Project Canterbury

A Life in Order: The Memoirs of Brother Francis SSF

Brisbane: The Society of Saint Francis, 2003

[60] Chapter Nine: The Pacific

In November 1974 I left Africa for the Pacific area, but I wanted to visit two Tertiaries, the Woodwards, working on the East coast of Madagascar. First I flew to Dar-Es-Salaam, and visited the brothers there and I stayed the night at the Anglican rest house. I found that I had dropped my travel documents somewhere on the way to the airport, so I went to the travel agency to see what could be done about it. They promised to see what they could do. Next morning I went to the airport and was delighted to hear that the driver of the bus in which I had travelled had returned my documents to the airport. I boarded the plane for Tananarive, the capital of Madagascar but Fr Woodward was not there to meet me as I had expected, so I had to spend a couple of nights with the Roman Franciscans at their guest house. The next day I had a look round the capital. The main street was lined up on both sides with the stalls of people from the outlying villages. I bought a nice big sunhat there. At the time I was having some visa problems, but finally I flew in a small plane to Ambatohararan on the east coast. What long names the towns have in Madagascar! I was interested to learn that their language was very similar to that of the Maoris of New Zealand. They probably were helped by the East-West trade winds to cross the Indian Ocean. It was extremely hot there. I preached for Fr. Woodward and the congregation kindly took up a collection of ten pounds (Madagascan) for me. (For a description of the Tertiaries' work in Madagascar, see the Franciscan Vol. 10 Dec, 1967 by Mary Woodward).

Returning to the capital by plane, I took a French plane to Mauritius, but there was some trouble in the engine and it had to be flown back to Paris for repairs. We spent the night on the volcanic island of Reunion and then flew to Mauritius, where we stayed at a hotel right on the beach. A lot of small birds shared our breakfast tables and I had a nice swim in the sea.

I took a night flight over the Indian Ocean arriving at Perth in the early morning. There I boarded the Melbourne plane. Unfortunately they failed to transfer my suitcase and typewriter to the other plane at Perth and I did not get them back until I got to Brisbane. They arrived by taxi [60/61] in a very dilapidated condition. In Melbourne Fr Bob Butters gave me an old suitcase of his. Both he and Margaret his wife were both Tertiaries who had served in New Guinea, and I preached for him in at the Eucharist on Sunday at St Stephens, Waverly. Bob had a grand piano on which I enjoyed strumming some of Beethoven's sonatas.

