Tag Archive: story


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
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)

Leaf prints in Carlton, Melbourne from ochre coloured dust swept off
Latji Latji Country, 540 kilometres away

Read these brief stories about Jesus and William Barak. How can stories of others’ formation, knowing the lives they went on to live, inform how we might live out our own discipleship or radical discipleship within community?

Mark 1:9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan

This is our introduction to Jesus in Mark. Nazareth is so small and insignificant that it’s not mentioned anywhere other than the New Testament – a marginal village of maybe 400 people at the margins of the country Israel. Nazareth was based on the outreaches of Sepharus (the admin base of Rome and capital of Galilee)… other that being the birth place of Jesus this is mainly known for the Sepharus uprising, a rebellion of the Jews against Roman occupation. The Romans crushed Sepharus and enslaved everyone. Nazareth is only 4 miles from Sepharus and Jesus would have been 10 years old when this happened and he would have been able to see the city burn. Jesus and his Dad were techtons (labourers, construction workers) hired to help rebuild Sepharus for the colonial occupiers.

[Ched Myers, Bible studies series at the BCM Kinsler Institute 2015]

William Barak was born into the Wurundjeri clan of the Woi wurung people in 1823, in the area now known as Croydon, in Melbourne. His father Bebejan was a ngurunggaeta (clan head) and his Uncle Billibellary, a signatory to John Batman’s 1835 “treaty”, became the Narrm (Melbourne) region’s most senior elder. As a boy, Barak witnessed the signing of this document, which was to have grave and profound consequences for his people. (Culture Victoria)

Note: This Treaty was overruled by NSW within months.

And the second paragraph here, “I was born…”

william barak my story

What arises for your community with these readings?
Who are your community apprenticed to?
(traditions, elders, movements… tell these stories)
In either our personal stories, if people want to share them, or in the history of the community – what are the significant events of our formation?  What powers shaped us?
What powers might be shaping us/influencing our formation now?

Everyone is welcome

funny signs on gates for meter readers

#nothingtofearhere #stories #walkmyneighbourhood

poster australian collaborators in feminist theologies the state of feminist biblical scholarship

The title of the upcoming Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies network event poses this exact question and I wonder… less postgrads, less promotion, less published – where are the female-centric stories and who is telling them?

I want to get to hear about the Nuns (Adorers of the Blood of Christ, environmental protectors and activists) blocking the Standing Rock gas pipeline development. I want to hear more about Teresa Lee, Emily Wood, Leonnie Wickenden, and Abigail Benham-Bannon – Christian women getting arrested for Love Makes a Way for their belief in, and support of, the rights of asylum seekers arriving by sea. I want to hear more about Aunty Sharyn, an Indigenous Christian leader from Brisbane, called to a vocation rising out of her personal experience who has started up B’ira Women’s Ministry – a significant community ministry addressing domestic violence and sexual abuse in Indigenous communities. I want to hear more because I do not doubt that there is a strong biblical theology that underpins the choices of these women to put themselves in the way and turn out fear for their faith.

Bir’a is Wakka Wakka Language for ‘High Spirit’ and is all about when ‘Women meet Jesus’. Bir’a run yarning circles – providing a safe space to talk through grief, trauma, healing and relationships and do art therapy for when women can’t find, or just don’t have, the words to describe what has happened to them.

Hearing about this ministry I was put in mind of the women in Mark (5:21-43).  Jesus is walking along with his disciples and a leader of the Synagogue comes along asking for healing for his daughter who is unwell. Jesus agrees to come, yet along the way a bleeding woman who, against all purity codes, reaches out to touch a Jewish man in the desperation and hope of being healed. This woman reaches out for and takes what will heal her.  v.29 “Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.” but v.33-34 goes on to say  “the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth”.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”  She had already been healed of the physical symptoms (v.29), this second healing aims to address the mental stress of what the disease had cost: exclusion from temple which was a central part of life; if she had a husband perhaps he left – not being able to touch what she had touched or share intimacy; perhaps people worried they might catch the disease; or perhaps the priests tried various means and methods of cleansing or praying out demons… what isolation and exclusion had this woman known over these 12 years?  How long does it take to pour out this tale of grief, fear and loneliness?  Long enough for the Synagogue leaders daughter to die – does one persons healing come at the cost of another’s? No.  Jesus goes on to ‘wake’ her.

What part do women’s truth and storytelling have to play in our healing – personal, family, community, political…? We need times and spaces to hear truth, we need to be willing to tell our whole truth, we need to be willing to listen to others’.

