On November 10th, 2018 the Chapel at St Joseph’s Lochinvar was terribly damaged by smoke after a long smouldering fire, which started in the carpet, spread to some of the pews. No major structural damage, just incredible smoke damage to walls, magnificent musical instruments -the Bechstein Grand Piano and the invaluable pipe organ. The unbelievable had to be believed! The unfathomable had to be fathomed!
On December 10th 2019, the temperature at Lochinvar reached 42 degrees! The smoke haze that had been lingering over the city in which I live was almost edible and the Chapel was back! The stained glass windows refracted the light reflecting from the marble surrounds into rainbows.
I believe this could be a photo of my first trip to Lochinvar. Perhaps it is the first time I could walk while visiting Lochinvar! It is the only picture I have with my God Parents Ruth and Roger on the occasion of Ruth’s profession as a sister of St Joseph. Lochinvar has been part of my entire life journey! I love the place although there were times when I loathed it! Particularly on February day when my only sister entered the parlour in her exquisite blue and white “frock” with electrically pleated skirt and blue patent leather stilettos, left us to return in the habit of a postulant. When I arrived home that day, Mum asked me to hang the frock up and I could smell my sister’s Tweed perfume. I was inconsolable but in private! Days as a border were bitter sweet days in which my music education came to the fore and sent me off into my post school career.
As a teacher in a Josephite school I accompanied hundreds of students to a Lochinvar Heritage day where they met and were enchanted by the Sisters, by the stories, by the visit to the Parish Church and graveyard, many of them astounded by the peace and beauty of the beautiful resting place of the Sisters and my ancestors. My daughter was married in the chapel in 2012. Having watched “Brides of Christ” walk down that aisle, to see my exquisite daughter accompanied by her Father in that place, in the presence of my Mother, to be married by my Brother was indescribable joy to me. After my brother’s death and the indescribable agony of what he had endured and what my family continues to endure my beloved friend, his beloved friend and I organised a concert in the Chapel which was like bathing in “A Balm in Gilead” about which he had sung. I read his words, his choirs sang in tribute to him. We lifted the Roof to the heights of the “Holy City”. My sister sounded her tribute and love son that magnificent instrument in the choir loft! Ecstasy wrapped in agony for so many!
I was invited to the recommissioning of the Chapel by the Congregational Leader. She has been a mentor in education for me for many years and is a trusted, loved and supportive friend.
During the ceremony, two candles were lit and received by the current Assistant Principal of St Joseph’s College and my friend. The light of the past, reignited, the light of the present and the future received. A simple but powerful gesture. The candles were placed at either end of the newly dressed and rededicated Altar. Candles flickered as they do and one of them went out! The Sisters behind me noticed. So did I!
I am a great believer in signals sent from that which is beyond our understanding. I recognise and value logic although one of my underlying philosophies when trying to understand conundrums of politics, or hierarchy, or institutions, is “never presume and logic never applies. However, sometimes I will hear a Kookaburra or the magpie family that takes up residence each year, pinches the lining from our hanging baskets to add to its nest in the tree across the road and I am reminded that the Spirits of my Dad and my Mum remain and will remain in my children and theirs. That’s eternity to me.
Can you guess which candle had to be relit?
Like all new life it is fledgling! Like all new life, survival is not guaranteed even with the astounding intervention of medicine and science!
The candle was relit from the flame that had not flickered! It did not go out again.