I know it’s been a while but please read this

So hi, it’s been over a year since i posted anything on here, and I’ll get to my trivial shit at a later stage. Here, though, i have the words spoken at the funeral of Leo Seemanpillai. I don’t need to say a lot more- it was a catholic funeral, it’s obviously aimed at a religious audience, but it speaks i think to our nation as a whole.

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At Tamil asylum seeker Leo Seemanpillai’s funeral at St Mary of the Angels Catholic Parish in Geelong last week, Tamil Dominican priest Father Pancras Jordan of Pax Christi, flew down from Brisbane to lead the service. He received spontaneous and resounding applause during the funeral service for his powerful, profound and very moving Homily which he has kindly agreed we can share far and wide. See attachment and below. With thanks, Father Pan, for your strong compassion and courage to speak out so strongly at Leo’s funeral. May others follow your example.

“Dear Friends This afternoon we are gathered to say thank you and to say good bye to our beloved brother and friend Leo Seemanpillai who was killed by the harsh, unjust and cruel policy of our government. We are also gathered to pray that our brother, who shared in the sufferings of Christ, may rise with Christ in his resurrection.

Penitential Rite- Lord, we ask your pardon for our ignorance of the plight of the refugees in our country. Lord have mercy.

Lord, we ask pardon for the way in which our country has contributed to the wars in other countries that have produced so many refugees. Christ have mercy.

Lord, we ask your pardon for our poor response to those children, women and men locked in detention centres within our country. Lord have mercy.

My dear friends, We find ourselves, again and again, heartbroken for the individuals and families destroyed by our political games: a political game whereby people are slowly broken in a system of indefinite detention that dehumanises and disempowers; a political game whereby people are locked in the limbo of legislated poverty that is life on a bridging visa. We find ourselves, again, despairing for the Australian character, being shaped by leaders who normalise cruelty, vilify voiceless people and rob the world’s most vulnerable people of not only their rights, but their dignity. “The current Government Policy has about it a cruelty that does no honour to our nation,” The Australian Catholic Bishops announced in their May statement on the issue of Asylum Seekers. They proceed to say It is a policy of ‘dehumanisation’ and ‘institutionalised cruelty’. There’s no doubt that Australia’s clear message to people fleeing tyranny in our direction is “You are not welcome here.” This is unambiguous. Current policy is not about creating an “orderly system” or “saving people from drowning”. Billions of dollars are being spent on making people’s lives in detention centres and in our communities – as miserable as possible, in the hope that they will return home and convince others not to head in our direction.

Our government is actively inhospitable, proactively brutal and intentionally determined to break the spirits of people like Leo who once imagined they might find protection from oppression in our care. In a nation committed to unwelcome, with a government committed to cruelty, compassion is protest and welcome is rebellion. So, during this Eucharist I imagine that Leo would be calling us for an uprising of decency, an insurgency of hospitality, an insurrection of humanity, generosity and kindness. I am sure Leo would be inviting us to mutiny. To disobey the order to fear, unwelcome, rejection of asylum seekers and to oppose the wishes of our leaders. But this isn’t a call to arms, to take over the streets with righteous anger and clever placards. While our leaders have determined to hurt asylum seekers until their spirits are broken, and to convince every persecuted person on our planet that asylum seekers will not find safe refuge here, then every act of compassion is protest. A message of welcome is rebellion. It’s time to make a stand. It is time to consider the Australia we want to live and the values which we wish to exemplify. It is time to not merely march against brutality, but to embody hospitality and kindness. To not only rage against injustice, but to model welcome as a lifestyle. We are all called to live as the embodiment of an alternative future for our nation. A future where leadership is measured by the enhancement of human dignity, where diversity is celebrated and every human being is considered equal and deserving of fairness and freedom. Every time you welcome an asylum seeker in your community, every time you make a new friend, or help someone settle into their empty house, or write a postcard to a child in detention or help someone learn English, you’re defying the vision and instruction of our leaders. You’re saying, “welcome” to those they wish to reject – and you’re combating the insidious invasion of heartlessness into our character and communities. And so, in this nation where compassion is protest and welcome is rebellion, we’re asking you who are here, to join us by spreading a simple message of welcome through every suburb, street and home.

