Tag Archive: inclusion


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Sung beautifully at a L’Arche Black Rock community gathering… I come thinking: “what might I have to give this community?” and instead receive abundantly. What do the sights, smells and touch of the flowers and leaves have to tell us? It could have been a Credo gathering and I’m heart-glad there’s this and other shade tree places yet to discover… do you need a shade tree place? Do you need a place to go? You are welcome here.

I need a place, a shade tree place
I need a place a new cool waterhole
I need a place, a shade tree place
A sanctuary for my very soul
I need a place where I can go

I need a place, a shade tree place
I need a place where the swallows swoop low
I need a place, a shade tree place
Today is seems such a long way,
Way down the road
I need a place where I can go

Something there, inside of me,
is trying to wake me up
Something there, is shaking my shoulders to see
The rocks and the tree and the centipede

Land, O  land, you keep calling to me,
Come and sit with me a while
Land, O land, you keep calling to me,
To rest in the grace with the lorikeet

I need a place, a shade tree place
I need a place a new cool waterhole
I need a place, a shade tree place
I need a place where the swallows swoop low
I need a place where I can go
I need a place where I can go
I need a place where I can go

 

From “A Sanctuary of Soul” – A writing collaboration between two Australian artists – songwriter John Coleman and poet Noel Davis. They met in Alice Springs in 2013 where many of the works were written. It explores themes of the Australian bush/desert, silence and the vulnerability and surprising fruits of meditation.

The sum of all we might become

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Living, love,
the sum of all we might become
soul rings, soul sings,
a joyous clamour
in the ears of the One Who Loves Us.
Love each other as I love you.
Too true for us to do.
Love is denied. Love has died.
From here the view says:
Love died for nothing.
But a rainbow arcs across the sky
and our gaze is raised to its promise.

 

Talitha Fraser

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We come together today to walk the way of the Southern Cross, and visit seven sites from our shared history.  There is suffering in these events, and there are questions for us to grapple with.  We will hear the words of Christ on the cross, what might his words spoken in pain tell us?  We seek to participate in a process of learning, repentance and healing in our land.

We acknowledge that we gather today on the land of the Marabalak people of the Wurundjeri tribe of the Kulin Nations – people who have known the Creator Spirit, shared stories, and walked in this place since time immemorial – our elders past, present and future.

With the Creator Spirit
We walk the way of the Southern Cross
Under the Southern Cross
We hear again the words of Christ on the cross
With God deep among us
We seek healing and justice in our land

 

Site 1: A thirst for justice

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We are standing outside a house.  As every person has a story, so does every house.

This house was a house of comfort.
It belonged to a woman called Sally Russell Cooper. In the 1930s’s she opened its front door as a low-income boarding house and welcomed Aboriginal people to come and live with her. There were three bedrooms inside and a spare room out the back. Sally kept her front door open to her people until the 1970’s. For many Indigenous Australians, this house was, as Elders Larry Walsh and Reg Bow once said, “a refuge from loneliness and homelessness for more than 40 years.”

This house was a house of protest.
The 1930’s onwards were a time of momentum for Aboriginal people. During the Depression and the Second World War many Aboriginal people came to Melbourne seeking work. The growing political movement for Aboriginal rights also attracted people to Melbourne’s west. Sally’s father, William Cooper, was a significant local figure in the Aboriginal political movement fighting for basic civil rights. For many of the Aboriginal people who stayed in this house, there was hope of work at Kinnears Rope Factory and other factories nearby.  But the stronger hope was the hope of justice.

This house was a house of light.
Sally held lots of beautiful parties in this house. This was an important opportunity for Aboriginal people to socialise and support one another as society made it very difficult for Aboriginal people to gather together in groups.  This house was well loved as a safe gathering place.

Consider this house. The door. The windows.  The memory. Remember its story.

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Action
Choose a bushflower tube-stock from the basket, as an Indigenous version of the Hyssop plant, and take it home to a place of earth of your choice. Remember the story of the Aboriginal people in this country as you watch it grow.

 

Site 2: With and with each other

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328 family violence incidents were reported in Maribyrnong in 2013 rising to 974 in 2016 – that increase in incidents, nearly tripling, is largely due to more people speaking out.  We know that a woman is killed in Australia by her male partner or ex-partner nearly every week.  The most common myths are that violence against women is caused by alcohol and drugs, a man’s violent upbringing, living in poverty, anger management problems or mental health problems but for violence against women to become a thing of the past we need to change the causes: gender inequality and rigid gender stereotypes.

