God’s SWAT Team Comes For You

This is an excerpt from my book Napping In Delilah’s Nap – The Pandemic of Pornography in the Pew and the Pulpit, to be released March 2021. Be warned that it connotes graphic, potentially disturbing contents of sexual and other abuse. Reader discretion advised. Post may refer to unfamiliar terms developed elsewhere in the book.

Image result for busted microwave

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.

From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.

I will ever praise you.

I have become a sign to many; you are my strong refuge.

My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame.

In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me

(Psalm 71:5-8, 1).

Why did you survive the adversity you lived through? How did you do it? Psalm 124 peels back the curtain and shows you a classified behind-the-scenes look. Be warned that this is a sensitive chapter that may evoke visceral reactions in the reader by revisiting trauma. I’ll hold your hand through it but it is imperative that you read through this prayerfully. In the scripture below, we will dig through the meaning of words that may astound you. Take a deep breath and come with me.

Psalm 124

A song of ascents. Of David.

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,” Let Israel now say—

“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us,

Then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us;

Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul;

Then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul.”

Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth.

Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;

The snare is broken, and we have escaped.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth

 (Psalm 124).

There are fifteen songs of ascent – Psalms 120-134. They are a collection of short, pithy psalms, fraught with repeated formulaic phrases that make them rhythmic and memorable. They employ a literary technic called anaphora whereby phrases are repeated, as we shall study. They were sung or recited during an ascension and indicate a change in elevation, a journey to a higher place. They may have been used by pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem or may have been chanted by worshippers ascending the fifteen steps to the Temple in Jerusalem. Biblically, the number fifteen is symbolic of healing, rest, and restoration after deliverance. “This number symbolizes acts wrought by the energy of divine grace.”1   

The subjects of Psalm 124 had survived a significant assault. They were commiserating about it and marveling at God’s role in their survival. Jehovah was at their side through their experience. In your case, it may be childhood or adulthood trauma. It may be past or ongoing. As he was with them, Jehovah was and is at your side during every moment of your traumatic experience. Moreover, not only was he at their side, he was on their side. He had to choose sides and he sided with them. In the same way, God was not only at your side, be he chose to be on your side. Jehovah was with them and today he is Emmanuel, God with us.

Verse two identifies some entity who “rose up” against you. That term paints a scenario of someone coming on the scene, and making a stand against you. This may have been someone who should have stood up for you and defended you. Yet he or she chose to satisfy his or her selfish desires before considering you and your needs. This person or system gained and maintained power over you in an imposing way. In the previous chapter we studied Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) which include neglect (emotional and physical); abuse (psychological, physical, and sexual); and household dysfunction (children growing up in a home where there is mental illness, violence against the mother, separation/divorce, incarceration, and substance abuse).

We will explore several lies that traumatic experiences can cement in the victim’s mind. One has to do with time. Verse one above says, “Let Israel now say,” whereas verses three, four, and five begin with the word then, a classic example of anaphora. Here, scripture makes a distinction in time. We know that in the spirit realm time and space are immaterial. Nevertheless, adverse experiences occur in real space and in real time. Many victims of trauma get stuck in the place and time of their trauma. No matter how much time has passed, their current speech, demeanor, outlook, and behavior betray that they are still very present in the moment of assault.

Note that as long as one remains ensnared in past trauma, the perpetrator remains successful in his or her goals. Three times, Emmanuel is inviting you to distinguish between then and now, Christian. Ask for his help in moving forward away from that space and time. Hear this: healing entails experiencing a separation between the then and the now. It entails a change in elevation from that miry bog to the solid ground of a sound, restored mind. May your life resonate with the songs of ascension as you ascend to a place that is higher than that valley of death.

A second lie the enemy tells is that the intentions of the offender became our reality. It is imperative that we identify and distinguish between two important factors: the intention of the offender versus what actually happened. Failure to do so results in muddying the waters of our thinking and also results in one remaining stuck in the trauma. See Table iv. below.

