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Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
'I wonder if they will be channelling John
Main and Laurence Freeman? '
This was my crazy thought as I drove to
the Living Water s Christian Meditation
Centre at The Junction to inter view
Car mel Moore and Anne Cuskelly. Anne
has succeeded Car mel as Co-ordinator of
Before introducing Carmel and Anne,
I should perhaps introduce John
John Main (1926 -- 1982) learned
meditation while ser ving with the British
Colonial Ser vice in East Asia. He went on
to lecture in Inter national Law at Trinity
College, Dublin. He then became
a Benedictine monk.
During monastic tr aining he sought
assistance with the meditation pr actice he
had adopted, only to be told, "That's not
our way of pr aying." He toed the line.
Meditation retur ned as a force that could
not be ignored when John discovered that
it was, in reality, a largely forgotten practice
tr aced back to the Deser t Fathers of the
early Christian centuries.
Laurence Freeman is also a Benedictine
monk and successor to John Main in
reviving the practice of meditation. He
foster s it across the globe through
the ecumenical World Community for
Surprisingly, I did experience a little
sensation of channelling.
Car mel has thr ee decades of teaching
experience, including long year s as
principal. She had moved on to pastor al
work in hospitals with the challenge of
engaging with people in tr aumatic and
har rowing situations. "I knew I was
made for something else," she says. This
had been John Main's experience -- full
immersion and success in a variety of fields
(including headmaster), but always a sense
of being dr awn to something more.
Car mel established Living Water s a s
Newcastle's cell of the universal meditation
community. She has facilitated meditation
and taught courses for eighteen year s,
seeing growth in the numbers of those
drawn to stillness and simplicity in a
world of chaos and complexities.
For many of those year s , meditation
wa s Carmel's needed stillness while
car rying other demanding
responsibilities within her congregation
as a Sister of St Joseph Lochinvar.
John Main's untimely death dropped the
mantle of responsibility for his ministr y on
Laurence Freeman. Car mel was seeking a
less dramatic succession. The death of one
possible candidate and the depar ture of
another to a hermitage on the west coa st
of Ireland perhaps made Car mel a little
concer ned about her succession planning.
Anne has been what Carmel was hoping
and praying for. You can tell Car mel is
delighted. Surprisingly though, it seems that
Car mel was not so well acquainted with
Anne prior to popping the question, 'Will
you take over the role of Co-ordinator? '
Anne had encountered Car mel many year s
ago when she heard her speak to a group
which benefited cancer sufferers. Following
some health problems, she attended a
meditation cour se, and stayed on for the
inter vening eleven years. Surprisingly, she
made no obvious impression on Carmel.
Anne attended, as many do, to lear n and
to practise meditation without engaging in
much social interaction. Attendees typically
come, meditate, and go. No conver sation
over a cup of tea.
What, then, moved Car mel to approach
Anne? "I didn't know a lot about her. I don't
know why I said to Anne, 'Would you run
the Centre ? ' She immediately said 'yes.' "
"Did I? " queries Anne. "Didn't I say
something like I will think about it? " "You
were so definite," assures Carmel. "You
wanted to do it. I found out later about all
Then to me, "I was very sure when I asked
her. She is the right per son. I can say it
from my hear t."
That hear t has committed to promoting
the pr actice of meditation for so long,
it's now under standably keen to relax a
bit. "My aim is to do less and less. It's not
working out this month ! " thanks
to the various activities Carmel
continues to facilitate.
Relaxing -- apar t from meditation and
the essential weekly golf -- does not
char acterise Anne's life as co-ordinator.
The role is voluntar y, not quite full-time
("I didn't know it would take so much
time"), but one in which Anne thrives. "My
passion is meditation," says Anne, but she
is passionate too in promoting the pr actice.
According to Car mel there is "a whole
constellation of gif ts" needed for the role ,
and this constellation she sees in Anne.
Car mel is concer ned that the state
co-ordinating body has obser ved Anne's
skills and could attempt to lure her away.
She is pleased there ar e current family
obstacles to such a move. "What's to
happen next will come to you at the
What does Anne look for from Car mel?
"A mentor. Carmel has lots of good ideas.
For example she knows where to focus.
As long as I know she's always there for
testing ideas, I will be fine." In response
to Car mel's expressed confidence in her
talents and qualities Anne says, "I hope I
can live up to it." Carmel has no doubts.
What are these ladies promoting? Not
themselves, obviously. People come for lots
of r easons, with needs, searching. Carmel
and Anne share the conviction that we
seek the fullness of life within, in stillness
and simplicity. That fullness is found, they
offer, in a relationship with Jesus facilitated
by the pr actice of meditation.
They will quote John Main : "The all
impor tant aim in Christian meditation is to
allow God's mysterious and silent presence
within us to become more and more not
only a reality, but the reality which gives
meaning, shape and purpose to every thing
we do, to everything we are..." Anne
comments that people always obser ve that
she is smiling and joyful. She is determined
to share the source of her joy.
What is it they offer in practice? Simplicity
itself, but simplicity that demands
commitment and per sever ance -- no
expectation of instant gratification.
Meditation, mor ning and evening
between twenty and thir ty minutes, is
recommended. Sit still, upright, relaxed but
aler t -- eyes gently closed, breathing calmly
and regularly. Interiorly repeat a single-
word mantr a. The sacred word MA-R A-
NA-THA ('Come Lord') is recommended.
It is repeated gently in equal syllables.
Thoughts and images -- spiritual or
other wise -- are left behind a s attention is
focused solely on the simple repetition.
Laurence Freeman tells of a long-term
practitioner of meditation on the verge of
giving up. Nothing was happening! A shor t
time later he experienced tr auma in his life.
Uncharacteristically he faced it and dealt
with it calmly and peacefully. Something
Meditation is a simple pr actice which
enriches, and is enriched by, other for ms
of prayer and spiritual activity. Car mel's
and Anne's rich lives endorse it. Carmel's
dedication ha s assisted meditation to take
root and flower in our region. Anne's
devotion and skill foster the growth of this
ancient blessing now and in time to come.
Car mel smiles happily. Anne smiles too.
To learn more of what is offered at Living
Waters Meditation Centre, Kenrick
Street, The Junction, please P 0407 436
808 or E email@example.com.
TWO BY TWO
Carmel (left) and Anne.
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