Midwifing Truth Through Free Speech – Grace Tame Shows Us How It’s Done

In light of the recent controversy on her nomination for a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia, Pastor and Australian tennis veteran Margaret Court defines and defends her theo-phobic views as free speech, or something like it, calling those who criticise her evangelicalistic views “bullies”. But while she was being cross about being taken out of context again, someone else quietly stood up to show us what free speech actually looks like. Margaret Court and the rest of Australia, we give you winner of the Australian of the Year Awards for 2021, Grace Tame.

This largely unknown and incredibly courageous young woman used her platform and the publicity to draw focus to the cause of victims of child sexual abuse. In doing so, she has ripped the shameful shroud of silence which clings to abuse victims, many of them having suffered at the hands of ministers, pastors, priests and Tame’s address is powerful, raw, confronting, and indelible (A partial transcript is posted below.)What was said can never go back in the box, and nor should it. Grace owned every truth she told in those few breathtaking moments, and it was all hers to tell. In doing so she made a way for others to speak out, but she also created a conduit through which we may listen to their stories, however painful or uncomfortable the truth is. That there was a change-making speech. That’s what free speech does.

Two women, very different attitudes. Both Tame and Court have fears and aspirations. Both have conquered greatly and been convicted down to their marrow about what they believe to be right, and what they feel is wrong. But only one has allowed her experiences, learning, conscience and conviction to lead her to embrace anything resembling free speech. The other so vastly peppers her orations with prejudice and vilification, it’s hard to tell where she begins, and the limitations to her understanding of anyone outside her narrow spiritual, social and cultural sphere ends.

Court believes in her heart of hearts in free speech. But as they say in The Princess Bride, I do not think that word means what you think it means. Free speech is not about being allowed to speak freely – it is speech that at it’s very core is of, for and about freedom. Hate speech can never be free speech because they are diametrically opposed. When a victim tells the truth about her abuse in an effort to set herself and others free, that’s free speech. But if we threaten, directly or indirectly, consequences of non-compliance to an ideology, blaming some higher power or greater mission for the harm and hurt perpetrated in our doing so, that’s not free speech. That’s shaming speech. That’s fear speech. In essence, that is hate speech. Faith in anything other than ourselves is an abdication of the self, and any speech which invites us to discard what we know to be intrinsically who and what we are is not free speech. Those who speak fear and hate are free to do so, but they are not free to claim it is in essence or intent free.

The courageous way of free speech speaks of truth in all it’s terrible detail, without the need to threaten, cajole or invoke the authority of an invisible god. This way involves bringing our own vulnerability and power together to create a safe space for truth – ours and others – to emerge. The courageous way owns everything that happened, everything that’s happening now, and everything that will happen from here. The way of free speech knows there will be consequences, but also knows, regardless of how painful or dreadful, nothing could be worse than what happens if the truth isn’t told. Free speech midwives truth into the collective consciousness, through those who are willing to be fully who they are, and want others to be the same. Grace Tame is such a midwife, and the light she has brought into our awareness via her authenticity and strength will help so many other prisoners of sexual abuse to be made free.

Margaret Court and others who hold to the same ideas are not homophobic, it’s God they fear. They feel no authentic concern that LGBTQI people might go to hell. They’re afraid they will go to hell for not reminding people “what the Bible says”. Margaret Court  is afraid when she stands before God to give account for her life, He will judge and condemn her for not “teaching” the “good news” as fully and truthfully as she could, about how wrong it is to love someone with the same genitalia as you, or accept yourself for who you know yourself to be rather than what society demands. No, Pastor Court has no fear of LGBTQI people, but she has no love for them either. She is not interested in their story. She has no time for their truth. And she is certainly not interested in their freedom.

Jesus said, ***“If you hold to my teaching [love your god with all your heart, and love your neighbour as yourself] you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Now that’s free speech.

Jo Hilder (c)

Quotes by Margaret Court

  • The 78-year-old, who is now a reverend in Perth, wrote an open letter in 2017 saying she would boycott Qantas over its support of same-sex marriage.
  • In 2013, Ms Court wrote a letter to the editor in a newspaper lamenting the birth of Australian tennis player Casey Dellacqua’s child in a same-sex relationship. “It is with sadness that I see that this baby has seemingly been deprived of a father,” Ms Court wrote.
  • “When she talked about children of transgenders being from the devil, that put me over the edge.” – Billie Jean King
  • “There’s a whole plot in our nation and in the nations of the world to get the minds of the children.” – Margaret Court on a supposed media, educational and political LGBTQI brainwashing agenda.
  • “Tennis is full of lesbians. Even when I was playing there were only a couple there but those couple that led took young ones into parties.”
  • “We’re there to help them overcome. We’re not against the people.” Margaret Court on loving the sinner, hating the sun.
  • On marriage equality: “We know that homosexuality is a lust of the flesh, so is adultery, fornication, all those things … they too know this, this is why they want marriage, because it’s self-satisfying. I think they know it comes against Christianity, the beliefs of God, but in some way it’s justifying.”
  • “That’s what Hitler did. That’s what communism did — get in the minds of the children. There’s a whole plot in our nation and in the nations of the world to get in the minds of the children.” Court comments on an LGBTI movement and culture she imagines is indoctrinating youth.”

Grace Tame – 2021 Australian Of The Year, Partial Transcript Of Acceptance Speech

“I lost my virginity to a paedophile. I was 15, anorexic. He was 58. He was my teacher. For months he groomed me and then abused me almost every day: Before school, after school, in my uniform, on the floor. I didn’t know who I was.”

“Publicly, he described his crimes as ‘awesome’ and ‘enviable’. Publicly, I was silenced by law. Not any more. Australia, we’ve come a long way but there is still more work to do in a lot of areas.