Table iv. Intentions vs. Reality

Intentions  Reality
To “swallow you alive.”
For the waters to overwhelm you/ For the stream or proud/swollen waters to “go over” our soul  
They “rose up” against you. Their “wrath” was “kindled” against you  

Let’s break down the intentions of the enemy. To “swallow one alive” (Hebrew bala)2 is to eat up, to devour, to destroy them. It is to spend, to squander, and to use them up. The devil’s intention is that when this offender (whether an individual, an institution, or a way of thinking) was done with you, you would only be good for garbage pickup. The psalm says the “waters” would have “overwhelmed” you. This scene is pumping with adrenaline and rife with real threats.

“Waters” (Hebrew mayim) are symbolic of danger and violence. They refer to a body of water that bursts its banks and causes destruction. Note the tie in with the entity which “rose up” against you – they overflowed their prescribed capacity. They overstepped their bounds. They did not confine themselves to their defined path but instead used their power inappropriately, to your detriment. The “proud” (Hebrew zeydon) waters indicate churning, raging, turbulence, and insolence. They are out of control and wreaking havoc in their wake. To bring it home painfully for some of you, precious readers, biblically, “waters” also refer to the bodily fluids of urine or semen.

To “overwhelm” (Hebrew shataph) means to engulf, overflow, wash off, gush, or inundate. By analogy, they aimed to conquer you, drown you, to wash you away. In order for them to “rise up,” they had to have come from a place lower in elevation. They come up, snatch you, and take you back down to the depths with them. The goal would be to suck you under and cause you to disappear from the face of the earth. The stream would have “gone over” (Hebrew abar) meaning to pass over or through you, engulfing you. The theme of abuse in general, and sexual abuse in particular, continues here as, figuratively in the Hebrew, this term means to cover in copulation, to impregnate.

Your offender came at you with his or her wrath kindled against you to consume you. The word “wrath” (Hebrew aph) is a picture of impassioned, rapid breathing. “Kindled” (Heb. charah) means to be hot, furious, incensed, burning. Figuratively, it entails blazing or flaring up against you. Visualize flames rising and licking the meat on your BBQ. These flames can impregnate the meat with a charred taste and even ruin the cut. You were to be charred, disfigured, ruined, left as a pile of ashes.

My heart goes out in anguish to every single person that has had the body of another smother them sexually in the graphic ways described by these words. Please hear and believe that this horrific act was not your fault. There is absolutely no reason for a human being to impose him or herself on another in this way. This also applies to you being forced to do perform sexual acts against your will, even if the person did not touch you physically. God carefully chose the graphic words used here to describe the atrocities done because that’s how seriously he sees them. He doesn’t downplay what happened to you.

The psalm identifies where the punch is taken – the soul. The impact of these forms of adversity can span the spectrum from, at the very least, slightly charring the soul, as a flame-licked piece of meat; to, at the worst, destroying it. Your soul (Hebrew nephesh) is the core of who you are, your living, breathing self. It is your inner being. I remember it by the acronym A.M.P.E.D with a W thrown in at the beginning – WAMPED. It is the center of, or entails the activity of your: Will, Appetites, Mind, Passions, Emotions, and Desires. Note how closely intertwined it is with the heart, as we studied in the previous chapter. Needless to say, different people emerge from the storm in various stages of damage to these six aspects that comprise the soul – some just wet, and others a moldy, damaged mess.

The Psalm calls us to bless (Hebrew barak) Jehovah. This is an invitation to acknowledge him. We are to thank and praise him because had he not risen up for us, the enemy’s intentions would have become our reality. Many people ask, “Where was God when xyz happened to me?” He was right there. Had he not been on our side, you and I would have been utterly destroyed. Had he not been at your side, we would not be here having this conversation. He has not “given us” (Hebrew Nathan) over to the intentions of the enemy. He didn’t deliver us up or permit the destroyer to have his way with us, despite how far the latter went. The enemy did not have permission to do what he did and his intentions were cut short.

