Joys and Sorrows

A moment in time, of reverence and aliveness, at The Weekly Service.

This beautiful and short piece captures some of the joys and sorrows humans were feeling on 14th October 2017. For no other reason than to remind ourselves we all experience the the profound and the horrendous. The beautiful and the painful.

Stay to the end for the 'bonus track'...

Awe and the Sacred

As a child, Todd Gillen's visits to the vaulted ceilings of his local church were filled with bouts of awe that stilled his frayed nerves and sent tingles shivering down his spine. He felt himself in the presence of god.

All that changed on one particular day, when his religious faith dropped away. Since then he has spent most of his life searching for ideas and theories of god that match what he feels and his experience of his own spirituality.

As a professional archaeologist, he has spent the last 15 years reading, writing, breathing and actually digging up ancient Egypt in pursuit of the sacred. The Egyptians invented formal religion as we know it, and in the desert sands you can see the literal remains of the birth of god. The colossal pyramids, temples and tombs that have captured our popular imagination are testament to the role of awe in that process.

Join Todd as he shares his humanist perspective on god, spirituality and the sacred and asks: what new ways of understanding god are emerging in a world of increasing diversity of belief, what role does awe play in our spirituality, and how can we curate the sacred in our lives?

Finding Stillness In Action

Passionate about spiritual practice and positive societal change, Bobbi connected the two in 1984 when she read Joanna Macy’s first ‘Work that Reconnects’ book by torchlight in a tent in a rainforest on a meditation retreat. Since then Bobbi’s quest has been connection – linking nature, the personal, social and political. It has been a lifelong quest to create a culture of sustainable activism. After studying then teaching insight meditation and ‘engaged Buddhism’ for over 30 years, pioneering environmental and social justice campaigns and bringing up twins off-grid, Bobbi’s elder hood is one forged through passionate engagement with the world.

Catalysing a Creative Rebellion

Abe Nouk is a poet, a community educator, a mentor and a humble human being with an infectious sense of gratitude. In this Weekly Service podcast he talks about his journey to Australia - fleeing civil war in Sudan with his mother and siblings - and his journey to creativity and gratitude as a way of unravelling the numbness and trauma he grew up with. He talks about discovering how important it is to be 'available for life', and his daily appreciation of the lavish freedom of living in a peaceful country. Through his story, Abe encourages the audience to be open to both suffering and joy, and 'know your truth, keep your peace and speak your joy'. Abe also performs some of his of his spoken word poetry.

Poster girl for neuroplasticity

Haley's story begins with ordinary, yet tragic miscommunication, journeys through self-harming and feeling crazy, then having successful psychotherapy. Her story, or at least the telling of it, ends with her becoming a molecular neuroscientist and realising that her super neuroplastic brain and body had adapted in meaningful ways to the experiences she had, for better and for worse. Haley explores how early experiences biologically shape our anticipations of love and the world, and what happens to us if the meaning of experiences that hurt us is lost and confounded by diagnoses.

The pull towards community

The Czech Theologian Tomas Halik says that the division in our culture is not between religion and atheism but between passion and apathy; not between sets of propositions but between forms of engagement with the Other.

Rod grew up in a Christian community where the Other was primarily seen as an enemy, or something to be colonised - something to turn into the same. This is his story of his journey away from this to a vision of community built on both a shared sense of lack and a shared sense of possibility, rather than over against some Other

A personal journey on two wheels

One year ago Angela Jia Zheng went on a two-wheeled journey around the big island of Hawai’i. As she made her way across volcanoes she also traversed inner landscapes, met her vulnerabilities and discovered a hidden resilience. This is her personal story of searching, finding and learning how to ride this experience we call ‘life’.

We don't do grief in our family

Grief and death are an inevitable part of life and yet, in most western countries they are accompanied by a pervasive silence. This week's storyteller, Kiri Bear shared how she broke that silence and what she learned along the way. Warning - there wasn't a dry eye in the house so maybe avoid listening to this one in public!

Building a Thriving Future

Adam Ben Hickman shares his raw delight for natural building. We cover straw, timber, permaculture, and his connection to the land. His enthusiasm is infectious and inspiring. His story prompted a discussion of how we live out our values in our homes and how we might move towards being more sustainable within them.

A Journey Beyond Language

Peter Gleeson, the Dumbledore of ConFest, takes us to a joyful world full of whistling, harmonic singing, spontaneous choir and love processions. 
"Performance has the capacity to transform people [...] but you have to allow the change to happen and see that you can become a more complete person by integrating into your life the ingredients that have always been there in your ancestors' lives. We come from a culture where everyone sang, everyone danced, that was what made them the community they were."

