It’s hard to imagine what the piece of land on which our church building stands, looked like 200, 2,000, or 2 million years ago. But the coastline of what we call Port Philip Bay appears to have remained unchanged for about 6000 years. For the Yallukut Weelam clan the skyline would have looked the same for several Millenia. That’s certainly not true with regard to what we know as St Kilda – change has been constant. And over the last 200 years – rapid. It’s Indigenous past has been largely colonised and eradicated; replaced by the ebb and flow of suburban cultures and introduced species. A city shaped by it’s fortunes and misfortunes. It’s all a matter of perspective. Long term residents of St Kilda who come to the Drop In often lament those changes. “It’s not like it used to be”. Others say, “Thank God it’s changing”.
Today, as part of our theme for this month, we consider the idea of a wounded earth and in very real terms embark upon a gentle and thoughtful project aimed at healing the land. Well, at least the little bit on which we find ourselves. It has to start somewhere!
Last year, I invited renowned landscaper Jenny Donovan to produce a concept plan for our site. Jenny wrote the book Designing to heal. She consulted with a few of us including our ‘partners’ on the site, to get a sense of the psychological and spiritual character of the place. Implementing that design didn’t feel right at that time. I was still pretty new and learning about the place. There was a lot of disturbance around the precinct. The Drop In refurbishment was being completed. Ideas for new signage being considered. Internal changes to rooms and layout. Security issues. Personally, I felt the need to ‘sit with the land’ a bit longer. I needed to ‘feel’ it’s seasons and patterns. Develop and feel some connection to the land on which we gather and live out our ministries and relationships. I know this sounds a bit odd but I wanted to listen to its stories – especially the ones that took place on that wooden bench beneath the cross.
It feels like the right time now. Seasonally, the land is withdrawing into itself. Repairing itself. Converting energies and preparing for the next phase in its annual cycle.
Today we will have a look at what is being proposed for different parts of our precinct and get your thoughts and ideas.