Have you any idea how many snares have been set for your soul that you weren’t even aware of? I attended Catholic school and was taught that in heaven we will review our lives as on a video. I hope that’s true. If so, it’ll blow our minds to see what we were saved from when the fowler (Hebrew yaqosh) lured, set a snare or devised plans against us! As for the traps and plots that we did get caught in, because Jehovah was on our side, we escaped (Hebrew malat). That simple word means that we slipped away and were delivered, saved, released, rescued. We got to leap out and be preserved speedily and surely. Here is the exciting part, this wasn’t a quiet, simple escape.

The psalmist says the snare has been broken (Hebrew shabar). Hear this – anyone coming upon the snare would be gob-smacked and gasp, “What happened here?” That’s because that mangled mess was unidentifiable. This reminds me of an exciting day in our boys’ lives when a microwave we owned finally died and they asked permission to beat it up. To my dismay and their utter surprise, my husband allowed them to. They looked at each other in slow motion with huge eyes and jaws dropping in testosterone-driven anticipation. They were allowed to use whatever they wanted on it. By the time I walked up to its sorry remains at the end of their barrage, all I could say was, “What happened here?” What Shabar actually means is that your God went ballistic on that trap. He rent it violently. He wrecked, crushed, and maimed it. He shattered it in pieces and destroyed it beyond recognition. Hallelujah!  

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,”

    let Israel say;

 “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,

    but they have not gained the victory over me

(Psalm 129:1,2, emphasis added).

Indeed, you are victorious because God is your help (Hebrew ezer). He is your aid and your succor. Remember the word beset which means to enfold? Ezer is synonymous. It means he surrounds you. Earlier, I explained that the number fifteen symbolizes acts wrought by the energy of divine grace. His grace is a SWAT team that hems you in as it comes to rescue you. SWAT stands for Special Weapons and Tactics. This branch of law enforcement is unleashed to combat critical incidents that pose a threat to safety and that supersede the capacity of regular police forces. They are specially trained and equipped to use high-powered armor and other specialized equipment my boys would like to get their hands on and use against a dead microwave.

You have hedged me behind and before,

And laid your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

It is high, I cannot attain it

(Psalm 139:5, NKJV).

Because of what God has done, I can sing a song of ascents as I journey to a higher place.

Arise, my soul, and sing his praises!

(Psalm 108:2, TPT)

Take new joy in the words of the hymn Amazing Grace and bless him as you sing,

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,

I have already come.

‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.3

Image retrieved 1/25/2021, from https://th.bing.com/th/id/OIP.xm-MLY9t9ADx3aPZgmy05wHaE8?w=219&h=180&c=7&o=5&dpr=1.5&pid=1.7

FOSTER CARE AS AN ADULT

My friend, I’ll call her Rhythm and Blues, wrote this marvelous work that the world needs to see.

Do you know? When will you know?

My historical trauma.

When will you stop saying, “oh I’m sure you don’t want to talk about that.”

Or “I’m sorry I asked” when we are talking about childhood. 

If you are sorry about talking about my childhood, who can I tell? 

When will we be equal human beings?

When will I stop having to wear abuse like a college degree that has no value

Assigning me a place in life that I didn’t strive for

I dreamt of being a princess, a scientist, a doctor. 

Everyone told me I could be whatever I wanted to be but I am here

A female professional who can not answer the question honestly,

Without seeing shame in your eyes 

“where did you grow up?” Or “where did you go to school?”

I make up stories 

Stories that won’t cause people to say “oh I am sorry” 

Or stories that I want them to ask “oh, do you mind if I ask…”

They open up and ask “how did it affect you and what was the worst place you lived”

Because those are the questions you have been trying to sort out for years.

Questions you need people to talk to you about

That is the work you do

every relationship you have

Every memory you try to tame

Every countertransference you slice apart with a knife that has been burning in your soul for years ready to be sharp enough for this time in your life.

These are the questions you want to answer now

Full of wisdom and bravery

But your words are cut short by the dragon of sympathy.

You want to shout, out loud, with the pride of survival on top of a mountain.

