Faith under a gum tree

“And don’t forget I’m going to Mass at five-thirty,” I said to one of my girls. “Why go, when you say you are spiritually fulfilled while talking to God under a gum tree in a dry river bed?” she replied. Hmm, easy question!

It’s not as easy to find a dry river bed around Canberra when compared to the centre of Australia. I lived in Alice Springs for 11 years and while there, my spirituality blossomed from the size of a marble to the massive rock at Uluru! For me, God’s backyard is found around the deserts of Central Australia. I know God is present in every moment, but never more so when sitting in the quiet stillness of a sandy river bed, surrounded by massive mountains and very old gum trees.

My children say they also find God in the outdoors, that they don’t need a church and priests. But the trouble is, they don’t take the time to sit and reflect with Him. It’s only in desperate times that they turn to faith and it usually takes the form of “Mum, will you say some prayers for me?” and I reply, “Yes, but the prayers are more effective if you join in!” When I tell them that I offered up my Sunday Mass for their problem they say thanks, knowing that I always pray for them. My spirituality is fulfilled by both the indoors and outdoors. I love the ritual and companionship of worship at Mass and I love the solitude of being alone in nature with Jesus and my guardian angel.

I began to question and learn about my faith when my spirituality was marble size. In my late 30s I believed in limbo, feared God and attended Mass as commanded. My mother was Irish Catholic and religion was a major force in my childhood and teenage years – I didn’t question a thing. Now I consider everything and proudly say ‘I’m Catholic.’

My own children and grandchildren question all aspects of religious teaching and like to make their own decisions on faith. They call themselves Christians, rather than Catholic. That’s okay because even if they don’t realise it, they are following the example of Christ’s teachings.