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Mark’s Reflections on Sacred Ground – 4 short articles

Last month, Mark focussed his Friday reflections on the theme of Loyalty. This month, from 1st March to Easter Friday, tomorrow, Mark has shares some insights on Sacred Ground.

Here’s a wrap up of his weekly reflections on Sacred Ground for you to read and reflect on.

Grab that pen and notebook and write down your thoughts on what Sacred Ground means to you and where your sacred spaces are and whose country that sacred space exists.

Tomorrow, Mark will wrap up Sacred Ground with a Friday Reflection on Easter Friday, so make sure to tune back in to read his latest article.

Mark Yettica-Paulson's reflections on Sacred Ground. 4 part mini series

Today I’m offering a reframe for the term, “Sacred Ground”.

While I was working on a leadership program this week I was reminded of the significance of ‘belonging’ and its impact on our being and doing in the world.

When we have a strong sense of belonging, we feel ‘grounded’ in who we are, why we are, and what we do. We can ‘belong’ to all kinds of groups and identities that will feed us with ways of being and doing, sometimes that promotes the best of us, and sometimes it draws on the worst of us.

Here is where the reframing comes in.

If we take “Sacred” as being something that is “set apart and regarded with reverence” (like things of religious or cultural significance, or something very special), and “Ground” as being “firm foundation to stand on” (like being grounded, or feeling solid and safe), then ‘Sacred Ground’ is the “firm foundation for things we regard with reverence”.

Another way of putting it would be turning the question from ‘Where is my Sacred Ground?’ into ‘What is my Sacred Grounding?’. That is, what’s my ‘firm foundation for the things I hold with reverence?’

We can take this into a personal dimension like last week’s reflection on what might be the sacred grounding for my loyalty stories. What is at the heart of my personal narrative that tells me I have a firm foundation to be who I am and do what I do?

We can take this into a collective dimension to work out together what might be our sacred grounding for who we are and what we do? Do we have enough shared sense of belonging? Are we connected enough to know our sacred grounding? How can we find it and work on it together?

I encourage you to find your ‘Sacred Grounding’. Find the things that help you stay firm in who you are, why you are, and what you do. Embrace the belonging that comes from knowing, being and doing according to your ‘Sacred Grounding’. In these modern times of shallow memory and busy lifestyles, ‘Sacred Grounding’ can offer a way to activate a part of us that is deeper, more at peace, and more connected to the timeless.

Be encouraged and encourage others.

Mark Yettica-Paulson's reflections on Sacred Ground. 4 part mini series

I want to begin by sharing an ancient wisdom that I’ve adopted and adapted to meet our modern lifestyles. The Gurindji saying (that I’m sure I’ve shared before), “Every Hill Has A Story”, relates to how every hill on their country has a story and connection. I’ve adopted this wisdom and added a ‘part 2′ that “Everywhere is Somewhere.” This means, we are never “in the middle of nowhere” in a place void of story, meaning and connection for someone.

This is not just a First Peoples concept. Like last week’s concept of ‘Sacred Grounding’, “Every Hill Has A Story & Everywhere is Somewhere” can be accessible for all of us. I’ll attempt to illustrate this by using the example of roadside shrines to the loved ones lost.

These roadside shrines are along ordinary roads in ordinary landscapes, yet stories and connections have been made these sites special. It could be argued that they have been made ‘sacred’. For the people who have lost loved ones at that site, the place now holds strong stories of connection for them. For others, it is recognised that while it may not be our story, we acknowledge that it is a significant place with a story for someone.

Imagine, if you will, the effort needed to hold that sense of connection and belonging to that place over generations. It would need custodianship, protection, and access to keep the story of significance alive. These roadside shrines are like a ‘cultural window’ into our society and across to First Nations ways of life where connections to special sites are being passed on for generations and interlinked with stories of belonging and identity.

Roadside shrines are an example of how “Everywhere is Somewhere”. At any point we could be standing on or near a site of significance, story and connection for someone. In the same way we expect roadside shrines to be respected with regard, we should adopt a way of seeing all of this place we call home as having story, meaning, and connection.

It means we no longer say we’re in the middle of nowhere. And it means that we treat lands and waters with respect and regard. It means that even lowly creeks in towns and cities can be seen as important water ways of story. It means that ordinary hills that have been set aside from development can be treated with high regard as a special place to protect and care for in our communities.

I hope you can adopt and adapt this way of seeing lands and waters into your practice and loyalty story of belonging here. It not only promotes Respect and Regard for the environmental value of a place, but also helps us to Respect and Regard the stories that might also be there.

Every Hill Has A Story. Every shrine has a story. We are always Somewhere Special.

Be encouraged and encourage others.

Mark Yettica-Paulson's reflections on Sacred Ground. 4 part mini series

Last week I was honoured to be on Latji Latji country in Mildura for ChangeFest 24. It is a gathering of people who believe that change for the better is possible and are dedicated to making their contributions to see it happen.

That week demonstrated that we can create sacred spaces and ground them in our shared experience.

I saw how a humble boat was transformed into a vessel holding sacred knowledge of elders who were connecting their spiritual and intellectual energy for the ChangeFest gathering.

They used the space to enrich their relationship and generate sacredness between them and to support their role of cultural governance.

This week I also saw how ordinary grass areas were transformed to hold sacred exchanges of smoke and spirit between elders and participants of ChangeFest. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies of ChangeFest were examples of how we can create the sacred through our intention and awareness to hold ritual with purpose. We were welcomed onto country and given blessing to leave.

I was privileged to see how a park was transformed into a sacred cultural arena for sharing of culture, identity, pride and belonging. It was the Mildura Corroboree that showcase young dance groups and artists. Another example of making ordinary sacred.

My point is, we can make our spaces sacred through our collective intention and purpose to hold ritual with meaning. We can transform places to conduct sacred business and exchange with each other with deep meaning.

Sometimes it is referred to as “magic”, “the vibe”, “the spirit” or just something that was special. These moments of sacred ceremony help us to sustain the deep feelings, hopes, and dreams to change the world for the better. This feeling that we were part of something special is an insight into the sacredness of meeting with deeper meaning and connection of us spiritually.

We felt it at ChangeFest 24 in Mildura. We feel it at times in our work, in our families, with our friends, and in our ceremonies that sustain and nourish us.

I encourage you to honour the memory of those times and spaces where something special has happened.

Cherish the feeling that we are part of something bigger that calls us in this generation and at this time.

We are part of a bigger sacred stories on this land. Honour the memory of our times in sacred spaces.

Be encouraged and encourage others

Mark Yettica-Paulson's reflections on Sacred Ground. 4 part mini series

Tomorrow on Easter Friday, Mark will post his final article on this series of Sacred Ground so make sure you visit here again for the full article.

April will be another month of Mark’s Friday reflections, which he also shares on his Linkedin Account, this time writing on what it means to have a Sacred Site.

Be encouraged and encourage others.