Prophetic Thunder from Down Under

I am soon to be boarding a plane from Sydney to San Francisco after two weeks down under, one in New Zealand and the second in Australia. I found both countries holding spiritual magic at mystical and prophetic dimensions, and both wrestling with the denouement of institutional religion along with a deep interest in creation spirituality and the fate of the earth.

Matthew Fox speaks on “Spiritual But Not Religious…” at the Common Dreams conference

Among other topics, I was asked in each country to address these two in particular: “Spiritual But Not Religious: the Future of Religion and of Spirituality and of the Earth”; and “On Being Deeply Human in a Time of Earth-Crisis and Apocalyptic Warnings.”

I woke up in Sydney Sunday morning with a phrase in my head: “prophetic thunder from down under.” The Saturday night event in Sydney had been memorable for many reasons.

This fifth annual four-day Common Dreams Conference had been titled: “Sacred Earth: Original Blessing, Common Home.” Many progressive religious thinkers and practitioners were in attendance and participants were promised that “speakers, artists, musicians and presenters will connect their work with the broad principles of creation spirituality.” Which was surely the case. Needless to say I felt fully at home and pleased that over the years creation spiritually has grown some authentic roots in Australian culture. And the relation to the ancient wisdom of indigenous spirituality is clear.

An outstanding event occurred Saturday night which kicked off with two poets, one being Joel McKerrow who sang of despair on the one hand but also the joy and laughter his two children offer him, such as his young daughter placing her tiny hands so trustingly into his hand.

African poet Roje Ndayambaje

The second poet was a young African refugee from the wars of Rwanda, Roje Ndayambaje, who spoke of his prayers as a child amidst the atrocities there— how he prayed that in the middle of the night when someone came to kill him that it would be by gunshot and not by machete.

Having lost his father by a killing (was he murdered by machete? It was not clear) he spoke of his yearning one day to be a father and to be fully present to a son as his father could not be for him. Full of praise for his mother, who raised him amidst all the horrors of genocide, he sang of how she made him the poet he was.

Anne Pattel-Gray speaks at the 2019 Common Dreams Conference

Then followed a stirring and truth-filled challenge from aboriginal leader Anne Pattel-Gray who spoke on “Restorative Justice” and recounted some of the sad and notorious history of white Australia to her people—a history not unlike that of the native Americans of my homeland. Yet hers is the oldest continuous tribe on the earth. What a spiritual resource they bring at this critical time of earth crises and spiritual crises the world over! Climate change and all the rest.

Anne Pattel-Gray’s examination of the impact of white racism on the aboriginal peoples of Australia

Anne was blunt in her assessment of the price paid by her people and especially their children over the centuries at the hands of Europeans who somehow believed that God was absent in Australia for 65,000 years until the colonizers arrived from Europe. She was equally direct in posing solutions including a much talked-about but never enacted treaty that acknowledges her people as a sovereign nation. The group responded by drawing up and enacting a supportive statement that will be delivered to government authorities. She called for action and not just more words.

Of course the issues of indigenous peoples traumatized by centuries of abuse and genocide is a global problem, not just an Australian Aboriginal one. All the more reason to listen to a prophetic voice like that of Anne Pattel-Gray who, not Incidentally, is the first aboriginal person to receive a PhD from the university of Sydney and who, among other attacks, had her home burned to the ground by the Ku Klux Klan (Yes, I learned for the first time that there is a KKK in Australia.).

We will share the declaration in our next Daily Meditation.

Banner image: The sacred rock formations of Mutawintji National Park, NSW, Australia. Photo by, Adobe Stock

Queries for Contemplation

Reflect on the legacy of racism and the suffering of indigenous peoples in your country and in Australia. What does this teach you? How does it open your heart to effective and non violent action?

Recommended Reading

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

In this book Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology). Here Fox lays out the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.

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5 thoughts on “Prophetic Thunder from Down Under”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you so much for sharing this exciting trip with us! I often reflect upon racism. Yes, white privilege exists, WHAT can we do? I move from a different dimension, a transcending one. Lord make of me an instrument of Your peace. Effective and non violent ways? At this point in my journey I am one of the Little Ways. I am sister to all. I am nothing spectacular, but I will take this brave heart wherever Spirit would lead.

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Beth,
      As the daughter of a civil rights activist of the ‘30’s and 40’s (last century!) and one who worked with the arts and the inner city in her career, I am shocked to realize how so many of my actions came from both deep sense of justice and pervasive white privilege. I am grateful that I can have this shown to me so that I can be a conscious part of the spiritual oneness that is now evolving. What we are trying to do is no small feat – to live from the One Soul within all world cultures and creatures. It is good to have you with us on this journey. Thanks for writing.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the DM Team

      1. Avatar

        Thank you, Gail, for your humble awareness. One of the most helpful intentions for me, when the feat feels too great, is to stay in proximity with the injustice that I can see and serve in my own neighborhood. But, these mediations are so wonderfully helpful, and this particular community of Creation Spirituality fills me with hope! I am grateful!

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