WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Joy Cowley – our special Rabbi

Tony Lenton
1 September 2011

We have and have had, many spiritual treasures in NZ. I have my personal list of heroes including Paul Reeves who I respected for his humanity and compassion, James K Baxter whose erudition and mellow voice when reading scripture transported you back to the Holy Land, his friend [and mine] Eugene O’Sullivan OP, a great apologist of sacramental theology and a truly holy man, Bernard Rea a prophet of God who, before he died more than 20 years ago, warned me of an unnamed [at that time] calamity that would visit our Church –and which I now know could only have been the abuse scandal.

altAfter the Let us Pray seminar in Palmerston North I want to add to my list, Peter Cullinane whose exposition of Catholic truth is in my view both fearless and peerless [I commend his latest book to you] Abbot Brian Keogh of Kopua – his reflection on the family meal as Eucharist brought tears to my eyes – and our special rabbi, Joy Cowley.

I wonder if Joy’s parents knew what they were doing when they named her? While she brings so much insight in her writings, in person she is an even more engaging teacher of prayer and the bringer of the joy of the ‘aha’ moments that only true teachers can give.

Joy’s insight, it seems to me, comes from the intimate and consistent delight in creation that she gains from savouring sights, smells and sounds. By spending time to do this she is able to commune with God the Creator of the world she so obviously delights to be in.

She listens for God everywhere, like the time that she saw on a chalk board outside a restaurant ‘follow your hunger’ an echo of my own appreciation of a neon beer ad in London, ‘Take Courage’ I saw when I was lonely and homesick.

Joy reads widely and has a love of our Jewish roots. She told us of a Jewish creation myth in which there was once a large earthen vessel into which God breathed. His breath was so powerful that the jar shattered into countless embers which became the souls of all human beings.

It’s arresting moments such as these and the wisdom and delight of Joys’ spirituality behind them, that ensures she will always be on my list of spiritual treasures. What about yours?