Van Deimen's Land
trying to constellate in the age of separation
For some reason, this Advent season has put me into the mood to just play great songs.
Amidst a collection of other wonderful tunes, I’ve been drawn to singing Van Deimen’s Land, written by David (The Edge) Evans of U2. (There’s also an old English and an old Irish folk song by the same title, that I’d like to learn.)
Van Diemen’s Land was the first European name for what is now know as Tasmania. But Tasmania is not the original name… as it was named after a Dutch seafarer named Abel Tasman.
The original name for this land in the reconstructed Palawa kani language is “lutruwita”.
As an example of how we can outsource our own neurosis, this beautiful land became a place where poor folk in Ireland and the British Isles, were sent to prison, for poaching, for suspected sedition etc… Even as those indigenous to lutruwita were displaced, hunted, assimilated.
We are designed to live in robust constellations that express devotion, so we don’t have to carry every damn thing alone. Our suffering has to be held by something/someone beyond, and bigger than us, somehow.
Today, in the material age of the machine, we send our pain out in shipping containers, and create mutated constellations. And, in the design of power over the divided that still holds sway (however exhausted), it would seem that this kind of mutation really is still what makes “the world” go ‘round.
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For those of us walking through Advent…
for those of us embracing the depth and darkness of Solstice (or conversely, the lightness down in lutruwita!)…
… as we all lean into hope, may we consider the incarnation in a similar light to the animists, who no doubt influenced Jesus.
Think of this shamanic method: who constellates a healing trajectory with the billions of microbial beings in spit and soil, instead of isolating himself? Drawing from, and pouring out into, the whole?
We have these laments to sing.
We have these bells and bowls to ring.
We have stories to tell.
We have stories to hear.
We have constellations to consider.
A collective stepping into this wild, wide, earth, not judging each other’s stories, but continually deepening together.
I know first hand it doesn’t feel very good when someone scoffs at me for seeing somehow, that God is a kaleidoscopic shapeshifter… a bird hovering over the deep… breathing out her breath of life. The one with antlers, breathing winter steam through his nostrils, as I walk to the privy.
Now to integrate… and speak in more riddles…
I give thanks for cathedrals, and grieve when they burn.
I give thanks for the sky.
I give thanks for ships and wind and pollen.
I give thanks for land lovers. And tree protectors.
I give thanks for every single one of us, caught up in the vast tidal wave of this passing age of dominion, with still so much beauty shining out of it, I can scarcely hold my heart in my chest.
For now… the lament… that somehow gives s a tinge of something deeper … and more beautiful… an invitation into a deep throated yes, as we incarnate the holy in our precious earthling selves… in the world.
Recorded this earlier today… a simple offering:
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Great song and lovely version! So weird - I hadn’t listened to “Van Dieman’s Land” in years and was drawn to listen to it and even look up the lyrics just the other day