Tag Archives: Stillness

There is a need for the Sabbath

Over these past eight months we have been learning the discipline of rest. That it must be worked for, planned for, and given a place of honor within the family timeline. Rest, true and deep, gives us strength for the coming week. It fuels and motivates our long & diligent weekdays. And at the week’s end, we delight. We all do.

I have been drawn to the idea of keeping Sabbath for some time. I can recall in a very real fashion what a Jewish Sabbath looks like in Israel – the hubbub of the markets as families rush to have everything prepared in time and the empty streets and closed shops that follow.

Michelle Garrels has put together a beautifully crafted piece on the topic. I hope you too find it welcoming, intriguing and encouraging.


Leave a comment

Filed under The Desired Life

“…no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again”

IMG_0088Contrary to popular belief, school principals do have lives outside of school. I was reminded of this when I bumped into one of our students at Woolworths in Sunshine and the student exclaimed “Mr Brennen, you’re not wearing a tie!”

When I have time (and the Melbourne weather allows) I love to ride my bike. When I lived in Adelaide I was spoilt for rides with the beach and hills both just a few minutes away from my house. Slowly but surely I am finding wonderfully quiet and picturesque roads to ride around Melbourne.

Not too far from Sunshine is Mt Macedon. It takes about 45 minutes for this principal to ride up from the cleared farmland, through the forest that increases in density as the road climbs, up to the windy peak of the mountain which allows spectacular views across the plains.

The day I chose to ride up the mountain for the first time was a little overcast but the sun was peeking through. As soon as I started riding the rain started coming down and only increased in intensity the higher I rode. The wind too had a chance to push me around in the few exposed sections. By the time I reached the top I was soaking wet, covered in muck thrown up by my tires and freezing cold.

I got off my bike and sat overlooking the plains. Suddenly the wind seemed to die down, I felt a little warmer and somehow I felt renewed. As I enjoyed the much easier ride back down the hill I felt fresh and ready to go back into the world.

The gospel reading for this week sees Nicodemus come to Christ in the night with many questions. Nicodemus seems so weighed down with life and expectations. He wants to understand clearly how all of this ‘God stuff’ works. Jesus’ response?

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)

I like to think that just as I came back from my Mt Macedon ride with a great sense of peace, so Nicodemus left his conversation with Jesus with a similar feeling. It is at these times of reflection are we able to get outside of ourselves and indeed see a little of the Kingdom of God. At these times we can see the person of Christ among us, enabling us to join God’s ministry of love, service and healing.

As the students and staff pause from the busy school life, I pray that God may bless us all with the opportunity to be born again and to find peace in our wonderful Lord.



Leave a comment

Filed under Principal's Reflections

Stealing contemplative moments

Pages from Nov 2013 JournalAs I began to write this post my colleagues and I were trying to coax a collection of rather excited Year 1/2 students to succumb to sleep at their school sleepover. The seeming impossible achieved, the cool night air and quiet of the deserted schoolyard provides welcome respite.

I was blessed this year to have two pieces published in the Dialogue Australasia Journal – a publication of a wonderful organisation in this region which seeks to promote respectful, innovative, engaging and rigorous religious studies programs in schools across denominations and religions. The first of these articles you can find here and the most recent (and catalyst for this post) can be downloaded here.

The topic is contemplative spirituality in schools – one I have been journeying with for some time now. I have shared a great deal of this before  and the article summarises the material I have been presenting at workshops over the last year or two.

As I say at the beginning of every workshop I give, ‘I’m terrible at stillness and silence but I know it is worthwhile.’ I’m not sure where to next. Moving into leadership of a primary school brings new priorities but the long weeks and stressful days reinforce the need for practices that assist my own wellbeing in order to support the wellbeing of my staff and students. Let’s see what happens.

Stealing contemplative moments with students – article in pdf form.


Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, Presentations and Sermons

#ACLE2013 workshop resources

Blessings to all who are attending #ACLE2013 and I pray those who attend this workshop will find some use of this material.

T Brennen – stealing contemplative moments with students




Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, Presentations and Sermons

IGWA conference 2013 – contemplation for seekers of social justice

I had a chance on the weekend to speak at a conference for cross cultural workers at Victor Harbor in South Australia. It was a great time to catch up with old friends and share a passion of mine with some busy people.

I know that the majority of people involved with social justice work are busy – the work is great and the workers are few. I know that contemplation, meditation and stillness are very helpful tools to help people stay on an even keel.

I stand in admiration for those of us that can maintain a daily regime of this stuff – I wish I was like that but sadly I’m not. So these tools I offer to those who want to try. Not every technique will work for everyone but I hope there is something in there for all of us.


IGWA contemplation service – slides and resource links

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles, Presentations and Sermons

SCS newsletter musing week 2

We have settled back into the routine of school and have a very busy few weeks ahead of us. I have greatly enjoyed visiting the classrooms this week and seeing what the students are up to.

Year 5/6 have a special session this coming Friday focussing on being peacemakers in their school, family and wider community.
All students have begun practicing for the school musical, ‘Noah and the Rainbow Boat’, and they already sound beautiful. Mrs Francis is as always doing a fantastic job getting everyone enthusiastically involved—including the principal.

The reading set down for Sunday just passed in the Lutheran Church was the story of Mary and Martha—a story that reminds us that we shouldn’t allow our busyness to get in the way of spending time with God.

May we all find time this week to remind ourselves that listening to God is the most important thing we do in life. If we are always distracted—we can never hear God’s pronouncement of grace and mercy.


Leave a comment

Filed under Principal's Reflections