Maria Harries

Maria Harries
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In this Living with Purpose Interview, I explore how Maria Harries has been involved with many organisations and causes over many years. She avoids being labelled and says that she is a frustrated gardener and would prefer to be gardening than writing these days. Despite this she has many current interests and commitments, including philosophy, Social Work, purpose and meaning.

Maria’s professional commitments include being Senior Honorary Research Fellow at UWA, Adjunct Professor at Curtin University School and working as a researcher and research supervisor. She has also held governance roles with a number of state and national organisations involved with funding, service delivery, health, mental health, violence, adult survivors of abuse, and child, adult and family welfare.

During this podcast Maria referred to several podcasts that she regularly listens to including:

The Minefield – Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens

Soul Search podcast

The philosophers zone’ podcast

A number of books were also mentioned including:

Gondwana Theology – Garry Deverell

For Small Creatures Such As We: Rituals and reflections for finding wonder – Sasha Sagan

A Bridge Between: Spanish Benedictine Missionary Women in Australia – Katherine Massam

This podcast was recorded in 2020 before the outcome of the US Presidential election was known.

Transcript of podcast episode

This transcript is not entirely verbatim, but close to it.

Maria Harries
Francis Lynch

Maria Harries
For me, the meaning of life is to do what?
What? Whatever I can with what I’ve got, I
was taught. I was taught by my mother, really
very early to always be grateful at the end of
the day, That that what I what I had and what
we have and I. I just remember, however
whatever she suffered, and my mother
suffered a huge amount given what she went
through with losing her husband and
managing. eight children. I mean, she worked
as a nurse at night and. God knows how she
did it, but she always at the end of the day,
she always said thankyou… and she always
encouraged us to say thank you, So, I am just
constantly. Delighted with the fact that I’m

Francis Lynch
Hi, my name is Francis Lynch and welcome to
the Living with purpose interviews. In this
episode I’m talking with Maria Harries, who’s
been a social worker, academic writer, activist
and a leader of many community sector
boards. Welcome, Maria. Thanks for joining
me on the living with Purpose podcast. I’m
looking forward to having a conversation
with you about how purpose plays out in your
life. Can I start off just by asking, how do you
introduce yourself to people?

Maria Harries
Well, usually I’m introduced. I’m just
introduced myself as Maria. And when I’m
introduced, I think it’s probably more
interesting people call me various things and I
just usually say no, I just would rather be
called Maria.

Francis Lynch
And do you think that that’s changed over
time? Are there people who know you for a
long time, who that hasn’t changed, but as
you’ve lived your life, there are other people
who? See you in terms of what you do.

Maria Harries
Oh, I think so. I find it really. I find it really
awkward and interesting. What images?
People may have of me and they sometimes
share cause it’s I’ve just become chair of a of
an A national organisation and. And I’m very
aware that I’m seen by that organisation as
somebody who can assist them. It’s a very
difficult time and yes, I still find that the
struggle to think of myself as anybody other
than. Somebody who just puts her best foot
forward and does what I can for whoever is
hanging around me, really or not hanging

Francis Lynch
you have done a lot in your life and you know
you’ve got a lot of honorifics and your CV I’m
sure is very long and if it was a detailed one
would be very long but. Do you see the
narrative of that in your life? Do you do you
think that? That tells a story. About you or is
it really just a like how how do you see that?

Maria Harries
Yeah, it look, it’s really interesting. I’ve
thought about this and I don’t know how I’m
going to answer it. Somebody gave me a
bracelet a young man gave me a bracelet a
couple of years ago and it had on it. She did it
because she thought she should and he said,
in fact what I mean. you did it because you
knew you could. So we had this conversation.
This young man is a young man, I’ve. Kind of
looked after in many ways. He was in care
most of his life and he’s had an awful life. So
that told me a story then, and we had this
conversation then and. And I think it’s true. I I
just do what I do partly because I think I can
sometimes I don’t think I can I do it anyway.
But really, really because it feels like I was
brought up this way, it feels like and it’s a. It’s
a term that’s used in the Catholic Church a
lot. What you’re called to do. I’ve always had
a sense that I’m not on my own journey. I’m
on, I’m and I’m. And I’m not saying I want
somebody else’s journey. I’m on a journey
that’s in which I’m called to do whatever I can
in the moment. And so that’s what I do.
Which is why I said yes to Sheila Shaw all
those years ago sharing mercy care. It just felt
like it’s something that. I had to do terrible,
terrible. I mean it. Well, it it’s it sounds like it
sounds like my life isn’t in my hands and it’s
not. I’ve never had a 10 year plan or a 5year
plan or even a year plan.

