Tag Archives: Australia

Barefooting

People who know me usually know that I’ve had neck and upper back pain that varies from mild to excruciating for years. Most of my friends also know that it’s one my favourite projects: I’m always trying a new body-mind therapy, a new osteopath (Hi Tim!), a different kind of chair or something – all in the interests of trying to quiet the occupational agony of the geek.

Most people probably assume that this is all nonsense and none of it’s had any effect, but while the frequency of me talking about my back hasn’t diminished much over the years, the actual pain definitely has. The various therapies have helped me get a better sense of the emotional repressions I habitually do, which result in constantly winding more tension into my back. They’ve also helped me end many of those habits. Simple, practical stuff like a good working chair and a better arranged workspace helps me not re-offend, as does some exercise, chiefly: walking.

I’ve been reading stuff about walking and running barefoot for a couple of years and recently I’ve started trying to go for long-ish walks barefoot. A few things seem to be happening as a consequence:

  • I’m learning to engage with the ground in a different way, more involving my big toe and the ball of my foot, this seems to be gradually making the painful bit of connective tissue behind the ball of my foot calm down. Win!
  • The whole way my legs and pelvis work together as I walk is balancing in a different way, this seems to be shifting my spine to a more balanced position, and I’ll be darned if my shoulders aren’t shifting naturally backwards, my neck getting more erect and the shoulder pain lessening one more quantum. Win!
  • This is a big one: it’s really, really joyful to walk barefoot. I feel like breaking into a run spontaneously. I feel connected to the ground in a more intimate way. A surge of energy seems to rush out of the ground and up the front of my body from time to time. I feel like a kid, I want to hope up on walls and jump over things. This isn’t exercise, this is hilarious. Win!!!

Summary: Win! I like going barefoot.

But… it’s winter in Sydney and in the mornings (my favourite walking time) it’s just too cold to comfortably walk, the pavements have broken glass, all the palm trees are dropping little hard seeds, every little rock and bump hurts more when your feet are cold. It’s a low-joy event.

Enter the compassionate hand of My Beloved who decided to buy me for my birthday a pair of FiveFingers Classics. We went to pick them up today and I walked home in them. As advertised, just like going barefoot, with a tiny bit of cushioning, so that hard things don’t hurt, I don’t fear broken glass, but I still get that direct perceptual link to the ground.

It’s very hard to convey how happy I’ve been from the simple act of walking home “barefoot”. I may never wear a normal shoe again.

New church in Brisbane

Since I began my seminary studies, various people I’ve met in Brisbane have told me that they wish I were in Brisbane because they’d like to be part of a church like the AJC. Eventually, I met a chap called Prenna who had started to suspect his own vocation for the priesthood and I realised that these folks had what I call a “Stone Soup Problem”, so called in honour of the famous fairy tale about the soup stone.

A soup stone problem is one is which a community has everything it really needs to take an agreed action, but it needs a little injection of faith to galvanise collective action. I love soup stone problems.

I invited the people who had spoken to me to a meeting and proposed to them that they work together to form a “narthex” or lay community of the AJC. They agreed to undertake the necessary work and to support Prenna in applying to to the church lead the narthex. The AJC requires that anyone taking on a public role on behalf of the church undergo background checks as well as writing essays intended to clarify their intentions in the work they are proposing to undertake. This all took some time to manage and a certain amount of money and effort on behalf of all the people involved.

This week all this effort has borne fruit. The Apostolic Council of the church approved the group’s application and announced the formation of the Saint Teresa of Àvila Narthex, the church’s second community in Australia and tenth globally.

On Sunday, I had the enormous privilege of not only announcing that to the group in Brisbane, but also of baptising and confirming some of them and formally receiving a few more into the community of the AJC. We held a Eucharist in a park next to the Brisbane river and baptised Prenna through full immersion as people fished nearby and played soccer in the park. A very public coming-out for a new church!

It has been an enormous privilege to shepherd this community into formation and to initiate several of them into our beautiful tradition. I am deeply grateful to the people of St Teresa’s for their commitment, faith, hard work, perseverance, intelligence and love. They are a remarkable group of people and I foresee great things in their work together.

I offer my continuing blessings for their work and my ongoing practical support.

There will be photos soon I hope. I’ll post again when I’ve collected some of them. There may even be a video of the baptismal moment!