Dr Di Rayson captures our collective weariness and longing as we begin our Advent journey in 2020.
On the thirteenth day of Advent, Aunty Ida Granites with Dr Steve Bevis reflect on the seeds of connection.
Ida still has dreams
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
Ida sits in the shade beneath a tree at her home in a town camp in Alice Springs. There is a lot of waiting for Ida. Waiting for government services to get jobs done, waiting for transport (these camps are on the edge of town and are not well serviced), and there is often the waiting of 'sorry business’, with long waits in sorry camp. There is way too much dying and too many funerals in Ida’s life. Ida lost her husband, Kumanjayi Granites, two years ago. He was a senior figure in the outback, and a beloved pastor. Recently she lost another family member in dramatic circumstances. Kumanjayi Walker, the young man shot by an NT police officer, was one of her close family members. Yes, there is much sorrow. She has every right to be weary, to be forlorn. But she is not. She trusts in the Lord. And she was grateful that so many people attended the funeral, and that many watched it online. She was delighted that “a big mob came!” That sense of connection keeps her going. Our faith is about relationship, and it can get you through the hardest times. Ida and her community sang long into the night, sitting around campfires in a time of healing and strengthening.
Psalm 126 speaks of dreams. Ida still has dreams. Dreams for her grandchildren to escape poverty, to have a chance at living in "two worlds.” And the family have a strong sense of the close presence of those they have lost. Her granddaughter speaks of her beloved and departed grandfather; she says the thought of him “keeps her strong.”
Recently, the family decided it was time for her to go out again on her country, to get strong, to receive the blessing that is found in creation, in the land. Of course, more sorry business has come up again, so Ida later traveled beyond Yuendumu to Lajamanu, way up the dusty Tanami road. There she sat down with the believers led by Jerry Jangala, that old man who has led the Walpiri Christians in a long journey of connecting Christian faith with the Jukurrpa, or Dreaming.
Ida spoke of how she drew encouragement from singing and praying in Lajamanu, even in the midst of sorry business. She points to the sky and says: “As long as I’ve got this one with me all the time I’m ok.” She is pointing to Wapirra, father God.
Psalm 126 says: “They who go forth weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy.”
For Ida, those seeds are connection and relationship. They are connection with country, with family, with Christians around the country. This connection is expressed through the painting of her Dreamings. Ida’s painting is a spiritual discipline in itself. And it is also a source of connection: she loves nothing more than painting her art for Christians she has met!
Even as she waits, she is connected: that is her advent gladness.
Aunty Ida Granites is a senior Walpiri woman and Christian elder. She is a renowned artist with artworks sold in galleries across the country. She is a proud member of the Grasstree Gathering.
Dr Steve Bevis is the minister of the Alice Springs Uniting Church and a Director of the Alice Springs Meeting Place Foundation. Steve is also a board member at Tearfund Australia.