A Travellerspoint blog


Awfully close to the rainforest

sunny 92 °F

Cairns was steamy, and it was hard to see through the morning mist. Even the flowers seemed a bit attenuated. We had visited this town in Queensland in north Australia a few years ago as a launching point for the magnificent Great Barrier Reef. This day we were booked on an expedition to go white water rafting, and we were both excited and apprehensive. But Australia has been experiencing heavy rains and flooding, so much so that the river was too high to be safe, they said. There were no tickets left for the rainforest train, (nor, sorry Jack, for the Jack Barnes Bicentennial Mangrove Boardwalk) so we set out to discover the town. Cairns is quite spiffed up from our last visit, its streets lined with Gucci and Tommy Bahama (and porn shops and massage parlors just off the main streets). We loved going into shops because they were cool and the temperature was over 90 degrees and humid enough to drip. We checked out Uggs for the grandchildren (too complicated) and decided to have pedicures. Into the spa came an old (80? Our criteria for “old” are changing!) man and his daughter. He looked exhausted and said that he had just arrived from Croatia and his feet hurt. He definitely didn’t look comfortable in the spa. His daughter nudged and cajoled until he put his (rather knobby and black) feet into the water. The pedicurist worked diligently; he stared ahead at the wall. And then she brought hot stones and started to rub his legs with them. His smile covered his whole face as he cried “Halleujah.”


Posted by HopeEakins 22:39 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


and the outback

sunny 82 °F

Up the coast of Australia, along the banks of the very industrialized Brisbane River ... to the absolutely lovely port of Brisbane. The ship was docked amidst glittering apartments and high-rises in a lively restaurant scene (really AMIDST – as we walked along the gangway, we were no more than six feet from some living room windows). We were eager to visit this intriguing place, but no, we went off to a bush experience that felt remarkably like the American West.

We drove about an hour south of Brisbane and turned off toward Mt. Tamborine. Then we climbed and climbed in a 4WD (four wheel drive, we learned) vehicle. Rocking and rolling and slipping and dipping through a eucalyptus forest, we stopped abruptly at the shout of “Koala!” Alas, it was only a dark brown lump, a termite nest about twenty feet up a trunk. So we climbed further and heard it again. “Koala!” This time is was a light brown lump twenty feet up a tree, this one twitching a toe every minute or so. What you see below is a koala in its natural habitat (look really hard, right in the middle of the photo - or don't). They are very somnolent.

While Bill climbed down through an amazing tropical rain forest with trees hundreds of feet high to a dramatic waterfall, Hope visited St. George’s Anglican Church, open to the air, and graced with a fine children’s corner.

Then a visit to an artsy village (Canundra?), then a BBQ lunch (Australia, remember) at a ranch, and then we were instructed in the boomerang throw (Jane Kline is a natural) and cracking the whip. Neither Bill nor Hope is a natural in either endeavor. Finally, a visit to a vineyard and wine tasting. The wines were not great but their alpacas were so cute we couldn’t stop smiling.


Posted by HopeEakins 14:06 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

St. James, King Street

A "rebel" church

sunny 83 °F

Sydney has continued to charm us, especially as the sun has emerged victorious. The stunningly handsome buildings are interspersed (sort of) with relics of the colonial past and little fountains like the one (beneath the big buildings) with birds dedicated to nurses and the one given by John Frazer to honor his fellow citizens. We went to church at St. James, King Street, an anomaly in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.

So what about this Diocese? Here is our description. It is determinedly low church:
1. They are very concerned about what clergy wear. They don’t like vestments (in 1911 they passed a law banning chasubles). Clergy generally are attired in casual street clothes when they officiate.
2. They prefer to write their own liturgies rather than use the Book of Common Prayer. No prayer books at the Cathedral -- the liturgy is projected on a TV screen (screens must be very important because they are installed on pillars all over the beautiful neo-Gothic cathedral.)
3. The word of God is central; sacraments are secondary. At the Cathedral they never celebrate Communion at the main service, and the altar has been hauled off to a small side room.
4. They define themselves as amillennialists as opposed to pre- and post-millennialists. What difference this makes, we don’t know.
5. Interpreting the Old Testament typologically is very important. This means that OT stories like Jonah and the whale are seen as significant not because they happened to Jonah but because they prefigure Christ’s death (whale gobbling) and resurrection (whale spitting Jonah out).
5. The ordination of women is firmly (and fiercely) opposed.

