Taking time to look

For a long time now I have had a fascination with Antarctica. So much so that I did some research into working there. Not being much of a call for teachers down in Antarctica, I realised  the only way I was going to get there was as a tourist.

Most tourists visit Antarctica via the Antarctic Peninsula, a couple of days sail from Argentina – this was not the experience I wanted. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of the great  explorers of the Heroic Age; Scott, Shackleton and Mawson. If I was going to make the journey, I wanted to go below the Antarctic Circle and really experience the remoteness of this  southern world.

For me, the experience gained in travelling is something that needs to be shared, so I convinced my Dad to take this journey with me. Our journey began in New Zealand and then it took  us seven days by ship to reach the Ross Sea. The Ross Sea is south of Australia and New Zealand in East Antarctica. The reactions of people when you tell them you are going to  Antarctica vary greatly. Some say, “How exciting!” Others say, “Why? It’s so far away and there is nothing there!” Continue Reading

This is Africa: On travelling happy

It might have been taken as a compliment: the minister for mining in Zambia offering me a job in government (never mind my training as a Speech  Pathologist) as I stood in a cemetery car park between two black land rovers with my friend and a multitude of government officials, wearing my  backpacking sandals and a skirt that didn’t meet the knee…

“Welcome to Zambia, TIA (this is Africa)” exclaimed my friend…. and so began my journey through South East Africa, Morocco, Southern Europe and across to Turkey.

When I was approached to write a brief article for Revive about my trip, I was told it didn’t have to be churchy or religious. ‘Good!’ I thought to myself, because the purpose of my trip  was a big holiday; a big self indulgent adventure! Continue Reading

So all may see a destiny together

The invitation to travel to Canberra to attend a vigil on the lawns of Parliament House on 18 March 2014 was extended to Uniting Church people throughout Australia. I was on long  service leave pending retirement at the time, so I was free to travel to this national event. My husband Robin and I travelled to Canberra as representatives of the WA Synod.

The vigil was part of ‘A Destiny Together: A Week of Prayer and Fasting for Justice for First Peoples. It was planned by the Uniting Church Assembly in response to the stories of  suffering from Indigenous people affected by the government Intervention in the Northern Territory and the subsequent Stronger Futures legislation.Continue Reading

Travelling with your eyes open

The Hallelujah Chorus with (l-r) John, Ellen and Bill Lemen.

The Hallelujah Chorus with (l-r) John, Ellen and Bill Lemen.

G K Chesterdon, writer and Christian apologist is quoted as having said “The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”

Travellers may be regarded as pilgrims – literally those who have come from afar – who are on a journey to a special place. Over the past six weeks I have had the opportunity, while  visiting family and friends in Canada and The Netherlands, to reflect on what I have seen and how this seeing impacts on my sense of, and experience of, church, creator and  creation. Continue Reading

Wall of destruction

As I was about to complete high school, I remember watching footage and seeing photos of jubilant people clambering over what was once the Berlin Wall and taking chunks of cement as souvenirs. At the time I did not understand what this really meant for the people of Germany or what they had been through in the previous four decades. My recollection is only the smiles of joy and the moments of reconciliation. Little did I know that, in my life time, I would see another wall, twice as high and four times longer, constructed for similar reasons in another part of the world. In my travels to Israel and Palestine Territories last August I saw the monstrous wall of separation and heard stories of its impact upon the people.Continue Reading

On the way to justice and peace

Growing up in the Uniting Church I always knew I was a part of the ‘one holy, catholic and apostolic church’ but never understood really what that meant and how it applied to my life. Recently I have had the opportunity of representing the Uniting Church in Australia as a delegate at the World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly in Busan, South Korea, from 30 October–8 November.Continue Reading

Destination unknown…

Ever been whisked away? Margaret Johnston reflects on letting go and trusting others to lead the way.

To celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary and my 60th birthday, my husband wanted a surprise party to be arranged for me and I had made it clear that a holiday away would be best  for both of us. So, a surprise holiday it was to be. And I was about to discover what it was like having no control over a future event.

Our history is rich with courageous acts: from deciding to make our lives together in the first place, to leaving our homeland behind and coming to Australia, living in mining towns,  moving overseas to Malaysia, and back here as a fly-in fly-out family. Having found ourselves in some weird and wonderful places, I was very aware of what this ‘surprise holiday’ could  mean.Continue Reading