Sunday, February 27, 2011

An adventure, a homily and some flowers

One of the men wanted to take advantage of the spectacular weather yesterday evening to go out for something to eat.  Because of track work the train was not running from the Pymble station, a fact we did not know until we got there.  However, there was a shuttle bus running to the train station in Gordon, the next town.  So we took it. 

We found a very good Japanese restaurant with reasonable prices and large portions.  We decided to walk home, a journey that should (emphasis on should) have taken about 30 minutes had we stayed on the Pacific Highway.  However, Michael wanted to walk a road with less traffic.  So we made a right and then a left with him working on the assumption that the road would parallel the Pacific Highway and me working on the assumption that he knew what he was doing.  We were both wrong.  One hour and forty minutes later we approached Canisius College from a mile to the west when if fact we should have approached from the east.  As best I can figure we made one enormous circle.  A circle marked by hills.  Lots of them.  Steep hills.  Oh, and we had to ask directions thrice.  The shame.  The anguish.   Asking for directions?  I guess Korean guys don't mind but this American male was not about to ask directions.  I think there is a law against it.  Nonetheless, we got back more or less in one piece and speaking to each other.  However,  I learned two things:  There is a very good Japanese restaurant in Gordon.  The second is, stick to familiar routes.  

After the public Mass in the chapel we had tea so as to afford the tertians a chance to meet the congregation that regularly comes to the chapel for Sunday Mass.  I celebrated and preached.  Because the Gospel included the famous comparison of the lillies of the field with Solomon's raiment it seemed only appropriate to include a few photos of flowers at the end of the homily. 

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Public Mass Campion College)
27 February 2011

Is 49:14-15
Ps 62:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
1 Cor 4:1-5
Mt 6:24-34

“Get your priorities straight”
“Her priorities are all mixed up.”
“Just what ARE your priorities?”

Most likely, we’ve all been the target of such a statement—perhaps at school when cricket or football were so much more engrossing than maths and our grades reflected our fascination.

Or we’ve hurled such a critique.  Maybe it was at the neighbor who, despite complaining about her credit card debt, just bought a $700 pair of heels (on sale of course) or went on a cruise. 

Certainly one would level such a criticism at a young father who spends every weekend golfing and pub crawling with his mates while his wife is a de facto single mother, to three children under five. 

We all need the occasional reality check.  Sometimes we have to ask ourselves, “What ARE my priorities?”  We have to ask ourselves that before someone is screaming the same question at us.   What do we need from God?  What must we ask of God in prayer? 

In his letter Paul is expressing his indifference to others’ opinions of him and of his work.  He is confident in his role as a steward of God’s mysteries.  He is also aware that ultimately he will be judged at the appointed time.  Paul was never one to confuse his priorities.  He knew them and held them firmly.  He was unwilling to compromise in the face of criticism.  He did not waver at the threat of prison.  Or worse.  He was indifferent to all things, except one, the saving act of Jesus on the cross. 

There is nothing subtle about the gospel.  Some of the images are wonderfully poetic.  The comparison of Solomon’s raiment to that of a lily is particularly stunning.  But these images make an important point in support of what Jesus is teaching.

This particular passage occurs about two-thirds of the way through the long Sermon on the Mount.  It is taken from a section of the sermon that commentators have named, “Life in the eschatological community,” from a subsection that gives particular instruction on authentic righteousness.

There is an unfortunate edit in the version of the Gospel just proclaimed.  “You cannot serve God and wealth.”  The translation is accurate.  But it does not do justice to the more well known translation, “You cannot serve both God and mammon”—mammon written with a lower case, not upper case, m. 

Contrary to popular belief and art, mammon is not meant to be a personification of the devil, satan, or some independent little g god.  Mammon, however, means much more than simply wealth.  Mammon derives from ancient Chaldean with its root in the word for confidence, or trust. “What do you trust in?” “Where do you place your confidence?” That implies much more than simply money.  It requires little linguistic magic to rephrase the question as, “What are your priorities?” 

There is another translation problem in this Gospel.  The choices of love and hate do not indicate the familiar emotions. Rather, they indicate the biblical idiom for choose and not choose.   We can only give our undivided service or attention to one master.  We cannot split our affection, devotion, and service.  Once more the question is one of priorities.

