Tag Archive: questions

Jan 067

The gorgeous Dusk Liney of Inspirit Creative recently ran a customised (pretty damn special) contemplative birthday for me down at Pipemakers Park. As she as gifted, so are we all. Please be encouraged to  use this for your own reflections on 2017. 

Pipemakers Park mosaic

Wurundjeri Garden 


This mosaic depicts Aboriginal life before European settlers arrived. Find a place around the mosaic to reflect on your own life this year. Create your own Mosaic/picture – using illustrations, colours or words – that reflects how you experienced 2017.

Capture the good, the bad, the ugly. What surprised you? What enlivened you? What challenged you? What were the unexpected gifts?

burning paper


Before you leave the Wurundjeri Garden, if there is any part of this year that you would like to leave behind, make your way to the fireplace.

Take a piece of paper, put that image, word or feeling down on paper, and burn it.

Childs feet

Early Settlers Garden


As you walk to the next station, pause and place your feet on the child’s footprints. Take a moment to be still and be present to your inner child.

Whisper to her what your heart yearns for her to hear.

Jan 031

One sided Table 

So much of the year is spent preparing food for others. In this moment, come and sit at the table. Think about the hospitality that you show to others and imagine the ways in which you can show that same beautiful hospitality to yourself.

What would it be like for the Divine to prepare a table for you? What would feed your soul? How can you show that hospitality to your soul this year?

Mum and baby under an apple tree

Take a walk over to the apple tree and think of an apple dish that captures that imagining. Write it on a sticker and place it on your clothes.

woman sitting in a fig tree Pipemakers park

Pipeworkers Garden

Dry Garden

Take in the fig tree, the succulents and the drought resistant plants. Each of these plants have survived dry, hot, tough conditions. It is actually in this landscape of lacking that they grow.

Sit here and acknowledge the dry places in your life. Think about the qualities that have grown in you within the dry parts of this year. Write them on a post it and stick it to the dry plant captures that quality.

Jan 073

Grapevine Colonnade

Then walk under the pipe colonnade shaded by the grapevines. Allow the coolness and shade to wash over those dry places. As you come to the end, sit with the sun mosaic.

Ask God / the Divine / the Sun to shine on you this year, to shine you with light and warmth. Name the desires of your heart and lay them at the Sun as offering. 

Picnic Pipemakers park

Picnic Circle

When you’re ready, come and find a place on the blankets and we’ll gather in a circle to reflect together.

Each step I am blind

lost and found park bench

Each step I am blind
In faith, I follow
listening for the Song
listening for the Singer.
Maybe that’s the Mary thing to do.
Kneel, right here where I am,
lean against You and
ask all the questions
why God? how God?
when God?

Talitha Fraser


Rubem Alves tells a story of a spider, safe and happy over empty space – building her house – no hesitation and with precision. Fragile yet perfect, symmetrical, beautiful, fit to its purpose.     “…I did not see her first move, the move which was the beginning of the web, the leap into the void…” (p.3)

What the spider needs to fulfil her intention is within her body. “Her body knows, her body remembers. But we have forgotten it.” (p.4)

Rubem Alves tells a story of a boy who found the body of a dead man
washed up on the edge of a seaside village.

There is only one thing to do with the dead: they must be buried.

In that village it was the custom for the women to prepare the dead for burial,
so the women began to clean the body in preparation for the funeral.
As they did, the women began to talk and
ponder about the dead stranger.

He was tall… and would have had to duck his head to enter their houses.
His voice… was it like a whisper or like thunder.
His hands… they were big. Did they play with children
or sail the seas or know how to caress and embrace a woman’s body.

The women laughed
“and were surprised as they realised that the funeral had become resurrection:
a moment in their flesh, dreams, long believed to be dead,
returning… their bodies alive again”. (p.24)

The husbands, waiting outside, and watching what was happening,
became jealous of the drowned man
as they realised he had power which they did not have.

And they thought about the dreams they had never had…

Alves ends this part of the story by telling that they finally buried the dead man.
But the village was never the same again.

“The dead man did not say one single word.
He was full of silence.
And his silence was the space of remembrance.
His dead body was full of their lost memories…” (p.31)

“Hoc est corpus meum. This is the bit of my flesh which became alive again by the power of the silence of this dead man…

What are we without the help of that which does not exist? – Valerie”  (p.35)

Acts 17:22-31

Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’

Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”


Reading 1: (Read through twice) What word or passage touches/speaks to you?

