Friday, 13 June 2014

Heart in the Mists...Bentley Blockade 2014

Heart in the mist...

Reflections on Bentley…  

23rd May 2014


The quiet darkness is filled with a stirring of action…mists roll around a dew drenched paddock, cars move amidst the rising shadows…feet walk through chilled air, breathing in anticipation of the dawn…the smells of fire waft across the sea of tents…small little homes of the masses of people camped out to ‘protect’ the surrounding lands from the potential threats of unconventional gas mining.

It’s been a solid few weeks on the ground….momentum building, tents growing, infrastructure being constantly put up, pulled down, relocated, strengthened…dishes washed, kitchen meals, computers, elders, radios, dogs, children, café, cows and cars.  How to compost the lives of so many linking together with strong arms in the fight?

Moving in the darkness, the feet hit the worn path of Bungabee road; through the gates, past the traffic control with fluoro high viz jackets…breathing the swirling mists one turns to see a bright solar powered love heart light rising in the darkness above the café…cows chew grass and the trees surrounding the paddock stand like sentinels, witnessing the birth of something unspoken…

Heading onto the woodchip path that someone or many hands have laid, walking along the busy highway of early commuters…the light starts to the lift the mists into a veil of beauty…deep beauty of the mountains that surround the valley…ridges of woodland watch like shadows of time…this path has been trodden by so many – so many faces that pass on the path. The eyes meet the many confluences of stories coming together on this path in the dawn to stand strong. Passing Gate B, nestled into the driveway simmos and vigil watchers warm hands by small fires and greet the passers by. Walking through the rock walls to Gate A, one sees the sky lift its veil, mists in the west, painted signs line the rock walls and iron love hearts.

The flags lead on to Gate B…confronted with silhouettes of monopoles, ropes, tarps, star pickets, people and scrambling sprawling life in camp, the heartbeat draws you in…it is dawn rising in the guardianship of the arms of the protectors. Gathered together around the stones of the sacred fire…its heat pulsing out towards the skies; the spirits holding the power of the ancestors within…you are drawn into the circle, warmly embraced into the fold. Soft prayers being spoken, stories told and shared…everybody’s eyes fixed on the flames, directed towards the thoughts of the ever-present fight…announcements are made, people drift off and on, songs are sung…smoke billows to touch the faces of all present for the dawn vigil…

Looking eastward, the colours dancing in the sky above the range give a glow to the congregation…passing through the barbed wire fences – covered with pipes, passing the tripod, flags and lock on fortifications, one bursts into the field of the wider landscape. It is beautiful. The dawn touches your cheeks and you know this is the power of the earth manifest in her raiment, her wonder and power…the thought of knowing that where your feet are now standing, could, in a parallel universe, be an industrial warzone of chemicals, concrete, pipes and poison. Hearing the crickets at play in the golden stalks of grass, seeing more clearly now how the land lays herself over the gentle rises and folds…The strengthening light takes you onto the hill…

The silence and majesty here is palpable. The sacred fire, held by the hands of many sends its plumes above…here, everything else is noisy and distracted. For here, where the mists roll over the plains, where it is clear, you see clearly the wider story…in this place you see the sacred…this mighty fig tree with its twined roots standing firmly on this rise; this is life…the tree of life…this is the power that draws us all together. This is why thousands upon thousands of people have stood up, donated their hearts, time, energy, money, skills and more beyond measure…it all makes sense as you sit in the dawn light…and witness…

As the fire slowly burns on, as the sun gently rises…so too we rise…together in the heart…all of those standing in this place, we are rising…it is the birth of a powerful force…beyond what we know. And it is bigger than what we thought and more powerful than anything before…the truth of life, the corrupt forces that we plainly see for their lies, illusion and deceit are crumbling… and we stand silent, together, firm and strong like the solid ancient fig tree watching over it all…it is an amazing force rising…the eyes gaze upon the sun as it blasts through the mists. Here we are. It is on.