Most recent public opinion polls show that a significant majority of Australians support the harsh policies of the present government towards asylum seekers who come on boats. I know of no recent survey of attitudes in the Australian Catholic or Christian population towards the same issue, but it cannot have escaped us that the current policies have been put in place by a government led by a Catholic (and former seminarian) who wears his faith on his sleeve, and that the Minister for Immigration lists “Church” as his favourite hobby in “Who’s Who”. An Australian MP, making his maiden speech in Parliament in 2008, said, “From my faith I derive the values of loving kindness, justice and righteousness, to act with compassion and kindness, acknowledging our common humanity and to consider the welfare of others…’ That MP was Scott Morrison, the architect of Australia’s present inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. His words were an accurate representation of Christian teaching; his current actions betray that teaching, whatever he might claim. This same Scott Morrison, so insistent upon compassion and kindness in his maiden speech, is the same Scott Morrison who in 2014 chooses to ignore his faith’s values, when announcing Leo’s death at a recent press conference, by choosing not to refer to Leo by his name, but as an illegal maritime arrival (IMA).

Let me reflect what went wrong with Leo. He wrote notes about visits to doctors and counsellors. He wrote reminders to take his Olanzapine (an anti-psychotic) and Fluoxetine (an anti-depressant). In September, he detailed part of one bad week: ”Thursday – I have no sleeping Friday – bad dreams, darkness Saturday – I sleep 3 hours Sunday – my birthday”. This government was in power at that time. Furthermore Leo would call refugee advocates, asking if he would be sent back. In October he learnt what Immigration Minister Scott Morrison had told Australians: ”Anyone who may have come from Sri Lanka should know that they will go back to Sri Lanka.” These words of Morrison made Leo sick in his soul. Later in his journal he wrote: ”If I’m deported back to Sri Lanka, torture is certain because I’m a Tamil” and ”In the midst of rejection stand tall. Life is hope.” Over the summer of 2013/14, he struggled. In February he checked into a mental health facility and, while there, he tried to hang himself with a towel. In March he moved into a flat above the Barwon River, and chose the small back room because it had the best natural light. ”He was afraid of the night,” said Cathie Bond, a volunteer and de facto mum to Leo. ”I gave him my grandson’s little night light. He said it was like a shiny moon.”

Leo fretted about his fate, and joined Amnesty International and the Australian Red Cross believing membership could somehow help him stay. He went to church on Good Friday and kissed the Holy Cross: ”I asked Jesus to bless me, and to bring a resolution to my past struggles and to not have any more struggles in the future.” Outwardly Leo was upbeat, visiting friends and calling people. The day before he died they said he sounded ”happy”, ”brighter” and ”more alert than he had in a long time”.

My dear friends, for us who work in the area of pastoral care we know often when someone is contemplating suicide they appear to be “happy” because in reality, they have made the decision to end all miseries. They feel a sense of freedom and in the case of Leo, freedom from all cruel policy and denial of fundamental human rights. In the Gospel today we heard what astounding and wonderful things may take place when strangers and refugees are welcomed and given hospitality. “I was a stranger and you welcome me” (Mt.25:35). This passage is part of the parable of the judgement of the Son of Man coming in glory. The astonished people who are gathered around the throne of the King did not realise at the time that they showed welcome and hospitality to their Lord himself and they voice their amazement. Thus, the criterion for a Christian believer to enter eternal life is based on welcoming and rendering hospitality to strangers. The Christian believer therefore encounters their Lord in the stranger. It is by the way one treats the poor and the stranger that one’s worthiness to enter eternal life is tested.”

What a magnificent puzzle you are.

I write this late at night, with drooping eyes and in full knowledge that I want to write this better and with more back story and potentially hilarious anecdotes and or stories about dragons. I am also aware that this will seem hokey, and that I strive to keep spiritual speak out of here, usually. But I must write it now, pjamas and hoke or no.

I have been thinking a lot this past year.

A little over a year ago I became a member of the Uniting church, which was for me a very big deal. I wrote a little about why in a letter to the church, and I did so because I had fallen in love with my congregation and the glimpses of the wider church I got when I attended the National Young Adult Leaders Conference.

A year is a long time. I have been thinking a lot.

I decided to start a period of discernment a few months back*. I felt a little hypocritical entering the period at this time, coinciding as it did with my wading into a bog of doubt. I plan to write about the doubting itself at a later stage when I’m not sitting in bed on the nod, but suffice to say I was not exactly like the horse in Neverending Story, but I was close. I hadn’t necessarily fallen out of love with the church, but I had looked for the first time with any integrity at what that love sat on.

It’s been a stark couple of months.

A couple of weeks back, surrounded by gumtrees at our church camp, I met with God again. Truthfully, I had not fully surrendered Her. He was there in the gentle reminders of hope, in the stories of resurrection, in the faces of my church family, who are just about the most guileless and open-hearted people you can imagine.