Francis Lynch
But, but you make decisions as they come to.

Maria Harries
Yes I think I think seriously about them. And I
do say no at times. But if .I understand, I try
to understand the moment and I do talk
about it with, I have a couple of people I’ve
always shared thoughts with. And so I don’t
do everything I’m asked to do, but I do tend
to go in various down. Various rabbit holes
really. Hmm.

Francis Lynch
And is there something like if you look back?
To your younger self. Is that how you started
off in terms of, you know when you were
were young? Young woman and and making
your way. Is that saying yes to things? Is that
how you’ve sort of come to be? Where you

Maria Harries
Look, I think I have thought a lot about where
how I came to be, what I am and I was
brought up in Africa, born in Africa and
brought up. By my my father was a A medica.
My mum was a nurse, but they were really
medical missionaries with the. With the
Catholic Church in both converts to
Catholicism. And so I was brought. But really
in a sense, the most important person in my
early life was Clara, who was a a nanny who
looked who she she was, what was what was
called, I think, may still be called the Cape
Coloured. But she but the whole the IT was a
mixture of Catholicism, which really was not
about the hierarchical church it was about.
we’re all made in God’s image and so there is
no one is better than anyone else. That was
the kind of philosophy, and my parents were
very involved in fighting against racism in
Africa. But the other bit of it was the African
philosophy of Ubuntu, which was very
powerful and still is very powerful for me, and
it’s a it’s an extraordinary humanitarian kind
of view of, of, of life, communitarian, I guess.
Strictly speaking, I think it means something
like I am because you are. but it’s much
broader than that. It’s, you know, we all share
a common humanity. And for me it’s this, the
spiritual side of what my parents taught me,
which is that if we’re all, we’re all. Made of
the same flesh. So that’s kind of where I I’ve
always been. And clearly, clearly it was in my
DNA to end up being what I am. See my my
I’ve got to come from a large family. And my
siblings. got seven siblings were six still alive,
but they’re all. All of them, I think deeply into
ecology, into the ecological world and. And I I
think it’s the same. And very much working
not just for, you know, the the world, but also
for the indigenous world. So
the for me there is strong links between my
upbringing and the now indigenous world is
spirituality which I think is so. So important
for our Australian. sense of being, let alone
for the future of our indigenous peoples.
That’s a long answer.

Francis Lynch
No, no, no. It was really interesting to hear. I I
didn’t understand that about you. And so
when you came back to Australia, what what
what age were you?

Maria Harries
Now we went from Africa and my parents
were thrown out of Africa and we went to the
UK, which is where they originally come from.
And then we came to Australia. I think I was
about 13. I’ve never actually I must check

Francis Lynch

Maria Harries
And we went to Tasmania, where West Coast
of Tasmania, which is where we then were.

Francis Lynch
I know part of your history is the sort of the
social work coming into being in that sort of
world. Of you know, academic and practice.
And what’s that mean for you in terms of the
way that your life’s been lived over the last
large number of years? Is that is that an
important part of who? You see yourself as.

Maria Harries
I’m really a gardener at. Heart and I had to
toss up when I did my first degree. Whether I
did medicine or herbotany or psychology and
for some reason I found myself in psychology
in politics. And then came to W.A.
I’ve always been a bit of a an agitated
practitioner, it wasn’t till I came to W.A. that
West Australia. 30 years ago, actually that I
could have settled into what was meant to be
an academic role. But as you say, I’ve I’ve
never been a until more recently.
Interestingly, I’ve never been a true academic.
I don’t think and and that’s partly because
teaching because I taught in social work
school at UW University of WA, it was all
consuming. It’s all consuming. I had no time. I
I had little time. To be a proper academic who
spent most of the time researching and
writing, because I just, it was the teaching
was so demanding and the other bit of me
that kept me. I kept being called to do, which
was to be and to do the work. I straddled that
a lot. So I did a lot of consulting work. And a
lot of, as you know, government work and
work with organisations whose work I valued.
So I was never totally successful academic. I
say that because in the last few years I’ve
been an honouree at the University of W.A.
and I have thoroughly enjoyed not teaching,
although I do like teaching. but just
supervising research students and being
involved in research. And finally, being able to

Francis Lynch
But you’ve always written though.

