POISON

an open barn, screened,
waist-high grassland
and scattered trees.
young japanese people
chattering, walking along
a track, expected.

a hooded snake rises
above the grass
“move on!, I cry out,
“there’s a brown snake!”
thinking, “It’s not a brown
snake”. in dread, not a simpleAndyCapp
one-bite-can-kill-you snake
an evil thing all hooded
and domination
and resentment
and persistence.

it turns on me, flying now,
slamming into the screen wall.

two existences
surprised and not
at once I retreat
to the grassland
seated on my arab pony,
“Oh there you are.”
riding as we used to
bridle, no saddle, cantering
pony puffing, so unfit,
back to the people.

rolling up to the bitter-sweet
memory of my long dead pony
poisoned in his paddock,
the kettle on,
Lidia visited.

LidiaZamenhof
Lidia Zamenhof

refused by the USA
on tour of her father’s
conversation in peace,
some excitement
a moment in the sun
an itch on the nazi skin
scratched, released,
so many ways out.

“I must die
I must stay
grant our sufferings
a better world.”

last seen on the train
to Treblinka
poisoned
found in my kitchen
riding out of the grassland
on my arab pony.

World Religion Day 2020

Today is World religion day 2020. I’m the MC for the devotional event in my small rural community in far north Australia. While it is a small community – the local government are has about 18,000 people – there are around 40 ethnic groups representing all the larger religions of the world. Here is my welcoming address.

Eckhart Tolle, in telling the story of his coming to meditation, said, “ There’s great freedom … in not compulsively interpreting other people, situations, and so on, not imposing thinking continuously on the world, which is so alive and so fresh and new at every moment… What we are talking about here is a state of alert attention to what is … where you rise above thinking to a large extent in your life, still being able to use it, but not being used by it.” Interview with Krista Tipppet On Being

Eckhart Tolle is famous for his books and courses on meditation. Meditation and mindfulness have been made popular and perhaps the single most common modern person’s access to the spiritual life. For many people, meditation is access to happiness. And, as we will hear in today’s readings, across the various religious traditions, meditation has a vital role not always connected to our personal happiness, but always connected to a view of the human being as a relationship to God and ourselves as more powerful than we ordinarily consider.

Berlin_RoomofSilenceThe image you are seeing on the screen is a composite of the Brandeberg Gate in Berlin – a hub a tourist activity from all around the world. Off to one side, hosted by a committee of all the religious organisations in Berlin, a number a little bigger than those of our religions, here – is a Room of Silence. Anyone can enter and stay as long as they want, in meditation, reflection or silent prayer. The past 200 years of Berlin since Napolean has been fraught with tyranny and wars. Only these last 30 years since the Berlin Wall came down could it be said that Berlin has had reprieve. It really looks like it might keep that way. However we cannot build a fully human planet with paying attention to how we are human. And meditation is a crucial element to being human.

This comment from the World Community of Christian Meditation Interfaith Program is very relevant to todays gathering. “Religion is becoming more, not less important in the world today. It is urgent that the deep changes taking place in religious consciousness across all faiths and in their relationships are connected to the contemplative power residing at the heart of all the great wisdom traditions.

Meditation opens us to the common ground of humanity – and the essential goodness of human nature. The differences between traditions and cultures are as important and enlightening as their similarities. Meditation establishes a spiritual friendship between the members and practitioners of all faiths and ensures that the differences do not become divisions or false justifications for intolerance or violence.

Egg Boy & Dissonance

EggBoyHe’s not a hero. He’s 16. There’s a well-understood developmental trajectory he is on, part of which means his action are not particularly well thought out. That ‘getting into action’ that youth, especially certain young men, are known for, often leads into danger. Egg boy got punched twice by the politician  and then jumped on and choked by two or thee much larger men (white supremacist supporters of said politician). Well it happened in a public space so egg boy had some safety net in the form of observers and a couple of supporters.

Of course it is just that jumping into action that gives youth their impact. Double that with strong ethical training some youth, world-wide have made amazing contributions. And their contributions make it clear that almost all youth can reach that standard of peaceful action for social change – true heroes.

I am impressed that egg boy and his friends are not just off chillin’ with their mates and ignoring society altogether, as if tomorrow will give us the world ‘we deserve’. And sure, from his point of view, no-one was getting hurt, just a politican’s pride. But anyone being attacked from behind doesn’t knows that, and that can make it dangerous for egg boy. His actions for me are more a signifier, a flare of retaliation that peaceful people tend not to stoop but that more than enough of us ‘wish to do’, as many of my friends attest.

