Resurrection morn: Fire on the beach

When the disciples had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. (John 21:9-14)

Archie Roach is one of Australia’s most treasured singer-songwriters. He was born to Nellie, a Gunditjmara woman, and Archie, a Bundjalong man, but was taken from his family as a child. He is a member of the Stolen Generations.

We were a hunter-gatherer society that lived within our clans, gathering around the fire to commune and share stories. Over human history, some people chose to stay around that fire, while others chose to leave.

Those who left spread across the lands and seas, forming tribes and later villages, moving away from the fire. The Industrial Age further disconnected us from Mother Earth, from our origins.

But there were Aboriginal people who stayed by the fire, who never left and are now calling us back, to retrace our steps back to the fire, to reconnect to our origins, to a love of the earth and each other. I believe they have a story, a wisdom and a way of life that can help everyone who lives in this country.

New research on my mother’s ancestral country, in Warrnambool at the mouth of the Hopkins River, has just been released, suggesting that my ancestors were living here some 120,000 years ago.

For the past ten years a team of geologists, archaeologists and palaeontologists have found evidence, although inconclusive, of a ‘place of fire’ at a location called Moyjil by the Gunditjmara and Point Ritchie by European settlers. There, small black stones and scattered shell middens were collected around steep cliffs, ‘heated in a situation reminiscent of a hearth’.

For so long we have been divided by ‘ism’s – racism, sexism, fundamentalism, individualism – but when we come to the place of fire, I believe we will discover there’s far more that connects us than separates us. I believe we will be one humanity again, that we will find release, healing and true freedom.

The ‘place of fire’ is a place of love and connection. We’ll all be there – I’ll be there – to welcome you back, wrap my arms around you and say, ‘I’ve missed you. Welcome home.’ Ω

Reflect: When have you encountered the Risen Christ around the ‘place of fire’? How has this led you to better love the earth and other people? Where are you called to love now?

#Lent2020 © Sanctuary, 2020 quoting Archie Roach, Tell Me Why. East Roseville, NSW: Simon & Schuster, 2019. Buy your copy from your favourite bookshop.


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