Breathe and Pray

by Hilary Horn

By Talitha Fraser

“No one is going to stop human nature from its impulse to shape the mystery that lies about us. Thank the powers that be that we can dream in this sense, that we can send out feelers in the unknown and fly coloured kites into the azure or the storm.  It is as natural to fabulate as to breathe, and as necessary… the human heart would suffocate if it were restricted to logic.”

p.74-75 Theopoetics, Amos Niven Wilder

I cried when I first read Wilder’s book Theopoetics for the wild joy and familiar of it because I had never read the words but they were somehow already mine. A truth I didn’t know yet.  Theopoetics can be an embodied way of knowing and, I think, another way of being and engaging in the world.

To grieve: I make a representation of the home I’m losing and the home I hope for.  A vessel for my hopes, fears and prayers and I carry it. It is outside of my head, small enough to hold in my hands. Colourful, soft and warm – it is not cold and dark – a grief I am able to bear more easily for that.

To love: A dear friend and I no longer live in the same country. We cannot share in the day to day, nor in the hard times, nor the small graces. Some misunderstanding arose that I could not make right with words in an email and I felt the fragility of time and distance, and a fear I might be losing something very precious.  I chose a grand gesture. Something embarrassing, risky, a little stupid and, maybe, just a little bit brave. I went to her work, a public library, wearing prop alien glasses and used the catalogue to find a copy of “How to Make Friends and Influence People” which I proceeded to pretend to read, upside down, moving from place to place in her line of sight around the library.  She didn’t notice me. Weird stuff happens in public libraries all the time. You have to go bigger than that if you want a librarian to pay attention to you. I had to yield my melodramatic impulses in favour of the expediency of just talking to her so we could sort it out over lunch. And we do. Two humans talking it through. (Pro tip: People will find it hard to stay mad at you if you make yourself ridiculous).

To hope: A Love Makes a Way action to advocate for the release of children from detention centres provides paper doll chains to be signs of our prayers, our fears and our hopes. Leaked documents from the Nauru files reveal the terrible treatment and trauma of women and children held by the Australian government.  We blu tack these to the windows at the office of our local politician but first I take a series of photos – these children are sitting with me at the table, playing soccer, at a school, in a playground, riding a bike. Ordinary kid things they don’t get to do but in my hands they can. Hope manifest.

The common thread here was listening. Listening for the eternal breath that connects me to the home I’ve lost and new one I haven’t found yet, the refugees I may never meet and could not directly help, and friends far away. Grace finds a way when it feels like there is no way, creates moves where I feel ‘stuck’, empowers when I feel hopeless. Breathe and pray, you may yet find a way to dream, and shape, to feel and to fly. Breathe and pray.


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