Tag Archive: hope


Thoughts on crucifixion by a doctor – it’s not the nails that kill you but exposure.
Thoughts on crucifixion by a woman whose husband has a brain tumour.
Thoughts on crucifixion by a poet. “A king who dies on the cross must be the king of a rather strange kingdom. Only those who understand the profound paradox of the cross can also understand the whole meaning of Jesus’ assertion: my kingdom is not of this world”.  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)
Thoughts on crucifixion by a friend…

A gorgeous mix of piano, story and spoken word poetry at the Maundy Thursday service at Fairfield Uniting Church making an old story new. They had me at Mary Oliver.

The lights are extinguished one by one until all light is gone, but hope is not. We carry it with us.

lit white candle maundy thursday itellyouarise

 

 

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.

20190318_191214(0)

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)

 

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

Today is the anniversary of the public execution of  two indigenous freedom fighters, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener, on the 20th January 1842. This commemoration is held annually at the monument established in their memory at the corner of Victoria and Franklin St in Melbourne. The monument was built in 2016 by Melbourne City Council after a decade long campaign by the Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener Commemoration Committee – it remains the only monument in a major Australian city that recognises the frontier wars that occurred as Australia was colonised. Had Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener killed? Yes. Fighting to protect their people, their lands, their culture, their languages, their laws and their way of life.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

Aunty Carolyn Briggs standing with descendants of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener and representatives of their Tasmanian tribes

Australia is a country living out many complexities – the dominant narrative and what the history classes teach is that no one was here, or very few, or that those who were here were sub-human somehow and uncivilised. To name and recognise Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener is to honour those who survived a holocaust. The blood of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children has been spilled on this land, not all were able to fight; sometimes there were diseased blankets, poisoned food, attacks as people were sleeping, overwhelming numbers and overwhelming force.  To remember the names of these two men is to symbolically remember all those who lost their lives at the colonial frontier.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

Acknowledging these men, hearing this story, knowing these names goes some way to undoing the erasure of aboriginal people existing in this place which is a step toward relationship with them now.

“What hope is there for us? …it’s you.”

Hear the anger and the grief of this question, yes – but hear too the longing in the answer. In her welcome, Aunty Carolyn Briggs asks another question: “How would you honour this sacred ground if you were walking in a churchyard? Peoples blood has been spilled on the ground here, how will you show them respect?”  She tells us that the answer is to live well here, bringing: no harm to the land, no harm to the water, no harm to children. This is a challenge when we know that fish are dying in our major waterways from mismanagement, Aboriginal people are still dying, locked up and their children are still being taken away.  But someone has hung a banner here today that reads: “Homelands Heal”, and someone has asked: “What hope is there for us?” and answered: “It’s you.”

homeleands heal

Today brings to mind Jacques Ellul’s, The Meaning of the City, in which he discusses how the Hebrew word for city is ‘iyr or ‘iyr re’em and that this can have multiple meanings – “it is not only the city, but also the Watching Angel, the Vengeance and the Terror… we must admit that the city is not just a collection of houses with ramparts, but also a spiritual power. I’m not saying it is a being. But like an angel it is a power, and what seems prodigious is that its power is on a spiritual plane.”  An old Uncle stands up and shares that he has a vision that this year might be the year of revelation.  He remarks that: “White men made this place lawless. You can’t have a spiritual connection to this place except through us.” Because there was law in this place before the colonisers introduced prison and executions, and spirituality in this place before the colonisers brought the Bible.  Are we listening to the city of Naarm (Melbourne)? What does it have to say?
Melbourne’s first official public execution was apparently quite the festive spectacle and we are given to know that 3000-5000 people attended the public hanging of Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener.  There were perhaps 100 people gathered to listen to songs and stories at this years commemoration… maybe next year there will be more.
“What hope is there for us?
It’s you.”
buried below Queen Vic Markets
Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheener execution of freedom fighters Melbourne monument Australian colonial history First Nations Freedom Fighters day

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

“We share communion to remember what has been dismembered.  This exhortation lies at the heart of the church’s eucharistic ritual, repeated with each element for emphasis. It reiterates and sums up the deep wisdom of biblical faith, the product of a people all too familiar with distress, displacements and near disappearance.  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 ourselves doomed to drift forever on or be drowned by the tides of empire, refugees all.” (Ched Myers, 2012, Our God is Undocumented)

This is one loaf of bread. One body.
It’s broken.

As Jesus’ body was broken on the cross for us.

this bit might be me…
this bit might be Andrea…
this bit might be Alex…this bit might be Sarah…

 [as we say each name of refugees on Manus and Nauru and our political leaders we place a piece of bread for each of those not here on the empty chairs]

this bit might be Abdul, or Shahriar, or Nasiri, or Shamindan or Scott Ryan, or Peter Dutton or Malcolm Turnbull

When we eat this bread it is a reminder that we are all part of one whole – we might be a different colour, we might be a different size, of a different shape – but we are all part of the same body… connected.  And we are all of us broken.  In each taking a piece, and eating it at the same time, we are invited back into wholeness with God and with each other.