It signifies how many are feeling angry and hurt about these anti-social messages and our all too primate desire to obliterate what is painful to us, that is intruding onto our territory, albeit that territory is abstract ‘the territory of peace and harmony’. My advice is to sit with that dissonance between what we stand for as peace lovers and our actual attitudes and behaviours when confronted by haters. Reaching for an excuse for why even small acts of violence can be defended is a natural response to dissonance but not necessary. My authentic experience is that I delight in egg boys action while also realising, with some shame, that even this mild violence undermines the cause towards peace, and supports the messaging towards violence, just as Anning’s vocal violence supported the Christchurch mosque killings. I sit with this dissonance, accepting this is who I am, and that who I will Be, will be an authentic integration of my primal nature and my higher nature. While there are many other sources of learning around the heroic, adult, approach, so many of which are unknown to popular media, we would do well to review the activism of Martin Luther King in making social change, to see how powerful and heroic is the peaceful approach.

I Am A Dancer I

(MY MOTHER DIED Aug 29 2018)BOLD_Owen_07

friends
(most are women)
have told me,”you think
too much”, “you ask
to many deep questions”,
“You’re a bit weird”
“not like most men”
I’ve always felt
that was up for discussion,
obvious.

I’m a dancer

my mother died in August.
we had an awkward relationship

I like science fiction.
I’ve always wanted to understand
quantum physics.
I heard that Albert Einstein’s
theory was proven
in the trenches of WWI.
and before that you needed
a graduate degree to understand
the physics of the universe.
and since that E=MC2
is understood by highschool students.

I’ve wanted to translate
my knowledge
into simpler formulas
for easier relationships.

I’m a dancer.

When I was 16
I watched my mother storm in
pick up a length of wood
and head my way.
A quiet voice
stood me up
and commanded
unflinching resolve
I held her eyes
she brought it down
on my shoulder.
‘Maybe it broke’
My father quiet
to my resolve.
“Don’t hit your mother.”

I walked 20 miles
through the night
to see a nun
in a convent
avoiding car lights
on country roads
I arrived at dawn
I waited until 7
I was hungry
She made me tea.
I told her my story.
She asked me if
there was anything
else.
I was 16
I was devastated
I was steel
I was the wolf
scouring forest trails
I said “No”
I got up to go.
She said, “Goodbye”.

I went to university
and studied physiotherapy
and asked deep questions
and joined the Baha’i Faith
and the new earth order
and that was a bit weird
and even there,
still not like most men
and not like most women.
and married
and begot 3 sons
and spent some hours
each week helping
on my father’s farm
and burning out at work
and getting fired up
and for fifteen years
taking holidays
to have conversations
with politicians
about rural health

I saw a signpost
Performance Community
and something glimmer
in the distance
like a bright new
city of the future
and took that track

I’m a dancer

These past 14 years
I’ve had lunch with my mother
and father, or coffee
every week
helping around the farm,
being frustrated with them
finding a way to accept
no apology
finding a way to say,
“I love you.”
finding a way to tear them
away from their farm
his workshops,
her orchards.

In his dementia
in a house in town
my father remembered
“that bloke came around again”.
he fell and broke his hip
I sat with him in emergency.
He said, “It’s time”
I glibly, “Time for a cuppa?”
He gave me a sour look,
a ‘fuck off’
I felt I’d disappointed him.
He died.

There’s not much for a wolf
in a modern society
– pickings at the edges

I don’t know whether
my mother knew
I am a dancer.

My mother died in August.
We buried her in September.
Her friends noted to me
how lovely she was
to be with.

Sadness tinges
I didn’t forget
not to go around for lunch
or coffee.

 

TRAIL OF TEARS

Chattanooga_Tn_0264

Are we ever able to accommodate
or are we only ever
going to grab our chance
to forge a trail of tears?

Did it matter at all that
the Celts were over-run by the Romans
(who am I?)
or that the Cherokees were / are
put out by the new world
Americans?

We have museums to our dismay.
Museums that tell pithy stories
for children
so that adults don’t need
to grow up.

The stories have to start long,
long ago in paleo days
the longer away the better
so far across time that our
hearts don’t even care
when confronted by the
living museums nestled by
the graves of the survivors
taking a tourist
dollar to keep old craft alive.

So lovely.

The stories have to finish with
the proud image of ones who
made it good in the world
where the tears have all dried up
on sculptured faces near casinos.