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Place

Today I am writing about place. Specifically about how do you capture the essence of place? Stories, memory, land and an invitation. Word count = 0. Work in progress…

This morning at BKI we had a memorial service to remember everyone in the community who has passed on (remembering our elders).

Gloria and Ross Kinsler were mentors and friends of Ched and Elaine’s for more than 30 years. As Presbyterian mission co-workers in Central America they promoted popular theological education and organized Sanctuary solidarity. Since
2014 BCM has honored their legacy in our Kinsler Institutes. Ross went home to God in December; Gloria lives with dementia at a skilled nursing facility in Pasadena, CA. We give thanks for their faithful work and witness.
Rev. Murphy Davis, co-founder of The Open Door Community in Atlanta, GA, worked for decades in prison justice and homeless advocacy. She passed in October 2020 after a 25 year battle with cancer, chronicled in her memoir Surely Goodness and Mercy (2020).

A table is covered with a purple cloth for an altar, though we’re square cubes we are in a circle – we reach out (in zoom, participants are encouraged to hold their hands up as if to make contact with those to either side of them in gallery view). On this morning we have a memorial for Ross Kinsler and Murphy Davis… we light two candles and have flowers for Gloria, for all those ‘gone to glory’ to ‘join the cloud of witnesses’. The table is set. Invite people at the table to share stories… we hear remembrances from people who know these elders well as a litany of names rolls down the chat.

Love is a harsh and dreadful thing. It requires us to give and receive.

– Mother Theresa

We are a living memory – activists, disciples, Holy Fools, followers of freedom pathways, the ways of the water keepers, the inspiration of artists and poets… they do not die, they multiply.

I share this link to the Murphy Davis campaign…”Let’s Get Well”. I think it is a beautiful thing to rally for encouragement and healing – to lift each other up. As someone who had rallied, and rallied and rallied where this has felt like a fight, I love the idea of rallying to encourage and affirm one another…

https://www.centerforracialhealing.org/

Rose Marie Berger – Bending the Arch

In answer to Seamus Heaney’s Station Island and Pablo Neruda’s The Heights of Machu Picchu, Berger unmasks the worldview of westward expansion from architect Eero Saarinen’s arch in St. Louis to the Golden Gate in a way that subtly and mystically taps the unconsciousness of the intended audience. When she writes “We never entered the West on bended knee,” the impurity of language used in this epic creates tension between discourses and creates a charge or pressure on each sentence that pushes the reader toward declaring an allegiance. Drawing on historical documents, the Latin Mass, and multivalent voices, Berger moves through the anguish of unintended consequences and leads the reader through the “ghost dance” of feeling to the powerful Pacific Ocean, which enters human consciousness like a dream. Entangled historical memory, climate crisis, and inverse expansionism compress into a spiritual reckoning to face the world to come. (January 2019). Book available here…

We bury his heart, but not his love, never his love.

Rose Berger, Bending the Arch

“Incarnational Engagement with Restorative Solidarity in and between Red, Black and Brown Communities” by Alison McCrary

Alison McCrary is a tribal citizen of the Ani-Yun-Wiya United Cherokee Nation, a social justice lawyer, Catholic activist, restorative justice practitioner and a sought-after speaker on social justice, spirituality and liberation.

“Accountability IS love. We only speak truth to those we love”

– Alison McCrary

Look at the work of ephemeral artist Ted Lyddon Hatten: http://www.tedlyddonhatten.com/#/coffee-grounds/

D8.JPG

There are symbols: a compass, an hourglass, entangled trees, an uncaged canary…
-is there a balm in this thickness of loss?
– can our scars point the way through
– what story will take us to firmer ground?
– whose silence will we hear finally?
“Our community lost things we didn’t know we could lose.”