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff  peaceful non-violent resistance

14 Nov:
#Manus refugee who has been catatonic & close to death for a week was taken to Port Moresby for treatment yesterday. Waited a week for treatment. Dangerous to make dying people wait. https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/375889/catatonic-refugee-evacuated-from-manus-island  @ManusAlert

15 Nov:
A critically ill refugee was sent to Lorengau Hospital by the #PIH doctor in the #Manus camp. There were no beds in LGH. And no seats in the crowded hospital, so he had to sit on the floor. Doctor sent him back to the camp because it was better than sitting on the floor in the hospital. Standing room only for man who might die.  @ManusAlert

Nasiri, Manus
I just would like to say I would like to go out of here to start new life and normal life. I don’t want to go Australia at all, just need to go somewhere else to start my life. I would like to get out of here to treat my medical problem, because I didn’t receive treatment here. 

I know that we came to Australia illegally, but being a refugee is not illegal. The Australian government kept me here as a prisoner and we can’t go out of here by our decision, even for treatment.

Leader               Hear our cries of frustration, grief, and anger, O God
As the voices of asylum seekers are silenced by fear and the pursuit of power

Hear our cries in despair at the powerlessness we feel,
To make the story turn out right
To overturn the actions done in our name
To inspire our neighbourhoods to new attitudes
To infect the public discourse with grace

 

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

(to the tune of Teddy Bears Picnic)

Every person who comes by boat is sent off across the sea
There’s lots of terrible things go on, so far from you and me
Across the seas where nobody sees
We drain the hope from refugees
Today’s the day the refugees have detention
Still 5 years on, the children have detention

 #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

scott ryan's office Aug 2018 refugee Christian sit in moonee ponds love makes a way end child detention #kidsoffnauru #kidsoffalloff

Universal Children’s Day deadline: Christians praying in Senator Scott Ryan’s office to get #KidsOffNauru

  • Five Christians praying in the Senator’s Moonee Ponds office intend to remain until he joins his three Coalition colleagues in calling for Australia to free all refugee children and to stop the inhumane offshore detention of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus.
  • The action, on Universal Children’s Day, coincides with today’s national Teachers Walk Off at 2.30pm calling for #KidsOffNauru and #KidsOffAllOff

Five Christian leaders and refugee advocates are holding a prayer vigil in the Moonee Ponds electoral office of Federal Liberal Senator Scott Ryan to call for the removal of children and adults from offshore detention on Nauru and Manus Island.

The prayer action by the inter-denominational movement Love Makes A Way coincides with the United Nations Universal Children’s Day, the deadline for the Kids Off Nauru campaign. Love Makes A Way is part of the campaign, which calls on members of the Australian Parliament to work together to bring all children and their families detained on Nauru to Australia by today and to resettle them in Australia or in another suitable and welcoming country.

Those praying inside intend to remain until Senator Ryan joins his Coalition colleagues Julia Banks, Russell Broadbent and Craig Laundy to publicly call on the Government to free refugee children and end offshore detention. Advocates outside Senator Ryan’s office will hold teddy bears and toys to symbolise the way that children in detention are being denied their basic rights.

Dozens of children and their families continue to be subjected to the effects of detention on Nauru. Recently there have been repeated incidents of suicide attempts, including children dousing themselves in petrol. Some children have given up eating, and many bang their bodies repeatedly against walls in their distress. Those that have been removed from Nauru are often confined to hotel rooms under guard, or are waiting in onshore detention centres. And even if they are released into the community, permanent protection and resettlement are not currently on the table, nor does there appear to be any discussions about resettlement happening with other safe and welcoming nations.
Andrea Alvis, a mother, social worker and Uniting Church member, is one of those praying in the Senator’s office. “I am deeply concerned that the Australian government is knowingly doing harm and causing irreparable trauma to the children, young people and adults held in indefinite detention,” she said.

Brad Coath, from Urban Neighbours of Hope (Churches of Christ) has been visiting people in immigration detention in Melbourne for seven years. He says: “We’ve seen that our policies are destroying people.”

Most major Christians denominations have publicly opposed child detention, and have called for Australian politicians to agree on a humane solution. Love Makes A Way is calling on Senator Ryan, as a senator representing all Victorians, to speak up in the Liberal Party and to publicly insist that Australia uphold its obligations, as a signatory to United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to ensure “in all actions concerning children…the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration”. This can only be guaranteed by ensuring all refugee children are removed from Nauru today.
“We pray for a change of heart in our leaders”, says Reverend Ian Ferguson. “We ask Senator Ryan to publicly call for the removal of children from Nauru and invite him to join us to pray for these children and families that are suffering because of our Government’s policies.”

