“Autumn draws me into a reflective embrace. The misty air, the golden leaves, the noisy call of geese winging their way southward, all these lead me inward. I relish autumn’s quiet way of doing this. At the same time, I resist autumn. Mainly because it pokes “death” in my face everywhere I turn. I don’t want to let go of summer’s warmth and energizing green. I resist the inherent message of impermanence reflected in this season.”
Thus says Joyce Rupp, echoing my own thoughts as the long warm days of summer disappear along with a very busy Term 1. As we head into the Easter Break it is worth reflecting on all this term has brought us. We have celebrated new beginnings for some staff as they began their journeys with us. Sadly, we have mourned in solidarity with several of our ministries at the passing of beloved staff members. In these moments we have seen the strength of our community relationships and the love at the heart of all we do.
Our recent 5th anniversary celebrations were an opportunity to reflect on our strengthening identity and narrative. Together, students across Kildare Ministries’ schools pledged to “commit ourselves to be a community where all people are valued. Guided by the mission of Jesus, we strive to work together in solidarity with the vulnerable in our world to be people of hope, justice and love.”
Recent tragic events in Christchurch have reminded us of our need to be people of hope, justice and love. As can happen in moments of great human vulnerability, some outspoken public figures used the event to sow seeds of discord and hatred in pursuit of their own agenda. In response, Labor senator and Yawuru man Pat Dodson censured such comments and spoke eloquently in the Senate on 3 April 2019 of how Australia’s Indigenous people know deeply the consequence of prejudice:
“…inflammatory and divisive comments seeking to attribute blame to victims of a horrific crime and to vilify people on the basis of religion, (which) do not reflect the opinions of the Australian Senate or the Australian people… First Nations’ peoples know the impacts of murder wilfully carried out and morally justified by hatred of minorities, misplaced power and bullying superiority. In Gurindji country, they talk of the Killing Times. Mounted Constable Willshire was stationed at Victoria River Downs in the 1890s. He was a mass murderer in uniform, who took it upon himself to protect the interests of cattlemen by dispersing the traditional owners of the lands at gunpoint. He took to print, justifying his actions with boastful pride and emboldened by the rightness of whiteness and condemned the First Nations’ people to death… I have visited the sites of massacres, of mass murders in Balgo, in Forrest River, and at Coniston. Those mass murders took place in living memory. I have sat down with old Warlpiri men and women who luckily survived those murderous attacks as young babies, hidden from the attacks. 1928 was not that long ago. My mother was just seven years old. But we are in 2019 now and a mass murderer, rejecting the richness of difference, driven by religious hatred and xenophobia, empowered by military-style weapons, has waged his atrocity in Christchurch.
The murder of 50 innocent people does not just happen. It arises from the feeding of hate, irresponsible language and the demonising of people of colour, and difference. We know the real cause of the bloodshed in Christchurch. The real cause was prejudice, hate, and a passion for violent action, aided and abetted by the availability of military-style weapons. We call out those who exploit fear and ignorance for political gain: who mock the traditional dress of women of another culture; who seek donations from the manufacturers of weapons of war to override our own laws; who argue that it is “alright to be white”. Their values would plunge our country back into the Killing Times. We should instead turn our face to the light of a new future, a peaceful, non-violent, tolerant country of hope, respect and unity. A country where no innocent man, women or child is ever again the victim of mass murder.”
May this Easter break be an opportunity for us all to consider what elements of discord within our hearts need to die so that hope, justice and love can flourish. With every good wish for the Easter season, from all of us here at Kildare Ministries.
“If we want to be spiritually transformed it is essential to include letting go as part of our journey. Each autumn I now seek inspiration from those dying leaves gathering in ever deeper layers on the ground. As the trees let go of what enabled them to sip of the nourishing rays of summer sun, their falling leaves will eventually become a rich humus to nourish spring’s greening growth. If I stay open to the inner and outer changes that naturally arise, (if I dance more and drag my feet less about impermanence), my life can be a nourishing source for personal and world transformation. I hope the same for you.” (adapted from ‘Autumn and Impermanence’, ©2018 Joyce Rupp)