Category: the art of discipleship


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…

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.

This afternoon I got to hear some of a fantastic panel session moderated by Sandra Kailahi, on the panel was keynote speaker Ngāhuia Te Awekōtuku, with Sheridan Waitai, Leali’ifano Dr Albert L. Refiti, Nigel Borell and Zech Soakai.

I came in late but these are some fav snippets for listening and learning, I’m sorry they’re not attributed!:

  • “Decolonising” is a new word but this is something we’ve been negotiating since first contact.
  • Not all knowledge is taught in the same school (or held in the same museum)
  • Know me/us for our joy before knowing us for our trauma.
  • Our youth are defined as “troubled” instead of resilient.
  • Message from youth: “We could do so much more if people believed in us”
  • Success is so often measured by tertiary education but we have many paths that are not seen as ‘less than’
  • Whakapapa got us here, but whakapapa will get us further.
  • It’s a practice: play the game, beat the game, to change the game.
  • We need to leverage space to talk about our truth.
  • Connections with others around the world has been invaluable. Other people of colour. Our ideas, ways of thinking and doing are heard and valued.
  • Stuff has travelled so far, had an amazing story. They are rooms full of dead things. We need to sing the vā and ask: how do we receive this here? Sing ancestors to the present. Wake them up. We need to articulate that and make plans.
  • Exhibits can be enriching. We can feel embraced/represented. But not by telling it in the Master’s voice. We need to seize the doing.
  • Need to establish relationships/partnerships that aren’t pass/fail but allow for narrative, vision, space… where we are all experimenting together and able to try, learn, and try again.
  • They are a visual representation of self. Take your things home.
  • When/if Pacific lands are lost to climate change, what role might museums play in preserving taonga of a place that doesn’t exist anymore? How can they be guardians to preserve and protect so that people can visit and remember.
  • Can the word ‘decolonised’ even be applied to spaces like museums? The collection might be decolonised but the structure remains >>need to make a commitment to opening other avenues.
  • If you cut up a text that shows violence but if you read a text, read with the grain. What’s unemphasised? I try to read the two texts together, see how they can address or talk to each other.
  • It’s different for Māori and Pacific people they can always address directly – land taken or land given back.
  • 1500 guides were trained for Te Māori.  The guides felt safe, there were aunties and koro around but they were deterrents too. To touch tapu or to be around it, some saw it as a house of dead things. A trophy house. From the other side, to see weaving or wood carving… there can be joy, learning, and ownership.
  • If you work within an institution you must celebrate the small wins e.g. paradigm shifts. If the mauri of an object means it has to be worn. That’s it’s remit. If you can’t see it on display, someone might be wearing it. Be brave. Know what you have to achieve.
  • 2 Māori contemporary curator appointments in the 1990s… there’s still only 2 roles. Allies need to advocate.
  • The kaupapa is of collecting the odd, exotic, the other, curiosities. We need a reiteration of beautiful, exquisite ‘other’, to decolonise that, to see Te Māori and Pasifika as here.
  • Decolonising? That’s work for the pālangi and pākehā. I’m already overworked. It’s enough to work to protect and pass on our knowledge. Our absent partner. That’s the ‘other’.
  • Decolonise oneself, claim all your ancestors including the armed constabulary from 1860s… Norwegians, Germans… we are all of them.
  • Act like you own it. It’s your whakapapa. We don’t need to decolonise… we didn’t ‘colonise’ it. Be ready for you to be colonised by us!

kōrero/speak #advent2020

My friend Maria and I spend the afternoon in the garden. The broadbeans are spent, it’s the end of their season and we sort the remaining pods for food and seeds to dry. We hold the end and the beginning of life in our hands.

kororia/glory #advent2020

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it. We pray for the changing things, and the things that stay the same. We pray for the uncertain things, and the ones we’re sure of, the known and the unknown. We pray for the paradox. So we are not alone when we’re alone.

karakia/prayer #advent2020

whanaungatanga/fellowship #advent2020

There are there 4 themes of Advent: peace, hope, love, joy… it occurred to me today how grateful I am that those things aren’t around all the time. They’re not single-use gifts or something we put on a shelf and admire. They are practices, they are feelings. The word ‘advent’ means coming. This is a time of year where maybe we’re cleaning our house and making food to say: “Come in, come in” to hope… to love.

Maybe these are gifts you have to give. Maybe these are gifts you desperately want to receive. We cannot promise that you’ll have them all the time, but we can promise that they keep coming.

hanga anō/rebuild #advent2020

Whenua, in te reo, means land and is the same word for the placenta. That which nourishes. That which we come from, that to which we return.

It is a tradition to plant the placenta and umbilical cord beneath a tree, in a special place, in the place you come from. You are intimately connected to the land. The tree grows as you grow. The landscape is changed because of your presence in the world, because you put something into the land that nourishes it and then the land produces the food that nourishes you in turn.

You will always be connected to this place.

We are children of Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother. How often, when faced with a decision and uncertain what to do, do we go home, connect with where we come from, listen to and learn from the land to get perspective and clarity?

What remains when land and sky are gone? What endures? Listen to the story you were born into.

Whenua/earth #advent2020

The Māori creation story begins with nothingness. ( Te Kore).

It is a long dark night. (Te Pō)

From here two of our Māori gods Ranginui, the Sky Father, and Papatūānuku, the Earth Mother, emerge.

Rangi and Papa lay together in a tight embrace. They held each other so tightly that no light could get through and the world was in darkness, and their children are born between them. 

For a long time, the children exist in a dark cramped uncomfortable space. They talk of the “potential”, the speck of light seen beyond.  What could be beyond?

The brothers made a decision and tried to separate their mātua. Finally, it was Tāne who lay on his back with his legs facing up. With total focus and strength, he pushed and pushed. Ranginui and Papatūānuku didn’t want to be separated from each other or their tamariki. In this crucial time of separation, te wehenga, the tamariki spoke with respect to their parents while helping.  Rangi and Papa wept for each other rather than being angry with their tamariki. The separation of the parents by the children resulted in the movement from darkness to the world of light (Te Ao- Mārama) and humans flourished on the Earth. However, Rangi still mourns the loss of Papa and drops tears which become dew and Papa’s sighs go up to the sky, which become mist.

In the end, the brothers became Māori Gods, guardians, or atua of particular domains.

In the cycles of our own, day in and year out, little births and deaths – what does the knowledge of our bigger creation narrative offer?

There is life beyond the darkness that seems to be all we can see. We can make a decision that things will be different, and choose to act before the new Way is visible.

We are strong, in our minds and our bodies. We are agents in bringing about our own becoming and shaping our lives into what we want them to be.

The old ways cease to be, but we learn new ways of relating to one other and ourselves.

Whakapakari/strengthen #advent2020