Reading 2: How does this word/passage touch your life/experience?

Reading 3: How are we called into being/doing by this word/passage?



To explain: from the Latin ‘ex-planare’, to flatten, spread out, make level. A great bulldozer will push the mountains inside the abysses and everything will be become a luminous plain under midday sun.

To explicate: from the Latin ‘explicarte’, a verb derived from ‘plicare’ which means ‘to fold’. To explicate: To eliminate all folds where darkness abides; to spread the text out, so that light will illuminate the whole surface.

A good teacher is a luminous creature.  Whenever he gets darkness disappears.  He even carries candles in his pockets, which he lights whenever he finds a dark corner on his text: footnotes…

I became sure that I was no longer a good teacher when, instead of turning the lights on, I preferred to turn them off… and I feel sorry when the sun dispels it because my imagination together with elves and leprechauns, is deprived of the mist-eerie atmosphere without which it cannot breathe.

And I also love the darkness which abides inside the deep and lovely woods of Frost’s poetry, and the light which fractures through unquiet waters in Eliot’s poems, and the eerie atmosphere of the gothic cathedral, which reminds me of the entrails of the great fish inside the sea: a sunken cathedral… my whole Being reverberates, and I know that it belongs to the darkness of the woods, to the depth of the sea, to the mystery of the cathedral… If lights are turned on I am homeless…

I keep asking myself as to the reasons which led me astray and which force me to march in the opposite directions. But reasons I find none. Only suspicions…

I suspect that I do not want to decipher the mystery.  I want questions and not answers.  I want the sea and not the harbour.

p.8-9, The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet



Why is the measure of love loss?

…You said, ‘I love you’.  Why is it that the most unoriginal thing we can say to one another is still the thing we long to hear? ‘I love you’ is always a quotation.  You did not say it first and neither did I, yet when you say it and when I say it we speak like savages who have found three words and worship them.  I did worship them but now I am alone on a rack hewn out of my own body.

…love demands expression. It will not stay still, stay silent, be good, be modest, be seen and not heard, no.  It will break out in tongues of praise, the high note that smashes the glass and spills the liquid.  It is no conservationist love. It is a big game hunter and you are the game.  A curse on this game.  How can you stick at a game when the rules keep changing? I shall call myself Alice and play croquet with the flamingos. In Wonderland everyone cheats and love is Wonderland isn’t it? Love makes the world go round. Love is blind. All you need is love. Nobody ever died of a broken heart. You’ll get over it… It’s the clichés that cause the trouble. A precise emotion seeks a precise expression. If what I feel is not precise then should I call it love? It is so terrifying, love, that all I can do is shove it under a dump bin of pink cuddly toys and send myself a greetings card saying ‘Congratulations on your Engagement’. But I am not engaged I am deeply distracted.  I am desperately looking the other way so love won’t see me.

Faysal Ishak Ahmed


We gathered today to acknowledge and show respect to Faysal Ishak Ahmed.

We gather knowing we will do this again. We will do this again because there will be more deaths. They are preventable. This is unacceptable.  We know this will happen again because it has happened and is still happening with 23 deaths in the last two years (Australian Border Deaths Database).  Perhaps it’s feeling like there’s too many vigils, we had one just last month… to this we say “Yes. There are too many vigils.”

The origin of the word “vigil” is to do with being awake and keeping watch. We want to acknowledge the sorrow, grief and anger of Faysal’s friends and family. The other survivors of Dafur who know how few survivors there were wondering whether they might ever feel at home here. Those yet in camps on Nauru or Manus who wonder what help, what hope, might yet come for them.

Faysal, refugee – yes, and also a son, a husband, a father, a human died at 27 years of age. Today we say his name, hold his picture up – we say not only that your death meant something, but your life meant something even though we did not know you.

I imagine Jesus on his knees praying in the garden of Gethsemane wondering what help, what hope, might yet come but having some sense of inevitability about his situation asking of his companions: “Can you not stay awake and watch with me for even an hour?”.   To those waiting in the camps it must seem as though we are asleep for surely if we knew they were sick, surely if we knew they were being hurt, surely if we knew they were hungry this would not be a situation we would let continue… I hold my goddaughter in my lap, she is just starting out at school – learning to read – I imagine her asking me in years to come when this is a social studies project at school “Where were you while this was happening? Why didn’t you do something? Why did it take so long to change?” and trying to explain how it could be that some of us, so many of us, should be “asleep”. Yes he had refugee status – that didn’t seem to make a difference. The PNG government declared the camps illegal – that didn’t seem to make a difference.   The UN said aspects of Australia’s asylum seeker policies violate the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – that didn’t seem to make a difference… What will make a difference?  I overhear one woman say to another: “What people don’t understand is that to do nothing is to do something.”