This sculpture is called With and With Each Other by artist Tom Bills and it feels like a fitting place to stand to think about equality.

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Action
Let’s take hands and Pass the Peace – exchanging these words:

Say: Peace be with you…
Answer: And also with you.

How can we be doing this amongst our family, friends and neighbours? We need to know what safe touch looks and feels like through education and role modelling.

In making a circle with our arms we are symbolically acknowledging the widening ripples of the impacts of family violence on individuals self esteem, self-worth, physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing… The impacts on individuals, families, neighbours and communities… As we release our hands the circle opens, representing our commitment to breaking the cycles of violence.

Let’s walk with someone new, someone you don’t know or someone you don’t see as often as we move to the next station.

 

Site 3: Finding a place to call home

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We are standing outside Foley House. This is a facility run by the Salvation Army that provides accommodation and support for 46 residents – all of whom have been homeless, and all of whom are living with a disability.

Finding a place to call home is one of our most basic needs. For our Aboriginal friends the trauma of being removed from their homes is still very real and present. For asylum seekers dislocation comes at great cost and much grief.

But homelessness does not discriminate – our social dysfunction makes it a real possibility for anyone. The loss or casualisation of a job, the breakdown of a family, the rent increase from a landlord, the need to flee violence in the home, the disintegration of health, the history of abuse or neglect that is relived on a daily basis, the self-medication through drugs or alcohol: these are all social realities that can thrust any of us into homelessness.

There were 762 people who were homeless in the electorate of Footscray on Census night in 2011. Things are getting worse: this figure is 29 per cent more than in 2006. Across Victoria, there are 22,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.

Even this is just the tip of the iceberg. A skewed housing market benefits some greatly but places unbearable pressure on those at the bottom end. The injustice is often felt most strongly for those enduring the uncertainty of the private rental market. We live in a community where houses are seen as investments, rather than homes in which to live and thrive.

Action
Walk with a stone in your shoe as we move to our next location; as a reminder of the constant pain and anxiety faced by those who are struggling to find a place to call home. Are you facing this anxiety yourself? Give your stone to a friend to hold.

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Site 4: Room for all

Sometimes coming to Centrelink can feel like our own crucifixion; Our dependence on a system for which we detest; An experience of isolation and abandonment, judgements from ourselves and others about how we do and don’t fit in; About whether we are enough. A painful waiting that only allows you to survive – and gives no kind word, no compassion, and no understanding of who you really are.

Inequality and poverty in Australia are growing. There are now about 2.9 million people living in poverty, including 731,300 kids.  Centrelink will never be enough (not that that is new to anyone). It is like a well from which we draw water, and in Australia, it seems to be an increasing drought not only of money, but of healthy soil, and healthy people; people whose lives are rich in compassion, joy, generosity and the types of kindness that sows grace amongst the powers.

Today we remember that Christ became that spring when he called us into his family as he called John into his both spiritually and literally. He seeded in us the knowledge that we are duty bound to honour our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters in faith. To know that our own growth and ability to live is intrinsically caught up in family; a family that transcends bloodlines, a family that invites us to make bigger our sense of home, that calls us to dig our own wells.

Action
Place a dollar (provided) on the note at the foot of Centrelink:

For our debts and for their debts, we cannot pay.
Christ is enough.
Power remember Mercy;
Remember where we grow.
Remember those who hold us.
Remember those who raise us.
Remember those who crush us.
Woman here lives your son. Son here lives your mother.
Remember your way home. Remember Me.

 

Site 5: Seeking refuge and finding welcome

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Footscray is a community that generation after generation of migrant has made home. These days it is a multicultural hub with service providers such as the ASRC and community groups such as the Welcome West Wagon working alongside smaller community groups and individuals as well as movements such as Love Makes a Way to create welcome for people seeking asylum & refugees. People come to Australia with the hope of a better life but they are often left in limbo for many years.