Tonight, I sit in bed, one leg slowly numbing, weird hair pins lumps in my hair, near sleep, but elated. Today I was at Synod** with a whole lot of my church. Today, and yesterday and the day before, we wrestled with some awful stuff. We met with bad news and we entertained grief, and we encompassed dissent and were not satisfied.

But.

Today I saw people who disagree vehemently with one another co-exist, and even like each other. I saw people change their minds. Religious people. I saw people be heard, and celebrated, and I heard us all reminded of hope, of the extraordinary Love we are drawn around like moths.

And today, I prayed earnestly to a God that I believe in, and that I don’t understand. Today I joined with others and we invoked the sacred name of our creator and that was something that I wanted to do. And whether or not you believe in God or organised religion, believe that this is a little like water to a dying woman.

Today I was a part of a church that wants to do better and that makes mistakes and is a bit of a fuck up but loves each other and more than that, really honestly wants to make you a cup of tea and have a chat and longs to hold your hand as you scream with anguish and wants to say that you’re OK and sorry about the times when the name of our Beloved was used to hurt you.

Today, we were finger painters. We made messes and the paint is in the grooves of our fingerprints and on some of the walls but we are trying our best to make something beautiful, and that is what I want you to know.

To those who hate the church, I’m sorry, we are trying.

To those who are in the church, know that we are trying.

To those who after today have paint on their faces, is it not lovely that we are trying?

To my church: thank you, thank you, thank you. I will keep trying.

 

 

* This is a time through which a person in the Uniting Church can examine their faith and calling with support from the church, to see if they want to enter ordained ministry or just to see where they fit, how they fit, how they are and who they are.

**Synod is the gathering of a particular Synod of the Uniting Church. For instance, my church is part of the presbytery of Port Philip West, which along with other presbyteries is part of the VicTas Synod. We gather to report to one another the things that we’ve been doing, to air concerns and chat about important decisions.

A note to LaTrobe University: we were not really finger painters.

 

Stuff I don’t mind no. 16: Thriftshop and the state of modern music.

I’ll start by apologising for being a little behind the times. I sometimes have opinions about stuff and then forget to write about them for months at a stretch on account of being busy with my growing Benedict Cumberbatch obsession amongst other things. Anyway.

My penchant for a bit of pop music here and there is not news. Actually, nothing I have to say here is actually news, except perhaps if I self published a newspaper titled Stuff That Has Happened or Perhaps Been Thought About By and To Carlynne in which case my listening to LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem on the way to work would be stopping the presses.

I do love a hit here and there. The masses make songs popular because they are fun or catchy or enjoyable in some way (and also obviously because they celebrate grinding against some bird on the d-floor and make us all feel a little bit more dirty). Every now and then, we all need a dance, and a tune to dance to. It’s helpful if the song we dance to doesn’t make its living off kicking women in the face, or rely too heavily on the repetition of key phrases such as “life, oh life, oh life-doo doo doo doo doo”, but mainly we just want a beat that keeps us moving and a fun chorus to wail while doing the dishes.

Thriftshop by Macklemore was first introduced to me by a friend at work. I dug the shit out of it immediately on account of it being just problematic amounts of fun and, delightfully, a hip hop song that scorned the usual brand and status whoring that the genre is known for and openly praised op-shopping. I then proceeded to ‘introduce’ it to all of my friends, completely unaware that everyone already knew this song as it had been thrashed by all stations for months.

I kept enjoying it right up until voting time came for JJJ’s Hottest 100, the yearly countdown of Australia’s (and by Australia’s, I mean Triple J listeners who can be bothered to vote and the few of us who continue to vote despite being hopelessly outmanned in a sea of music we have never heard) favourite songs.

Thriftshop came in at number 1, as voted by… those that voted (including me! Come at me bro). This, though, was apparently NOT OK according to lots of people who thought that this spelt various disastrous things like:

People enjoying songs that they themselves don’t enjoy

Music these days being nothing but awful dub-step and awful hip hop

Folks not knowing that they should only enjoy the lyric heavy, heady-theme laiden alt music and not the poppy fun stuff involving hooks and swears

Presumably folks relishing the idea of op-shopping, which is a gateway shopping and will lead to the purchase of both infants and ivory on the black market

There was such aversion to this song arriving at number 1, despite the fact that it getting there meant that a lot of people must actually have dug it. It seemed a portent of an apocalypse of Bad Music, that would sneak into our homes and give our children terrible haircuts and lower our IQs by repeating lines like “This is fucking awesome” in our ears as we sleep. Heaven knows most things I utter on a daily basis are Shakespearian as compared to that gutter-esque filth. I will not be debased, Macklemore! Take your gleeful and entirely dance-able espousing of the benefits of thrift elsewhere!!

