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Continuing to consider this years theme for NAIDOC week of “Always Was, Always Will Be” with the Collins Australian Clear School Atlas New and Revised Edition.

This image shows Economic-Population. There’s a sense looking at a map like this that there’s still Terra Nullius – land where no people are and no work is happening. You can see that the measure used for ‘economy’ – doesn’t recognise the agriculture or trade practices of Aboriginal people.

Recognising Aboriginal people must surely need to begin by recognising the profound, enduring relationship and connections they bear with the land.

“Aboriginals engaged in seed propagation, irrigation, harvest,
storage, and the trade of seed across the region.”

― Bruce Pascoe, Dark Emu

When you say/hear an Acknowledgement of country, does considering the above make you reconsider what it means? “We acknowledge that we gather on the lands of which Aboriginal people have been custodians since time immemorial, and pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging”

The dashed line above denotes the ‘limits of agriculture’ (at least for the 60s-70s when this atlas was published). What can we learn about what is considered ‘agriculture’ from this image? Who gets to determine that?

Does the image raise any considerations for balance?

I will re-member you

It’s late, or early, and I can’t sleep for thinking about loss.

Tomorrow, or today, I have my first online funeral (cancer not COVID) but I can’t help but want some primal scream for the research uncompleted, articles unwritten, the things you’ll never get to see or say to your kids. A voice – silent. A light – extinguished.

Around the world right now that’s happening – lights extinguishing.

The current COVID death count based on available information is at 903,473 worldwide. Do the modeling on that to factor in the families, friends, colleagues, neighbours impacted. How incredibly precious is each life.

In, Rubem Alves’ The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet, a body washes up on the shore in a fishing village and the villagers try to hold funeral rites the way they usually would, but no one knows this person to remember them. There is a void. And in the end, the void is filled with the stories of who this might be. The void is full of possibility.

The other night, my partner and I watched Pixar/Disney’s Coco together (I’m not crying, you’re crying). In the Mexican tradition of Día de Muertos, the memory of our family is kept alive by the images and stories of them we share. Each member of the family might have a different story about an ancestor, each have a different inheritance from knowing and sharing that life. It’s why when we tell each other, we are so enriched by the remembering. Or Alves’ “re-membered” because it almost seems as if that person is alive to us once more with the telling. With lockdown right now, those friends, family and colleagues aren’t able to gather to share their stories, to share their grief. There is a void.

I haven’t been wearing rings much during the pandemic, everytime I notice my bare hands it seems like a stark reminder we are in different times, see – I usually put them on just as I grab my lanyard for work and leave the house… I’m not going to work. I’m not leaving the house. The experience of living through a pandemic (we refer to it as riding the coronacoaster), sometimes is ok and at other times it’s the steep drop of noticing each tiny rhythm or ritual that we don’t do right now layered up one on the other. Like… thinking of what to wear to the funeral, what stories we will tell to re-member you to each other and celebrate your life, who of our mutual acquaintances will be there to see and catch up with, participation in a ritual not necessarily reflecting our beliefs but those significant to you who are at the centre – the reading and singing together, eating and drinking together, the sharing grief together.

I’m realising that today, I will do that on my own. There’s no one else in my household that knows you. There is a void.

I think I’ll wear a ring to your funeral.

And somehow, just like that, in the void… there was possibility.


…The Prophet speaks not to the dead but to the Wind.
He names what he does not know, he says what he cannot do.
Before the Mystery: grace.
He enters the woods, he dives into the deep waters…
He invokes something which is beyond knowing and doing: God…
The only thing he has is a wound in his flesh: the pain of Desire: longing. Restless is his heart…
Inside the Void, a universe slowly makes itself visible: dreams.
What is not… And they are beautiful: a Garden… The same Garden which lives in the entrails of the Victim. And they blow with the Wind, and in the graveyard, life appears. A flower in the desert. The secret of messianic hope.


Rubem A Alves – The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet

Always Was

This years theme for NAIDOC week is “Always Was, Always Will Be”. I’m interested in finding ways to creatively and contemplatively explore what this means as a white-presenting Settler in this place.

I love old books and paper, I’m going to use some of these as a lens: First up is the Collins Australian Clear School Atlas New and Revised Edition.

p.9 “AUSTRALIA – Territorial Changes”

These maps show the territorial changes (6) between 1786 and 1861. Here they are shown with an overlay of the AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia. It’s hard not to liken that to a shadow, a haunting overlay, crossing and connecting countries and communities across territorial lines drawn and re-drawn.