A friend of ours, Maria, is an East Timorese woman who through a combination of civil war in her homeland, loss of family members and marriage breakdown has found herself stateless and alone with her young son in a foreign country. Under the terms of her temporary protection visa, she has limited work rights and little way to support herself and her son. She is reliant on friends and community agencies such as the Red Cross and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre for accommodation, legal advocacy and food. At the present time she’s been in limbo for over five years, with little idea of when a decision may be handed down by the minister for immigration. She may be granted permanent residency and begin the process of building a life here, or she may be forced to leave. She prays every day for a permanent home in Australia. She lives generously in our community household, lovingly raising her son and extending friendship and help to others.

We acknowledge the perseverance of those seeking asylum and the commitment of all those who go out of their way to create a sense of welcome to refugees and those seeking asylum.

Action
With this chalk we leave our mark and remember that in this multicultural neighbourhood, we are mixed together: rich and poor; Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Italian, Scottish, indigenous; students, workers and non-workers; believers, agnostics and atheists; children and adults of all ages. We acknowledge the tensions and divisions that often exist between us.

We celebrate the diversity we see around us, and how it reflects the beauty of God. We leave our symbol of welcome to be reminded that we are created for connection; for family, for friendship, for shared work, for love. We leave our mark to remember that we need each other and that we are stronger.

 

Site 6: There is a place for you

IMG_5096On a Friday night in November of 2016, three LGBT+ people were assaulted in Footscray after being chased by three men. Security did not step in to stop the attack, and the three LGBT+ had to wait for 25 minutes before deciding to walk to the police station because no patrol car showed up. When the victims reported that the assault was a hate-crime against transgender and queer people, those details were not included by police officers. Like so many others in history, the hatred against these people for their diversity was ignored. The identity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people has been ignored and persecuted in Australia.

When I was attending church, I was also asked not to raise my own questions, my doubts, my insecurities and my suffering as a gay person of faith. I was told, in person, that I was broken, and that my capacity for love was corrupted. After an act of honesty, the leadership of the church wanted me to silently accept that I would only be embraced in that faith community if I lived by standards which violated my own conscience and divine design.

We reflect on Jesus’ words to remember that ignorance, fear, and pride often stand in the way of our choice to extend Godly hospitality to our LGBT+ neighbour. In our own lack of love we fail to love our neighbour as we would ourselves. We reflect on the ways that we have excluded and silenced our LGBT+ neighbours, like the authorities attempted to silence the gospel. We reflect on the way that LGBT+ have been forsaken, like Jesus himself was on the cross.

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Action
We now stand in silent prayer for 30 seconds to honour the suffering of LGBT+ people who were forsaken.

Together we pray aloud, ‘Help us, Lord of all, to no longer forsake our LGBT+ neighbour’.

Place the rainbow crucifix with a prayer on the wall of the police station as a sign of the visibility of LGBT+ suffering.

 

Site 7: Earth out of Balance

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We all rely on the earth and its natural systems for life itself.

Its resources sustain us and grow us, yet our actions and failure to be good custodians continues to push things out of balance.  Taking more than we need, prioritising short term gain over long term sustainable thinking – we are seeing mountains and rivers be given legal identity so that they can be given a voice to speak in their own best interests.

Human activity is altering the climate, changing rainfall patterns, reducing water availability, and increasing the frequency of severe weather events such as bushfires and storms such as cyclone Debbie and Cook, we acknowledge those yet rebuilding and recovering in the wake of these storms.

To emphasise this imbalance, sea levels are predicted to rise by at least 600mm by 2070… that’s within most of our lifetimes.  At projected levels, this change in sea level will widen the Maribyrnong River, flood lower lying areas, and begin to change the face of our locality. A sea level rise of just 1m would threaten the surrounding homes and businesses and displace thousands. It would flood all of the city’s major cargo shipping docks and surrounding cargo storage areas, many of which are in our neighbourhood.

The call to be “custodians of creation” is a critical one, which drags us from the crushing weight of a global disaster to a place of restoration, respect and gratitude.

Action
Look around for something that doesn’t belong in this place; perhaps some rubbish or some weeds. Carry it with you as we start to travel to the next site, until you find a spot better suited for your rubbish to be placed.

Reflect on the ways your actions may keep creation out of balance.

Consider your role as a custodian.

Plan some simple steps to begin the healing process.