Maria Harries
Not as much. Not at not as much as I’ve not as
much as I would have liked to have, and
certainly not as much as I. Plan to do I’m still
not writing as much as I should. Yeah, I love it.

Francis Lynch
Can I ask in terms? Of teaching, like who?
Who have been your biggest teachers?

Maria Harries
Yeah. Look, that’s a that’s a lovely question.
And I’ve and I’ve said it so. I’ve said this so
often, my greatest teachers have really been
the people I’ve worked with, and I mean the
men and women and children who. Have
taught me how to be. To be I. Think humble is
not the word to continually question my
assumptions. I mean, I’ve worked with one of
my greatest teachers at the moment is an
extraordinary Aboriginal woman who. And it a
long time ago. We travelled through an awful,
awful, awful, awful life journey. And she’s
she’s come out the other end and she’s just
taking the world by storm at the moment.
And I just keep, she says to me recently. And
I’ve learned a lot and I said no. I’ve learned far
more from. You. So that’s who my that’s one
the other for me. The other teachers. I’m a
frustrated philosopher as well as a frustrated
gardener. Other than the philosophical

Maria Harries
thinkers of today. So my passion really is
reading, reading contemporary philosophy
rather than rather than. Classical philosophy.
But I don’t know who my teachers are. That
anyone I can learn from you is at the

Francis Lynch
It’s like it’s. So some of the people that you
have. I mean it the language here is so
constraining because you talked about
somebody you work with and there’s this
whole language of power around. Is it
somebody who I’m supporting? Is it
somebody I’m helping is it somebody who’s a
client? You know, there’s. All this stuff but. It
seems as though really what you’re saying is,
is the people who you’ve had the opportunity
to. Walk alongside to work with to journey
alongside. Yeah. Has that been a consistent
thing? Is that something that you’ve learned
more over time or is it?

Maria Harries
Gosh, it’s interesting to be asked these
questions. The I I wasn’t, I I wasn’t brought
up. With a silver spoon in, I wasn’t brought up
to believe that anybody was any worse or
better than there we were all the same, so
that my introduction to classes at the
university always I used to for the time I had
the students on the day one, and I would say
to them. The most important lesson I just
want you to share with you is that there is no
them in US. There was just that there was just
us. And so, you know, when my father died
when leaving a mum. My mother is a
widower in a new country with eight children
and. And you know, we were, we were
significantly poor. In fact, we lived in one of
the poorest suburbs of Tasmania.

Maria Harries
know I’d. I’ve never seen the people I work
with is anything other than people who are
sharing a journey with. Me now, that doesn’t
mean I break the boundaries. All the time.
I’m very aware of the boundary. You know, I
have always been aware of bounds, and you
have to have some regardless but. We share a
common humanity. I’ll go back to my ground.
You know, we share a common humanity. So
they are my teachers and I am their teacher.
Lovely man. By the name of Jim Barbour.
Professor Jim Barber was a colleague of mine
in Adelaide. He wrote a book called Beyond
Casework. And it was a philosophy here and I
shared. He just retired as the. From one of the
universities in the eastern seaboard, a
company which one? But then that’s one of
the the lessons I learned from from a book he
wrote is that. Something I’ve always done,
which is to say this is my role at the moment

Maria Harries
when I’m working with someone and. This is a
job I’ve got to do and This may or may not
help you, but in what we’re doing together
you will be you will. I will be getting wisdom
from you too.

Francis Lynch

It reminds meit reminds me of a quote which
is often attributed to Leela Watson. Where
you know the Aboriginal activist from
Queensland who you know said “if you’ve
come to help me, you’re wasting your time.
But if you come because your liberation is
bound up with mine, then let us work

Maria Harries
Oh, I like that. And I don’t know that quote,
but I think I’ll. I’ll write it down. That’s lovely,
Leela Watson.

Francis Lynch
I’ll send you.

Maria Harries
Do please do. I feel that very strongly. Very

Francis Lynch
Well, it came to.
Mind in in listening to what you were saying.
Because really I I. Absolutely understand
where you’re coming from with that. But I’m
not sure that that’s always within the the
community, but I think within the helping
professions, that’s not always the perspective
that. People have.

