An excited and eclectic crowd filed into our hall first thing Monday morning. As the place buzzed, I stood in a moment of stunned silence, observing once again, life found by the Wayside. It’s in meeting with our community that lives are transformed. Sadly, there are so many meetings in which no meeting takes place. But love is found in unexpected places; at the most unexpected of times; perhaps in a smile or the kindness of a stranger. Creating a better world begins in fleeting moments that are easily missed. To observe someone giving a haircut is both mundane and glorious for those who have eyes to see. What could be more ordinary than finding some clean underwear, but given to someone who has none or whose current undies are in desperate need of replacement this mundane act provides dignity and displays all that’s best about the world.
So, on Monday we were gathered in a room full of people to launch our much-anticipated re-opening of Wayside’s Mob Space, now known as the Aboriginal Cultural Centre. The team spoke passionately about their hopes for the future through the telling of their personal stories while honouring and acknowledging all of those people who had, through the years, created this space in the first place. Someone who I see as my sister stood proudly and delivered an acknowledgement of the Gadigal people who tended this land from a time well before recorded history. In school, I was taught history that began just a few thousand years ago, but in our Aboriginal community our view stretches back 40,000 years or more.
Our culture often looks like it is bereft of gratitude but Anzac Day does wake up calls of, “Lest we forget” marking a not often expressed gratitude for the sacrifice of others. It’s a healthy thing and I think we ought to have some way of being grateful for everyone who has helped us live so well. I’m uncomfortable with any version of remembrance that requires us to forget the suffering of others. Soldiers on all sides in war; young people who had hardly begun to live, died hideous deaths. Lest we forget any of them. For our own first peoples, there are numerous memories they were encouraged to forget, while being encouraged to remember the sacrifices of the Anzacs, almost in the same breath. The memories of being unwanted in their own land; the memories of being managed under the Flora and Fauna Act; the memories of having children forcibly removed from families by government policy. As we gathered Monday, the joy and agony of remembrance reminded me of the phrase that W.E.H Stanner coined as our national “cult of forgetting”. After the storytelling on Monday, in true Wayside style, we feasted on traditional damper with jams made from Davidson’s Plum and Finger Limes, and some good old-fashioned re-heated sausage rolls while we shared laughter, and love.
Thanks for being a part of our community and our Inner Circle,
Pastor & CEO