Jesus’ advice, “do not be anxious” about what you eat or what you wear is not directed only to the wealthy.  The poor can idolize what they do not have.  The poor can serve mammon as enthusiastically as the most corrupt business executive or the most morally bankrupt movie star.  The poor are as capable as the very wealthy of having badly misplaced priorities, of becoming anxious about how they look, how they dress, what they have or don’t have.  They are simply working with a smaller budget.  What is the answer?

In this part of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is advising his listeners to adopt the very Ignatian characteristic of indifference.  We read in part of the Principle and Foundation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius the following: “Therefore we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things as far as we are allowed free choice . . . .we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life.  The same holds for all other things.”  

Can we become indifferent to what we eat?  Can we maintain indifference toward  our bodies—particularly those signs of aging such as wrinkles, gray (or no) hair, age spots?  Can we be indifferent to the model of car we drive even though our neighbor has a brand new Mercedes? 

Shortly after entering the Jesuit novitiate, something that those of us in the current tertian class did at the minimum of 13 ½ years ago, each man learns a prayer attributed to St. Ignatius: The Suscipe.  Ideally it is part of his daily prayer and gives shape to how he lives, works and even how he spends his time for recreation. 

“Take Lord, and receive,
all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding, my entire will;
all I have and call my own.
You have given all to me, to You, Lord, I return it.
Everything is Yours, do with it what You will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace.
That is enough for me. 

The Suscipe in its turn, brings us back to the responsorial psalm.

“Only in God is my soul at rest;

from him comes my salvation.

He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold;
I shall not be disturbed at all.  . .
Trust in him at all times, O my people!

Pour out your hearts before him.”

Monday, February 21, 2011


 THON ended at 8:00 this morning (it is 8:20 PM Monday in Sydney but only 4:20 AM on the East Coast).  I watched the streaming download via computer intermittently throughout the weekend.  WOW!  That was the first word out of my mouth during “The Reveal” at 8:30 AM Sydney time. This year THON (AKA The Penn State Dance Marathon) raised $9,563,016.09, just under 2 million more than last year.  Would have loved to have been in the BJC (Bryce Jordan Center)  to hear the screaming when that last card with “9” came into view. 

What is THON?  Many things.  The largest student-run philanthropy in the world (involving 15,000 students), the longest college dance marathon in the country (46 hours), the oldest continuous one as well.  It benefits pediatric cancer research at Penn State Hershey Medical Center through the Four Diamonds Fund.  Its motto is FTK: For The Kids.

The Four Diamonds Fund is one of the most amazing organizations I’ve heard about.  Once a kid with cancer gets hooked up with the Four Diamonds Fund everything is taken care of.  Parents need a place to stay?  Check.  New tires to make the trip to Hershey?  Check.  Help with medications?  Check.  And money is donated to research as well. 

Prior to THON students raise money through a process known as “canning” when they stand outdoors collecting money on street corners and on roads.  I am very much a curmudgeon when it comes to little league baseball teams standing at busy intersections raising money from motorists stopped at traffic lights.  However, if I am in PA during a canning weekend there is nothing better than tossing in the donation live and in person. 

Once the kids begin dancing at 6:00 PM Friday afternoon they are not allowed to sit or lay down until THON ends at 4:00 PM Sunday.  There are morale boosters, slides coated with baby powder for sore feet, line dances, water pistol fights with the kids and their families (major Four Diamond Family presence throughout THON).  Yesterday I happened to catch the athletic teams doing dance routines to music from five decades of rock.  Amazing. 

By the time the final total was announced the BJC was packed to the rafters and approximately 9000 were on-line watching. 

With the exception of the Jesuit Arca during Lent THON is the only charity to which I donate annually.  United Fund?  Not on your life, or that of the unborn.

My only regret is that I’ve never been to the BJC during THON weekend  which is always the third weekend of February.  THON, which began very small in 1973, did not exist when I was a student.  My niece Kate, class of ’81, danced in one of the early ones.  She still describes the mix of exhilaration and delirium after being on her feet dancing for 48 hours.  I can imagine doing it and, during internship at Geisinger in 1978, did in fact spend many weekends from 8 AM Saturday to sometime Monday afternoon on-call.  OK, we got to sit down to write orders. 

For more detail see this link to Wikipedia which already has the 2011 total.
It is sad that while television networks pollute viewers’ brains with crap like Jersey Shore and the other forms of unreality TV, no one has thought to pick this up.  This is a lot better entertainment than watching those trashy broads (the only appropriate word for them) on the Real Housewives of Name-The-City.  No comment on the Kardashian family. 

