Thoughts May/June 2006

Thoughts for the Month

The Jesus I know is no cold, hard Iron-Christ; nor does Jesus deserve to be reduced to smug, glib and uncompassionate irrelevancies when the real meaning of His love is what people need so desperately.

“Who is Worthy?” Ted Kennedy
Hi, I have been away in New Zealand. It was a wonderful trip; especially the fact that I was able to attend a Maori funeral. I was so touched by the fact that the priest spoke in Maori language and the elders of the Marae led the service and spoke in their language. This occurred in a reasonably middle class town. I kept thinking how the church in many ways has failed the Aboriginal people in Australia. The other wonderful blessing was that Sr. Judith from Invercargill is very close to the Maori people and she took us to a Marae at Bluff which is modern and a women’s. Julie who works there took us around and we saw the Whare Kai Whare , an eating room and the Nui- Taku Potiki, the meeting room. The man who designed it came and rented a house and sat with the people for two years. We could not take photos but it was so inspiring to see the symbols and art of the people.

One of the important stories in the Maori culture is the story of The Three Baskets of Knowledge. The three baskets are:

  • Te kete Aronui: the experience of our senses in the natural world
  • Te kete Tuauri: our understanding of what lies behind our sense experience the patterns of energy which operate behind sense perception.
  • Te kete Tuuatea: the experience we have, particularly in ritual, of our oneness with the universe, with each other and with the past.
     

The Risen Life
is not easy;
it is also a dying life.
The presence of the Resurrection
In our lives means
the presence of the Cross,
for we do not rise with Christ
unless we also first die
with him.

It is by the Cross
that we enter
the dynamism
of creative transformation,
the dynamism
of resurrection and renewal,
the dynamism
of love.

The month of June brings many reminders of death and new life.

We remember the day June 3rd – The Mabo Case when the High Court ruled that native title to land is recognised by the common law of Australia and that under Australian law, Indigenous people have rights to land which existed before colonisation and still exist. This led to many High Court cases. Native Title Act in 1993. Then, the The Wik Case and following the Native Title Amendment Bill. The Ten Point Plan was used as the basis for drafting the Native Title Amendment Bill. This not only effectively extinguished native title on pastoral leases, but also on a range of other land tenures, vacant Crown land ( land owned by the government that no-one else is using or has an interest in) in towns and cities and over waterways and airspace.

“There is no greater challenge to the Australian values of decency, fairness and egalitarianism that the inequality in health status between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the non-indigenous population.”

Tom Calma, HREOC Social Justice Commissioner.

Myall Creek Massacre

In 1838 a vicious attack on Aboriginal people took place at Myall Creek, north of Sydney. Some settlers outraged at an attack on their cattle, wanted revenge.

A group of stockmen surrounded over 30 Aboriginal men, women and children and murdered most of them. A memorial service is held at the site each year on the Saturday closest to the anniversary date of June 10.

National Sorry Day.

Fire

Our camp fires are a sacred place
Where heritage is handed down,
Family life, mythology,
Like a spiral going around. When a fire is made in a circle we sit,
To see each other’s eyes.
When the flames grow dim leaves are put on him
So our fire won’t fade and die.
eaves entice the fire to send up smoke
That will settle the spirit within,
To purify, and to cleanse the souls
Of people and their kin.

Maisie Cavanagh
I was invited by Sr. Rosemary ,who is the Chaplin at Junee Correctional Centre to do the service for Sorry Day. I thought there would be about 15 attending, and about 57 men arrived. I talked about the place we belong to and how on this day we remember the children who were stolen but also the many people who were taken from the Land, their Mother. The men were invited to light a candle or take a sticker and place it on the map which showed all the Aboriginal countries. Nearly all of them took part; having a great chat at the same time. It looked like bedlam but it wasn’t. I had mentioned Wilcannia and Redfern which brought forth a few fellows whose families I knew. One spoke of Sr. Mary and Sr. Esmey. We had photos taken. They were provided with a wonderful morning tea. One of the lovely things was the Operations Manager at the Centre is a Maori and he spoke to the gathering in Maori of the respect he feels for the need for Sorry Day which remembers The Stolen Generations. As a visitor to their country he honoured the indigenous people and their land.

I felt very privileged being there.


This week is Sorry Week. It is an acknowledgement to our Aboriginal brothers and sisters of the misery we have inflicted upon them. We ask for forgiveness. We have so much to be forgiven for. That doesn’t mean that we beat our breasts, wear hair shirts or get into the way of flagellation.

Rather we look deep into ourselves as individuals and as a community and see what amends we can make. We apologize to our indigenous brothers and sisters because we have made them suffer from our illusions. There was a time when we pursued them with our idea of truth. We were wrong because we failed to listen and warm to the richness and beauty of their culture which contained their truth. They have been able to move through life with the supreme confidence of knowing that they are surrounded by spiritual beings.

Excerpt from John Hill’s commentary

 
Belonging : We’ve got our culture,….This is my land. …This is my land, here, where I look. We own all this, every little bush, every little tree, every log, every stick, every little bit of flower…You see those big flowers? Emus are getting fat now and they’re ready to lay. We tell by by the flowers because they’re getting near springtime. This is our land….

Words of some men from Brewarrina

 
The Report “Bringing Them Home” told of the history and repercussions of the stolen children. If we are going to move towards the future we must first speak the Truth. This was the process in South Africa and Ireland—Commissions of Truth and Reconciliation. The “Bringing Them Home” report spoke the truth but sadly, many in the Government failed to carry out the recommendations of which there were 54. This year there was a name change to a Day of Healing which caused some concern. Before we can heal we must acknowledge the truth of our History and make reparation. Only then can we move forward towards Healing.

Pentecost Sunday

This Fire Blessing has been used as a prayer by the Aboriginal people in the Kimberley for thousands of years.

May the fire be in your thoughts, making them good and just,
May it protect you from all harm.
May the fire be in your eyes,
May it open your eyes to see what is good in life,
May it protect you from speaking against another.
May the fire be in your ears,
We pray that you may hear with deep listening
So that you may hear the flow of water
And of all Creation and of the Dreaming
May you be protected from gossip
And from those things that harm and break down your family.
May the fire be in your arms and hands,
So that you may be of service and build up love.
May the fire protect you from all violence.
May the fire be in your whole being, in your legs and feet,
Enabling you to walk the earth with respect and care,
So that you may journey in ways of goodness and trust
And be protected from walking away from what is true.

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