PODCAST EPISODE 54: Chris Monaghan, Holy Cross Retreat, Templestowe, Victoria, Australia
Spirituality means different things for different people. But in challenging times, like the one we have been experiencing since COVID-19 hit, I have noticed a real need—in myself and other people—for meaning. A seeking out of what’s important. Looking deeper into how spirituality might be invited into everyday life, tasks and duties as a way to keep in touch with hope and positivity for the future. For some, spirituality includes religion, religious services, ceremonies, the institution of the Church, its principles and values. For others, spirituality is something found in nature, animals, plants, their beauty and soothing ways. For others, the spiritual manifests in good deeds, community, love and family. Of course, spirituality moves between its more organised and everyday forms, and every person’s belief system is unique, in some way, to them. In my forties, I am still not entirely certain what I believe, but I understand that there is great healing and stability to be found in finding something to go to, in your mind and maybe your body, when times are tough. For that reason, I am delighted to introduce you to a wise and humble man, a great thinker and seeker, and a lover of bees— priest, scholar and beekeeper Chris Monaghan.
Born in Melbourne in 1955, Chris Monaghan has always loved nature, beauty, art and music. A keen nature photographer and musician, he was ordained a Catholic Priest in 1981. After his ordination, he studied biblical studies in Rome and Jerusalem, before gaining a PhD on the New Testament. Since 1987, Chris has been teaching at Yarra Theological Union—a college of the University of Divinity. These days, Chris lives at the beautiful Holy Cross Retreat in Templestowe—a 10-acre property with a conference centre, home to a religious community. Here, Chris and his bees have a happy life: “My bees have a beautiful and restful home down by our dam shared with ducks and other water birds. It is a delight to watch how they interact with their environment.” For Chris— a wealth of knowledge on the history of bees’ appearance in scared religious texts and stories— it is the “collective intelligence” of bees that amazes him; the way in which they work, in unison, with their environment and their colony members to make the delicious elixir that is honey. From this, Chris derives great lessons that could, and should, transpose superbly to human life: “They teach me how to live in harmony with all creation—it’s a pity that human beings are so slow to learn the lessons that they teach us about cooperation and how we can achieve so much together if we try.”
Tune in to hear Chris and I chat about the spiritual quality of beekeeping, the profound place of bees in biblical and sacred texts, and how bees are wonderful role models for human cooperation with the environment.