The Story of the Underground Railroad, Warren Cooper


“The Mount of Vision: The Power of Place in Freedom Struggles.” by Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson

“Joshua is told he is very old but ‘there is very much land that still remains’. With this promise is a problem: chosenness, displacement, privilege, power… The land is not possessed by us, as long as you are connected to the land you have a lineage, and also a legacy. Find that the land is God’s, and you will find it is abundant. Joshua’s strength and courage isn’t conquering or capitalist but his fidelity. He is old, there is very much land that remains to be taken… spaces within and outside of ourselves that others can’t touch, what will you create room for?” Dr Starsky Wilson, Children’s Defense Fund

  • expectation – what will be the mark you make? For different people, there are different ideas about what it means to be strong…are we talking military might or the sacrificial cost of living in fulfilment of God’s plan?
  • land – belongs to one person vs. the other? Does the land belong to us or do we belong to the land?
  • chosenness – displacement of others, privilege about property, there is a power in place (land) – if there wasn’t, there wouldn’t be such a strong effort to dislodge.
  • God – as long as you are connected to the land you have a lineage… also, a legacy. Joshua’s promised land wasn’t conquering nor capitalist but given by fidelity. When you meditate on the Divine Word and stand on what you’re being called into, you find that the Earth is God’s. That there is abundance.

How do we find this land?
Can be decolonising your bookcase or wardrobe, clear out the colonised space to make room for new, enter the wild/reconnect. With COVID there is an opportunity while outside of the traditional sanctuary spaces. What does it look like in our churches to create tension around the idea of ‘ownership’. The gift is the opportunity to steward, not the owning. Reparations? Understand that what you have may not always be yours. Jubilee reminds us that who owns and has rights to accumulate/stuff is a temporal state. There is no time like a pandemic to resdistribute.


New short film project Radix will speak to stories of resistance and resilience: land, people, colonisation, race… watch “Sowing Seeds of Change” here and follow them on Insta and Facebook to watch new stories as they become available.


Congratulations to Ched and Elaine on the release of their new book! “Healing Haunted Histories tackles the oldest and deepest injustices on the North American continent. Violations which inhabit every intersection of settler and Indigenous worlds, past and present. Wounds inextricably woven into the fabric of our personal and political lives. And it argues we can heal those wounds through the inward and outward journey of decolonization.”

Tonight, mid-vote proceedings of the Legislative Council on the Conversion and Suppression Practices Bill, I paused to join communion at Dwell.

Amidst our contemplative silence, this poem by Jan Richardson was read and I prayed for those who know their first free breath today, and those who feel a cold shadow of fear. We sit at the same table – eat the same bread, drink the same cup, pray for protection from the same God… we all find welcome, and blessing, at this table.

Consider the map that’s brought you this far. We each carry ‘no map but the one you make yourself‘. Somehow mine always leads here. Back to this table.

The Map You Make Yourself by Jan Richardson

You have looked
at so many doors
with longing,
wondering if your life
lay on the other side.

For today,
choose the door
that opens
to the inside.

Travel the most ancient way
of all:
the path that leads you
to the center
of your life.

No map
but the one
you make yourself.

No provision
but what you already carry
and the grace that comes
to those who walk
the pilgrim’s way.

Speak this blessing
as you set out
and watch how
your rhythm slows,
the cadence of the road
drawing you into the pace
that is your own.

Eat when hungry.
Rest when tired.
Listen to your dreaming.
Welcome detours
as doors deeper in.

Pray for protection.
Ask for the guidance you need.
Offer gladness
for the gifts that come
and then
let them go.

Do not expect
to return
by the same road.
Home is always
by another way
and you will know it
not by the light
that waits for you

but by the star
that blazes inside you
telling you
where you are
is holy
and you are welcome
here.

What should I do?

In a bit of pain today, I asked the flowers: “What should I do?” and they answered, “put your feet on the ground and turn your face to the sun”

The cat came to join me and I said: “Now what?” He answered: “Lie here and soak it in”

I lay back and looked up at the blue sky and asked: “Now what?” And the wind danced over my face and played with my hair and said: “Breathe. Deep and slow.

This afternoon I got to hear some of a fantastic panel session moderated by Sandra Kailahi, on the panel was keynote speaker Ngāhuia Te Awekōtuku, with Sheridan Waitai, Leali’ifano Dr Albert L. Refiti, Nigel Borell and Zech Soakai.

