Archive for February, 2020


Waste not

Our garden isn’t in good shape, but in one particular corner the soil is full of rubbish – broken plastic, tin, glass… it’s kind of not that safe to work in. I’m trying to get time in our outdoor space regularly figuring every little bit helps, and at some point it will tip to beautiful. The other day I felt a glimpse of that when, in addition to all the rubbish above, I started pulling out whole bottles. After about an hour I had a bunch of them lined up.

I think that it might have been easy to think, “I’m just going to dig out this whole section and get clean fill in here”, but there was something to taking a slower approach, picking through and being more careful with my spade. Someone was careless putting all the rubbish out here but I will be care-full in trying to restore it. When we’re looking for ‘good soil’, maybe it’s important to know there may be things in the bad that are worth keeping as a promise of things to come.

We enter a new season

It’s getting darker in the mornings. It feels portentous. We are at the beginning of Iuk (Eel) Season, when the hot winds stop and the temperatures cool. The days are getting shorter – equal length with the night – but we know that will shift towards darkness.

This is the time to savour the harvest fruit, enjoy the last blooms, and store up what we can against colder and leaner times to come. The word Lent comes from the Old English lencten (lengthen) because it’s observed in spring, when the days begin to get longer but that is not so for us here. Time is running out. Can you feel it? Share the joy of a common table now… Share pancakes.

an abundant heaped pile of warm pancakes

The tradition of Shrove Tuesday arises out of using up fat and yummy things before the fasting of Lent, using up anything that might go off in the 40 days that you’re not allowed to have them. On this day, we are meant to confess and be forgiven (or shriven), starting Lent with a clean slate and I wonder…

I have sometimes been flippant about what we give up for Lent. As if the idea is to make us think more about God in the sense of: “Oh God, I’d kill for some chocolate right now”. But what if it can be a chance to re-set, a chance to work for that balance of day and night in equal parts in other areas of our life. I find looking at ‘What to give up for Lent’ lists a daunting read. From chocolate or social media to negative thinking or laziness.

The previous season to this was Biderap, the time of year when the rivers are most likely to run dry and the risk of bushfires was highest. What does it look like to drink your fill now the river runs again? What does it look like to think about investing in what safe space look like? Or rebuilding? The leaf litter and undergrowth have been cleared, the air is clear of smoke, maybe this the furthest you have been able to see in a long time. Maybe this season has clarified something about what matters most to you and invites you to commit to that. What will we let go of and what will grow anew in this season?

bright red shoots of regrowth starting to peep out of a charred and black tree trunk
Photo credit: Jacob Bolton

Unbound

I gardened today in the rain because I picked up sales plants from Bunnings last week and I haven’t had a chance before now to get them in the ground. I know the odds on these plants aren’t great but I feel like they’re the underdog and someone needs to root for them [lame pun intended]. With our new business I’m working to fill in our boundless backyard on a budget with cuttings – foraged and from friends, seedlings, and these sale specimens… Look at how much life is in them. Look how far and wide and deep they want to go and how much they want to grow.

Gardening is good thinking time. It’s only mid-February and I am saying “No” to things. There’s no room. There’s no resource. But I wonder whether perhaps I am like this plant, with so much life in me that somehow I don’t need less but more. More time, more space, more light, more to drink (cheers!)… what does it look like to consider tending to myself in this way? This year I am eking out a writing day again and it feels kind of wonderful.

Unbound, just how big could I grow?

What if, when a season ends, or a job, a community, a relationship… what if we imagined it to look like this? That we have grown all we can here and there is no more room. We need a new space, we need a new environment.

Is your environment nourishing you?

a picture of sustainable gift tags celebrating love

Our friends Marita and Andrew got married today, a beautiful celebration of love and embracing difference. As a small token we gave them sustainable gift labels I had made… they will have many moments beyond today to celebrate together and consciously choose ways to love each other, and to give and receive love back and forth between them. A covenant of family, friends and community… a covenant of love that connects us all, one to another.

#fitzroy #pasteup #melbournelaneways

Leaf prints in Carlton, Melbourne from ochre coloured dust swept off
Latji Latji Country, 540 kilometres away

Read these brief stories about Jesus and William Barak. How can stories of others’ formation, knowing the lives they went on to live, inform how we might live out our own discipleship or radical discipleship within community?

Mark 1:9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan

This is our introduction to Jesus in Mark. Nazareth is so small and insignificant that it’s not mentioned anywhere other than the New Testament – a marginal village of maybe 400 people at the margins of the country Israel. Nazareth was based on the outreaches of Sepharus (the admin base of Rome and capital of Galilee)… other that being the birth place of Jesus this is mainly known for the Sepharus uprising, a rebellion of the Jews against Roman occupation. The Romans crushed Sepharus and enslaved everyone. Nazareth is only 4 miles from Sepharus and Jesus would have been 10 years old when this happened and he would have been able to see the city burn. Jesus and his Dad were techtons (labourers, construction workers) hired to help rebuild Sepharus for the colonial occupiers.

[Ched Myers, Bible studies series at the BCM Kinsler Institute 2015]

William Barak was born into the Wurundjeri clan of the Woi wurung people in 1823, in the area now known as Croydon, in Melbourne. His father Bebejan was a ngurunggaeta (clan head) and his Uncle Billibellary, a signatory to John Batman’s 1835 “treaty”, became the Narrm (Melbourne) region’s most senior elder. As a boy, Barak witnessed the signing of this document, which was to have grave and profound consequences for his people. (Culture Victoria)

Note: This Treaty was overruled by NSW within months.

And the second paragraph here, “I was born…”

william barak my story

What arises for your community with these readings?
Who are your community apprenticed to?
(traditions, elders, movements… tell these stories)
In either our personal stories, if people want to share them, or in the history of the community – what are the significant events of our formation?  What powers shaped us?
What powers might be shaping us/influencing our formation now?

tree with overarching branches

You are God’s servants, gifted with her Wisdom and visions
Upon you rests the grace of God like a woven cloak
Love and serve the Divine in the strength of the Spirit.
May the deep peace of God take root in you, the open arms of Christa sustain you and the eucharistic power of the Holy Spirit transform you in every way.

A feminist reworking of the Urban Seed/Credo/Seeds benediction for the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies planning day.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
It is not as the world gives that I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not let it be afraid
Jn14:27

We have watched Australia burn for weeks. We thought to head out east for our hike but a thunderstorm is due and we’re not sure we can risk being in an “extreme fire risk” park with a threat of lightning. The You Yangs are in the traditional Country of the Wadawurrung People in the west, granite peaks arising in the plains offer panoramic views of the rain coming in, and to the east, the city. We had feared the weather would be “too much” but it was not enough – barely wetting the ground and not cooling the air. We are waiting yet on the Change to come through. We are waiting for change.