We have met today on the Princes Bridge, I don’t know why. I look around while I wait for the formalities to begin and notice that all along the bridge is the Latin motto Vires Acquirit Eundo (the coat of arms of Melbourne) meaning ‘she gathers strength as she goes’ referring to the Roman goddess Fama or rumour personified. Following the speakers and a moment of silence, those holding flowers are invited to throw them from the bridge into the Yarra river and I realise my hope is that these vigils might gather strength as they go.

Those who are on their knees praying are asking us if we can be awake.
Those crying alone in the darkness are asking if we can stay awake with them.

Unbidden some of those at the vigil move out onto the road and block traffic on the bridge. They are asking us: “Are you awake?”

The next action calling for the camps to be closed, for the refugees seeking our protection to be given their mandated human rights, will be held on Sunday 9 April (Palm Sunday) – this is a question for people of all faiths and none: “Are you awake?”



Consider looking into the Love Makes A Way movement or Refugee Action Collective for other ways to be involved and further details for the Palm Sunday event as it draws closer. I’ve drawn on inspiration from many of tonight’s vigil speakers above, thanks for your voice and advocacy.



We can sometimes find ourselves at a crossroads in our life – this job or that, this community or that, this city/country or that… these times can be terribly isolating as we wear well-worn tracks in our own minds going over what we know (again and again) but not knowing how best to move forward.

A Quaker Discernment Circle can be a good way to move forward through any liminal space. These circles hold space for deep listening to your own heart and wisdom and God’s call. This space doesn’t critique and is not intended to be intellectually analysing or deconstructing but hearing spiritually.

Invite as many people as you would like – but it’s easier if it’s not unwieldy and you can all fit around a common table or lounge room floor. This might be 6-10 people say. Good qualities are: people you trust, people who know you well, people that ask good questions, people that are invested in you, friends/mentors/elders…

Quaker expressions  use a lot of silence. Silence is active worship.You will be changed. There is an expectation of that.

In our silence we are together and connected to others present. Don’t worry about what you’re thinking (don’t stress if you start but a shopping list, but…) take a thought as it comes, dwell on it as you need to – it may or may not become ‘ministry’ (you might merely hold or pray it silently without expressing it aloud), someone else might say it, it may not need to be said.  In this listening silence there is no veil(s) between you and God and these intentional spaces can provide ministry that is uncanny to what’s on your heart and mind.

While someone might ask a question aloud…  They do not give “answers”.  Only you have your own answers to deepen your spiritual life.

A loose framework for a Discernment Circle might look something like the following:

Introduction – A facilitator/host says what the space is for and gives and overview of the circle

[silence as we become present to the person
and the purpose of the circle]

Presentation – when they’re ready, the person who is discerning takes as much time as they need to describe what the choices are that lie before them and any/all the ways that is conflicted in their heart/mind/body/spirit.

[silence – the voice of the discerner is held
without judgement or interruption]

Open and Honest Questions – those present may ask questions, they may not. The discerner may elect to answer aloud, they may not. The purpose of the questions isn’t to seek answers (resolve/close) but to open new channels of thought for consideration (broaden/open) thus the questions should be framed an open-ended queries rather than being binary.

[silence – explores the possibilities that may have been opened,
what might this mean for what was first shared]

Mirroring – those present may repeat words or phrases from the discerners presentation that have stood out/echoed/resonated and feel significant.  Sometimes when we are trying to make a choice we can lose sight of what is most important but as we talk there are often clues in our tone, emotion and vocabulary. In this space our community can echo these back to us and help us hear our own deepest yearning. n.b. don’t critique or explain, let the discerners own discernment speak for itself.

[silence – this time of holding the discerner at the center,
their fears and longings, can create a lot of vulnerability.
We are yet “holding”, what can be encouraged and strengthened
as we send this person out?]

Affirmations and Celebrations – it is likely that the discerner has shared a breadth of what they feel called to and responsible for, this is a space for those present to share encouragement that builds up and resources this person as they continue along their Way. What can be affirmed about their passion? What have they shown deep caring for and commitment to? What qualities are demonstrated in the desire to discern well and deeply in whatever choice is being made?