Being Here – A conversation about belonging

What does it mean to really be here? To belong to this country, this city, and this neighbourhood? Jess Huon, Meryl Karlson and Kirsty Moegerlein open up this complex subject through three stories of place. A beautiful, raw and honest conversation followed, at our first outdoor service by the Merri Creek.

Story 1 – this country
Insight Meditation Teacher, Jess Huon, speaks of her relationship to Australia, and how she returned after many years of learning to relax in unsettling places, to reckon with her birth place.

Story 2 - this city
Positive Ageing & Wellbeing Consultant, Meryl Karlson, hails from northern NSW. She left the comfort of 'love, peace and brown rice' to pursue bigger things, here in Melbourne. She questions how we might meet places on their own terms and what support we can offer each other in our common displacement.

Story 3 – this neighbourhood
Designer and one of the leads of the Weekly Service, Kirsty Moegerlein, explores her uneasy relationship with Northcote through a love letter to the suburb she currently calls home.

How I Finally Met Myself

Exploring the endless feeling of longing for more. Exploring the insatiable thirst for connection, while feeling deeply disconnected. Exploring feelings of not being seen or heard, despite being so talkative and expressive.

Bea tells her story of finally meeting herself through a program of spiral work and embodied astrology. Over the past year, she has become aware of the 'overgrown garden' of her mind, the compulsive triggers and reactions leading to uncontrolled explosions and degraded relationships.

She has been doing some internal weeding, confronted deep fears and enabled a significant shift to help her feel at ease.

Bea talks us through her take on relationship to self, and relationship to other. 'Each relationship is transformative', when you look at it through this lens.

Hope in Spite of Everything

The forth season of The Weekly Service kicked off this week with a story of hope from Cam Elliott. Cam is a songwriter, facilitator, writer, and co-founder of The Weekly Service. 

Cam courageously leads us into the cavernous depths of human fragility, madness, anxiety, and hopelessness and lights up the darkness with humour, beauty and hope.

Cam breaks a thousand taboos and makes us feel whole in the process. It's a truly remarkable story and a privilege to listen to. Make sure you listen to the end to hear one of Cam's songs of hope, 'The Sirens and the Lighthouse'. 

Rewilding The Soul

Claire Dunn, author and experiencer of 'My Year Without Matches' tells the story behind the book.

Living 'wild' on a 100 acre block in northern NSW for a year, Claire's story reveals the necessity of connection to country, to rediscover an emotional and spiritual balance so distant from our every day busyness.

Flipping between rage, anger, ecstasy, grief, love and self-doubt, this awesome journey shows the importance of developing baseline practices that allow life to flow through us.

Claire's deep ecological approach is inspired by the likes of Joanna Macy ( And you can dive deeper into Claire's work here:

The Garden Within

'The soil is like an extension of my body, and anything that feeds it feeds me'. Kat Lavers at The Weekly Service.

Inspired by a sparrow eating a worm in her garden 10 years ago, and the subsequent thought 'where does my food come from', Kat now cultivates 300 kilos of vegetables a year on a tiny patch of land in Northcote.

With Matt Wicking's beautiful live music at the service, including the song 'Vanishing Point', Kat tells her story of connecting with earth and herself through gardening and permaculture.

Inspired by books like 'The Biggest Estate of Earth' by Bill Gammage and 'Dark Emu' by Bruce Pascoe, Kat's work in her garden has meditative and philosophical dimensions, which makes the garden live in her physically and metaphorically.

A beautiful story from a lady showing the world we can reimagine our connection to the earth, and our passion for it, smack bang in the middle of a city. This is an environmentalism that must have a strong voice.

Girl meets Tantra: A Love Story

Caitlyn Cook is a Tantra-inspired facilitator, coach and writer and founder of The SexyLove Project. Caitlyn shares her intimate story of how she found Tantra, what Tantra means and the key ways it's transformed her world.

From clinical depression, anxiety and disordered eating to self-love, adventure and sex-positivity, her story spans the transformation of her body, bedroom, and life. 


'How do we walk with each other in these times of struggle?'.

That's probably one of the most important questions we can ponder in this moment. Sarah Pant, psychotherapist and wonderful human, talks to us about conflict and how the tensions of diversity may lead to creativity and beauty.

Sarah highlights the choices we all have during conflict: keep struggling on, go backwards and close our hearts; or move forward in community and grow.

Yes, yes, we all think we do the latter...and when life treats us well, when we're at our best, we are all capable of if.

But in my news feed right now, I see a lot of 'othering' of my demographic (extremely privileged, university educated, richest 5% of the planet) vs those who are moving towards 'Brump' (Brexit, Trump, etc.).

That doesn't feel like we're walking with anyone except our own kind. This is a lesson I personally need to heed.

Check out Sarah's insightful and highly relevant talk on dancing with diversity.