Lynn and John Lane are members of the Catholic community at Morpeth where they attend early Sunday morning Mass. Like others, they take great pleasure in gathering after Mass for a yarn. Frequently the chat continued till it became natural to share a coffee and continue the conversations at cafés in the main street of this historic town.
So began the evolution of the 'Cs'; church and coffee were the first. It was a fortunate discovery that others shared Lynn and John's enthusiasm for travel as well as their faith. Favourite haunts, previous destinations and scenic spots frequently entered their discussions. John adds, "Then we found we had a common interest in caravans." Another 'C' was added.
This small group decided to share a few days at Little Beach Port Stephens. John says, "They did their own thing during the day, then later in the afternoon brought our chairs together and told yarns, had nibbles and drinks. We really enjoyed that."
The experience was so positive that they planned another get-together; a week away at Kiama. There were four friends with caravans. Naturally, not everyone has a van, so a few decided to join the group but stay in cabins. Another 'C' was added.
Their week in Kiama was significant. One of the couples hoped to visit the Benedictine Monastery at Jamberoo, of ABC'sThe Abbeyfame. All were enthusiastic; they spent Saturday afternoon at the monastery, meeting Sr Mechtild, a former Josephite Sister who worked in the Maitland area before her new life at the abbey. She invited them back to 7.30am Mass the following day. Lynn says, "It was an incredible experience. I was amazed by the chapel, floor to ceiling glass overlooking the Jamberoo valley." A shock for John was that Chaplain Fr Paul Gurr presided at Mass. John and Fr Paul were in the same class at Marist Brothers Maitland!
Lynn says, "There was another aspect to Kiama; we are now spreading our interests to other beliefs." The group had an unforgettable visit to theNan Tien Buddhist Temple. John adds, "It was our first experience with Buddhism, we met some of the nuns and visited all three of the main temples."
Both John and Lynn stress that this is an informal assembly, "It's very loose, a laid back arrangement." The group decides on a rough time period and location, those who are free join the trip, while others have commitments, some still work, or are simply unable to join that particular journey. Numbers fluctuate and attendees change with each expedition. They also emphasise that not all fellow travellers are Catholic, and some are single. They add that there is no strict structure; some spend their time in an armchair reading, while others take day trips. Anyone is welcome to join them; it is not a closed group.
Their next journey is to Mudgee in June, where golf and wine tasting are on the agenda, as well as visiting the goldfields of Hill End and Sofala. They already have a convoy for that trip, both caravans and cabin stayers. Could another 'C' be added to the count?
John proudly says, "One of the side effects which is very positive, we do get a real sense of belonging, of being part of a family." They aim for possibly two trips each year, which are discussed as usual at the café over coffee and occasional brunch after Sunday Mass.
The final 'C' count? Church, coffee, caravans, cabins, convoy and community. It's certainly growing!