Archive for March, 2020


Lent word: See

Check this out: the latest in corona fashion… “way to go Yellow…” #stillsmiling #see #kite

Lent word: Light

The sun still shines for you, and the moon rises
The ground is firm beneath your feet and the sky is high above you
The trees stand tall and the rain still falls
May your spirit rise and stretch
May your spirit stand firm
May your spirit be grounded and drink deeply from all that is yet constant

#light #mārama

#reveal #whakakitea

Is it getting harder for you to find things to celebrate? Not me. This is the time when the crema of being human rises – rich and strong. We remember we need each other to survive. People are reaching out to their neighbours, sharing what they have, sharing small graces. I hope this pandemic changes everything and the new world order is a kinder, more considerate and generous place. Where’s the party at when we beat this?

#onward #whakahari #celebrate

sculpture bunjil bruce armstrong moonee ponds land of the Wurundjeri Willam people

‘Every Bird’ sculpture by Bruce Armstrong, on the land of the Wurundjeri Willam people (in Moonee Ponds)

 

We weren’t able to share this spiritual reflection today as there was an urgent need to address a community response to the COVID-19 virus but it feels like the witness of radical call and holy, foolish hope is necessary too in these times. And also, here’s an Aboriginal written guide to Coronavirus preparation & care for Mob by Natalie Cromb… may the Spirit of the land protect us all and keep us safe.

 

A few years ago I went to a Bartimaeus Institute and heard Bill Wylie Kellermann share reflections on the Stations of the Cross walk they have done in Detroit for over two decades. In a public and political way, they meet and pray where people are suffering – a jail, the site of a shooting, places where decisions are made: courts, corporate offices; places where needs are met: a shelter, a soup kitchen. I felt a strong desire to do that in Footscray, Melbourne and it felt like a wonderful confluence to discover that IHH already do a walk for indigenous reconciliation based on the model created by Norm Habel.  The story I want to read together today seeks to make that link again between the faith that calls us to live our lives differently and the lens of Aboriginal spirituality.

Read the following text as one story – it has interspersed texts from Bill Wylie Kellermann’s Seasons of Faith and Conscience and Norman C. Habel’s Reconciliation: Searching for Australia’s Soul (italics).

 

Aboriginal spirituality is the belief in the feeling within yourself that allows you to become part of the whole environment – not the built environment but the natural environment… Birth, life, and death are all part of it, and you welcome each. Aboriginal spirituality is the belief that all objects are living and share the same soul or spirit that Aboriginals share. Therefore, all Aborigines have a kinship with environment. The soul or spirit is common – only the shape of it is different, but no less important.  – Eddie Kneebone

 

 

For 4 months they have gathered and prayed: a Methodist pastor, members of the Catholic Worker movement and a handful of Catholic priests. Holy Saturday 1983 they gather to act at a cabin up the road from an air force base in Michigan with first strike capability for nuclear attack:

All of us had long ago concluded that such weapons were not only illegal by international standards and immoral by ethical ones, but also theologically blasphemous, the power of death writ large.

At 2:00 a.m. we begin the liturgy of the Word… there is in Christian liturgy no finer  collection of readings from the Hebrew scriptures: the story of creation, the flood Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the Red Sea Crossing, Ezekiel’s new heart and spirit, the valley of the dry bones called to live, and the like. A feast of faithfulness, passage and hope.

There in the cabin we also made intercession, marking names and peoples upon a sheet subsequently to be used as an altar cloth: children, the poor, friends in prison, soup kitchen guests, the dead and disappeared of Central America… a communion of the living. A solidarity of the spirit, this prayer for passage, this claim upon the future. After singing a hymn, we exited into the night.

At the barbed-wire fence we paused and circled in preparation for two symbolic deeds. The first was to light the Paschal candle. Into these, our dark times, enter the light of Christ. So we prayed, flame in hand. The second, indeed one with the other, was to cut the fence. …Twang! The security of death guarding death was broken in liturgy. The wall was breached.  

 

When we talk of God – and the old fellas know – God is not the Whitefella way, up above here. God is here with me. That’s the way it is. God’s not just grounded, hiding behind the butt of that tree. The presence of the Creator is there in the tree, in the land, in each one of us. You don’t need to do a Pentecostal type service, right? You don’t need to carry out all sorts of observances. You just need to communicate with the Creator. And that Creator’s always been with the Aboriginal people. (Gilbert 1996, p.62)

 

…the seven of us began our three-and-a-half-mile trek towards the high-security area, the loaded B-52s.  It had been our intention to paint at the foot of the runway, in six-foot high letters legible from a landing plane, CHRIST IS RISEN! DISARM! We had toted along supplies sufficient: buckets of yellow paint, brushes, rollers. The wet and freezing snow, however, foreclosed that plan.

We walked on, mostly in silence, lying down periodically in a fumbling comedy, to avoid the view of patrolling security cars. As the nuclear storage bunkers came into sight, we arrived at a small building, the enclosure for some sort of electronic equipment. Here on the walls we inscribed our message, paint congealing in the freezing drizzle. And here we carried the vigil liturgy another step forward: we renewed our baptismal vows.

