‘For we are God’s handiwork created in Christ to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ Ephesians 2:10
Arrernte elder Coco Wallace and I sat in the shadow of Untyeyetwelye. He is the story holder for this sacred space more recently known as ANZAC Hill in Alice Springs. We two were part of a support group gathered at the court lawns in solidarity with a Warlpiri family, who lost a family member in a fatal encounter with police a year ago. We were also there to support and comfort Warlpiri elders and affected police officers.
With a tear-streamed face Uncle Coco recited how eight members of his family had been shot by police or settlers since his homeland was occupied. ‘I am not bitter’, he said, ‘Good things have come to us too. Only when I go to Untyeyetwelye I wonder why our old ones are not remembered, like the white fella does … proper way. Every war remembered up there on our hill but not ours. Proper way for everyone is good. That Big One Fella up there, He sees, He knows, He gonna fix this, He’s already fixing it up.’
Uncle Coco’s lament really sums up the nature of the restorative justice ministry that is my diaconal calling. The heart of the Makingpeasce ministry is about healing the pain of our past Frontier Wars’ massacres. Many are well-documented but not yet acknowledged in our national narrative. The birthplace of my vocational calling arose from 45 years of floristry and 22 years of teaching it as a profession.
Floristry is a sacramental art, especially where commemorative rituals are concerned. It gently comforts people as they connect with confronting stories.
Australians have stepped up to the mark with the national apology for the Stolen Generations. Yet we are only beginning to grapple as a nation in making peace with our past history of violence towards sovereign indigenous nations.
The Makingpeasce ministry embraces the stories of the Desert Pea Blood Flower as a symbol and handmade instrument that says, ‘We will remember them’. It has become a sacramental sign and conduit for restorative conversations about the thousands of lives lost during the Frontier Wars and colonisation.
The commemorative flower acts in parallel to the Flanders Poppy which sacramentally points to the ultimate sacrifice of our fallen military personnel. Often this mission provides opportunities to speak of God’s peace-making plan.
Sent out from Saint Barnabas Charnwood and Saint Michael’s Hall, with valued support from the household of deacons, I am currently away on field work in Alice Springs and beyond. The primary objective is the generation of resources for an Australian studies Frontier Wars curriculum from the heart of the nation where many stories converge. I am working in partnership with I-Talk Productions and The Olive Pink Botanical Gardens to use story and the arts to bring awareness without blame or partiality.
A picture book The Legend of Sturt’s Desert Pea by local Arrernte author Bev O’Callaghan will form the underpinning narrative for the work and is being recreated in animated form.
You can hear Beverley read her story on the website www. makingpeasce.com. The production costs for the animation, book and creative arts guide plus distribution is estimated at $75,000. We are currently seeking ways to raise this money without compromising the essence of the narrative.
Another Arrernte elder Chris Pelterre Tomlins puts it this way, ‘I dream of the young ones coming up now, the “golden” generation growing up in a spirit of truth and healing’.
For more information and support please contact me through the website.
‘For he himself is our peace who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.’ Ephesians 2:14a
by Reverend Hazel Davies