What arises when you look at these? Has your home country/town been in different states?

It’s important to understand that when you are speaking to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait person and recognise that their cultural tale is millenia-long that the image of Australia they might imagine is the reverse: Aboriginal land with state and territory lines superimposed on top. When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people say: “Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land” this is what they mean… these many countries and territories existed prior to 1786 and they are still here.

Yesterday, Gomeroi woman, Rachel McPhail, living on Wiradjuri country did a call out to challenge Australia Post to encourage Aussies to include the traditional Nation name in the extra address line when sending letters and packages. To support this idea, you can check traditional Nations at AIATSIS.gov.au.

Picturing Footscray

VU run an annual photography contest, mostly for their students but the People’s Choice category is open. (entries close at 5pm tonight if you want to sneak one in!)

I enjoy the art of paying attention and celebrating the place I love to live. You’re only allowed to enter one image but going through some recent images to find favs is a fun process too.

  • what have you captured an image of?
  • why is this important to you?
  • how is it a unique part of Footscray?

The virtual gallery capturing the best of Footscray will be open from 14 August to 15 September to explore the neighbourhood and vote for your fav.  In the meantime, here’s my shortlist… what do you love in your neighbourhood?

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So many bluestone back laneways – perfect for an iso walk…

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2020 feels like a year of stop and go. The Kinnears factory is a piece of the skyline but that development in the distance is creeping inexorably closer along that block.  Ballarat Rd is usually really busy, here – oddly quiet. This will change.

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Early dawn view back towards the city from Quarry Park.

My faith community are looking at the Aaronic Blessing and suggested we have a go re-writing it, see The Aaronic Blessing from a Hebrew Perspective by Jeff A. Benner for insight and inspiration…

354 - Copy

 

May the Creator that drew, knew and grew you

Enfold her in her arms that feel like home

May her peace abide in you and bring you to

stillness in the knowledge of being wholly loved and loved wholly

Reflect: Expressions of Her, expressions of you, expressions of Her…

wonderfully Made.


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The Bright One, Maker of the made and all the made ever made

invites you to regard Them and be seen. To know yourself in Them.

Under Their gaze, there is no loss, disappointment, separation, brokenness.

The communion loaf holds many-in-one. Whole.

See. Be Seen. Be.


women'sliturgy

Wisdom, may her light guide and guard you, pouring love, supersize, not subside. Do you hear Her Voice down inside you? Live it out loud, be proud, never subdue. The wholeness is calling for you, speaking for what’s true, naming the whole you into being. Seeing, freeing, we are undone and one at the same time. Truth is hard-won but I can see in the dark. Spaces, places, all of her faces – shine. And I can see in the dark. Spark. I can see in the dark. Wisdom’s calling me home, I’m known and whole. Under the cone, in my heart, it’s safe to make a start. Enfolded in the keep, I can sleep. Smart enough to know I need more, to restore, to adore her more. Her love is at the core. Hit the floor, raise my gaze, begin another day. It pays to know she’s on her knees at the door on the floor too. She knows the score on being poor. Destitute. Restitute. Resolution. Do it better than before. Not alone any more. This is what she made you for: Be. Love her more and love you. Be loved. Spark. I can see in the dark.

invictus william ernest
Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

BY WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY

Maribyrnong river footscray


The Maribyrnong river in Footscray on the lands of Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and the Bunurong peoples of the Kulin Nation

 

Read the following items offering an indigenous lens on relating to country applied to the COVID-19 lockdown. How can other ways of knowing and wisdom of elders, inform how we might live out our own discipleship or radical discipleship within community during these times?

‘Aboriginal people talk about Country in the same way that they would talk about a person: they speak to Country, sing to Country, visit Country, worry about Country, feel sorry for Country, and long for Country. People say that Country knows, hears, smells, takes notice, takes care, is sorry or happy… Country is a living entity with a yesterday, today and tomorrow, with a consciousness and a will toward life’.

