Tag Archive: wholeness

IMG_0080It was a privilege to meet Aunty Sharyn Bird on Thursday night – she was sharing her story and talking about the initiative Bir’a Women’s Healing Ministry she has started up that: raises awareness about abuse (emotional, domestic and sexual), encourages survivors to speak out, and gathers support for survivors .

It’s not for me to try and tell anyone else’s story but if there’s an opportunity for you to hear Aunty Sharyn (or participate in a yarning circle yourself!) I would encourage you to take it. A visual representation of her story told in a painting (left)

I have been drawn to the way in the gospels Jesus’ touch heals but then he “hears her whole truth” [Mark 5:33] and she is healed again.  There is more than one layer to our healing.

What role can/does truth-telling and story-sharing have in our healing and wellbeing?

We need people willing to ask us our story; safe space to tell it; someone to listen.  Our wholeness (being healed and whole – all we were created to be) is tied up with being known, heard, understood…

How do we make/take time for this?

Aunty Sharyn held such a space – generosity in that  – and a lot of compassion.


You can read more about Bir’a below and make a gift to support their work through Jisas Wantaim ref: BiraWomen.


The session put me in mind of the Cheryl Lawrie poem “This is my Body” from Easter – how might we engage in our own re-membering and bringing it about for others?

What do our re-membered selves look like?

What is one thing you could do right now to go from where you are now towards the ‘whole and healed’ version of you?



Doing the BCM Restorative Justice unit, here’s a link to one of the articles.

“This theology of radical inclusion was disconcerting to both Jewish ethnocentrism and Hellenistic ideologies of superiority.  In Greco-Roman antiquity the cultural, economic and political enmity between Jew and Gentile was profound. These two communities were institutionally and historically alienated—not unlike the modern legacy of racial apartheid or the protracted struggle between Israelis and Palestinians or Protestant Loyalists and Catholic Republicans in Northern Ireland. But Paul refused to abide by the social divisions around him, instead trying to build bridges called churches.”

So here I sit with:

  • who is reconciliation to be accomplished by?
  • what do we refuse to abide by?
  • who/where are the bridge builders? (or alternative societies being modelled)?
  • what are we called to be fools for?


IMG_8263Camping for Easter in the Brisbane Ranges and I have brought along Cheryl Lawrie’s beautiful Pocket Liturgies for reflection…


Holy Week – This is my body broken for you [Matthew 26: 6-13]

There are many ways to break a body.

When someone pays their piece of silver to
have their way with you in a dark corner,
down a back lane…
to make your body theirs to do with what they will.
And if you can, you break yourself before they break you.

Your body stays, your mind detaches,
and you disintegrate, disremember.

Or when someone sells your body for pieces of silver,
for those in power to do with as they will,
and as you hang on a cross, battered, disfigured,
your soul splits from your body, and spins into hell,
detached, disintegrated, dismembered.

This woman touches Jesus
[she whose story all of history knows by rumour
and reputation]
and she offers him all she has to give:
her truth.

But she stays with it, this time. All of her.

And those who are watching, can’t
[it’s hard to look at raw grace face on].
They redirect attention with words of political correctness,
questions that need to be asked
but not in this moment, not at this time,
when they’re asked not for revelation, but for diversion.

But Jesus knows no gift more divine
than one who has been to hell before him.
Coming back to life in front of him,
and honours her one more time:

remember her not as a person to be bought
or a body to be broken

This is who she is

Gift and giver
loved and lover.
Body and soul
holy and whole.

[p.68, Hold This Space Pocket Liturgies by Cheryl Lawrie]



God, I confess to my own dismemberment
profane and broken
who am I to touch You?
to touch anyone?
you break yourself before they break you
there is an ego to imagine I have any power
to participate in my own healing
detached, disintegrated, dismembered
what does it mean to live engaged,
holy and whole, remembered?

Let me aspire to offer all I have to give
no gift more divine
coming back to life.