“Child sexual abuse and cultures that enable it still exist. Grooming and its lasting impacts are not widely understood. Predators manipulate all of us — family, friends, colleagues, strangers in every class, culture and community. They thrive when we fight amongst ourselves and weaponise all of our vulnerabilities.

“Trauma does not discriminate, nor does it end when the abuse itself does. First Nations people, people with disabilities, the LGBTQI community and other marginalised groups face even greater barriers to justice. Every voice matters.”

*** John 8:31 (parentheses mine)

 

 

 

 

Things Not To Say About Australia Day – A Call To Prime Minister Morrison To Not Pull The Convict Card

I am a seventh generation First and Second fleet survivor descendant. That my ancestors were able to endure exile from their homeland, the journey here under the most horrendous conditions imaginable, meet, then make a life and legacy together never ceases to amaze me. Brought here against their will, they suffered unspeakable abuses and conditions, prevailing to instate a sort of life in an inhospitable country defying the odds. I am proud to be their descendant. However, when it comes to Australia Day, I’m not wont to crack a beer and raise it high with cries of “STRAYA MATE!!!!” It’s a day of sombre remembrance for the sake of the complete and enduring generational and cultural catastrophe which was the empirical colonization of this place, and let’s face it, for the most part the devastation was borne by First Nations. We white people actually seem to have come out of it pretty well.

My pride in my predecessor’s mettle is uneasily tempered with the understanding they were participants – however unwitting or unwilling – in the travesty that was the tossing of England’s unwanted pillories onto supposedly barren shores as far away as they could sail them. These exiles could not know what lay ahead and were powerless to be anything else but complicit. But whatever power our forebears lacked before or on arrival, they still had fifty times more control over their destinies at the hands of the British than the Indigenous population of the time. However, and whenever, we white Australians came to be here, and whatever we suffered on the way, we do not get to discuss those circumstances in the same conversation as the consequences on First Nations people of white occupation. No, we do not get to do that, Mr Prime Minister.

As a person of British/Irish descent, I would not be here except for the injustice, oppression and colonialism thrust upon my forebears, not to mention whatever actions led them to be here. I fully know when it comes down to it, this is not my Country. This is not my place. I am connected to this land only by its grace and goodwill. It has accepted me, this Country, cherished and nurtured me as its own. I rue that my ilk and peer very often have not returned the favour.

One of my closest friends is Indigenous, a First Nations descendant. We’ve spoken many times about our cultural and societal histories and the ironic, complex issues which could conceivably cause conflict in our dialogue. But they don’t. They give cause for deep reflection, empathy, listening, respect and understanding. Without either of us ever articulating it we agree this is key to moving reconciliation forward. We have the will, believe in a way, and trust the gestures we make at this intersection may somehow become part of a collective re-imagining of the relationship between who we understand to be the invaders, and the invaded, and who the silent, invisible phantom is who stands in the corner of the room. As dissonance continues about what a day for Australia looks and feels like, the fact we didn’t colonise ourselves seems to strangely hardly ever arise, and perhaps we might give pause to whether it ever actually stopped. In all our conversations I know I cannot speak to her pain regarding the colonialist past of this country. It is for me to listen, learn, and allow deeper respect and understanding to flourish between us.

Today, our Prime Minister stated, in defense of Australia Day being a celebratory event, that “when those twelve ships turned up in Sydney, all those years ago, it wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those vessels either.” Firstly, let’s note they did not “turn up” in Sydney, like invited but forgetful dinner party guests who neglected to send their RSVP. The white occupiers dragged a dozen, sorry ships ashore after months at sea and deposited almost fifteen hundred diseased, depraved white humans smack bang in Warrane, Gadigal Country. It was a place with a name and a population way before it was named for the British home secretary of the time. It was known as Eora, as were the people who lived here. The name literally means “here” or “from this place”. One might say “I am Eora, and Eora is me”. Eora were in Country, and Country was in them. It was the centre of their being- their universe – without and within. This is startlingly, and shamefully, opposed to the British Government’s opinion this land was barren and devoid of human habitation. The British government knew about the great south land for many years, having heard glowing reports from botanist Joseph Banks, a prior visitor in 1770 with old mate James Cook. Banks also brought back some very pretty pictures of various exotica and anecdotes of how absolutely perfect it would be as the location for a lovely little colonial concentration camp, with white picket fences and all. But Banks was, frankly, full of shit. New Holland was in fact wild and tough, and did not suffer fools, not to mention being widely inhabited by a widespread and functioning society, already demarcated into nations with their own laws and culture. But thanks to the ambitious botanist’s glowing endorsement, and the impatience of authorities to be rid of their prisoners, the mission went ahead. Colonizers gonna colonize. Being on the opposite side of the world, and apparently empty, it seemed the perfect patch on which to shit England’s most (allegedly) abominable human refuse. Undoubtedly, if the original inhabitants knew what and who was coming, they may have expressed concerns, if not downright resistance. Mr Morrison, a great many of us feel that particular white arrogance, white ignorance and white occupation isn’t something to be especially proud of. It’s something to be apologizing for.

It may surprise Australians, particularly in light of his insensitive remarks, to learn Morrison himself is a descendant of First Fleet colonialists, descended from William Roberts, transported for stealing yarn. No doubt this legacy gives him some pride, as it does many of the descendants including myself.  But when our Prime Minister blithely retorts from a colonialist perspective, making the white invaders into the victims of the Australian story, and those invaders’ white victims into martyrs, something is very awry. There can be only one lens through which to view this tragic episode in our history. What was done, both to the convicts and to the Indigenous peoples, was wrong. And despite the fact our ancestors came here under duress, we as their descendants are not exonerated from the crimes against humanity which followed our being flung here. All of us who came here under an English flag, indentured by choice or force to a quest to vanquish both land and peoples by sheer force of our privileged, power-laden populace, are guilty by association.