At St. James, King Street, one of only two parishes that don’t go along with this fervid separatism, people are friendly and use Prayer Books (imagine!) and let women read things and serve as crucifers. They observe the Diocesan law and don’t wear chasubles but the celebrant wears a cope. They sing from a hymnal and have a robed choir. No TV screens either.

After the 11 am service, wine and small sandwiches were served at coffee hour. Coffee hour was held in a garden behind the children’s chapel, a beautiful space painted with a fresco of “I Saw Three Ships” depicted in Sydney at the time the Harbor Bridge was built, so the Holy Family frolics with children in a local setting. The chapel's large window opens onto the garden. Marvelous!

This chapel is in the undercroft space of the church, along with the offices, classrooms, a columbarium, and a café. These undercroft spaces originally served as cells when St. James was built in 1824 as a law court and prison. It now sits between the modern law court and barracks in the middle of the city. On a bench in the churchyard, a very moving sculpture depicts a tired traveller in need of rest: the mission of the church. We loved it.

And then we sailed away.


Posted by HopeEakins 00:15 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Worship Service and Sermon

February 3, 2019

sunny 72 °F

Interdenominational Worship Service aboard the Silver Whisper on February 3, 2019

Hymn There's A Wideness in God's Mercy

For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite. ===( Isaiah 57:15)===

O Lord, open our lips
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Psalm 34:1-10

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
I will glory in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.

Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord; let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him, and be radiant; and let not your faces be ashamed.
I called in my affliction and the Lord heard me and saved me from all my troubles.

The angel of the Lord encompasses those who fear him, and he will deliver them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are they who trust in him.

Fear the Lord, you his holy ones, for those who fear him lack nothing.
The young lions lack and hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good.

A reading from the Gospel of Luke

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere. === (9:1-6)===

A Reflection
The Reverend William J. Eakins

“Take nothing for your journey; no staff, no bags, nor bread, nor money – not even an extra tunic.” With these clear imperatives, Jesus sends his disciples to go out to spread the Good news of God’s Kingdom. The disciples are to travel very light indeed – no luggage, no provisions of any kind, just the clothes on their backs, totally dependent on the hospitality of strangers. They are apparently not even to plan their itinerary, but just to follow their noses and see what opportunities arise as they walk along the road from village to village.

How different from the preparations we have made for this cruise! My wife and I have filled very drawer and closet of our cabin with our clothes. Talk about extra tunics! We have articles to wear on formal, informal, and casual nights, clothes for lounging on deck and for swimming in the pool, and clothes for excursions on shore in all kinds of weather and temperatures. We even have vestments for church! We have an itinerary for every day of the four and a half months we will be travelling. We have a supply of American currency and some foreign currencies; we have a variety of credit cards as well as a bankcard. Very little has been left to chance.

Having a lot of baggage creates challenges however, not only on a cruise but also in life. Possessions come with responsibilities. Investments need to be managed; property needs to be maintained. Houses need to be watched, decorated, repaired; heating systems checked, gardens tended. Bills and taxes need to be paid. And then there the issues about what we will finally DO with everything we have accumulated. Who will inherit and how much? The more we have the greater the problems. And if we are not careful, our possessions may end up possessing us, robbing our lives of freedom and happiness.

Possessions are not the only baggage that can weigh us down in life. There is also the emotional and spiritual baggage of prejudice, bitterness, resentment, regret, grudges, shame, guilt, fear. What heavy loads these are to bear. How much they can distort and stifle our lives.

I once met a woman who told me that she dreaded Christmas because her husband had run off with a bimbo and left her with practically nothing. She couldn’t even have her children with her for a Christmas dinner because her husband had taken all the silver. I tut-tutted sympathetically and asked when her husband had left her. “Fifteen years ago,” she wailed. Fifteen years! Surely in fifteen years the woman could have acquired some cutlery – or used plastic - or borrowed some. Surely she could have found a way to celebrate Christmas with her children. Instead of getting on with life, she had let the heavy burdens of anger and resentment keep her locked in the past, a helpless, joyless victim.

