A wonderful start to a new twelve week program of teaching for homeless and marginalized people at Vincentian Village. We have embarked on a literature course called “Sacred Australia”. This is bona fide university Literature Course that runs at our local campus. It is a literature course with a focus on Australia and especially on those ideas/ experiences in Australian literature that connect us with “The Sacred”. This word will be variously defined, but simply it means, in this context, those aspects of literature that touch our experience at a deeper level. We had a mix of men and women Shayne, Jeanne, Ian, Luke, Cindy, Tom (The Tank Engine), Lana, Victoria, Anissa, John, Jason, George, Michael, Tania…. welcome all. Luke is joining us from the Education Research staff at our uni to help with facilitating the course and also to participate. We all shared something briefly about our life stories and came quickly to a sense of how an exploration of the sacred in Australian poetry might provide some source of understanding and renewal in our own lives. We began exploring the spirituality of some contemporary Aboriginal poetry. It was amazing how quickly the group came to an appreciation of how the spiritual emptiness in the Aboriginal experience is also a deep expression of our emptiness. And from them we can learn so much about what we need to make our “presence… whole”… to quote from Errol West’s poem:
There is no one to teach me the songs that bring the
Moon Bird, the fish or any other thing that makes me what I am.
No old women to mend my spirit by preaching the culture to me
No old man with the knowledge to paint me being.
The spectre of the past is what dwells within
I search my memory of early days to try to make my presence real, significant, whole.
I will be uploading some images from our sessions in this space soon…
Thank you Peter H co-ordinator of the C. Education for Homeless Program and to Judy Brophy for helping the whole show come together…. we have all been nervous for the past few weeks wondering whether the doors would open to us to let the course happen… and it has…. thanks to a cast of people all working furiously in the background… We are simply the lucky ones who get to sit on the stage and have a party…..