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.