I think perhaps that what Thriftshop’s success actually spells is that a lot of people liked the song, for the very plausible reason that they liked it. I think perhaps also a lot of these people could have been people like me who enjoy a variety of different musics, some of it theme laiden alt business with the dramatic synths or the seventeen part harmonies and some of it the fun stuff with the catchy hooks that make us want to flap and twirl by the sink.

I feel OK about the state of modern music because I know (just like most other people do) that when I want to find new and exciting artists I need only ask my friends and there they will be, waiting to be laid bare inside my ears. There is a crap-tonne of wonderful, beautiful, heartbreaking and ear blistering music floating around, and if some of it is dub-steppy or hip-hoppy or not your bag in other ways, common sense would suggest you steer clear of that stuff and look for what makes you sing.

And furthermore if as many people are dissatisfied with the state of modern music around the globe as claimed to be on Facebook post Hottest 100, then odds are some of them are musicians who can put their accordions where their mouths are and make some music that they, and maybe even the masses, will like.

In the mean time, I’ma keep dancing in my kitchen, because music is fun and I feel like that’s sort of the point.

Stuff I don’t mind no.78: Summer pissing off!

Despite what anyone who has heard me complain incessantly and unoriginally over the past two months might think, I am actually a fan of all of the seasons.

This might be considered a bit wishy washy, a bit PC, a little too people pleasing perhaps for the hip, just-pick-one crowd, but to them I say: I’ll calmly enjoy whatever I like thanks, you best believe that.

I love Spring’s over the top sprays of colour, shimmying wildly out of winter with a “look! You can come out again! It smells good!”, hurling flowers and scents in everyone’s faces with reckless abandon. I love the thoughtfulness of Autumn, when the leaves turn and dance to the ground, when the air is crisper on one’s face. I adore the rugging up and settling in of Winter, skies in tumult, greys layered on greys, a sort of poise and gentle solemnity in the air. And I even enjoy Summer, despite the title of this ode to its buggering off. The long evenings, and the feeling of possibility that comes with the end of a year and the start of another, the calm certainty that adventure is a real thing that might happen at any moment, the yawning blue skies that, clichéd or not, are pretty much guaranteed to make me smile; I do get why people dig it. Generally I prefer the colder months, as I tend to run at a higher temp than other folks and also look bitchin’ in scarves, but I do get the appeal.

But not this year. This year’s Summer, the seasonal equivalent of Marty McFly’s guitar solo in Back To The Future- dragging on much too long and leaving everyone very uncomfortable- can fuck right off and keep going.

This year’s Summer was an impolite, overbearing jerk. It had this wonderful mild beginning, where the it cushioned the really hot days between two much cooler ones to make sure we were OK, you know? Just a little dibby dabble in some heat- and then, when it’s supposed to be on its way out, it bumps it up to 5, 7, 12 days straight of Oh-my-god-I-think-that-puddle-was-my-skin hot, leaving Autumn just standing to the side, awkwardly tapping its fist against its leg, waiting for the dickhead to get off the stage. “OH I’M HOT! I’M HOT NOW!! YEAH! I’M NEVER LEAVING AND YOU’LL ALL DIIIIE!!!”.

Ass.

I genuinely don’t understand people that bemoan the end of such a time. I, for one, do not wish to remain swathed in my own bodily excretions for weeks on end, or to flee like vermin from any glimpse of cheery sunlight for fear of bursting into flame. I do not enjoy the pervasive apathy and exhaustion that seems to cover everyone and everything like there’s a big fat sweaty dude that has died and fallen on top of us all and is rotting slowly along with our will to live or even move our limbs and movement of any kind becomes impossible and cause for stupid irritability at everything and leads to irrational hatred of parties one suburb over and becoming convinced in the space of a Tuesday afternoon that the only future you can know involves moving to Alaska tomorrow.

I know people dig it, I know we are supposed to be a sunburnt country, I know we’re like, beach folk that thrive and bloom in the summer sun BUT WE BURN TOO, YOU KNOW, AND THERE IS NO COVER NEXT TO THE OCEAN- JUST BLINDING WHITE HOT SAND YO.

In summation: Hooray for Autumn!

Hooray for having worn actual pants for like, days in a row now; hooray for a cool breeze on my skin; hooray for sleepy time being something to look forward to instead of a nightmare world of too much shit touching me at once.

Hooray!

Things I am average at no. 290: Providing

My housemate and I purchased steak the other day. I’ve been feeling a little under-meated of late and the sheer size of the mammoth porterhouses selected had me significantly giddy. I chose a day when I knew several people might be home so that we could all enjoy the meat planks and the marvellous assortment of freshly sauteed and gorgeously presented seasonal vegetables that I would have lovingly prepared.

