Tag Archive: belonging


I will re-member you

It’s late, or early, and I can’t sleep for thinking about loss.

Tomorrow, or today, I have my first online funeral (cancer not COVID) but I can’t help but want some primal scream for the research uncompleted, articles unwritten, the things you’ll never get to see or say to your kids. A voice – silent. A light – extinguished.

Around the world right now that’s happening – lights extinguishing.

The current COVID death count based on available information is at 903,473 worldwide. Do the modeling on that to factor in the families, friends, colleagues, neighbours impacted. How incredibly precious is each life.

In, Rubem Alves’ The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet, a body washes up on the shore in a fishing village and the villagers try to hold funeral rites the way they usually would, but no one knows this person to remember them. There is a void. And in the end, the void is filled with the stories of who this might be. The void is full of possibility.

The other night, my partner and I watched Pixar/Disney’s Coco together (I’m not crying, you’re crying). In the Mexican tradition of Día de Muertos, the memory of our family is kept alive by the images and stories of them we share. Each member of the family might have a different story about an ancestor, each have a different inheritance from knowing and sharing that life. It’s why when we tell each other, we are so enriched by the remembering. Or Alves’ “re-membered” because it almost seems as if that person is alive to us once more with the telling. With lockdown right now, those friends, family and colleagues aren’t able to gather to share their stories, to share their grief. There is a void.

I haven’t been wearing rings much during the pandemic, everytime I notice my bare hands it seems like a stark reminder we are in different times, see – I usually put them on just as I grab my lanyard for work and leave the house… I’m not going to work. I’m not leaving the house. The experience of living through a pandemic (we refer to it as riding the coronacoaster), sometimes is ok and at other times it’s the steep drop of noticing each tiny rhythm or ritual that we don’t do right now layered up one on the other. Like… thinking of what to wear to the funeral, what stories we will tell to re-member you to each other and celebrate your life, who of our mutual acquaintances will be there to see and catch up with, participation in a ritual not necessarily reflecting our beliefs but those significant to you who are at the centre – the reading and singing together, eating and drinking together, the sharing grief together.

I’m realising that today, I will do that on my own. There’s no one else in my household that knows you. There is a void.

I think I’ll wear a ring to your funeral.

And somehow, just like that, in the void… there was possibility.


…The Prophet speaks not to the dead but to the Wind.
He names what he does not know, he says what he cannot do.
Before the Mystery: grace.
He enters the woods, he dives into the deep waters…
He invokes something which is beyond knowing and doing: God…
The only thing he has is a wound in his flesh: the pain of Desire: longing. Restless is his heart…
Inside the Void, a universe slowly makes itself visible: dreams.
What is not… And they are beautiful: a Garden… The same Garden which lives in the entrails of the Victim. And they blow with the Wind, and in the graveyard, life appears. A flower in the desert. The secret of messianic hope.


Rubem A Alves – The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet

Lent word: Heard

#heard #rangona

Living Water

Over the past few months I’ve been privileged to host Annique Goldenberg at the Cathedral working in the Living Water project. This project explores our connection as a community to our local water source the Birrarung (River of Mists) aka the Yarra.

Incorporated into the paper are water from the Birrarung, linen from tablecloths that have offered a lot of hospitality, calico from retired altar cloths, pulped paper from service sheets, hymnals and prayer books – it’s beautiful to see those elements honoured together in this new form.

Also as part of the project we were invited to whisper a memory of a river to ours as part of expressing connection and I shared mine from sitting on a rock amongst the stepping stones across the Maribyrnong with the water moving all around me. It was good to remember the stillness and rapids, the hush and the rush, and the feeling that this river lives here, even as I do.

I invite anyone coming through the city to pop in and have a look. There is also a great little photo exhibition in for International Women’s Day celebrating significant Anglican women in the history of Melbourne.