“This is who she is

Gift and giver
loved and lover.
Body and soul
holy and whole.”


I wish, sometimes



I wish, sometimes

those things, done – undone

those things, never attempted – tried

those things, dreamed – realised

I aspire to wholeness

in myself and all things

and I fail

I fail

I’m reminded of how little power

I have, how little control, how

little comprehension, how

little I am.

You are big.

You are big enough to hold me,

the done the dreamed and the


I will never know wholeness

in myself

but I can know wholeness in You

and I am grateful for that.

I am grateful for You.


Talitha Fraser

You are the reason



You are the reason

for all that I am

You are the inspiration

and imagination that

makes the world new

You are the hope that

makes light where

light should not be but is

You are the grace that

heals our wholeness

filling and forming

You are the source

of such beauty it is our

hearts hurt and gladness

at the same time.

You are.

You are.


Talitha Fraser


Welcome, we acknowledge that we gather on the land of which the people of the Kulin Nations have been custodians since time immemorial.

This is our fourth in a series called The Art of Discipleship where we showcase the material of different books and engage with their material creatively.


The activity this week is taken from:

Women of Spirit: Woman’s Place in Church and Society

This Australian book by Janet Nelson and Linda Walter looks at how church and society both have ways that they tells us what  we are and aren’t supposed to do and how we are and aren’t supposed to look.  How can we reinterpret our self-esteem and identity understanding ourselves to be made in the image of God?

As has been done before, in a Seeds small group and a Women’s Circle at Surrender, images of women doing sacred ordinary things are blu tacked around the room with bible verses referring to women, where God is speaking to women and where “feminine” metaphors are applied e.g. God: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 66:13) or “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:27).

This time we also had images of men juxtaposed with this “feminine” language and imagery.

So we had a time of some music playing while people walked around the room ( a reflection space created with pictures, bible passages, mirrors) immersed in these images and words and people were invited to grab a verse or image if it spoke to them and bring back and sit when they were ready.

  • What stands out?
  • What jars? What resonates?
  • What image/text do you have? – tell us about it

Read the story of The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek (a theme of the main book)

  • What does it mean to dwell in this idea that: God delights in you!!?
  • Where do you look for your identity? Sense of self?

“If this is my experience, it means that something of the greatest importance is happening.  It means that God is inviting me to discover “Him” no longer as another beside me but as my own deepest and truest self.  He is calling me into the experience of meeting Him to the experience of finding my identity in Him.  I cannot see Him because He is my eyes.  I cannot hear Him because He is my ears.  I cannot walk to Him because He is my feet. And if apparently I am alone and He is not there that is because He will not separate His presence from my own.  If He is not anything at all, if He is nothing, that is because He is no longer another.  I must find Him in what I am or not at all. (Williams 1976)” p.171

How might seeing yourself in the image of God change your life/the way you live?

Using a camera, take some pictures of yourself – not a “selfie” that is about looking your best/who you’re with/what you’re doing but perhaps some part of your body you feel critical of, somehow a part that captures your ‘self’that you might feel critical of – scroll back through the images you have taken and prayerfully try and hear what God is saying to you in the mix of how you feel about yourself.



People can share their photos (if they feel comfortable to do so).
Discuss how the exercise makes you feel or what it gets you thinking about.

Close with the ‘Greeting Circle’ from p.194  – go around the circle blessing each person.

Blessed are you among wo(men) ____________________ [name]
For you have found favour in God’s sight.




In addition to the Carmelite Library in Middle Park, I have been known also to haunt the State Library of Victoria, it’s central, so so pretty, an easy place to occupy oneself before, after and between things and I love their exhibit of the written word from carved stone tablets, hand-drawn illuminated manuscripts and giant atlases to the printed word.  It is a creative space and that is what I go there and “take out”.

“Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit,
reminders of order, calm and creativity, lakes of mental energy”
– Germaine Greer (one of the big quotes on the wall)

Today I find myself in ‘LT A821 Poetry’ and I take two books off the shelf back to my spot in the carrels, called “Poems from Prison” and to contrast perhaps, “Sometimes Gladness” but, first things first, this fell out as soon as I opened it:


Who is the Reverse Butcher? <obviously as I was sitting in the library, I did not know, but that’s that magic of time and connectivity, I can insert the link right here and you can have a look!>

Speaking of time – has this poem been tucked inside the book since last year or was it written then and only placed in the book today?

This is an intriguing and colourful way to communicate… it might be a fun exercise to attempt in fact – isolating words on a page to say something quite different that what the original author intended… can you still cal it an original artwork when you have literally carved it out of someone elses work? It is fascinating I think, our capacity to take things others have said or taught or done and make them our own.

How much does it cost to get postcards made up?  what is it for? what does it do? anything? Perhaps it is not its purpose to do anything but ‘be’.  Outside of the normal rules of submitting poetry this is anonymous and there are no criteria to fulfill… I’m a little #antiresidency myself, at least as far as The Establishment is concerned did it feel ironic (or clever?) to tuck it between the pages of a book on “Poems from Prison”?  So many questions!

Now, I actually copied quite a few poems out (how often do you get to hear poems written by people who are in prison after all?), this is their truth and, I think, something of their healing… I’ll limit myself to two.


I don’t want to believe
the message on your face
inches away
through the rust wine
finger-clutched smooth
by husky love promises
but my eyes
blind to all
blind to nothing
that it’s true

But I remember when
one summer day
we held hands like children
and went into a
brand-new empty house
smelling of paint and plaster
and looking out strange windows
we could see
the wilderness over the back fence

so we made love
on the fresh-sanded floor
and your thighs
tasted of sawdust
happy but sad too
we went outside to our
mickey mouse car
with the baby on the back seat
and left

like love was
left on the stove
to stew and simmer until
all the impurities evaporated
and nothing
remained but enough tasty poison
to murder us both
or me
was I such an enemy?

wise but helplessly dumb
touched with a little style
guile-smart with experience but
gifted only with the power
to live your life in more sadness
a normal person could
think of

Four foot round the chest
I opened bottles with my teeth
tore Rod McKuen books
in half
with my bare hands
but I wasn’t strong enough
to make you happy
how could you forget
blame never alters
kind words are hard to find



I want to write a book about ANGER
about how anger CAUSES things
I want to do this.  I’ll show it SUBTLY and
in various stages.
I’ll do it something like Bronte did love.
I’ll show anger in DEGREES.
I’ll build it past recompense,
demonstrating how a moment’s ANGER
can warp a whole LIFE,
and give a man a fork through his lip
or an empty eye socket,
or maim him all in a minute
to be endured forever.  The book
will be MATURE, and for adults.
It should be a masterpiece of informed
intelligent writing.

…and from “Sometimes Gladness” by Bruce Dawe (because sometimes poets can say things our spirit knows but can’t find words for)


Always the first fragmentation
Stirs us to fear… Beyond that point
We learn where we belong, in what uncaring
Complex depths we roll, lashed by light,
Tumbling in anemone-dazzled fathoms
Seek innocence in surrender,
Senility an ironic act of charity
Easing the agony of disparateness until
That day when, all identity lost, we serve
As curios for children roaming beaches,
Makeshift monocles through which they view
The same green transitory world we also knew.


When you find him,
that last citizen,
hiding wherever there is left to hide,
too timid to surface,
living on nuts or whatever was at hand
when the flash came
– be kind to him, comfort him,
break the news to him gently
that he is the sine qua non, the ultimate reason
for everything.

Let him walk where he will,
let him reassure himself with trees, yes, and the light
walking between them, let him listen to waters
conversing like children, the rain
telling its secular tears, let him
lose himself in what was, roaming
the city streets where wires hang
like ganglia, let him touch things
and remember. Soon enough
logic may cross his brow
like an evil shadow.

