From the Chaplain

Chaplain Erin Tuineau

Chaplain Erin Tuineau

Chaplain’s Reflection: Week 6, Term 1

 

Sometimes when you hear someone speak or write about something that they have a deep passion for, you feel moved by what they say. Your spirit awakens inside of you and you think to yourself ‘What this person is saying really matters and needs to be heard’. I had the experience of being ‘moved’ twice this week, which I will explain below.

In Year 9 Chapel this week, we heard one of the history teachers speak about the silence that surrounds the horrendous violence that happened to Indigenous communities at the time of white settlement in Australia. I had heard of some of these stories, but I never realized just how widespread this violence was until this Year 9 Chapel. When you hear about this sort of violence you do not feel anything. Not even sadness. Just numbness. It comes as such a shock, I don’t think our brains know how to comprehend it. But I knew I had to keep listening, because this was about the history of the country I call home. And it was much worse than I had ever realized. The truth is overwhelming, and that is why I think Australians find it so hard to accept. We pride ourselves on being a ‘peaceful nation’ but when you face the reality of our past, and the horrific suffering that the Indigenous people experienced, this pride goes by the wayside. So, when the history teacher sharing these untold truths said to us that they were deeply ashamed of being Australian, in light of all of this knowledge, that is when I felt like crying, because there is nothing else left to feel. And this teacher also said that the only way forward for us as a nation is if non-Indigenous Australian start listening to Indigenous individuals and communities as equals, rather than from a place of superiority. This gives us all something to seriously consider and work towards. 

The other time this week when I felt moved was when I read my husband’s annual report for his parish’s AGM. For those of you that do not know, he is also an Anglican priest, and much of his ministry is with the elderly who live in nursing homes around Canberra. In his report, he spoke about the fact that while the people he ministers to are very old, and in the last stretch of their lives, they are not dead yet. He goes onto say that many of them are incredibly lonely and in a lot of pain, both emotionally and physically. In the church we often put so much emphasis on attracting younger people to our communities of faith, which is understandable since they are often the generation which are not present at our church services, but this often comes at the expense of ignoring the elderly in our community. Somehow, the lives of the young have become more valuable than the lives of the elderly. To my knowledge, there is nothing in the Bible that suggests that this is true in any way. I think that maybe it has become the western way of thinking about the elderly, as our society puts so much emphasis on people being able to achieve things to prove that they are valuable to others. We do not even like using the word ‘old’ to describe someone as we are afraid we might offend them, not because being old is intrinsically bad, but because we have attached our own negative connotations to the word. We have forgotten how to simply value to presence of our elders. The stories of wisdom they have to pass down to us. We have lost so much of the beauty that comes with different generations constantly interacting with each other. This benefits both the young and the old, and everyone in between. 

It is my hope that this Lent we might let the voices of others move our spirits. Sometimes we will feel moved to shame or sadness. And it is ok to feel these things. Christ will always be there to guide us back into the light and enable us to use these feelings as a positive force to bring about change in our world where it is most needed.

 

Rev Erin

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