Author Archives: Moira Were AM

About Moira Were AM

Founder @chooks_SA co-founder @collab_4_good Super activator @sheEO_world. In Act 3. Live in Willunga. Daughter, sister, mother, aunt, grandmother, friend, and alto in a gospel acapella choir.

2021: Meeting the moment #10

I’m tired and weary from a week where it feels like women of Australia and a few good men have had enough. I have rambling thoughts and I have a few facts, it doesn’t hang together well as a post, but that is the point really.

One in four women have experienced sexual abuse or assault of some kind and the rest of us are connected to these women, they are our friends, our sisters, our daughters, mothers, aunts, cousins. They are more likely to tell a friend than a police officer. The rate is three times more for indigenous women. Data from 2017 shows, one in three victims of sexual assault cases hospitalised, identified a spouse or domestic partner as the perpetrator. In 2018, the rate of police-recorded sexual assault was almost 7 times as high for females as males. Almost 2 million Australian adults have experienced at least 1 sexual assault since the age of 15. Surely this is enough of a reason to want to increase what we are doing to educate, train, support and heal? Why does it take deaths and public figures to be in the news to draw attention to these crimes? This is an epidemic, it is an everyday assault on our communal health and wellbeing. COVID measures are called for to change behaviours, physical distancing, policing of good hygiene, check-ins could all take on a different shape. In this epidemic there has been too much of washing hands. As more people share their #metoo stories, triggers are inevitable, accidentally causing what were safe spaces to not be so safe any more. I know I am avoiding and monitoring where I am going, what I am reading and listening too.

I have been heartened with the work being done in schools on consent. Remember the meaning of consent: the mutual agreement properly attained freely with an understanding decisions have both immediate and consequential effect. Children are rarely able to give consent that is fully informed, having little or no access to knowledge of the potential of actions. As we get older we learn more deeply the value of consent and why being explicit is necessary, and how it can be revoked at any time. If a sixteen year old did not give consent then that is rape of a minor. If an eighteen year old or eighty year old is in the same position, it is rape. No child can give consent, that is the point about the age of consent, so it is always rape if the victim is under the age of consent. In the state where I live, the age of consent is 17. There is a lot I don’t consent too. And in the political and legal contexts I don’t care if our societal standards and expectations have changed over decades, I am reminded that consent can be withdrawn at any time, and I am hoping those who voted for a national government that seems bereft of basic HR practices will withdraw their consent to being governed by them the first chance they get.

If there is a whiff of an inappropriate behaviour and before it is proven to be true or not, individuals are stepped down, directed to HR to resolve and then the investigations can be explored in light of policy, the law and health considerations. This happens every day in workplaces everywhere. It is proper practice, nothing special. I am completely perplexed why this has not happened in Parliament or at the direction of the Prime Minister.

I need a lie down and a good cry, my anger muscle is worn from over use, my compassion index remains high and I am grateful to those picking up the mantel and building the pathway of this reckoning. The avengers will be taking to the streets in pursuit of justice. This is personal, this is political and at scale. There are consequences and accountabilities to be had. You don’t need to be a father or a mother to have a conscience as so wisely pointed out by Grace Tame at the National Press Club this week. I have been musing for the need of a national helpline – let’s call it the Jenny Support Line and any one not quite sure what to do can give a Jenny a call. The Cornish don’t need to have a mortgage on Cousin Jenny’s to provide sustenance and comfort for those down in the coal mines. Maybe some men don’t know what to do and need some guidance, a quick call to Jenny will give them the confidence and strength to take a public step forward and help build a place where everyone is safe and those that groom and misuse their power are nipped in the bud of their blossoming predation.

While every possible channel I am connected to seems to be blinking, buzzing and bleating to get my attention. The calls and messages are from the re-traumatized, the vicariously traumatised, solidarity sisters. There is sadness. There is fear that sharks are circling around complicity with someone else’s story, or the shame of your own story surfacing. There is pain and deep aching for a time when safety and care for the victim will out weigh the privilege of a man’s position or career. There is her family, there is his family, friends, children – all innocent – being dragged into dark and confusing spaces as they are alienated from the world they knew. Hearts are broken. Lives destroyed. Martyrs are made before revelations.

