When I was a child I remember going with my dad to help an elderly Aboriginal woman named Vera. She was a large, square-framed woman with big brown eyes that were very kind. She lived on a corner lot in a tiny one room house, across the road from a train station. She desperately needed some privacy! Her little yard got more foot traffic and general litter than anyone would want in their garden. She was so excited for my dad, a local pastor, to build her a fence to define her space and give her some much needed security and privacy.
I’m not sure why I went with my dad on that hot Australian Saturday afternoon, but I have never forgotten that day.
I was about six or seven and I spent most of my time not helping my dad at all but, instead, lounging inside the house where it was cool, enjoying a cold drink and something sweet. It was unexpected and really fun, the hospitality that she offered to me; she brought me into her home and I felt safe, like a place had been made for me.
Vera was part of a group of people, in fact, a whole generation of indigenous Australians, who were alone and disconnected from their families. A law had been enacted, lasting right up till 1972, that stated that if a child was born to one white parent and one black parent (this primarily happened with a black mother), they would be taken away from the aboriginal parent, away from any tribal environment and taken to live on a ‘mission’. These Missions were run by well meaning Christian folk who would give the children an education, teach them to speak English, and give them some domestic skills in preparation to be integrated into white society.
These children came to be know as the ‘Stolen Generation,’ a tragic and shameful part of our history. Vera was one of these little girls.
What the government failed to foresee is that they were not uniting our people, or creating better opportunities for indigenous people but, instead, fracturing and irreversibly fragmenting our nation. ‘My people,’ ‘My culture,’ are such important realities.
If you don’t know your history, if you are not connected, if you can’t see your place in the bigger picture, you will always lack purpose and a place of significance in this bustling world.
My mother was an immigrant to Australia and spent most of her life separated from her family and culture of origin. And now I am, completely by my own choice, raising my own family in a foreign country.
There is so much I have to be grateful for. The Lord has led, protected and provided for us so wonderfully. But sometimes I wish that I could be around ‘my people’. Sometimes I think about building traditions in the context of my larger family that would shape the worldview of my children about who 'we' are. And that makes me a little sad.
What about you?
Are you out pioneering a new path for yourself and your family? Or have you stayed in your home town still connected to your extended family? Or are you somewhere in between?
One thing I've observed is that no matter where you land on that spectrum, there remains the fundamental importance of building community. Life is always better, healthier, safer (sometimes a little more untidy) and definitely more fun together, when you intentionally place yourself in community with like-minded people.
As I contemplated what to name this new venture of pursuing the Lord for tools and wisdom and sharing it with the beautiful women around me, I thought of that Saturday afternoon in Australia and the woman who made space for me.
So, inspired by sweet Vera with her warm, sad brown eyes, I've decided to name my new venture MooLily.
Moo from the word 'moonyah' which means safe place or house, and lily from the word 'dulili' meaning ‘together,’ both from the aboriginal Nunga language. I love this name because it has the sound of 'my nation' and because it rings with simple truth.
Let's continue on this journey, safe together.
Welcome to The Moolily Village!