Tag Archives: Queen Elizabeth

Dancing with Speeches #24 Princess Elizabeth

This weekend Australia celebrates the British monarch and her reign as sovereign is always disappointing to me who long for Australia to be a republic. Her first public speech was made when she was 14, over the radio and with her sister to give comfort to other young people and children who were being removed from their homes becoming refugees and offering good luck during their time of separation from their families.

The crackle of the crystals warming up before the voices of young women wishing well and reminding peers the future belongs to them, when peace comes, remember it will be for us, the children of today, to make the world of tomorrow a better and happier place. She invited all the children to bear their share too of the danger and sadness of war. So many children bear more than their share – their toll is greatest, their future taken away through the aftermath of conflict. The wars go on long after soldiers have left. Their fathers go home with post-traumatic stress and their mental health condition may well lead to more violence to self and their loved ones. The land is no longer fertile, harvesting only toxins in the soil left from the herbicides and residue of weapons and mines in the ground maybe lasting for aeons. DNA maybe damaged passing on genetic disorders to generation after generation. Locked in detention, robbed of their childhood, children bare more than their share of war.

The voice of the child so clear and powerful, the young princess Elizabeth was heard by her peers as well as adults. The power and place of public media the platform to be heard. More recently in our time that very same public media, the BBC found a way for another young woman’s voice to be heard, this time it was firstly anonymous and via a blog. A BBC journalist looked for a young person who could write safely about their life with the Taliban. A school and its teacher were approached and the child who first wrote under the pseudonym Gul Makai (means Cornflower, after a character from Pashtun folklore). Her first blog entry was published on 3 January 2009, it was from hand-write notes passed on to a reporter scanned and e-mailed – no doubt a series of crackles along the way to get them to publication. We all know her now as the Nobel Laureate Malala. The role of the BBC to bring a children’s voice to the masses is a triumph. The little voice is powerful in its vulnerability and unmediated honesty and desire for peace.

When the word isn’t possible, a visual image may well be even more powerful. Over three successive years, children’s art has come to the fore from detention centres where those seeking asylum have been placed by Australian authorities. More than a dozen of these pictures found their way into the Australian Human Rights Commission report released in 2015. They are evocative and compelling, and while in a publicly commissioned document, The Forgotten Children’s report’s drawings didn’t have wide spread coverage in public and commercial media – they were there but a wide audience wasn’t reached. The images too confronting and more powerful than words perhaps the reason for their modest presence in the public domain. By the middle of 2013, children seeking asylum in Australian detention centres nudged the 2,000 mark. This number has steadily declined since with the support of changing public policy, practice and tireless advocacy. The report commissioned and undertaken by the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs spearheaded the demand for the children to have their rights to seek asylum from persecution and was has been the Australian way in previous generations. Sadly children once from families given that privilege had not extended it to the next generation.

What would happen if we touched into our inner child, too feel and connect, as child to child, just as Elizabeth and her sister Margaret Rose did? Would that open our hearts a little wider, let a little more compassion seep out, embed a memory to build a future of peace and justice? Elizabeth celebrated her 90th birthday this year, she was able to hark back to her childhood in her Christmas message last year and brought the images of Syrian refugees and the reminder of her England as child together, reminding viewers of her Christian refugee story of Jesus and his family fleeing persecution and a certain death of the boy child if they did not escape the oppressors occupying their homeland.

Take a breath, in this dance of past and present. Remember yourself as a child, what would you want for yourself and for other children? A place to be safe, a place to play and a place to grow up in peace, free from persecution and war – would you refuse your inner child that right? Or the next generation’s their rights?



Dancing with speeches #13 Elizabeth Windsor

Queen Elizabeth II described 1992 as ‘annus horribilis’ and in doing so, gave the world a collective term to gather up a tough year, rather than a series of single incidents. She has continued steadfastly in a role she cannot escape.

While it is a tragedy to have your house burnt down (for Elizabeth it was a castle), there was lots more to come for Elizabeth, deaths in the family, children going astray, public humiliation … the usual costs of living.  When we take the time to collect up our thoughts, and give the time or place a name, we name moment and in doing so create a still.  An invisible marker arrests us.  Maybe it is an anniversary,  a birthday, an occasion – whatever the marker – it hold us and ties us to the time and place.  Being held there we can wallow, re-member, transform and with wisdom and grace, transcend and integrate.

Easter is one of those times. From re-enactments of passover in the family home, to gathering for ecumenical last suppers around cafe tables to finding a church with the barest of remnants of the faithful, that invisible marker holds me still and connects me to the past, present and future.  This rich season of ritual percolates through the most secular of cultures and even the hardest hearts taste something of the season as the moon determines what comes next.

In 325CE the Council of Nicaea declared Easter to be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox (March 21).  What always come next is the waning, moving from full moon to new moon, the eternal celestial revolution. For the ancients this is a time for spells that banish, release, reverse. This is a time to break bad habits or bad addictions, to end bad relationships. This is a time of deep intuition and a time for divination. The days (and nights) Easter brings invites us to renewal.  To set aside what is not working and look ahead to what you are being invited into.  To take up a fresh start and set aside the horrible, unpleasant and nasty. Being offered a hand to embrace the new when all the while you want to hold on to that place-marker that invites you to stay delusional and frozen in time.  Knowing when to move on and to be transformed may well take more than the biblical three days the Easter season advises, it may take a year, it may take longer.

Learning the lessons from the moment being held onto so they can travel with you through all the moons to come, requires practice for integration.  Leaving behind what needs to be left behind, taking within what can be absorbed and adapting to the new. Like the moon, forever turning and tidally locked to our planet, we too might be locked into values and beliefs that help keep us steady in the wobbly moments (and years) when things might go horribly wrong.

To wax and to wane

To drift and to drive

To live in the pain

And be fully alive.

(c) Moira Deslandes, Easter Blessing 2016