Advent word: Beloved

You are neither all light nor all dark.  You are neither perfect nor entirely imperfect. You are seen. You are beloved. #beloved #kairangi #adventwords2019

Advent words: House

home

There is food in the eating place and blankets in the sleeping place for you. Our mess and our making. We will make room for you. This is home. I was born in Wellington, New Zealand and the spirit that forms my breath carries the Southerly off the Alps and salty water from the Straits is in my blood. I’ve lived in Melbourne for 13+ years now, but I know if there was a census tomorrow, I would travel, and family in Wellington would say: There is food in the eating place and blankets in the sleeping place for you… this is not a gift that everyone can know. #house #kainga #adventwords2019

mujerista theology

I am currently reading “Mujerista Theology: A Challenge to Traditional Theology” by Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz and am struck by the way Isasi-Diaz uses Latina words and concepts to describe the theology and methodology of Latina women; the role this plays in identity and belonging of the group and in grounding the words and praxis of Latina theologians in a cultural context.

Here’s an excerpt:

…Lo cotidiano for us is also a way of understanding theology, our attempt to explain how we understand the divine, what we know about the divine. I contrast this to the academic and churchly attempts to see theology as being about God instead of about what we humans know about God. Lo cotidiano makes it possible for us to see our theological knowledge as well as all our knowledge as fragmentary, partisan, conjectural, and provisional.  It is fragmentary because we know that what we will know tomorrow is not the same as what we know today but will stand in relation to what we know today.  What we know is what we have found through our experiences, through the experiences of our communities of struggle. What we know is always partisan, it is always influenced by our own values, prejudices, loyalties, emotions, traditions, dreams, and future projects.  Our knowing is conjectural because to know is not to copy or reflect reality but rather to interpret in a creative way those relations, structures, and processes that are elements of what is called reality. And, finally, lo cotidiano, makes it clear that, for mujerista theology, knowledge is provisional for it indicates in and of itself how transitory our world and we ourselves are.

Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, Doing Mujerista Theology pp71-72.

 

As a Pakeha/Ngai Tahu woman living as a visitor on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations – how do my cultural identity and location within place inform my writing, thinking and theology? And the language that I use to communicate my ideas?

In my experience, most books of theology loaned or recommended to me have come from a predominantly North American or northern hemisphere context. There is a disconnection and displacement in that which feels rarely spoken of or acknowledged, for instance when the symbolism, art and exegesis are located in a different hemisphere but used in ours – an easy example is noting such times like Easter (darkness) and Christmas (cold).

Acknowledging of course, all those women of colour and woke women who are and do use language and cultural context in their theological exegesis, for those who aren’t using ‘local’ language in our theological discernment and writing, what are we offering that is specific to our personal and geographic context?  Is this language lack linked to the disconnection from our cultural tale?

We cannot tell a story we do not know.

How do the ideas of Kaupapa Maori or Mana Wahine, or unresolved Australian identity politics and influences of policies such as Terra Nullius, already influence and inform my thinking, theology and writing in conscious and unconscious ways?

I think there might be an idea that our writing is more professional, academic or more universally relevant if these “personal” elements are left out, but are we still looking to our euro-centric, patriarchal forebears to tell us what to do and how to do it rather than finding God here, on this country, and speaking to that? What are words and ideas we could be drawing on that shape and inform our feminist praxis and writing based out of the Pacific?

Tell me, and show me, what can the South Pacific theology offer to the North?

That is the book I want to read.

This cup is yours

overflowing communion cup itellyouarise

Breathe. Exhale.
Sip and sigh. Sing and cry.
You can’t change the world, only yourself.

Talitha. Talitha.
Talitha.

itellyouarise
That is what this life is for.
That is the cup that pours.
How the song goes and that cup overflows.
You want the world to be different?
It is, because you are here.
You breathe, and be and bear.
I’ll take your tears and fears and trade you Grace.
See my Face? It’s also yours.
That is the cup that pours.
Breathe and be and bear.
Come near, come here.
This is the cup that pours. This cup is yours.

Talitha Fraser

Land and Place: Indigenous Perspectives in an Era of Displacement  NAIITS

Uncle Dr Terry LeBlanc: ‘Native perspectives on Land and Place’

Uncle Dr Terry LeBlanc: ‘Native perspectives on Land and Place’

We are all related. Connected together. We touch one another with life lived on the land together. Interrelated and interdependent with the land.

