Tag Archive: theological animation


Dr Alana Harris Kings college gender equity in academia

The Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 “to encourage and recognise the commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research” In 2015 the scheme was extended to arts, humanities, social science, business and law (AHSSBL) subjects. Dr Alana Harris and Professor Abigail Woods participated in the bronze accreditation being rolled out at King’s College, London but also headed the project to analyse and assess across an audit of the framework which institutional contexts, working practices and interventions are most conducive to advancing gender equality…  for more information read the report or play a round of Gender Equity Snakes and Ladders.

  • When we looked at lecturing staff the gender ratio of men to women was 60:40 but when you look at professorial level that ratio shifts to 80:20. At the age you might be offered that seniority, women are often caring either for children and/or aging parents.
  • Doing a staff survey in real time gave everyone a voice and ensured they felt heard. Respondents replied more honestly. When you are sitting in a room with your colleagues and x indicate they “don’t feel they are consulted or able to contribute to decision making”, you feel that in the room and its powerful.
  • In an assessment of staff shared working space…  70% of women were sharing and only 7% of men.
  • If you are to apply for the Athena SWAN Bronze Award that work needs to be resourced. Attainment of the first level takes 5 years. It’s a commitment to a process.
  • A cultural shift is not just about women joining in more to existing structures. Change happens with longevity and legacy.  In staff meetings we use a collaborative process of decision making.  This has been habituated into virtue and staff would revolt now if someone tried to take it away.

Is there anything feminist about the framing of this model?

It looks different on the ground everywhere its been applied.  Sometimes women are empowered to lead it and sometimes men encouraged to so it’s not seen as just “a women’s thing”.  When you start looking at systems and structures for parity you very quickly see beyond gender and that informs the process. Eg  in auditing assigned reading lists, how many readings are by women? You can’t help but also ask, how many by people of colour? Creating assessment tools for LGBTIQ inclusion and religious diversity will be next.

 

Anything you would suggest for consideration by the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies at the University of Divinity?

You are named in the Strategic Plan “To be a centre of excellence in feminist theological scholarship and in mentoring academics so as to challenge and transform patriarchal structures and assumptions in the academy, church, and wider world.”  You need to have impact beyond being UD strategic aim 3.  What impact into other areas of work, institution and structure can be implemented?

Hold events during the day, not evenings. Our event are not held in a pub, moving away from the ‘old boy club’ feel. We host an academics book party once a year at 3pm in the afternoon and cross-read our texts eg. modern history lecturer trades their book with the medieval history teacher.

It seems senior male academics support younger counterparts but senior women don’t? External support scaffolding, if it’s not available within the institution, can be really useful. Ref. Facebook group: ‘Women in Academia Support Network’ or Australian Collaborators page.

What are the vision and mission statements of the UD?  These set the culture of the institution and its frameworks – if these have inclusive language then then culture will be inclusive and staff attracted to that culture be drawn to work for that organisation.  If your work sits outside the scope of these statements you may not be fighting only students to accept new ideas and thinking but other staff.

What do you do with the resistant remnant?

Isolate them. Move them to one side where they can do the least harm. If they’re not able to support or participate in change their means to prevent it needs to be minimised.

You’ll always get people who will say: “There aren’t women to cite. They aren’t there”, if you were taught to a reading list that was all male, the conference speakers you here are male, the professors you look up to are male… we need to be able to interrogate our own networks of influence.

Activist fatigue is real.  You need allianceships. Rather than being  one strident voice… ask someone else to raise it in a meeting and lend your voice to theirs. Need mix gender mentoring and people who will back you up in meetings… and at conferences introduce you to the right people.

If you are looking for increased balance in curriculum and representation… crowd source knowledge from within the network. Aim for 25% female.

Questions to ponder:

  • Would the UD undertake an audit of its course set reading lists? Or undertake the Athena SWAN Bronze accreditation?
  • What does ‘external support scaffolding’ look like? Can/should we provide it?
  • What are the precedents? eg. getting a researcher when you come back from mat leave. Case study for part time work…If something’s offered at another like University/College/ department, you might be able to use that as leverage at yours.
  • In what ways can the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies stimulate and promote momentum in the areas of feminist and minority voices at the UD?
  • What are the vision and mission statements of the UD?

Our Vision

Together we empower our learning community to address the issues of the contemporary world through critical engagement with Christian theological traditions.

Our Mission

We fulfil our vision through:

  • excellence in learning, teaching, and research;
  • growth of our resources and capacity; and
  • engagement with the churches and community in Australia and internationally.

