This morning I thought I was woken up by the laugh of a kookaburra. It can’t be, I told myself. Not this far into the city. Still, I so deeply wanted to have heard correctly. I used to barely need an alarm for the cacophony of birdsong that would wake me every morning. Since moving to Sydney I’ve realised how lucky I was to grow up surrounded by so much life. Living next to a bush reserve and a stone throw away from Lake Macquarie meant my childhood was coloured with the pale blue of ghost gums and the deep green of salt water.
My memories of growing up are interspersed with a patchwork of leaf litter crunching beneath bare feet, stinging salt water eyes and that enigmatic smell of the bush. Like many Australians, the landscape in which I grew up has become a part of who I am. It was there that I first learnt that the land is sacred; that the Divine is present in creation, constantly working to bring new life from old.
Since moving six months ago, I have often needed a reminder of that life-giving Movement. The election of another pro-coal, climate-change-denying government and the inaction from most of parliament at this stage in the piece is frankly terrifying. Judging from how often climate change comes up in conversation, I know that for most young people our uncertain future is constantly at the back of our minds. Now more than ever, I need to know that life giving power.
Despite my distance from the landscape of my childhood, if I open my eyes to see it, I know that God’s work creating new life is far from absent. In fact, I see the Divine working in that same way in creative and hopeful young people, who refuse to let dark prognoses silence their passion for life. People who in bold and beautiful collective action proclaim that there is hope and that if we act in faith, that hope will become a reality.
I am reminded of a wonderful non-violent action I was able to be a part of in 2016. Hundreds of ordinary people from all over Australia took up oar and kayak to form a flotilla in Newcastle harbour and succeeded in closing the world’s largest coal port for the day. In the middle of hundreds of people, holding our kayaks together and singing with one voice, I had an incredible sense of our unity and our power. Surely, when we gather as one body and put ourselves in the way of empire, the Divine works to bring new life from old. Is this not who we, the church, are called to be?
On 20 September, Christian Students Uniting is marching in the Strike for Climate to demand action from our government. We are calling on our Uniting Church family to join us. Everyone welcome. Everyone needed. Will you join us?
Mikali Anagnostis worships at Leichhardt Uniting Church and is a member of Christian Students Uniting at Macquarie University.