NAIITS stands for North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies, partnering to become an indigenous learning community here at Whitley.

The land is not to be feared or conquered but is part of us. Adam (adamah – earth) red dust on the ground. We are dust. We are the same dust.

THEOLOGY OF LAND

The Great Divide

  • Dualism: dividing the spiritual from the material
  • The reformers also divide the spiritual from the material: spiritual and political are now separated. Political and land separated.

Invited to do a welcome to Christian and Muslim refugees in Canada and was able to say: As I’ve welcomed the 500 years of refugees represented behind me I also want to welcome you. I’m sorry you’ve had to flee violence, to lose connection to the land of your ancestors.

Place – security, growth, wonder, sights smells… experience what God has for us in this place.

Utilitarian View of Land

  • Commodification of land the breaking loose of land from people along with the loss of work – labour now becomes a commodity.
  • John Locke and the primacy of private ownership.
  • Nature is seen as an enemy to be subdued and dominated.

Colonisers saw indigenous people as godless heathen savages. We can do this to Muslims still – see them as godless people of a godless land but this isn’t truth.  This belies a faith that says God is everywhere and all are made in the image of God.

Uncle Rev Ray Minniecon: ‘Walking the Land’

Uncle Rev Ray Minniecon: ‘Walking the Land’

How as people and pastors can we operate to be authentically indigenous and authentically Christian? I ask myself these questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Where have I been?
  3. What do I do?

We are always in search of our people.  We meet and tell our stories. Sometimes our great, great, grandparents lived at the same mission.  Did they have other brothers and sisters? We don’t always know. People from a different family, from a different mob, from a different country might hold part of our story that hasn’t been heard.

I am confronted by racism everyday. I have learned how to have faith and to draw on the strength of the ancestors… ‘so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God’. (1 Cor 2:5). This includes church who continue to exclude us. I’m invited to speak about aboriginal issues but not to preach the gospel.  That is why I started a little congregation in community at St John’s Anglican in Glebe called ‘Scarred Tree Indigenous Ministries‘. We are grateful to work on land that has the last Scar Tree in Sydney CBD. It is a way for us to connect to our history and to the gospel. we have to confront Australia’s history as a church, neighbourhood and community. we would lose our minds, selves, souls if we don’t stand up.

TALKING CIRCLES
Someone in our group shared their story adding, “when you don’t know who you are, there are no reference points.”

Psalm 68:5-6  (NIV)
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing

God as Father gave me a sense of who I am. Knowing this, no one is a mistake. Then I had a moment on country in a park with sunlight… I knew I belonged to the land and felt known. Mother (Nature) – living and breathing.

 

Aunty Rev Patricia Courtenay: ‘Aboriginal spirituality in an era of displacement’

Aunty Rev Patricia Courtenay: ‘Aboriginal spirituality in an era of displacement’

IDENTITY

Where did I grow up? What country is that and what language is spoken there?

ASSIMILATION

  • Displacement
  • Denial of culture and spirituality
  • Disconnection

RESPONSES

Our language is not ‘lost’, our home is not ‘lost’,  we are disconnected from them.

Why would you want to identify as aboriginal?

I am supported, protected and reminded who I am by my ancestors and totem animals. My strength is in my spirituality.

How can you identify as Aboriginal and a Christian?

I can separate the faith of the missions from Christianity.  There is a spiritual basis for this – acceptance of all – Jew and Gentile… 1 Cor 7:17-20. Live the life that the Lord has assigned… obey the commands of God in all things. You were provided identity at birth. Who were you called to be? Dualistic enquiry – I can be Christian without denying or giving up my cultural identity or heritage. Who I am is rooted in belonging and connectedness.

