Sunday, November 13, 2011

sacred urban spaces: Lartelare Park, Port Adelaide

Sacred spaces lie all around us. Part of today included finding and exploring a local urban sacred space, Lartelare Park in Port Adelaide. Named after an indigenous woman, Lartelare, who was born on the banks of the Port River, in a time of change, in which her local habitat, a mangrove swamp rich in sea food and bird life, would be threatened by white arrival.

Lartelare worked for a local white fella, then was evicted from the land of her birth in 1889, in order for the construction of a sugar refinery. For many years, her great-great granddaughter, Aunty Veronica Brodie, worked to share Lartelare’s story with the Port Adelaide community and seek the return of the land to its rightful indigenous owners.

Which has happened, in the shape of Lartelare Park. We walked among stone paths and past native coastal vegetation to find five large honey coloured rocks. Cleft in two, each was a cultural site. Each portrayed a different element of indigenous life, including housing, middens (rubbish dumps), tools and significant animals like the Black Swan. It was an artful mix of shrub and heritage, a reminder of history that lives and the rich deposit that was indigenous (Kaurna) culture and heritage.

It seems a small gesture in a sea of urban regeneration. Amid newly modern apartments blocks, costing over $2billion of developer money, all the original owner gets is a small garden.

Yet theologian Philip Sheldrake, in his book, Spaces for the Sacred: Place, Memory, and Identity defines place as a “space that has the capacity to be remembered and to evoke what is most precious.” (For more, go here). Yet this quote suggests that in fact size is irrelevant. Things can be small and yet still speak of a larger life.

Sheldrake goes on to argue that for Christianity, the Incarnation of Jesus impels us to consider the layers of identity, relationships and memory. Which meant that today became an invitation to enter Incarnation. To enact intercession. To remember. To honour the fight for a just naming of the past. To reflect on what I value. To recall how important history needs to be today. To ponder the possibility of taking a Reading Cultures fieldtrip in 2012.

Posted by steve at 07:49 PM

1 Comment

  1. Things can be small and yet still speak of a larger life

    Love this line. Such a profound truth.

    Comment by Jason — November 29, 2011 @ 2:28 am

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