These stories you have lived through the pain you have seen and felt. 

But the sympathy you so craved when you were 9 years old and trying to shout out to the world that you were being physically hurt. 

This sympathy has aged and now the sagging wrinkles only slow you down. 

The sympathy reaches out and puts a quiet hand over your mouth. 

It’s oddly gentle but oppresses deep the true being that you want to show the world. 

The muscled champion that slays monsters. 

The gentle sympathy says “wow, That is so sad”

and changes the subject to something that they feel will lift you up. 

Something they think will make you stronger.

WITH ALL OF MY HEART

human circulatory system
Image: “Human Heart and Circulatory System.” by Bryan Brandenburg. License: CC BY-SA 3.0

“I will praise you with all my heart;” Psalm 9:1a. When I think of praise (Heb. Yadah), I think of verbal expression of one’s greatness. This verse corrects my definition. Praise is not just verbal. It’s a heart matter. Hmmm. In Pr. 4:23 Solomon told us, “above all things guard your heart, for from it are the issues of life.” What does all that mean? First I’m to guard it, now I’m to praise God with all of it. Hmmm.

In my upcoming book,  Napping in Delilah’s Lap, I came up with an acronym to describe the heart according to its Hebrew attributes: PAPDATE. Imagine that you’re a gynecologist. A patient comes in for a PAPDATE. That doctor visit is going to consist of 7 checkpoints: purposes, affections, passions, drive, appetites, thoughts, and endeavors. These are the “issues” we are to guard. These are the things we are to praise him with all of.

It’s easy to say, “Man we had great praise and worship at church today.” Did you know that can be pretty meaningless in God’s eyes? We can sing ‘our hearts out’ yet have hearts far from him. While he loves our verbal praise, it can be a beautiful but empty vessel. In Mt. 15:8 Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.”

Listen to Jesus again, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” We can sing and sound amazing, but it’s all external show unless our purposes, affections, passions, drive, appetites, thoughts, and endeavors are lined up with his purposes, affections, passions, drive, appetites, thoughts, and endeavors. Performance. That’s. Merely. External. Drives. God. Nuts!

So let’s try that again, with trembling lips. “I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart.”

Image retrieved 1/14/2021 from: Cardiovascular System (Circulatory System): Parts and Functions (lecturio.com)

ANTICIPATION

Image result for anais anais fragrance

When I was a little girl, I’d rush home after school, gobble up tea and bread, hurry through my homework and go sit in the hallway outside my sister Irene’s locked bedroom door. I was enthralled by that neat room and grown girl treasures.

She’s been gone 8 years but I can still smell her ‘Anais Anais’. My eyes sparkled at the rows of colorful nail polish and lipstick. Her pretty clothes and jewelry dazzled me. But greatest of all was her presence when she finally got home. Finally! My heart raced at the clip-clop sound of her shoes when she walked in the front door. I can still see the precious smile on her beautiful face when she found me waiting in the hallway.

She’d greet me fondly then fumble in her purse for her key and let us into that magical room. Then, while I sat mesmerized on her bed, my feet barely touching the floor, she’d pull some little treat from her purse that she’d picked up for me. Oh the wonder of a piece of candy a little knick-knack. I was gob-smacked by it all.

In studying the book of Proverbs and the concept of lady Wisdom, I came this gem, “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” 8:34. May we eagerly anticipate wisdom, knowing full well that she never EVER disappoints.

What I’ve Experienced at the Hands of These White People

suitcaseI’ve been hearing the word narrative a lot lately. I have one too. When I moved to the States in the mid nineties, I showed up at PDX with a green and black plaid suitcase in hand. Ken Reade, a giant of a man, drove me through the city and to the small town that has been my home to this day. I’d never been in a foreign country. I’d never flown in an airplane. There I was at 21 off to who knows where!