CULTURALLY SPIRITUAL WAYS OF KNOWING AND BEING

  • sense of belonging: Aboriginal belonging comes from story and love of the land.  Aboriginal people know and keep these stories. Are able to use these in other contexts. Able to use these for survival. We have an embedded spiritualness and awareness of sacred space.
  • holistic worldview: spirituality and culture are invisible. Our mind and body’s wellbeing are interconnected with our spirituality. An attack on one affects the other areas.
  • spirits of place: we have an oral tradition and literacy.  We have a spiritual connection to the land and knowledge generation and re-generation. Supernatural and natural occupy the same place and time.  Not mystical but mundane and embedded in the landscape. Someone might stay at a place and dream there – we learn through dreams.  This is considered a geographic source of sacred knowledge. The revelation comes to the person in the right place at the right time.  This is about identity, kinship and relationship to the land… receiving wisdom.  This wisdom is omnipresent but non-visible for no-indigenous.  Not mythfolk, lore or legend speaking of the past but continue happening now.

Aboriginal Australia still exists. When we gather and tell our stories ‘the land is speaking’. As guardians of the the land ‘we are speaking for the land’. The Creator Spirit/God’s relationship with indigenous people does and will continue to exist.  Language, world views, etc. can be shared with those willing to listen.

CREATING AN AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIAN

  • how do indigenous Australians reconnect culturally and spiritually?
  • how do non-indigenous Australians relate to indigenous Christians culture and spirituality?

‘Know the past, change the future’

 

Aunty Rev Janet Turpie Johnstone: ‘Bunjil weaves past and future in the present’

Aunty Rev Janet Turpie Johnstone: ‘Bunjil weaves past and future in the present’

Wominjeka – ‘we have come together for good purpose’

When we have shared stories and place, that goes with us when we leave.

Bunjil patterns the past and future in the present.  We’re not Animist, we don’t worship animals but are related to them and to the river.

Can we live with the land and waters so that everything has a place to live?

  • colonial invasion
  • Bunjils narratives
  • work with local elders eg. Bunjil’s Nest Project.

Reconciliation:

  • multiculturalism
  • migration
  • recognise
  • silence – denial

 

Professor Mark Brett & Naomi Wolfe: ‘Traditional Land and the Responsibility to Protect Immigrants: A Dialogue between Aboriginal Tradition and the Hebrew Bible’

Professor Mark Brett & Naomi Wolfe: ‘Traditional Land and the Responsibility to Protect Immigrants: A Dialogue between Aboriginal Tradition and the Hebrew Bible’

“You shall love the immigrant, for you were immigrants in the land of Egypt” (Deut 10:19)

But what happens when Israel arrive sin Canaan?  The oppressed become oppressors?

Indigenous mob don’t need a qualification to be who they are.  But this partnership has arisen from an international journey and collaboration.

Strangers, immigrants, sojourners… it’s the story of people who took others’ land.  If you don’t take care of the widow, orphans, migrants… you will lose your country.

Indigenous: country knows them, calls them home.  There’s a kinship system and people are looked after. ‘no one should be left behind’

Jer 26: 8-9 and Jer 26:16-19 people hated what he had to say… except some elders. Not citing Deuteronomy but oral storytelling – there moral compass is somewhere else. In the Samaritan story, who do indigenous people see themselves as in the story? Where are the settlers in the story?

We’re all Gentiles.  Settlers brought the thinking, they are the new Israel. They have the right to take the country. That’s wrong. They think they’re superior and that God is on their side. There is a theological problem with this logic.  White people are not the new Israel.

There is an idea that our liberation is bound to native title, but that’s extinct in Tasmania. So what does freedom look like for those of use from there?

  • where are we?
  • what does that look like for our relationship with settlers
  • what does that call us to be?
  • how does it call us to live?

Reinterpreting our stories:

Every identity therefore is a construction… a composite of different histories, migrations, conquests, liberations and so on. We can deal with these either as worlds at war or as experiences to be reconciled. Edward Said.

What next?

  • go back to the text
  • what does that mean for me?
  • Who am I? What’s my cultural identity?
  • how do I engage gospel? … those around me?

Reading the Bible as Israel is toxic for Gentiles.  Colonised people are colonising.

Our beliefs are already here, we don’t need yours. Our sacred land is right here. Our text is the land – we hear it with our feet and our hearts. It is broader and more inclusive.

We can have/give/build what was denied to earlier generations if we’re strong in culture.

Wonderful animation…

Bunjil The Creator: Bunjil’s Flight to the Stars

 

 

Paste up in Paraparaumu today