Tag Archive: wholeness


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.

love is love marriage plebiscite Australia

I’ve been trying to think a bit about what love looks like when both sides of the Marriage Equality debate are feeling persecuted and I come back, as I often do to the God who asks me difficult questions.

Maybe the pressure isn’t secular but wholly Holy, the Holy who asks: “Who do you say that I am?” It’s a good question to grapple with and we must grapple with our answer.

I can take bits and pieces of God, parts small enough to understand and think I ‘know’ but only a fool can imagine they can answer such questions because when You kneel before the One who made you, you realise how little you know, how little you understand, how little you are in this bigger Creation we all pay a part in.

Kneel. Be brought to re-awareness, re-awakening to the bigness of God. There is space there for all you fear and love, and love and fear.

Rise. Live, knowing that space is here too.
We carry it with us.

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God said: Let the dark be dark.
Let the stars shine properly.
And let darkness with no stars
heal the damage caused by light.
Men said: Let there be light all
night through, where there is no-one
much or no-one at all, let
the gathered haze from street-lamps,
undying brand-names, full-blaze
unpopulated windows
stain the undersides of clouds
even when nights are cloudless.
God said: Light itself needs rest.
Some things are best seen, unseen,
in darkness unhindered by
Great Light. Me, for example.

Robin Fulton Macpherson

Lay your burdens down child

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At the beach this week I found myself writing a bit of a song of lament and solace but can see it having several applications perhaps as prayer of confession of self, powers and politics.

Lay your burdens down, burdens down, burdens down child x2

Chorus
I will come to you, come to you, come to you child x2
I will lift you up, lift you up, lift you up child x2

Let your tears fall down, tears fall down, tears fall down child x2

Variations
Lay your:  troubles/darkness/heartbreak/sorrow… down
Lay: what scares you/what’s hurting/what’s broken… down
Lay your: body/spirit/hunger/weapons… down
Lay your: anger/sadness/hatred… down
Lay your: power/whiteness/stigma/baggage…down

 

What will You make of me?

I must be
unmade
to be made
reduce
reuse
recycle
here I am then
broken
what will You
make of me?

Talitha Fraser 

Trigger warning: there’s a lot that’s demeaning and dehumanising in this – whatever your gender and sexual orientation

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I poke and prod

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I poke and prod
prod and poke
inside and out
my blemishes and wounds
scarred recovery and discovery
of what is yet untouched.
The markers of pain are the
milestones of my journey to wholeness
it is in my breaking I am made.

Talitha Fraser

All that I am

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God
all that I am
anything that I am
is what you made me to be
as much as I am broken,
I am made
as much as I am fallen,
I am raised
as much as I am wounded,
I am restored
as much as I am consumed,
I am made whole
I am drawn towards You, Creator Spirit
the seasons and the cycles
of transformation that are the
source of such wonder and dread
my doing and my undoing
are in You

Talitha Fraser

 

What follows are some excerpts from an Anne Elvey  article I picked up at the Creation Symposium (full article available here) interesting reading for anyone thinking about the ways our disconnection to the earth is mirrored in our disconnection from our own bodies

In being transcended through certain forms of western discourse and practice, bodies and earth have been critically endangered.  In the context of this endangerment, an ecological feminist politics and ethics seeks to affirm the materiality of bodies and earth.

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080The language we use in addressing the question of the relationship between culture and nature is critical, because discourse is one of the key processes through which we construct the agency or non-agency of the other and create structures that allow or disallow that agency.

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As with all experience, sexual experience is vast, not only in its possibilities but in the resonance of even the simplest sensation. Desire, longing, pleasure, passion, orgasm, move the body into states of being which defy all definitions, not only those of gender or sexuality but of the boundaried way European culture perceives existence… Apart from any bond or relationship between lovers, in sexual experience an erotic connection to existence is kindled.

(Katherine Hayles, 1995:60)

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I take up the now fairly commonplace notion of earth as a community of interconnected constituents.  This community includes humans, other animals, plants, rocks, soil, water, air, trees, rivers, oceans, forests, hairy-nosed wombats, viruses, kangaroo apples, hermit crabs, amoeba and so on, connected by way of a complex sociality marked by plurality, particularity, diversity, interdependence and sometimes violence, oppression and indifference to the other.  What if this earth, however we might know earth, is understood as a material given that precedes and resists but also underpins and gives space to our cultural constructions of it? This space is given not as a hole to be filled but in the manner of hospitality or to borrow a term from Jean-Luc Nancy (2000) of ‘being toward’. What if this understanding of the earth is giving precedence in our thinking about the questions of ‘sex and gender’? What if the questions of ‘sex and gender’ are considered within the context of the materiality of human beings as constituted within the wider materiality of a plural and diverse earth community?

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082The experience of the lived body offers a particular example of the agency of experience.  In pregnancy and childbirth as well as in illness, the lived body challenges my ‘illusions of control’ (Diprose 1994:103). During an illness, for example, my bodily experience is foregrounded in such a way that the interplay between nature and culture in the processes of my lived embodiment cannot be reduced to a simplistic notion of the cultural construction of bodies or nature… feels nevertheless as though the virus is in some sense constructing or deconstructing me.

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She describes two forms of cultural impact on bodies and landscapes: first, the productive transformation of bodies and landscapes through cultural practices such as depilation and agriculture, for example, and second, the reproduction of bodies and landscape in discourse. (Kate Soper, 1995:137)

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Instead she locates this agency not in the individual organism alone; rather it is an ‘agency in relation’, emerging ‘out of the engagement of the organism with its surroundings’.  In this context, sexed bodies are continually being shaped and re-shaped both internally and externally through processes which are ‘partly material and partly social/experiential’, and these processes are inseparable. (Lynda Birke 2000:152)

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Contemplation is a practice of attentiveness to the other, which begins with a movement of unknowing and through a practice of openness is followed by a movement of partial and provisional ‘knowing’

hurt people, hurt people

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whoever said:
“what you don’t know can’t hurt you”
was an idiot.
what I don’t know
hurts me all the time
not knowing how to articulate
what I need or want
and wanting you to provide it
and being disappointed when you don’t
hurts me
not knowing how my upbringing,
my culture, my experiences
shape the filter by which I take life in
– not recognising you have a filter you relate out of too –
hurts me
not knowing how intergenerational trauma
has affected my great grandparents, grandparents,
parents and siblings and self
hurts me
it’s a lie to think that not talking about things
will make them hurt less.

Talitha Fraser