A Gift from Pax Christi: Querida Amazonia and Listening to the People of the Land

During Levels 4 and 3 of lockdown a small group of us gathered via Zoom over several weeks to reflect on and discuss a document prepared by Susan Healy for Pax Christi.  In this document Susan highlighted themes that are common to Querida Amazonia and Listening to the People of the Land. As we read and reflected we were struck by the similarities between the histories and lived experience of these two vastly different contexts and cultures (the Amazon and Aotearoa). We were inspired and challenged. And we were surprised at the personal memories and responses that were evoked. The document prepared by Susan is an open invitation to look again at the wisdom and values of indigenous peoples all over the world, including Aotearoa. I felt a deep yearning for what we sometimes seem to lack in our culture – especially an innate respect for the natural world and the importance of relationships, community and the common good.  Our studying Susan’s document together was itself a call to hope. Alongside the reading was honest sharing of personal experience which was moving, encouraging and challenging. Doing things together can take us to a new life-giving place.  Our sincere thanks to Susan for the thought and work you put into preparing the document. Thanks also to Bridget Crisp for recognising the opportunity provided by Querida Amazonia and inviting Susan to do this critique. We are deeply indebted to you both. We six were led on a journey of silence and listening, growth in understanding and deep contemplation. We really enjoyed doing this study together. It was a weekly highlight during the many weeks of lockdown – and a call to prayer and action. Little did we know that the cry “BLACK LIVES MATTER” would echo around the world a few weeks later. Everything is connected.  The document has seven headings, each significant in itself and each building on what preceded it.  Under each heading there were parallel quotations from Querida Amazonia and Listening to the People of the Land set out in columns (easy to read!) It is worthwhile to list these headings :- Treating Indigenous Peoples as Lesser and their lands as Empty- Listening and Dialogue Provide a Way Forward- Let’s be Mindful of Indigenous Identity and Sense of Community- A Consumerist Economy Diminishes Natural and Social Ecologies- Contemplation and Care for Mother Earth- The Gospel and Culture- The Christian Churches and Power Sharing (referenced only Listening to the Peoples of the Land)

Judith McGinley OP

Reprinted with permission from the June/July 2020 issue of Pax Christi Aotearoa New Zealand Newsletter (Issue 4 | Volume 3 |Page 2)