Monthly Archives: January 2021

2021 Meeting the Moment #3

All our days and nights are made of moments, tiny consequential invitations, quests, conspicuous and ephemeral all at once. Moments to propel us forward, hold us still, enable us to sway or even go backwards. How auspicious these moments are in our lives seems to be dependent on the value we give to them in our noticing. Perhaps they of such high value we see them coming or so ordinary and familiar they pass and we don’t even blink. At the threshold in the nano second between each moment we rarely have the luxury to hold onto the time to still it completely but the breath in and the breath out can always serve as a reminder of this crossing over from one moment to the next.

Moving at a different pace gives us a glimmer of a chance to experience these thresholds in preparation for each moment. Changing pace reminds me of how sound works and what we can learn from a tuning fork. Consider placing a metaphorical tuning fork to moments. Each moment would resonate, calibrate and send the waves and disturbed molecules before they settled and have clarity arrive. A tuning fork has two tones, one for each of its prongs (tines). These two tones are the fundamental and the harmonic, maybe another version of breathing in and out. Longer tines are deeper in sound because they vibrate more slowly and shorter ones higher because they move faster. And they have actually been made in quartz and used in fancy watches in the 0th century. I didn’t realise quartz precision in advertising was referring to miniature tuning forks to deliver the highest and more precise way of keeping time than previously used mechanical pieces.

As the year opens and inevitable questions about what is being planned for the year ahead and what are you taking in from 2020 or leaving behind from 2020 and what do you want to learn has been central this past week with reflecting conversations, in formal and informal settings with peers, friends, colleagues and sojourners. Listening in there are consistent themes of resilience, improvisation, creativity, surviving and thriving, loss and grief. 2020 started in my part of the world gripped in a drought, engulfed then by bushfires and then constrained by COVID19. Adaptation became visible as we adjusted to each new and changing condition, a reminder of just what kind of species we are, one that can adjust, and harmonise the discrepancies and differences we see around us and bring them together so we can work with what we have got or create something to fit the new.

Systems unable to adjust and their vulnerabilities in these conditions, cracks became more visible and adaptation more difficult for the masses and their systems. And we can see this in governments unable to protect its most vulnerable, communities that rally around each other to fill gaps left or never created by public institutions, consistent acts of kindness and organised volunteering from individuals and not for profits. Moments being met by compassion. Moments being met by fear. Moments being met by acceptance. Time and sound meeting together with the clarity of a bell. A chime for us to meet the moment as we hear the call to stillness, or perhaps it is a call to meditation or prayer. I love to hear the sound of the city clock or the angelus bells or a call to prayer when I am in places where they are in the soundscape. The morning song is as equal to these sounds. We are in a receipt of continuous invitations to meet the moment with three movements: stillness, calibration and clarity. Stay tuned.

Morning Moment

The quartz moves with precision

As the breath moves in and out.

Warbling magpie

sharing the sky with the mournful black crow

Create a seductive binary choice soundscape.

Joy to welcome the day

Invitation to grieve

And with some rain,

bringing counterpoint,

Galahs calibrate and

celebrate dancing on overhead wires.

2021: Meeting the Moment #2

In this historic week when the democratic institution of the USA was threatened with sedition and acts of treason were in full view to the world, those of us following along at home in countries with our own challenges took a deep breath and recognised the frailities in our systems. Australia is a country colonised and founded on ideas of white supremacy, where the White Australia policy thrived and underwrote migration and labour practices that were not dismantled until the 1970s and remnants are still visible in our constitution. We have plenty of our own kind of Village People marching in the streets, storming the barricades, it feels like only yesterday national media figures were calling for on the mob to ‘ditch the witch’ and naming the elected Prime Minister “Juliar”. The under belly of whipping up a mob is only a breathe away and we all saw what it can lead to – may the images in a foreign land be a reminder to us all. During our own Black Lives Matter rallies in the midst of COVID19 more Australians knew the name Geogre Floyd than any of the 432 Aboriginal Australians who died in custody between 1991 and 2020.

