Tag Archive: confession

Advent word: Confess

Mary confesses she believes in God. I am a believer in God  too. It’s becoming a more difficult confession to make. I may join Mary, but I join Trump, Scott Morrison and Israel Folau too.  It’s Eden’s bittersweet fruit. I can’t pray for other people to be different, only that I might change myself. “God, please God, keep  me from apathy”… To know God is to be changed but we’re all still human. To know the light is to also know the dark.  #confess #whāki #adventwords2019

You are

scrap metal sculpture art hanging heart land mountains

You are the weight lifted from my chest
the suffusing warmth
the comforting Presence
the hearts-ease pain relief
soothing what I didn’t know I held.

Talitha Fraser

Cut, cut, cut, cut…

rusted iron train tracks footscray station

Cut, cut, cut, cut…

I thought death by a thousand cuts
was a good way to live but
it may merely be that’s
a bad way to die.
This is my blood poured out for you.
I want it to count for something.
I’m sorry I can’t be everything you need.
I’m sorry I can’t be everything I want.

Talitha Fraser

IMG_5316Site 1: Treaty

In February 2016, 500 Victorian Aboriginal leaders voted to reject constitutional recognition. Instead the group requested that the State Government “resource a treaty process including a framework…  (and) complete collaboration with all Sovereign Peoples and Nations”. In July, a Working Group began talks to work out Australia’s first Treaty with Aboriginal people. It hopes to cover recognition of past injustices; authority held by the 39 First Nation clans in the region; respect for the land, customs and traditions of the First Peoples; land rights and land acquisition funding and fresh water and sea rights.

Progress is being made, yet nationally Arrernte woman Celeste Liddle maintains “We don’t have land rights; we have not received proper reparations for the Stolen Generations nor stolen wages; our sovereignty is yet to be respected and the damage of the false doctrine of terra nullius is yet to be undone”.

Sour wine to dull the pain.

They thirst for justice.

Indigenous Hospitality House IHH Healing Rites walk 2017 teaRite 1: tasting cold tea

We drink this bitter tea today
To taste the bitterness of unkept promises
We drink this bitter tea today
To remember the thirst of Christ on the cross
We drink this bitter tea today and ask
How can we truly recognise our hosts on this stolen land?


Site 2: the food places

We come to the food places all over the land.  For a long time, Settler peoples have note understood the sophisticated practices of food cultivation of the First Peoples of the land.

Unlike a passive hunter gatherer lifestyle, Aboriginal people across the country sowed, grew, irrigated, preserved and built storehouses. For at least 6600 years at Budj Bim, the Gunditjmara people deliberately manipulated local water flows to engineer a landscape that increased the availability of eels.  Kulin nation people sustainably managed and harvested fields of murnong root.  Others fermented banksia nectar, milled grain and baked bread.

Now there is pre-packaged food imported from far away, polluted with chemicals.  Knowledge of traditional food cultivation has been restricted or devalued or lost. In hospitals people are treated for diabetes, kidney disease, obesity and heart failure, the results of a Western convenience diet. And the advertising say, “Take and eat, this is given for you.”


Rite 2: plastic bread, sugar water

We eat this bread
To remember the loss of Indigenous agriculture
We drink this soft drink
To taste the loss of living water
We eat this cheap bread
To consider the true cost of our food
We drink this sugar drink
To taste the lure of thinking we know better
We eat and drink a warning, and we ask:
Do we seek a table of nourishment, the bread and water of life?


Site 3: The Warrigal Creek Massacre

Angus McMillan – the “Founding father or “the Butcher” of Gippsland. He fle Scotland during the Highland Clearances but went on to enact brutal clearances of his own upon his new country. At the time of the European invasion of Gippsland, about 3000 Aboriginal people lived in the area. By 1860, it was less than 250.

The worst massacre was at the Warrigal Creek in 1843, where 80 to 200 members of the Bratowooloong clan were killed by McMillan and the Highland Brigade in revenge for the murder of a single white settler. The Brigade found the clan members camped around the waterhole at Warrigal Creek. They surrounded them and fired into them.  Some escaped into the scrub. Others jumped into the waterole and were shot “until the water was red with blood”. One boy, about 12 years old, was hit in the eye, captured and made to lead the brigade from one camp to another. The piles of bones were hidden in a place known as the valley of the dead.

There is a campaign underway to rename the McMillan electorate in Victoria. Liberal MP Russell Broadbent said, “It would send a message that wwe actually care about these issues and, if we are not responsible to our past… we can’t get on with our future.”

When Kurna man Russell Mullett visits an Aboriginal massacre site, he listens for the birds. “If I get out of the car and the birds are singing, I know it’s alright,” he said.


