Feeling somewhat jaded by the cares of this world, I took a short walk to nearby Batten Reserve - a bush oasis if ever there was one. As I walked, the noise of nearby development retreated, and peace descended. The delight of ferns, bird calls, startled lizards and natural pools of water was a refreshing balm to my soul. I reflected on the goodness of my Creator, and also of the people who had fought to retain this haven and others who continue to work hard to maintain its beauty. Threats of invasion – rubbish carelessly dropped - were evident in places. My grateful response was to remove some of it myself. It always feels good to be part of the solution.
I was prepared to carry my rubbish home, but bins were out awaiting collection and an owner nearby. I politely asked if I could deposit a cupful of rubbish in his bin (I’d take the 5 cans home to recycle). A refusal, followed by an angry tirade, greeted my newly found peace. ‘Don’t collect the rubbish! – phone Council, it’s their job, etc...’ I was in no mood for an argument – I walked on, saddened, unaccustomed to such an ungracious attitude here.
I admire and commend the well-informed, intelligent debate over real issues that happens in Lane Cove. But when it spills over into trivialities, then it’s disappointing. Asking ourselves the question, ‘Is it a major, key issue that serves the greater good?’ provides a helpful reality check to our selfish motivations.
Let us put our finite energies into those things that matter and encourage others who are doing the same.
‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,’ from the Bible, Romans 12:18 (NIV)
The news media is full of sad stories, often mingled with hype. Sometimes we get the beginning of the story, but it ceases to be sensational and the full story remains a mystery. No wonder we become de-sensitised to most of them. But now and then, a case grasps our attention and we come to understand the deeper story. And sometimes that leaves us with unresolved pain, because we don’t actually know these people well enough to respond to them in a personal way.
Such is the case of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. The details of their story have been much-publicised. Our Government have continuously beseeched our Indonesian neighbour for mercy, and we’ve hoped for a resolution with a happy ending. But, no – there was no Pollyanna ending for these reformed, convicted drug smugglers. So our compassion has been stirred by the tragic story of these transformed lives cut short, and the details of their grieving families with no real means of personal response. Those who belong to a faith community may find it easier to express their emotions in prayers and discussion with like-minded people. But what about the rest?
We have constructed a temporary, public memorial in Lane Cove Plaza for those executed around the world, coinciding with the Indonesian executions. Here people can come and express their emotions by symbolic actions and say a prayer if they choose. As candles need to be supervised, that option is only available from 5.30 -7.30pm (weather permitting the candles to stay alight). For the remainder of the time, a bowl of water with salt to add, representing our tears, will be present.
Here is the prayer offered if you can’t make it along but would like to respond:
We mourn the death of those executed by the Indonesian government and others less publicised. We know these are just a few of the people who are killed each year by governments with the frightening power to determine who lives and who dies. Who can judge the worth of a person’s life adequately but you God?
We particularly mourn the deaths of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran whose stories we have come to know. Although the crime they committed is deplorable, where is clemency for lives changed for the better in an Indonesian prison? Where is common sense to preserve the lives of those who made life richer for others? Where is compassion for young people in the prime of life who have found their vocation? We lift up their families and loved ones, asking for comfort for them in their grief and loss.
In our grief and anger, help us God. Let us meet evil with grace and forgiveness, lest we become hardened too. Prompt us where we can to respond in a positive way so that one day this practice will cease.
We hope and pray for a better, more compassionate, world and ask for your peace.
The articles here are currently written by Liam McKenna, Lane Cove Community Chaplain.