When alumni give the standard greeting:  WE ARE . . . .
it is with the pride of knowing that THON exists at

. . . . PENN STATE

Monday, February 14, 2011

Busy weekend and a homily

 It was quite a busy weekend.  The NSW Art Gallery on Friday afternoon followed by several hours wandering around Sydney.  On Saturday the Opera House.  Sunday was a bit unusual. Michael, who is fluent in Mandarin, was asked to preach at the Mass celebrating Lunar New Year at the Jesuit Parish in North Sydney.  He was a little less thrilled when asked to give it in English as well.  So, he asked if I would smooth out his rough translation and preach the English version of the homily.  Tag team preaching.  It went very well.  Afterwards the Chinese community hosted a reception.  Very good food.  We both had the opportunity to meet a number of interesting people.  Aussies are a friendly, sociable, and welcoming group of people.  It is easy to feel at home here.  The first few photos are the church decorated for the Lunar New Year Mass.  The homily is appended at the end of the photos.   

The photo below is the old courtyard at the Sydney Hospital.  This was Friday afternoon.
And why a rose?  Its Valentine's Day!

6th Monday of Ordinary Time
14 February 2011
Gn 1:4-15, 25
Ps  50
Mk 8:11-13

Since last Monday the readings have been taken from the first 11 of the 50 chapters of Genesis. They are rich readings. They are sobering readings. 
They are rich because they tell us of our very beginnings as a people.  They are sobering because they tell us about ourselves as sinners, as a species that is congenitally prone to wrong action. 

First we heard of the goodness of creation; how God brought the universe and all it contains into being out of nothing.  A repeated refrain was, “God saw how good it was.” 

But then we heard of how it began to unravel.  The expulsion from the Garden.  The first murder.  Yet to come is the great flood, and the story of the tower of Babel.   

Understanding beginnings was crucial to the people of the Ancient Near East because the beginnings of things were thought to disclose their character and purpose.  These were not always good beginnings. 

The stories we heard and will hear for the rest of this week describe one form or another of human corruption and arrogance.  Each shows humans as flawed, individually and corporately.  Each of these ancient stories depicts the rebellious nature of the human race.  We are reminded in stark terms of the primary reality of being human.  We are sinners.  We are sinners loved by God.  But, we are sinners nonetheless. 

Not much has changed over the millennia since Genesis was written.  The desire for power, the desire for that which belongs to another, the desire to be masters of the universe have not disappeared.  These desires have continued unchecked.  Indeed, one need only read the papers on any given day to be overwhelmed with tales of murder, corruption, and greed. 

We still don’t get it.
Will we ever get it?

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Well, it happened for the first time in Australia.  Made my day.  And it was a very good day already.

My sisters gave me a generous Christmas present of a gift certificate to the Sydney Opera House.  As I’ve heard the operas being offered this half of the season, I checked the schedule for the Sydney Symphony.  The reward was huge.  Today’s program featured Berlioz’ Overture From Beatrice and Benedict, Brahms’ Violin Concerto and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #5.  The violin soloist Ray Chen is a young Taiwan-born Australian who studies at the Curtis in Philadelphia.  (He was GREAT).  I asked Michael, a Korean tertian, to go with me.

During the intermission, before hearing Tchaikovsky, Michael and I went to get some air.

It was much cooler in Sydney today with the threat of rain.  I wore my water repellant Penn State jacket. It has the classic interlocking Penn State on the left breast that is large enough to be read by anyone without cataracts.  As we emerged a woman walked up to me and asked, “Did you go to Penn State?”  Turns out she is an American from Latrobe, PA (home of Rolling Rock Beer, about 2 hours west of the University Park campus) who has lived in Australia for 23 years.  A friend visiting from the States was from Latrobe but a Pitt graduate (cue the minor friendly sparring).  We chatted about Sydney until the bell to return to our seats. 

Those who know me are aware of my affection for Penn State (ok, the kind of affection that would result in a spurt of blue and white were someone to slice one of my veins).  Dad did his pre-med there.  I entered there 41 years after he graduated.  Technically I graduated in 2006 (very long story) but I generally claim 1971, the year I left to enter Temple Medical, as my year.  It was the perfect place on all levels:  academic, social, and existential.  Friends I met during orientation week remain friends . . . with grandchildren!  Ten years after I finished my niece graduated from there.  (We text a lot during football games. Those texts are NEVER meant for publication.)

