Category: the art of discipleship


This weekend some friends and I did a hike in Kinglake National Park finishing at Mason Falls. The conversation was as wide ranging as our footsteps, as we were washed by rain and the knowing that the world is beautiful… beautiful.

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“We are protectors of the mountain.When I stand here it is as if I’m standing on my mauna. When I look out at all of you, it is as if you are standing on the mauna.”

 

If you don’t know what the Mauna Kea trouble is all about you can read more in the article linked here…

“Nearly ten years ago, a multibillion-dollar international collaboration led by the University of California and the California Institute of Technology planned to build the largest telescope in the Northern hemisphere on the summit of Mauna Kea, a sacred Hawaiian mountain. It is the tallest mountain in the world when measured from the ocean floor; higher than even Mount Everest. In 2015, kiaʻi, protectors of the mountain, prevented that work from starting …”[continue reading]

On Friday 2 August there was a gathering in Fed Square to stand in solidarity with the protectors at Mauna Kea. It was bigger than that. We stood also in solidarity with the protectors at Ihumātao, and the protectors across the Pacific Islands feeling the impacts of climate change.

In Maori the word whenua means both land and placenta. It is what nourishes us. To be tangata whenua  is to be indigenous, to be at home, to be naturalised. To build or develop land in ways that that does not consult with indigenous people or consider their use and value of the land  is to show yourself to be a stranger in that place. Do not think that colonisation was something that happened long ago and far away when it’s impacts are being experienced in real ways here and now… it’s happening just up the road at the Djab Wurrung Embassy.
Mauna Kea… “the firstborn child of Wākea of the sky and Papa of the earth. Mauna Kea is the piko, the center or umbilical cord, the point where all energies converge. It is a place where the akua dance in their human forms, a place to chant, pray, and remember how to be in proper relationship to creation. It is the highest temple. The mountain is an ancestor to the Kanaka Maoli people, born long ago in the ongoing song of creation. For well over a thousand years, to honor this ancestor, the Kanaka kept the summit pristine, pure, and accessible only to those who ascended with the proper conduct and ceremony.” (Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder)  and the government is approving a telescope to be built that is dug in two storeys below ground and stands 30 storeys tall.
Through language, story, dance, chants the people, the tangata whenua, sing aloha to the land. The tangata whenua are kia’i – protectors of the land. We invite you home. We invite you to be a protector of the land. We speak and sing in many languages, Aboriginal, Hawaiian, Solomon Islands, Samoan, Maori, Niuean… we speak and sing with one voice.
Please listen.
Hawaii (Mele)

Solomon Islands (great spoken word poem… “you may treat us like dirt with your lies but the very dirt that you treat us as anchors the foundations we build our lives on…

Maori/New Zealand (Haka)

Maori/New Zealand (Tiaha)

Samoa (Pese)

Submissions to the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies call for papers are due tomorrow and the words for the theme play over in my brain, “Power, Authority, Love: Write, Rite, Right”.

I’m not great at drawing but this sketch came to me this morning… my first attempt at icon arrives as an Eve figure with attitude.

She’s not taking any of your crap or blame and she hates it when people say: “I’ve never thought about it like that before” in a condescending tone as if a woman doing theology was as much a marvel, or as clever, as a dog learning to rollover. She is smart, she is strong, she sees right through you and in her deep well of silent appraisal is your sinking self-awareness. Check it – those earring are available from Haus Of Dizzy.

Salam Fest 2019 Artist Panel: Hanifa Deen award winning author, visual artist Ms Saffaa and Asia Hassan, creative director of ASIYAM clothing.

“A quality you forget about migrants is that you need a heart big enough to love two countries… you cannot choose between two children. We should want people to come here with hearts this big.”

Hanfia Deen

“In 2016, an image I had drawn went viral: I am my own guardian.
I didn’t want it to… I’m an accidental activist.”

Ms Saffaa

“I was visiting a detention centre, it was over Christmas and they had a Santa come in to give out presents as a human gesture. The Santa was calling out children’s numbers not their names and someone said to him, “Use their names” and he replied, “I don’t know them”.

Hanifa Deen

“There are three different kinds of Muslims who live in Australia and research indicates you can roughly break them into these kinds of categories: about a third are orthodox and they pray 5 times daily, another 1/3 fast during Ramadan and go to the mosque occasionally and another third are what we would call Muslims of the heart.”

Hanifa Deen

“I think it’s important to dispel myths about Muslim women.
Just the way that I exist asserts a different way of being Muslim.
There are 1.6 billion ways.”

Ms Safaa

“I started my own fashion label because when I was growing up I felt like my clothing bought me no joy and no particular effort went into making it, so I made my own. A learning was realising that my product is not going to appeal to everyone and it never will. It’s only really for those Muslim woman who dress like I do.”

Asia Hassan

“Muslims are not used to being a minority population
they aren’t in the country that they come from.”

Hanifa Deen

“Identity is not a singular thing but made up of many parts I’m Muslim, Australian, and a woman. We must accept people as individuals.”

Asia Hassan

“Asked where come from, sometimes I play a game with people and tell them “I’m from the desert, guess which one” and they start guessing the names of different countries and I say, “Further south, further… eventually I tell them I grew up near Kalgoorlie.”

 Hanifa Deen

“I know that “I’m a gift to the Earth.”
I’m confident and happy in the room…
I bring my positivity with me and
can share it with others.”

Asia Hassan

“It’s not my job to educate or make people better.
I exist comfortably within myself and
exude goodness in the world.”

Ms Safaa

Any advice?