“Take nothing for your journey,” says Jesus. Jesus first said these words to his disciples to keep them focused on their mission of spreading the Good News that God reigns. What might Jesus’ admonition to travel light mean to us? Is he saying that we should have come on this cruise with only the clothes on our backs? Is he advising us to divest ourselves of all that we possess and live as paupers? I don’t think so. What I think Jesus is saying to us is not to become so obsessed with worries about our business or our loved ones back home that we fail to see and enjoy the blessings of this voyage that we are so privileged to take. Jesus is also warning us not to be so concerned about holding on to our wealth that our hearts are hardened to the many people around us who are struggling just to get by, not to be so worried about getting that we lose the joy of giving. Jesus is also urging us not to be so bogged down with the burdens of the past that we cannot receive and share the gifts that God wants to give us right now, precious gifts like forgiveness, healing, joy and hope. Life is too short and life is too valuable to waste it on excess baggage.

When I was a few years younger, I enjoyed backpacking. I can vividly recall the sense of freedom and exhilaration, of setting out on a mountain trail high above the tree line, vistas stretching in every direction, carrying on my back all I would need for the journey ahead. I hear Jesus calling us to a similar freedom and sense of adventure as we continue on the journey that is our life. Travel light, says Jesus. Take nothing for your journey but the Good News that God is in charge. Remember that there is a price for excess baggage. Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love, and the future to God’s providence.

The Prayers

Let us pray. Gracious and loving God, to you we offer the desires and hopes of our hearts, trusting that you hear our prayers and answer them.

Give wisdom and courage to the leaders of the nations and bless them with a spirit of cooperation, that they may work together for the good of all people. Lord hear our prayer,
for those who seek you lack nothing.

Guide and uphold your church throughout the world, so that in times of prosperity we may not lose our zeal and that in times of adversity, we may not lose our faith. Lord hear our prayer,
for those who seek you lack nothing.

Heal those weighed down by despair, those suffering from addictions, those burdened by illness, those in troubled marriages, and Monica, Shore Concierge, traveling home at the death of her father. Lord hear our prayer,
for those who seek you lack nothing.

Protect those in armed forces, fire fighters and police, our ship’s crew, and all who work to protect the lives of others. Lord hear our prayer,
for those who seek you lack nothing.

Give us faith in your loving care that we may travel lightly, unburdened by possessions, hard feelings, and regrets that keep us from putting our trust in you. Lord hear our prayer,
for those who seek you lack nothing.

Forgive us our sins, for wasting the earth’s resources, for enhancing our own lives at the expense of others, for refusing to be reconciled with those who have hurt us, for discounting and dismissing those who are different from us. Give us grace to amend our lives. Lord hear our prayer,
for those who seek you lack nothing.

Loving God, you sent your Son Jesus to teach us to cast our cares on you; preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties that we may rejoice in your presence, trusting that you are with us always. Amen.

Let us pray in the words our Savior gave us

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Prayer of St. Chrysostom

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them. Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us, granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come, life everlasting. Amen.

The Blessing

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit, and may the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Hymn Lead Us, Heavenly Father, Lead Us

Officiant: The Reverend Hope H. Eakins
Preacher: The Reverend William J. Eakins
Music: Alex Manev
Altar Guild: Jane Kline, Directress and Jill Ingham
Usher: Doug Kline

Posted by HopeEakins 22:50 Archived in Australia Comments (0)


Arriving and La Boheme

semi-overcast 75 °F

In the midst of Australian summer, we sailed into Sydney Harbor, one of the most magnificent, dramatic, gorgeous harbors in the world. The day was a special one for because for the first time in twenty years, two Silversea ships were arriving in Sydney at the same time. The Silver Muse and our ship the Silver Whisper came in sight of each other about 6 am on Saturday morning. About 6:45, the Muse passed us and led the way to the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge, and then we sped up and sailed in front of her. The ships were brightly lit and twinkled and ... the skies were deep grey and full of rain.

On Saturday morning, we stayed home and looked at our magnificent amaryllis (from White Flower Farms and brought in our hand luggage) inside as the drizzle continued outside. We wanted to do a reverse rain dance because we had been looking forward to Saturday night for a long time. The ship had arranged tickets for La Boheme. We were to travel by boat to a dock right beside the Sydney Opera House – champagne on the boat and a midnight buffet after the opera. And about six pm the skies lifted and the sun sparkled on the water and we set off on this fabulous adventure. The music was grand, the production intriguing and the setting utterly splendid.