Lydia Wylie-Kellerman reminds us “Telling stories is an act of resistance. It is part of discipleship. It is movement work. Stories are provocative and powerful while at the same time nourishing. They hold us. They remind us who we are. They help us know who we want to become.”

We need learn from the wisdom of women’s ways of knowing. We need to learn from the wisdom of women’s encounters with Spirit, Christ, God and what calls them to move. The powerful experiences, perspectives and stories of women have much to teach us and we need to pay attention. Thirty years on from Phyllis Trible’s pioneering Christian feminist perspective to biblical scholarship (Texts of terror, 1984), the upcoming conference pauses to reflect on the current state of feminist scholarship, mythological issues and texts that continue to terrorise.  Issues worth thinking about for all those students, researchers, ministers, faithful, knowing women contributing now, and emerging, to remind us who we are and who we want to become.

You are invited.


The State of Feminist Biblical Scholarship – Where are we now?

Friday 11 May, 2018
9.30am–5.00pm

Location:
Centre for Theology and Ministry
29 College Crescent, Parkville VIC 3052

Cost:
$40.00 waged / $20.00 unwaged
includes a catered lunch and snacks

Bookings:
www.trybooking.com/366028

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“The idea that we live life in a straight line, like a story, seems to me to be increasingly absurd and, more than anything, a kind of intellectual convenience. I feel that the events in our lives are like a series of bells being struck and the vibrations spread outwards, affecting everything, our present, and our futures, of course, but our past as well. Everything is changing and vibrating and in flux.” 

 

In a rare interview since the death of his 15-year-old son, the singer reveals his struggle to write and reconnect with the world after the tragedy.

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You can buy artworks by Abbas Al Aboudi here. Abbas does original works or can replicate your favourite photo… Below is a bit about Aboudi’s life and where this image came from. I asked for a copy of this, an image previously painted, because living through these times I wanted to capture something by asylum seekers for asylum seekers that speaks in their own voice to their own experience of these times. Also, because something of the image speaks to my own journey of starting to write/find my voice.

Painting a lifeline

Turning to art in desperation, he has discovered a way of processing the trauma and depression that threatened to engulf him. Exhibiting daring colour sense, he creates works that are fresh and haunting. One picture shows Aboudi′s handcuffed hands holding a pencil and references the humiliation he experienced while still a resident of the camp.

An Australian refugee advocate had sent him some painting supplies. When he went to pick them up from the parcel delivery centre, the camp guards would not let him back in with them. His pleas falling on deaf ears, Aboudi was at least able to secrete his supplies in a hiding place outside the camp. Later a sympathetic guard helped him smuggle them in. Others depict the despair and hopelessness which is the daily bread of asylum seekers on Nauru. Most of the refugees, including Al Aboudi, can’t return to their countries of origin for fear of persecution and Australia doesn’t allow any refugees into the country who arrived by boat post-July 2013. For many, the future looks bleak.

A glimmer of hope

Al Aboudi, who recently celebrated his twenty-eighth birthday in austere conditions, cracks a shy smile. About a month ago, he was asked by the contracting company that runs the Nauru detention centre whether he would like to be resettled in the United States. Three hours of thorough vetting and several weeks later and still no word.

All Abbas Al Aboudi can do is paint and hope.

My Art is My Saviour, Qantara.de, March 2017

Demonstrators in Australia held paintings by Alaboudi in August this year [2016] during nationwide protests urging the government to end offshore detention of refugees.

Alaboudi was heartened by this use of his canvases, which depict the conditions faced by refugees, such as a child behind bars and a portrait of Omid Masoumali, an Iranian who burnt himself alive on Nauru in May.

The Madness is Eating Us Alive, South China Morning Post, Oct 2016

 

 

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Per my previous post, I delayed longer than I usually might to write this up because I’ve struggled to digest and know how to respond to all I heard… I still don’t really know how to respond I think I need to trust to that unfolding, and in the meantime, for whatever it’s worth, this is some of what was in my head and heart as I left the forum…

 

I walk away cognisant of all the ways I get to walk away… the river waters’ shimmer seems more beautiful, the air more sweet, the clouds and sky more open – I see and see again the freedom that I have like a fish coming to awareness of water and knowing it for what sustains me.  If freedom is like oxygen then we are suffocating these people.

