Friday, May 27, 2011

The wisdom in learning from Custodial Elders

At different times in my life I have been awakened to the importance of the Pacific Ocean. One such time was when an Elder of the Gumbaynggirr people shared with me, a story about the relationship between her people and the ocean. This was a powerful moment because she affirmed for me what I had only dared to allow myself to feel and never to speak.

This old woman, who has since passed on, took the time to prepare me to truly hear what she was about to tell me. She asked me in relation to my work with her people...

‘Why do you do what you do?’

It seemed like an easy question and I answered her. She asked me the same question again. I answered again, adding more of my story. I figured that I had not yet told her what she wished to hear. (there was a time in my learning of these ways that I may have thought... ‘ah well she is not hearing me, I will say it another way’ this was before i was able to see the wisdom in the Elder’s approach to learning).

Well this went on for a few more minutes where the question was continually repeated until I had said all I could say about me and my story. The question still came. I stopped and thought and realised I was empty of all I could say. It was at this moment that I heard myself saying

‘... because my spirit moves me this way!’.

This is what she had been waiting for. It was only then, when I was connected to spirit and empty in my head that I was given the story she was willing to share with me.

At this point in my writing I need to make it clear that there are very important lores around story and who has the place to share what with whom. I wish to make it clear that what I am sharing with you is my experience only and unless I am specifically given the place to share a story it will not be told through me.

I have plenty of stories that it is my place to share. It is these that will be told in the weeks to come.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Learning a different way of being in the world

As I am writing I realise that I would like to make clear what I understand about how changes, in the way I am and in the way I walk the land, have happened. This way that I have learnt to bewith the natural world has (as I see it) contributed to my being given opportunities to learn from custodial peoples. So here is just a little about me.
As a young woman I chose to make some lifestyle changes. I seemed to know that it was important for me to be more in touch with the rhythms of the natural world. Then later, about twenty years ago now, I wrote about the changing perceptions of the world that came with the changes I chose to make.

“The changing skyscape was mind-shattering. My mind slowly (sometimes quickly) let go of my conditioned way of thinking, of seeing how things are in this world. I learnt about the plants and animals, about the hills, valleys, rivers, fires and floods. I was in touch with the changing phases of the moon. I delighted in watching the splendour of the sun, rise across the ocean and set beyond the hills. I began to feel a part of the Earth and all her life forms. The different rocks, stones, pebbles, soils, clay, sands and colours became a whole new world. The interplay of light on dewdrops, frost, mists, leaves, clouds and hills expanded my sense of connection with a world of so many facets that I was ‘blown out’ of my old way of thinking. As I came to allow my senses to function, I became conscious of feeling all that I was experiencing. I slowly became aware that I was feeling ‘energy’… well I came to feel the Earth, the sky, the sea, the wind etc as energies, not just with my visual and aural senses. This was not as weird to me as it might have been if it wasn’t for my growing awareness about the way (many) Aboriginal people feel things too.”

Today, as for most days, these days, I am grateful for the fact that I had the chance to learn to see the world differently, to appreciate the world in such a way that the interconnectedness of all life, the whole of everything, sits in my consciousness on a day to day basis. It is this that helps me to feel truly alive and helps me to trust in our ability to live with the Earth, in harmony and with respect, in our changing world.