After the opera, the sail back to the Whisper passed Luna Park, an amusement park near the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I think the Australians have some work to do! Despite all their talk of honoring their aboriginal brothers and sisters, of living together in multiracial harmony, the gate to Luna Park is a black face character that looks nothing like an honored brother or sister. Strangely, the gate reverts to a white face in the day.

Posted by HopeEakins 00:53 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Auckland, New Zealand

Kindly Kiwis

sunny 82 °F

Auckland is charming, lively, friendly and mightily attractive. Much is happening. The city skyline is dotted with cranes marking construction sites, and the streets are in (literal) upheaval as they dig tunnels for a new light rail system under the city center.
Through it all, the Aucklanders smile, G’day each other and offer earnest help if you look lost. The water sparkles all around this City of Sails, and its residents sparkle as well.
One poignant scene – the three little ones busking on Queen Street, ardently playing their violin, cello, and keyboard and singing while looking very poor and hungry. No parents in sight
We spent the morning in the Waitakere (Maori for cascading waters) Ranges with two bright and amusing guides who know and love every native plant and animal. We were intrigued by the rangiora leaf, the bushman’s friend, whose soft underside serves two purposes. The fuzz makes it excellent toilet paper (they say) and can be written on and used as notepaper (we saw).
We climbed down to the Karekare waterfall (where scenes from The Piano were shot) and walked out to a black sand beach. The sand is not actually black, but when you run a magnet over it (see below), the iron bits separate and turn the magnet quite black. Then your feet start to burn because the iron gets very hot.
The naturalists proudly showed us the manifold ways New Zealand is combatting invasive species: poisoning fields of purple and white South African agapanthus (be still my heart!), trapping the hated mustelids (weasels, stoats, and ferrets) who kill their native birds, poisoning possums with cyanide laced peanut butter. (You can almost here echoes of “build that wall.”)

They are also proud of local Manuka honey, a natural antiseptic/antibiotic that they rub on ulcers, pressure sores, diaper rash and whatever else ails ya.

In the evening we went to the Northern Club for dinner with Jane and Doug Kline. This “gentleman’s club” is 150 years old, gracious and traditional. We enjoy seeing how the other hemisphere lives – but didn’t quite get the customs right at this one. While the young frolicked in the bar before dinner, we gathered in a reading room with 20 foot ceilings. While the young were eating in a bistro downstairs, we were welcomed into a large (20 x 40’ ?) and elegant dining room with a pianist playing just for us. The food was superb; the service absolutely excellent, and we had a very good time.

Posted by HopeEakins 15:54 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)


The Lord's Day

sunny 78 °F

Here is what we did on Sunday.large_ade39f40-21af-11e9-bacc-ef4c3139d89f.jpg

ECUMENICAL WORSHIP Aboard the Silver Whisper January 27, 2019

Hymn: God of Grace and God of Glory

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray. Almighty Father, whose blessed Son prayed for his disciples that they might be one, as you and he are one: Grant that your Church, being bound together in love and obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom you have sent, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalm 95: 1-7 (The verses in bold are said by the people.)

Come, let us sing to the LORD; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the caverns of the earth, and the heights of the hills are his also.

The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have molded the dry land.

Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, and kneel before the LORD our Maker.

For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.

Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

The Scripture Reading

A Reading from the letter to the Church at Ephesus

[Christ] is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. (2:14-22)

A Reflection The Reverend Hope Eakins

This is called an “ecumenical” worship service. Someone asked this week what the word ecumenical means. The answer is “worldwide,” from a Greek word, and I like the idea that what we are about in this place is worshipping God in a wide way, in a common way and in our own ways both. We could also call this a non-denominational service, but that sounds negative, saying what we are not rather than what we are. Non-denominational also reminds us that we Christians have divided ourselves up into separate groups whose identity rests on being different from each other.

How easily we get divided up that way, immigrants and native-born, old and young, male and female, black and white, rich and poor, and on and on. The differences aren’t bad; they actually enrich us. What’s bad are the separations, the distinctions that pit them against us, the partitions that hurt our world and hurt our souls. This kind of division is a besetting problem of the human race. Families, marriages, neighborhoods, towns, cities, and countries can all too easily split into bitter factions.