We know. Australians know. The nurses know. The guards know. The psychiatrists know. The teachers know. The politicians know. The High Court knows. The UN knows… and the asylum seekers ask: how can they know but nothing has changed? 

 

risky journey in the deep water
carried lots of dream seeds with me
but now, dream seeds I have none

replaced my name with a number
please, please, call my name

risky journey in the deep water
save their life in the deep water
but killing them on arid land

replaced my name with a number
please, please, call my name

risky journey in the deep water

call us we are your neighbours
call us we are your friends
please, call us by our names

don’t want to leave our country
if we can but live free
please, call us by our names


 

“What can I do?” asks the nurse
“What can I do?” asks the doctor
“What can I do?” asks the teacher
First do no harm.

“What can I do second?” asks the nurse
“What can I do second?” asks the doctor
“What can I do second?” asks the teacher
Take a second.
What agency, what power, what strength do you have?
Use it.

Talitha Fraser

 

What can I do?

petition ~ direct contact ~ Refugee Action Collective ~ advocacy ~ financial support ~ actions – personal/political/liturgical ~ letter(s) to politicians ~ song ~
existing campaigns e.g. GetUp or LMAW ~ use your forums and voice e.g. blog

 

 

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April 2017 Refugee Action Collective Forum: [from left] Aziz from Manus (Skype), S. Ravi Nagaveeran (Nauru), Lucy Honan (Refugee Action Collective), Lynne Elworthy (Nurse)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Replaced my name with a number. Don’t want to leave our country if we can live free.  Men risk journey in the deep water.  Carried lots of dream seeds with me and now I have none. Last four days… no water and no food.  No life, no food and no hope.

We are not here to steal. We are not Captain Cook. Save their life in the water and killing them on the land. 29 April he died [friend set himself on fire]. Keep faith and don’t lose hope.  This morning I thought: “I want to kill myself.” I am nothing here.

Knock the back door, they didn’t break the door, they couldn’t find their way to the front door. We never wants to come to Australia only want to come free… to gets out of this hell… this human dumping ground.

I used my time writing, dreaming, giving good things… we are not your enemies. Call us – we are your neighbours, call us we are your friends, together we can make Australia great.

I still have to say my boat arrival number now. [not known by his name]

~Ravi


 

Activist – gives me a power, a strength, to have have that.

Australian Guantanamo Bay.
Name and codes that they are using are the same.
Now is the time for all Australians to know what is going on there.

Oct 2013: There was shooting, gates were open.
Staff who are paid to protect us ran away…
in this instance their job was to “take care of ourselves first”
We did not know if it was a drill, practice or something else.

April 2017: Someone from the local defense force, drunk, came to where
we were playing sport. We told him: “Go away”.
Two hours later there was firing at every angle on the centre.

We had enough suffering. We had enough human rights violations. Human beings like you but dehumanise you.  I don’t want much – shelter and some chance to live free.

Doors impregnable.  Only one option left: Risk life on the oceans…
survive = hero, drown = feed the fish. At least your soul is at peace.
Not heroes… criminals.
But if you look at the conditions for criminals in Australia
they are treated better than we are.
Our rights have been taken away.
My name has been taken away that my parents gave me. I’m am QNK002.

People need to know the truth.
We need people to write. Be one voice to fight for this policy.
We never forget. We very proud. We pray for you day and night to have the strength and the power for this policy to change.  For the day we can get our freedoms.

~ Aziz


 

[in response to Peter’s Duttons account of a child being brought into the Manus detention Centre]

One gate… another gatehouse… another gatehouse…
no one can go in that isn’t staff or a refugee.
“Walk of shame”

“What crime did I do to put me in jail for four years?”
Australia’s criminal system is for guilty people. Refugees have done nothing.  If an Australian prisoner is sick they get seen at a clinic > ambulance > hospital > ambulance > another hospital. On Manus – need a rubber stamp to get off Manus and it doesn’t come in time. Australian prisoners get visitors… see family.  On Manus no one comes unless working with refugees.

Built 2 new prisons on Manus. Spent billions to keep them on Manus. “Mum, if you want people to listen to you talk about the men on Manus you have to talk to their pockets.

No money, no papers, no place to go.
It’s a cage, a concrete cage.
No toilets, no water, no beds, no blankets.

Waste – serving no useful purpose. So much talent in there. COuld have worked, Australia could have something useful for the money they have spent. Really good sportsmen, rep Australia in weightlifting, Socceroos, cricket – this is the time they would be developing that talent that they’re wasting.

