Archive for February, 2021


I have struggled to get into Lent this year.

My current forethoughts are around these queries… in my hemisphere (southern), it is summer/autumn and there is abundance, harvesting, preserving… it doesn’t seem like a time of year that makes much sense to give things up. I think that part of ‘giving up’ for Lent was that people died because there wasn’t enough food to get through the winter. They had to food ration to make it through. I like the idea that feasting on Sundays was someone bringing out a faithfully reserved jam, or stewing their last apples. The community survived the winter because they worked together. Spring brings relief of the austerity measures. Because of this, Lent has made more sense to me when I took something up (rather than personally giving something up) because it connected me with others.

With over a 100 days of the last year spent in lockdown, I think we’ve given up on plenty: a 5km radius, a curfew, only so many visitors or none. What do the learnings of our season and context in this moment have to say to our rhythms of church?

In the Eastern Kulin seasonal calendar March is Iuk Eel Season. Hot winds cease and temperatures cool. The days and night are of equal length – rather than austerity, what if we heard a call to balance? If you’re anything like me, areas of: exercise, food, drinking, social connection, and work became unbalanced during COVID and boundaries between home and work, and work and rest, have blurred. How might they be redefined?

The Iuk (eels) are fat and ready to harvest as they make their way downstream to spawn at sea. On the way they change from the dark pigmentation of freshwater eels and become silver. What if some of those things that have felt ‘lost’, like access to our creative outputs have actually been maturing during this time? What procreative energy is in you, seeking to move, to be fulfilled in its purpose and becoming? What brightness emerges from your season of darkness? What does it look like to make space for this procreation through Lent?

The Binap (Manna Gum) is flowering, and the hot summer air dries it’s sugary white sap (manna) and this a good treat to eat – what have you looked forward to all this time? How sweet is it after the wait?

My second thought is that Jesus knew the road he was walking, and what was at the end of it. He walked it anyway. When we commit to choose to do something difficult, we know there’s going to be times that’s hard. When we follow our commitment maybe, in a small way, this is an act of solidarity with the path/choice Jesus walked and offers insight to his sacrifice. So, when you live on the 7th floor and give up stairs, if you’ve left your bus ticket up there then you’re going to be tempted to take the lift. When faced with a choice between as easy and a difficult path – what do we choose to walk?

I think all of us know of relationships that broke up during lockdown. People decided to move – regionally, interstate, “home”. People changed jobs. In the crucible of limitation people had to make choices about what was most important. Decisions about what was necessary to flourish in scarcity. These decisions weren’t made lightly or easily, sometimes they were forced by circumstances outside of our control. The choice when there were no other options to choose from. Hard choices. Choices that cost us something. National Close the Gap Day and Harmony Day fall at this time of year… we reflect on the long road so far and the hard road to walk yet, what choice can we make but to keep walking? On the flip side, lockdown gave effect to many restrictions we thought couldn’t be done in the face of climate change – is the hard road that, despite our freedom, we continue to live within our restrictions of travel, working from home and shopping within 5kms?

Easter falls in April this year, when morning mists begin and nights become longer, we move into Waring Season. Wombats emerge from their burrows becoming active. Migrating birds arrive from Tasmania and male bulen-bulen (lyrebirds) display their mounds, tail feathers, and songs to attract a mate.

We know where we have been. Where are you planning on going?

What expectations did we have of ourselves over the last year that we did not meet? Of others that they could not meet? As you emerge from the burrow and become more active, how do we show the best of what we have to offer to each other again? We need to forgive ourselves and each other for what we have done and all we have left undone. Let’s have Good Friday and grieve, acknowledge what we have lost, but let’s also have the resurrection of Easter Sunday. What does it look like to celebrate that the season of loss and grief might be over? What about making a commitment to have friends or family to your house? To share and hear the stories of what the last year has been? To share you hopes for the future. To share a hug.

The community survived the winter because they worked together. Spring brings relief of the austerity measures.

A Paschal moon rises.

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/

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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.