in recent years. Wildflower blooms, including flannel flowers and local violets, come and go as the year progresses, and if I am away too many weeks in a row, I wonder about what blooms I will have missed through my absence.
Going walking in the bush allows me the physical grace of knowing my strength and energy and rejoicing in my freedom and in the gift that it is to be present with these plant and animal neighbors who speak through their beauty and their gentle song.
There is a native grevillea bush that grows on the plateau near to the river and prompts me to reflect on the way it protects its seedpods. The grevillea bush is a scratchy and forbidding plant, with glorious grevillea flowers and thin branches covered in spikes that poke aggressively at human skin. The seedpods grow hard and strong to the size of an olive before splitting dramatically in half to allow two or three small, confetti-like seeds to float away on the breeze.
Walking in the bush, holding a split and empty seedpod, marveling at the way it so determinedly and effectively protects what is growing within, I feel echoes of my own experience of God and I feel that I am held safe and protected.
Traipsing through the bush among the gum trees, smelling the sweet eucalyptus in the air, my spirit is rested and renewed. I know myself to be safe and loved, and I give thanks and pray that the grace of that knowledge sustains me as I am called to be neighbor in my ministry with people in trauma. I pray that they too may know themselves to be safe, loved and protected.