When you find him
– give him your alien kindness,
stroke him with feelers of love.



Talitha Fraser

christianarchyJesus Christ preached a gospel of love and peace with justice. But the history of the Christian religion is littered with every kind of evil. What went wrong?

If you have ever wondered – how can anyone choose to be “Christian” when so much harm has been been done in the name of the church? I can only say 1) that’s a very good question and 2) Dave Andrew’s has creditably tried to answer it.  It’s not enough to say: “Well, I didn’t do those things…” these stories form part of the history we are a part of and it is only when we know and accept that story that we can understand and speak for our place in it.

Literally, “Chapter 1 – A History of Christianity: A History of Cruelty” is a history of the faith spanning 4 eras:
-Councils, Creeds & Coercian: ca. AD 100-500
-Emperors, Popes & Power: ca. AD 500-1000
-Crusades, Inquisitions & Control: ca. AD 1000-1500
-Worldwide Evangelism, Witch Hunts & Genocide: ca. 1500-2000

Dave Andrews also talks about how his connection with the YWAM community broke down.

If you are working to reconcile brokeness with grace, to understand why you should (or anyone would) persist in the pursuit of faith when church/religion/community can disappoint you and let you down then this is a good read albeit a confronting one because it goes there, looking at the ugliness… (I’d recommend reading it with others or at least at time you are feeling strongly rooted/centred in your faith because it IS confronting)

(p.152) “When Christ was crucified, the hope of his diciples, that they actually might have been able to build a better world together, was totally shattered… Jesus was dead.  And all their hopes were buried with him.”

In a complete plot spoiler, I’m about to tell you how it ends (so feel free to skip this and buy the book) with Dave Andrew’s conclusion and call to live the Way of Christ as it was intended:

(p.167-169) “Christ calls us to be a network of residents working towards community in the localities where we live, so as to realise the love of God for all people, particularly those on the fringes of our society. Christ himself is our example, and his spirit serves as the inspiration for the simple, practical, compassionate path he wants us to take, regardless of the difficulties along the way.
His expectation is that we would not slavishly copy him, but voluntarily make the same kind of choices that he made, and that he encouraged his diciples, like Peter, to make: to accept life, to respect life, and to empower people to live life to the full.
Christ calls us to know God, the surce of all life, more fully, and to cultivate the disciplines that will help us to develop a relationship to God in the midst of our ordinary everyday lives.
He calls us to live in sympathy with the heart of God, sustaining ourselves, supporting one another, and serving those around about us, in an increasingly steadfast, faithful and life-affirming manner.
Christ calls us to be aware of ourselves, and the gift of life, that each of us can bring to the community.
He calls us to scknowledge not only the reality of our brokenness, but also the potential for wholeness in our relationships, and our responsibility to grow collectively as people, in our capacity to speak truthfully, listen attentively, and work co-operatively, for the sake of the community.
Christ calls us, over and over again, particularly to remember those people in the community who are forgotten, who are rejected, neglected and ignored.
He calls us to affirm our commitment to the welfare of the whole of the human family, and to make ourselves available to brothers and sisters who are marginalised, in their ongoing struggle for love and justice.
Christ knows we disagree about many things, if not most things, but he wants us to agree on at least oen thing: the need for us to join together to develop communities in our localities that reflect his compassion by being more devoted, more inclusive and more non-violent.”

the things we plant

seedlings gardenReflecting today on the things we plant in the hopes of fruit to come.  We believe in planting so we do it but ultimately we have very little control over what grows and who it belongs to.  The pain is in our awareness of this and our discipline is planting anyway – even though we’re tired and someone else may receive the benefit of our careful tending, someone else may not like the plants we’ve chosen or where we positioned them and tear them out like weeds.  The thing that I value is only valued by others if they want it themselves.  What I grieve for, is not this house, much like another having four walls and a roof, but the harvest hoped for here that will not be realised by me.

There is a large harvest, but few workers to gather it in.  Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest.