342 PACIFICA 19 (OCTOBER 2006)
Vignette, Janet Turpie- Johnstone

Growing up by the wild seas of our Southern Ocean. Deep green waters, that are both terrifying and beautiful, in one. Deep green waters that disappear over an unseeing horizon. Local yet universal. Familiar yet strange. Portland was and is my “home”. A place of pain and of joy. On every return home, is to revisit all the pangs of childhood and adolescence. It is like a rehearsal for some play, going over the old so as to know the new. Experiencing it all again and again, feeling the sting of the salt of old wounds, weaving them into the fresh, making life vital and real in the now. How easy it is to just respond as habit teaches, I know this, I have been here before. Habit is part of the mix, but it is not the whole and each habit needs to be refreshed so as not to become the whole. Stale and hard, salted out of life, or fresh sprinkled lightly with some zest, is the offering I make. On looking back I look inwards, and find that the secret journey is the real one. The one from inside, the one from where I know I am alive, where I transform the habits into reality. Where I call to this world, “I am that I am”. There is no need for any other explanation, I just know that I am. How Biblical, but how cheeky. There the familiar and the strange, coming together in the story of one woman’s life.

Think it’s a pretty important part of the journey to re-visit where you came from and reflect on how far you’ve come, this first ‘home’ can act as a bit of a lodestone drawing us back to the roots of our identity and the formational experiences that led us to become who we are.

Some reflections on “Terra Nullius”

What does it mean to be ‘somebody’? There is an irony in the indigenous people here believing the colonisers to be ghosts and the colonisers ‘not being able to see’ the natives. To take what is there, then take more than what you need is to create imbalance between people, the Spirit and the land. A synergy lost. Disease. Dis-ease. Can we truly be comfortable living here with the history of this land? Settlement. What does it mean to be settled? Maybe in the same way the land was ‘nobodies’ it was ‘anybodies’ – like the ocean, like clouds… if you love something you have to let it go. How much is there to be gained in letting go of control/ownership of the land? There is a quote on the wall at the Jewish museum which says “if you do not have land, but have memory of land, then you can make a map”. The land is something carried in the heads and hearts of the indiginous people – how are they allowed to live out what is in their heads and hearts? Hospitality in this land is not reciprocal, we need to make space to receive what they want to give us – not prescribed expectations.

Staff conference day – 1 July