Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
- An Acknowledgement of country reminds me that there are people, traditional owners, who have been here before...who lived on this land for many thousands of years before Europeans arrived and whose descendents still live here. It is a recognition of many generations which goes beyond recorded history...we do not tend to think in thousands of years very often and it is helpful to put our own lives in this perspective. I honour this timeless relationship with land.
- The first peoples who live here seem to value the land as part of them...even as being owned by the land. Further that the land provided everything necessary. This is a real perspective and a counter-cultural view of ownership...without the land and all that it provides we are nothing so we are obliged to it...further we take the land into our bodies on a daily basis via air, food and water...we are literally part of it. I honour this Aboriginal sense of bodily intimacy with the land.
- An Acknowledgement of country reminds us of the elders or the custodians of the land...people who care for land and culture in the past, now and the future. This can remind us of values that we dare not live without namely that ageing can bring wisdom that is worth nurturing, that care and custodianship of the land is an imperative and that generations come and go but the land remains our bedrock. I honour this wisdom in our Aboriginal brothers and sisters
Naming and claiming these things does not mean I avoid or dismiss the complexity of colonisation or of Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal relationships. Or that I cannot recognise that there are positives in the arrival of Europeans, or that there aren't conflicts within Aboriginal communities, or that we don't need to back this up with addressing the issues related to the quality of life of Aboriginal communities etc. Acknowledgement of Country is not an invitation to become simplistic in any way. Nor is it an issue of superficially thanking Aboriginal people for use of the land as indicated by Wilson Tuckey, although gratitude maybe part of our response to these issues. For me it is also acknowledging the human suffering of Aboriginal peoples and of the land and the ongoing consequences of colonisation. Once this becomes our starting point we have a more real foundation for the acknowledgment of our collective suffering and for the hope that our Australian peoples can become more loving and just in the process.
May the practice of Acknowledgement of country continue to evolve into something deep and real and meaningful.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I do not speak about these things simply as theory anymore or good ideas. They have become very real to me in this last two months with the birth and death after two and half days of our third daughter. The sheer vulnerability of a birth, a very sick baby who could not stay in this life and a dying baby have drawn me to what is real like nothing else, like no other deaths that I have experienced. For me and my family the way of the cross is not a decision this year, it has been imposed by life. A real, physical stations of the cross and a touching into the heart of the crucified one. I now carry a wound that cannot be erased and an absence of life where there would otherwise be noise and breastfeeding and touch and cuddles. John O'Donoghue says this absence of a loved one is like a tree that grows beside you. I think he is right, it has in my experience a presence all of its own. Even when I am not visibly upset by our reality my heart carries this woundedness, this deep grief, that life is not what it could be.
While I find liturgy helpful at times...at this time specifically Friends silent Meeting for Worship and meditation on my own both come into their own. Silent places where my grief can be allowed to take its own time, where there are no guiding posts for the heart. My soul simply fumbles forward having experienced this death...I only really have my trust that there is the something More who draws me on. This is I think what William Johnston calls the 'prayer of suffering'...it is also a 'prayer of nothingness' that takes me into a 'terrible gift' namely the wisdom from wounds that I did not seek after and unimaginable love within me and around me. I say love, because I have never had cause to love like this. I did not really and truly and deeply know about this kind of love in myself or in all the people who have supported us.
So to draw this together perhaps lent is where we acknowledge that death and love are inconstricably linked, one cannot go without the other...love must know death, otherwise it is not really love. I leave this post with a quote from John Main (d. 1982), master of Christian meditation:
Death itself, especially the death of someone we have loved, teaches us what love teaches us. It reveals to us that the more deeply we love and enter into communion, so the more radically we must become detached and non-possessive. To continue to fall into love we must continue to fall way from the ego. It is the final and most demanding of the lessons that life teaches us. It is the absolute finality of the Cross, the single-pointedness of the Cross that yet opens up into the infinite universe of the Resurrection (Community of Love, 1990).