Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; justice and peace will kiss. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and justice will look down from the sky. God will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Justice will go before him, and make a path for his steps. (Psalm 85:10-13)
Like most Aboriginal people, I find myself in between two worlds. Belonging to the world’s oldest living culture, and a western culture termed “Australian” … The two worlds can make you sick, but most often it makes you tired.
Over 2,000 generations of my peoples, my family, have walked this land. ‘Australia’ wasn’t our word. We had over 300 nations in this “nation” that has only been called Australia since 1901. Aboriginal wasn’t our word. My family comes from Waka Waka land. I live on Gubbi Gubbi land. I work on Turrabal land. I find it hard to call myself Australian, because so often Australia does not include me…
I dream of the day we can build an Australia built on truth, justice, love, and hope. These are what I will spend my life trying to build. As a Christian, truth, justice, love, and hope spring from our Biblical mandate to love; and as an Aboriginal person, from the role given to us by the Creator. We have been speaking of this Creator for over 60,000 years, passed down from generation to generation.
Country means the land, the seas, the rivers. Country means the trees, the plants, the animals. It means us. For over 250 years we have been trying to teach you about the country that the Creator taught us about.
I don’t want to be stuck between two worlds. For me this is part of what Reconciliation should be about. Imagine that to engage with Australia means that your world engaged with the Australia I talk about. Where animals that face extinction are valued and protected just as much as a person’s life. Where Aboriginal sacred sites are protected instead of being bulldozed. The Australia where God’s creation is valued above profits, as we mine minerals that do not replenish. The Australia that values my life as an Aboriginal person and takes action to close the gap.
Imagine that we were a nation that prayed about these things. That loved more than destroyed, and listened more than ignored. A nation where non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal peoples were friends, and shared about how to love this land and all life within it just as our Creator, God, does.
My prayer is that instead of being stuck in the middle we choose Jesus’ world – to love, to listen, to share. At Common Grace, we like to give people the tools to take next steps. One tiny step to engage with the world I am talking about is to do an Acknowledgement of Country. In its simplest form, it’s what I’ve done here – acknowledge which land I come from, on which I live, and on which I work. I’ve also acknowledged those who have gone before me and those to come – the Elders past, present and future. Ω
Reflect: How do you work towards truth, justice, love and hope? Pray about it. And if you don’t already do this, find a way to acknowledge country, for example in your email signature.
Brooke Prentis is an Aboriginal Christian leader from the Waka Waka peoples, and CEO of Common Grace. This piece, ‘Between Two Worlds’ was found at https://www.commongrace.org.au/between_two_worlds. Donate to Common Grace at https://www.commongrace.org.au/donate. #Lent2021. Real People, Real Stories: 40 Readings for Lent, Sanctuary, 2021. Image credit: Rachel Coyne on Unsplash.
What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of intense reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together 40 stories from people both within and beyond the congregation, with associated questions for reflection and prayer. A reading will be uploaded every day of Lent.
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