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Photo credit: Maya Stark

Closure

Creator Spirit
Help us to uncover our hidden stories
Suffering God
Help our tears to flow for the pain
Reconciling Spirit
Heal our shame and our wounds, and call us into action.
Remember that justice is coming; God’s reign is coming

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Acknowledgements and Story

Aunty Doreen Wandin renamed Spencer St station to Southern Cross because they were able to see stars at the homestead in Coranderrk. Aunty Joy Wandin named Wurundjeri Way… We identify this constellation with “home”, and commit to the journey of finding and following the way home under these stars.

Uncle Wanta Jampijimpa has preached on the correlation of the stars of the Southern Cross to the wounds on Jesus’ body… We acknowledge the terrible and complex legacy of the church as colonisers in this place and give deep thanks for elders wisdom and grace in leading us to deeper truth and understanding the Creator Spirit who has always been here in this place.

Bill Wylie Kellerman, co-author of “Resistance and Public Liturgy”, role models and teaches us that liturgy implicates. Undertaking activism on high holidays gives layers of meaning to the action. He said: “We believe God has already intervened, breaking in to break out on behalf of human kind.  We recognise the authority of God [as bigger/beyond figureheads of power], we believe this is the meaning of the resurrection and we have come to say so”…  What does it mean for us – in this time, this place, this context – to be mindful of and respond well to matters of justice from a framework of hope as people of all faiths and none?

The Indigenous Hospitality House (IHH) community who shared their resource with us based on the work of Dr Norman Habel, the author of “Reconciliation: Searching for Australia’s Soul” which outlines the model for combining storytelling to action as a means for right relationship between people and with the land… We seek to participate in a process of learning, repentance and healing in our land.

 

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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 4: Seeking justice for the poor

We value God’s priority for the poor and seek to prioritise the marginalised of Footscray.  We do not want to just show mercy, but instead offer our lives, in voice and activity, with those who we seek to serve.

Biblical basis: Jeremiah 22:16, James 2: 1-5


 

Let’s read the value together… what words/phrases stand out?

Who do we think are “the poor”?

Those who are poor in heart? in spirit? or without money?  It’s those who are poor in spirit that are worst off = those who feel empty.  When you eat you’re full. If you don’t eat you’re empty.

We need to be helping one another more.

Read the bible. What words/ideas stand out?
What can we learn from the bible about living the Value: Seeking justice for the poor?

Jeremiah passage brought to mind people such as Donald Trump and Gina Rinehart…

Who gets behind and left out? What kinds of people?

What does it mean to “have a huge head-start in the faith stakes”?
Know how to be grateful.


 

 

Jeremiah 22: 16-17

“Doom to him who builds palaces but bullies people,

who makes a fine house but destroys lives,

Who cheats his workers

and won’t pay them for their work,

Who says, ‘I’ll build me an elaborate mansion

with spacious rooms and fancy windows.

I’ll bring in rare and expensive woods

and the latest in interior decor.’

So, that makes you a king—

living in a fancy palace?

Your father got along just fine, didn’t he?

He did what was right and treated people fairly,

And things went well with him.

He stuck up for the down-and-out,

And things went well for Judah.

Isn’t this what it means to know me?”

God’s Decree!

“But you’re blind and brainless.

All you think about is yourself,

Taking advantage of the weak,

bulldozing your way, bullying victims.”

The Word became flesh and blood,

and moved into the neighbourhood.

We saw the glory with our own eyes,

the one-of-a-kind glory,

like Father, like Son,

Generous inside and out,

true from start to finish.

 

The Message

 

James 2: 1-10

……..Sisters and brothers, if you really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, how come you still play favourites? If people walk into one of your meetings and you make a fuss of the ones dressed up to the nines and looking a million dollars, ushering them to the best seats in the house, while at the same time turning up your nose at those dressed like battlers, down on their luck, telling them to stand out in the foyer, aren’t you practicing apartheid, segregating God’s children? You’re as crooked as a judge who bases your sentence on the length of your skirt!

……..Get this straight in your minds, dear friends. God has turned the world’s opinion polls upside down. Those who have been deprived of what the world values have a huge head-start in the faith stakes. Their names are at the top of the list of those who God has chosen to inherit the riches of the kingdom. All who love God have an equal share in God’s promises, but you’re insulting some of them by means-testing your welcome.

 

 

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net


 

Reflection time… followed by sharing time.

Who are “the poor” in Footscray?

Offer our lives – in voice and activity…

  • what ways are we doing this now?
  • what ways could we start?

