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Friday, 05 August 2011 00:31

A swimming Sister

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The term 'meditation' conjures images of closed eyes, composed bodies, and a conscious 'shutting out' of the world for a time.  Sister of St Joseph Carmel Moore, 76, prefers a more contemporary image, reflected in her practice of a daily swim at Merewether ocean baths.

"One of the mystics," she recalls, "says that God is a sea, and you plunge in. I feel very drawn to the water. I feel so at home there, I just love it!"

It's appropriate then that after a long career in education in the Hunter, Carmel leads Living Waters Meditation and Spirituality Centre at The Junction in Newcastle, a ministry which began 14 years ago, and as Carmel says, "It's never looked back! Over 700 people have come to pray and meditate."

Living Waters is open to all; some have come weekly for many years, others have stopped and started. Not all need the ongoing support of a group, although once she's encountered an individual, Carmel can't help wondering - have they made a space in their lives?

Pope Benedict has stated that "the church is on the verge of a new dynamic". Carmel ties this to the growing inclination towards spirituality, the search for the true self. It's natural for people to ask 'who am I?' and 'what is the meaning of what I'm doing here?' and they know intuitively that the answers are not in a book or a sermon they're within themselves. It's all about bringing the disparate parts of our being to a harmony and finding the answers inside, where God is constantly calling us."

Living Waters offers experiences of meditation in the Christian tradition, and Carmel has her own take on this. "As one wonderful young woman said to me, 'We have Christ'. No other religion speaks about the God who entered our way of life. So it's not about what facts you know about Jesus, but about the context of love. God is love, the love that envelops us and connects us to the whole universe. So we're not sitting alone in isolation gazing inwards, we're actually wrapped in love."

Christian meditation is flourishing worldwide and particularly in Australia. "I think there is a contemplative dimension in our culture, it may come from our Aboriginals, you see people just staring at the ocean, you see the love of the outdoors, an ability to just 'be' - and that's a good starting point."

This story, written by Tracey Edstein, was first published in Aurora, the magazine of the Newcastle-Maitland Diocese. Pathways thanks Auruoa editor Tracey Edstein for permission to republish.  Photos also by Tracey Edstein.

Pathways March 2011