I grew up hearing of racial discord in the US and just expected some degree of it, chalking it off to human nature. Well, little did I know what awaited me…

That first Sunday, I went to a church with a small group of white people aged 340 each. When I walked on the sidewalks, whites looked me in the eye and smiled. Some even said halo. In class and in homes, they asked my opinion and considered it. A local white family with four young children and the single income of a teacher rented out a room to me. Do you know what Chris and Eric charged me? Every single extra penny I had! Which is to say, nothing. They met all my physical needs and treated me as one of their own. To this day.

I went through too many years of college and had to jostle my way through it like all the other white students beside me – passing and failing classes every step of the way. I was hired by a young family of two doctors to care for their babies. Dave and Cathy handed me the keys to their fancy cars and said I could go wherever I wanted. I had access to every room in their house. Dave told me one day, “There are some crazy people that live in those hills. If anyone ever gives you any kind of trouble, why you just let me know.”

I attended white churches where I was challenged and encouraged to grow and develop my gifts, especially teaching. Bev purchased my first little car and let me live with her for the same ridiculous amount of rent as Christ and Eric had. Mike offered to take me to buy a car and introduced me to the salesman as his daughter. He’d had me pull over before we got there and given me  a pep-talk about what shenanigans they’d throw at me and how I was to respond. His wife Shari calls my children her grandchildren. None of these people EVER asked for anything in return – the gall!

Then I met a mountain man from them hills. (I think all mountain men are white?) He called me honey and took me fishing (a rather white sport, I think). Now my children call him father. His family has been nothing but loving towards me from the word go.

And when I started my elder care business, white people brought their dependent parents to my home and entrusted their care to me. One gets to know an awful lot of dirt on families and their members when offering personal care for residents.  In twelve years of care-giving I have been treated with utmost honor and respect by every single one of my residents and their families except for two family members. (They had obvious problems that I’m not about to taken on as my own.) My white employees and the families of these residents will be family to me for the rest of my life.

I’m not sharing my experiences to discount those of anyone else. I could go into the incidents of being pulled over twice in my hometown for no reason at all. This was before I knew one could ask why they were being pulled over. I could go into driving with my father by a hick truck full of high school kids who screamed “Niggers!” I could go into all kinds of  encounters, but today I wanted to tell you about these other white people.

BLAK Lives Matter (Part 4) – Damn, the Bastard Child Shows Up!

This is a raw tribute to lands across the world that have been devastated by colonialism.

 

The bastard has unexpectedly shown up at his dinner table.

Bags in hand.

He never thought he’d see her again!

What sudden discomfiture, what indigestion she causes.

She pays no mind to the refined company present.

Her striking resemblance to him is terribly unsettling.

He’d found her blak mother, wild yet trusting; luscious and unsophisticated.

Magnificent and imposing, he strutted in and denuded her.

He perforated her soul easily and ravaged her – repeatedly, mercilessly, shamelessly.

You see, he never thought he’d see her again.

He’d paid no mind to her spirited yet ineffectual resistance,

Her agonizing screams,

Or later, her exhausted, limp whimpering.

He kept coming back and even brought others.

Some of them gorge with him at the banquet tonight.

 

She takes her time.

Looks around and recognizes the ivory, the gold, the diamonds, the mahogany, all ravaged from her land’s bowels, like her mother.

‘God, she’s powerful. Commanding. Beautiful.’ They all think

She need not mention Karen or Kolmanskop.

He sits dumbfounded behind his delectable dinner and baronial company.

What to do with her now?

What will he do with what he did?

It’s time to pay the piper.

“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” Hosea 8:7.

BLAK Lives Matter (Part 5) – What Can I Do?

Single Candle In Dark Background

Image retrieved 6/12/2020 from: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=328642&picture=single-candle-in-dark-background

God’s has a disturbing indictment: “I hate, I despise your religious festivals. Your assemblies are a stench to me… away with the noise of your songs…”

“This is what the Lord says:

“Seek me and live;
There are those who turn justice into bitterness

and cast righteousness to the ground.

There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court

and detest the one who tells the truth.

You levy a straw tax on the poor
and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your offenses
and how great your sins.

There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.

Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts…

Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says:

“There will be wailing in all the streets
and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers will be summoned to weep
and the mourners to wail.
There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
for I will pass through your midst,”
says the Lord.

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

Amos 5:4, 7, 9-12, 14, 15a, 16, 21-24

 


 

“He has shown you oh mortal, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: to love justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8

Jesus lover, do what he did:

  1. Feel your pain. Acknowledge it. Hold it. Experience it.
  2. Flee to your Father for comfort. He’s expecting you. Dodge the distractions. Don’t allow them into your heart. Their goal is to further distance you from intimacy with God at a crucial time. God alone can truly comfort you. He cares.
  3. Despite your pain or current weakness, see the crowd. Wake up. Pay attention. Notice what’s going on. Engage. Take off your blinders.
  4. Have compassion. Notice their need. Put yourself in their shoes. Walk a mile in their shoes. Nurture mercy.
  5. Look up to God, your source of strength. Apart from him you can do no good thing.
  6. Look around and identify what you already have. What ‘loaves and fishes” did you bring for lunch (see part 2)? Offer them to him. He will give thanks and a miracle with ensue.
  7. He’ll hand it back to you and you will hand, and hand, and hand it out. They are hungry. Feed them. “If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their needs, what good is it?” James 2:16.

Father, please challenge us to please you. We desire to be people of justice and people of righteousness. We need your help.

 

BLAK Lives Matter (Part 3) – Why Blak, not Black?

Black Lives Matter signs showing the number of Aboriginal deaths in custody.
Photo retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/09/black-lives-matter-protesters-referred-to-our-count-of-432-aboriginal-deaths-in-custody-its-now-437

I visited Australia in 2019. I was thrilled by Aboriginal names of streets,  towns, and landmarks: Drik Drik, Warandite, Wagga Wagga, Yarra River, Gooloogong, Bellambi, Murrumburrah, Manganatang. They are so resonant and lyrical that one almost has to assume the grand posture of an orator to pronounce them right.

Presently, I noticed a recurring theme posted on boards such as the ones below. Note the acknowledgement below  “Nature Conservation Reserve.” It caught my eye repeatedly.

The bottom left of the sign above, next to the black, red, and sun Aboriginal flag reads, “We acknowledge the Wurundjeri william peoples, the traditional owners of the land on which this reserve is located.” I asked my sister who lives there about it and she said that not only is that sign posted on such boards, but all official meetings in workplaces begin with a similar statement.

This statement of acknowledgement is called “Welcome to Country.” This  “Acknowledgement of Country” is a means by which all people can show respect for Aboriginal culture and heritage. It also acknowledges the ongoing relationship the Traditional Custodians have with the Land.

Whoever is chairing a meeting or gathering begins with this “Acknowledgement of Country” because the meeting is taking place in the “Country of the Traditional Custodians.” This happens whether the meeting is taking place in a government gathering or not, so, for example, a staff meeting at a workplace would begin in this way. There are various versions of acknowledgement that can be used. The University of Melbourne website lists 2 examples of “Acknowledgement of Country”:

Example 1 – I would like to show my respect and Acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Land, of Elders past and present, on which this meeting takes place.
Example 2 – I would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of this Land. I would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other Indigenous Australians present.

__________________________________

Why BLAK not black?

A Melbourne protest in 2019 over the shooting death of Indigenous teenager Kumanjayi Walker
A protest over the shooting death of Indigenous teenager Kumanjayi Walker in his family’s Northern Territory home, held in Melbourne in 2019. Photograph: David Crosling/EPA (Image retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jun/01/deaths-in-our-backyard-432-indigenous-australians-have-died-in-custody-since-2008)

Blak is an Australian expression of taking back power and control within a society. The Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander Peoples use it to refer to their self-determination as individuals and communities. Blak is a term “used by some Aboriginal people to reclaim historical, representational, symbolical, stereotypical and romanticised notions of Black or Blackness. Often used as ammunition or insipration. This type of spelling may have been appropriated from American hip-hop or rap music.” Destiny Deacon first the term in 1991 in an exhibition Blak lik mi.