Trust is sacred. When trust is broken, like shards of glass strewn on the floor, being careful where you step lest you cut yourself on a sliver, your fragility stocks grow. Delicate and careful placement of words, actions, attention to where you tread is heightened. This is not a time for casual or loose language.

Like so many others, I am tired and want to sleep and crawl under the covers and get it to go away. I turn off feeds, and don’t watch news, and still it seeps in with calls and conversations, uninvited and consistently. I am finding it hard to be angry, it feels more like resignation and grief to me. Time for truth telling and bearing witness is here for all who cane bare to speak and listen. Time for compassion too, making spaces and moments for quiet, rest, recovery. Please be kind to yourselves and your friends, take a break from it all if you need to and be compassionate to those who need to tune out from it for a bit. Be confident that we have each other’s backs and will act in solidarity when the time comes to take to the streets, the ballot box, the legislative chambers, the courts and be creative with our voices in music, song, dance and visual arts. Our bodies are sacred are to be honoured as the vessel of the soul, meeting this moment with our most sacred selves will invite more of the divine energy we will need in and from each other to shift these moments into the tsunami of change being called for right now.

At Womadelaide last night listening to my favourite drummer and his band as they played one of their best known numbers the lead singer said: Change happens by those without short memories. On the eve of International Women’s Day 2021 I pay my respects to all the women who have gone before who have enabled progress by putting their bodies on the line, and to their male allies. The bow is bent, the arrow poised, we are in warrior pose.

NB if you are in Adelaide details of the March 4 Justice can be found here

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

2021 Meeting the Moment #9

The balmy March evening had attracted plenty of moths to the flame, the East End of the city of churches was bursting at the seams. The zero attention being paid by revellers to any kind of physical distancing was a sign of confidence and triumph in public policy, compliance and a lot of luck. The rude health of Adelaide on display for the world to see. There were remnants of bygone times with QR codes on venues and COVID marshalls in hiviz mixed like pepper and salt with Security personnel, but they were the weedy ones, Security were more burly, taller, muscular. How did we get it so good? Here we are again in Festival mode and everything seems right in the bubble we have in this southern extremity of a land at the bottom of the globe, enjoying what the Northern Hemisphere call a Meditteranean climate in mid March where the frangipanis, honeysuckle and jasmin are in the breeze and home brewers can sit in their sheltered verandahs to discuss the variations of barley used in Lime Gose and mid-strength beers. It is the height of privilege.

The lands we are on for these festivals of the arts have never been ceded and past pandemics wiped out whole communities. Some of the viruses came on boats unannounced, others were probably by design and the evidence of purposely impregranted smallbox into blankets ostensibly handed out for warmth, is documented. The land of the red kangaroo Tarntanyangga holds the city together and the colour red continues in the landscape with the creek we call a river named by the colonists as the Torrens and in Kaurna known as Karrawirra Parri, Redgum forest. There are remnant Redgums around the outskirts of the city and you will find groves here and there inside the marked out turf of the surveyed ‘square mile’.

Soon we will all be listening to the sounds of the planet, in the annual musical festival of Womadelaide which has been a tradition for me over many years. This year there will be a celebration of homegrown music, while so many troupes are unable to travel to our place. The celebrations of survival and thriving of voices in first languages will be heard wafting across what is being named King Rodney Park Ityamai-Itpina, in honour of one of the three Kaurna elders present at the proclamation of the colony of South Australia. (If you want to know who King Rodney was check out this podcast).

Past, present and future time fuse and the invitation to meet moments concurrently are offered up in the landscape. How we name and experience the spaces we inhabit time and space with our bodies, our memories, our DNA and entangled epigenetics, and the knowledge that we stardust , is a constant invitation to consider how we move forward as individuals, a community and a species. Wandering around my home town with all the freedom and civility and safety it offers has come at the cost of others and it is not always comfortable, and I am grateful for all the bounty that has come to me, in equal measure.

