Tag Archive: community


I listen to people talk about a “new normal”. I hear it as something ‘out there’ and I wonder, “Who’s making it? Who’s working on building the new normal?”

Sometimes I catch up with friends (over zoom or for a socially distanced walk) and they’ve discovered something wonderful in this season and they ask: “What can I do to keep this? How can I keep living my life with this in it once things go back to normal?”.  There is that word again. Normal. This idea that normal is something that happens outside of us and is controlled by forces outside of us. But what we’re really talking about is life, or culture, and culture is made up of ‘the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviours shared by a group of people’.  How and why is lockdown having an impact on these?

In trying to come up with a parallel for this lockdown experience, I started thinking about the idea of pilgrimage. Pilgrimage is a conscious stepping aside from life as normal in order to explore and experience a totally new environment such as: a journey to the Red Centre, walking the El Camino or doing an internship, or taking a sabbatical often for a time of discernment or at a time of transition such as a relationship or job ending.  Anyone who has had experiences of this kind will know that it is not the destination that teaches us something, but rather what we learn along the way.

We have not been able to choose to take this pilgrimage, but regardless there are similarities: We have needed to let go of the ‘way things have always been’ and consider what else they might be. The routines aren’t there, the busyness, the commuting, the activities and events that take up our time… the bustle of life has slowed because we cannot travel more than 5kms and need to be home before a curfew. There is an invitation here to consider, what is essential to us? What can we survive well without or even is a relief to stop? Unbidden, we are being asked to reconsider, “What are my values, beliefs, assumptions…”?

Here’s what can happen on a pilgrimage: when you sit with a empty horizon before you and allow the land to speak to you, you will discover how full it is; or when you walk (and walk and walk) and hold silence within yourself knowing yourself to be walking where many others have walked, and will walk again, you can identify both as singular and part of the collective of all of humanity; or when you visit a new country and experience being the person who doesn’t know the language, the food, courtesies, jokes or the slang and might know for the first time that you can be the ‘other’ too… it’s not the place we go that changes, or the places we come back to – but us.  I don’t know that change is the right word for this because, really, it’s remembering, and re-membering. A coming back to the wholeness of who we feel called to be, and how we can be – and become – that which we lost sight of somehow.

Here’s what can happen on a pilgrimage: when you walk, you meet and get to know your own neighbours, you might discover a little library, a lovely garden, a cute letterbox – familiar and new as if you were trying to memorise the face of a loved one before you lose them, suddenly there are details you never saw before and they are precious; or when you are removed from friends, family and the usual social circles, you paint a spoon for Spoonville, put a teddy bear in the window, or leave groceries at the free pantry. Learning without words, without touch, without ever meeting, I can connect with someone and that can be profoundly meaningful; or when you are stuck with someone, or stuck apart, stuck in a job you need or stuck on a job you love and can’t go to right now, you recognise the fragility of life and how important it is to do what you love with the people you love best and who love you well – what will it cost you to have that? What is it worth to have that?

This seems the spot where you might easily drop T.S. Eliot’s ‘the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’. T.S. Eliot wrote these Four Quartets during World War II and the air-raids on Great Britain. It is good to remember that these times ARE precedented. Pandemics have ravaged with worldwide impact before, as disease arrived on cruise ships so too it came with the First Fleet. People have lived through experiences wondering if the world would ever be the same again, wondering whether a safe world would exist for their children to grow up in. It is this line from Eliot that drew me today:

last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.

The new normal belongs to you.
It is yours to discover. It is yours to remember.

I invite you to gently and creatively engage with any/all of these questions through journaling, a vision board, mind map, or other mindfulness practice you enjoy, as you make your way onwards.

Is there anything you have discovered a lockdown love for? Make a list… what did this teach you about yourself you didn’t know before? What needs did these meet?

Make a list of things you have felt you’ve missed or lost in lockdown. What do you value about them?

Are there things that you haven’t missed? What has putting these down, freed up capacity for?

Land, family, law, ceremony and language are five key interconnected elements of Indigenous culture – how have the interventions and new laws of the lockdown impacted how these elements in your life have looked over the past few months? Was there somewhere outside your 5kms you longed for? How were rituals different, such as birthdays, weddings or funerals? Have you been using Zoom, Google Hangouts, Discord… or silenced by in accessibility of software or skills?

Has this time brought up things from the past that have been painful or difficult? Honour that. Celebrate what you know about survival. Consider doing a compare and contrast of then and now as a way of seeing how far you’ve come and how much resiliency you have learned. If someone was absent – who is present? If someone harmed – who is healing?

Has this time brought attention to or caused areas of your life to become painful or difficult? Honour that. What is this telling you about what’s important to you? One way to enter into this conversation might be to map What Is/What Could Be. Know you are worthy of dignity and respect and a life that fulfils you and brings you joy. Are there any steps, however small, that might create movement between what is and what could be? Take them.

Did you take up new, or see changes in, the roles and relationships you have through COVID? As teacher, partner, parent, friend…  acknowledge these shifts. Have you learned something about your expectations of yourself and others?

 

This activity was a mash up of a few ideas for community members to check in with each other and themselves and be connected through that activity. How can we recognise that what’s going on for us might impact others in expressed and unexpressed ways? There is lots of change but not all change is necessarily bad? How can we hold where we are at as a community gently?

 

Activity: The People’s Mike

So the idea behind the People Mike is that folks shout out words, it’s a Wild Church tool, eg: what is holding us back from living the lives we’re called to? What are we afraid of? One person shouts it out and then we all shout it out together in chorus. This acknowledges what impacts one of us, impacts all of us, and is a way of “holding” those fears and feelings together. Each part, one body.

We were attempting this reflection by zoom which is not an easy medium to hold space for people speaking in chorus/at the same time. We asked folks to share something they miss or feel the lack of and something new they’ve discovered, enjoyed or had more time to appreciate and captured those words on pegs. 

To understand where the pegs come in you might like to read this short little story I’ve got you pegged from back to 2012, but the gist of it is that you can bring to mind, and hold gently, special time/people in ordinary and every-day ways. This is a way of acknowledging the strangeness of now with the juxtaposition of a number of things that go along as they always have – like hanging out the washing.  A way to hold the now and the not-yet.

i've got you pegged

What are you grieving right now? Or looking forward to having again soon?

What new things are you enjoying and discovering?

20200419_172904

We are looking for bears. We are looking for Easter eggs. We looking for ways to connect and be together while we are apart. We are looking for ways to show care for, and bring joy to, our neighbours and neighbourhood. We are looking for ways to make people smile and I am encouraged. #looking #titiroana

Today we savour and celebrate playing in the park, tree climbing, sunshine and flowers… we see a couple have written their love in the branches that hold us up. May we be carried by one another’s love every day. #celebrate #whakahari

Sent but not delivered. Here but not arrived. The message isn’t getting through… neither is the toilet paper. #Sent #tonoamai

Lent word: See

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

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

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

a picture of sustainable gift tags celebrating love

Our friends Marita and Andrew got married today, a beautiful celebration of love and embracing difference. As a small token we gave them sustainable gift labels I had made… they will have many moments beyond today to celebrate together and consciously choose ways to love each other, and to give and receive love back and forth between them. A covenant of family, friends and community… a covenant of love that connects us all, one to another.