I came in late but these are some fav snippets for listening and learning, I’m sorry they’re not attributed!:

  • “Decolonising” is a new word but this is something we’ve been negotiating since first contact.
  • Not all knowledge is taught in the same school (or held in the same museum)
  • Know me/us for our joy before knowing us for our trauma.
  • Our youth are defined as “troubled” instead of resilient.
  • Message from youth: “We could do so much more if people believed in us”
  • Success is so often measured by tertiary education but we have many paths that are not seen as ‘less than’
  • Whakapapa got us here, but whakapapa will get us further.
  • It’s a practice: play the game, beat the game, to change the game.
  • We need to leverage space to talk about our truth.
  • Connections with others around the world has been invaluable. Other people of colour. Our ideas, ways of thinking and doing are heard and valued.
  • Stuff has travelled so far, had an amazing story. They are rooms full of dead things. We need to sing the vā and ask: how do we receive this here? Sing ancestors to the present. Wake them up. We need to articulate that and make plans.
  • Exhibits can be enriching. We can feel embraced/represented. But not by telling it in the Master’s voice. We need to seize the doing.
  • Need to establish relationships/partnerships that aren’t pass/fail but allow for narrative, vision, space… where we are all experimenting together and able to try, learn, and try again.
  • They are a visual representation of self. Take your things home.
  • When/if Pacific lands are lost to climate change, what role might museums play in preserving taonga of a place that doesn’t exist anymore? How can they be guardians to preserve and protect so that people can visit and remember.
  • Can the word ‘decolonised’ even be applied to spaces like museums? The collection might be decolonised but the structure remains >>need to make a commitment to opening other avenues.
  • If you cut up a text that shows violence but if you read a text, read with the grain. What’s unemphasised? I try to read the two texts together, see how they can address or talk to each other.
  • It’s different for Māori and Pacific people they can always address directly – land taken or land given back.
  • 1500 guides were trained for Te Māori.  The guides felt safe, there were aunties and koro around but they were deterrents too. To touch tapu or to be around it, some saw it as a house of dead things. A trophy house. From the other side, to see weaving or wood carving… there can be joy, learning, and ownership.
  • If you work within an institution you must celebrate the small wins e.g. paradigm shifts. If the mauri of an object means it has to be worn. That’s it’s remit. If you can’t see it on display, someone might be wearing it. Be brave. Know what you have to achieve.
  • 2 Māori contemporary curator appointments in the 1990s… there’s still only 2 roles. Allies need to advocate.
  • The kaupapa is of collecting the odd, exotic, the other, curiosities. We need a reiteration of beautiful, exquisite ‘other’, to decolonise that, to see Te Māori and Pasifika as here.
  • Decolonising? That’s work for the pālangi and pākehā. I’m already overworked. It’s enough to work to protect and pass on our knowledge. Our absent partner. That’s the ‘other’.
  • Decolonise oneself, claim all your ancestors including the armed constabulary from 1860s… Norwegians, Germans… we are all of them.
  • Act like you own it. It’s your whakapapa. We don’t need to decolonise… we didn’t ‘colonise’ it. Be ready for you to be colonised by us!

kōrero/speak #advent2020

My friend Maria and I spend the afternoon in the garden. The broadbeans are spent, it’s the end of their season and we sort the remaining pods for food and seeds to dry. We hold the end and the beginning of life in our hands.

kororia/glory #advent2020

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it. We pray for the changing things, and the things that stay the same. We pray for the uncertain things, and the ones we’re sure of, the known and the unknown. We pray for the paradox. So we are not alone when we’re alone.

karakia/prayer #advent2020

whanaungatanga/fellowship #advent2020

There are there 4 themes of Advent: peace, hope, love, joy… it occurred to me today how grateful I am that those things aren’t around all the time. They’re not single-use gifts or something we put on a shelf and admire. They are practices, they are feelings. The word ‘advent’ means coming. This is a time of year where maybe we’re cleaning our house and making food to say: “Come in, come in” to hope… to love.

Maybe these are gifts you have to give. Maybe these are gifts you desperately want to receive. We cannot promise that you’ll have them all the time, but we can promise that they keep coming.

hanga anō/rebuild #advent2020