This is what happened after work today.

Got steaks out of freezer, placed on bench. Left the room.

Came back ten minutes later, looked at steaks, contemplated pizza.

Looked more at steaks, still irritatingly frozen and completely uncooked

Sat on bed, whinged aloud about steaks.

Finally opened pack, put steaks on plate and put in microwave. I am Martha.. someone.

Despondently sipped a cider by the sink wishing a housemate would come home and tell me how best to construct a meal/construct a meal for me

Success! Josh home and roped into cooking steaks on BBQ! Things looking up.

Huge steaks still defrosting

Josh is cleaning the BBQ and I am now sitting on the floor of kitchen imagining a teeny race of people who might worship at the foot of our White Pages stack

This is why I shouldn’t have children.

 

Note: while writing, Josh made the salad and politely didn’t tell me to get off the floor.

Sadness can eat my ass

Being sad is just a huge load of shit, yeah? Man.

Who, I ask you, needs a deep and heavy pit in their stomach or a frequent and burning ache in their chest that has nothing to do with a night of much scotch? Nobody, that’s who.

It is amazing to me, post-sadness, to recall a day pre-sadness when I looked at the bits and pieces of my life and thought ‘wicked. Solid. Good job, life’. I effing hate it that something can waltz solidly in and shoulder out the magic that made my life really cool and leave it looking sort of greyish, wan and sickly. I liked it cool.

Worse still is the knowledge in my viscera that the magic hasn’t actually been shouldered out it’s just been hidden behind a haze of hurt and memory and my life is STILL REALLY COOL, particularly as I am well fed, employed, able bodied, have access to my iTunes library and remain wholly unpersecuted. How dare I sigh so much? Why is it OK for me to wake up in the night crying? Sadness can eat my ass.

Time wasting jerk.

 

 

the girl who lost her face

She had a lovely face. She would wear it all over town, and most who saw it were moved to smile or at least to look away disinterestedly. She wore it well, her face. It’s curves and smiles, it’s eyes and forehead were all in their appropriate places- she wore it well.

She had a particular look she was trying out. It was a faraway, pleased but mysterious look. It carried a sense of whimsy around the mouth and that of a thinly veiled secret hovering just above her brow.

She was getting better at it. She did it more and more. She would look at herself and think “that is it. That is my face. I can see it now”. She made the faraway pleased but mysterious look all the time.

Then one ordinary day, she woke up and something was different.

Her face was gone.

She moved around her house like one dead. She could not eat, she could not see; she had no face.

In the street people didn’t look at her at all. They didn’t understand what she had lost. She took to sitting by her window, and to feeling the soft breeze on her shoulders. She would have cried, but she didn’t know how.

She moved towards mirrors and would run her fingers juddering down the glass, trying to remember what her face would do: the way her lips would pull to one side, or a slight crease in her brow.

“Damn” she thought as she strained to recall the face she had loved,

“I thought that was the one.”

 

Upfield line to City

At Jewell Station a man gets on the train and stands in the doorway, looking out. A girl on the platform laughs saying “you’re holding the train” and smiling he steps back.

She lingers until the door shuts as if making sure he will stay put then she waves and walks away as our train heads the opposite direction. She is barefoot and happy and her short bob is a deliberate mess.

I watch the back of the man as he moves to a seat, and so does a guy nearby with a bike and a ponytail. He shakes his head.

I wonder why because all I want to know is if they are in love, if they’ve just spent the night and the day together, if each are giddy and sick from the other.

 

then i saw his hat

Yesterday I went to a café near the church I work at with a friend I know from there. Outside was a guy in a collared shirt and vest and a suit jacket wearing these really long and high buckled boots that you see and you think you know something about the person wearing them. Something like they might have friends who cross-dress and have baby pink hair or they probably only listen to Nine Inch Nails or you’d think they hate their dad but that seems too obvious.

As I sat in the café drinking a banana smoothie my friend who is around 70 asked if I thought the guy out the front was an orthodox Jew. From where he was sitting he could only see the guy’s top half as he unfolded himself from his chair and put on a wide brimmed hat and an overcoat, despite it being 20 degrees out. I said I didn’t think so and then I saw his hat and said “well I guess he could be”.

The guy and his friend came into the café. He took off his hat and said “thank you very much, I hope you have a great day” and nodded at the woman behind the counter and then put his hat back on and left again. She came around to clean some tables and she was smiling and I thought there you go-that’s how easy it is.