Maria Harries
Look, it’s it definitely isn’t, and it’s a struggle. I
think it’s a struggle with that. All professions
circle, you know, professions have. You do.
There’s clearly a a need for boundaries. And I
think you, we grow into the capacity to. Hold
boundaries at the same time as we share our
common humanity. It’s not. I know people
from all professions who are able to. To
actually and still cross the boundaries to stay
within that their shared humanity, a very
quick story. I am was, meeting up with a
medical friend of mine and he had his arm
around a young man and a man who was in
his early 20s like the early 20s. And this young
man had been in care, With the States and
statutory care all his life as a child, and he
was, he was at this stage a very serious heroin
user. And he was coming for treatment at a
clinic and I was introduced to this young man
and he he reeled back when I was
introduced as a social worker. I wasn’t
working with that group at the time. I was just
visiting and he looked at me and he was the
most honest statements. That was just one of
those statements that threw me. He looked at
me and he said he said I I’ve been in care all
my. Life, and this is the first person who’s put
his arm around me. Talking about that
medical practitioner, he said none of the
social workers in all those years ever touched
me. And it was, it was, you know, his craving
for connection had never been met. And he
this this particular Medicare does it all the
time. He doesn’t. People think he may cross
the boundaries, but he is deeply humane and
there are lots of. There are lots of people who
can do that who can hold. The
professionalism as well as their humanity.
Without, without relegating people to the
other, which is what we so easily do in
professional practice. Long story.

Francis Lynch
No, no, no. It’s interesting. The essence, I
suppose, of what you’re speaking about in
that story. But also before that, just in terms
of being in that space with people. Has that
influenced your decisions? About what to say
yes to and what to allocate your time and
your energy to.

Maria Harries
I’m not sure. I would hope so. I’m assuming
that sits behind, assuming it sits behind what I
what I try to do. It’s just. I just feel so strongly
that we just share a common humanity and.
That there isn’t a of them and an US. And we
all go and it is so fundamental to it’s so
fundamental to where we need to go into the
future. I think, you know, we’re sitting today
at this watershed time. Yet another
watershed time in the world as we await the
outcomes of the American election. And and I
I really do have a sense that.We we need.
With this this healing, this healing everywhere
that is required. But we’re not going to be
able to heal if we sit in these diadic worlds.
You know. This diadic world of good and bad.
black and white. And I mean that literally so.
Yeah. I just think acknowledging our shared
humanity is fundamental to moving forward.

Francis Lynch
And I know I asked you before about who are
some of the significant teachers are there are
there, are there other people who really
influenced how you’ve come to understand
the world. I know through that experience.
You know, being with somebody and
hearing stories and being able to see and
learn from that, but are there other people
who’ve really influenced your perspective in?
Terms of how. How you come to be now?

Maria Harries
Going back my one of my early heroes was
my first professor of psychology, who was Jim
Carter in the University of Tasmania, who
was a basis. A psychologist and a philosopher.
Deeply psychoanalytic. So he he was A and his
wife. Kath was a social worker, actually an
extraordinary woman. They were probably
two people who. Had a huge impact on me,
but I don’t know that I can’t name I really.
Fundamentally, you know it wasn’t with all of
the practice world I was involved in. And the
academic world wasn’t, and I hadn’t thought
about this till recently. It wasn’t until I went I
accepted that role at Mercy Care as chair, and
I was invited by the Sisters of Mercy to do
that role. Funnily enough, one of the reasons I
said yes is. There was an inevitability about it
because one of the sisters had been a student
in a master’s class of mine and she had she.
She had taught me sister and told me. Had
taught me so much in that in the time I was
her lecturer in the master’s class, I’ve learned
so much from her and it really wasn’t until I
joined Mercy Care. That a I came back to a
deep a deep connection with my own faith,
but also I was aware of a philosophical way of
being. as a worker in the world which the
mercy story was about. So for me it was such
a powerful connection. And it has stayed with
me that stayed with me. So I think they have
been my greatest teachers and sister and told
me is still one of my great teachers by the.
we still have lots of contact.

Francis Lynch

You know, I was at mercy care at the time
when you were on the board and. I think my
experience, not just at Mercy Care but of
other organisations as well is, is that when a.
A really strong origin story. If I can put it that
way, you know. Like a like a way a. Story that
really makes. A reason why the organization
exists, you know, really does have an amazing
opportunity of creating meaning for the
people in the organization and can create an
energy in that organization and certainly I
have experienced that within mercy care and
some other organizations and. Yeah. I think
really most organizations within the
Community do need to have some version of
that story, some way of creating opportunity
for meaning and bringing people together.
You you’ve mentioned philosophy two or
three Times Now, so you know you were
talking about reading at the moment and and
some modern philosophers weren’t. I mean,
philosophy is such an interesting sort of
sphere in the sense that most people. Even if
they were reading something that was
philosophical wouldn’t necessarily identify it
as such or so. So what? What does that really
mean to you? Like what? When you say
philosophical or? The philosophy writers that
you’re reading at. The moment what? What
draws you to?