Brother Bernard, who also had been one of my novices, now Guardian of the Brookfield Friary, met me at the Brisbane airport. In the afternoon he took me round to see the sights of Brisbane and to the top of Mount Coottha to see the view. The brothers had a very beautiful chapel with 'picture' windows overlooking Brisbane. However, before settling in at Brookfield I was to make a tour of the brothers in the Pacific Islands. I flew to Port Moresby, where I was met by Brother Alfred. He also had been one of my novices at Glasshampton. The other brothers there, I think, were Martin-Francis Andrew, Alan Barnabas, and Kabay, a Pacific Islander. The house at Koke was always full of people, some engaged in Bible Study, all sitting on the floor. Next door was their primary school, the upper storey of which was the church. I went with Martin-Francis to buy some fish from the market in the afternoon. From Port Moresby I flew in a small plane over the mountains to Popendetta. At the Jegarata Friary (now called Haruro) I conducted a retreat for the brothers in the sisters' house (the Community of the Visitation). There were several island brothers at Jagarata, with Brother Colin as assistant guardian. After a short visit to New Zealand, I flew to Honiara in the Solomon Islands, where Br. Daniel met me at the airport. Br Michael Davis was in charge of Patteson House, where the brothers lived. They looked after the church, which was very crowded on Sundays, with several hundred communicants at the Eucharist. It was open all round, so that many people sat outside, specially the women with crying babies. Christmas was very noisy, and Michael Davies added to it by beating on a dustbin most of the night. Others rang the church bell continuously. Brother Michael and Brother Gerard were being called out frequently to anoint sick people. From Honiara I flew on to Auckland in New Zealand, arriving at two o'clock in the morning! Brother Donald a novice and an American brother, Brother Michael-Thomas, who was about to leave, met me at the airport. I found that Brother William, the brother in charge, was away on sick leave, and Brother Owen was in hospital having had a [61/62] mild stroke. Brother Rodney, acting brother-in-charge was away on holiday. The house seemed to be run by a Maori lady tertiary with the help of Br. Donald, a novice. I had to take the services in the church, which was an interdenominational church, shared by Anglicans and Methodists. The communicants all had separate small glasses. I was uncertain how to deal with the cleansing of these, but somehow the lay members of the congregation dealt with them after service was ended. The brothers' house seemed always full of young people watching television. After spending two or three weeks there, I went by train to visit Tertiaries in Wellington. Half way on the journey, part of a cliff had fallen across the tracks, so we had to be transferred to a coach and then board another train further down the line. After spending about ten days in Wellington with the Tertiaries there, I went on to the South Island by the ferry steamer to Picton, and then on by bus to Ruby Bay to stay with my cousin Eric Tyndale-Biscoe and his wife Phillis. They had a small farm. Eric was the son of the famous Kashmir C.M.S. missionary Cecil Tyndale-Biscoe. On the way back to Wellington I spent a night with the rector of Nelson, a Tertiary. At Wellington I had a meeting with Tertiaries at Miss Baines' house, the sister of Harry Baines, the Bishop, who had recently died. After returning to Auckland by train, I flew to Brisbane in February 1975. Brother William had now returned there and was getting his pottery going again. He had also taken over the editorship of Span (the South Pacific and Australasian Newsletter). Brother Martin-Francis had returned from Koke and had become secretary and bursar at Brookfield. When Brother Bernard, left for England, I became the acting Guardian for three months until Brother John Charles, an Australian, arrived at Easter. John Charles had been assistant Bishop of Adelaide, then Bishop in Polynesia. I think he was rather disappointed that he never got offered anything similar in Brisbane. However he was given full Episcopal honours in our chapel. The Brothers at Brookfield had given up the farm and were now looking after some recently discharged mental patients and unemployed youths, referred to them by the Government Social Welfare Department. Brother Illtyd was himself working with the Department. I lectured to the novices on St. Luke's Gospel and the Principles of the S.S.F. I also had to look after the library. On June 5th.Brother John Shaw, a novice, died in hospital after suffering a long and painful illness. I was privileged to receive his vows for simple profession while in hospital a [62/63] few days before he died. His ashes were sprinkled in the rose garden at Brookfield, outside the chapel. Brothers Joseph and Gerard had close links with the Russian Orthodox Christians in Brisbane. Brothers Reginald, Joseph and Gerard and I attended meetings of a group opposed to the possible ordination of women to the priesthood, largely on the grounds that it would postpone the possible union with the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, because it was against the age-long tradition of the church and because it would delay the union of the church indefinitely. Also we felt it was more fitting for a male to represent Christ at the celebration of the Last Supper.

Saturdays were free days, no offices or Mass being celebrated, rather to my disappointment and disapproval. I often used to walk with our rather lazy dog to the top of Mount Coottha and sometimes down through the gardens on the other side. There were wild turkeys in the bush, sometimes very tame, and the bell-birds added their merry tinkle

I had to spiritually direct some of the Tertiaries in Brisbane, and I took two retreats for the diocesan clergy at St. Francis College. I once preached for Bishop Strong on the Religious life in the Cathedral. I took a retreat for the Sisters of the Sacred Advent, and some of our Tertiaries at the Ave Maria convent.

I learnt how to make leather belts out of Kangaroo skin from a lawyer in Brisbane, and made some cane baskets, a skill which I had learned to do from a blind man in my first parish, and then from Brother Wilfred, a blind brother, when I was a novice at Hilfield. Brother John Charles gave spiritual talks to a group of ladies at Brookfield once a week and I gave them two talks on prayer.

