Tag Archive: belonging


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Trigger warning for suicide. If you’re feeling down, please reach out to friends, family or support agencies like Beyond Blue, Lifeline: 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467, Kids Helpline (for young people aged 5 to 25 years): 1800 55 1800.

 

There was a suicide in my sphere recently. Not someone I knew but it impacted lots of people that I know and in the aftermath we talked, trying to make sense of it. It’s not something easy to make sense of. We tried to find out details, as you do – who/why/when – and learned for a variety of reasons that further information wouldn’t be forthcoming, people worry that a suicide might lead to more suicides. I hear that but at the same time, I wonder: if we don’t talk about it, if we don’t know it’s happening, how do you prevent it? This person, whose name we don’t know, who we don’t know anything about – we have shed tears for them, we want to acknowledge their life and their family, want time back to tell them they were loved because we know the surety of that whatever else we do not know. Now that I am conscious of my not knowing, I look it up. More than 8 people a day in Australia, one every three hours… more than from cancer (ABS, 2015). I don’t know that we really begin to understand how the comings and goings of people in our lives matters deeply.  My coming and going matters, your coming and going in my life matters whatever context of work, of community, of relationship… A life lived shorter than it might be is always tragic.  I felt a grief inside me that didn’t feel appropriate to show, didn’t feel appropriate to share – it wasn’t supposed to belong to me because this person didn’t belong to me except that we all belong to one another.  So I asked myself: Where is appropriate to show grief? And took myself on an excursion to the local cemetery (as you do). The following poem is made up of words entirely taken from words written on people’s headstones. It  isn’t intended to be some macabre or nihilistic exercise… but the opposite. What words of comfort or solace could we have said if there’d be time? What message of love? Read them and be comforted, be solaced, be loved now. Hear them deep in your soul, take them in and let them nourish you.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will know the essence of life.

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Peace, perfect peace,
let your song be delicate,
the flowers can hear.
In God’s care.

In the midst of life we are in death.
Let not your heart be troubled
neither let it be afraid.
In God’s care,
not here but risen,
Love’s Tribute.

Always loved, always in our hearts.
Sadly missed.
Behind all shadows standeth God.
Some time, some day, we’ll understand.

So deeply loved, so deeply mourned,
till we meet again, at rest,
in heavenly love abiding.

Abide with me: fast falls the eventide
the darkness deepens, Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Thy will be done always in our hearts.
Loved and remembered.

Resting.
All losses are restored and sorrows end
in God’s care.
Those we love don’t go away
they walk beside us every day
To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.

 

Because, but, despite…

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who   I   am

∫            ∫           ∫

because of       but         despite

∫           ∫           ∫

who   You   are

 

Talitha Fraser (in the style of RD Laing)

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Panel: Nayuka Gorrie, Areej Nur, Meelee Soorkia, Namila Benson

 

I wrote a book. It brought together other women like me.
I was not ‘other’ anymore.

Meelee Sorkia

Those pink pussy beanies at the Women’s March,
as a black, trans, feminist – what is my “in”?
White women can assume they’re your ally
but I might identify with other labels more.

Nayuka Gorrie

There is such silencing and erasure of women of colour.
Constantly thinking about ‘how do I put myself forward’ in a space?

Namila Benson

There a tenets of of feminism that are important.  Living that and being active in it is really important. We need paid opportunities, spaces that are ‘ours’ to help others out – support, build up, encourage other women of colour. Building and supporting other women in my community is my priority. I’m not interested in helping white women.

Areej Nur

Do the work.  What role do you have?
What opportunities do you have that other women don’t?
Please be self aware.

Meelee Sorkia

Just listening instead of defensive, derailing, silencing. Take up the generous labour of being in the space. Take advantage of the chance to learn something. Know your place. That’s it: Listening and give space. It’s fatiguing [to keep explaining].

Namila Benson

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“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.