My ancestors did not choose to come, but despite their valiant survival, they contributed to the oppression of First Nations peoples and the decimation of this fragile, foreboding land. It behooves us to feel some shame for this. If we refuse to feel in all its gravity any grudge born against us as white non-belongers, we only deepen that shame. That our chief political minister would stand up, without a shred of humility or recognition of his white privilege or his glaring colonialist apologism, uttering “all victims of British colonialism matter” is to take the cause of reconciliation back at least twenty years. Good for you, Mr Morrison, if outright denial makes you happy. But you were not given your office to make yourself happy, not even to vent your stale, pale male banter on camera for your NLP, WASP, GOP maaaaates. Your job is to lead this nation well, and all Australians, as best you can. You get paid to be the best Australian you can be and govern as such. It’s incumbent on you to be the Prime Minister we all need now and, in the future, whoever we are and whatever our survival story is – because when it comes to white, patriarchal colonialism, everyone has a survival story, and that’s a goddamn fact. You don’t get to stand up as our boss man in government and play the invaders and invaded off against each other. This is not about which party was hurt worse by white colonialism in the past. It’s about the impacts of white colonialism here and now and into the future, because despite how invisible it might be to white Australians, that colonialism is very much alive and well.

No, Mr Morrison, you do not speak for me when you declare all lives matter as concerns the invasion of Australia. This posture misses the very important point that someone chose to send white people here without asking if it was okay first. Someone decided the Indigenous civilization already in residence were not human and played them for fools. Someone decided sending what it considered to be its human garbage to the other side of the world, along with a patriarchal, racist militia, was a solution to economic and class-related crime in their own fucked up country and a jolly idea. Someone signed off on Australia as an alternative to prisons the Empire insisted they could not afford to build on their own corrupt territory. Someone decided this, and now it can’t be undecided. We do not get to compare our suffering as white occupiers to that of the civilization we decimated. Our grave responsibility is to work through the aftermath. No, it isn’t fair our ascendants came to be here, and it’s true the circumstances were unjust, but so was the indigenous genocide that ensued, the Stolen Generation, and the fact First Nations people were not acknowledged as human beings with rights by the Australian government until the year before I was born – 1967. That’s 179 years of patriarchal white politicians bleating bullshit about “all lives matter” all the time making sure great swathes of humanity didn’t get to be counted as having lives that mattered in the first place. Australia didn’t colonise itself. Someone did it, and whether white Australians like it or not, our presence represents a deep wounding of this place and its people. When white people elect to see through the lens of the colonial empire and it’s white victims, rather than healing our own ancestral wounds and proffering active empathy and support for Indigenous victims, we only further the insult we perpetrated against them in the first place.

When Mr Morrison awkwardly attempts to paint white victims of colonialism in this country as equally put upon as the original inhabitants, but he must appreciate, with humility and respect, this is not our card to pull. We may not deign to give commentary on the impacts of colonialism on white people in the same breath as the impacts for First Nations people. Why, Mr Morrison, would you continue the systematic dismissal of the pain of First Nations people, and further isolate them by naming white pain? The two conversations may well be conjoined at some juncture, but for fucks sake, this isn’t the way to go about it. Do not trophyise my wound as a generational victim of colonial oppression, and do not assume to compare it to the catastrophe we perpetrated on First Nations’, like these injuries were scones in a CWA bake-off competing for a ribbon. How dare you, sir? How dare you?

Our colonial past cannot he erased – it can only be healed, and the first step to healing is acknowledgement. We cannot help what we refuse to learn about or understand. We cannot reach where we withdraw empathy rather than extending it. Empathy does not say “what about me.” It says “I see you. I hear you. Despite the pain your pain causes me, whether I am to blame or otherwise, I will be here where you are. I will see things through your eyes, because I am willing to set my perspectives or defenses aside. I am present. I know I cannot expect trust where there is no vulnerability. I want to understand from your perspective. I do not expect forgiveness, and I do not ask for it. I ask only that you let me stay with you, because you’re wounded, and although I don’t have the power to heal you, I know it isn’t good for the wounded to be alone.” First Nations people need to know we as white Australians are invested in their healing and the restoration of their culture on their terms because the future of this country not only includes them, it simply will not exist without them. Always was, always will be.

Mr Morrison, at the risk of putting words in your mouth, I’m about to put words in your mouth. Here’s what you say whenever Australians decide to encompass the burgeoning movement of reconciliation, understanding, empathy and societal evolution by deciding not to use the term “Australia Day” or acknowledge January 26th as a cause for celebration. You say, “I think I speak for all the imported rabble chucked on First Nations soil for one reason or another when I say I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and pay my respects to the Elders both past and present. We are grateful every time we place our feet on this earth and stand under this southern sky. We are humbled to be here alongside you at this point in history. There is much to learn and much to forgive. Let us continue to work towards reconciliation between the people of this country, and a healing of the past with a view to the future. We have no right to ask for your forgiveness, and we thank you for your willingness to teach us and wait while we discard the wrong attitudes and right the harmful actions of the past. Thank you, unequivocally, in every way.”

There you go, Mr Prime Minister. Never let it be said our side of the dialogue wasn’t explicitly clear. It’s time you decided once and for all to remove yourself from a harmful and hurtful colonialist victim posture and took your place as the facilitator of reconciliation our country needs now and into the future.

