Signs of Hope
Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger – Senior Chaplain
By Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger, Senior Chaplain
The Gurindji people of the Northern Territory have a fantastic story to tell about hope and resilience in the face of injustice. Vincent Lingiari and others led the Wave Hill Walk Off in 1966. Their strike over wages and conditions on Lord Vestey’s cattle station lasted eight years and eventually resulted in Land Rights. The iconic photo of Gough Whitlam pouring sand into Vincent Lingiari’s hand is a symbol of hopes realised.
The story of the Gurindji Walk Off is one that continues to inspire and bring hope. I spent three years teaching on Gurindji Country, and participated in the annual retelling of the story of the Walk Off each August. The celebrations were adapted this year to account for COVID-19 restrictions. In late August, Electric Fields released a version of Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly’s famous song From Little Things Big Things Grow which tells the story of the Walk Off. This release includes footage of Vincent, Gurindji language and also of celebrations in recent times. It is incredibly beautiful and moving.
I wonder what it was that sustained the hopes of the Gurindji people and their supporters for those eight years? It seems that we need hope in the midst of suffering. Lutheran Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber talks about the kind of hope that can move us past “inspirational poster hope” and “cheerful optimism” and into a deeper, more real sense of hope that can sustain us when not much else is left.
Nadia calls this kind of hope, “gritty, defiant hope”. This is the kind of hope that we find in the Easter story, where the pain and suffering of Jesus’ death and burial become the ground for the resurrection. For the first disciples, their hopes were dashed. And yet, they became aware the God was still writing the story. Redemption is available and faith and beauty have a place in the world.
Last week the Junior School participated in a “Satellite Selfie” where together staff and students spelled out the words “Radford + Hope”. What a powerful reminder that together we can be agents of hope who acknowledge “what is” and work with God towards “what might be”.