Marlene Marburg

Fall 2020: On the Theme of Tilt

The Space Between Us

Praise God for the space between us –
to breathe, to think, to be mindful.
Praise God for health and toilet paper
and frozen strawberries
and home-made yoghurt carefully
sorting good from bad biotics.

Praise God for a metre and a half,
the space far enough between us to chat
and laugh and weep,
without the sympathetic pat or
meaningless handshake,
without sneeze or cough
making an impact on either of us. 

Thank God for cyberspace,
for conversation
for a ‘quarantini’ at 5,
for appointments and empty streets,
Melbourne city, crisp and clear
vista from SkyHigh, 40k away.

Thank God for walks in the park,
for suspended bats and patting dogs
and yellow tailed black cockatoos and gangs
of gang-gangs in the cotoneasters,
for magpie and currawong and morning song,

and time to ponder
the world as a wonder
on a Covid-led retreat.


While theology and philosophy ponder
the validity of eucharist shared in separate homes,
in cyberspace, we are without a doubt together

more than giant redwood roots lacing the earth,
more one than a symphony orchestra in concert.

Across the blessed ether, a pandemic afflicts us.
Life is more precious than our fiscal certainty.
Together we moan and implore the Mystery of Love.
We learn that separation is an illusion.

The Gleaming Idea

We want to make God
fix the wretchedness we feel
but we can’t force God to do what we want.
We do not have power over God
and little over ourselves.

I for one, recall looking in the mirror,
choosing to smile; to deceive my brain

by exercising happy-muscles in my face –
I was sick of my toxicity.
And God was creative enough –
to give me the gleaming idea
of smiling!


In 1980, while working as a Medical Imaging Technologist, Marlene began formal theological studies and became a Religious Studies teacher at Catholic Ladies College in Eltham, Victoria. In 2001, she joined the parish team of St Columba’s Elwood, and worked in pastoral visitation as an accredited Pastoral Associate. She continued her theological studies.

Marlene was formed as a spiritual director in the Arrupe Program, Melbourne, Australia, and has twelve years experience engaging with the Spiritual Exercises, spiritual direction and the formation of spiritual directors at Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality, and as a Senior Lecturer and Director of Student Formation at Sentir Graduate College of Spiritual Formation, and now at Kardia Formation.

In her doctoral thesis, ‘Poetry and Grace: an Autoethnography Exploring Poetry as Prayer in the Context of Ignatian Spirituality’, she explored the capacity of poetry to access levels of deep personal and communal awareness. This thesis shows that the use of poetry is a way of making the Spiritual Exercises. Marlene has a series of poetry collections entitled Grace Undone.

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