Tag Archive: reflection


re-membered holy and whole body identity

I don’t much like looking in mirrors. I find them critical, unkind and discomforting because the image there seems to confront me with all the things I am not: skinny enough, beautiful enough, skin imperfection-free, hair-free… the world tells me in a myriad of ways this is my truth. In fact, the capitalist economy relies on me believing this. The reflection I see seems so distorted – how am I to know myself as holy and whole? I’m not called to a deficit existence but one of abundance.  Made by God and belonging to God. Cheryl Lawrie’s beautiful poem invites us to remember and re-member ourselves through the power of raw grace.

We are each of us made in the image of God.  God knitted us together and we are made as we were intended to be.  A special mention here to those LGBTIQ+ identifying whose personhood has experienced base-abnegation by the church, particularly throughout the recent plebiscite debacle.  I would pray for your wounds but its really not you I think are broken. Please don’t ever doubt that you are wanted and loved.

In his book, Our God Is Undocumented, Ched Myers  tells us to share communion in order to “Remember what has been dismembered. (p.200)  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 doomed to drift forever on or be drowned by the tides of empire, refugees all.”

I don’t go to church or and belong to a community, in this way I am perhaps a refugee, but I enjoy regularly observing the ritual of communion by myself at home, 1) because I believe absolutely in this invitation to wholeness – for myself and others and 2) I frequently garnish my communion with cheese. I f**ken love cheese.

As with most queries for which I have no answer, I try and pray my way through and that went a little something like this…

As I reflected on my culturally and societally-imposed, as-is, identity I found myself focusing on those imperfections  – the scars, the stains, the marks… it felt powerful to name those things that sit at the centre – fear, longing, doubt, insecurity, hunger, desire, hope… I juxtaposed this with some bible text to explore how it might reframe some of that thinking and was pleasantly surprised by the strength of the invitation to raw grace. I remember and am re-membered.

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I’ve had a bit of a go at packaging this up as a DIY reflection activity… get in touch if you want to be a guinea-pig. The beauty of the invitation to the communion table is not being limited to a plus-one.

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Let me leave you with a psalm by New Zealand author Joy Cowley by way of benediction:

Seeing

Dear God,
I need to see myself
as you see me.
My own vision is fragmented.
I try to divide up my life
and reject those parts of me
I consider to be weak.
I waste time and energy
in the battle of self against self
and Lord, I always end up the loser.

Dear God,
help me to see myself
as you see me.
I forget that you made me just as I am
and that you delight in your creation.
You do not ask me to be strong;
you simply ask me to be yours.
You do not expect me to reject my weakness,
merely to surrender it to your healing touch.

Dear God,
when I can see myself
as you see me,
then I will understand
that this frail, tender, fearful, aching, singing
half-empty, shining, shadowed person
is a whole being made especially by you
for your love.

Joy Cowley
 
 
Amen.

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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 

Mosaic

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?

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Fireplace

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

Footprints

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.

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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.

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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.

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An outsider would not have noticed any visible changes. The same skies, the same seas. The same faces… But they know that everything was different. Their banal everyday life which they knew with such familiarity had been transfigured,  They had been given new eyes and the solid objects and stone faces which filled their space became transparent. It was as if they saw invisible things which were visible only to those who had seen the angel troubling the waters of the pool – the dead man.

Normal mirrors reflect things which are present; but dreams show things which are absent… their stories about the dead man were stories about themselves. Stories not about what they were (that is what they saw when they looked in their mirrors…) but stories about what they desired to be: this is what they saw as they faced their dreams…

Inside our flesh, and mixed with the noises of Death, there is written an indelible story of beauty.  And even without knowing we know that we are destined to this happiness: the Prince must meet Sleeping Beauty.

The villagers remembered. Their stories were the return of a lost time: the past, desired, repressed, forgotten, dead, resurrected from the grave.

…How could I explain to her that the story was always happening in the present just because it had never happened in the past, in the far distant land?

…the beautiful wants to return… its time is sacred; it is reborn every morning; it is the time of resurrection.

…Once upon a time, in a far distant land…” : a cloud of mist covers the narrative to conceal its real time and space which are ‘now’ and ‘here’… the ‘once upon a time, in a far distant land’ is a metaphorical was of speaking about a present loss.

p.39-41, The Poet, the Warrior, the Prophet

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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 1 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.

 

Purpose: How to get somewhere

Constitutions: Tell us what to do and how to get there

Why?: Need to ask, where are these taking us to? What are we going to do with it?