Vision, Mission, Strategy

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A take home message of any indigenous event such as ‘Land and Place: Indigenous Perspectives in the Era of Displacement‘ these days is that non-indigenous people need to do their own homework and help to educate their mob but it can be hard for individuals or churches to know where to start.  This is a synthesis of some suggestions that arose from the NAIITS launch sessions and yarning circles and some other resources that I’ve found useful along the way that resonated with what I was hearing…

  • Do undergrad or postgrad study in indigenous theology with indigenous teachers through Whitley at the University of Divinity!
  • Visit collections and exhibitions in national galleries and museums – like a First Peoples tour of the Bunjilaka Cultural Centre at the Melbourne Museum, a guided walking tour of Melbourne CBD through the Koori Heritage Trust, or visit Narana.
  • Folks go on pilgrimages such as the walking the Camino de Santiago, or Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem… what if we connected with the Creator Spirit right here in this place? Visit Uluru, an intentional community like Campfire in the Heart,  or just go camping in an area of native bush near you and experience the land around you… if you’re not sure where to go (ask permission and) join the mob sitting in at the Djab Wurrung Embassy protecting 800-year old birthing trees from a motorway extension that’ll save drivers merely 3 minutes.
  • Connect with the mob at Indigenous Hospitality House (IHH). The Indigenous Hospitality House is a Settler (non-Indigenous) household on Wurundjeri country in Melbourne, Australia. The residents open their home to provide short-term accommodation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who need to come to Melbourne for hospital business. They also make space for others to rethink their Settler identity and discipleship journey in light of Australia’s colonial history – they run bible study series, host regular Learning Circles,  and have published a book called Tales from the Table on their reflections and learnings from 15 years of hosting guests.
  • Explore and practice different rhythms of ritual and liturgy such as those of the Wilderness Way Community – put phones down to leave chronos time behind, take off shoes to connect with the earth, everyone is outside so you are hearing the Bible stories orally and acting them out. There are no mikes or screens or songsheets – a lot of the songs therefore are call and response or echo format…
    Everything I need is right in front of me (x2)
    Can we be manna, manna?
    Can we be manna for each other? (x2)
    See more suggestions for meditating in your watershed here.
  • Integrate daily, monthly, annual rhythms – in what you read, watch, who you follow on Facebook or on Instagram, what you do and where you go. Commit to knowing more than you did yesterday or last year. Learn significant dates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Australians and find ways to acknowledge and observe them as an individual, a family, a community, a church… as a nation. You will find art and activism, celebrations and song.

Just like Aunty Rev Patricia Courtenay said: ‘Know the past, change the future’

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

 

 

rubem Alves spiritual reading group Carmelite centre for spirituality middle park theopoetics

Was Rubem Alves a poet, psychoanalyst, theologian, or philosopher? Yes.

Somewhere beyond tidy definition and cataloguing “The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet” is an invitation to visit a place that you’ve been before but forgotten you knew.

In the same way the Eucharist is a poetic ritual of anthropophagy Rubem asks us to take in his words and be changed by them.

Gleanings shared with the Spiritual Reading Group at the Carmelite Centre, Middle Park –  19 June 2018.

 

In his article “An Anthropophagous Ritual, “ Rubem Alves wrote:

Anthropophagy is the eating of human flesh – cannibalism, something savage. But so-called savages don’t think so. A tribe of Brazilian Indians who practices anthropophagy justified it thus:  “You who call yourselves civilised don’t love your dead.  You made deep holes and bury them to be eaten by worms. We, on the other hand, love our dead. We don’t want them to be dead.  But they are dead! There is only one way to keep them alive: if we eat them. If we eat them, their flesh and blood continue to live on in our own bodies. 

Anthropophagy isn’t done for nutritional reasons. It isn’t a barbecue. It’s a magical ceremony.  It is believed that, by eating the dead, their virtues are incorporated into those who eat them. Psychoanalysts agree. They believe that our personality is formed by successive anthropophagus meals at which we devour a piece of one person, a piece of another… the Eucharist is a poetic ritual of anthropophagy: “This bread is my body; eat of it. This wine is my blood: drink of it.”

…that is what I wish. To be eaten.

 

rubem Alves theopoetics the poet, the warrior, the prophetRubem Alves died on the of 19 July 2014, aged 80 – almost exactly 4 years ago – this material we’re about to read was originally delivered at the 1990 Edward Cadbury Lectures in the University of Birmingham, segments of 8 talks given over two weeks and our invitation today is to read Alves work and take him in. Rubem Alves had a pretty extraordinary view of life and way of expressing that descriptively to others.

alves spider 1Alves spider 2

Although Stanley Hopper and David Miller are credited with coining the term theopoetics, and  Amos Wilder’s “Theopoetics: Theology and the Religious Imagination” is considered the seminal text of the field, Rubem Alves’ writing takes credit as a premium model of the style – combining theology and poetry.

Theopoetics is an interdisciplinary field of study that combines elements of narrative theology, poetic analysis, process theologyand postmodern philosophy.

