Tag Archive: vision


westword lmaw vigil 068

I push the miscellany of moving to one side of the table. Housing applications, to-do lists, measuring tape, a stray key… the tissues can stay.  I light a candle.  I have to.  Nothing else makes sense. Be Thou my Vision O Lord of my heart.  It didn’t make much sense to take this on – planning a vigil, to add in an extra thing. What time or strength or capacity did I imagine I had? It’s a conceit for people to imagine the idea is mine or its execution.

I light a candle, teal, it transitions in colour from light to dark and I think of the waves. The overloaded boat you give up everything to catch – all that remains is you – skin, flesh, person, a life… alive. Unless the sea takes you.  You are rescued, you think saved, you are taken to a waiting place but it isn’t liminal or moving. It’s not a threshold to a new door.  It’s not a threshold to anything.  The door you knock on, pleading, cold, hungry, desperate, skin, flesh, person, alive… remains closed.

 

 

It’s hard to know how to respond when circumstances seem beyond understanding (such as Australia’s inhumane and fear-driven approach to asylum seekers and refugees).  It’s tempting to think ‘there’s nothing I can do’ or ‘nothing I do will make any difference’ and feel absolved of taking any action.  Both personal and political power are at play here.  The person I need to answer to is me.  Just because we can’t do everything doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do something because I believe people are using their agency where they can – doctors, teachers, church and community leaders, yes even some politicians…  in speaking out you aren’t raising your voice alone but joining in a bigger chorus that are asking for the world to be different. Do you want the world to be different? Say so.  Even if it’s with only the cat watching and some “Radical Paint”.

 


What are Australian politicians saying about refugees?

“And so what I say to people when they are a little bit apprehensive about Australia taking more refugees, it’s really about what are the services we are going to provide, what communities are we going to put in and how are we going to integrate people into our community.

“These are beautiful people.

“I am so proud of humble country folk who are being part of the solution. We can do this, we can replicate this in many towns across Australia and it will bring so much good.”

Andrew Broad, National MP

 

… the current refugee crisis [is] the defining humanitarian issue of our time “and a challenge Australia has all too often failed to rise to”.  While Australia’s refugee debate was toxic, there were points of potential consensus between political parties. “I believe we can build out from these areas of consensus to increase the positive impact Australia can have on the international refugee crisis.”

TimWatts, Labor MP

 

“We have been taken for a ride, I believe, by a lot of the advocates and people within Labor and the Greens who want you to believe this is a terrible existence. These photos demonstrate otherwise. People have seen other photos in recent weeks of those up on Manus out enjoying themselves outside this centre, by the beach and all the rest of it.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

“This is exactly what we have done with the program to bring in 12,000 Syrian refugees, 90 per cent of which will be Christians. It will be quite deliberate and the position I have taken — I have been very open about it — is that it is a tragic fact of life that when the situation in the Middle East settles down — the people that are going to be most unlikely to have a continuing home are those Christian minorities.”

Malcolm Turnbull

 

“They have been under our supervision for over three years now and we know exactly everything about them …

They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here… They are basically economic refugees from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. That is the vast bulk of them.”

Malcolm Turnbull

 

“They won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English,”… “These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that.

“For many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it so there would be huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

“The difficulty of course on Manus is that this Government never put anybody on Manus. We inherited a situation where 50,000 people had come on 800 boats and it was a terrible, terrible situation. The deal that was struck between Prime Ministers O’Neil and Rudd at the time provided for no arrangement for what would happen to the people the end. It was open-ended and we have the mess to clean-up.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

“You’re talking about those that have been found not to be genuine refugees. What should they do? They should go back home. Because if we allow people who are not refugees to come here, we then displace people who have a legitimate claim to make of persecution like the Yazidis we brought in most recently under the 12,000 Syrian and Iraq program. So if you want to displace genuine refugees you allow those in that are here simply for an economic claim.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

 “The loss of one life is one too many, and I’m determined to get people off Manus, [and] to do it in such a way that we don’t restart boats.”