Jo Hilder

 

 

Dearest Karen…

Hello, fellow Karen,
Yes, you know I’m talking to you.
I am a Karen, and I have questions.
I want to know why I feel so empowered to intimidate those who are in fact much less empowered than I am without even noticing.
I want to know if I’ve come so far past caring being the “bad guy” I might’ve lost sight of what it is to be one.
Karen’s are not a recent American phenomenon. We’ve been angry and showing it for years, in many places across the world, and racial tensions are not our only trigger. We’re angry about a lot of stuff and have been for decades. It’s just now we’re being filmed doing it. And it’s not pretty.
White the fucks we gave for that have since flown, we need to take responsibility for our actions, and our evolution. Change – social, political and spiritual – is upon us, whether we like it or not.
Our work as white, middle aged privileged women is to identify the triggers for our indignities, measure their worthiness against justice and morality, heal our prejudices, and detach from the heirarchal-patriarchal systems in which we’ve sought refuge, however hostile the relationship.. Once we do this, we’ll be a positive force to be reckoned with, rather than being walking pistols with a hair trigger and one bullet in the barrel.
What do you think?

When Things Happen Through You, Not To You

Each time we endure and survive a difficult time, be it mental, emotional or physical, we learn to a deeper level exactly how much the dross and periphery of living has taken up our time and energy up to that point.
Each time we come through, we can see more clearly what our true self looks like, feels like, wants, understands and believes. And each time, we may realize we are faced with losing something of these, and it will needs be by choice. Is it an inauthentic aspect of self? Is it repeating situation or relationships, or a habit that results in emotional turmoil or drama you’ve simply had enough of? Desires that no longer interest us, which turned out to be distractions from our path? Or beliefs which turned out to be for beliefs sake?

Shadow experiences ask us to shed inauthentic or superfluous aspects of ourselves, perhaps taken up to impress others, to belong, to be left alone, to stay safe, to be saved from sin, to avoid our own thoughts, to avoid death.

When I had cancer, I railed against anyone who implied I’d become a better person because of it. The very idea I might have been presented an opportunity to evolve spiritually by a higher power via cancer understandably pissed me right off. In fact, for me, experiencing a life-threatening illness reinforced exactly how arbitrary these things are. I will never forget what I saw – and who I met – along my cancer journey, and the people I know who live with it now.

Living with shadow, doing the work it presents to us, committing acts of intentional survivorship, creates a breadcrumb trail of courage and hope we can backtrack on when shadows descend again, as they inevitably do. Avoiding shadow times is pointless, denying them, a farce. We will be asked to walk beside the things we fear most many times in our lives. Many of those things we will come to see are not to be battled, resisted or fought against, but treated with compassion. When be we sit with our shadows, no matter how distasteful or terrifying, we see clearly our fears and flaws are made of us, and deserve not our disdain, but our deepest love and healing.

If you stumble often into shadow, as I do, I would have you consider your shadow is also your refuge. Be close to your self in these times, and don’t hold yourself in judgement because you feel weak or vulnerable, or like a failure. Shame will come, but shame is a trained reflex, and not our natural response to finding a soul faced with pain and suffering. That response is quiet. Accepting. Warmth. Peace. Gentleness.
Love.

When I was in the cancer ward, the man in the bed opposite me asked his doctors to stop his treatment. He was elderly, infirm, obviously seriously ill and dying. I panicked, and despite the fact I too was seriously ill and in a cancer ward, felt compelled to find a way to get out of bed and speak to the man and make sure he had made peace with god so he could go to the afterlife I imagined for him. It ripped me up inside for days, because I knew I could not do this thing my “faith” and my fear compelled me to, which I mistook for love, but which was actually fear. I remember crying silently in the shower for ages hating myself for being so useless in that man’s time of spiritual need. But as I later realized, his spiritual need was all in my head. The fear and doom I sensed around his situation belonged to me. I was having a spiritual crisis, not him. I, unlike him, had not faced the reality of being a sick person unto death. I did not know how to be helpless, how to rest, how to surrender, to begin the process of healing. But I did come to learn these things. I learned a lesson there and then about the difference between fear and love.

My surviving cancer and treatment taught me death was close, but was not the enemy, and is to be treated with respect and not fear. I learned I can be alone, and that being surrounded by people can be the loneliest experience. I lived side by side with dying people for two months, while we all shared the shadow, and found such sadness in that place I thought I’d never recover from the grief of it. The best and the worst of people. And I’ll never forget it. It was beautiful. There was no fear there. Most were beyond that, or gathering breadcrumbs back to those things they understood to represent light, and love.

Each time we go through, survive, endure, let go a little more, surrender a little more, have our beliefs or our body or mind broken a little more, something comes away from us that once was part of us. We can grasp it back and cling to it in denial, therefore to carry it forward, unhealed and growing ever heavier until it breaks us again. We can recognize the broken piece as something perhaps that was never part of us at all, and let it go. Perhaps we will hold the broken fragment away from us at arms length, see it for what it is, and then tend to it, deliberately and diligently undertaking the patient process of healing. When experiences happen through you and not to you, it changes everything.

(C) Jo Hilder
22.06.19

Young Australian Parent, Don’t Let Them Scare You Into A No Vote.

Dear young Australian parent,

Here we are, all about to choose yes or no on a legislation which will impact our children’s generation in ways we can only begin to understand. For many of our generation, the idea that a great many of us are gay is still difficult to accept, let alone that our children may be as well. You may have deeply held convictions and beliefs about what homosexuality is and is not, and what ought to be done about it. We enjoy the privilege of living in a nation where we’re are free to have our beliefs, whatever they are. And I’m not going to try and change them, even if I disagree with them.

But as we move towards this plebiscite on marriage equality they say we must have, I feel as an older women and mother of four it’s my responsibility to drop some wisdom I’ve learned. And I’ll cut to the chase. Whatever your beliefs, dear one, your child may not grow up to share them. And if you love them, want them to be healthy and free, you’ll let them believe their own beliefs, and you won’t take it personally or as a sign of failure if they don’t share yours.

Secondly, as much as this may alarm you, a good many of us are parenting children with a sexual identity we may not understand, like or even believe exists. As they grow, their explorations and questions about that sexual identity will confront us in many ways. And many parents whose own beliefs about sexual and gender identity are underpinned by fear or confusion may project this onto their children, and the child becomes just one more source of fear and confusion. And fear makes us do things often we later regret. Anger, denial and rejection are inevitably actions parents regret when directed towards their child, whatever their justification.