 

I am on the 5.08pm train to the city – dusk sees the city lights hang suspended against a purple-grey backdrop of condolence. I go into this space with high hopes and low expectations I think, but I hope I see love. I hope I see love poured out.  It can be so hard to find safe spaces where you feel accepted, welcome, safe to express all of who you are. I hope there is a sense of welcome for everyone who comes tonight… including me!

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Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby

Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I?

…I have that moment we all have. Should I come here? Am I intruding on a private grief I have no right to?

I find a friend I know on the edge of the crowd.

“Thanks for coming.” she says.

“It’s important. I’m sorry it took something like this to bring us together”. I answer

It only needs to matter to one person. It’s not really about how it matters to me. For all those times you felt alone, you felt sad, you felt despair – can my standing with you now make up for those times? No… but it doesn’t follow that it’s insignificant now.

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“May we be inspired to live differently because of our tears”
– Simon Holt

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Forty-nine people have died and fifty-three others have been injured in the latest mass shooting in the US… plenty of Muslims and Christians are praying and acting in solidarity and support – these issues are engaged globally more and more.  Born, raised, educated, armed in the US… can you call it an Islamist attack? SOme of my grief is with the perpetrator who must have been desperate indeed to feel belonging somewhere. But it’s the stupid idiot pastor that’s quoted as saying: “I woke up to a world with 50 less homosexuals in it and I was glad” that will be what goes viral, spreading hate and fear and violence in its wake.  It’s not the the good news that is shared so often as the bad.We have a conscious choice about what we’re spreading but it seems something used more for evil than for good… what of courage and encouraging? hope and joy?  We pray for those weighed down by grief  – today and “all the days before”

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My first visit to a freedom2be event, their mission is:

To save lives, prevent harm and empower LGBTI people from Christian backgrounds through reconciliation of their sexuality and/or gender identity, and their faith.

 

 

Guest speaker tonight is Padraig O Tuama – poet, theologian and group worker…

“Gay people are told structurally and personally they are less,
it’s an abomination to be told that or to believe it.”

Question: What’s a lovely thing someone said about you once?
Storytelling  creates safe space – curiosity moves people/creates space…

“Small gestures of human kindness are the beginning point of something nice”

Poem – The visit of the queen of the lesbians to the prayer group of men
who happen to be gay

When she came to visit
she said:
Don’t ask me.
I’m just the driver.
When she came to visit
she said:
Questions reveal much
about the secrets of the questioner.
When she came to visit she said:
Ask a better question lads.
She said: Misogyny is no respecter of your homo-andro-centric
little worldwinds.
When she came to visit
she said:
Just because you don’t want to screw us
Doesn’t mean you don’t screw us.
So,
Don’t ask me to visit you.
Answer your own queries, queries.
When she came to visit she said:
Cook for us instead.
That’s what the queen of the lesbians said.

A friend of mine pointed out to me that of all the titles that the chief lesbian might choose for herself the word ‘queen’ would be one that she would leave for the boys…

Poem – day of the living

She entered a room full of the deviant queers
Everything from her ears
to feet was burning.

She looked around the slew of sinners
and everything that was in her said:
Just leave.

And she heard all the years of teaching
that participation
in this kind of congregation
is a degradation
a journey away from salvation.

And she sat on a plain brown chair
She sat, twisted her hat in nervous fingers
And she sat,
even though her history was screaming at her:

Leave. Leave. Leave.
Leave now.
Leave quickly.
Leave. Leave. Leave.

And at the introduction
she breathed when it came to be her turn.

She breathed and she said:
This is my first time in a room full of…….us.
She breathed.

Poem – what I needed to hear – “the wonder of God is where your journey begins”

“If a God could exist  that loved me,
what might that God say to me?”

“It has taken years to continue to live into the truth that if I believe we are from God and for God, then we are from Goodness and for Goodness. To greet sorrow today does not mean that sorrow will be there tomorrow. Happiness comes too, and grief, and tiredness, disappointment, surprise and energy. Chaos and fulfilment will be named as well as delight and despair. This is the truth of being here, wherever here is today. It may not be permanent but it is here. I will probably leave here, and I will probably return. To deny here is to harrow the heart. Hello to here.”

― Pádraig Ó Tuama, In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World

Poem – returning “I hear you’re gay now, are you still Christian?”

