Reprinted from Pond & Garden 2:1
Click images to enlarge
St Joseph's House of Prayer is a community of Christians from various denominations, who provide a place of prayer and hospitality for church groups, families or individuals, in a huge old former orphanage that is situated on 50 acres of farmland on the northern edge of Goulburn in New South Wales. The community depends on donations from the people who make use of the facilities, in order to maintain the place and to support ourselves. Although ecumenical in outlook and ministry, the Community is under the authority of the Catholic Church, and the Archbishop of Canberra Goulburn, Francis Carroll, takes a personal interest in our life and work.
We may be occupied at different tasks around house or property, but come together for prayer three times a day in our little chapel, and for lunch and dinner. Everyone takes turns doing the cooking which makes for variety, both in the type of food cooked, and the standard of the cooking! In the past it was rumoured that some people determined what day they were going to have off on the basis of who was cooking that night! Of course this is no longer true, if in fact it ever was! During the summer months we often decorate the dining tables with bowls of floating waterlilies which are much admired by our visitors, who also enjoy walking down to the river and viewing them in their natural setting.
I have been involved with Christian communities since 1976 and first came to St Joseph's in 1979 for a week long gathering of different communities. Subsequently I visited during holidays and on one of these visits was asked if I would consider joining the community and running the farming side of things here. I didn't know much about farming but knew more than those who were here at the time so I got job and joined the community in 1982.
I have also been responsible for setting up our prayer ministry on the internet and a weather information site for farmers. The ideas for both came through prayer and, in the case of the weather site, at a time when we didn't even have a computer that was able to access the internet! Being on a farm ourselves we often prayed for farmers, particularly in times of drought. In 1997 when yet another drought began and the rural suicides were increasing, God opened up the way for me to find information that was helpful to farmers, provided a new computer and launched us into cyberspace! But that story would need another article! (Visit us at http://www.ozemail.com.au/~sjhop )
I became involved with waterlilies through my mother's love for them. She did not know why she loved waterlilies so much until she was about 40 years old and found a photograph amongst her fathers things. It was of her mother showing her waterlilies at a very young age. She had died when Ruth was four, but they would have often visited this special spot, and these memories of being taken down to see the waterlilies in the pond on the family farm in South Westland New Zealand had been nurtured in the subconscious and were to have wider ramifications.
We planted them in in our dam, but it was too cloudy and when I saw that they weren't doing very well I took one of the roots and planted it in the river. That one thrived and a year later we obtained some roots of 'Sulphurea Grandiflora' which we added as well. Then the 1997 drought hit. The river receeded until the waterlilies were drying out and the sheep were running over the top of them. I took advantage of the low water level to subdivide the roots and plant them out into deeper water and when the rains came we had an abundance of these two varieties. Since then I have obtained other varieties and colours.for use as table decorations. The spot where they are on the river is a lovely prayerful or reflective spot for our ourselves and our visitors.
I looked up "waterlilies" on the internet one day last year, discovered the IWGS site and found that I could subscribe to their email discussion list.It was through that list that I learned of your request for information regarding new hybrids. It has been a unique international effort which I have been proud to be a part of.
Since this article was written, Charlie has made a remarkable move to Wilcannia in far western New South Wales. He relates "I decided I needed a bit of a break and as there was a lot of talk about reconciliation with the Aboriginees (being a New Zealander I didn't know much about them) so I thought I might come out here and learn a bit of the problems and gain a bit of an understanding. Their kids are very friendly and I have been working as the maintanance man at a little Catholic school here.
"I brought out a few waterlilies out here which I put in a very small pond made with black plastic about the size of Guillermo's Bathtub (which I think is just great). Apparently the lilies back at St Joseph's House of Prayer are looking fantastic at the moment. I have a new webste at http://www4.tpgi.com.au/hope2/ " (Don't miss Charlie's trip to Wilcannia!)