Peter Dutton, Immigration & Home Affairs Minister

 

 “To start off, you open up the camps. You bring transparency, you actually process these people, and you start actually finding a place for these people to go. I think that is a huge change from what we’re doing at the moment.”

Sam Dastyari, Labor MP – Shadow Minister for Immigration

 

“Well we’re the Opposition, so we’re calling on the Government. Australia has a moral obligation to ensure that these refugees have access to essential services- including security, health services, medical services- and we want the Government to be upfront. The Turnbull Government must work with PNG to guarantee the safety and security of these people and these men should immediately relocate to alternative accommodation in East Lorengau and the other facilities so they can access water, food, shelter, and receive the appropriate medical attention.”

Sam Dastyari, Labor MP – Shadow Minister for Immigration

i am not your negro

“You do not have to change to face me but you do have to face me to change”

James Baldwin

I’m just doing me

woman in veil bathed in light

Joined with the eternal transcendent
Love forms one with our body.
The humble praxis of my body
saves a seat at the table for You.

I’m just doing me

In wilderness and desert we will make a home
and grow the land of promise where
milk and honey flow.

I’m just doing me

Words of my mouth naming and knowing
because there is one Word, one Body, one Liturgy
for our longing, our life, our love.

I’m just doing me

The Word is being made flesh now
being filled with Divine Breath now and
living that out. Standing here,
with the Other in their otherness,
solidarity affirms life – of others and myself –
thanks to You.

I’m just doing me

Sojourner Truth calls out:
“Ain’t I a Woman?”, “Ain’t I a Woman?”
and the women answer: “YES!”
I am the Other.

I’m just doing me

It doesn’t matter if you’re in the garden or
renovating that old house but that you have that
indoor/outdoor flow calling you to contribute your
best self, calling you to contribute, calling you too…
and you shrug, …whatever

I’m just doing me

Sometimes I wish my eyes hadn’t been opened
But my heart says ‘yes’ and my feet say ‘go’.
In veiled resistance I make you question what
You think you see, what you think you know about me.
My weapon my very invisibility.
I will not conform to your norms or your gaze.
Angels fell and still…

I’m just doing me

Faithful women stand and say:
I have not lost my voice today.

I’m just doing me

 

Talitha Fraser


A poet-in-residence reflection on some highlights from the Saturday workshop sessions at the “With All Due Respect” conference.

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The prayer of the martyrs ought to be outlawed, forbidden on our lips.  In the middle ages, popes placed whole towns under interdict. No public prayer, no eucharist, no baptisms, no burial service for the dead – until public crime was expiated.  The Church could not continue the work of Christ while the will of Christ was violated, despised.  In somewhat the same way today, the pope should order all churches closed, all services suspended in those nations which prepare nuclear war.  A universal interdict! For the nuclear arms race threatens the greatest crime since the crucifixion – the Hiroshimizing of all the earth, a firestorm, the finis of the human adventure…

…The moral void precedes the cosmic one, and prepares for it.

…What could be more contemptuous of the God of creation than the presence of the Beast in the sanctuary?

…”Every time a bomb falls in Vietnam,” wrote a Catholic from Saigon in 1966, “every time a village is burned or a child maimed, all your fine Christian words, your words about peaceable Christian intentions and good faith, are put to naught.”

…His works are otherwise…

– His works are performed in the desert, where people are at the end of their rope, without armies, weapons, protection, money, self-assurance, magic rites, strange gods.
– His works are a liberation. They unmask our inward slavery, out fitful wills, our egos, our violence.
– His works are penitential. They include a willingness on our part to endure his absence, his silence, his furious anger.  They will not allow is our fifty-fifty compromise; so much for Caesar, so much for God. (For those who serve God, there is nothing left for Caesar.)
– His works are gracious, in the root sense of the word. His favour does not wait upon our “ups” and “downs,” the narcotic of our moods, nudged this way and that by the tides of this world. “Turn to us that we may turn to you.” His is the first move. Indeed how else could we be moved?

…when we pray, we pray to an exiled king, a renegade among the peoples, a raging holy one, steeped in dishonour.  He is the sport and mockery of all, pushed to the edge of the world, edged out of consciousness.

