Fourth Sunday of Lent.
In the first reading we learn about the Israelites who kept the Passover during their journey into the desert and how the gift of manna from heaven protected them on their way.
The Gospel story of the forgiving father is perhaps one of the most familiar stories of the New Testament. It is the ultimate explanation of God's persistent love and compassion no matter the faults and failings of humanity. God's mercy is continuously available.
Something of the mercy of God, present in the manna that kept the Israelites alive on their journey, is echoed in the compelling story of The Purple House from the Western Desert area of Central Australia. The Purple House in Alice Springs provides dialysis and a sense of belonging and welcome for patients from remote areas. The Wellbeing Project at the Purple House helps patients remain connected to their country, family and culture as they undergo treatment. It is a place of compassion and acceptance for patients and families.
This project not only helps patients with their medical needs, it engages the expertise of patients, their families and communities in ‘sustainable social enterprises’. The Wellbeing Project makes and sells traditional bush balms and soaps. Revenue from the business funds activities for patients including a nutritional program using traditional ingredients. Patients, who are usually elders, train younger people in traditional medicines so that cultural knowledge and skills are kept alive and passed on to future generations.
Michaela is working as a trainee at The Purple House. She cares for the patients as they receive dialysis, and helps them to remain hopeful and connected to country during treatment. Patients in turn pass on traditional knowledge to Michaela who is eager to listen and learn.
This passing on of knowledge and the utilisation of family networks provides a space of cultural safety and Dadirri (listening, stillness) at the Purple House.
What kind of nation might we be if we accepted the gift of Dadirri (listening, stillness) as we encounter one another on the path to wellbeing for all Australians?