 

 

“I need to be forgiven for a lot of things
but not my love”

Poem – Intercession for Lesbian and Gay Ugandans

This is not a liberal agenda.
Think about the people sleeping in the prison in
Uganda.

These are bodies like yours and mine.
Close your eyes. Please, close them.
Put the fingers of your one hand
to the wrist of the other
and keep your pulse a moment.

Are you calm?
Are you content, in touching your own skin
with your own safe and holy skin?

Think about the people sleeping in the prison in
Uganda.

This is not a liberal agenda.
These are people.
Not quite corpses…..yet.
And it’s not about forgetting all your morals
with some rationalist adjustment
or some sad subjective judgment.

The Samaritan did not sin,
yet still was hated,
berated,
judged and deemed a lesser kind of human.

Think about the people sleeping in the prison in
Uganda.

This is not a liberal agenda.

“There are serious things to pay attention to.
We need to name our marginalisation and our privilege.
We learn our own dignity by naming our complicity.”

poem – who do you say that I am?

You say it’s unnatural,
hoping I might speak of boybirds loving boybirds
or girlbirds loving girlbirds,
so that you can then say:
Why are you speaking about animals?
Is that how you see yourself?
And as for Sodom,
you speak with no regard for Lot’s daughters,
or all those other lost voices
in the unreported Abu Grahibs of our most recent century.
So how are we to talk
while we travel with each other?
I, for one, will carve my own fury into a pencil
and scribble midrash on the map of our shared future
hoping you might learn the names
of places you’ve never seen.
So listen!
Sex and the text
are strange things surely.
What we read
and the way we read
are two different things.
Let us hope that
lies be undone
and untruth be told out loud
so that a path may be revealed
before us

poem – the facts of life

 

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i believe love wins

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Today feels like a day for bright colours.  Uncharacteristically I am wearing one of the skirts I have made – full and colourful, no one around today to comment on it and I love that – what would we wear any given day if we thought no one would ever say anything?

I feel nervous carrying my homemade 009signs to the marriage equality march – do I  carry them facing inwards until I get there?  Am I going to draw negative attention from people that are anti-gay or anti-Christian? You are making a choice, to set yourself out, apart, from ‘normal’ people going about their ‘normal’ day, doing ‘normal’things.

To be contrary, I line them up beside me on the seat at the bus stop while I wait – people idling in the weekend traffic read them but no one says 005anything and I am almost disappointed… let’s do it, let’s talk about how we’re treating one another.  People see the signs – rainbow broadcasting
makes the topic clear – no one says anything… aah, I have found a new way to be invisible.

Now at the train station, I put in my headphones as I step into the train carriage, block out an uncaring world and I am tapped on the shoulder…

“Hey, you want to join us here in the marriage equality corner?”

…I am welcomed in, a place, a space made for me and my signs.  they look me over assessingly, am I like them?

“I haven’t ever been to a rally before, But I have been to the Sydney Mardi Gras – I hope it’s like that – there’s a power in people coming together from all over, no matter what their age, race, religion, gender orientation is… there’s something really powerful about that, ay?”

Yes.  Yes there is.

How much riskier must it be if your clothes or mannerisms or something “give you away” and make you feel like you’re carrying a rainbow coloured banner with you everywhere you go… I’m embarrassed of the fear I felt of some kind of retaliation for sticking my neck out… is this a fear people live with going out their door every day?

The act of solidarity isn’t just showing up at the parade but being willing to put yourself in a position to share the experience of the person being marginalised – so what if someone did yell something out of a car on the way past or defaced the sign or comes into my personal space with aggression.  Is this something gay people ask of themselves every day? “Do I wave the banner today or mute something of who I am so I don’t attract attention?” As with all movements perhaps it requires some to be be ‘extreme’ with it to broaden the range of what’s ‘normal’… maybe that’s literally carrying a rainbow banner – drawing some of the attention away from you over there to me right here.

It’s not the same, hating me when it’s not my lifestyle choice.  You have to have a conversation with me to  find out why I’m doing it – and I’ll have a conversation with you about why you aren’t.