Thirdly, your love for your child is irreplaceable. It is everything in your child’s world, and will be always, no matter how flawed or fragile your attempts at it are. If you allow yourself to be forced into a position where you must choose between your beliefs about homosexuality and whether to show your child you love them no matter who they are, no matter what they do, your child learns something about themselves. And it is not a good something.

Any beliefs you hold so to which force you to reject your child, will not fly across the country to hold your hand in your last moments, will not look into your eyes and tell you they love you, will not name their children for you for the sake of your love. Your beliefs will be like empty chasms at the end, and you’ll see the folly of them. All those others with whom you comforted yourself when you put your child away will go away to their own families and homes, and you will be alone with your beliefs. And your child will be motherless, fatherless, but they will go on in the world they created without you, the world you made necessary for them.

Lastly, in the time leading up to this vote, don’t let them make you afraid. Don’t let them tell you a wave of sin and immorality is coming, and it will swamp your child and you won’t be able to save them, to reach them. Don’t let them frighten you with horror stories of sexual depravity passed off as education. You are and have always been your child’s first teacher. So stand confident in that. See your child as they are, and love them as that, and everything will be fine. Nobody is going to make your child gay. Nobody wants to. If they are, they already are. It may be neither of you know it yet. And that may be terrifying to you. But know this.

Whatever comes, you can handle it. You’re amazing at this parenting thing. You’re great, and your child loves and trusts you. They’re watching you. They’re watching for signs you’ll accept them no matter who they are, by seeing how you accept others. They are afraid they will disappoint you, displease you, disgust you. Make sure they know they can’t, no matter who they are. You can. You can do it.

Don’t let them scare you. Don’t let them belittle you into thinking your love isn’t enough. Don’t let them terrify you with stories about your lack of control over all this, over the future. The truth is, you don’t have it. Not over the future, not over your child. None of us did. Your child will be okay. It will all be okay. You can handle whatever comes. Love wins. Remember that. Love always wins.

Jo Hilder

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The Rain Bird

I once lived in a house surrounded on three sides by beautiful Australian bush; silvery eucalyptus trees, wattle with fluffy yellow flower balls, wild redgums, stringy barks and she-oaks. And birds; rainforest varieties mostly, but the ubiquitous magpies and currawongs. Indian mynas, whipbirds and bellbirds too.

One morning, I was drawn outside by an unusual bird call. It sounded like a baby magpie, but something wasn’t quite right. The juvenile maggie is almost as big as the parents, and fully dependent for food until quite grown. As I scoured the treetops for signs of a nest, I could hear the familiar bossy calls of the young bird out there somewhere. But something seemed off. The call was louder than was typical, and way more insistent. Rather than issuing its demands in a phrase, with long pauses, this bird was relentless. Squwark, squwark, squwark it went, on and on and on. It sounded like it was close, and I should’ve been able to see the familiar grey and white head and shoulders peeking above a messy bundle of sticks in a nearby tree. I did find a nest, but all I could see inside it was a huge white bird I didn’t recognise; certainly not the baby I was looking for.

Then, to my surprise, two adult magpies rushed down in a swoop to the nest. I realised the strange creature sitting in the magpie nest was actually issuing the baby magpie sound from it’s big, grey beak. The parents were almost falling over themselves to cram great beakfuls of whatever magpies eat into the throat of this huge thing as fast as they could. The big, greedy, white, non-magpie gulped down the offerings, and immediately started up its squwarking again. And off the two harried parents went, presumably to find more of whatever it is magpies eat to feed the large creature sitting in their next, pretending to be their offspring.

I was horrified. And fascinated. What the hell was going on here? Where was the real baby magpie? What was that big white bird in the nest doing, pretending to be their baby? Was this a thing? Or was I watching some kind of weird evolutionary abomination occurring in my back yard?

I was shaken. And angry. I felt for those magpie parents, clearly tricked into thinking they were obliged to run themselves ragged for this big, fat non-magpie intruder.

I went and did some research, and this is what I found.

Channel-billed cuckoos – or Rain Birds – are what’s know as parasitic birds. Parent cuckoos will actively seek the occupied nests of magpies or currawongs, ejecting any eggs they find there, and laying their own in their stead.

They then fly off and abandon the cuckoo eggs to the unwitting nest owners, who care for them and hatch them as if they were their own. The two currawongs are thusly fooled into believing the Rain Bird is it’s baby. They are instinctively obliged to raise the chick, feeding it and protecting it, slaves to its demands, never ever suspecting their charge, which eventually grows to twice the size of the “parents”, is an imposter.

And all the time it pretends to be a vulnerable youngster, evoking the protective, nurturing instinct deep in the parent, sounding for all the world like a hapless baby. By supplanting the original and rightful occupant of the family nest by force and imposing itself and its constant needs onto it’s unknowing hosts, the Rain Bird gets its needs met, grows and prospers. Without conscience. Without qualms. Until the cycle begins again.
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Do you know a Rain Bird?

I suspect we all may know one. In fact, perhaps you think you are one?

Rain birds are people who are broken just like everyone, but are stronger, more capable and more awesome than they choose to believe, and project themselves to be. They know they’re flawed and imperfect, as we all are, but they tell anyone who will listen they’re more helpless and bereft than anyone else, projecting an especially broken brokenness. They are the most poor, hopeless and badly done by of everyone in their world, they insist. But they are not merely complaining. Their brokenness is a device for attracting favour and support; emotional, certainly, and any other kind you might happen to have on offer as well.

Thing is, Rain Birds are clever and intelligent. They are smart, funny and good at what they love to do. But their gifts are inverted. They use their considerable abilities not to move themselves ahead in the world, but to posture themselves as weak and needy, so others will give them out of pity or compassion what they could easily attain for themselves.