At the request of the Bishop of Newcastle, on St. Clare's day, August 12th, Sister Angela and three other Sisters of St. Clare, who had come from England, were enclosed in the Rectory at Stroud in the diocese of Newcastle. They were greeted by John Charles and also by people of the area. It was arranged that the priest brothers from the Brisbane Friary should go down in turn to act as their chaplain, and to minister to the parish of Stroud. The sisters sat up in the convict's gallery of the .church for Sunday Eucharist! I went down there twice. I slept in a [63/64] caravan in the rectory garden, and was fed through a hatch by the sisters in their guest room. One Lent I was put up by Trevor and Gwen Robart, who were very kind to me. Later, a small cottage was bought for the brothers and I stayed there for my third visit. There was a black-and-white television set there for my entertainment.

Only twice was I ever allowed into the sisters' enclosure, once for the blessing of the house at the Candlemas procession and again when I gave them a lecture on St Bonaventure. Holy week was celebrated in the church with full liturgical ceremonial, the sisters reading the lessons, at the blessing of the Paschal Candle from the two large church pulpits. At Brisbane on Sundays I several times used to celebrate for Fr. Jack Madden at his churches in Stafford. He always used to give me a full English breakfast of bacon and eggs after the service._

In our lovely chapel at Brookfield we had a growing congregation of about fifty people every Sunday morning. I played the piano sometimes for the Mass. In May 1977 the Ascension Day Mass was televised. Our house now had now to be enlarged for the increasing number of people needing care. In September 1977 the Provincial Chapter decided that Brother John Charles should not hold the two offices of Provincial Minister as well as Guardian of the house at Brookfield so Brother Rodney was elected to succeed him as Guardian. Br Reginald became Guardian of the Auckland House in New Zealand. Alan Barnabas became chaplain to the Third Order in Australia. Brother Geoffrey Leonard and I (at the request of Brother Michael Davies, a Solomon Island brother), were transferred to Patteson House at Honiara, the main port and capital of the Solomons. The Sisters of the Church were there also. At first the two communities of brothers and sisters tried to live and eat together. But I have an idea that the brothers had too many visitors coming in and out for the sister's comfort, so they partitioned the community refectory.

Brother Daniel had started a club and restaurant, where seamen and others could get rest, snacks and hot drinks, often after long night voyages. They also used to come into Paterson House to get showers in the day and in the night. Everything was kept open, but I do not remember anything being stolen, I had to look after the library and take [64/65] my turn in the services at All Saints Church, over which Brother Michael Davies presided. As usual Christmas Eve was very noisy. Drunks coming past the church would ring the church bell, keeping us all awake. Finally I decided to take my mattress down to the beach to get some sleep away from the noise. Some policemen came by early in the morning and wanted to know what I was doing there, but they did not arrest me. Our numbers were growing and the need was felt for another house where our novices could be trained. A church primary school was being closed down in the remote island of Ugi, and the Bishop offered it to us. John Charles and Reginald went over to look at it and decided that it could be suitable. Michael Davies became its first Guardian with Brian as the first novice master.

In the autumn of 1978 I had three months leave in England. I visited our houses at Plaistow, Almouth, Llandudno, Hilfield, Cambridge and Canterbury and, of course, Glasshampton. Returning to the Solomons I was posted to the new house at Alangaula on Ugi Island. The night journey in a small church boat was very rough. I was to be a sort of 'source' man and librarian. I lectured to the novices and postulants on the Religious life, and St. Mark's Gospel. Also I gave them lessons in English. I had a small palm leaf hut that Brother Brian had occupied, but in February 1979 the East Solomon's suffered a severe cyclone. The roof of my little house was blown off. I wanted to go and rescue my typewriter and other things, but Daniel warned me against entering it. However, against Daniel's advice, four of the novices climbed to the top of the chapel and nailed down the sheets of iron, which might have been blown away and the chapel endangered. We all had to sleep on chairs or on the floor of the living room. The house where the brothers used to sleep was flooded by the overflow of the river, leaving two inches of mud over everything. Most of the furniture was spoilt, as were the chapel books. The roofs of most of the other buildings were blown off and some disappeared. Cyclones usually go round in circles like a whirlpool, leaving a calm place in the middle, so that there are generally two storm heights and a calm period in between. I got so cold that the brothers heated some stones in the gas oven and put them in my bed. However the flooding of the river produced some wonderful fruit on our trees, pawpaw, soursop, bananas and pineapples.