Treading lightly and keeping an open heart and open ears and eyes to what is in the landscape and the stories held in the bark of those red gums and the in the soil and roots deep down below the surface, invisible to me, is a privilege and one I will try not to take for granted.

May all that is seen and unseen, heard and unheard,

melt into meaning.

May all that is been and becoming, done and undone,

soften our dreaming.

Meeting the moment 2021 #8

Many women in my country and also in my State would have found moments to meet triggered by what was happening in our Parliaments. In the national legislature a woman who had bravely reported being raped in a minister’s office watched along with the rest of the public have her voice drowned out by numerous verbal gymnastics about what was known or not known, seen or not seen, heard or not heard by her employers, law enforcement agencies, peers in the train of investigation. For some this would have been a story of workplace misconduct, for others it would have triggered memories of being sexually assaulted in places that might have been deemed safe such as their work sites or home. Then there is the experience of the witness, people who knew, saw, spoke up or turned away. And then there is us, we are now all witnesses to what we have seen and heard. What would we say if we were to be called up by the court? I would say I saw a woman of courage who was willing to speak up and make visible a crime of power. I would note that the boss of the worksite was unable to understand what the alleged crime was all about and unable to man up and called upon his wife for guidance being bereft of a moral compass of his own. I would point to the way in which the public discourse was going so a bigger frame of patriarchy, power and privilege was unfolding in the conversation and arrows of the gender wars were flying about. Away from the stand, as I doubt I would be asked such a question, I would wonder if the woman from a non-dominant culture or First Nations, or from a non-government political party, whether the story would be in the public domain.

In my State parliament after decades of debate and community led lobbying and meticulous campaigning, abortion was decriminalised. The Bill was brought by a female Attorney-General and almost exclusively the people speaking agains the Bill were men, and almost exclusively women members of the parliament voted to support the Bill which was passed on a conscience vote. I have had so many women talk to me over the years in the privacy and intimacy of friendship of their experience of abortion. I have never initiated a conversation, it usually starts with them stating they know I am a Christian, a Catholic, and so don’t want to offend me and then as they notice a listening ear tell me something of their circumstances. These are not conversations I invite, they come often because they are sharing a moment of grief, providing an example of an irreversible difficult decision, a step deeper into friendship, and a few times it has been because the person was looking for someone to authorise their loss because there isn’t any ritual they were able to find for this kind of mourning. To bear witness to these disclosures, I feel is holy ground, between what is seen and unseen. As the debate wound its way to a conclusion, I expect there were women in the debate, women in the circles of the men speaking who had first hand experience of abortion, although they may not have known that. The debate and now the legislation would have triggered others and like me been a trigger for memories of the women who have shared their story with me. In solidarity I witness these women.

While the debate in the public places of the media and in the corridors of parliaments across the land, and on the floor of the Houses around our nation raises the issues, the concerns, struggles to make and implement laws, women in private places like kitchens, cars, counselling corners, continue to do the work for us all. They find ways to work through power and privilege and untangle moral codes of others as well as their own. Silence is rarely a place of safety and as the adage goes sunlight is a the best disinfectant. The value of these moments this past week feels like some sunlight was beamed into the chambers. While some of the public statements made in the press and those recorded by Hansard by male leaders and elected representatives might feel like a return to the bygone era of 1950s, as a witness to these events, I am meeting these two moments of the week, by celebrating courage and tenacity and noticing a shift in the tectonic plates of patriarchy.

Photo by Chelsi Peter from Pexels

Meeting the moment 2021 #7

Housing and home-making, place, nesting and resting seem to be in the discourse with women and young couples who are swirling around me. The litany includes: lack of affordable housing, the price of houses for sale, the limited options in the rental market, how airBnB is being used to supplement incomes and reduce stock for rental, banks and interest rates, auctions, innovations in financial models and legal arrangements, selling a home to downsize, materials to use for building, sustainable energy options. I have long had an interest in the centrality of housing for health, prosperity and happiness and invoking the Year of the Ox characteristics of hardworking, reliable, honest, it seems that these qualities are not enough to bring housing justice to all. Women over 45 are the fastest growing cohort of homeless people in Australia, 400,000 at risk is a number, and behind each of one of these is a story with its roots in a combination of factors – insecure employment, migration, refugee status, domestic violence, private rental, indigenous, ill health, single parent, fractured network of support from family and/or friends. And a house is more than a roof over your head, nesting is real, putting down roots suits most people, being a troubadour or pilgrim is not for everyone.