I had not foreseen the personal power of that moment: to look down in the runway towards the machines and their cargo, and there to “renounce Satan and all his works.” There I promised in a way not fully understood before to “persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever I fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.” A life can be called back to such moments, indeed it may turn on them.

 

The Creator Spirit is crying because the deep spiritual bonds with the land and its people have been broken. The land that is crying because it is slowly dying without this bond of spiritual life. The people are crying because they long for restoration of that deep spiritual bond with the Creator Spirit and the land. – Rainbow Spirit Elders

 

The sky had begun to lighten. Birds were rousing. Shivering, we conferred and decided we had had enough of the dodging and weaving. We would proceed upright with dignity, in the manner of right worship. Here an astonishing phenomenon occurred, one reportedly not uncommon in such undertakings. We passed unseen! On one side were the bunkers, encircled with barbed- wire, lit like perpetual noon-day, driven roundabout by a constant patrol of vehicles, and observed from above by watchtowers, beneath which we processed. On the other side, parked for maintenance and refuelling, huge bombers stood in a line equally well-lit. It was as though the waters had parted. We walked unhindered to the open entrance of the high security area where the planes on alert stood ready to fly.

There, measured by a sudden flurry of activity within, we were finally noticed. Armoured vehicles and pickup trucks rushed to surround us. We spread our altar cloth of intercessions on the runway. About it we scattered blood, brought in small bottles, to signify the blood of the innocents, the blood of the Lamb. Producing the elements of the eucharist, we completed the service at gunpoint, surrounded by young airmen armed with automatic weapons.

We were a dishevelled band. Bedraggled, dressed in plastic garbage bags as makeshift protection against the unexpected weather, we were soaked nonetheless and cold to the bone. In witness and exhaustion, we suffered a sense of our own foolishness.

 

[The] land is a living place made up of sky, cloud, river, trees, the sand; and the Spirit has planted by own spirit there in my country. It is something – and yet it is not a thing – it is a living entity. It belongs to me, I belong to it. I rest in it. I come from there – Pat Dodson

 

The airmen held us in their sight but did not approach. Extending the service, we sang plaintive gospel songs and hymns of resurrection.  At long last an officer approached us.

“Are you,” he asked tentatively, “base personnel?”
“No.”
“Do you work on the base?”
“No.”
Then surveying the scene yet again, “Well, would you pick up your trash and leave?”

It was clear almost immediately that our breach of security was so severe an embarrassment that should we simply depart quietly, no record or mention need come to the attention of community public or even military higher-ups. We consulted among ourselves and declined.  The liturgy was complete in its own right, but it had momentum and direction we did not intend to abandon. Herded into a bus, strip-searched, interrogated by various agencies military and civil, we were in the end dumped unceremoniously at the front gate without charges.

Our friends awaited us with leaflets in hand. At the gate to the base and the doors to the churches in town we distributed the news. Leaflets described the cruise and it’s meaning for policy. They described our pilgrimage. And they offered this simple confession of faith:

We believe that God has already intervened in this dark history of ours.

We believe there is hope. Many people have yielded to despair. They can already hear the terrible sound of the door slamming shut on human history. But we are here to say otherwise. Someone is hidden at the heart of things, breaking in to break out, on behalf of human life.

We believe that God rules our common history. Not the Soviet Union. Not the United States. Not the NATO or Warsaw Pact forces. Despite their big and competing claims.

We believe that human beings (so says Easter) are free from the power of death in all its forms and delivery systems. We are not stuck with the balance of terror arrangements. We’re not in bondage to these weapons. We are truly and fully free to unmake them. Now. Not tomorrow or next week or next year. But this very morning.

We believe that God who raised Christ from the dead will also quicken our imaginations, and thereby our bodies and lives.

We believe this is the meaning of the resurrection. And we’ve come to say so. 

 

Individual Australians are not guilty for what happened to our families. But if you fail to respond to what you know that will be another thing. If you do not help to ease the pain, that will be your act for which you are responsible. – Pat Dodson and others at the 1997 Australian Reconciliation Convention

 

What arises for you/r community with these readings?

What is the significance of doing the 7 Healing Rites for 7 Sites walk as a community?

Have you ever had an experience of connection to or with the Spirit of the land? What was that like? How did that impact your faith?

Where are you feeling called to break into and break out of?

What might public and political liturgical action look like in a time of social distancing, when Easter services and walks might not be on?

Lent word: Ripe

Figs! Out of my reach though… what are you waiting for to ripen and come within reach? #ripe #pakare

Lent word: Mahi

We carry the work with us, even when we leave. Leaves of work. Leave from work. Leave work behind, it’s  Friday. #work #mahi

Yesterdays word was seek… Sharing this one from a bushfire fundraising gig at the Forum over the weekend hosted by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. Something in these lyrics seeks justice. We sang for justice. We asked questions of the dark – of our fear and yearning. What do you seek? #seek #rapu

Is it dry?
Is it a spring?
Is it a, somehow, living thing?
It is a song.
It is the bird.
It is the book.
It is the Word.

#spring #puna

Lent word: Drink

Do not drink! We cannot santise our fear or make it clean. Sit with it, recognise it, and know it for what it is. This is not fit to drink. Look for the source of living water that drives out all fear, it is the same that runs through all creation’s veins.  #drink #inu