[66] On Easter Monday the life professions took place of Geoffrey Leonard, and Liam, Brother Daniel's brother. In March of that year I finished last the typescript of my English-Bemba Dictionary. I sent it to the government printers in Lusaka for examination and then placed it in the hands of the diocesan secretary of the Zambian Anglican Council. It was revised by an English lady tutor of the university. She made some recommendations and sent it to Fr. Oger of the White Fathers' language school at Ilongola for revision. Unfortunately the government printers decided that they were not allowed to print matter written by expatriates. However, Fr Oger said he would try to do something about it. He later wrote to say that he had been very ill and was too busy to deal with it, so I asked him to send it to the Zambian Anglican Council. I have heard nothing of it since.

As well as the increase in the number of novices, the animal family was also increasing. There was a pig and five piglets. We bought a goat, hoping to increase our supply of milk. This had always been in the form of powdered milk as the villagers never milk their cows. The brothers did not like the idea of drinking milk straight from the goat, so it was left to Geoffrey and I to milk and to drink the milk from the goat! The cow also calved and there were many chickens and ducks around. The villagers did not eat their hens' eggs, but preferred them to hatch. The only wild life on the island were pigs and heaps of uneatable small crabs. Of course there were plenty of fish. The brothers used to go out in a boat on Friday night and dive for the fish and sometimes for small lobsters. In the stream there were eels and prawns. All these were helpful to supplement our diet. Everything else had to be brought by a church ship from Honiara once a month, if it had not broken down. There were no shops on the island. Of course there were always coconuts, and our own vegetables, which were cooked in coconut oil. Sometimes we went along the coast for a picnic, that consisted of freshly caught fish and bush coconuts and a few things brought with us. On one such occasion I started out later than the brothers, thinking I knew the way but got lost in the bush and had to be searched for! I sometimes ministered to the boys and girls of Pawa Anglican secondary school not far away, saying Mass for them and hearing their confessions on greater festivals. Often on Sundays the brothers used to go out to lunch in the villages. Groups of girls and boys from Pawa School used [66/67] to come down expecting to be fed by me, usually on rice and tinned tuna fish. The school chaplain was a Solomon Island Tertiary.

We were grateful to Brother Brian for the book written by him on Bible history, called "Salvation for the People", but the books got lost on the way until they turned up in a box of tinned fish. Early in 1981 I conducted a retreat for the brothers who had been elected for profession, Colin Peter, Samson Amoni, Andrew Patteson and Philip Marsden. They were professed on the Feast of Epiphany. Br. Geoffrey Leonard moved to Honiara to produce cassette tapes for the diocesan evangelism department at St Nicholas. He was then appointed Assistant Guardian and at the end of the year Guardian of the whole Solomon Islands Custody until he became a Roman Catholic.

From December 1981 till February 1982 1 had my long leave in Australia. I spent Christmas at the Brookfield Friary and then went to Stroud to visit Brother Brian and the Clares. With the help of many friends, Sister Angela had built a hermitage for Brother Brian and then a monastery for the sisters with home-made bricks. I also visited two cousins at Byron Bay and two other cousins at Canberra, working with the C.S.R.O. on kangaroos and dung beetles respectively, both doctors of the university. They also had a small farm near Braidwood where they spent their weekends. We had kangaroo for supper one evening. Very tasty.