Not everyone who is at risk of homelessness even realises this or names themselves in this way. For example I had a friend who moved between her daughters for a few years, supporting their fledgling families establish themselves but had no home of her own eventually finding social housing to settle. When she divorced she got her share of the estate which was modest and inexperienced in money management, with no secure employment and being an age unable to get a bank loan to meet the difference she found herself in this insecure housing situation. Another friend sold her home, paid off the mortgage and moved to her family holiday home while she decided where to go next in part to take steps to a more sustainable and aligned with her values, lifestyle. She is still looking for the right site to make a long term home, and in the meantime she is getting older and further away from a bank’s desire to lend to her. She is a casual worker and can snap up opportunities when they present themselves effectively, has health issues that this kind of employment can be supported by taking breaks as necessary, but the illusive permanent roof over her head is not yet realised. A third woman I know has been in Australia less than a year. She has had a distinguished career and is looking to land here. Finding short-term accomodation as she organises legal and financial threads has been proving hard in a rental housing market that is skewed to long-term or AirbnB type arrangements. She falls in the middle. She is a very capable person and it has been more than a culture shock not to have the ease of making a decision and being able to realise it happen in close succession. A fourth woman I know has considerable support from a women’s housing service and as a consquence of her rental property being no longer available, she and her children, two out of three with significant disabilities, living with a friendly neighbour. She has been unable to find accomodation and the support service have literally been turing up every possiblity even to knocking on doors of empty houses. She wants to keep her children in the schools and neighbourhood to minimise disruption and hang onto the community she has near by. Then there is a young couple who are searching to buy a home. They have professional backgrounds and are competent and capable. They have permanent employment, support of family and a strong network of friends. The prices are rising each day as houses get bought up in auctions by more experienced and wealthier couples or family groups. I am sure we all know people who can fit into these stories. What surprises me is that I am hearing all these conversations at the moment and the prevelance of language about home and hearth. A house is so much more than a piece of real estate, its role in creating a nest where you can nurture yourself, host others, find space for privacy, fashion intimacy with self and invite community. It is a place where the economy, social, political and environmental values can be broadcast, learnt, enabled. It is where doors open to bring rest, nourishment, healing waters. I always think having a shower (or a bath) in your own home is one of the great luxuries of the rich and I try not to take it for granted. The running water, choices of hot and cold and the blend that comes at my fingertips to be like Goldilocks and get it just right, the cascade of warmth relieving tension and bringing relaxation to muscles.

I have a house blessing that was gifted I think from my paternal grandmother, it has travelled with me to all the homes I have lived in. It speaks of qualities in a house that are hospitable, well lit, is strong and sturdy, and of a place that is a blessing and blessed. These seem to be all reasonable prayerful requests. As I am lucky enough to have more than I need in terms of housing and land, I am challenged by how to share that and also keep the quiet I need for my own sanity in this season of my life. There are more configurations emerging in my mind and as more and more conversations explore what is needed to meet the moment of this housing shortage, affordable options and new ways of living together and in the eavesdropping into emergent housing solutions.

2021 Meeting the moment #6

February has started unusually cool, I even had a jumper on yesterday. The way temperature impacts on mood is something to watch. Wanting to cosy up as the air becomes a little more crisp is an invitation to intimacy. I notice conversations take a little step deeper and still stay in the comfort and comforting zone. Over this past week there have been conversations in a range of media that wouldn’t have happened if the usual stressful heat of February was pounding and pulsating. We have even had heavy rains, and gentle showers, a phenomena a long way from the smell of smoke on the horizon and the threat of bushfire that we usually have swirling around at this time of the year. Sure we have had a bushfire event only a week or so ago, but it fades right away as the earth and sky acts cool.