…Grant us at least the presence of your absence.  Let us taste that void, at the heart of the raucous yelling of prisoners, the void between the bars, between the hours that hang around like days, the days that stand like years. Touch our hearts that die in your absence. Bitter, bitter.

 

excerpts from pages 50-68, Beside the Sea of Glass, Daniel Berrigan

A stunning invocation to authentic practice and expression of faith both for non-violence/nuclear disarmament but also any other issue of justice.

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God –
be the Creator to the void
that’s within me
light where there is dark
something where there is vacancy
sound where there is silence
sight where I am blind.

Amen

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I want to dream
I want to dream together
I want to dream together and for your vision plus my vision
to surpass anything either could imagine on our own
I want to use my gifts to serve your vision, and
for you to do the same for me
I want the dream to be organic and to change
as you and I change
I want the dream to look different in different kinds of light
– sunlight, moonlight…
and seasons
– spring, autumn…

and places… Moe, Sunshine, Wallan, …here in Footscray

I want to talk about the dream as we walk along, pick fruit, share a meal together
I want to know the intimacy of shared thoughts with you
common and sacred at the same time
I want a dream that in its dreaming makes me smile in my sleep and
hold hope for a whole world through the day
I want a dream that needs a roll of butchers paper, five colours of post it notes and
four coloured marker pens to explain and still doesn’t really capture its soul
I want to dream together with you
I want to dream together
I want to dream

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Faysal Ishak Ahmed

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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?”

 

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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.

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“Old words do not reach across the new gulfs, and it is only in vision and oracle that we can chart the unknown and new-name the creatures.

Before the message there must be the vision, before the sermon, the hymn, before the prose, the poem.

Before any new theologies however secular and radical there must be a contemporary theopoetic.  The structures of faith and confession have always rested on hierophanics and images. But in each new age and climate the theopoetic of the church is reshaped in inseparable relation to the general imagination of the time.”

– from the foreword to Grace Confounding: Poems

 

 

 

Droop St Dreaming

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“Shared belief and
shared thinking
requires a
shared language”

– with Rowan Castle

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The following are some of the values which outline the purpose and core ideology of the community and are used to guide and inform our decision-making. It is always good to start off a new year checking in – are these still relevant? how are we doing? what might these look like in the year ahead?

Partnering with God

We value the opportunity of participating in the Missio Dei (mission of God). Through persistence in prayer, we seek to recognise where God is at work in Footscray, and become co-workers with Christ.
Biblical basis: Psalm 127:1, Luke 18:7, 1 Cor 3:9

In it for the long haul

We value being a constant in an inconsistent world, expecting and persevering through hard times.  Our long-term commitment allows us to build trust and respect with those in our community, as we try to reflect God’s unconditional love and grace.
Biblical basis: Hebrews 10:36

Being amongst the people

We value sharing life with our neighbours, as a real expression of the kingdom amongst the marginalised. Our everyday involvement and identification means our mission is not so much what we do, but who we are.
Biblical basis: John 1:14, Philippians 2:1-11

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 in our lives, in voice and activity, with those who we seek to serve.
Biblical basis: Jeremiah 22:16, James 2: 1-5

Becoming family

We value the intimacy of relationship we can have with Christ, and the belonging found in growing closer to God and therefore to each other.  Our goal is to be family for those facing loneliness and social isolation.
Biblical basis: 1 John 3:16-18, John 13: 34-35

Being honest about who we are

We value the humility and forgiveness required to live transparent lives in community.  We want to submit to each other in accountability and honesty, allowing Christ to use our weaknesses and failings.
Biblical basis: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, 2 Corinthians 3:18

Doing the hard yards

We value servanthood in the big and the small – choosing to do the “crappy” stuff.  We want to be people of personal and spiritual maturity (enduring personal cost) in order that the vision is accomplished.
Biblical basis: James 5:7-11

Travelling light

We value the difference that can be made when we sacrifice personal gain, pouring out our rich resources in an act of worship.  Through simplicity, good stewardship and a common commitment to sharing our lives with others, we seek to lessen the power imbalance in Footscray.
Biblical basis: Luke 9:23-24