Married To The Land In Queensland Bush

I visit Heather’s uniquely inspired Bush land projects at Buderim, Queensland. : I preach at crowded 7.0 am, 8.30 am and 10.15am services at St. Marks Anglican church about our need to make way for what is emerging under God as John the Foreunner made way for Jesus. We join a 6.0 am prayer meeting led by Pentecostals from the Solomon islands, visit the editor of the local paper (Heather is being slagged off for her projects, granted-aided by the council and state, to replace ‘predator’ trees planted by settlers with indigenous trees) and we join the men with learning difficulties for whom the Green House, where I sleep, is home on Tuedays.

Heather is like an Old Testament prophet. She shaves her hair and walks barefoot – that’s just for a start. Heather and her two siblings divided their inherited land into three. Heather formed the Beaulah Community Trust and gave her third to it. The Trust declares:

‘We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and their care for it for thousands of years. We remember that they were forced unjustly from their land. We bear witness to the pain of that dispossession. Open to the Spirit, who was always present here, we resolve to appreciate the beauty of the land, protect its resources, remember its history and honour its traditional custodians. Beaulah Community Ltd (The Creator is married to the land)’ A legal covenant guarantees it will be a nature refuge in perpetuity.

Heather and her sister Sue researched their forebears’ history as land-grabbers. Heather has initiated Sorry days and rituals, and Aboriginals have returned for the first time for over a century. A place named Murder at Creek was the site of a massacre. Heather has purchased a plot there in order to do healing the land work. A Christian couple who lead a house church from their beautiful home went bankrupt, so Heather bought their property and lets them have it until they die. We made music there. She has also bought a house where Tamil asylum seekers can stay. She now hopes to build herself a hermitage.This week culminates in Australia Day which Indigenous people know as Invasion Day. Heather and the Anglican Church seek to transform this week into celebrations of cultural diversity which I shall share in.

Jeremy, the new vicar, takes me to coffee. When he was dean of Northern Territory cathedral, among Straits Islanders, white settlers, Muslims, Jews and Iranian asylum seekers all shared bread and wine as one family. Heather leads me through the Bush trail. I try, with difficulty, to embrace one meeting after another with the listening ear and humble heart of a pilgrim.

At Lindisfarne the Vicar describes our arrival in the cold church at 7.0 am as counter-intuitive. Here, Heather does brain exercises at 4.0 am, the Vicar is in the gym at 5.0 am, prayer meetings start at 6.0 am and the kids are on the playing fields at 7.0 am. Sleep? I have brought eye blinds and earplugs and will need a month's holiday upon my return!.

An institution is when more than two people do something regularly. Heather does not do institutions, yet able people who do are drawn to this place. I walk into this conundrum. Fortunately I am not God, who alone can bring into being something that is not only prophetic, but sustainable, like a eucalyptus tree that keeps on growing.

Posted at 15:06pm on 20th January 2014
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