We all have stuff to deal with, and most of us feel less than or too much from time to time. Sharing our stories and our feelings is generally a healthy thing to do. But what makes a Rain Bird’s story-telling unique is their seeking to gain advantage over others via their stories. For them, their brokenness is evidence they deserve to be given concession or advantage. The advantage Rain Birds seek could be success or promotion to a much-wanted position. It could be inclusion in a group or access to a product or service. It could be personal or professional support, or it could simply be care and nurture. Chronic Rain Birds know no other way to get what they want than to plead their sad, hopeless plight, hoping to attract benefit. They will often move from “nest” to “nest” looking to install themselves under the brooding care of a rescuer, teacher or carer who will “understand” them. They easily lose interest in people or groups who do not affirm and support their belief no one is worse off than they are. Their behaviour will often cause interpersonal and group dynamics to become uneven, and just like the unwitting foster parents of the real Rain Bird, they may burn – or burn out – their rescuer, by continually and relentlessly demanding more than they contribute.

It’s safer for the Rain Bird to ask for concession and charity, because if they lose it, they’ve lost nothing of true worth or value, to them anyway. What they gained cost them nothing, so they’ve lost nothing if it doesn’t work, or ceases to be provided. They know there’s plenty more nests where this one came from.

There are many reasons people become Rain Birds. Rain Birds often come from families where the only way to have needs met, or attract attention or affection was to be hurt, injured or sick.  They may be unrealised or oppressed creatives, or tightly budded spiritually or emotionally for a long time. Rain Birds are frequently unhealed victims of abuse. Influences such as addiction can also cloud a Rain Birds insights into just how capable and resources they are. If someone you’ve met, live or work is evoking a sense of pity or compassion in your heart, but with it seems deeply entrenched in self-deprecation, co-dependency or a victim mentality, you can probably assume a Rain Bird is circling in your neighbourhood..

Not giving in to a Rain Bird’s manipulations isn’t about not hearing their story, or  withholding compassion, patience or kindness. There is some truth in all the Rain Bird’s cries for help. But whilst they play from this particular section of the orchestra, they ignore and withhold an equally significant truth. They are a survivor, and they know how to take care of themselves. They often have more resources than you do. If you weren’t around to rescue them, they would be perfectly fine.

The moment you begin to instate boundaries with a Rain Bird, that’ll be the end of that. When you say “that’s enough”, you’re dropped.  And by the time you realise you didn’t help, fix them or make their lives better despite everything you did or offered to do, they’ll have moved on to the next person or place, and because you genuinely believed it was a real relationship, it’ll break your heart.

The way to love a Rain Bird is with you in your nest, and they in theirs. Be their friend, but empower them to live from their own capacity, resources, strengths and wisdom. Support them to take responsibility for their actions, and the impacts they have on you and others. When situations and opportunities arise, remind them about their intrinsic intelligence, courage and insights. Do not be tempted to rescue them, or be positioned into becoming a foster parent or unwitting carer.

The Rain Bird needs constant reinforcement from you their feelings and beliefs of helplessness and hopelessness aren’t special or unique – we all feel too much and not enough at times.  Set firm and clear boundaries between what they say they need, and everything you love and value, because they will have no qualms about eliminating threats from the “nest” in vying for your attention. Don’t allow solving their their problems – real, or imagined – to become a source of self-confidence or ego-building for you. Love a Rain Bird best by speaking consistently to their capacity, reminding them – and yourself – about their track record of survival so far without you.
……….
(c) Jo Hilder 2015

Invisible.

I’ve picked up this peculiar habit lately here on the farm. I’ve become addicted to wandering around the old, abandoned houses and cottages, scouring the paddocks and the sheep ruts, my eyes fixed on the dirt and silvery stubble and grass, looking for – well – stuff.

It started a couple of weeks ago when I noticed a few pieces of broken pottery in the field next to our cottage. Blue and white china, the edge of a smashed plate. And glass; thousands of pieces of broken bottles, glasses and other household sundries. Blue, green, brown, clear, and some the tint of amethyst.

We’ve lived here almost a year, and I’ve never seen it before. But now, I see it everywhere.

Every little fragment speaks to me. They are like treasures. They hold the story of the whole they once were. A piece of plate, once part of a valuable dinner set stacked in a cupboard. Probably saved up for, in pennies and pounds. Carted out in a crate, out back of a horse. Brought out for guests and washed with care, lest it be chipped or broken. Now laying in a million pieces in the dirt. Forgotten.

Invisible.

I shard of broken glass, half an inch thick, the same minty colour of the sea. Once a bottle? Medicine? Wine? Champagne? Some tincture, ointment, perfume? A vessel discarded once the contents were emptied? Or did it spend months, years on a shelf, guarding whatever was once within, keeping it safe, suspended in time? How did the beautiful whole come to be smashed in the grass, it’s fragments frosted by weather and years? How was it shifted from the gaze of a proud owner to the grasp of the slow, reclaiming earth?

Invisible.

Wine glasses for joy, for celebrations. Dinner plates for family reunions and end-of-day meals by fireside. Medicine bottles for fervent prayers at a beside. Liquor vessels and beer bottles for raucousness, ignorance, addictions and violence, sorrow, loss, stoic perseverance, repentance, forgiveness. Scent and cosmetic for luxury. Milk bottles for sustenance. Coffee and teacups for conversation. Sit a while. Pass the cup. Share with me.

They think it’s funny, my family. Whatcha want with all that busted stuff? I brought my treasures home in bags and the apron of my shirt front, and washed them carefully in the kitchen sink. Scrubbed off the dirt and washed out the pond scum. I held each one up to the light and enjoyed it, gave it a story, blessed it, placed it with all the others.

I put them all in bowls and sat them where I can see them. Owned.