On August 17th 1983 Br Liam was ordained to the priesthood in our chapel at Alangaula by Norman Palmer, our Archbishop. The sermon was preached by Fr. Jim Nolan, a Roman Catholic priest, a great friend of the brothers and very ecumenically minded. He and I continue to correspond at Christmas, even since he returned to Ireland. On the same day the Minister Provincial, Brother Philip, received the profession of first vows of George Allen, Moffat, and Benjamin Kokili, the latter changing his name to Zephidiniah. At St Francistide, in October 1983, we decided to do what was generally done in the villages for their Patronal Festivals. We invited all the islanders to join us well before the Eucharist started at 8 am. Over 300 people arrived, many with their rather vocal babies. Some had walked by foot for five or six kilometres along bush tracks from the other side of the island. Fr Paul, the Pawa [67/68] School chaplain, brought a contingent of boys and girls. During the service English, Pijin and the Ugi languages could be heard. I preached in English on the Franciscan way of life. Festivals on the islands are always actual feasts, so we had to begin preparing the food several days in advance. Fortunately one of the cows had a miscarriage that week and had to be shot and roasted. Some brothers caught fish the night before and some chickens were killed and, of course, there would be the kumara, a kind of sweet potato, rice and some cassava pudding. The food would be cooked on a large bed of burning charcoal covered with banana leaves. All would be laid out on banana leaves in long lines near the beach. The children would walk up and down waiving banana leaves to keep off the flies. Choruses would be sung and speeches made during the meal. Drinks would be made from bananas, pineapples, and Fanta, with a little wine from Honiara to make it sparkle. Then, after the food had been cleared away, there would be dancing in custom dress and animal masks. The Pawa School girls performed some Maori dances taught by one of the women teachers from New Zealand. In the afternoon there were various competitions and volley ball played until

Earlier this year the brothers began building a small leaf house further up the stream for me to live a more contemplative life of prayer. Unfortunately it took several months to build, and before it was finished it had been decided to close the house at Alangaula. It was never finished and I never got my hermitage.

Between June and December 1984 I made a world tour during my time of leave. While staying with my brother and sister-in-law at Milford-on-Sea in Essex, my brother and I did a tour of the Holy Land. Flying to Tel-Aviv, we took a coach to Jerusalem. We stayed at St. George's Hostel, looked after by a priest who had been dean of the Cathedral of Ndola in Zambia and whom I knew well. The great central church is built over the place where St. Helena, the mother of Constantine the Emperor, was supposed to have found the three crosses of the crucifixion. It was shared by the Roman and various Eastern churches. The Roman part was looked after by the Franciscans, who shared the responsibility in turn with brothers from the various provinces of the Order. What I liked best in Jerusalem was the quiet garden which [68/69] General Gordon believed to be the genuine place where Christ was buried and rose from the tomb. We also walked the path commemorating the way of the cross. At the University of Jerusalem we were able to see the Dead Sea Scrolls hung up all round a large room in the museum. A few days later we hired a car, and drove down the steep road from Jerusalem to Jericho and then to the Dead Sea, to the place where the scrolls were found. Then we drove to Shechem, where Joshua renewed the covenant with the Israelite tribes. It later became the capital of Northern Israel. We next drove up to the northern coast to visit a Dutch community which set out to break down the barriers between Jew and Christian. To make the Jews feel at home they kept the Sabbath and the Passover and other Jewish customs. The Jews were not allowed by the government to sleep there, but they often came in to meetings. The brothers grew avocados and rose bushes. The roses were sent regularly by air to be sold in Dutch markets. After four days with them we drove to the west coast of the Sea of Galilee, tasting St. Peter's fish at Capernaum, and then to the place on the Jordan where John the Baptist used to baptise. The roads were full of soldiers, two of whom cadged a lift and drank all the water in our water bottle. My brother also had his camera and films stolen. Finally we returned to Tel-Aviv via Mt. Carmel and Caesarea Philippi all in one day. How small the country is! And how terrible is the situation there now.

After two weeks in Israel I visited several of our houses in England and prepared to fly to the United States of America. But I had forgotten that I needed a visa to enter the States, so, although my plane was due to leave Heathrow at 11 o'clock a.m., my brother had to motor me to the American embassy in central London first. There was a long queue of people waiting for visas etc. However, I explained matters to an official and he told me to push my way through the queue to the visa window, which I did, much to the annoyance of people in the queue. But I got my visa in ten minutes! Arriving at the airport, the call for embarkation had already been made. The plane was very full and I was just in time to get the last seat. I was met by Brother Dunstan, who was rather late at Kennedy airport. He took me to the Brooklyn Friary for two days and then by train to the Little Portion Friary at Mount Sinai on Long Island. While I was there I gave talks to a small group of Tertiaries and later to large group in a Dominican Friary on the other side of New [69/70] York. I also went by plane with Brother Dunstan to Toronto in Canada to visit Tertiaries there and to attend the centenary of the founding of the St. John the Evangelist Sisters. Before returning to England I went to Ontario in Canada to visit my niece's family. Her husband does a lot of work for the Red Indians in Canada. They have now moved to a farm in British Columbia My last visit was to the Brothers and Sisters in San Francisco.