At Penn State I realized I had a brain and could think.  I’ll never forget walking to the dorm fall term sophomore year holding a dark green-covered copy of Morrison and Boyd Organic Chemistry.  THE most feared course for all pre-meds.  It was rather like carrying an original Guttenberg Bible.  It went well.  A year and half later, at the end of junior year, I was accepted to Temple Medical without a bachelor’s degree (which came in 2006).  My gratitude to PSU is undying. One of my former roommates still lives in town so I get there often, though not as often as when I lived in PA. 

The guys here have noticed (big surprise) that my five t-shirts all say Penn State.  As does my travel mug.  My baseball cap (a necessity in this sun).  And of course the jacket.  They haven’t seen my blazer which is back in D.C.  Yeah, Penn State lining and Nittany Lion buttons. 

One of the first places I will visit upon returning home is University Park.  There, as was true just before I started med school, residency, practice and so on up to the week before I was ordained, I will walk the campus for about six or so hours thinking, praying, contemplating and reveling in the atmosphere of one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth; not only because of the setting (which is spectacular) but because of what the university gave me:  Confidence.  Competence.  And an extraordinary education. 

And so:   WE ARE . . . .
 . . . . PENN STATE!!!
Old Main, my favorite building anywhere.
The Forum Building.  Had organic chemistry in here.  The room was packed.
Eisenhower Chapel.  Ike's brother Milton is a former PSU president.  I did not take the two below but had to include them. 
The Nittany Lion Shrine and . . . . .JOEPa!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The tertians are both part of the community at Canisius but also a bit apart from it.  Most days we join the community for daily Mass.   However, on Tuesdays and Thursdays we have Mass as a group without the rest of the community of externs, people from outside the community who come here for Mass.  I preached today.  The homily is below.  

5th Tuesday in Ordinary Time
8 February 2011
Gn 1:20-2:4a
Ps 8:4-9
Mk 7:1-13

In the first reading we heard:  “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.’

The psalm proclaimed:  “You have made him little less than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor.  You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet”

Sounds idyllic. 

Alas, today’s Gospel—and most of the rest of scripture—details the mess man has made of God’s gifts and creation.

The scene in today’s Gospel is contentious.  One does not come away from it feeling consoled so much as uncomfortable. There are no warm and fuzzy images here.  But, there is an astute description of human behavior.

The complaint that the disciples didn’t wash their hands before meals had nothing to do with matters of hygiene.  The complaint was against failure to observe the ritual hand washing meant to purify after contact with unclean objects as determined by the Law.  Jesus responded to the complaint by pointing out to his critics the hypocrisy of their actions; hypocrisy that preferred superficial action over true conversion of heart.  This theme recurs throughout the Gospels. 

As is always true of Jesus’ responses to controversial and contentious situations.  He did not mince his words. He was not proleptically apologetic  “I’m sorry, but in MY opinion.”  Nor did he give those with him an out by saying, “Well, I feel that . . . “ allowing for disagreement.

Jesus cited Isaiah’s criticism of empty rituals saying: “This people honors me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.”  That is the definition of hypocrisy; a word derived from Greek that means: play acting, acting out, coward or dissembling. 

Hypocrisy is tempting to all of us.  Hypocrisy is part of the sinful human condition.  It is much too easy.  But it takes a toll on the hypocrite who, if he has even a hint of insight, lives in constant fear of being found out. 

Consider the medical resident who had just finished laying down the law to a smoker the morning after she was admitted to coronary care with a heart attack.  The young doc was eloquent. He insisted—correctly—that smoking was the cause of the problem.  It was time to quit.  Period.  No wiggle room.  No rationalizations.  Smoking:  bad.  Smoker:  badder. 

And then young Dr. Kildare leaned over to listen to the patient’s damaged heart.  And a pack of cigarettes fell out of his white coat on to the sheet. 

In the red box.
They looked like neon on the pristine white bed sheet.

The patient began with hypocrite, liar and fundamentally dishonest.  That was all in the first sentence of her diatribe. I quit smoking that day in 1977.  

We are called to evaluate our actions through the daily examen.  Do they conform to what we profess?  Or are we acting?  As men of the Society of Jesus our first challenge is to recognize and admit  our own hypocrisies.  The second challenge is to conform our action to our words. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Hot town summer in the city . . .

