Tag Archive: wisdom

Maribyrnong river footscray

The Maribyrnong river in Footscray on the lands of Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung and the Bunurong peoples of the Kulin Nation


Read the following items offering an indigenous lens on relating to country applied to the COVID-19 lockdown. How can other ways of knowing and wisdom of elders, inform how we might live out our own discipleship or radical discipleship within community during these times?

‘Aboriginal people talk about Country in the same way that they would talk about a person: they speak to Country, sing to Country, visit Country, worry about Country, feel sorry for Country, and long for Country. People say that Country knows, hears, smells, takes notice, takes care, is sorry or happy… Country is a living entity with a yesterday, today and tomorrow, with a consciousness and a will toward life’.

Deborah Bird Rose ‘(08) Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature


A poem by Ngāti Hine/Ngāpuhi writer Nadine Anne Hura

Rest now, e Papatūānuku
Breathe easy and settle
Right here where you are
We’ll not move upon you
For awhile
We’ll stop, we’ll cease
We’ll slow down and stay home
Draw each other close and be kind
Kinder than we’ve ever been.
I wish we could say we were doing it for you
               as much as ourselves
But hei aha
We’re doing it anyway
It’s right. It’s time.
Time to return
Time to remember
Time to listen and forgive
Time to withhold judgement
Time to cry
Time to think
               About others

Remove our shoes
Press hands to soil
Sift grains between fingers
               🍃 Gentle palms
Time to plant
Time to wait
Time to notice
To whom we belong
For now it’s just you
And the wind
And the forests and the oceans and the sky full of rain
Finally, it’s raining!
Ka turuturu te wai kamo o Rangi ki runga i a koe
                   (may the tears of Ranginui rain down on you)
Embrace it
This sacrifice of solitude we have carved out for you
He iti noaiho – a small offering
People always said it wasn’t possible
To ground flights and stay home and stop our habits of consumption
But it was
It always was.
We were just afraid of how much it was going to hurt
– and it IS hurting and it will hurt and continue to hurt
But not as much as you have been hurt.
So be still now
Wrap your hills around our absence
Loosen the concrete belt cinched tight at your waist
Heal –
And we will do the same.

rāhui –  is a term that has been used by some in NZ to apply in lieu of terms such as  ‘lockdown’ or ‘shutdown’ or ‘isolation’

https://maoridictionary.co.nz/word/6420 (verb) to put in place a temporary ritual prohibition, closed season, ban, reserve – traditionally a rāhui was placed on an area, resource or stretch of water as a conservation measure or as a means of social and political control for a variety of reasons which can be grouped into three main categories: pollution by tapu, conservation and politics…

So if a water source has been compromised it might be indicated as a rāhui being in place until it is cleansed, or if hunting has been done in an area, it might be rāhui so that it’s not hunted two seasons in a row which might impact the wildlife population numbers. By referring to lockdown as rāhui, a different intention can be applied to this time – concepts of sacredness and healing are evoked.

On the Ancestors Singing Facebook page they’ve been having Friday night fireside chats and a couple of weeks ago Aunty Judy spoke to COVID and learned wisdom about strength and resilience:

  • We care about family, take care of our kids and our elders
  • Go back/connect to a place where your strength is
  • Place your feet on the ground/draw strength from the land
  • Check in with your body, what is it telling you?
  • Grief, resilience, strength… we know something about that. Especially want to acknowledge the loss being triggered if you have kids you can’t see or grandparents you can’t see because you’ve been separated from your family before
  • It’s not the work of people that heals, it’s the land. As soon as you can, however you can, connect with the land.
  • Diploma of Community Recovery…working on developing this qualification.

gum leaves

What arises for your community with these readings?  How does this lens align or affirm  or differ from our thinking/experience of lockdown?

How might using a word like rāhui with implications for healing and sacred time change the way we feel about ‘lockdown’?

I’ve seen lots of people making bread, planting food, crocheting… from kombucha scobies to sourdough starters  – is this to control/participate in food systems? how we would like to spend our time if we always had more?  A return to ‘old’ ways? What “powers” are interrupted by those choices?