Rite 3: black armband

We wear this black armband
Because of grief and shame and horror
We wear this black armband
Because we grieve the killings of the First Peoples
We are ashamed of the violence that still exists today
And the complicity of those who bury the truth
We grieve our failure to give back the land
We cry out with those who defended their country
We wear this black armband and ask:
How will we deal with out unfinished business?


Site 4: young people in detention

97% of children in juvenile detention centres in the Northern Territory are Indigenous.  Of these, about 60% are in out of home care.

Children are removed when there parents are judged unfit to care for them.  However, in 2016, a program on the abuse of Aboriginal children at the Don Dale juvenile detention facility showed what can happen when the State takes on the role of parent.  Previous investigations had already uncovered incidents of children being tear-gassed while playing cards, having fabric hoods placed over their heads and being deprived of drinking water for 72 hours while in solitary confinement.

The most disadvantaged and troubled young people who offend are pout into the custody of a system with the most confrontational and violent culture.  The default response seems to be to exclude the, from society and from visibility – a response that runs right through Australia’s history.

Rite 4: hand prints – stop!

We say stop! Wait. Listen.
Listen to the voices of violence and despair behind bars
We wait in silence.

[a period of silence]

We leave our handprints here
When we have heard , give us courage to speak up.


Site 5: Change the date

26th January 1788 marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet to our shores. ANTaR warns that “…celebrating Australia Day on that date is akin to asking Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People to celebrate their own invasion and dispossession”.

This year Fremantle Council celebrated its “One Day” on January 28th. Nyunggai Warren Mudine has suggested January 1st is a “proper day to celebrate Australia’s independence, identity and nationhood” stating that “it’s a day everyone can unite behind”. Tens of thousands of people attended the Invasion Day rally in Melbourne this year. The Australian people are increasingly recognising the implications of the current date and acknowledging it as inappropriate.

However, Arrernte woman Celeste Liddle asserts that “Merely changing the date will only end up erasing and nullifying the very reasons Indigenous people take to the streets to protest Invasion Day”.



Rite 5: laying down leaves

We lay down these leaves today
To acknowledge our own need to remember
We lay down these leaves
To show respect for all who are no longer here
We lay down these leaves
To honour those who challenge a false celebration
We lay down these leaves
For those daring to start telling a true story


Site 6: Wangan and Jagalingou native title

The Wangan and Jagalingou people are the Traditional Owners of the land in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.  They are fighting mining company Adani and the Queensland government to prevent the massive Carmichael coal mine from being built on their land.

They explain: ‘In our country, spiritual ancestors come from up under the ground and travel in and through the land at sacred sites associated with the Rainbow Serpent known as the Mundunjudra.  The Rainbow Serpent has power to control the sites where our people are born into their bigan (Totem). This has been so since the beginning of the creation period.

The sacred beliefs of our culture, our religion, is based on where the song lines run through our country.  These song lines connect us to Mother Earth. Trees, plants, shrubs, medicines, waterholes, animals, habitats, aquifers – all these have a special religious place in our land and culture.  Our spirits and the spirits of our ancestors travel above, through, and under the ground of our country.

If the Carmichael mine were to proceed it would tear the heart out of the land.  These effects are irreversible. Our land will be “disappeared”.


Rite 6: blindfolds

We wear these blindfolds today
To recognise our blindness to the sacred spirit of the land
We wear these blindfolds today
To recognise our blindness to the workings of power and greed
We wear these blindfolds today
To recognise our blindness to those seeking to protect the land and its people

[blindfolds are tied on for a period of silence]

We take off these blindfolds today
To show that we are willing to be shown the way
We tie these black and white strips together
To recognise our need to be connected with the land and each other


Site 7: ‘Cultural’ violence?

In August 2016, a cartoon was published in the Australian newspaper, depicting a drunk Aboriginal father who didn’t know his child’s name. The cartoonist said he was trying to focus public attention on the plight of the child.  Dameyon Bonson, the founder of Black Rainbow, an advocacy group for LGBTQI Indigenous youth, said that when he saw the cartoon, he felt ‘gut punched’.  ‘This was in the national broadsheet, and published on national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.’

In response, the Aboriginal community mounted an online campaign showing positive images and stories of Indigenous Dads.

Luke Pearson wrote, ‘Every denial of Indigenous peoples’ rights, fro invasion to massacres to Stolen Generations to the NT Intervention, has been accompanied by imagery and rhetoric that has made us out to be a threat.  A threat to white people, a threat to ourselves and each other, a threat to our own children; for this to dominate public imagination the public also needs to buy the underpinning idea that we are fundamentally flawed, that our very humanity us both in question and at stake, and that we need to be protected from ourselves,’

We are all responsible for a culture shift.


Rite 7: creating a home fire

We build up this fire
Warm like a family of care
We build up this fire
Like we work to build up strong families
We build up this fire
To remember Jesus who gathered unlikely people into families
We build up this fire
To remember Jesus who called us to care for each other as the children of God
And we ask:
How can we create places where all can find warmth, welcome and home?



Creator Spirit
Help us to uncover our hidden stories
Suffering God
Help our tears to flow for the pain
Reconciling Spirit
Heal our shame and our wounds, and call us into action

We are searching in the darkness
for the first signs of new life.

Housesitting and off the shelf of an extraordinary library I discover the poetry of Stevie Smith… I think she and I have become friends and I just may have to visit again…






I wish, sometimes



I wish, sometimes

those things, done – undone

those things, never attempted – tried

those things, dreamed – realised

I aspire to wholeness

in myself and all things

and I fail

I fail

I’m reminded of how little power

I have, how little control, how

little comprehension, how

little I am.

You are big.

You are big enough to hold me,

the done the dreamed and the


I will never know wholeness

in myself

but I can know wholeness in You

and I am grateful for that.

I am grateful for You.


Talitha Fraser


I have started reading The Jihad of Jesus by Dave Andrews.  With a title like that I think it confronts and offends peoples sensibilities before they ever read a page.  I can assure you there is plenty of scope for it to confront and offend sensibilities once you open it too. How can it not?  This is a self-effacing story.  I’m only 30 pages in but I understand that it costs something – before I can preach to you about non-violence I must confess the horrendous history of violence, rape, torture, murder done in Your name.  It makes you wonder, why anyone might align themselves with such a thing as this?  How can you be associated with Christians, with religion, when it has not just participated in but driven so much atrocity in the world?

I do find it hard to align with the structure, the culture of the “institution” of the church.  I can feel very far away from You when I am in these walls.  It is necessary for healing, on both sides, to participate in building a world that is different.  Who is sick?  Who needs to be saved?  We do not send a doctor for those who are well but those who are sick.  I know I am sick.  I know I need help.  I need help everyday.  I must take the plank out of my own eye before I look at the speck in yours.  Do you not want to be well?  I do.  I long to be well. It hurts. It’s uncomfortable, it’s sickening to read these things and understand that they form part of the cultural tail I claim.  But we get Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa too.  What is stopping you from being the next Martin Luther King?  These were imperfect human beings – MLK cheated on his wife with some regularity I believe and MT was someone who set such high standards she was difficult to please and work with.  Side by side with them they might not be so easy to admire and love as their reputations act like airbrush to photography.  I am not so easy to love up close.  Religion is not so admirable up close either.

We judge those harshly who have gone before.  In our current age where brain comes before brawn we think “how savage“, we want to know how these actions might conceivably be justified and the only response we have is “they know not what they do”.  We know now – issues of indigenous land rights and protection of culture, mandatory detention of refugees, family violence, climate change, water shut offs in Detroit,  war and genocide… we have our own share in stupidity or willful blindness or whatever you want to call the gross injustices of our own time… consumption climbing relative to our social isolation as we look for the things that will fill us but not to each other.

[p.1, The Jihad of Jesus]

“Jihad is an Islamic term referring to a religious duty for Muslims.

In Arabic, the word jihad translates as a noun meaning “struggle”… there are two commonly accepted meanings of jihad: an inner spiritual struggle and an outer spiritual struggle.

The “greater jihad” is the inner struggle by a believer to fulfill his or her religious duties.  This non-violent meaning is stressed by both Muslim and non-Muslim religious authors.

The “lesser jihad” is the physical struggle against oppressors, including enemies of Islam. This physical struggle can take a violent or non-violent form.”

If fulfilling your greater struggle is to follow the call to living a life of love, peace, forgiveness… then this “lesser” struggle needs to be framed by the principles of the first.

I am grateful for smart, wise elders who can write these books, have these conversations, articulate what needs to be said – even if it confronts and offends.

First things first

Last Friday the Indigenous Church community hosted an evening of celebration to mark the anniversary of Kevin Rudds apology. Welcome to Country then heard stories of several First Nation people – their life experience and where they were when they heard the apology (heard their ‘whole truth’) – stolen generation, called “filthy abbos”, told parents/family were dead, turfed out at 16 with next to nothing… humbling faith in the face of damage done in the name of “mission”.  Representatives of each First Nation family group given a box: tea bags, Tim Tams, bible passage, Whittakers peanut slab (gold, because you are a teasure to us).  Watched a video re-play of the apology, then seed shapes handed out to everyone and we were encouraged to reflect on K Rudds speech and everything else we had heard that night and write a response – mine said things like:



Some of these were read aloud then we were asked to give these seeds to a First Nations person sitting near us to put in their box.

How humbling! How arrogant are my words! How vulnerable am I made by giving away these innermost thoughts/prayers of confession?   …not as vulnerable as a child – taken from its parents/family, taken from the only home they has ever known, to have language and culture stripped away – made white.