 . . . .back of my neck gettin' dirty and gritty"

That classic #1 hit (16 August 1966 Billboard Top 100) by the Lovin' Spoonful is playing on iTunes.  Talk about an understatement.  The current temperature in Sydney is 41 degrees Celsius.  That translates into 105.8.  However,  the built in temperature reporting on the computer  (in Fahrenheit) gives the present temp in Sydney as 108!  This is the most searing heat I've ever experienced.  The forecast calls for rain and a drop of about 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) overnight.  To think that one year ago, on Sunday 7 February 2010 I took the photo of the patio in front of the Jesuit residence below during what came to be known as Snowpocalypse or Snowmaggedon in D.C.  The first of the two storms to paralyze the city. 

The sun here is intense.  There is apparently very little ozone which may explain why the colors on the beach seem so intense.   

While we were at Gerroa last week we watched at least part of the Australian Open most nights.  Each night we saw the same commercial at least twice.  It began with a group of teen-age boys doing summer things:  swimming, jumping off a dock, surfing and sunbathing,  all in baggies and no shirts.  Flash to one of the boys now in his twenties reminiscing about one of his buddies as the malignant melanoma on the buddy's neck and the MRI of the brain metastases that killed him appear on the screen.  It closes with the 26 year-old's photo, date of birth and date of death.   A powerful and important advertisement.  

We were in Gerroa for two weekends as well as Australia Day, a holiday.  The beach was crowded by 9 AM but almost deserted by noon.  It filled again much later in the day.   With good reason.  So, I am staying in again today, doing some editing, reading and lounging around in a pair of very old gym shorts and Penn State t-shirt.

Two more photos of the charming little critters one finds here.  The gull was on the beach early Monday morning.  The lizard was on the steps leading to the beach just before sunset the night before.  

Gotta get back to some editing and drinking vast amounts of water.  No A/C in the house except for the dining room in the retired father's part of the house, which is where we take our meals.  We also moved our morning conference there as the tertian's conference room was unendurable.

+Fr. Jack

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Photos of Sydney

These are the shots I couldn't get to load last night. 
Aussies love their water sports.  This was the first time I used the 'sport' setting on the camera to take a series of rapid shots as this kayaker pulled up. 
It wouldn't be an Australian beach without a few surfers.  This was 6:30 Monday AM, a few hours before we returned to Sydney..
This was sunset on the beach on the only cloudy evening.  One of the men said, "Look at that sunset" and John and I grabbed our cameras.  It lasted no more than five minutes but what a five minutes.

Having a camera in hand allows one to notice things that might go unnoticed without the camera.  This caught my eye one afternoon.  

It is very early in the AM.  Time for coffee, prayer and a quick walk before it gets too hot.  

+Fr. Jack, SJ

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Mal 3:1-4
Ps 24
Heb 2:14-18
Lk 2:22-40

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is one of my favorite feasts of the Church.  It is even more significant this year as the time for the Long Retreat is coming.  Among the most fruitful meditations the first time I made the retreat were those on the hidden life of Jesus.  They were fruitful in part because they were less contaminated by iconography and paintings of events such as the Nativity, Palm Sunday, the Crucifixion and so on.  Some of that art is mighty bad and theologically suspect.   Because of the lack of paintings and icons of the hidden life one is able to make a unique composition of place and application of the senses during the meditations. 

A short homily on the readings

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, traditionally known as Candlemas.  The Gospel passage is one of the many exquisitely beautiful ones found in Luke’s Gospel; a passage that includes Simeon’s prayer, the Nunc Dimitiis which the Church prays daily at the end of night prayer. 

More than any other Gospel, Luke gives us a window into Jesus’ family life.  The Annunciation, The Vistitation, Jesus’ birth, The Circumcision, Jesus’ presentation at the Temple and a brief look at Jesus at the age of 12.  Mary and Joseph were observant Jews who fulfilled all of the laws and customs surrounding the birth of a son.  They were indeed righteous people.  All of this emphasizes that Jesus was like us; like us in all things but sin. 

The story of Jesus is, above all, a human and humane one.  The details in Luke are ones with which we can identify.  Karl Rahner, SJ points out what is obvious in the second reading from Hebrews, Jesus “came into the world the same way we did in order to come to terms with the given facts of human existence, and to begin to die”

There are hints of this in Simeon’s cryptic comment to Mary “and you yourself, a sword will pierce” or, in another translation “and a sword will pierce through your own soul also.”  What did Mary feel when she heard these words?  Did she recall them later at the foot of the cross?