What new things (if any) are people doing? What is honoured/kept by those rhythms? Are there new practices that we’ve started during lockdown that we want to keep? 

Does the list from Aunty Judy make you want to try something else to heal?


Further reading if you’re interested:

Nourishing Terrains: Australian Aboriginal views of Landscape and Wilderness by Deborah Rose

tree with overarching branches

You are God’s servants, gifted with her Wisdom and visions
Upon you rests the grace of God like a woven cloak
Love and serve the Divine in the strength of the Spirit.
May the deep peace of God take root in you, the open arms of Christa sustain you and the eucharistic power of the Holy Spirit transform you in every way.

A feminist reworking of the Urban Seed/Credo/Seeds benediction for the Australian Collaborators in Feminist Theologies planning day.

by Talitha Fraser with Kaumatua Gregg Morris
[this piece first appeared on Radical Discipleship‘s website 17/02/2017]

Allow me to invite you to join in for a game of kilikiti, to sing and dance with us, to walkabout…  sit here at the campfire and I will tell you story…

Coranderrk was one of several Aboriginal missions set up in Victoria .  Wurundjeri leaders William Barak and Simon Wonga advocated for Aboriginal people to live in their own place, their own way. Many times to petition the Victorian Government Barak and Wonga would gather a delegation together, speak to motivate and inspire them, then they would walk together the 60 miles (12 hours) to deliver the message: “Please leave us alone, give us our land back, don’t take it away again”. Leaders of one people to another, approaching as equal and in person.

The Mau was a passive resistance movement seeking Samoan Independence.  When hundreds of members were arrested, hundreds more turned themselves in until all were released because there were more than the system could contain.  People stopped paying taxes and gave the money to the Mau. All local Councils and committees stopped meeting, children stopped turning up to Government run schools which were forced to close, instead of working in the plantations to harvest bananas and coconuts the women would play kilikiti all day.

Communities at Ratana, Hiruhārama, and Parihaka in New Zealand saw a farm converted to a township as taking people was more urgent than the harvest; a poet-led commune of Maori and Pakeha living together; an invading army greeted on the marae with songs, food, and children holding white feathers of peace running counter to the cultural tradition of utu.

All of these expressions of non-violent resistance share elements in common:

  • they were born out of an intention to create safe space – refuge for the dispossessed. Any political activism or engagement brought about was a by-product, not an intention, of what these places existed to protect.
  • they were led by or held in close relationship with indigenous peoples of the land.
  • there was, be it tendril or tap root, a connection to and influence of Christian belief.

Having people elected over you who are imposing laws and structures that are not aligned with what we know about how to live in harmony with each other and with the land is not a new idea.  Romans 12:20 says: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”  How may we engage a world that is broken, challenging what comes our way – to change it or be unchanged by it – preserving our peace and not be overcome?

As High Chief and leader of the Mau, Tupua Tamasese Leolofi III, lay dying his last words were, “My blood has been spilt for Samoa. I am proud to give it. Do not dream of avenging it, as it was spilt in peace. If I die, peace must be maintained at any price.”  The message of  Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi, leaders of Parihaka: “Just as night is the bringer of day, so too is death and struggle the bringer of life.”

We need to tend to the sovereignty of our own belief in what is right, to the inspiration of ideals bigger and beyond ourselves, to seek the Spirit and be led thereby to feel and act. Who do you look to, to define who you are? Come, sit here at the campfire and tell me a story…


Over a series of weeks we will dip into a breadth of creative activities, drawing from a variety of resources, that invite us into a space where we encounter God and reflect on our Christian life and praxis. To give a loose sense of connection across the series we’ll frame them with an Opening, close with a Benediction and include a time of prayer each week.  We recognise everyone as spiritual beings and welcome people of all faiths and none.  We encourage you to bring a journal or blank notebook if you have one.


The activity this week is taken from:

The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom

This book by Christine Valters Paintner draws on The Rule of St. Benedict summarised in the phrase “pray and work,” it explores the mutually nourishing relationship between contemplative practices and creative expression.

We did the Wisdom cards activity together.