The German word grundnorm (basic norm) combines big + what is normal.

American Constitution says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal…” this is a basic norm of their constitution and yet there was slavery at the time.  What is constitutional for one group is not for others.

Is constitutional recognition worth fighting for in the Australian context?

If you are given a legal personality this gives you a legal identity/makes you an entity (you can transact).  Constitutional recognition would give Aboriginal people legal personality.

Here we use a Westminster/Western model of constitution – a link back to the UK. White men put the document together – it represented their idea of society then and for the future.  Section 128 allows for the constitution to be changed (function for change provided for in its creation).

What are the founding values and guiding principles?

Cooper vs. Stuart Crown gave 40 acres then wanted to take 7 acres back – appealed to the Privy Council in the UK.  Land that was not “cultivated” was considered not claimed.

Aboriginal people are currently mentioned in only 2 sections of the Constitution. For the purposes of counting in the Census they will have a value of “0” (zero) and in the Exclusion Clause which allows for Parliament to make laws specific to race (applying to anyone not white). This is legalised discrimination. The law makers had the view that Aboriginal people would disappear – either by dying off or being bred out… we are still here!

Following WW2 there was a movement to say collectively we cannot allow for the extermination of an entire people.  Some human values are UNIVERSAL regardless of what some countries and governments might do.  UN developed International law which includes a convention against racial discrimination “No legal or moral authority for laws based on race”.  Australian law has vetoed land purchase in Queensland, High COurt MABO decision recognised Native title in 1992 > Aboriginal people exist.  There is a fundamental clash between the constitution and the law – it is at odds with itself and it needs to be synchronised.

How are we getting there? What will we do when we get there?

I want to see… language, law, culture, spirituality, kindness, interconnectedness to land and animals, respect for neighbours, storytelling and learning… survive.

Recognising is the first step.  We can’t have a conversation if you can’t see me.

The State of Victoria is looking into making a treaty.Section 109 of the Constitution allows for laws that are inconsistent but if it comes to a ruling Federal law would prevail. If the vehicle we take is a treaty – what is in it? protecting/including what?

When applying law there is a sense that we should be able to go back to the original ‘intent’ of the law (read it in context) – it is a legal fiction that we can know or that we do know what that is. “Democracy” when it arrived was for landed white men, then all white men, white men and white women, now voters (excluding prisoners)… what democracy means has changed over time.

 

Te Tiriti O Waitangi and Pakeha-Maori Conversations: What Hope for Change? – Maria Bargh

Strong Spirit in Community Development – Grant Paulson

Repentance and Treaty? – Ray Minniecon

Primal Faith and Ancient Treaty: Precedents on the Abraham Trail – Norm Habel

What might the Australian Church look like in the face of the sovereignty of the First Peoples? – Chris Budden

A Paradoxical Hospitality – Robert Hoskin and Naomi Wolfe

Aboriginal sources and Aboriginal sovereignty – Joanna Cruickshank

Pulling together the threads – Mark Brett

 

Ex nihilo

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.

quaker-circle

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.
SILENCE
– 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.

 

 

Ten stolen minutes

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Ten stolen minutes

to say

to see

all there is to see

all there is to say

all there is to be

to breathe

take ten minutes

and breathe

 

 

 

 

Talitha Fraser

The water laps

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The water laps
soothing the disquiet
of all things unknown.
There are larger,
cycles and tides…
rhythms at work…
you will not ever
know the music to.
But you might,
if you are still,
hear an echo.

Talitha Fraser

Mindful reflection

 

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We did a mindfulness activity at Sunday group last night led by Bron.

For three minutes, take a segment of mandarin and explore it with all of your senses – touch, taste, sight, smell – as if you have never tried mandarin before.  What do you notice?

For ten minutes, focus on your breathing, in and out, sensations in your lungs… chest… nose… Focus on your breath and nothing else. When thoughts, feelings, plans, tasks come… recognise them and let them pass like clouds in the sky above you – a degree removed from them – without judging yourself for wandering.

 

 

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“I will not agree to my children going to shed their blood.
Though your words are strong,
you will not move me to help you…
you can fight your own fight
until the end”

– quote from the centenary exhibition at the Wellington National Library

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The GALLIPOLI: The Scale of War exhibition at Te Papa

Anzac Day in 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli…How’s this for engagement with/reflection on war?

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the red line you follow through the exhibition follows the timeline of the engagements with a cross symbolising each life lost along the way in a very confronting impression of the price for each metre of land gained… and lost.

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