I’ve just returned from a ‘quick’ 4000km road trip throughout the Lake Eyre basin and the vast desert regions of South Australia. Goomeroi man and IMA East adviser, Billy Williams, Maori man, Galen Rangiawha, and I, were able to visit several IMA partners and prospective partners in both South Australia (Port Augusta, Coober Pedy, and Adelaide) and NSW (Dareton).
I want to share of our time with one of our close brothers, Kokotha and Yankunytjara man, Robert Nyimmy Taylor.
Robert’s traditional lands begin just north of Port Augusta as you travel along the Stuart Highway and continue all the way to Uluru, taking in the towns of Woomera and Coober Pedy (amongst others) to the very centre of Australia. Robert, together with his wife, Wanita, are involved with running Dusty Feet Mob, an incredible youth-focused cultural dance group based in Port Augusta. Rob also runs his own consultancy. Together we are working on ways to offer a unique journey of learning and connection with him on country. This is a rare opportunity for people to visit some of Australia’s most beautiful and remote desert regions to camp under the stars, learning and sharing together about the unique cultural perspectives of creation and our Creator.
Time on the road (and off it) at the centre of our country, we experienced life devoid of structures and forms that are normal to our coastal and urban surroundings. In the desert there are barely any hills or mountains. Vast plains of red sand stretch for miles with sparse native grasses and saltbush, very few water sources and even fewer flowing rivers or creeks.
All of this ‘space’ is rich with the sense of God’s presence and creative handiwork.
The colours are beyond spectacular. The subtlety of changing light and landscapes, and the sense of slowing time, all help create a rich awareness of self in creation.
This is enriched further when hearing stories of the First Peoples of this land. Stories from over millennia how the Indigenous cared for the country, raised families and communities, and connected deeply with the Creator through his creation.
To stand on open plains, viewing fossilised shells and wood, ancient grinding stones and campsites, fills you with a sense of awe. Time and time again, I found myself looking at the horizon in the desert, having my view filled in equal measure with land and sky, symmetrically split along that 360-degree line.
Good friend, Bunjalung man Kyle Slabb, believes that these two inseparables, the ‘worlds’ of land and sky, are the symbolic and tangible manifestation of God’s creation. Billy Williams reminded us also that what is true in the ‘sky story’ is true for the ‘land story.’
We are both spiritual and tangible beings at the same time. The land being temporal and tangible of our day-to-day lives, and sky being the invisible, spiritual realm of our reality. As we see and feel ourselves in both, it’s a reminder of the wonder of the unity of both worlds and our place in it. For we straddle both the land and air – our feet are on the land and our heads are in the air!
The time with our partners was rich and deeply rewarding for us all. Perhaps, this 'land' and 'sky' view of the world could enrich our understanding of the Lord’s prayer.
Jesus says in Matthew 6:10, ‘…Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’, or to paraphrase it a little for when you are next in our beautiful remote outback, ‘Your Kingdom come, your will be done through the land story as it is in the sky story’.
IMA East Coordinator