Note: some people might like to have pens and paper on hand for prompts or pictures and it’s sometimes nice to give these to the discerner at the end of the circle.

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.






“…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.




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.


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.

The Indigenous Hospitality House are hosting learning circles on a breadth of topics. Here are Samara’s reflections on the Quaker session. Photo credit to IHH.


Start with silence – business meetings, weddings, funerals, protests… this is an intentional mechanism for listening to the prophetic voice.
On the table in front of us we have flowers [something from creation], the Bible, and “our book” [the Quaker queries and advices].
Calm, relax, let go, forget day/tasks/concerns.
Be present.
For me this is often about my body yielding and a remembering of the nature of love to change.
A service might go an hour or more, let’s try and go for 10 mins and close with “Thank you friends”
These spaces
– don’t critique
– not intellectually analysing/deconstructing
…but hearing spiritually.
Spaces are to address spiritual wellbeing. To provide a space to see and understand spiritually.
Quakers believe no priest of minister can do it for you. The hour of silence is an hour of active worship. You will be changed. There is an expectation of that.
Someone might ask a question aloud… [Quakers might reference their queries and advices book if relevant]. They do not give “answers”
Only you have your own answer to deepen your spiritual life.
e.g. “I want to talk about why I’m sad…”
“We can, but what makes you happy?”
The process reframes.
– together
– connected to others present
– not worried about what your thinking (don’t stress if you start but a shopping list, but…)
– take a thought, dwell on it as you need to – may or may not become ministry.
– no veil(s) between me and God
– ministry uncanny to what’s on your heart/mind.



IMG_0063I have been struggling recently… just figuring out how to exist well in a world where so much feels obfuscated by the power of things unseen to influence and affect my life.  Things and people that seek to control my choices by limiting my choices. As a way of praying, personal confession and speaking to powers I wanted to somehow create a physical metaphor for the ideas circling in my head and this is how the idea for the veil came about.

What follows here is a series of images that seeks to playfully and prayerfully explore, critique, live-into-being the answer to some of my own questions around this idea of what barriers are coming between us and being able to see God clearly…

Here are some of my queries:

In what ways does this veil shelter or smother me?

How can we know and be known through such thickness that clouds and blinds us?

At a recent team planning day, the facilitator mentioned that the church “as we know it” has 17 years left… it’s dying.  What does this mean if we reflect on the Church as the Bride of Christ? Is the church glorious? …holy and without blemish? ready?

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Revelation 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed [are] they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

The Greek word ecclesia, for church, means “The called-out (ones)” i.e. the church is its people, if the institutional church as we know it dies – what does that mean for the called? Does God become a widower?

What does it look like to live with full access to God? How can we remove the veil that creates separation between God and humankind?

Covenant symbols in Christianity: BRIDAL VEIL
“Not only does the bridal veil show the modesty and purity of the bride and her reverence for God, it reminds us of the Temple veil which was torn in two when Christ died on the cross. The removing of the veil took away the separation between God and man, giving believers access into the very presence of God. Since Christian marriage is a picture of the union between Christ and the church, we see another reflection of this relationship in the removal of the bridal veil. Through marriage, the couple now has full access to one another. (1 Corinthians 7:4)” [from about.com]

How might we compare and contrast this invisible veil with a hijab or niqab? What is visible and what is hidden by them?

I first wore the headscarf at the age of 18 (with no pressure to wear it from parents at all even though they are very devout religious leaders in our community). My reason for wearing it was that I was at a point in my life where I was growing in my faith journey and wanted to make my surrender to God visible. For me the headscarf was an extension of my prayer (it is exactly what I wear when I pray).  The act of wearing a scarf had nothing to do with a man, whether it was my father, brother or husband. In fact, my husband did not see me without a scarf until we were engaged. This in itself raises an interesting function that many women who wear the scarf also acknowledge- that the scarf can liberate their bodies from the insistent objectification of women in the public space. It demands that people deal with them based on their intellect, values, manners, behavior, ideas, etc and not based on their looks. Quite a strong feminist statement.            – Dr Nora Amath

Is the Church lost? What is it looking for? What does it need? What does it pray for? Is it lonely? Is it static? Is it dead/dying?
























No one knows what makes the soul
wake up so happy

Maybe a dawn breeze has blown the veil
from the face of God.

~ Rumi