“Know why and who you are before you go into battle.
Have empathy for others and move on.
Be true to yourself.”

Asia Hassan

“Don’t take permission from anyone.”

Ms Safaa

“Make alliances… you are not alone.”

Hanifa Deen

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Images and moments from the Christchurch vigil in Melbourne hosted by the Islamic Council of Victoria at the State Library…    #chooselovenothate

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and other religious leaders led those gathered in prayer.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

K and I meet early in the vigil when she invites me to stand with her family.

K: I think New Zealanders are taking it harder actually. Muslims… we’re used to it. When I first heard, I assumed it was Muslims against Muslims. I guess we’re desensitized maybe. Things like this happen to Muslims all the time.

T: But how awful… that this should happen so often that you could become desensitized to it. Things like this rarely happen in NZ.

K: For us, they are all martyrs.

T: Is it an honour, to die this way?

K: No… It is still a pain. It means a lot that New Zealanders feel that with us… are you from Christchurch?

T: No, Wellington. But I still feel it. What you need to understand about us is that once you’ve welcomed someone onto the marae, they’re not a guest anymore – they’re family.  I don’t need to have ever met them. This week all New Zealanders grieve because we have lost members of our family.

…we hug, and stand together through the vigil.

They say from the front, if you’re comfortable, hug or shake hands with the people nearest you, and in this moment: all Muslims are hugged, all Kiwis are hugged. I hope you feel that.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowerschristchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

A group of us sing – Muslims and Kiwis together… Te aroha, the national anthem in English and Maori “…in the bonds of love we meet“, Dave Dobbyn’s Welcome Home and John Lennon’s Imagine… what an extraordinary and beautiful thing to come of something so awful.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Tutira mai nga iwi, (Line up together, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Tutira mai nga iwi, (Stand in rows, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Whai-a te marama-tanga, (Seek after knowledge)
me te aroha – e nga iwi! (And love of others – everybody!)
Ki-a tapatahi, (Be really virtuous)
Ki-a ko-tahi ra (And stay united)
Tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)

 

Indigenous Land Struggle

MASIL land struggle

‘To those who say, “But I didn’t take your land” I reply, “Are we going to be honorable ancestors?”‘

MASIL is a historic exchange between Indigenous Mapuche activists in Chile/Argentina and Aboriginal activists in Australia.

The goals of the MASIL Project are:

  • To establish face to face contact and dialogue and build links between Indigenous communities protecting their lands.
  • To document all the work that is carried out and
  • To produce a documentary of approximately 60 minutes duration, for distribution in Australia and internationally.

 

re-membered holy and whole body identity

I don’t much like looking in mirrors. I find them critical, unkind and discomforting because the image there seems to confront me with all the things I am not: skinny enough, beautiful enough, skin imperfection-free, hair-free… the world tells me in a myriad of ways this is my truth. In fact, the capitalist economy relies on me believing this. The reflection I see seems so distorted – how am I to know myself as holy and whole? I’m not called to a deficit existence but one of abundance.  Made by God and belonging to God. Cheryl Lawrie’s beautiful poem invites us to remember and re-member ourselves through the power of raw grace.

We are each of us made in the image of God.  God knitted us together and we are made as we were intended to be.  A special mention here to those LGBTIQ+ identifying whose personhood has experienced base-abnegation by the church, particularly throughout the recent plebiscite debacle.  I would pray for your wounds but its really not you I think are broken. Please don’t ever doubt that you are wanted and loved.

In his book, Our God Is Undocumented, Ched Myers  tells us to share communion in order to “Remember what has been dismembered. (p.200)  Whenever you ingest this memory, said Jesus on the eve of his execution, you join yourselves to our historic struggle to make the broken body whole.  It was, and is, both invitation and imperative, equally personal and political.  If we refuse to heed it, we are doomed to drift forever on or be drowned by the tides of empire, refugees all.”

I don’t go to church or and belong to a community, in this way I am perhaps a refugee, but I enjoy regularly observing the ritual of communion by myself at home, 1) because I believe absolutely in this invitation to wholeness – for myself and others and 2) I frequently garnish my communion with cheese. I f**ken love cheese.

As with most queries for which I have no answer, I try and pray my way through and that went a little something like this…

As I reflected on my culturally and societally-imposed, as-is, identity I found myself focusing on those imperfections  – the scars, the stains, the marks… it felt powerful to name those things that sit at the centre – fear, longing, doubt, insecurity, hunger, desire, hope… I juxtaposed this with some bible text to explore how it might reframe some of that thinking and was pleasantly surprised by the strength of the invitation to raw grace. I remember and am re-membered.

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I’ve had a bit of a go at packaging this up as a DIY reflection activity… get in touch if you want to be a guinea-pig. The beauty of the invitation to the communion table is not being limited to a plus-one.

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Let me leave you with a psalm by New Zealand author Joy Cowley by way of benediction:

Seeing

Dear God,
I need to see myself
as you see me.
My own vision is fragmented.
I try to divide up my life
and reject those parts of me
I consider to be weak.
I waste time and energy
in the battle of self against self
and Lord, I always end up the loser.

Dear God,
help me to see myself
as you see me.
I forget that you made me just as I am
and that you delight in your creation.
You do not ask me to be strong;
you simply ask me to be yours.
You do not expect me to reject my weakness,
merely to surrender it to your healing touch.

Dear God,
when I can see myself
as you see me,
then I will understand
that this frail, tender, fearful, aching, singing
half-empty, shining, shadowed person
is a whole being made especially by you
for your love.

Joy Cowley
 
 
Amen.