Returning to the Solomon Islands we had some trouble at Honolulu. Just as we were starting up, some smoke began arising from the pilot's cockpit and we had to wait for two hours before proceeding. The luggage had been taken out of the plane and laid out on the runway. When I got to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, I found that the travel people in England had not reckoned on the fact that one lost a day when crossing the Pacific. The result was that I had missed the plane from Port Moresby to Honiara. There was not another one till three days later, so I was landed in the Papua New Guinea airport without a visa to enter the country. However the lady and police officer at the enquiry office assured me that it would not matter. I also found that my suitcase had not arrived. In spite of much enquiry, it took a month before I got it back with its handle broken, with no explanation or apology. While I was in Port Moresby Brother Alan Barnabas took me to see the film Brother Sun, Sister Moon in the open air cinema.

Back in Honiara I was asked to live with the brothers at the St. Nicholas Communication Centre in a small house built for the brothers with a little chapel next to it. Br. Randolph had taken Brother Geoffrey-Leonard's place in producing tapes for evangelistic work. While I was there I did a series of epilogue talks for the S. I. B. C. on St. John's Gospel. I also introduced some classical music on the radio, playing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Vaughan Williams' Mass for Three Voices. I used to walk the couple of miles every day to Patteson House to work in the library. I also became a tutor of preliminary English at the Pacific University centre. We had been lent a little electronic organ on which I could play Handel's harpsichord suites. I started to teach Brother Athanasius to play on it, but he got so keen that he used to continue play on it till late at night, much to my discomfort. I used to grow carrots and other vegetables in the little garden. I also produced [70/71] some daily gospel readings for the communication centre, but I don't know if they were ever published. This house had to be closed down in December 1985 to make room for a school that was to be built there, so I returned to Alangaula to teach English and spirituality to the novices there.

During the time at Honiara we experienced another cyclone. We suffered no damage at Patteson house, but the Anglican secondary school, Selwyn College, was completely flooded by the river, which, owing to many floating logs of wood caused much damage over the whole area. The boys and girls had to take refuge in Honiara and we looked after a number of them at Paterson House until they were able to get back to their homes. Some people were stranded in the tops of trees in the flooded areas and had to be rescued by canoe. By 1988 the St. Nicholas centre and the Friary at Alangaula were expecting soon to be closed down. I was now nearly eighty-three years old and I felt I should be going somewhere to prepare for my next life. This, I hoped, would be a life of intercession and adoration in union with our Lord Jesus Christ. I had heard that the Clare sisters had moved from the rectory in the middle of Stroud in New South Wales to the bush about three kilometres to the north. The first house to be built there of mud bricks was a hermitage where Brother Brian could live as the sisters' chaplain. The sisters' 'monastery' was also being built of mud bricks with the help of many 'muddies' - voluntary workers from the city. So I wrote to Brother Brian suggesting that I might come and join him in the contemplative life there. This of course would have to be decided by the Chapter. They agreed to this. I applied for a residence permit to Australia in August, but did not get it until January of the next year. I was hoping too that Stroud might be a place like Glasshampton in England where Australian novices might come for their withdrawn period.

Owing to the departure of Brother Wayne with two other brothers to start a new form of community in the Grafton diocese, it was very reluctantly decided to close the Brookfield Friary. William and Alan Barnabas moved to two other houses in Brisbane. Alfred Boonkong, James Francis and Milton went to Stroud. The Brookfield library, which I at one time had looked after, was sent to us at the Hermitage, [71/72] together with the books that were at the closed house at Islington. As the two libraries were numbered differently, I had the job of bringing them into the same system, which was a modified form of the Dewey system. They were first brought in boxes to the Clare's library and then moved onto wood and brick shelves in our refectory. Later we were given some more substantial bookshelves. All this kept me very busy. It was felt at this time that we needed a new building, with the idea that it might become the Australian Friary. We bought a new wooden house with five bedrooms which was blessed by our Protector, Bishop Ken Mason.

