Garden Friends 1 A Bandicoot

by Christine Sine

by Rodney Marsh

I am very fortunate to have a garden. I love to work, play and pray in a garden. The garden’s plants and animals support and sustain me. In particular, I think I am saner than I should be had I been forced to live without my daily immersion in nature. I don’t think I could survive a Melbourne style COVID lockdown in a tower block apartment! My primary spiritual discipline consists of two half hour sessions of meditation each day and I love to sit and be still and silent in our garden for this precious time. I wish to to introduce to you some animals who decided, perhaps because I was quiet and still, that the area in which I was praying was a safe zone – safe enough enough for them to enter. Let me introduce my very favourite garden friend – Eric(a) the Bandicoot.

The four or five species of Australian Bandicoot are all small marsupials – notice the ‘kangaroo’ type rear hopping legs, short tail, and the claw like ‘hands’ (forefeet) for digging. Eric digs for his food – small soil insects and fresh roots. Eric the Bandicoot could be Erica the Bandicoot. If it is Erica, then she has space in her pouch to nurture and nurse three or four young.

An Eric Snout Pouch (looking for food)                                        Eric’s Road Warning(With a glass eye added by a neighbour)

The most inconvenient aspect to having a resident bandicoot is the random holes dug in the lawn and garden. Snout sized holes (pouches) in the lawn or garden beds are a sure sign of bandicoot activity. Local plants usually die when their roots are disturbed, but Eric must be gentle – the plants usually survive. 

Cats would have eaten Eric when he was little, but now he is too big for a cat to tackle. And too fierce, I suspect. Eric may appear cute and mild mannered, but he will defend his territory and fight other males who venture into his garden. He does not back down from a fight, and he has long claws and sharp teeth. I have twice seen a bandicoot’s courage when I watched a beak/snout stoush between a crow and a bandicoot. Both times the crow backed down and flew away. Eric is fast too. As soon as I reach for my phone camera he will swiftly hop away. Cars are the biggest modern danger to bandicoots since bandicoots will suddenly rush out of the bush and run into the path of an approaching car, and, it appears, die by car suicide.

Since Eric lives in the garden and occasionally joins me during my time of garden prayer, does he bring a message from God for me? The photo shows Eric knows how to pay attention. He’s looking at me. He is perfectly still and If I should move he will be soon gone. I thought, I too can pay attention, but,  compared with Eric, I am an amateur. Anyone who has tried to meditate knows one’s mind is soon off and away, attending to various plans, memories, emotions or impending disasters or pleasures. So perhaps Eric is saying to me “Be still. You are in a safe place. Attend to your prayer word and be, like me. Look and live and you will make some wonderful friends – like me. But forget to attend, wander off and move, and I will be gone. Be still.”

The Bandicoot looked at me

The bandicoot is still, silent
It knows how to just be
Watchful and waiting
Just as his Lord instructed.

“I know better than this bandicoot …
I will gather information, data
Then I will act to my advantage, then
I will do more, have more, be more,” says I.

The bandicoot looks at me with one eye and
He has a one word reply,
“Why? … and …
“If you forget to attend, wander off and move
I will be gone and so will your life.”

So I fix my eyes on the Bandicoot’s eye
I am still, I wait, I attend and then …
I see – when I do less, have less, are less
I am more, I am whole, I am One.

This bandicoot is my friend …
And my teacher.



The Liturgical Rebels Podcast empowers followers of Jesus to creatively reconstruct their faith and spiritual practices. Through conversation with groundbreaking practitioners from around the world who think creatively about new approaches to spirituality, we will emphasize the sacredness of all things and uncover ways in which God speaks to us through nature and creativity, through restorative justice and environmental concern, and through the mundane and ordinary acts of daily life. This podcast is for those who don’t want to just deconstruct, but also to reconstruct faith and spiritual practices; those who want to reshape belief and practice to journey closer to God and the wholeness, peace, justice and flourishing God intends not just for us as individuals but for the earth and all its inhabitants.

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