Monthly Archives: April 2021

2021: Meeting the Moment #16

Taking steps that are unfamiliar, or even ones that may have been taken before, but not quite confidently, awkward teetering towards the promise of potential, are the ones making landfall right now. New paths are being trod and with each step a beginning, for we are never walking the same path as the day before, as we weren’t today’s person yesterday. Each moment is full of promise, potential. Each breath in and the exhale offering the fundamental call and response of our humanity entwined with all of creation. Moments seeking to be met by our fragility and imperfection. Taking risks with ourselves requires us to back ourselves and to remember who has our back. In the great lineage of those who have come before us, we hold this baton for a short time and with it the responsiblity to bring our best selves, give it our best shot; for the legacy we leave behind for the next in line.

I feel quite worn down by the deep grief in the air, generations of sadness spilling into crevices and pooling in hearts and festering in minds. While others are gaining energy and growing in their acts of resistance, I find myself remembering to breathe is a radical act. It might not look like that from the outside, but on the inside I am working hard and holding space for others and for myself. There are cobwebs to be swept away and seeds to be planted. A new season is arriving. New shoots and leaves falling, is not a paradox, it is congruence.

Deeply grateful for friendship this past little while, friends who have extended thier friendship beyond themselves to their friends. New circles opening and in surprising ways – a guided meditation, a chance meeting in a market, a door opening to a future harvest, a shared link to grief, a common history. Past moments disconnected coming together in real time, inviting a review of what has gone before, and in doing so, I got to see with new eyes. I have appreciated a little more of my past self. Definitely not nostalgia, rather insight and fuel for taking steps into new beginnings.

I was comforted with a remark about the courage of beginnings during the week and reminded of this extract:

There is nothing to fear in the act of beginning. More often than not it knows the journey ahead better than we ever could. Perhaps the art of harvesting the secret riches of our lives is best achieved when we place profound trust in the act of beginning. Risk might be our greatest ally. To live a truly creative life, we always need to cast a critical look at where we presently are, attempting always to discern where we have become stagnant and where new beginning might be ripening. There can be no growth if we do not remain open and vulnerable to what is new and different. I have never seen anyone take a risk for growth that was not rewarded a thousand times over. John O’Donohue, Irish poet and philosopher Excerpt from To Bless the Space Between Us.

Wondering what might be ripening when not being sure if any seeds are sown and will be fruit, let alone be ready to harvest, is an act of courage. I was invited to consider this week, in a moment, I was fumbling in the dark to meet. Grief is a tar baby and seduces stagnation into making a home somewhere behind the eyes where tears form. Being creative might be the antidote to shift the stickiness of grief that seems to get worse the more one tangles with it. Yet, inside this stickiness seeds have been sown, and they are being watered and fertilised with stabs in the dark.

I have been inspired by the bravery of a woman refusing to be silenced by lies and abuse this week in the most public of domains, a Senate enquiry. How she risked herself to speak her truth to power encouraged me and many, many others. We have more stories to be shared, more women to be heard and it is not OK that it is only the white women, educated, with a platform to be heard that are the ones being heard. We have more truth telling to come – the women and children removed from their lands, murdered, raped, starved of basic human rights since colonisation begun. I long for a Truth and Justice Commission aka South Africa’s for the First Nations of this country so their voices can be heard and a reckoning arrive. I am imaging a process that starts with a smoking ceremony and a litany of names of warriors and freedom fighters and martyrs and sacred places, read into the public record. It would go for days and days, nights and nights until it was done. The grief of this tar baby cannot be moved until those of us non First Nations peoples experience some of the uncomfortable stickiness of this on the soul of our country. We need to risk to become whole, to be vulnerable to find out what might be possible. A new moment to meet is ripening and the seeds have been sown in the 30 years since the Black Deaths in Custody Royal Commission. Pat Dodson, former Royal Commissioner and now Labor Senator says I sense that the same sort of storm of suspicion and accusation is gathering as that which precipitated the royal commission in 1987. Political resolve has been lacking, and the Morrison government’s response to growing concerns about the recent cluster of deaths has been quite desultory.

Meeting this moment is not coming easily, but it is coming, and us settler folk can’t hold our breaths forever. It is time for some creativity, some courage and some solidarity.

Photo by Johan Mouchet on Unsplash

Meeting the moment 2021 #15

When love comes to town it arrives as a cloud of sound and muscle memory aides accompany the voices employed to bring forth harmonious blasts worthy of Phil Spector and any Hammond organ – that’s how I feel when a room is full of choristers swaying to the beat under the direction of the maestro Tony Backhouse. Within an hour or so, sixty voices are singing as one and each individual contribution offers a placeholder; we are each others scaffold.  The power of sound and the spaces of silence in between are all the reminder I need of the value of making room for both. 

It’s been a noisy week and at times a cacophony in public places where the ones who have loud hailers still seem to drown out those who are speaking truth to power.  A number of conversations I have been in this past week have been washed in colonisation, under written by the blood of martyred First Nations and laced with the deepest of griefs of loss of love, family, friends, land and sea.   I get to sing in a repurposed church hall with confidence, saturated in goodness while around five hundred Aboriginal people have died in custody in the last thirty years, and flags at half mast for the death of the 99 year old consort of the monarch, fly in their face. This is a tone deaf moment.