~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Rest

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Rest.
Lie back.
Dwell in your own skin.
Made by Me and belonging to Me.
Nothing and no one can take that away.
What I make, I see, and say that it is good.
Nothing knows its purpose but I know its Purpose.
Nothing knows its place but I know its Place.
Nothing knows itself but I know its Self.
You are as you were made to be –
no more or less than that.
No less Mine for that.
Rest.
Lie back.
Dwell in your own skin.

Talitha Fraser

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Panellists Rosie Kilvert, Léuli Eshraghi, Paola Balla,  Kamahi King
and Miliwanga Wurrben in conversation

 

Sovereignty is my inalienable right.
It cannot be taken away from me.
– Paola Balla

I try to stay strong within myself. Decolonising for myself.
I am a Wemba-Wemba and Gunditjmara woman, not “aboriginal”.
– Rosie Kilvert

 

I know where I come from – that gives me strength.
Concertina Bush stands for my people.
She only speaks Kriol, people have to understand it.
She is my Voice for the expression of my Gurindji sovereignty.
– Kamahi King

Grew up in the bush. My freedom. My school. Everything I was taught given by mothers, aunties, grandmothers – bound together by respect and as indigenous women.  I was illiterate. Taught by a missionary-lady at a community school.  Such patience teaching us Western ways.

Broke so many protocol. First, I had a male teacher. We’re not allowed to look at/make eye contact with men. “Look at me! Look at me in the eyes when I am speaking to you!” This was one of my first experiences at school. I could not understand what I had done but it must have been something more than I could imagine – I thought of my mother, aunties, cousins… what would they say when they heard this? My sovereignty is as an indigenous person, it’s in my culture, with my people. I found balance… took a very, very long time. Didn’t take away what I had, it’s still in me.
– Miliwanga Wurrben

 

Where you are uninvited you have to make sure you
have first relationships… there is no treaty here.
You have to locate yourself in relationship.

…Every structure is illegal that
doesn’t have treaty/relationship.
– Léuli Eshraghi

Beauty was always very sacred for our women. Scarves, paint… essence, dignity, respect… beauty is the essence of that love. Love yourself for who you are – that is one of our protocols. “Too fat! Eat more!” we have none of that. There is a beauty and grace of being an indigenous woman.  Those who come to work in the clinic and court – they can’t wear short shorts, jeans, tight singlets. We dress in a way that respects the other women. If one doesn’t have those things, we can’t have it either. The young girls like and wear makeup but not when they come home. Nakedness is part of us.  Scarring and painted body.
– Miliwanga Wurrben

 

Q: What will you do on January 26th?
(note: I’ve deliberately chosen not to attribute these quotes as I feel, although they spoke in their own voice, the panelists also spoke as one Voice and I want to express that if I can)

Don’t celebrate either way. I do nothing to give it energy. Day we lost all hope really. I wish that the stamp duty of from the sale of every house would go to local Aboriginal people. To my own mob. This is an example of how we could get past “eating out of the white man’s hand”. I mourn.

Refuse to call it that [Australia Day]. It’s celebrating genocide. I pay thanks to the ancestors and their resilience. Put out a reminder: We’re still here. Surviving and thriving.

I might go to Share the Spirit or a protest. Send prayers to those who have passed and shouldn’t have.

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Aotearoa Festival 2017, Immigration Museum

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We are running a fortnightly bible study following our community dinner looking at the exegesis (interpretation) of the bible passages that underpin each of our community values. You can read the list of Values here so you know what’s coming up next.

These values can be relevant whatever context you live and work in just make the Word you own.


 

Value 5: Becoming family

We value the intimacy of relationship we can have with Christ, and the belonging found in growing closer to God and therefore to each other.  Our goal is to be family for those facing loneliness and social isolation.

Biblical basis: 1 John 3:16-18, John 13: 34-35



 

Let’s read the value together. What stands out?

There’s a saying ‘You can’t choose your family’… yes we can.

We have family near and far, our actual relations and the people we choose to share our life with.

Family means the entire human race – regardless of colour, race status…

Family see us at our best and at our worst, we can come as we are and still be loved. We seek to be and provide that sort of space for one another.

Read the bible. What words/ideas stand out?

What can we learn from the bible about living the Value: Becoming family?


