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To Be Beginning

A reflection on beginning new or regular tasks. I preached this sermon to staff at the beginning of a school year. It is brief and has some inspiring quotations from Eliot and Rilke

John 1:43-51New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’

This call of Jesus to his disciples reminds us that there is a deep call from outside and within ourselves to find who it is we are meant to be, and what we are to do and create in the world.

It is an invitation to follow me/ to come and see/ to allow yourself to be known/ to get to know your deep self /to experience great things/ and to be sent to experience the creativity of things opening up, as you engage your calling to young people.

To be beginning– we are all once again at the beginning, but in a fresh and new way. I haven’t had so many school dreams for a long time. I am sure they have kept you turning in your sleep, despite your vast experience. Perhaps the psyche throws us into turmoil, so that we may find our groundedness, our  centre.

I am amazed that after all my journeyings, that I am standing in as the Chaplain for at least a term. My life has come full circle.

When I looked at the memorial garden next to the Brooke Chapel – I was surprised to discover that I knew the names, and had met many of the people. As I walk around I discover many ghosts and memories of people and things past.

But this journey that Jesus calls us to is never circular, it is rather spiral. Dante knew that. We are always seeing similar things from a different road on the journey- that is why we can be a problem and a blessing to young people, and even our children.

It is good that we pause before we rush into the New term- school’s are busy places. It is important that we find the stillness and the calm at our centre, and that in all we do to come back to it even amidst the storms ahead.

At the still point of the turning world                                  

There the dance is. Except for the point, the still point,

there would be no dance,

and there is only the dance

T S Eliot

We take a deep breath, exhale – let go into the hands of a trusting God who has called us to do this work

I love the following two poems of Rainer Maria Rilke an Austrian by birth who found himself in a Russian monastery at the turning of the 18th century to that of the 19th. Of course there were many doom-mongers about as there were at the turning of the millennium.

Rilke 1800 -1900 From: The Book of the Monastic life


The hour is striking so close above me,

So clear and so sharp,

That all my senses ring with it.

I feel now: there’s a power in me

To grasp and give shape to my world.

I know that nothing has ever been real

Without my beholding it.

All becoming has needed me.

My looking ripens things

They come toward me, to meet and be met.

The second poem speaks of the challenge and the way forward


I live my life in widening circles

That reach out across the world.

I may not complete this last one

But I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.

I have been circling for thousands of years

And I still don’t know: am I a falcon,

A storm, or a great song?

I live my life in widening circles – But I give myself to it and my looking, ripens things. The way we observe and approach things, matters, and changes things, certainly in us. The approach and attitude we bring to people and things makes a huge difference in the world.

How good if all this emanates from an inner joy. I like to think that at our best we are part of a great song, part of something bigger than ourselves.

May those we serve, these young people, see through us to a centre of a great goodness, a wonderful openness and humanity, the kind of humanity we see in Jesus, and which Jesus saw in Nathaniel and was able to say: “‘I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree.”

Prayer of St Theresa

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that
has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.


Flame-dancing Spirit, come

Sweep us off our feet and

Dance us through our days.

Surprise us with your rhythms;

Dare us to try new steps, explore

New pattern and new partnerships;

Release us from old routines

To swing in abandoned joy and

Fearful adventure. And

In the intervals

Rest us

In your still centre.


7 comments on “To Be Beginning

  1. Alison Bodenstein says:

    Wonderful Bob. Thank you x


  2. Stefanie says:

    A fountain of joy! Love this. Thank you Bob.


  3. Beautiful, thank you Bob. Janice


  4. Dave Burger says:

    Thanks Bob. Inspiring.


  5. Winston N Wicomb says:

    You amaze me Rob with you eternal outreach to others. I’m an eternal agnostic but admire great folks like you, living in a harsh country and still dedicating so much time of your life to that of bettering others. – Keep you the good work, you are a gem to society and mankind.


    1. Mildred Jutzen says:

      Thanks Fr Bob
      Your messages are always very inspiring and i hope you don’t mind
      I use them at my group sessions sometimes.

      Your wisdom and insight to life allow us to see the bigger picture to who and what we were created to be.


  6. maggiemaemcfang says:

    This is beautiful and inspiring Bob.

    Hope this new decade is kind to you!

    Kind regards,

    Johnny Johnson

    T: +27 21 975 0311 | M: +27 83 250 9125
    [Email signature-09] [Email signature-04] [Email signature-05] [Email signature-06]
    [TowerStone logo-01]

    “Traveller, there is no path, the path is made by walking” Antonio Machado


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