No longer invisible.
………..
Went out again yesterday and walked in the pre-twilight across the dirty common where the sheep scour the ground like a shallow plough on their way down to the creek. And there was more again. Bits of plates and bowls and bottles. Every little piece a postage stamp sized snapshot of an era in human taste and fashion. The leaf-shaped scallop of a plate edge. The crazed blue and white brushstrokes on a teacup fragment. The smooth, clear bevel of a bottle base. The story of us, and the story of the ones who lived here. Stories; love, loss, joy, growth, riches, poverty, prosperity, lack, life, death. Owned, they were once. Whole they were once. Like us.

Like me.

Treasures, they are. Treasures to me.

Once invisible. I see, I see.
……….
I lay last night in a half sleep, after two weeks of increasing low, grey skies and cold winds both out there on the farm, and in my head. We haven’t had a summer, and I feel trapped by seasons that refuse to turn, refuse to give. It’s too long we’ve been not knowing. And I’ve felt stuck here; not home, and not travelling, just biding our time in three month increments of wait-and-see. I love the farm, but this is not my home, and may never be. I am ready to move on. I feel like I’m slipping into obscurity here. Like the world is forgetting about me. I write my stories and think my thoughts, and wonder if a person exists of nobody is there to see them, hear them. If a tree falls, and all that. Day after day, out here miles away from anyone, surrounded by a hundred and fifty years of attempts people made not to be forgotten. And yet, here I am, and I know them only by the broken things they’ve left behind.

I shiver.

I closed my eyes and thought about how a thousand years ago all I wanted in this world was to be famous. Known. Seen. I taught myself to sing because people see you when you do that. But I don’t sing any more. I am too honest for that any more. I write instead, which is like drawing a different naked picture of yourself from different angles every day and posting it on a telegraph pole. And yet, even though I get out the paste and post my bill as a habit, I feel unseen, unknown.

I wanted for so long to be free. I did not want to be owned by others, to need to sell what I could do for money and approval. I wanted to be allowed to be broken. Because I was, and I couldn’t help it. And I wanted to tell my story, to anyone, everyone, and not care what they thought.

And I was broken, and was not owned, and told my story. I was free.

And something happened, so slow I didn’t see it. I found out what happens to things that get broken, to things that are disowned and unowned, to things that get themselves lost or misplaces, things that are allowed to fall back into the earth, that have nothing left to prove, that are unfashioned from their utility, allowed to chip, to break, to fall into the ground, to be honest, to be untied from their apportioned function. I felt in me the process of what a piece of earth endures when it stops being a thing of value to people because of it’s use, it’s beauty, it’s colour, it’s use, it’s imbued value, it’s transferable status.

They end up in a thousand pieces in a sheep paddock. Forgotten. Untied. Free.

Invisible.

Then God said something to me.

“Are you willing to be invisible?”

Me? No! Who would want to be invisible?

“Are you willing?”

Is that even a question? Seriously?

“What if this is what it takes for the ones who need you, who need what you are, to find you?

“For you to be hidden?

“For you to be secreted away?

“For you to be needing to be found?

“You go seeking treasures in the field. You want them because they are hidden, unseen, unknown, forgotten, rejected, abandoned, unwanted.

“But you want them.

“Those who need what you have are also seeking a treasure in a field.

“Think on this; they seek what they themselves are, not what they are not.

“Are you willing to allow yourself to be what it is they seek?

“Are you willing to be invisible?

“Are you willing?

“You need only let go. Like those broken pieces in the field, you must yield.

“Yield to the brokenness, to the breaking.

“Yield to the rejection, to being abandoned.

“Yield to being and becoming forgotten.

“Yield to being covered, subject to the seasons, trampled into the ground.

“Yield to rain, to feet, yield to weight, to dirt. Yield to becoming a part of where you fell.

“Yield to anonymity, invisibility.

“Yield to the discovery. Because they will find you.

“If you wish to be treasured, you must be willing to be lost, then discovered.

“Your work is to be the treasure.

“You are already worthy. Worthy is who and what you are.

“The losing is not for you. It’s not because of you, or anything you’ve done. The losing is because seekers need to seek.

“Seekers need the seeking.

“Let it all be broken, lost and forgotten.

“Let it be and become invisible.

“Let the treasure be buried out there in the field.

“Your your treasure be buried in the field.

“Seekers need to seek, and they need to find.”

……………..

I trust you may also find a comfort in the season you’re in at the moment. A rest, and a letting go. God bless.

Selah.

Jo xxxx
………………
– (c) Jo Hilder 2015

Seeking The Place, whilst The Place seeks us, Part 2

Last night, as I rested my head on Ben’s shoulder, I said, “I am there again.”

“Where again?” he replied.

“You remember about ten years ago, when we were being really pushed in on all sides, and we didn’t know how to move forward, and it was such a huge faith thing, and I said to you I felt like Samwise Gamgee, when he and Frodo first leave The Shire, and when Sam reaches the boundary marking the furthest he’s ever been before, and he stops and says, ‘if I take one more step, I’ll be further than I’ve ever been before out into the world’, or something like that? Remember that? This is that, again. I feel like that, right now.”

We set off a year ago, we thought to go volunteer at a drug and alcohol rehab. We sold or gave away most of our possessions, put the rest in storage. Pulled our son out of school. Ben took a voluntary redundancy from his job. We sold his motorbike and a car. We knew once we got to the rehab, we’d have to trust God and live by faith to survive – no salary. Well, we never got to the rehab. We decided to pull our application just weeks before we were due to move in. We knew it was the right thing to do, but there was no plan B.

So for twelve month, we have been winging it.