Maria Harries
But I’ve just, yeah, they’re absolutely spot on.
My favourite podcast at the moment is the
minefield. With Willie, Delly and. Gosh, what’s
his name? Scott Stevens. And it’s really, it’s a
weekly podcast on the ABC Exploring the
meaning and meaning of issues in modern
life. That’s what it’s about. And they have.
They I don’t know that they’re both
philosophers. I think Scott is will lead. Ellie is
naturally a philosopher. For me, it is just
exploring the meaning of modern life. That’s
what what is? What is it actually about? And
so one of one of the most extraordinary
books I’ve read more. Recently is Sasha
Sagan’s book. And she’s the daughter of Carl
Sagan, who was in fact an atheist. But a man
who was always. I used to listen to when I
was young. He was probably somebody who
was an inspiration to me. who was always
inspired by the extraordinary mystery of the
universe. He didn’t attribute the mystery to
God to a God, but he attributed he in that it
was the mystery, the mystery of the universe
itself was sufficient to keep him excited in life
and. And his daughter Sasha has. Had written
a book about where she is now and what she
has capitalised on in her father’s story is the
importance of valuing and experiencing that
mystery and celebrating that mystery and
celebrating life. So that’s the sort of kind of.
Indigenous history. What do you what do you
say about the origin story is really significant
for me in terms of indigenous storytelling, the
power and the importance and the power,
what how much we can learn from that. an
Aboriginal friend of mine. Said to me years
ago, he he was having trouble with his son
and he said he said to his son. How do you
want when you are an ancestor? How do you
want the future generation to remember
you? What is the story you want them to tell
about you? and it was such a powerful one
for me. I used it with my son. It didn’t work,
but. It’s. There’s something about the stories
that we are all part of the story and the mercy
certainly have a powerful origin story. But so
do we. So do we all. Good and good and bad,
and hold it. And that’s something that Sasha
Sagan talks about. The significance of stories.

Francis Lynch
This podcast is called living with purpose and I
always get around at some point to asking.
What? What do you see or how do you see
purpose? But I think meaning. Is part of this.
As well. So for you, how? How do you?
Describe meaning and purpose in your life

Maria Harries
Well, I’ve got a new grandson. He’s not so
new. He’s two, and he reminds me all the
time of. How important it is we live our lives
to the full because you can see the imprint on
him. I think I’ll go back right back to the
beginning of. Of this Francis, and that is that.
For me, the meaning of life is to do what?
What? Whatever I can with what I’ve got and
I am. So I’m I I was taught I was taught by my
mother, really very early to always be grateful
at the end of the day that. That what I what I
had and what we have and I. I just remember,
however whatever she suffered, and my
mother suffered a huge amount given what
she went through with losing her husband
and managing. eight children. I mean, she
worked as a nurse at night and. God knows
how she did it, but she always at the end of
the day, she. Always said thank you. And she
always encouraged us to say thank you so. I
am just constantly. Delighted with the fact
that I’m alive. Yeah, and if you engage with
individuals or collectivities, whether it’s
neighbours or whatever in that kind of world
of gratitude, I just think life is great. So that
my purpose is to keep living. I don’t really
want to die slowly. I want to die quickly, but I
just hope that. I’m. I’m gracious in whatever
in whatever way I go.

Francis Lynch
it sounds from the. Way that you spoke about
that. The relationships with people are really
important as part of that. Each relationship is
important. There’s no value in one more than
the other.

Maria Harries
I don’t see relationships as transactional or
instrumental for me. They are just what they
are. Relating in the moment so. By that I’ve
never been somebody who. Who? Who has
friendships because of what they. Can give to
me. I just don’t. I just don’t think of life that
way. So I’m just enormously grateful for the
friends I’ve got and the people I’ve. That are
in my life. Somehow I’ve chosen this fantastic
bunch of human beings from around the
world who are good human beings, even a
couple of them are Trump supporters, but
they’re still good human beings.