The brother's Chapter was held at Stroud that year, and it was during this that Alfred Boonkong made his first profession. He had come from Kuching in Malaysia, so the service was embellished with customary Chinese rites. This pleased his parents who were present. The chapel was decorated with red and gold curtains. Cups of tea and gifts were exchanged before the Eucharist. It was good that the diocesan bishops Holland and Appleby were able to be present. At this Chapter Brother Brian was elected Guardian of the Newcastle custody, which included the parish of Windale, to be presided over by Brother Noel. Brother James also went there to do work with the University students and with the Diocesan Youth groups. Brother Damian Kenneth also joined them

In 1991 I began a series of meditations on the Book of Revelation for the Franciscan quarterly. I was inspired by Austin Farrer's commentary on Revelation and Pierre de Chardin's writings. After having done a few, Br. Christopher John suggested getting them printed for a book called Maranatha, which we later did. I felt that it might be useful to those who were imagining that the end of the century might herald the second coming of Christ. This year we had our Provincial Chapter in Auckland, New Zealand. Owing to my deafness I found it difficult to follow group discussions.

I was now due for leave, so I decided to return by North America. I flew by plane to Los Angeles and then changed into a plane for New York. Again I visited the brothers at Mt. Sinai and gave a talk and celebrated the Eucharist for a small group of Tertiaries on the coast. Then I flew to Montreal, expecting my niece Rachel to meet me there [72/73] and drive me to Ontario where they lived. But she had gone to the wrong airport. So a message was given over the loud speaker for me to wait for her to come and fetch me. Their three teenage children typically stayed out late at night and did not appear for breakfast. My niece went regularly to a meditation group. Later that year she and her husband were to be bowled over by the "Toronto Blessing". Ontario is a very beautiful city and was full of tulips given by the Queen of Holland during the war. It was very French. On returning to England I visited my brother in Essex and my nephew Stephen and his family in Leeds. Stephen was then working for the Yorkshire Post, providing material for the comic story section, cycling every day to his work. I also visited the Friary at Hilfield and was glad to be able to see Brother Kenneth and Brother Barnabas, who both died shortly after my visit. Before returning to Australia, I visited our Cambridge house during the university eight's week, and our house at Plaistow.
Back at Stroud to resume my semi-eremitic life, two more novices had arrived, Paul Blachford and Andrew from New Zealand, both older men. I had been asked by the Chapter to produce a series of passages from the old Franciscan sources to be read every day in the year. I worked through these with the help of Brother Andrew. They have now been revised by the brothers in England and published under the title of 'A sense of the divine'.

On January 18th 1993 I celebrated my ninetieth birthday. A nice crowd gathered for it, including my cousin Hugh Tyndale-Biscoe who had been a Doctor of Zoology at Canberra University. I thank God that I was still remarkably well and given a place where I had plenty of time to prepare for what I thought might be my next move - beyond this world. I had a cataract in my right eye and some glaucoma in my left one, but an artificial lens and a laser operation has cured the left eye and some treatment improved the sight in my right eye. Also I am very deaf and have hearing aids, but don't find them very helpful in a meeting or group of people. I have also had patches of melanoma on my head. These were removed by an operation and portions of skin removed from elsewhere to cover the wound. I also got stiffness and some pain in my legs, which caused me to stumble sometimes. Until quite recently I have managed with a stick to get a walk every day. At Easter 1998 [73/74] I accompanied Brother Brian on a visit to St. Luke's, Sydney, but on the journey back to Stroud, the train jerked as it was stopping. I fell down the steps, and broke three of my ribs which took some time to heal.

Though I did not know it, my time at Stroud was coming to an end, but not before I was able to get published another little book based on Bonaventure's Itinarium mentis ad Deum. I had already translated this into English while I was at Glasshampton, but it was never printed. I had an interview with Mr. Todd of the publishers Longman Darton and Todd and he told me that their reader had said that my English was too Latinized! However a lot of it is included in my new book.

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