Amos Wilder says: “Old words do not reach across the new gulfs, and it is only in vision and oracle that we can chart the unknown and new-name the creatures. Before the message there must be the vision, before the sermon, the hymn, before the prose, the poem.” Rubem calls us into an encounter of the Mystery of the Divine saying:

it’s not science that can explain this,
but our lived embodied experiences
.”

 

alves dead man 1Alves Dead Man 2Alves dead man 3

Rubem Alves was a forerunner of the liberation theology movement and key to the transformation of Christian social ethics in light of this thinking.  He was a writer, a psychoanalyst, a theologian, an educator, a storyteller, a poet…During his career, Alves collaborated with notable personalities such as Peter MaurinDorothy Day, and Paulo Freire. He was widely read and frequently included art and quotes from the work of others in confluence with his own including writers such as Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Tolstoi, e.e.cummings, Bonhoffer, and Sigmund Freud among others – 74 different references in these lectures alone… you gain from this a sense of a man who is listening to the world and taking it in. These lectures perhaps the map of some of Alves’ anthopophagus meals.  Alves was a prolific writer contributing over 100 books, some of these translated into six different languages, children’s books (“Happy Oysters Don’t Make Pearls”) and many articles on education, philosophy and religion.

alves prayer 1Alves prayer 2

Rubem Alves was born in a small rural town, Boa Esperança, Minas Gerais, of Brazil in1933. His father was once rich but went broke during the depression and his family had to move to Rio de Janeiro where he was seen as a “hick” from the country.  This crisis was also what led his family to the church as, unable to afford to send the children to school, the family accepted assistance from Presbyterian missionaries to get their children an education.  After high school Alves studied theology, doing outreach to factory workers, then returning to his home state to serve as a pastor amongst simple and poor people (1957).  His religion was practiced and interpreted from the perspective of the poor.  Less about sin, and more about love and freedom, Alves saw religion as a means to improve the world of the living rather than guaranteeing something to people once they’re dead.  Much of what resonates in his writing is the way he takes ordinary human things and makes them sacred. The honesty with which he does this, asks listeners to consider the truth of themselves and invites them to know that as wholeness.  He writes about bodies, love, death, food, communion – universal themes…  and he writes beautifully… believing:

“…the goal of our struggle for justice and all political struggles is for the world to be more beautiful.  Poverty is horrid, it’s ugly. Poverty is death, death of children, suffering. These are terrible things! They must end!”

In 1959, he married Lídia Nopper and they had three children together — Sergio, Marcos, and Raquel.   Through the 1960s, Alves alternated between service as a Presbyterian parish pastor and study as a graduate researcher in theology. Alves went to New York to do his Masters but flew back to Brazil following the US-supported military coup of 1964. The Presbyterian Church of Brazil chose six intellectuals as scapegoats and offered these names to the new military dictatorship to avert persecution themselves.  Immediately upon his return to Brazil, rather than being reunited with his wife and children, Alves had to go into hiding. With assistance from Brazilian Freemasons and the Presbyterian Church in the United Stateshe returned to the US covertly 8 weeks later and secured an invitation from Princeton Theological Seminary  to commence doctoral studies there – where he hated it – he was not allowed to write using similes or poetry and thought this writing his ugliest. Alves received the lowest possible grade that was still a pass for his PhD. ( A Theology of Human Hope. Washington: Corpus Books. Revised version of his doctorate thesis, originally titled Towards a Theology of Liberation.) Of this academic theological approach Alves commented:

“Theology is not a net that is woven in order to capture God in its meshes,
for God is not a fish but Wind that no one can hold.  

Theology is a net which we weave for ourselves so that
we may stretch out our body in it”

 

Alves babettes Feast 1Alves Babette's feast 2

When he eventually returned to Brazil in 1974, Rubem became a University Professor.  Having been expelled by the denomination he belonged to, Rubem (along with other communities and pastors) had a painful period of isolation and dispersion until 1978, when together they founded the National Federation of Presbyterian Churches which, from 1983 on was named the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPU). Rubem made significant contribution to the founding documents of this new church and it was said of this work by The Rev. Sonia Gomes Mota: “He was not interested in giving us moral lessons or transmitting the absolute and indisputable truth. As a good theologian, philosopher and educator, he was more interested in making us think, reflect and question the immutable truths of theology and urged us to envision new possibilities and new ways of living our faith. Rubem led us to deserts and invited us to be gardeners and planters of hope.”

Born in a context of political and social oppression,preaching and teaching of God’s word as well as social programmes such as nurseries, sewing workshops, health centres, psychological services, and literacy courses are just a few examples of the integrated activities developed by these new church communities. They were the first Presbyterian church in Brazil to ordain women.

Alves once remarked,

“Prophets are not visionaries who announce a future that is coming. Prophets are poets who design a future that may happen. Poets suggest a way.”

