I’m looking at my hands in the shower as the water runs over them, filling up the liminal lines, smoothing the ridges, the whorls that make up the unique geography of my skin. These 33-year-old hands. I’m thinking that 33 is how old Jesus was when he died. It’s a sobering thought. Who he is, who I am. What he was prepared to die for, what I am prepared to die for. His ministry, my ministry. His relationship with Father, my relationship with Father. His body, my body. And our hands. My hands; they smooth out sheets… spread peanut butter sandwiches… stick Star Wars bandaids on knees… tap-tap-tap on computer keys… swipe hair from eyes… stir soup… grip steering wheel… cup faces. His hands; they gestured in emphasis of teachings… washed dusty feet… brushed tears from eyes… rubbed forehead and temples… clasped tight under a murmuring mouth… stroked the fetlock of a donkey… turned tables over… ripped bread in two… comforted. His hands invited brute nails through flesh and bone. I look at my own pale …
I’ve been reading Song of Songs these past few days. I wanted to better understand the concept of my faith being a romance with Jesus. Reading this short book of the Bible always made me feel uncomfortable, confused even. Like watching a steamy love scene in a movie with your parents sitting on the couch beside you.
Word. Light. Flesh. This triptych is featured in a Bible passage that I love. Don’t zone out. Give me at least a few more paragraphs to explain. Because the five verses I’m speaking of are a masterpiece, a work of mystery and enlightenment that at once confuse me and draw me nearer to understanding God. It goes like this: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:1-5) Truth is, I feel an affinity with this excerpt because of my particular love affair with words. Literary expression is my fairy floss. If you told me to paint it – you would see a dense rainforest, glossy with dew; a place of quenching and wandering, deeper and deeper into …
What does INCLUSIVE mean? Yes, I just asked you a really simple question that isn’t the least bit simple to answer. It seems we do all these well-meaning things to be a more inclusive society, but are they working? Last week there was yet another call to remove The Lord’s Prayer from Tasmanian parliament so that it’s a more “inclusive” space. It’s an interesting thought – excluding something that is meaningful to a part of the population to keep the rest happy. Exclusion to maintain inclusion? Elsewhere, we’re busy adding to the Australian cultural space to become more inclusive. Adding prayer rooms for Muslims, adding acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land, adding the Safe Schools program to the curriculum for greater understanding of LGBTI people. We’re adding this and subtracting that, all to achieve the holy grail of inclusivity. My son has an allergy to dairy foods. Often he will go to parties and not be able to eat a lot of the food. He’s cool with it – he understands that dairy products …
The whiff of smoke gets up your nose, doesn’t it? That acrid smell of destruction has become familiar this summer to the point where it lurks right here in my home. I’ve carried it in on clothes unpegged from the clothesline and it’s been known to slink indoors as I kick off my shoes. This smoke that lingers like the grief of countless trees bowed to flames – it makes me think of the grief that has curled around Tasmanians who heard of 24-year-old Sarah Paino who died in Hobart on an early Friday morning a week and a half back, after she dropped her baker partner to work. Sarah was a mother of two. Her two-year-old son was in the back seat and her 32-week-gestation baby was delivered alive after her death. The grief has held such sting because of the injustice, the sad unfairness of a family fractured due to the choices of a 15-year-old boy who allegedly stole a car and was taking it for a joy ride when he collided with …
There’s a pig in our nativity.
My makeshift Christmas scene is made from plastic animal figurines bought from the local toyshop. They sit on the mantelpiece beneath a glass cloche with a hessian star hanging from the top – an idea from one of those home-decorating mags. Jesus is a little piece of rolled-up cheesecloth sitting atop half a bird’s nest.
Porky is the latest addition.
Life began badly for Anna.
“I was awakened to things no child should when I was between the ages of five and eight, so that played a huge part in being promiscuous from a really early age,” she shares.
Anna was sexually abused by her stepfather.
“That changed the course of my life because I was always seeking guys’ approval.”
You walk into the clinic and take a seat beside your boyfriend.
Three other women are seated in the cramped waiting room, one with her mother.
A stack of magazines sits untouched.
There is no music.
The four women waiting for an abortion that day are deathly silent. They look at the floor, at their hands, at the walls. The hush amplifies the voice of the receptionist as she makes phone calls. When a doctor strides in and tells her that appointments must be cancelled that day, his voice is as clear as a heartbeat. Those waiting lean in.
“I was scared to tell people I was pregnant.”
Lucy sits comfortably beside Evie who is asleep, nestled against her hip. The blonde-haired toddler will be two in June. Lucy contentedly strokes her daughter’s hair and begins to share candidly about how she came to be a mother at the age of 16.
“I was finishing year 10 at Queechy High School,” she says.
That’s when she first had suspicions that her expanding belly was more than a bit of bloating. Still, the softly spoken teen stayed tight-lipped until her stepfather noticed the changes and bought her a pregnancy test.
“I already knew what the result would be – I was 19 weeks pregnant!” Lucy laughs.
We were sitting around on the grass under the lovely Spring sun, her face splashing all over us while, within eyesight, the kids squawked and imagined other worlds and pushed little bums down slides. Drinking up the bliss of adult company, we were a rabble of mothers comparing notes on parenting. Conversations like these lurch erratically from behavioural woes and toilet-training mishaps to school uniform orders and an amicable if somewhat competitive exchange of sentences that begin with, “My darling did the cutest thing…” This day, we were navigating the topic of sleep deprivation. Some of us have had a bad go thanks to certain munchkins who don’t understand the division of night and day – years after their entry. Others (myself included) have brains that fail to take the hint of lights out and body in horizontal position. The tips to counter insomnia were predictable: count sheep, think of the colour blue, take some sleeping tablets or do some, er, strenuous exercise before shut-eye time. But Kristy had a new one. “I tell myself …