For those playing at home you will need:

  • 3 x sheets A5 watercolour paper (for each person)
  • Invisible tape
  • Watercolours
  • Paintbrushes
  • Pens to write
  • Magazines to cut up words and images
  • Glue sticks

The first thing we do is prayerfully consider a question we might ask our inner child (what do you visualise when you hear the words “inner child”?) –  write this question on the back of one of your A5 sheets of paper. You can decide for yourself if you want your canvass landscape or potrait!

[Tip: This is not a magic 8 ball.  You will get a lot more out of this exercise if you ask BIG open-ended, existential type questions like “Who am I?” and “What is the meaning of all of this?” over small questions like “Should I buy tickets for the Mumford and Sons concert?”]

Next, our inner Wise One (what do you visualise when your hear the words “inner Wise One” or monk?)  – write this question on the back of another of your sheets of A5 paper.

And thirdly, a question we might ask them both together.

Turn these so they are blank side up and shuffle them around so you aren’t sure which question is on which card.  Now tape them down to the table, blank side up, with the invisible tape.  This stops the paper moving around while you’re painting and gives your work a clean border when you peel it off later.

If you’re resource sharing, at this point some might paint while others cut up magazines.  It doesn’t matter what order you do this in.  Flick through some magazines and cut out anything that jumps out at you. Words, phrases, images… anything that captures your attention or seems to speak to you.  Once you have a decent pile in front of you switch to painting and colour as you feel.  Some will instinctively feel bright and light, or dark; be highly detailed or minimal splashes of colour – there is no right or wrong way to do this. Go with your gut.

Now collage. Drawing from your pile – try this image with that phrase – does it fit with this one of your cards or that one?  You might need to go back to the magazines, you might find you only use 10 of the 40 things you cut out. It doesn’t matter.  Your cards will kind of speak to you, when the right words and images are assembled you will hear them and know that the card is “finished” and you can glue everything down in place.

Now you can gently peel away the invisible tape and see which question is written on the back of which card. Consider what synergy there is between our questions and these creative answers, the premise being we can often know answers to our own questions but we have to sneak up on ourselves to figure it out. Write these reflections in your journal.

Find somewhere to prop your  cards for a week where they can be a visual cue.  In a week, sit with your notebook again and see if there is any further learning/awareness to be drawn from your wisdom cards.



I will tell you something about stories
[he said]
They aren’t just entertainment
Don’t be fooled.
They are all we have you see.
All we have to fight off illness and death.

You don’t have anything if
you don’t have stories.
Their evil is mighty
but it can’t stand up to our stories.
So they try to destroy the stories.
Let the stories be confused or forgotten.
They would like that…
Because we would be defenceless then…

Leslie Marmon Silco – Ceremony

Stories are all we have – the hermeneutic approach of the Bartimaeus Institute.

Native Americans make storytelling dolls out of pottery – collecting the clay is a spiritual and mindful process, native plants and minerals are used for the colours and designs, shaped and smoothed by hand, sanded, slip coats applied and then hand polished – a lengthy and involved process.  These beautiful artworks generally depict an elder with children in their lap,  honouring the oral tradition of the culture, validating the importance of each persons voice in family/community and the importance of the role of storytellers in society for keeping awareness alive.

MLK once said: the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.  That is to say that we need to draw on the wisdom of tradition, history and our elders to better understand ourselves and the world in which we live.

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God.  It is the Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made God known (Greek: exegesato) – Jesus ‘decodes’ gives meaning to God.

Luke 10:25-30, 36f
A) What must I do to inherit eternal life?
B) What’s written in the Torah? How do you read it?
C) Love the Lord your God
D) Given right answer. Do this.
E) Who is my nieghbour?
F) Who was neighbour to the robbed man?
G) One who showed mercy.
H) Go and do it.

3 disciplines of interpretation: what stands? how do we read it? what do we do with it?

Who around you has stories you could be learning from?  Are you making space to hear them?
If you live a life trying to be like Jesus, what are the ways in which your life points to or gives meaning to God?
What ways does what you read influence/affect praxis in your life?

We need wisdom that is older, wider, deeper than we are – sacred stories provide that.  Listening to the old stories needs to be central to any expression of faith that is related to transformation. We need to have a practise of returning to the well of imagination.