Neighbours are becoming harder to find. Ironically so, because there are an increasing number of them, with so many more being housed in less space in multiplying apartment blocks around Lane Cove.
The ‘over the backyard fence chat’ doesn’t exist in these spaces and most people are working long hours. Yet, as Hugh MacKay was quoted in the The Village Observer (February 2015 edition) from his book, The Art of Belonging, ‘our deepest nature as a species is to connect, to associate and to belong.’
I suspect this is a real issue for many people living in apartments. How do we connect with our busy neighbours when there are few natural opportunities to do so? Yet, avoiding this issue risks our social cohesion and leaves many people lonely and unsupported. Add in a language barrier and the odds against a mutually supportive relationship decreases further.
In my six months of exploring Lane Cove, I recognise this as a community of smart, innovative people. It has retained its village nature. Community groups and processes abound and most people are friendly. How then, do we creatively address the isolation issue that may arise from apartment living and continue to be “Lane Cove village” in these changing times?
Recognizing the potentially isolating effect of a non-English speaking background, there are a number of English Conversation Classes being offered at various times and places in Lane Cove. My Conversation group meets Fridays 7pm at Meeting House, 23 Stokes St., Lane Cove North, during school terms. Come and meet your neighbours, have some fun and improve your English. Cost is by donation.
If you are interested in being part of a community group, don’t hesitate to contact me as I am willing to assist you find or form one. I look forward to meeting more of my neighbours!
My first experience as a Bush Care volunteer introduced ‘soil seed banking’ to me. I was delighted to observe the spontaneous regeneration of beautiful ferns and other natives which occurred when intrusive weeds were carefully removed, over a period of time. The seeds of the original vegetation lay dormant in the soil, awaiting better conditions to flourish again. How rewarding to be a partner in allowing this to happen!
Bush regeneration provides a good parallel to my new role as Lane Cove Community Chaplain. Our lives tend to inherit ‘weeds’ that mar and mask our potential. They may be self- or other-inflicted, or merely a product of our new circumstances. We can stop believing in ourselves, when our talents become hidden below the surface of our current lives. As a tired, young mum of often sick children, I remember my self-belief and creativity being buried for a season. However, with the care and nurture of my supportive community, my hidden potential re-emerged over time.
As your Chaplain, I aim to provide opportunities for people to flourish in life. From building supportive communities, to providing personal support through life’s difficulties, I am here to serve this community.
Three dives on the Great Barrier Reef gave me three different perspectives.
My first was a delightful snorkel amongst the dazzling colour of numerous species of fish and coral. An endless delight that I was reluctant to leave.
The second was my first scuba dive which proved problematic with an ear that hurt and early difficulties with air! The dive into the depths of the sea lacked the vibrant colour, but there were new discoveries of bottom dwellers – including a shark circling well below us.
I opted for snorkelling at the surface again for the third dive. It was similar to the first dive, but enriched by the knowledge of what lay below me in the deep waters.
Life can be like my dives. Living on the surface amidst the vibrancy and pleasures of life is very appealing and hard to leave voluntarily. But usually we are forced to face harder realities at some stage. Being well-equipped to face them is an advantage, but even if not, an attitude of future hope can help us through them, especially if accompanied by helpful others. (I was very glad of having my instructor close by!) The experience of the depths then enriches our return to better times – if we allow it.
My motto is ‘life in all its fullness’.* It does not deny the difficulties in life, but acknowledges them as part of its fullness.
* from John 10:10 in the Bible
The articles here are currently written by Liam McKenna, Lane Cove Community Chaplain.