On Sunday I attended the Blackwood Reconciliation Walk and Journey of Healing Event at the Colebrook Reconciliation Park – the once location of the Colebrook home for Aboriginal children who were part of the stolen generation. On a very rainy day a large group of people of all backgrounds came together to remember and support the reconciliation journey. It was a very sincere but positive day and had a great community vibe – despite the abundant rain.
As I listened, participated and walked around the quite moving art works and plaques I found myself torn. Torn between two truths that were represented for me on this site.
One truth related to the people and work of the United Aborigine’s Mission (UAM) – some of whom we knew a little through my father-in-law who was a very active volunteer in the UAM. We saw the time, passion, commitment and genuine loving relationships. But we also wonder how ‘all of that’ is viewed in an era of greater understanding of what was done by Governments, people and white Australia as a whole. A new era of greater, but still very incomplete, understanding of what it really means to have your children forcibly taken from you; to have your significant places acquired and over-run by people and machinery and greed. And to have others decide what is best for you and your family in distant and often cruel ways.
Two very different truths.
There is a common philosophical thought that states in one version that “wisdom is the ability to hold two conflicting truths in your mind at the same time, without budging”. Naturally, philosophers strongly argue about this but I spent some time dwelling on that thought as I stood in the rain reading one of the plaques at the Colebrook site which quotes a former resident Faith Thomas. It reads …
“Colebrook started with Sister R. Hyde and Sister D. Rutter. They were Colebrook. What we had was constant love and attention from these two remarkable ladies. After they left, those kids went through hell on earth. They had to rely on each other to survive.”
It was saddening to read other plaques that quietly describe the ‘hell’ of one truth. However, it was personally soothing to have a survivor recognise another truth – that in the ‘hell’ there could be “constant love and attention”. I mentally placed the words ‘Christ’s constant love and attention’ in to that sentence. But as I thought more on the ‘two truths’ indicated on that plaque, I had a growing sense of how the authorities of the day had no doubt that Christ spoke powerfully in to the truth of the hell they inflicted on others. The other truth? The ‘others’ had no doubt as to His constant love and attention.
As I stood reading I found myself questioning my silence and challenging my action.
Want some inspiration for you or your learning community to act in this week of National Reconciliation? As they say, just go to the website https://www.reconciliation.org.au/national-reconciliation-week/nrw-events/