For some time now I have been a member of a Christian Community here in Sydney. The community is called Josephite Community Aid (JCA). JCA provides community supported volunteer experiences for people aged 18-35. We help our volunteers experience journeying with others who find themselves ‘on the edges’ of what Australian culture calls normal living. Currently our volunteers are with refugees (arriving mostly from Africa) and also with people living in boarding houses in the Inner West of Sydney (who usually have some kind of mental illness). Check out our website at http://www.jcaid.com.
Four times a year we take three or four bus loads of people who are new arrivals into Australia away to the beach. The vast majority of these people have never experienced a beach in their lifetime. It is a wonderful experience to introduce someone to an Aussie beach and an Aussie wave. The poem below was written after such as experience. Enjoy!
Harmony Amid the Waves
Waves roll in and wash away the uncertainty between us.
Black, brown and white come together on the beach.
Boys with eager eyes snaffle the boards,
Hungry to at once feel the push of current
And the comfort of innocence.
Young girls scream.
Their fearful delight echoes back from the foam:
Three steps forward
Then a hasty retreat back to our arms
As a heavy set rolls in.
Hand in hand we face the unknown
What will the next wave do?
Locals somehow know that you are here at the edge of your new home for the first time.
They smile as they see you discover what they have always known: the wonder of this place.
Perhaps their hearts open to you
Just as ours have.
We mingle between the flags
Aussies becoming known to each other.
The refugee experience may be fresh in your lives,
Or settled into the living history of our family trees:
Our great great grandparents
Your mum and dad
Together we face what is to come
Embracing the newness
Holding each other
As we support you in your new experience.
For that is what we do – support you in your new experience:
Of the waves, of a new culture, a strange English.
Supported amid all the unknown subtleties that can buffet and strain
Amid the trauma of a present living past.
We support you as this Great Southern Land takes you
Makes you new and yet somehow still the same.
We know something of its flavour and power
Let us help you take it all in,
For you have helped us to see what we take for granted
And to remember the blessings we forgot.