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Welcome to the 2019 ANZUUA Retreat

Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Chalice lighting

By Margaret Kiep

As surely as we belong to the universe we belong together. We join here now to transcend the isolated self, To reconnect, To know ourselves to be at home, Here on earth, under the stars, Linked with each other


Welcome to this gathering place in Springbrook. The roots of this meeting ground today go deep, for we meet on the land of the Yugambeh kinship group, the traditional custodians of this land, and it is fitting we pay respect to their elders past and present and honour their spiritual connection to country.

A long, long time ago, Jabreen, the creator of this land, sent water to fall on the land and to give it life. It flowed towards the ocean, its energy changing as it went, flowing gently here, cascading there; nurturing the needs of all living things along the way. This place became the homeland of the Yugambeh people who lived in this area and shared ceremonies and celebrations while carefully managing and using its rich natural resources.

For us, our Unitarian churches are, likewise, are also a spiritual community and we share our heritage of ceremonies and celebrations. We want to be a community that finds ways to be strong and offer shared support to help all who come to us to find and follow their own spiritual path, a path that helps you see more clearly, love more abundantly, and collaboratively works toward a better future.

Reading (words by Robert T Weston)

There is a living web that runs through us

To all the universe

Linking us each with each and through all life

On to the distant stars.

Each knows a little corner of the world, and lives

As if this were his all.

We no more see the farther reaches of the threads

Than we see of the future, yet they're there.

Touch but one thread, no matter which;

The thoughtful eye may trace to distant lands

Its firm continuing strand, yet lose its filaments as they reach out,

But find at last it is coming back to him from whom it led.

We move as in a fog, aware of self

But only dimly conscious of the rest

As they are close to us in sight or feeling.

New objects loom up for a time, fade in and out;

Then, sometimes, as we look on unawares, the fog lifts

And then there's the web in shimmering beauty,

Reaching past all horizons. We catch our breath;

Stretch out our eager hands, and then

In comes the fog again, and we go on,

Feeling a little foolish, doubting what we had seen.

The hands were right. The web is real.

Our folly is that we so soon forget.


It’s one thing to be intellectually aware that everything is connected to everything in the interdependent social economy of creation, that everything we do or don’t do affects everything else and thus has consequences. It’s another thing to sense that that deep interconnectedness is real, not an airy concept, and that even contemporary physics reinforces that we are connected to everything all the way out in the universe and all the way down at the sub atomic level.

The landscape of the Springbrook plateau is a remnant of the northern side of a once huge shield volcano that dominated the region about 23 million years ago. The volcano was built up of highly mobile basalt lavas, and centred on Mount Warning, stretching across about 80kms. At about 2km high, the volcano poured lava over 6,000km² (north to Tamborine, south past Lismore to Coraki and west to Kyogle). Some lava flows were 270m deep. Later eruptions are responsible for the sheer cliffs of Springbrook plateau.

About 10 million years ago the volcano began to die. The remaining lava plugged the numerous vents and over the millennia, weathering and water erosion have relentlessly sculpted the volcano to form a classic erosion caldera landform. The Mount Warning caldera—the crescent of perpendicular cliffs extending from Springbrook to Lamington plateau and the Tweed Range above the Mount Warning vent valley—is the largest and best of its age in the world. From the Best of All lookout we can visit the grand scale of this magnificent landform.

The three Antarctic Beech trees that grow in the Springbrook National Park are in the Gondwana Rain forests of Australia World Heritage area, living remnants of a long history. These trees are approximately 2,000 years old. Before European settlement, the sub-tropical rainforests in Queensland and New South Wales were some of the most extensive rainforests in Australia.

Antarctic Beech trees grow in only two places in Australia, Springbrook National Park being one of these places. This species of tree once covered Antarctica before its present iced-over state. As Gondwana broke apart 180 million years ago and the South became colder, the Antarctic Beeches worked themselves up to adapt to more suitable climates. These trees grow by coppicing, sending out new shoots radially from the base of the original trunk, and these shoot eventually grow into clones of the parent tree forming a ring of trunks, all belonging to the one tree.

Poem by David Whyte, a poet whose work is known to foster a deeper relationship with the nature of the individual, while thoughtfully cultivating courage and engagement to support creativity and synergistic change.

The following is a profound and thought-invoking poem that I love by Poet David Whyte, and it reminds me of the forest we are in, the indigenous ancestors who lived here for so many generations and the quietness of this place that allows conversations to arise and questions to form in our minds …


SOMETIMES by David Whyte

Sometimes if you move carefully through the forest

breathing like the ones in the old stories

who could cross a shimmering bed of dry leaves without a sound,

you come to a place whose only task

is to trouble you with tiny but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere but in this place beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what you are doing right now, and

to stop what you are becoming while you do it,

questions that can make or unmake a life,

questions that have patiently waited for you,

questions that have no right to go away.

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