Listening to the Land and listening to indigenous elders has, since the founding of the Mornington Peninsula Interfaith Network in 2008, been an integral part of the network's vision. Four times a year, in conjunctions with the four seasons, we walk sacred places on the Mornington Peninsula. We are nurtured by the land and we receive life from the land. There are many cultures and many religions but there is only one earth that we belong to.
The walks are coordinated by the Interfaith Network and jointly led by Gunditjamara elder, Uncle Lionel Lauch and Reverend Hans Christiansen. Our walks always include an introductory talk, welcome to country, a walking meditation, explanation of features of the land and bush tucker, a smoking ceremony and meditation. A the end of the walk we share a vegetarian lunch.
Our last gathering was Saturday the 18th of August, 2012 at Balcombe Estuary Reserve in Mt Martha. Despite wet and wild weather 65 people from all around the Peninsula and beyond gathered to walk and listen to the land and to the wisdom of Uncle Lionel. We gathered in a circle as is our custom, acknowledged the traditional owners of the land and moved into a quiet, listening space. We then went to the edge of the river where we ceremoniously dispersed into the river earth and sand from the Peninsula which had been blessed (at our Interfaith Festival in June) by 8 Indigenous Elders from 5 different continents. Representatives from Indigenous cultures and many of the major world religions dispersed the sand and earth into the river as we prayed together for the healing of the earth and for peace in the world. To conclude the ceremony all participants were invited to help disperse the sand from the Sand Mandala which had been created by a Tibetan Buddhist Monk (Venerable Thubten Khedup) at the Interfaith Festival.
After the ceremony we walked silently 3.2 km along Balcombe Creek to the Briars. At the Briars we gathered for a traditional smoking ceremony. Uncle Lionel explained the significance of the smoking and the plants used. Following the smoking ceremony Uncle Lionel guided the participants through the beautiful wetlands of the Briars, explaining various plants and bush tucker. As we listened to the wisdom of Indigenous culture two beautiful wedge tail eagles, a symbol of Bunjil the Creator for the Bunnwurrong people, circled above us. Before we finished the walk we gathered on top of the hill of the Briars where we paused for a silent meditation, gazing out over the wetlands. After the official closing most people stayed and shared a vegetarian lunch.
There is a real sense of community developing around these walks. We often have up to 80 participants and the community of people attending is steadily growing, continually expressing their enthusiasm about what we are achieving on the Mornington Peninsula.
We are hoping to have our next Listening to the Land Spring walk in November at Fingal and Gunnamatta Beach and surrounding forest. For further details see www.mpin.org or ring Reverend Hans Christiansen on 0406 243 783 or 5970 1154.
Rev. Hans Christiansen
Mornington Peninsula Interfaith Network