Time to sit and think
If you spend years editing books you work in quiet collaboration among a few people. You ask, ‘What do we want to say? How do we want to say it?’
You consult, construct, print and disseminate and maybe hear no more. If you edit a local newspaper, it’s different. With a few colleagues you consult and collaborate, but people around you, your neighbours, send you stories, ask questions, complain. You make the choices, print in thousands and prepare yourself for the frank responses to follow.
This year, my fifteenth in editing Gully News, has been different. It all changed with a phone call in August that said, ‘I am authorised to ask you to set up a weekly shared silence at the Uniting Church in The Avenue’.
My father, whose carrier business supported an extended family throughout the Depression and the War, used to say, ‘If anyone asks you to do something, say yes and then work out how to do it.’ So I said yes. We worked out how to do it and did it. The experience has changed me and perhaps has also for others who joined in.
A church building is a communal space and imagination offers many ways to use it. I saw this offer of place and time, 4.00 – 5.00pm on Friday afternoons, as opportunity for reflection on the past week and hope for the week ahead. All this as we sit, facing the mountain, the treasure of our Gully life. From this point in The Avenue you look across the roofs of the shops to the mountain and watch the light of afternoon sun changing the western face of the escarpment. But what also happens is that you experience from head to foot the turning of the Earth: trees, clouds, birds, rain, winds, sun, shadows, all moving, slow or fast, across, around the framed space.
I have watched this now ten times and I have to ask, ‘How can we destroy this planet by fighting with each other? How can we not recognise its fragility? This is our home; our place; the place we share. In shared silence we experience the world. How can we even think of fighting over it?’
Thank you to the perceptive members of the Uniting Church for their insight and invitation and thank you to those who come. We will continue until Friday 1 December and then take a break until February.
Meanwhile I hope the world picture will stay with us throughout end-of -year celebrations and New Year resolutions. Christmas with its message of Jesus bringing peace to Earth will be especially poignant this year as we grieve for the deaths and destructions of war.
This is the last issue of Gully News for 2023. There are lots of events to go to, as well as food for thought!