We have our moment to meet in Australia. There are still treaties to be made, constitutional recognition to be fulfilled, land rights to be granted, reparation and restitution to be completed. One of the things that struck me in Washington was how white privilege turned up, I even saw some doors being held open by law enforcement officers to the home grown terrorists. I am not sure we are any different, just a little more sophisticated. Many doors are closed to racial justice. Some slammed tight and will need prying open. This is the moment.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart invites all of us to listen and there are voices to be heard. Thomas Major has documented 21 of these voices who contributed to the Statement as part of his custodianship of carrying the statement on the journey towards voice, treaty and truth. Vignettes of the stories can be found on the book’s twitter feed if you can’t get a copy of the book Finding the Heart of the Nation. One of the ways to meet this moment is to to respond to voice by listening, treaty by supporting the Statement and truth telling by turning towards our history and learning more. The Statement is asking for three things: constitutional change to enshrine an empowered First Nations voice; legislative change to establish a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making with Australian governments and thirdly this Commission to oversee a process of truth-telling about Australia and colonisation. A Markarrata is a process of restoration, peace-making after a dispute. It is a Yolgunu word with many layers of meaning. A Makarrata meets the moment. Our political leaders failed to meet the moment of Uluru Statement being delivered and there have been countless failures of not following instructions all the way back to Arthur Phillip who failed to act on his orders from King George III to make a settlement. Ironically the last King for what is now USA was also King George III and we are not yet a Republic.

The First Nations Constitutional Recognition to Parliament Interim Report was co-chaired by Labor Western Australian Senator Patrick Dodson and Liberal member for Berowa Julian Lesser and this (also see below) is how Senator Dodson met the moment of the news that the government have instructed their advisory bodies not to engage with recommendations from considering a First Nations voice to parliament.

So now we arrive at this moment, a couple of weeks away from Australia Day/ Invasion Day, a day where we can reflect on how we, non-indigenous, come to be here, how we live listening to the call for voice, treaty, truth. What is being called out in you to meet the moment?

T-shirt by Sparkke I have been wearing lately.

2021: Meeting the Moment

This year’s blog will be all about meeting the moment.

Everyday moments provide extraordinary insights, opportunities and challenges. The grapes ripen on the vine as the sun turns water into wine. The path becomes smoother the more often you walk it and if you take your eyes to the horizon as you walk the future comes focus.

As 2021 begins, our species is looking towards vaccinations, our planet is holding its breath as we reshape and some resist what She is beckoning for – a much lighter touch to our shared living arrangements. Shimmering in the skies, the full moon appeared a few days ago and rose high into the night closing out the year. A year, for many where there has been a deep desire to let go of everything that has been hard or hasn’t quite unfolded as they might have hoped. These past few days as the new year arrives we know seeds sown in the metaphoric times of a new moon will now come into harvest. 2021 may well bring a harvest from the introspection from quarantine, slowing and fasting from systems that were already withering away. We will be meeting moments in the year ahead from seeds sown long ago. How ready we are to meet the moments?

The losses of 2020 have come with silver linings. The origin of this idea of silver linings comes from the 17th century from a poem by John Milton. He wrote the poem for Michaelmas Day, a time of the year in his part of the world, when dark nights and cooler days begin. Where the season calls for some preparation to retreat and to say farewell before a new cycle would begin. In my part of the world Michaelmas Day is when the days get longer and there is the hint of warmth on the breeze forecasting a summer arriving in a few months. A lining is an inner layer and a wonderful invitation for these times. To look under the covers, to find something that matches the garment, yet cut from a different cloth, to help the outer garment fall well, it also reduces the wearing strain of the garment and helps it last longer – so surely a silver lining might be an even more precious contribution to holding us altogether in these times too.

Ironically, John Milton’s silver lining phrase, was written in a form of theatre known as a masque, and indeed masks were worn in these ephemeral productions. Surely a prophecy as we meet this moment.

In order to meet the moments, we will need to be ready and 2020 has been in many ways a time to get ready, a time to notice what we have and what we value most. A hug has become precious, the fragility of democracy has been tested and fascist playbooks have been dusted off shelves. We meet the moment at the dawn of 2021 in the full knowledge that invisible rogue cells can close a border, end a life, decimate a regional economy, pull families apart.

Meeting the moment by feeling the silkiness of a silver lining and coming to recognising it as adding protection, warmth, comfort and style to our outer-selves, might serve us very well as we start the year. In meeting the moment we will be fulfilling the promises of those who have left legacies and succession plans for us to step up and take our part. We will be accepting invitations and our inheritance to pathways for just settlements. In my country I expect this to be a public discourse for treaties, for a national conversation about what it means to broker climate justice and I also predict there will be moments as a nation we will have to meet with our neighbours in the region and have a heart-to-heart that goes beyond crayfish and coal.

Inner and Outer layers: Pre-COVID19 somewhere in Portugal on the way to Santiago de Compostela – getting ready to be ready as David Whyte says.