Tag Archive: questions


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.

This morning at BKI we had a memorial service to remember everyone in the community who has passed on (remembering our elders).

Gloria and Ross Kinsler were mentors and friends of Ched and Elaine’s for more than 30 years. As Presbyterian mission co-workers in Central America they promoted popular theological education and organized Sanctuary solidarity. Since
2014 BCM has honored their legacy in our Kinsler Institutes. Ross went home to God in December; Gloria lives with dementia at a skilled nursing facility in Pasadena, CA. We give thanks for their faithful work and witness.
Rev. Murphy Davis, co-founder of The Open Door Community in Atlanta, GA, worked for decades in prison justice and homeless advocacy. She passed in October 2020 after a 25 year battle with cancer, chronicled in her memoir Surely Goodness and Mercy (2020).

A table is covered with a purple cloth for an altar, though we’re square cubes we are in a circle – we reach out (in zoom, participants are encouraged to hold their hands up as if to make contact with those to either side of them in gallery view). On this morning we have a memorial for Ross Kinsler and Murphy Davis… we light two candles and have flowers for Gloria, for all those ‘gone to glory’ to ‘join the cloud of witnesses’. The table is set. Invite people at the table to share stories… we hear remembrances from people who know these elders well as a litany of names rolls down the chat.

Love is a harsh and dreadful thing. It requires us to give and receive.

– Mother Theresa

We are a living memory – activists, disciples, Holy Fools, followers of freedom pathways, the ways of the water keepers, the inspiration of artists and poets… they do not die, they multiply.

I share this link to the Murphy Davis campaign…”Let’s Get Well”. I think it is a beautiful thing to rally for encouragement and healing – to lift each other up. As someone who had rallied, and rallied and rallied where this has felt like a fight, I love the idea of rallying to encourage and affirm one another…

https://www.centerforracialhealing.org/

Rose Marie Berger – Bending the Arch

In answer to Seamus Heaney’s Station Island and Pablo Neruda’s The Heights of Machu Picchu, Berger unmasks the worldview of westward expansion from architect Eero Saarinen’s arch in St. Louis to the Golden Gate in a way that subtly and mystically taps the unconsciousness of the intended audience. When she writes “We never entered the West on bended knee,” the impurity of language used in this epic creates tension between discourses and creates a charge or pressure on each sentence that pushes the reader toward declaring an allegiance. Drawing on historical documents, the Latin Mass, and multivalent voices, Berger moves through the anguish of unintended consequences and leads the reader through the “ghost dance” of feeling to the powerful Pacific Ocean, which enters human consciousness like a dream. Entangled historical memory, climate crisis, and inverse expansionism compress into a spiritual reckoning to face the world to come. (January 2019). Book available here…

We bury his heart, but not his love, never his love.

Rose Berger, Bending the Arch

“Incarnational Engagement with Restorative Solidarity in and between Red, Black and Brown Communities” by Alison McCrary

Alison McCrary is a tribal citizen of the Ani-Yun-Wiya United Cherokee Nation, a social justice lawyer, Catholic activist, restorative justice practitioner and a sought-after speaker on social justice, spirituality and liberation.

“Accountability IS love. We only speak truth to those we love”

– Alison McCrary

Look at the work of ephemeral artist Ted Lyddon Hatten: http://www.tedlyddonhatten.com/#/coffee-grounds/

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There are symbols: a compass, an hourglass, entangled trees, an uncaged canary…
-is there a balm in this thickness of loss?
– can our scars point the way through
– what story will take us to firmer ground?
– whose silence will we hear finally?
“Our community lost things we didn’t know we could lose.”

Going to a sales page and creating a post to ask if there is an item instead of searching for the answer youself is like asking the person of colour you know what BIPOC stands for instead of googling it.

When you hear that white people need to ‘do our own work’ this is what we’re talking about. Especially don’t use questions as a way of doing the following:

  • trying to prove you are woke or engaged in issues of colour
  • trying to identify with/befriend that person so you can someone who says, ‘I have black friends’ or wants to name drop association to your own benefit
  • trying to befriend that person because you want or need something from them

For further reading please check out Clemenger Melbourne’s site: Deadly Questions for other commonly asked questions from ‘Why don’t Aboriginal people just get over it?’ to ‘What the most important things I can teach my child about the land and indigenous culture?’

Looked for the answer today. Didn’t find it. The pav went wrong. The problem wasn’t solved. The result didn’t come. The waiting is oppressive. I go outside and am re-membered. I remember to breathe. Don’t forget to breathe. #answer #whakautu

Lent word: Heard

#heard #rangona

Lent word: Seek

Yesterdays word was seek… Sharing this one from a bushfire fundraising gig at the Forum over the weekend hosted by Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. Something in these lyrics seeks justice. We sang for justice. We asked questions of the dark – of our fear and yearning. What do you seek? #seek #rapu

Icon at Dwell, Ascot Vale

Narrative Theology #1: lyrics

Today’s word is Teacher, Kaiwhakaako, the title given to Jesus in the gospels. I think I spend more time unlearning than learning these days this great poem by Padraig O Tuama speaks to this, you can hear him read some of it here.

And I said to him
Are there answers to all of this?
And he said
The answer is in a story
and the story is being told.

And I said
But there is so much pain
And she answered plainly
Pain will happen.

Then I said
Will I ever find meaning?
And they said
You will find meaning
Where you give meaning.

The answer is in story
And the story isn’t finished.

The question is not where but now
there question’s never finished
or exhausted
and the answers in the asking
not the answer
the answer’s in the breathing of the question
in the love of holding onto
what was never whispered never seen
but what we dreamed of in the morning
then forgot while venus hid

the answer’s in the living not the knowing
the answer’s in the telling of the story
in half forgotten memory
and all unfinished stories

the answer’s in the showing time of senses
the answer’s in the question
in the learning
in the fading page of writing
in the letter sent to lovers
in the paying for the other
the answer is the generous

is the truthing

the absolutely truthful anger

and forgiving is the giving of what you don’t deserve
it’s what I’ll serve because you’re hungry
even though you may not know it

the answer’s in the living and the dying
in the trying for redemption on an empty hill of crosses
it’s the shoring up of hope and the gathering of losses
it’s the looking for companions in the hills and in the glens
it’s the waking up and walking up and starting up again
the answer’s in the living
and the trying.

And I said to the wise man,
what is the answer to all this
And he said the answer’s in the story
and the story’s just unfolding. 

credits

from hymns to swear by, released March 17, 2010all rights reserved

A modified version of this poem can be found in ‘Readings from the Book of Exile’ (Canterbury Press, 2013)

Lent word: Command

Tell the stones to become bread? Nah, I will ask that Mountain. It is witness. It will know. #command #kīia

#fitzroy #pasteup #melbournelaneways

Advent word: Pray

Frail little lights ask their hopeful questions. There’s so much we do not and cannot understand. There may never be an answer. To pray goes some way to acknowledge this. #pray #inoi #adventwords2019