Francis Lynch

But isn’t that interesting because whether or
not somebody is a good human being often
has little to do with what they do or what
they believe or what they talk. You know their
politics and yet we’re in this world, which is
really, you know, polarized around some of
those attributes. that we see in people.

Maria Harries
I think fundamentally, I believe I you see,
probably I, naive Pollyanna, whatever I am, I
really do believe that most people are
inherently kind. Jacinta Ardern this, oh, by the
way, she is Jacinda Ardern is one of my heroes
at the moment. And when she was elected, I
remember seeing the interview when she was
elected, and she was. In the car going to
Parliament House or wherever she was going
and she was asked by the reporter what she
would like to see in New Zealand, what would
be her? And her hope for New Zealand.
And she didn’t say, you know, I’d. Like to see.
It develop development in GDP or well, she
said. I would just like to see a lot. More
kindness. And she has, she has. That’s been
her motto. So, for me, I see most people as
being inherently kind. but really struggling
with. As you said that the kind of the fear, the
fears. The polarization that fears produce,
which is what we see in the United States, I
mean, we don’t see a polarization of kind and
unkind people. We see a polarization about
fright for me that my understanding is people
who are frightened. Variously frightened.

Francis Lynch
There are a lot of. Ways that we can create
fear you. You know for our.

Maria Harries
Absolutely, yeah, yeah.

Francis Lynch
Are you hopeful?

Maria Harries
I’m always hopeful. Somebody said to me
recently, you can be hopeful without being
optimistic, so I’m hopeful without being a
Pollyanna, I think because I think we have to
have hope and and every day, you know,
every day I experience it that you know the
joy of people, kids. Just somebody picking up
the the other day, somebody, you know, ran
after this woman who dropped a, you know, a
$20 bill on the road. And this little boy just
picked it up and ran after. Her and said Lady
lady. And it was. Just you know those sort of
things keep me. Going the inherent kindness
and generosity. Decency and we’ve seen it
through covid. I think.

Francis Lynch
But it takes a like a particular mindset to be
able to notice that. So. So obviously that is
you’re tuned in to being able to see that
around you. Would that be fair to say?

Maria Harries
Yeah, I don’t tune into nastiness. I don’t even
notice it. But I think I choose to be blind to it,
which makes me naive at times.

Francis Lynch
Are there particular things that you do to.
Maintain your energy and to give you the.
You know the energy to keep going at.
What’s? Important to you?

Maria Harries
Look, I do what I said earlier, I think I don’t
know what I do consciously, but I do know
that at the end of every day I reflect on. All of
the good things that happened that day. I
don’t reflect. I don’t reflect on the bad things,
unless something really terrible has happened
and I can’t get it out. Of my mind. But mostly
now I’m mostly I I am very grateful for the
fact that I was. I was taught very early the
gratitude and just even having a shower, you
know, even being able to have a hot shower.
The majority of the people in the world don’t
have that. And yet we’re not. I just. I find it
mesmerising that we can’t appreciate what
we’ve got. So, but I’m lucky I was taught that.

Francis Lynch
And these days, we would. Say there’s
evidence to show that the gratitude practice
is very helpful.

Maria Harries
Oh, great, really. Is there research evidence?

Francis Lynch
I I think there is yes.

Maria Harries
I think I try as best I can to sustain the
moment and not do it very well. But when I’m
feeling down, I am a frustrated gardener. I my
preference is to be gardening than writing at
the moment. But. But I do think that
gardening gives you an earthiness and a kind
of a reengagement with what. Again, our
aboriginal. Friends and colleagues talk about a
lot. You know that mother Earth is actually
where we are. It’s mother earth is. Our feet
are planted. And the energy comes from
Mother Earth, and we better look after it.
Pope Francis is an inspiration to me, by the
way. Thank God for Pope Francis
. Jacinda Ardern, Pat Francis, Angela Merkel.
So gender neutral.

Francis Lynch
You mentioned the podcast from Waleed
Alley and the other person. I can’t remember
now but and the book by Carl Sagan’s
daughter. But is there anything else that’s
really meant something to you recently in
terms of listening and reading?