Deborah Bird Rose ‘(08) Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature

 

A poem by Ngāti Hine/Ngāpuhi writer Nadine Anne Hura

Rest now, e Papatūānuku
Breathe easy and settle
Right here where you are
We’ll not move upon you
For awhile
We’ll stop, we’ll cease
We’ll slow down and stay home
Draw each other close and be kind
Kinder than we’ve ever been.
I wish we could say we were doing it for you
               as much as ourselves
But hei aha
We’re doing it anyway
It’s right. It’s time.
Time to return
Time to remember
Time to listen and forgive
Time to withhold judgement
Time to cry
Time to think
               About others

Remove our shoes
Press hands to soil
Sift grains between fingers
               🍃 Gentle palms
Time to plant
Time to wait
Time to notice
To whom we belong
For now it’s just you
And the wind
And the forests and the oceans and the sky full of rain
Finally, it’s raining!
Ka turuturu te wai kamo o Rangi ki runga i a koe
                   (may the tears of Ranginui rain down on you)
Embrace it
This sacrifice of solitude we have carved out for you
He iti noaiho – a small offering
People always said it wasn’t possible
To ground flights and stay home and stop our habits of consumption
But it was
It always was.
We were just afraid of how much it was going to hurt
– and it IS hurting and it will hurt and continue to hurt
But not as much as you have been hurt.
So be still now
Wrap your hills around our absence
Loosen the concrete belt cinched tight at your waist
Rest.
Breathe.
Recover.
Heal –
And we will do the same.

rāhui –  is a term that has been used by some in NZ to apply in lieu of terms such as  ‘lockdown’ or ‘shutdown’ or ‘isolation’

https://maoridictionary.co.nz/word/6420 (verb) to put in place a temporary ritual prohibition, closed season, ban, reserve – traditionally a rāhui was placed on an area, resource or stretch of water as a conservation measure or as a means of social and political control for a variety of reasons which can be grouped into three main categories: pollution by tapu, conservation and politics…

So if a water source has been compromised it might be indicated as a rāhui being in place until it is cleansed, or if hunting has been done in an area, it might be rāhui so that it’s not hunted two seasons in a row which might impact the wildlife population numbers. By referring to lockdown as rāhui, a different intention can be applied to this time – concepts of sacredness and healing are evoked.

On the Ancestors Singing Facebook page they’ve been having Friday night fireside chats and a couple of weeks ago Aunty Judy spoke to COVID and learned wisdom about strength and resilience:

  • We care about family, take care of our kids and our elders
  • Go back/connect to a place where your strength is
  • Place your feet on the ground/draw strength from the land
  • Check in with your body, what is it telling you?
  • Grief, resilience, strength… we know something about that. Especially want to acknowledge the loss being triggered if you have kids you can’t see or grandparents you can’t see because you’ve been separated from your family before
  • It’s not the work of people that heals, it’s the land. As soon as you can, however you can, connect with the land.
  • Diploma of Community Recovery…working on developing this qualification.

gum leaves

What arises for your community with these readings?  How does this lens align or affirm  or differ from our thinking/experience of lockdown?

How might using a word like rāhui with implications for healing and sacred time change the way we feel about ‘lockdown’?

I’ve seen lots of people making bread, planting food, crocheting… from kombucha scobies to sourdough starters  – is this to control/participate in food systems? how we would like to spend our time if we always had more?  A return to ‘old’ ways? What “powers” are interrupted by those choices?

What new things (if any) are people doing? What is honoured/kept by those rhythms? Are there new practices that we’ve started during lockdown that we want to keep? 

Does the list from Aunty Judy make you want to try something else to heal?

 

Further reading if you’re interested:

Nourishing Terrains: Australian Aboriginal views of Landscape and Wilderness by Deborah Rose

I hold the cosmos

 

This activity was a mash up of a few ideas for community members to check in with each other and themselves and be connected through that activity. How can we recognise that what’s going on for us might impact others in expressed and unexpressed ways? There is lots of change but not all change is necessarily bad? How can we hold where we are at as a community gently?

 

Activity: The People’s Mike

So the idea behind the People Mike is that folks shout out words, it’s a Wild Church tool, eg: what is holding us back from living the lives we’re called to? What are we afraid of? One person shouts it out and then we all shout it out together in chorus. This acknowledges what impacts one of us, impacts all of us, and is a way of “holding” those fears and feelings together. Each part, one body.

We were attempting this reflection by zoom which is not an easy medium to hold space for people speaking in chorus/at the same time. We asked folks to share something they miss or feel the lack of and something new they’ve discovered, enjoyed or had more time to appreciate and captured those words on pegs. 

To understand where the pegs come in you might like to read this short little story I’ve got you pegged from back to 2012, but the gist of it is that you can bring to mind, and hold gently, special time/people in ordinary and every-day ways. This is a way of acknowledging the strangeness of now with the juxtaposition of a number of things that go along as they always have – like hanging out the washing.  A way to hold the now and the not-yet.

i've got you pegged

What are you grieving right now? Or looking forward to having again soon?

What new things are you enjoying and discovering?

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