The sit in and prayer vigil will run from 12 noon at the office of Senator Scott Ryan, Suite 1, 12 Pascoe Vale Road, Moonee Ponds VIC 3039.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LoveMakesAWayForAsylumSeekers
Twitter: @lovemakesaway #lovemakesaway
Web: http://lovemakesaway.org.au/

Participants in today’s prayer vigil:

  • Rev Alex Sangster – Uniting Church in Australia
  • Rev Ian Ferguson – Uniting Church in Australia
  • Brad Coath – Churches of Christ
  • Sarah D’Astoli – Catholic Church
  • Andrea Alvis – Uniting Church in Australia

Reaching for Mercy Greenbelt 2018 Proost Talitha Fraser

“Here is poetry arising from the beautiful souls of poets you have passed on the street, never knowing they carried words that must be spoken… the poems are at times angry howls of protest or cries of lament, at other times they are saturated with hope.”

What makes a poem spiritual/Christian and therefore worthy of inclusion in this anthology? This is not an easy question to answer, at least in part because poetic spirituality is not a familiar part of our dominant religious culture. I have found it helpful to read the poetry written by the Sufi poets- Attar, Rumi, Sanai etc. They write poems that are not about instruction or impartation of theological truth (although they might achieve both) neither are they always about ‘God’ at all- rather they are written by people seeking truth, beauty and honesty. Sometimes they tip over into mysticism, as if what they are writing has gone beyond even their own understanding. Poetry like this creates open spaces for our spirituality to adventure; we feel it as much as we understand it…we just ‘know’ it when we read it. The poem soars inside us.

…So here we are. The starting page of a new book. A book full of people reaching for mercy.

Chris Goan

It has been a privilege over the past year to work with Chris Goan the curator of Proosts’ Poetry Collection Vol. 2 “Reaching for Mercy” and to travel to the UK for it’s launch at the Greenbelt Festival. Chris has a way of seeing people and holding space for how they see the world that’s captured and collated in this lovely collection by 8 editors and over a 100 contributors from all over the world… it’s not just “pretty” poetry, it’s protest too. Across all the themes: truth, wild, resisting, lament, hope, post truth, everyone is welcome, whole… there is a poignant paradox of sure hope and disbelieving grief in responding to the way the world is.  I think this collection speaks to our times. I hope it speaks to you.

 

Our model at events is to read one of our own poems and one by another contributor as a way of bringing that broader community of beautiful ordinary souls together. These are the pieces I read at Greenbelt…

God, did you see the news today?

God, did you see the news today?
We’re killing one another.
We’re killing in places killing has gone on so long we don’t know how to stop…
We’re killing next door.
We’re killing one another.

God, did you see the news today?
We’re laying waste to the world
to consume, consume, consume
an appetite “stuff” cannot sate.
Our elders know. Our elders tell us.
We ignore their wisdom.

God, did you see the news today?
People are saying hateful, hurtful things
what is right, what is wrong
what is holy, what is profane
…as if we know. As if we could know.

God, did you see the news today?
Were you there when we turned the boats away?
We are denying people food, electricity, sanitation, shelter, medical care…
We are denying people their basic human rights.

People are grieved and weary.
Longing for a world that is different
but not knowing where to start.
Not knowing how to start.
All victims, variously blind.

I’m not pointing fingers, I’m raising my hand.
I need Your help. We need Your help.

Amen.

 

And I was also very proud to read this piece written by my sister Abby. It felt significant to feel like I was representing some voice of Australia and New Zealand all the way around the world. It includes language and it includes my family. It speaks to home, belonging and identity… thanks for your work and words Mana Wahine… x

 

My Truth belongs to me
Abby Wendy

My Truth belongs to me. I will hold it tight, hold it close.
I will bury it deep.
My truth is a tūrangawaewae for the roots of my heart.
I will water it.
My truth is a nesting place for my wairua.

My truth is reflected in ten thousand random moments.
I am shining like the sun in the secret power of my own unique truth.

My truth requires no scientific proof – I believe it.
My truth requires no majority support – I believe it.

If I whisper my truth in your ear, will you stand with me? Would you trample the roots of my heart, buried deep, in my sacred place of belonging? Where will my spirit rest, if my truth becomes ash?

I will hold it tight, hold it close.
I will bury it deep.
My Truth belongs to me.

 



Copies of this book are available from Proost, if you know me it might be worth waiting as I’ll likely do a bulk order to Australia and you can get one from me directly if that’s easier… If you haven’t heard of it, Proost is a small publishing outlet aimed at gathering together resources from the creative edges of Church. Proost have lots of interesting stuff on their site – animations, songs, Easter and Advent resources, books… so have a look around while you’re there!

I come to You with Nothing

true love brewing Bar Josephine Footscray Melbourne 2017

I come to You with Nothing
dark abyss and empty
sometimes I pretend
sometimes I avoid
sometimes I hide.

But if I came to You
with my hands full
I would not be able
to receive anything.
You.

You spun heaven and
earth and light and
dark and land and
sky and birds and
beasts and me…
from Nothing.

You are not afraid of it,
the possibility of it,
and nor shall I be.
Dark abyss and empty
potential.

 

Talitha Fraser

Sacred ground

011

Sacred ground
trembles beneath
our feet
“Where do I stand?
Can I hold this?”
Do not hide but ride
for me and the earth are one.
After dark storms churning,
world is turning and
new day’s burning.
A star rises in the East.

 

Talitha Fraser