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Yantar – Eat

Last night I attended a session of the Faces of Hunger Film Festival 2020 and have to share with you this beautiful visual poem by Alberto Zuniga… “a plate of food is a survivor, a traveler, a passport, an ambassador, an inheritance”. I hope it brings back the flavour of something your Nana used to make and the memory of the taste of childhood. “We eat what we are, what we have been, what we will be”

I listen to people talk about a “new normal”. I hear it as something ‘out there’ and I wonder, “Who’s making it? Who’s working on building the new normal?”

Sometimes I catch up with friends (over zoom or for a socially distanced walk) and they’ve discovered something wonderful in this season and they ask: “What can I do to keep this? How can I keep living my life with this in it once things go back to normal?”.  There is that word again. Normal. This idea that normal is something that happens outside of us and is controlled by forces outside of us. But what we’re really talking about is life, or culture, and culture is made up of ‘the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviours shared by a group of people’.  How and why is lockdown having an impact on these?

In trying to come up with a parallel for this lockdown experience, I started thinking about the idea of pilgrimage. Pilgrimage is a conscious stepping aside from life as normal in order to explore and experience a totally new environment such as: a journey to the Red Centre, walking the El Camino or doing an internship, or taking a sabbatical often for a time of discernment or at a time of transition such as a relationship or job ending.  Anyone who has had experiences of this kind will know that it is not the destination that teaches us something, but rather what we learn along the way.

We have not been able to choose to take this pilgrimage, but regardless there are similarities: We have needed to let go of the ‘way things have always been’ and consider what else they might be. The routines aren’t there, the busyness, the commuting, the activities and events that take up our time… the bustle of life has slowed because we cannot travel more than 5kms and need to be home before a curfew. There is an invitation here to consider, what is essential to us? What can we survive well without or even is a relief to stop? Unbidden, we are being asked to reconsider, “What are my values, beliefs, assumptions…”?

Here’s what can happen on a pilgrimage: when you sit with a empty horizon before you and allow the land to speak to you, you will discover how full it is; or when you walk (and walk and walk) and hold silence within yourself knowing yourself to be walking where many others have walked, and will walk again, you can identify both as singular and part of the collective of all of humanity; or when you visit a new country and experience being the person who doesn’t know the language, the food, courtesies, jokes or the slang and might know for the first time that you can be the ‘other’ too… it’s not the place we go that changes, or the places we come back to – but us.  I don’t know that change is the right word for this because, really, it’s remembering, and re-membering. A coming back to the wholeness of who we feel called to be, and how we can be – and become – that which we lost sight of somehow.

Here’s what can happen on a pilgrimage: when you walk, you meet and get to know your own neighbours, you might discover a little library, a lovely garden, a cute letterbox – familiar and new as if you were trying to memorise the face of a loved one before you lose them, suddenly there are details you never saw before and they are precious; or when you are removed from friends, family and the usual social circles, you paint a spoon for Spoonville, put a teddy bear in the window, or leave groceries at the free pantry. Learning without words, without touch, without ever meeting, I can connect with someone and that can be profoundly meaningful; or when you are stuck with someone, or stuck apart, stuck in a job you need or stuck on a job you love and can’t go to right now, you recognise the fragility of life and how important it is to do what you love with the people you love best and who love you well – what will it cost you to have that? What is it worth to have that?

This seems the spot where you might easily drop T.S. Eliot’s ‘the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’. T.S. Eliot wrote these Four Quartets during World War II and the air-raids on Great Britain. It is good to remember that these times ARE precedented. Pandemics have ravaged with worldwide impact before, as disease arrived on cruise ships so too it came with the First Fleet. People have lived through experiences wondering if the world would ever be the same again, wondering whether a safe world would exist for their children to grow up in. It is this line from Eliot that drew me today:

last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.

The new normal belongs to you.
It is yours to discover. It is yours to remember.

I invite you to gently and creatively engage with any/all of these questions through journaling, a vision board, mind map, or other mindfulness practice you enjoy, as you make your way onwards.

Is there anything you have discovered a lockdown love for? Make a list… what did this teach you about yourself you didn’t know before? What needs did these meet?

Make a list of things you have felt you’ve missed or lost in lockdown. What do you value about them?

Are there things that you haven’t missed? What has putting these down, freed up capacity for?

Land, family, law, ceremony and language are five key interconnected elements of Indigenous culture – how have the interventions and new laws of the lockdown impacted how these elements in your life have looked over the past few months? Was there somewhere outside your 5kms you longed for? How were rituals different, such as birthdays, weddings or funerals? Have you been using Zoom, Google Hangouts, Discord… or silenced by in accessibility of software or skills?

Has this time brought up things from the past that have been painful or difficult? Honour that. Celebrate what you know about survival. Consider doing a compare and contrast of then and now as a way of seeing how far you’ve come and how much resiliency you have learned. If someone was absent – who is present? If someone harmed – who is healing?

Has this time brought attention to or caused areas of your life to become painful or difficult? Honour that. What is this telling you about what’s important to you? One way to enter into this conversation might be to map What Is/What Could Be. Know you are worthy of dignity and respect and a life that fulfils you and brings you joy. Are there any steps, however small, that might create movement between what is and what could be? Take them.

Did you take up new, or see changes in, the roles and relationships you have through COVID? As teacher, partner, parent, friend…  acknowledge these shifts. Have you learned something about your expectations of yourself and others?

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…

IMG_20200329_194320_592

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.

20200326_073814

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.


20200326_080755

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