I knew it would be in the article but not that I’d be named. I wasn’t being brave I was just speaking what was in my heart.
{Aren’t you afraid of going to jail?}
My kids are growing up. I’m old enough. What difference does it make?

~ Lynne


 

IHMS left Manus? Still here. Three weeks ago, big problem, with no warning stopped working. Had problem with Health MInister of PNG – refused to renew contract. IHMS didn’t hand over all the files.  “What sort of medicine are you taking?”  We don’t know the names… nervous… I’m the patient… I don’t know.  Contract renewed for 3 months until the end of June – after that we don’t know, especially with medical files.  Could get ‘lost’ we don’t know. Not good health cover. System designed to hurt you mentally, physically… “Send a message… send you back…” mosquito bite like a ball (panadol and water), headaches (panadol and water), diarrhea (panadol and water), back ache (panadol and water)… we have these where we come from but we didn’t know it could fix everything! What we suffer from? Negligence. Like Faisal, every 3 days for 6 months I write for him. No trust, interpreter not interpreting everything.  Kicked out. “You’re not sick. Please stop coming here. Sick and tired of seeing your complaint coming every day”. Faisal asks community for help. [petition] …more than half the community signed. Taken to isolation. “If anything happens to me, take care of my kids. I’m going to that place. I don’t know what will happen there.” Two days later, heard he had passed away. IHMS designed to destroy us mentally and physically by the system.

~ Aziz


 

Magic panadol? Super water?
Let me know where to get that.

~ Ravi


 

No paper trail on the computer.
Nursing someone to get better to go back to Nauru – what role can the unions play?
Not sign discharge papers? Sent back 24-hours later.
Most unethical situation I have ever been in.
Told: “You’re  earning your money out of our blood.”
You would go there as a volunteer if you were allowed but you’re not.
You have to get paid to get in.

The Australian population doesn’t want to believe you’re telling the truth. Need doctors and nurses who have established trust to use their platform to advocate.

Despite everything these men are standing tall, standing straight.
Superhuman resiliency – respect to the men, past and present.

~Lynn

 

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JUDE KELLY

My grandmother did two things for me: let me use teatowels as costumes (we had no dress-up box) and encouraged my singing… she taught me that I was entitled to dreams and hopes and that those hopes and dreams were valid.

What have we done to make the
umbilical cord of history so thin?
[of voice/story]

We have a WOW because we want to celebrate what women are doing.
It starts with a “Think In” – what does WOW look like where you are?
They are a network of caring.  Two things you can say about women:
they are tired and they’re frightened.

When Somaliland’s First Lady wanted to
build a maternity hospital
the builders said they didn’t have time.
She answered: “Teach me to make a brick”.

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HANA ASSAFIRI

Social justice is not discretionary.

The future is ours to make.

Intersectionality is embodied in the margins.
Social context, empowerment, employment and education
are where social change meets intersectionality in a practical way.

Where we feel an intuitive connection
we have an intuitive intelligence. We need
to back ourselves on what we feel and what we know.

Communities are strengthened through diversity.

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MARIA KATSONIS

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live” – Joan Didion

I have to be authentic to who I am.

The nature of my ambition has changed.
I believe in the power of one to affect social change.

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TANIA CANAS

We are theory and theory is ours.
Arts, politics… theory is everyday life.

Education in Australia separated self and theory.  
Theory became externalised from the body.
It went from everywhere to nowhere.
Not ‘by us’ but ‘to us’. Not changing, but static.
Institution imposed a hierarchy of knowledge.
The indigenous people of Central America knew  astrology, geography, how to make chocolate.  They wrote in hieroglyphics and were writers, philosophers, theorists… there has been a genocide of knowledge = epistemicide.
They have colonised not just our bodies but our minds.

In my culture, cooking is at the centre of community.
With white feminism – I didn’t want to learn my mother’s cooking.
Now I am looking to bruja feminism, because the white feminism didn’t
acknowledge my ancestors, my mother or the role of hospitality as resistance – my mother cooked for the group that met at the house.

Not buried, didn’t die, not lost –
these ways of knowing are resistance.

It’s not known or recognised how strong women of colour are.
You will be marginalised: you need to ask:
will I notice, will I do something?

It’s hard. That’s why we need you to be there.

Research is embodied.  We write struggle.
When we theorise, we write with our bodies.
To write/use a theory, you need to embody it. Resist epistemicide.  
You write and exist in the in-between. Don’t lose yourself.