We have found that our weekly team brunches to keep in touch have become overloaded with too many agendas. So we are trying a cycle of social, decision-making, professional development and ‘open house’.
With ‘open house’ we invite people who would like to meet us, or people we would like to meet – or maybe both!
My friend Dr Seforosa Carroll was in town and has always wanted to visit Oasis. Her doctorate focussed on exploring the notion of ‘home’. Very relevent to us. More and more, overseas students in particular, are referring to Oasis as ‘home’.
And earlier in the year I met some consultants who were working with the local Mitcham Council to assist them with community development. They call themselves ‘The Happy Hearts Hub’, aka, Heart Choice Enterprises, and they are particularly interested in promoting personal and community well-being.
So I invited them all to share with us for 15 minutes each, with equal time for discussion.
These are some of the scanty notes I made during our conversation yesterday:
Dr Sef Carroll began by sharing the findings of her post-graduate research on home and hospitality, posing Derrida’s provocative question, which got her PhD going: ‘can you offer hospitality if you don’t have a home?’ Sef is a Fijian, living in Australia.
Home develops as space becomes place. Place is endowed with story.
Home is a journey; it is dynamic, and it is eschatological – there is direction to the journey.
Appreciative discussions emerged about the paradoxes and implications. How at home do overseas students feel in Australia? How do migrants feel about home? These questions impinge on our understanding of identity.
Being a doctorate in theology, Sef searched the Christian theological traditions for connections with her philosophical and sociological explorations and decided on the controversial Christian doctrine of the Trinity – the diversity of the Godhead, hospitable within its diversity.
She referred to the ancient Greek word that encapsulates the concept of home – the one word in Greek embracing a number of modern concepts – the root word from which we have derived the words ecumenical, ecological and economical.
Home might have all these dimensions. This insight has created a platform for Sef’s work with partner churches in the Pacific – the working together, the pressing issues of global warming, and political governance – national structuring that promote ‘home’.
Cherie, Gail and Elisabeth, the Happy Hearts Hub, took up these thoughts.
Home is where we can be ourselves – but in public we tend to bring self-imposed limitations. (I think this relates to the category of protectionism, which I introduced in my book in the context of border protection. GB)
Elisabeth focused our attention on the significance of story. Everything is a story. Different people have different stories, and we have to find a way to embrace the conflict between our different stories. Stripping people of their stories or retreating to comfort to avoid engaging with conflicting stories are damaging responses.
We acknowledged that to enter a new space requires a certain amount of confidence.We considered vulnerability as a key factor. We considered the need to deconstruct presenting stories (eg religious ones) to understand their meanings today. (Hence creating climates to foster critical thinking is a strategy for pre-empting radicalization. GB).
We considered the growth of story in isolation and the search for a common story. (eg religions have established their own stories but internationalization is asking questions about what of these separate stories may be the ‘human story’ that unites us.)
Gail picked up on Sef’s opening – that to offer hospitality, we have to be at home with – hospitable to – ourselves. (As Ghandi said: ‘be the change you want to make in the world’. GB)
Toward the end of our time we began to share some of our own stories of home and homelessness. And in the mingling afterwards, ways of continuing these connections began to be explored.
Seforosa Carroll is Manager, Church Partnerships, Pacific, in Uniting World – an agency that connects the Uniting Church in Australia with partner churches in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
Cherie, Gail and Eizabeth (with Sue, who was an apology) are the Happy Hearts Hub at Heart Choice Enterprise.
Heart Choice Enterprises