Maria Harries
Ohh self search the minefield and the
philosopher’s and and my My daily podcast. I
walk with the dog. I walk the dogs every
morning and listen to one of those. Three,
and probably the most powerful one. More
recently was in fact a podcast with an
Aboriginal theologian. Called Deverill, and
he’s written a book called Gondwana
theology He’s an Anglican priest somewhere
in Victoria, I think, but he’s a Tasmanian
Aboriginal man. And then and the. So I’m a bit
enchanted at the moment with the links
between, indigenous spirituality. I’ve I’m. I’m
doing it just. Interesting. Oh gosh, I’m doing
this research which I’ve been involved in
research over the last few years on school

Francis Lynch

Maria Harries
and we’re doing an an evaluation of
outcomes of school Chaplaincy, Nation
nation. It’s been difficult during COVID times.
But one of. Why it’s been particularly
interesting to me, has been the significance of
spirituality for children, for young people, the
concept of spirituality, not religion. But
spirituality and kids talk about the meaning of
life in many different ways. They don’t talk
about it in God’s terms. They talk about it in
meaning of life terms, and one of the most
powerful bits of learning we did doing that
was talking to Aboriginal leaders in the
northwest of W.A. About what was important
in they thought in terms of chaplaincy and the
schools up there and for them. For the ones
that rose me, my my research colleague
talked to, it was the significance that that
they couldn’t understand how. Non Aboriginal
people didn’t realise the significance of
spirituality in the lives of children. And so that
for me has been an inspiring journey search
and it’s taking me into indigenous spirituality in quite
a significant way. So that book on Gondwana
theology has only just been released, and I’ve
only just bought it, but I’m looking forward to
reading it because I think it does link back to.
My African heritage and the whole notion of
Ubuntu. Which isn’t, which isn’t earth based
by the way, which is interesting. It’s not Earth
based, it’s much more relational anyway.

Francis Lynch
Oh, OK,.

Maria Harries
Early days, early days. Early days, I do
remember saying to my mother, well, that’s
not true. I don’t remember saying it to her,
but I remember she told me. I said it to her
that when I was about 10, I said to her, I’m
looking forward to dying. Because when I die
understand everything so.

Francis Lynch
Oh wow.

Maria Harries
My my search I’m constantly excited by
reading and that’s where philosophy comes in
I think.

Francis Lynch
I noticed just I’m not sure if you know of
Catherine Masson, but she’s just released a
book on the journey of. The Benedictines in
New Norcia, so that really is the story of the
Benedictine nuns and their engagement and
sort of history with the Aboriginal people
there. And yeah, I haven’t had a chance to
look at it, but yeah. It it really? It looks as
though that also tells a bit of the story of the
sort of spirituality that the the Aboriginal
women brought into that experience, and
how it changed the Benedictines to some
degree as well so.

Maria Harries
Absolutely. And the Lucy told that story at the
time in in the northern north of West
Australia in Balga. How significantly, the
mercies I met up there and this John of God’s
sisters, how much they were influenced by
the women, the Aboriginal women and the
strength and the spirituality of those women,

Francis Lynch

Look, I’m. I’m coming to the end of of our
conversation. And I’m just wondering if
there’s anything that’s just sitting with you
that you wanted to mention before we finish

Maria Harries
I think. OH no I don’t know. I could. I could go
on to. I like I don’t. I like talking and
answering questions. My mind goes down too
many other rabbit holes, but I think the one
the one thing that the one thing going back to
Aristotelian thinking, I think. The drivers may
still use the notion that we don’t. We don’t do
enough to understand in our lives. The
significance of. The the power we have or
don’t have or think we have or think others
have. But it’s almost like it it it feels to me at
the moment that we’re we’ve gone so
steadily down at capitalist and I’m not anti
capitalist by the. Way I’m not, I’m not. Just
because I’m I’m critical, I’m critical of what
capitalism in its current form is doing. But
individualism, you know, extreme
individualism and extreme capitalism ain’t
working no more and. But going down those
those paths of competition acquisition.
Wealth greed, non-stop has actually stopped
us thinking and this is going back to my
interest in philosophy stopped us thinking.
About our ordinary everyday lives and what is
important other than making money and
being successful. So no, my only thoughts. I
just keep going down a rabbit hole of
philosophical thinking really.

Francis Lynch
These these rabbit holes and and you know
side paths are what makes life interesting, but
certainly makes conversations interesting.
And look, I’ve appreciated your time in having
a conversation with me. I certainly have
learnt. A little more about who you are and
and the way that you think and I really hope
that the people who listen to this will
appreciate that in you. And look, I really thank
you for the time that you’ve given me today
in having this conversation.

Maria Harries
My pleasure Francis, and I look forward to
seeing you another time.