A Reflection given on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday. 6th July 2014.
Each time I read the selections for the coming Sunday, I fail at first to see the connections they make to the life we are immersed in. I come to understand, to ‘get it’ so to speak, through a process of letting go of the first impression, revisiting, learning, watching, listening, observing, feeling, waiting, letting go. At the same time as this process is under way, I begin to deepen my understanding of what our human situation presents. It isn’t a conscious matching of the two, the application of the one to the other. It is more an organic process of growth that can be challenging but is always worth the effort, and the place of grace.
This time, there was a refreshing of the understanding of difference that the dimension of the wild spirit brings to life – not an anti-body attitude but a sharp realization of the urgency and beauty of life lived in fullness, (Rom 8:9, 11-13) and then the beautiful reassurance of the ‘sweet yoke’ passage from Matthew. (Matt11:25-30) I knew they would connect with NAIDOC Week, but I had to let go and ponder. I love that slow word ‘ponder’.
I looked down at the ‘Recognise’ sticker on my laptop, and there it was.
That one word: Recognise.
I understood the meaning of the choice of that word for the movement to change our Constitution, in a new and urgent way.
Recognise has a strength of meaning that grows as you hold the word and turn it over in your heart. There is something in it, of seeing again, of coming back to what seems to be known and understanding it differently. We look at a person and then our minds recognise them, but the more we know about them, the more we will recognize the truth of their being or their situation. Recognition often comes through the senses rather than the intellect. It changes our perception but also changes us.
Our eldest daughter recently related an experience she had in the country around Amata, up close to the border of the NT. She was taken to a beautiful place where there was a ring of hills around, and in the stillness and quiet, she was overwhelmed with the sense that they were drawing her and protecting her, and she was meeting a life force beyond her ken. There was in it for her, a new grasp through her experience of what that land means to the people who live in it.
On Friday night, I went with a close friend to the Aboriginal opera, Pecan Summer, with its painful themes of our shared history. I was almost overwhelmed by the sense of both our sameness as human beings, and our difference in the wellsprings of our cultural knowings. I cried at the finale on rehearing the words of the Apology spoken by Kevin Rudd, and the promises he made on our behalf to work together for the future – to yoke ourselves together to the task.
So today I did not hear these readings as a personal promise of comfort, although when in times of personal turmoil, I certainly – and gratefully – have. Today I read them as an assurance that the way to transformation is to enter more deeply into recognition, both of ourselves and of the people our culture has so badly wronged.
The promise is that in the process of learning, seeing again, listening, pondering till we understand, on our way to justice and understanding, we will be working in the energy of the Spirit, and that we will know the lightness of true humility – and that the burden is only Love.