We’ve had incredible things happen. Time spent with friends and family. Six months spent caretaking a beautiful 1850’s built mansion and sheep station in Victoria, living in a gorgeous, historic stone cottage with a white picket fence. Travelling thousands of kilometres and seeing things we’d wanted to see for years. Wonderful experiences. But while this has been fun and exciting, this is what most people do for their holidays. Or what they do for a break away from their real life. When this is your real life, when there is nothing to go back to when you run out of money or the fun wears off, it can kind of take the gloss off it a bit.

I romanticised about becoming a gypsy. But this life is far from romantic. Apart from the stresses about money (we still have bills and financial commitments despite having no regular income), the biggest struggle for me has feeling like I don’t belong somewhere. I have this deep longing to be home. To be in my place, the place that’s mine. I don’t even want to go there. I’m over going. I just want to be.

We know we could at any time pull the pin and rent a house, get jobs and put our kid back in school. But you see, we are headed home. There is a place where we belong. And we know we will know it when we see it. We have this dream. We believe there’s a place where we belong, and it isn’t just for us. It’s a place where others can come and stay, a place of refuge and healing and grace. We are listening for that place, for it’s call. It already exists, and it wants us to come home to it, to restore it, to breathe life into it, and to bring all the pilgrims in who are also looking for a place to lose their shit, and get their shit all put back together again.

It’s a big dream, and we don’t know how long the place will have to seek to find us. So we just keep putting ourselves out there, waiting, hoping it will somehow grasp us by the hand, and pull us home into itself. I’m so, so looking forward to that. I feel it searching for us. I imagine myself resting in it, taking care of it, sleeping in the open upon it, unafraid, content and safe. feeding us all from its generous, fertile self. Building it up, girding it around with angels and goodwill and friendship. Holding it lightly, holding it close, as one holds a gift, a treasure, a beam of sunlight.

“If I take one more step, I’ll be further than I’ve ever been from home.”

I don’t know of any other way to get closer to my true home than to keep leaving the familiar, to keep placing distance between me and what I’ve always known, step by step, until at some time, in some place, home and I meet one another on the road.

Home, I am coming to you.

Have a great day,
JO xx

Living in your truth is BRAVE.

Remember when you were small, and pure, when being naked, when dancing in front of people and singing at the top of your lungs was as natural as breathing, and you never wondered if it was any good, because somehow you just knew you were beautiful and so were all the gifts you gave to the world?

Remember when you loved to hear your name in another’s mouth, when it made you feel loved and like you belonged to someone, with someone?

Remember when you trusted what you knew, and knew what you trusted? Remember when you didn’t have to deny who you were to be safe and accepted? You just were?

Remember when you used to go outside without having to do your face first, without having to check your hair, with barely anything on you but a slip of cotton, with your bruised shins and your freckles all out there for the world to see? Remember when you used to get away with just your bather bottoms, and you loved to run your hands down your smooth, flat chest and it made you feel free and you never knew what it meant to be showing too much skin? You never needed to wonder if you ought to be ashamed, to cover yourself?

Remember when you learned you needed to cover yourself? Remember who told you you were naked?

You need to put a top on honey, you can’t go swimming like that.

You need to pull your dress down, sweetie. They can see your underwear.

Put your knees together. That’s not ladylike.

Cover yourself up please. That dress needs about three more inches. And wear your wrap.

Nobody wants to know what you think about that. Just do as you’re told.

Can you keep your voice down? Don’t be so boisterous.

Who told you that? Where do you come up with such things?

Please fix your face. Go tie that mess back. Cross your legs. Come here and let us look at you. That’s better.

And you learned. Your sparkling soul, your small, pure self was embodied within a shell others needed to control. People stopped seeing you as small and pure. They stopped seeing you at all, and started telling you how to cover yourself up – with you.

Once, you were not ashamed. But others helped you understand that shame is simply what we do here. Without even trying, without doing anything, by simply having a body you needed to behave in a way that demonstrated your shame.

And then, there were the things others did that brought you a full, close and intimate understanding of shame.

And you understood to be one of us, to survive, to retain even a semblance of whole ness, you needed to cover yourself.

Your body. Your face. Your soul. Your spirit. Your innocence. Your creativity. Your dreams. Your sexuality. Your intelligence. Your spirituality. Your self.

The truth about you is you are not what others see. The truth is shame about the things you did, the things that were done to you, and the things about you that could not be helped or changed made you cover the naked you so long ago, you’re not sure if you can even trust that part of you any more. You haven’t listened to your gut, to your heart, to your creativity for what seems like centuries. All you’ve done is what you needed to do to survive, to stay safe, to belong.

And then came the startling moment in time when it became clear that staying ashamed in your darkness was going to be more painful than showing your true self ever was.

Place your hands on your smooth, flat chest, my little love. Feel your innocence, your truth beneath your palms. Close your eyes to the prying, lying world. Hear the music. Take off the mask, and let the sun kiss your face once more. Kick away the shackles of shame from your feet, and dance. Dance with your arms out wide and your eyes open. Dance and feel the layers fall away. Open your mouth and taste the truth as it pours from your swollen cheeks. Those are your words, this is your song, my love. That is your story. This, my heart, is who you really are.
……………………….

Do Awesome Broken is my online course for women who wish to grow into a greater appreciation for their own beauty and greatness, and who would like support to build a healthy platform emotionally, socially and spiritually from which to live their purpose and be their most authentic selves.DAB icon

Do Awesome Broken runs over eight weeks and involves –

  • Unique and stimulating course content, vibrant group discussions and a place to share, relax and connect with others.
  • A secret (private), facilitated Facebook group where we view course content, and where course participants can interact with each other in community every day, talking about our discoveries and experiences and sharing our discoveries, thoughts and ideas.
  • Support, both technical and pastoral, individual and collective, in real time (Facebook messenger) or via email, as well as a safe, facilitated space accessible 24/7, and a creative, supportive group culture.

Do Awesome Broken – Season Two is enrolling now for start date early 2015.

For more info, click here.