 (retrieved 610/2020 from https://sites.google.com/site/australianblakhistorymonth/extra-credit)

Destiny Deacon Blak lik mi, 1991-03; Light jet print from Polaroid original; 100 x 214.5 cm; Edition of 15; Enquire

Destiny Deacon Blak lik mi, 1991-03

_____________________________

Last Sunday, there was a large “Black Lives Matter” protest in Melbourne. It was also meant to draw attention to racial profiling, police brutality and the high number of  Indigenous people who have died in police custody since a royal commission into the problem was held in 1991. At over 437 deaths, an average of about one death has resulted per month since. The chart below shows under what conditions people died.

Ozab
https://www.theguardian.com/…/black-lives-matter-protesters-referred-to-our- count-of-432-aboriginaldeaths-in-custody-its-now-437
<img src="https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/ed59950ec693ea0d2fda902675cedfd0fe771f7e/441_0_3972_2383/master/3972.jpg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=e59164566b0eac45c55531604b04a9d5&quot; alt="Black Lives Matter Rally in unity with protests over the death of George Floyd, Sydney, Sydney, Australia – 02 Jun 2020
Image retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/audio/2020/jun/05/australias-shameful-record-on-black-deaths-in-custody

In 2016 David Dungay Jr an Aboriginal inmate who wouldn’t stop eating a packet of biscuits, was stormed by prison officers and forcibly restrained.  In a chilling coincidence, 12 times he said,  “I can’t breathe.” That was his last day alive.  While wild fires ravaged Australia causing a state of emergency, Veronica Nelson died in custody just this year. Aboriginal women are the fastest growing demographic. VALS, the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service reports that 

Australians Rally In Solidarity With U.S. Black Lives Matter Marches Over
Image of protesting Aboriginals retrieved from https://encyclopedic.co.uk/2020/06/07/george-floyd-tens-of-thousands-rally-in-washington-dc-live/

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My heart is truly warmed and encouraged to see a worldwide protest to the injustice that blaks face. Clearly the blaks are many and come in various colors:  aboriginal, black, immigrants in all countries of the world, abused children, the poor, the down-trodden, etc. A new day is dawning as the herd awakens and poses, mighty horns lowered, a thunderous bellow emanates from deep within and it will not be silenced. It’s gaining momentum. Hooves are pounding the earth! Dust clouds the air….

BLAK Lives Matter (Part 2) – But I hurt, and the Need is so great…

Nature, landscape, lake, boat, nautical vessel, water, transportation, HD wallpaper
Image retrieved from https://www.wallpaperflare.com/nature-landscape-lake-boat-nautical-vessel-water-transportation-wallpaper-pilip

Something interesting happened that intercepted Joshua’s escape to solitude. A crowd heard he was on the lake. They knew the private spot where he was going. And they beat him there. When he landed he saw a large crowd. It was a sea of blak lives. There in their midst, he zoomed in on Michael and his family. He knew their rent was several months late. There was Judith and her ill son. He looked terrible. This would never do. So many that he knew and loved. So many that the system had failed, its unseen knee on their necks.

His broken heart welled up in compassion for them all.  He sighed deeply, wiped his tears and sweat, and smiled his warm, determined smile. He stretched out his arms and his heart. And he healed them. Waves of tears hit him hard from time to time all day. That evening, after a full day of meeting bottomless needs, a personal friend and associate worried for him. He came up to Joshua and whispered, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go and buy themselves some food.”

Joshua grabbed his broad shoulders and said, “They don’t need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“Uh, we only have five loaves and two fish,” his other associates chimed in.

“Give them to me,” he said. He took them, looked up to  his abba, gave heart-felt thanks for these people he loved, and broke the loaves. Then he handed them to his twelve close friends, and these associates  gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and twelve basket-fulls of scraps were picked up.

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This story is a powerful  life lesson on how we are to deal with the world’s current injustices…