Reflecting on the campaign at Bentley and having been involved in my humble, small way, I am profoundly determined to carry this experience into all possible places of life. As a mother, as a lover, a citizen and artist. Being involved with such a dedicated, passionate group of people makes me, you, us, all stronger. Beyond the personal, being witness to the group of seasoned elders & veteran campaigners who held the fort strong with clear vision and empowerment from the beginning has been life a life changing honour. The clarity, intelligence and problem solving skills of the whole team devoted to holding the campaign and camp Bentley together are to be applauded…it has blown my mind!!

The strategy of bringing together multiple small groups, the political focus, social strength and networking capacity of this has been totally epic. The fight has been peaceful. The fight has been taken to the throats of the corrupt and made them quake in the face of their own pathetic choices; standing in truth for the reality of what it means to have a real future. Beautiful, simple grandmothers who have farmed the land for decades humbly standing up. This has been a magnet for all walks of life; it has galvanised a community into a strengthened, sharply honed arsenal of peaceful, powerful and honest ‘protectors’.

Having responded to the call many weeks ago to ‘represent’ and be out at Bentley ‘on country’ has been a powerful, life-changing journey. From a humble tent, to fully developed camp, Bentley captured my heart and felt for the first time in months like a home. Juggling between life, children and all of the responsibilities, returning to that paddock was the most meaningful and important place to be. Watching this place pull people into its matrix and rip them apart to be put back together again has been both painful and joyous to watch. The multiple challenges of living life and working to hold the many layers together has been fragile to say the least.

Waking on Thursday 20th May was like a dream. To hear the cows bleating and munching all as normal, feeling the dawn rise above the mists…and then the muffled shouts, the heart beating faster, cries of joy, bursting out of the tent looking for anyone…’we’ve won…we’ve won….the minister has made an announcement’… running around the first woman I saw grabbed me and cried into my arms…we cried and felt relief beyond relief…tears, tears…

What we had anticipated was a nightmare. Just hours before I had been in a heated conversation about battle tactics…to burn tyres, to not burn tyres, how to deal with police horses, pepper spray…how do we stay peaceful if the police are being violent?? All these questions, the building confrontation and reality of potentially facing up to 800+ riot and military police just seemed too inviolate to comprehend; we all felt the pending doom. Yet, despite the potential force, so many were resolute; we will face what is to come with full heart, full truth and will not balk at the force of the mighty. So many willing to face violence, arrest and the full brunt of police might. Like highly strung, tightly wound balls of string…all this collectively ‘sighed’ in epic release on this morning…

Arriving to the main camp to hugs, cries and joy was immense. It gave permission to finally feel it all, to see the power of people, to see the fruits of what so many had tirelessly and collectively sown. There was almost disbelief. There were media everywhere, interviews, cameras, radios, microphones. A euphoria of disbelief, relief and success wafted over camp like a golden mist in that early morning light. The rock of Bentley penetrated the pond and rippled out in waves of epic proportion…socially, politically, environmentally, culturally, personally…and from there it hasn’t stopped…the house of cards continues to crumble on a political level…corruption of senior politicians exposed…the snakes are emerging from the grass and being seen for who they truly are (in fact snakes would be far more welcome in the Bentley camp I am sure!!).

What I have witnessed I cannot really do justice to in either words or pictures…the beauty is extraordinary and also the pain…the pain of what it took to get there; the pain of losing what is no longer needed and the joy of discovering what strength there is within. This battle has been won both within and without…being a part of this whole movement has shown that.
It has hit my core and asked me to feel deeper and go deeper. To connect, to stand strong and listen more, ever more. What has been lost and what has been gained is immeasurable…


I see the many eyes that I have crossed paths with and the authentic, real place of being together, hand in hand with so many amazing souls. Knowing that that is the true victory; to see love joining hands, in a paddock, on a hill. To be brave enough to stand in the midst of our own pain, truth and suffering and have the courage to go there, feel it and let it burn in the ashes…all the stories and healing that has been unseen in this land will burn forever in my heart…it is the dawn of a new day…it is only the beginning…




5 comments:

  1. Gosh Imbi….I had no idea what you've been up to. I am totally inspired and lifted by your involvement in this cause. I feel a bit small right now. Wind under your wings.

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  2. Great cause, Imbi! And by the way, I love your art.

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  3. I am reading your full article so its taking long time to read long article.

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