The conversations have come in print through trading of texts and on various messaging platforms, they have come between lines on a page, in real time on the voices mediated by telephony, and of course face to face. They have included devasting news from a dear friend, witnessing of an extraordinary life being celebrated extinguished by cancer leaving teens motherless, joyful voices singing the traditional Happy Birthday to a daughter and sibling, solidarity messages between sojourners, evidence and claims of capability in a fancy upstairs office block to triumvirate determining worth of a trio seeking to join them on in a quest for systemic change, a series of exchanges of ideas tumbling over hurdles and leapfrogging through the air to get to new places, recipes written to invoke and create a time past … and these conversations are not all of the ones I have had in this time. Each conversation is encoded with the principes of barter at its core and the stock price of the trade slides around according to the intimacy. The most expensive moments, are like perfume, where just a drop of the essence can carry you further into relationship.

Early conversations, are like early music, where the words, the inflexions, the choice of media to communicate, are still forming, the notes a little dependent on stylised scores. And the old conversations can take on a similiar vibe, but that is because the players are more skillful and know how to employ these same elements to communicate effectively with precision that lands every note in the right place at the right time. In this cool season the counterpoint is supported by the temperature and brings the conversations its own musicality between the contributors who know when to take a rest, take a turn to expect the rhythm to arrive with ease. Timing seems to be a big part of the this, allowing spaces where the emptiness gives depth and then little words that skip in a staccato form provide urgency to move the conversation along when that might be needed as well. In the cool of these days and nights I am noticing that there is more familiarity and less urgency and a pace more akin to walking than running or standing still. There is definitely movement in these more mellow times.

No doubt there are still going to be more days ahead when the temperature will stifle conversations and bring that mix of speed and stillness. Speed to get through the heat and the stillness of not being to do much except flop onto a couch under a fan. The conversations change too and there are more moments of clipped speech, undertones of exhaustion and frustration, talk of fire and a future where the whole planet is suffocating.

With the cool comes space to think and plan and conjure, it is respite for the soul. I have been contemplating how to bring more cool to my life to be a little more like Goldilocks and get the temperature ‘just right’ to do what is needed to meet everyday moments.

Photo by Marc Zimmer on Unsplash

2021 Meeting the moment #5

Standing in front of monument carved in stone, overlooking one of the most famous winegrowing valleys in the country, there lies a declaration invoked by a leading Biblical identity: The Lord has given us this land (Joshua 2.9). It takes my breath away. Joshua was one of Moses’ assistants and ascended to leadership of the tribes of Israel on the death of Moses. It is such an interesting choice to carve into rock, to over look a valley, to declare in a memorial to pioneers. This land was already inhabited and a food bowl. It didn’t need pioneers to make that declaration. It was known to the First Nations as on land the local Aborigines referred to as Taninda, a word it is thought that meant watering hole’ or ‘many birds on a creek’. It is Ngadjuri land. The deep dreaming stories, ancient remants of culture carved into the land in other rocks not too far from this lookout, stone artefacts, trees and stumps of trees long gone, waterways and the birds themselves are telling their own story and I long for some interpretative guide to help me see what is unseen and invisible to me.

Being able to see what is hidden, doesn’t mean it is not there. To have the eyes, and perhaps the heart to see, and the curiosity to wonder what you might be missing. One thing is for sure, this land is God given and it was already well occupied, well loved and in deep harmony with the seasons and the cosmos, long before any European “pioneer” stepped foot into the valley. The custodianship goes back to long before Joshua was on a spy mission to look for Canaan land for his future generations on the other side of the planet.

Everywhere I go, I go searching for signs in the landscape and long to see more signs to explain what my colonial, and foreign eye, cannot see. To go up and down the hills and valleys and to find below me earth trod and loved. We are not living in some upcycled version of the land. The SDGs around land and water are occupying my mind right now as I am part of a SheEO racial justice working group being led by the indomitable leader Wakumi Douglas, whose skillful facilitation style takes us deeper and deeper into deconstructing white privilege and the colonial mindset. These essential ingredients for life – land and water and I have gone looking to see if I can find the Ngadjuri words for land and water. I have learnt cowie is the word for water and I can now see it clearly in the names of many of the towns in this area  Bimbowrie, Tarcowie, Terowie, Caltowie, Canowie, Yarcowie, Booborowie. Once again more evidence of settlement long before the “settlers”.