No wonder St. Paul was so insistent in his letter to the Ephesians, insistent that Christ has broken down dividing walls that separate us. No wonder that on the night before Jesus died, he gathered the little community of his closest followers to eat a last supper with him, and offered the earnest prayer: “Father, I pray that all who believe in me might be one, just as you and I are one.”

Two thousand years later, Jesus’ prayer for us might seem to have gone unanswered. True, in the first hundred years after Jesus, when Christians were a persecuted minority, they generally formed close, family-like communities, so much so that their pagan neighbors are reputed to have admired them, saying, “See how these Christians love one another.” But once Christianity became the established religion of the Empire, unity became much harder to maintain. Theological controversies divided Christians into opposing camps. In 1000 AD the Church split formally in two, the West centered on Rome and the East on Constantinople. Five hundred years later, the Western church fragmented further with the Protestant Reformation - the splitting of the Church, the Body of Christ into many different and sometimes competing parts.

We are all familiar with some of the consequences of this unhappy division: parents who won’t speak to their children who married outside their church, congregations torn apart by internal bickering; little islands like the one we have just left behind in Tonga with what seemed like twenty Christian churches, each claiming to be the one true faith, my own Episcopal Church rent by disagreement over questions of human sexuality and the ordination of women.

But here we are today on the Whisper, cruising in the South Pacific. We come from different parts of the world and from different faith traditions, and yet on this Lord’s Day we have come together to worship the Holy One we all call God.

We have come to acknowledge God’s presence in our lives, to give thanks for our many blessings, to ask for pardon, wisdom and strength for ourselves and to commend the people we love and the world around us into God’s care. We have come to hear once again the Good News that God who made heaven and earth and all that is in them so loves us that God became one of us in Jesus of Nazareth. This is Good News that gives healing and hope and enlists us as God’s partners in mending broken hearts and a broken world.

What we have an opportunity to do here in ecumenical non-denominational worship is to focus on what Christian people have in common wherever they come from and whatever denomination they belong to. We can focus on what is fundamental and essential.

Maybe we can learn something here that we can take back to the congregations to which we belong, something about what is basic to Christian community and what is not, something about finding unity and purpose that transcends our differences.

What if Christians everywhere focused on the Good News of Jesus rather than on denominational differences? What if the world saw Christians united in feeding the poor and healing the sick, advocating for peace and justice, taking care of our fragile planet, providing education and encouragement for young people – instead of proclaiming that we have got a better understanding of God than they do, instead of insisting that we’ve got our theology right and they’ve got it wrong? Well, God knows what might happen! And maybe it’s happening right here this morning with the members of the household of God on the Silver Whisper.

The Prayers

Almighty God, we see our world and yearn to make it whole, yet we know our vision is small and our efforts are weak. In your mercy, O Lord,
Come into our darkness, and bring light.
Enlighten your Church. Deliver us from our preoccupation with old habits and old assumptions; open our eyes to see your hand at work in the questions of the present day; fill us with fresh dreams and fresh hopes; and bring us together as one people for the work of healing a broken world
Come into our indifference and awaken expectation.
Enlighten the world. Break down the walls of hostility that divide the nations and peoples; set before us the vision of this fragile earth as our island home; and open our minds and hearts to work together for the common good.
Come into the enmities of this world and bring peace.
Enlighten us. Take away our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us; give us grace to reach out in love to the stranger; bless those who mourn and those who are sick in body, mind, or spirit especially those we now name in our hearts and with our voices. (pause) Use us as you will to make your Kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Come into places of suffering and bring strength and comfort.
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, “Peace I give to you; my own peace I leave with you;” Regard not the sins but the faith of your Church, and give to us the peace and unity of that heavenly city, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you are alive and reign, now and forever. Amen

Summing up all our petitions and all our thanksgivings, we pray in the words Jesus taught us

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy Kingdom come;
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory
forever and ever. Amen.

The Blessing May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, and may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

HYMN: Christ is the World's True Light

Officiants: The Reverend Hope H. Eakins, The Reverend William J. Eakins
Music: Alex Manev
Usher: Doug Kline
Altar Guild: Jane Kline

Posted by HopeEakins 13:20 Comments (1)


Sailing over the non-bounding main

sunny 82 °F

Here is what we did on Saturday. H&B.


Posted by HopeEakins 13:05 Comments (0)

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