For all of us, this collection of thoughts and reflections is in part a way of naming some of the spirit of Ted Kennedy and his effect on this Redfern community; it will also say more about us individually and as a community. Putting pen to paper implies care about what has been, a desire that future generations have access to contemporary witness, and perhaps more centrally we are compiling these stories and reflections at a time in our community when we are yearning for courage and inspiration. The paradoxical strength of this community was that Ted never attempted to forge one; had he done so it may not have lasted more than a few years. Rather, people from all walks of life were attracted to a way of being in and seeing the world.
Ted, thank you for your guidance and inspiration
your engagement with people
your capacity for unconditional love
a stupendous and awesome freedom.
Some might tend to retreat from its thrall
like a snail’s antenna recoiling to its shell and comfort zone. In your time at Redfern, you left your shell forever
your antennae constantly extended
vulnerable on every level of being human
of and in the world.
You say “hallo love”, “how are you?”,
“is that so?”, “that’s great!”.
Your very real guidance is in not telling, in not being judgmental. You listen.
You listen, and still love people
despite and because of the tales that unfold.
We struggle with an idea, our hearts or our life,
while you listen to and affirm the person,
the deeper the listening and stronger the affirmation
a quiet celebration of our humanity
an experience of revelation of Kingdom.
Your example, your theology
opened my eyes
to the beauty and joy of people being who they are.
You write letters, sermons, articles and chapters
revealing a passion for justice and for poetry
a righteous anger at the misuse of power
on the weak.
You infuse poetry and art
into the very core
of moral, political or theological argument
not as mere illustration
transcending beyond polemics
into a nourishing of the mind
an unleashing of the imagination.
Nor were your sermons rhetorical!
With surgical precision
you wiped the dust of time to unveil historical detail
exposing the self interest of government, of church
and the extraordinary courage and goodness
of mere individuals.
Back then we faced a test of our integrity and strength as a community; we were apprehensive, fearful and concerned. We experienced a mindset that had no place for imagination and freedom. No laughter. More importantly, we experienced for the first time, our collective hearts hardening, our tongues bitter. Yet we choose to stay as a community and face the disparity between ours words and our deeds, drawing inspiration from your life and that of Shir1ey Smith. Today, I have the feeling that we have slid beyond our collective shell and stand exposed, our antennae extended; vulnerable yet fearless.