Rubem Alves would go on to add psychotherapy to his portfolio and establish his own clinic. In later life, although he maintained a pastoral and prophetic touch with the people he encountered, Rubem’s association with institutional religion became more detached as he came to believe that space, that curiosity, that out of the “nothing” offered by poetry, more good could come than of liberation theology.

Alves unlearning

re-membered holy and whole body identity

I don’t much like looking in mirrors. I find them critical, unkind and discomforting because the image there seems to confront me with all the things I am not: skinny enough, beautiful enough, skin imperfection-free, hair-free… the world tells me in a myriad of ways this is my truth. In fact, the capitalist economy relies on me believing this. The reflection I see seems so distorted – how am I to know myself as holy and whole? I’m not called to a deficit existence but one of abundance.  Made by God and belonging to God. Cheryl Lawrie’s beautiful poem invites us to remember and re-member ourselves through the power of raw grace.

We are each of us made in the image of God.  God knitted us together and we are made as we were intended to be.  A special mention here to those LGBTIQ+ identifying whose personhood has experienced base-abnegation by the church, particularly throughout the recent plebiscite debacle.  I would pray for your wounds but its really not you I think are broken. Please don’t ever doubt that you are wanted and loved.

In his book, Our God Is Undocumented, Ched Myers  tells us to share communion in order to “Remember what has been dismembered. (p.200)  Whenever you ingest this memory, said Jesus on the eve of his execution, you join yourselves to our historic struggle to make the broken body whole.  It was, and is, both invitation and imperative, equally personal and political.  If we refuse to heed it, we are doomed to drift forever on or be drowned by the tides of empire, refugees all.”

I don’t go to church or and belong to a community, in this way I am perhaps a refugee, but I enjoy regularly observing the ritual of communion by myself at home, 1) because I believe absolutely in this invitation to wholeness – for myself and others and 2) I frequently garnish my communion with cheese. I f**ken love cheese.

As with most queries for which I have no answer, I try and pray my way through and that went a little something like this…

As I reflected on my culturally and societally-imposed, as-is, identity I found myself focusing on those imperfections  – the scars, the stains, the marks… it felt powerful to name those things that sit at the centre – fear, longing, doubt, insecurity, hunger, desire, hope… I juxtaposed this with some bible text to explore how it might reframe some of that thinking and was pleasantly surprised by the strength of the invitation to raw grace. I remember and am re-membered.

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I’ve had a bit of a go at packaging this up as a DIY reflection activity… get in touch if you want to be a guinea-pig. The beauty of the invitation to the communion table is not being limited to a plus-one.

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Let me leave you with a psalm by New Zealand author Joy Cowley by way of benediction:

Seeing

Dear God,
I need to see myself
as you see me.
My own vision is fragmented.
I try to divide up my life
and reject those parts of me
I consider to be weak.
I waste time and energy
in the battle of self against self
and Lord, I always end up the loser.

Dear God,
help me to see myself
as you see me.
I forget that you made me just as I am
and that you delight in your creation.
You do not ask me to be strong;
you simply ask me to be yours.
You do not expect me to reject my weakness,
merely to surrender it to your healing touch.

Dear God,
when I can see myself
as you see me,
then I will understand
that this frail, tender, fearful, aching, singing
half-empty, shining, shadowed person
is a whole being made especially by you
for your love.

Joy Cowley
 
 
Amen.

I’m just doing me

woman in veil bathed in light

Joined with the eternal transcendent
Love forms one with our body.
The humble praxis of my body
saves a seat at the table for You.

I’m just doing me

In wilderness and desert we will make a home
and grow the land of promise where
milk and honey flow.

I’m just doing me

Words of my mouth naming and knowing
because there is one Word, one Body, one Liturgy
for our longing, our life, our love.

I’m just doing me

The Word is being made flesh now
being filled with Divine Breath now and
living that out. Standing here,
with the Other in their otherness,
solidarity affirms life – of others and myself –
thanks to You.

I’m just doing me

Sojourner Truth calls out:
“Ain’t I a Woman?”, “Ain’t I a Woman?”
and the women answer: “YES!”
I am the Other.

I’m just doing me

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the garden or
renovating that old house but that you have that
indoor/outdoor flow calling you to contribute your
best self, calling you to contribute, calling you too…
and you shrug, …whatever

I’m just doing me

Sometimes I wish my eyes hadn’t been opened
But my heart says ‘yes’ and my feet say ‘go’.
In veiled resistance I make you question what
You think you see, what you think you know about me.
My weapon my very invisibility.
I will not conform to your norms or your gaze.
Angels fell and still…

I’m just doing me

Faithful women stand and say:
I have not lost my voice today.

I’m just doing me

 

Talitha Fraser


A poet-in-residence reflection on some highlights from the Saturday workshop sessions at the “With All Due Respect” conference.