 

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Creating the Right Space – CBM (Panel)

Considerations for creating spaces that are inclusive of people with different levels of ability:

  • Want belonging and feeling treated the same/normal even though we know we’re not
  • Eye contact but NOT staring
  • Participation not about my disability – wanting to engage like everybody else
  • Fundamental dignity: each of us have something to share/contribute
  • Atmosphere – feel connected
  • Send lyrics/talk text in advance and can direct it into Braille or audio myself (needs to be communicated if this is available and PDFs aren’t readable by the programmes)
  • Everyone should be respected as a beloved son/daughter of God – I want to contribute to Christian community > able to share gifts
  • Talk to me not around me as if I’m not here e.g. “Will she have tea?”
  • Need space to be honest about how we feel – don’t pray away my feelings
  • Have communion where they do (with them) e.g. if someone can’t access the alter – don’t just bring them theirs but have yours with them where they are
  • Push in a little bit – there is fear (of being pushed away, rejected, condescended to…)
  • How do you know you’re “in”? On a roster, invited home for lunch, take the communion cup around in my wheelchair.
  • Regular time, place and routine for L’Arche rhythms (known and familiar)
  • Can’t find love, can’t find friendship. Government can’t do that > spiritual communities are REALLY important
  • Care-fronting sometimes with a conversation
  • Time “efficiency” need to allow room for the spirit… can’t plan things. Let it be what it is. Let [people be themselves in their fullness (where people might talk more slowly or move more slowly… let their pace be OK)
  • LABELS: Don’t freak out about it. Don’t let it be your barrier to talking with me. Have names for us too “sighties” and “Sight-trash” – it is a characteristic of who I am like having brown hair. Unhelpful…. handicapped, sufferer of…, carry a cross, disorder… use person-first language. “wheelies” and “cripps” like “queer” turning this language around to a positive framework named and claimed. If you have a relationship with me, let me use the word for myself and learn from listening. In safe space don’t need a label to feel safe but sometimes in public we do (paradox) – label can be the easiest way to get empathy/understanding when someone is behaving in unexpected ways.
  • We have outsourced care and compassion e.g. Cert IV in disability – what would it mean to engage with me directly.

Barriers

  • Physical things – steps/access/etc. and atmosphere
  • Bad theology praying for us to be healed/whole > need to confront that. What do you think that says about my lived experience?
  • “Perfect” Jesus still bore scars from the wounds on his body – perfect in imperfection.
 
Parables of Non-Violence – Transfiguration Community (Bible Study)

‘Making Things Right’: the call to be agents of reconciliation, peacemakers, restorers of broken relationships. How?

  1.  What/who are the obstacles, the enemies, the hindrances to peace and reconciliation? Ego, culture, systems, celebrity, technology…

BIBLICAL: Portrait of the Enemy – Do we even know it? Do we take the existence of evil seriously?

  1. How do we resist these?
  1. Contemplative practice:
    • first disarm your own heart
    • the wrestling is not with flesh and blood but spiritual (the aim in wrestling is not to bring your opponent down but to remain standing yourself)
    • the arena is within us
    • then change from the inside out will happen

BIBLICAL: Jesus’ Temptation in the Desert (in the desert you have to answer some questions)

  1. Danger of outer journey without inner journey
  2. Story of 3 brothers: 2 activist, 1 contemplative

How does the kingdom of God come? How does lasting change happen (repentance)? Not by programs, ideas, ideologies or our mind being in control.

  1. Slow
  2. Hidden, in secret
  3. Non-violent, harmless growth or gestation
  4. Internal
  5. Surprising and inevitable fruit, in the face of formidable obstacles

Like a joke, pint is in the last line – fruit comes at the end.

Non-violence and love are the same. Self-emptying love – no power or manipulation of any kind: mental, emotional, physical…

Using power “for the best” > controlling

  • Ask forgiveness (brothers and sisters don’t walk away from me, walk towards me)
  • Daily discipline
  • Have to listen

Being silent re-sensitises us to what is really happening, awareness, intuition, feeling… Going in to look at God leads you to look at others. Can’t only breathe in, have to breathe out.

017

Contemplative Space: The Cave/Gregg Morris

A stoic mind and a bleeding heart
You never see my bleeding heart

And your light’s always shining on
And I’ve been traveling oh so long
I’ve been traveling oh so long

A constant reminder of where I can find her
Light that might give up the way
Is all that I’m asking for without her I’m lost
Oh my love don’t fade away

Mumford and Sons (lyrics)