Archive for March, 2019


Paste up in Paraparaumu today

Stay Strong

in the bonds of love we meet

Kia Kaha Otautahi, Stay Strong Christchurch, is a recurring theme in the outpouring of grief and love happening in New Zealand in response to the attacks of 15 March 2019 at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre that killed 50 and injured 50 more.

In the Christian tradition this is the season of Lent, a time to remember Jesus’ 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. The word “Lent” comes from the old English, “lencten,” which means “spring.” What struggle takes place in this desert? What are the questions we wrestle with? What are the demons we wrestle with? What spring might arise in this desert?

The saying “Kia Kaha Christchurch” came into use after the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 that decimated the city centre and in which many lives were lost. It was used by committed friends and family to affirm and encourage each other in rebuilding their lives and their city. We say ‘stay strong’ because the people of Christchurch are not strangers to death or loss, nor resiliency.

We say ‘stay strong’ because members of our Muslim community and all people of colour face experiences of racism, hate speech, violence and vilification every day, those of Muslim faith are not strangers to death or loss, nor resiliency.

We say ‘stay strong’ calling everyone impacted into the best truth of ourselves and our beliefs because we all know that it is easier in these times to hate, and be angry, than to love. And we rise.

 

love beats fear melbourne vigil for christchurch

 

Rallies against racism, vigils and tributes of flowers outside mosques are happening across New Zealand and around the world. Faith leaders of different religions, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu, lead these gatherings in prayer in many different languages.

islamic council of victoria open day 2019 A mere two days after the shooting, the Islamic Council of Victoria go ahead with their annual mosque open day – opening their doors and sharing with guests their faith and culture. Opening their hearts to those grieving and with questions to which no one knows an answer, like: ‘Why did this happen?

Their own hearts must be sore and grieving, and their actions speak yet to welcome, hospitality and courage. Choosing this, is spring.

Australian social commentator Waleed Aly in a poignant statement shares that the gunman was greeted “Welcome, brother” upon arriving at the mosque, those within were gathered kneeling, in silent communal prayer. They would be facing Mecca and have their backs to the door, unaware of any danger. And they will do this next Friday, and the Friday after that, and every Friday.   Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, has announced that today’s Muslim call to prayer will be broadcast nationally on TV and radio and a two minute silence will be held as, nationally, we want to reclaim and hold that space as safe and sacred.  We say ‘stay strong’ but this doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own. We know we are stronger together.

Choosing this, is spring.

te aroha kiwis and muslim sing togetherIn the bonds of love we meet” (cover image) is a line from New Zealand’s national anthem and is on the banner I carry to a vigil. It is a signal to other New Zealanders where I am from and many give that head tilt of acknowledgement or stop to say “kia ora”.

The vigil leaders say from the front: “If you’re comfortable, hug or shake hands with the people nearest you” and, in this moment, in hugging one Muslim ,I feel I am hugging all Muslims; to hug one Kiwi, it feels I am hugging all Kiwis. Choosing this, is spring.

The vigil is over and people are drifting away to make their way home. A remnant of us gather to sing: people of different faiths, different cultures, speaking different languages. We sing for over an hour… Te Aroha (see image above for lyrics), the NZ national anthem in English and Maori,  John Lennon’s Imagine, and  Dave Dobbyn’s Welcome Home. (written in response to seeing anti-racism protests in Christchurch back in 2005). His words and melody are just as now poignant as they were then. What an extraordinary and beautiful thing to come of something so awful. Choosing this, is spring.

Meet in the bonds of love. Stay strong.

Choosing this, is spring.

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Images and moments from the Christchurch vigil in Melbourne hosted by the Islamic Council of Victoria at the State Library…    #chooselovenothate

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and other religious leaders led those gathered in prayer.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

K and I meet early in the vigil when she invites me to stand with her family.

K: I think New Zealanders are taking it harder actually. Muslims… we’re used to it. When I first heard, I assumed it was Muslims against Muslims. I guess we’re desensitized maybe. Things like this happen to Muslims all the time.

T: But how awful… that this should happen so often that you could become desensitized to it. Things like this rarely happen in NZ.

K: For us, they are all martyrs.

T: Is it an honour, to die this way?

K: No… It is still a pain. It means a lot that New Zealanders feel that with us… are you from Christchurch?

T: No, Wellington. But I still feel it. What you need to understand about us is that once you’ve welcomed someone onto the marae, they’re not a guest anymore – they’re family.  I don’t need to have ever met them. This week all New Zealanders grieve because we have lost members of our family.

…we hug, and stand together through the vigil.

They say from the front, if you’re comfortable, hug or shake hands with the people nearest you, and in this moment: all Muslims are hugged, all Kiwis are hugged. I hope you feel that.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowerschristchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

A group of us sing – Muslims and Kiwis together… Te aroha, the national anthem in English and Maori “…in the bonds of love we meet“, Dave Dobbyn’s Welcome Home and John Lennon’s Imagine… what an extraordinary and beautiful thing to come of something so awful.

christchurch vigil ICV islamic council of victoria state library pray sing interfaith photos of the christchurch vigil candles flowers

Tutira mai nga iwi, (Line up together, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Tutira mai nga iwi, (Stand in rows, people)
tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)
Whai-a te marama-tanga, (Seek after knowledge)
me te aroha – e nga iwi! (And love of others – everybody!)
Ki-a tapatahi, (Be really virtuous)
Ki-a ko-tahi ra (And stay united)
Tatou tatou e (All of us, all of us)

 

Artwork by Rowena Fry

This is your home and you should have been safe here

by Wellington artist Ruby Jones

Third Helpings

Sometimes community is a few households sharing life together. This brownie recipe feels symbolic of that as the plate I regularly bring to share at special occasions – birthdays, Christmas, dedications… double it and give some away… x

Radical Discipleship

talitha3By Talitha Fraser

We live in times where the focus is on those things that divide rather than connect us but as Chappo (Peter Chapman) says “You should share communion together, it has a unique power to unite beyond words.

Sometimes community is a few households sharing life together. This brownie recipe feels symbolic of that as the plate I regularly bring to share at special occasions – birthdays, Christmas, dedications… When I was interning with Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (BCM) in 2012, my community back in Melbourne sent me their smiling, summer faces into my crisply cold California day so that I might feel ‘at the table’.  I made brownies for the Institute that year and we started up an Institute cookbook and I like to think they’re still being made.  Taking our recipes with us means we can feel at home wherever we are and share that…

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“To whoever sees this…”

Someone called Grace has been leaving notes on a lamp post I walk past. And I came to wonder whether there is a person called ‘Grace’ or whether the grace is the space being offered, a gentle invitation to live into all you have it in you to be…

What grace-space would you invite others into? What counsel, what love letter would you leave on a lamp post?