I am lost in curiosity about what might be possible if all the flags flew at half mast every time there was a death in custody, let’s start small though with the Aboriginal flag in our city square. (The square is named Victoria, and the city Adelaide, named after the consort of a monarch William IV, who on his death, having failed to produce a child the monarchy went to his niece Victoria.) Hope the Lord Mayor is reading this or perhaps someone could forward it to her?  Tarntanyangga is the place of the red kangaroo and is getting more currency over the years in its use in public signage. The space is now shaped in the Kaurna shield, and while one of the architects of the White Australia Policy Kingston hovers on the edge, I was overjoyed when the place was brimming at the seams during the #BlackLivesMatter rally in June 2020 and again in March 2021 for the #Justice4Women March knowing Kingston was not a fan of the original women’s suffrage bill. He was also the first federal member for Adelaide in the fledgling federation he helped to created.  I love these quirks of fate that turn up like an augmented fifth blues notes in an other wise predictable set of chords and scales. There are plenty of them all around us and soon as we start to tune in, its easy to hear them.

Perhaps there is potential for understanding white noise as random signals of colonialism, distracting us for seeing and hearing what it might be trying to cover up? In recording, white noise is often defined as a hissing sound, which also seems like an apt metaphor, the hissing of those who must be heard over the quiet and invisible vectors lying underneath.

Meeting these moments with a full and open heart, ears to hear all the voices and being able to make harmony from notes put together by a leader looking for the sweetest sounds is needed for these times. There is no choir director in the House, and few who are singing from the same hymn sheet of anyone seeing justice. There is a lot of static and reverb, and there are only a few in tune with what song the nation is singing right now. The sopranos have shown up, there are a few tenors and altos as well, looking forward to a few more basses joining in the chorus soon.

White noise hides

What must be heard

Tone deaf excuses

Blind eyes turned.

No longer silent.

No longer invisible.

Sobbing from graves.

Keening in corridors.

Cries from

Megaphones and microphones,

Enough is enough.

The choir is assembled,

As a jury in session

Waiting impatiently for the judge to arrive.

A leader surely on the horizon?

Chords are coming

Call and response

Ready to manifest

When the ballot box comes.

Photo by Mark Paton on Unsplash

2021 Meeting the Moment #14

On this Easter Sunday morning the air is still enough to hear the waves caressing the coastline in even time, the tidal rhythm, a comforting sound. There is a rising tide as the ice cap of desecrations is melting. The patriarchal panic has all the symptoms at scale of any indviduals experience of a panic attack. There is the heightened vigilance for danger where reporters of renown suffering with this panic say things like “emotional demand” for “norms of respect and justice”, the response from eminant academic and co-facilitator of the Uluru Statement, Dr Davis tweet go to the heart of the political economy.

The feeling of dread and danger also showing up in this tale, and the nations top financial paper went after the female journalist who broke story that has the nation resetting its trajectory towards justice in workplaces, and safety for women went belly up when Samantha Maiden was attacked. A sign that the thorn is in the paw and the lion is in pain. Before too long the ongoing truth telling oother women leaders calling out mis-steps and poor judgements, they are labelled as going to far and gaslit. Doing your job as a journalist is a gift, in a world where fake news and constant fact checks are required to get to truths. We need more of this to burst bubbles of all kinds.

On this Easter day I think back to my modest activism in the Catholic Church around inclusive language, to the days of providing advice to an Archbishop who once told me, that he liked working with women because they did the hard work and were finishers, they didn’t let go til the job was done, nor hide from the pain it was causing them. At the time I was very annoyed he wasn’t going further, although I could see he was definitely taking himself to the edges of possibilities. The greatest gift of those times for me was learning about the ‘hermeneutic of suspicion” , to look for what was not there in the text, but was hidden in the seams, the shadows and by what was missing. This technique continues to serve me well and while I am no theologian or historian, I can see that in these days of the rising tide, a tsunami is coming. I can read between the lines that there are many more stories to be told, many more voices to be heard, much more pain to surface. There will be a crash of waves at high tide when the moon is full and when the moon is new. Sister Moon wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am looking to the heavens on a regular basis for inspiration and support. I feel saturated by the grief in the air and I know the tears, anger, frustration are rocket fuel, propelling us out of the old gravitional pull to new orbits. And this poem to remind me and perhaps others of the value of taking a little rest, while the soul catches up. thank you to Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin for this poem, a perfect companion for this day.

Turas d’Anam

Often times 
the step backward 
lets the soul catch up. 
So that all our happy 
hindsights harmonize 
and wisdom builds. 

Share your luck. 
Be miserly only 
with misfortune.
In each seismic 
shudder we learn 
to trust the ground 
again, humble again, 
knowingly broken,
unrepentantly wounded, 
proud to bare pain. 

Laying claim to 
the Joy factory 
of your body. 

No more tariffs, or sanctions. 
Wage cuts and glass ceilings. 
Conventions, expenses paid, nor 
lanyards or company position. 

Often times, 
this way you can live 
in ways other simply 
will not, develop sides 
of you others simply 
would not. 

So feel the rhythm 
beyond the beat. 
Begin with a break, 
and let your soul 
catch up.

Easter Eve, Songlines, Sellicks Hill.