I am going to see what more I can find out before I come again to this land and will be looking up Ngadjuri : Aboriginal people of the Mid North Region of South Australia just the index alone that I can see in the national library reference tells me a story. Chapter headings include: European explorers and disease; Resistance to invasion 1840 – early 1850s; Ngadjuri are dispossessed of their land 1840s – 1900s. So while Joshua’s people were scoping out their invasion, the Ngadjuri warriors were battling to save their Jericho, and it made me wonder if Joshua was being invoked because there had been a fierce war on these lands? The melding of cultures spins around in my head, because the Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho, is a slave song, a song in code to give courage to those seeking freedom from their enslavement as they took their last steps into the promised land. There is a universal relationship to land and liberty.

If you remember seeing how a picture emerges in a polaroid or in a dark room on celluloid, you will remember how from the blank photographic paper, first their comes a cloudy and murky indistinguishable swath of black and white and greys and colours and then the image becomes clearer and clearer and into sharp relief. This is how the land starts to talk to me and teach me as I learn more about its story as I walk and wander. It is a discovery process, a detective process and where the tools of investigation include my old theological tool (thank you Elisabeth Schussler- Fiorenza) of the hermeneutic of suspicion. My pilgrim steps are inviting me into hermeneutics of rememberance of the lands and waters to teach me about what I can’t see and help me find paths already trod to lead me deeper into already promised lands. Paths revealed and yet to be revealed to my naive and untrained eye and ignorant feet.

Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

2021: Meeting the moment #4

In a week with new tenants in the White House, where Elon Musk offers a $100M prize to develop carbon sequestration (I suggest he plants trees) and where the hospitals in London reached capacity, there are so many moments to meet. The poignancy of the about to be inauguarated gazing into a pool as the sun set, felt like mirror the world had been waiting to see, where stopping and being still and holding the moment with the lightest touch brought us deeper into our truth and took a step down into the place where the light shifts on the water to decorate what had been desecrated.

To stop and to hold in place what must be held is a feeling well known to the infant that needs to be swaddled so tightly so that wriggles are banished and then with a gentle rock sleep arrives. Once rested the child emerges refreshed, ready and able to fully participate once more in the world around them. I thought this moment by the pool was just that – a wrapping up, a solid, unyielding, gathering up of loss and grief, bundled together in a simple and uncompromising grip of full attention. Taking the time to stop is a meme for our times.

The rise of the napping resistence movement and the action of a nap as a political act. Nap Ministry founded by Tricia Hersey believe rest is a form of resistance and name sleep deprivation as a racial and social justice issue.  Echoes of Audre Lorde and legacy of Rose Parks can be found in her work and the movement growing about napping as a form of disrupting capitalism. Meeting the moment rarely needs to new technology, but it always needs an examination of power and always begins with a stop. While I cheekily tweeted Elon about his quest for world’s best carbon sequestrian technology to invest in – I said plant trees. I could just have easily said stop what you are doing. For systems to change and new ones to emerge stopping what you are doing is the first act. It is usually the hardest, unable to let go of our addiction to whatever it is that is holding that action in place in our lives, giving us meaning, strengthening a pathway. Making a new path, starts with our own neuronal pathways is an energy intensive challenge. It is maintaining a discipline of repeated actions and thoughts regulating our emotions, and it is up against old patterns that are easy, seductive and so familiar that to not pay attention to them feels like its own kind of infidelity to self.

Stopping giving attention to what harms us and noticing what we are addicted too leads us to what we want to be and who we want to become. We might need to nap along the way, advancing ourselves to the future that becomes us. We might need to find new paths that are still hidden, we might need to follow some unlikely thoughts to make those paths and do deeper into the woods, we will always though have to start with a stop.

Sometimes

by David Whyte

Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest

breathing
like the ones
in the old stories

who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
and

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,

questions
that have patiently
waited for you,

questions
that have no right
to go away.

Photo by Jose Aragones on Unsplash

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.