Thirty-five years in internal medicine and geriatric psychiatry have convinced me many times over that there is no deeper or intractable grief than that of  a parent who endures the death of a child at any stage of the child’s life; from miscarriage in the womb to death when the child has reached old age him or herself.  Despite the appalling popularity and use of the concept in the ill-informed media, there is no such thing as “closure” following the death of a child.  Only a new baseline.   Perhaps Mary was dimly aware of the future but she could have never imagined the mode of death as she and Joseph carried Jesus into the Temple.

Simeon and Anna are us.  They are us because just as we await Jesus’ coming in glory, they awaited his coming as the Messiah, the Promised One of Israel.  And they are examples for us because they recognized Jesus in the infant brought into the Temple.  Our challenge is to recognize Jesus when we encounter Him, wherever we encounter Him, and in whomever we encounter Him. When we encounter Him in the adolescent at school.  When we encounter Him in the child noisily exploring the world and, most critically, when we encounter Jesus in the child being carried in the womb; in the child who is under concerted attack by American society.

“Lord, now you let your servant go in peace,
Your word has been fulfilled . . . “

Wanted to load some photos but the upload is way to sluggish.  Will tray later. 

+Fr. Jack

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Back in Sydney (part 2)

We’ve been back in Sydney for a day.  It is also the first heavy duty summer weather we’ve been hit with.  It was 96 F in the shaded colonnade to the tertian wing of the house just after lunch.  There is no air-conditioning in the house.  My room gets no direct sunlight, a fact for which I am very grateful at the moment.   I did the wash this AM and hung it out to dry (no dryer here) at about 8:30.  Even the jeans were bone dry by 1:30 despite the lack of wind.  Actually, they were more or less deep fried.  

The Australian superiors are meeting at the house today and tomorrow.  Thus, there were 40 Jesuits at Mass, lunch and dinner.   It is times such as this, in particular, that a sense of community that stretches back to our founding and extends forward past our deaths is most palpable.  Two men celebrated 60 and 50 years in the Society today.  Tomorrow we will travel to the vow Mass of a young Australian Jesuit.  That covers the spectrum.

The tertian community is coming together.  We will be here until 15 March when we head to the Adelaide area, specifically to Sevenhill, for the long retreat; thirty-three days, thirty of which are in silence, of prayer, contemplation and an odd kind of solitude in that while we will be together each man will be very much alone.  We will then scatter for two weeks as we give retreats in parishes.  Afterwards it will be time for the six-week experiment somewhere. 

It was a pleasure getting to know some of the Australian superiors.  They’ve been nothing other than welcoming and enthusiastic about our presence here. 

During the ten days at Gerroa Steve and I went to Minnamurra Tropical Rain Forest.  Due to some kind of geological freak the area is actually three different types of rain forest.  It is home to the Lyre Bird, a bird unrelated to any other bird in the world, that is found only in Australia.  It is called a lyre bird because of its tail.  The male has a tail that, when spread, looks like the kind of lyre that angels play in bad cartoons.  They are apparently very shy.   Steve and I decided to go our own ways and meet back at the entrance in two hours, which coincided with closing.  There are two paths.  One wanders through the forest.  The other ascends to a waterfall.  I ran into a female lyre bird (not quite as spectacular a tail) near the beginning but couldn’t get a decent shot. 

I decided to climb to the waterfall.  The incline is best described as so steep that Lance Armstrong would have to walk his bike up parts of it.   It was definitely a pop a nitroglycerine moment.   But, it was worth the climb.   About 200 yards into the monster climb I came face-to-face with a male lyre bird 15 feet away.  He continued feeding as I snapped photos for about 15 minutes.  The occasional use of flash and the steady click of the shutter didn’t bother him.  The only thing to which he responded was when I shifted my legs (was sitting on the ground which is why I had to wash my jeans).  He looked and then continued the task at hand.  Without further delay, some shots from Minnamura.

The first is a pond along the way.  There wasn't great deal of sun that day but a few rays poked out.  The other is a bird that posed rather nicely. 

The next is a friendly little lizard encountered along the way.

The next three are the lyre bird.  It was amazing to be that close.

The last two are the falls at the top of the climb.  The second is me channeling my inner Ansel Adams with the processing tools available on Aperture 3.