 

1 John 3: 16-18

……..It was the example that Jesus set in laying down his life for us that put us in the know about real love. If we would love, then we need to do likewise, and lay our lives on the line for one another. How on earth can people claim that the love of God is at home in their hearts if they turn their backs on their needy brothers and sisters, even though it is quite within their means to help?

……..My dear friends, let us love; really love. Let us make sure we’re not just talking the talk, but walking the walk: being fair dinkum about our love and expressing it in action. This kind of integrity between what we say and what we do is a sure sign that our lives are genuinely grounded in God’s truth. It enables us to hold our heads high when we approach God, even though self-doubts may be trying to make us feel guilty and fearful. Our record of integrity can reassure us at such times, because God knows everything and can overrule our self-accusations. So when we are doing what God tells us to do, and thus living lives that please God, we can rest assured that when we approach God with our requests, we will get a positive response, whether we feel we deserve it or not.

 ©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

 

 John 13: 31-35

……..When Judas left, Jesus said to his disciples, “Now the moment of glory has arrived for the New Human, and it is God’s glory too. If God’s glory is made known in him, then God will pour out his own glory on him. It’s all happening right now.

……..“You are my children, but you’re about to be on your own because our time together is almost up. You’ll keep looking for me, but as I said to the people before, where I am going, there is no way you can come.

……..“I’ve got one new instruction for you — in fact take it as an order — love one another. I want you to love one another in the same way that I have loved you. If you do that — if you really have love for one another — then it will be apparent to everyone that you are following in my footsteps.”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


 

Reflection time… followed by sharing time.

Our record of integrity can reassure us… God can overcome our self-accusations – where we are small God is BIG.

Simple and powerful message: LOVE ONE ANOTHER

Love someone and they will love someone, and they will love someone, and they will love someone… the ripples go on and on.

Let’s get into groups of 2-3 and catch up with each other about life through the week…

…highlights, lowlights, needs, dreams

We do things we don’t like sometimes because it’s family. Belonging & interconnectedness. 

What’s your role in your family?  What are things you need from family?  What are things you have to give?

 

* trying to keep everyone together * practical support * there in ups and downs * advice * generosity * steadfast * conflict resolution * friend * peacemaker * LOVE * welcome * imperfect * support * conflict * time * making cakes * acts of service * taking care of each other * being friendly to everyone (even if they hate you) *

 

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On the weekend of 24-25 September Whitley College hosted a conference called Constitutions and Treaties: Law, Justice, Spirituality – these are notes from session 8 of 9. We acknowledge that this gathering, listening and learning occurred of the land of the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nations and offer our respects to their elders past and present, and all visiting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island visitors present.

Terrific to be part of the Minutes of Evidence project – collaborative performance sparking conversations about structural justice.

British colonisers ran a “Paper Empire” – numbers, counting surveillance… combined with counter-archives (other ways of knowing) can be used to create sources/proofs. Presumption of colonisation (denial of sovereignty) complicit and absolutely imbued in statutes and policies.

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“…powerfully committed to hunting grounds” the Committee couldn’t break or deny this connection to Country… this is why the regional system of Missions was put in place.  The testimony of these men changed the political “solution”/outcomes. Although 50 years later the missions were closed after all and people were centralised.

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On the subject of children being taken away, missionaries testified that:   Those on the Missions knew of all the children in their District when a white couple adopted a girl then no longer wanted her – they were going to send her to Sydney, the Aboriginal people on the Mission appealed to take her in. There is no such things as orphans… every child had two parents. 100s of letters written by Aboriginals exist speaking to self-determination, religious freedom and for rights.

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Political activism was happening pre-1920s.  Is it racial prejudice that dismisses testimony of “pining away” or “affection” for the land as irrational/emotional but this speaks to the depth of feeling of cultural belief/commitment, assertion of rights, sovereignty and justice.  Not able to recognise the implications of what you ‘see’ in front of you but providing testimony of it jsut the same.

As courage falters

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As courage falters

I turn to You.

I know better now

than to hope

for answers.

I hope merely

for company.

Talitha Fraser