Inner Life

Contrasting days: a reflection by Bishop Philip Huggins

By Philip Huggins

September 30 2015I had very contrasting experiences on Monday and Tuesday last week.

On Monday, at 7.30am, I meditated in the Deakin Edge Theatre at Federation Square with about 15 other guest meditators representing different religious traditions.

It was an event called “Wake up For Peace” as part of the United Nations' International Day of Peace.

I prayed the Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”), as is my custom. Others did what they do. We meditated in silence for some 30 minutes, each of us lit a candle, the Lord Mayor and the hosts said a few kind words and then we had a cup of tea.

It was a beautiful peaceful atmosphere and the theatre was packed. Many of those who came were young. Hundreds of people meditated in silence from 7.30am on a cold Monday morning.

I find this wonderful, encouraging and surprising!

My contrasting experience on Tuesday was the requirement of jury duty at the County Court.

I was rostered into a group from which a jury would be chosen.

The charges related to multiple allegations against a man in relation to the sexual abuse of children.

As I listened I felt sick inside.

It was as if all these years of hearing these horrible stories hit home at once. All these years of hearing how people have abused the trust given them as adults, including in institutions such as our Anglican Church… all these years of seeing the effect of abuse on children, even now as adults.

I know I could not stomach listening to this trial for the anticipated ten days. I doubted my capacity to be impartial.

Thankfully, the judge gave us an opportunity to write a note if we wanted to be excused.

Only three of us asked. Most were ready to participate, if elected, to form the jury.

I found their readiness to participate incomprehensible, which probably just demonstrates how badly I have been affected by this terrible and incessant exposure to stories of child sexual abuse.

The judge accepted my request to be excused and l left as rapidly as was possible.

Transfiguring a disfigured world… Maranatha, Maranatha.

Philip Huggins is an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Melbourne.