Does star weaving inspire hope? What does hope look like, what does it feel like? If hope were an action or a colour, what would it be?
I googled ‘hope’ to find a starting point and this quote stood out for me.
“Optimism is faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without faith and confidence.” Helen Keller, Author June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968.
I get what Ms Keller is saying. For me, star weaving is hope in action. I see it in the stars that are being prepared for next month’s installation. I’ve seen it in the faces of star weavers I’ve met along the way and in the hundreds of star weaving pictures shared on social media. The hope expressed in the One Million Stars project is active and feels indestructible. It acts like a giant hug that continues to grow and touch people everywhere. Our collective hope in an end to violence is championed by our active practice of peace and community solidarity. Our faith in community goodness and kindness has helped us to achieve something incredible – one million woven stars! This installation is a display of hope, on a grand scale. We achieved something that seemed impossible because we believed in it, because we have hope, and we did it together.
I also understand hope as a feeling – of never giving up; of being ‘fierce’. Hope is feeling optimistic and full of faith that things can change, that violence can end and that we can meet it with courage, education, persistence, grace and love. Hope is remaining faithful that despite all the hurt and suffering that you could imagine, there is something to be grateful and happy for.
Last night our family had dinner at Mark’s parents. We spent time reflecting on another big week in the life of my extended Paulson and Yettica-Paulson tribe. Our eldest sun-son, Malik, turned 18 on the weekend, my father in law was admitted to hospital twice in the last 7 days, brothers and sisters are in the process of moving house and yesterday marked the 10 year anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. A big week feels like an understatement. Lots of tears and emotions for lots of reasons. Lots of heart ache, lots of beautiful memories and lots of cherished time and conversations that will stay with us forever.
Our children sat listening to their grandparents, Reverend Graham and Iris Paulson, retell stories of childhood trauma during the time of the Stolen Generation. Stories of children running to hide from authorities who came to take the ‘half-caste’ Aboriginal children away, of their parents being forced to relocate and being forever separated from siblings and partners simply because they are Aboriginal. I felt angry and devastated again for my in-laws, for being robbed of family, language and culture. I can only imagine the fear and suffering they felt. It is still raw for them. You can’t un-feel that stuff. Yet still, they remain full of hope and peace. I don’t know anyone who has as much hope as they do. They still pour out advice and support for their grandchildren, for young people in church leadership, for their communities and anyone who wants to learn from them. Their faithfulness and generosity has no end. Their bodies might be failing, but their love compensates abundantly for that.
‘I was forced to work at 16. You can make positive choices for your life. You can be anything you want to be.’
‘Don’t give up. Let us know how we support you to achieve your dreams and be who you want to be.’
This is hope - love, grace & forgiveness wrapped up in the gift that is hope. Hope, which is free. Hope, which is a choice. Nobody gave Nan and Pop hope. They created it. Their hope is so steadfast and radical that they encourage other Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other Australians to have hope as well. Last night, I was reminded that hope is alive and well, even in the bodies of these frail elders who we lovingly call ‘nan’ and ‘pop.’ Hope lives in spirit and in action, inside and outside of their homes and families.
I feel like I know hope and I’m sure you know it intimately too. I see it in our parents faces, in the lives they lead, in the choices they make for their children and grandchildren. I see it in my children, my nephews and nieces, in my husband and our communities. I see it in my friends and I see it in my brothas and sistas who have woven stars with me over the years.
When I stand under our stars next month, I will feel hope. I will see hope in the stars and it will inspire me to continue to work for peace and an end to violence in our communities. I will be reminded of all the hope, love and strength of star weavers everywhere. I will know hope again, as a rainbow of colours and as an action of peace and solidarity.
Thank you star weavers and supporters, for being hope in our world. It is an honour.
In hope and solidarity,