I walked through the forest, absorbing the various sounds of the wildlife. The loud cackle of birds in the canopy. The gentle sound of the leaves swishing side-to-side to the whims of the wind. The soft gurgle of rushing water, flowing from the peaks of the mountains to the distant sea. Though it was obscured by the trees, I could still see the sun, high in the sky, its heat somewhat stifled by the plentiful shade surrounding me. In the corner of my eye, I spotted a bright twinkle. Curious, I began running towards it, to see what it was. The dry sticks and leaves on the floor crunched under my feet as I ran, a reminder of the early Autumn. Eventually, I reached the source of the light. A tall waterfall led into a modestly sized lake roughly a metre deep. The sun shone on the waterfall, creating myriads of diverse colours, like a painter with the rushing water as their canvas. I slowly waded into the water, towards the waterfall, each step submerging myself deeper into the water. By the time I reached it, I was submerged up to my waist, though the water didn’t bother me. I slowly reached a hand to the waterfall. The stone behind it was smooth and unyielding, contrasting starkly with the rough tumble of water. Though both seemed opposites, in a strange way they felt intensely connected, the stone given its shape by the water, the water its path by the stone. The sun now shone upon my back, warming me, a perfect counterbalance to the coolness of the water. I smelled the strong scent of eucalyptus leaves from the trees on the shoreline and heard the birds chirping in the sky. All of them were connected, an intricate web of life supporting life. There was something here, in this secluded place. A lesson to be learned. I closed my eyes…
Something changed. I could feel the nature around me, the plants and the animals. My sense slowly expanded and with each passing second my understanding of the world around me grew. Suddenly, an overwhelming sense hit me, one that felt both familiar and entirely alien. Humanity. I could feel its spirit, the turmoil, the order, the happiness, and the pain. Pain. I could feel it, the scars of past atrocities, staining the very soul of it. Yet many still went about their business, turning a blind eye to the injustice around them. I felt people, lives defined by hardship and oppression, for whom the wrongs of the past had never stopped. I knew in my bones that this had to stop. The truth had to be told. The wounds had to be cared for. The mistakes must be acknowledged and accounted for to stop the pain. The land around me should be cared for and preserved, lest its natural beauty and generous gifts be lost forever to greed. My eyes opened and the sense receded. I knew what I had to do.
A secluded place – I have tried to incorporate many themes related to reconciliation into this story, whilst also keeping it a bit anonymous, though I feel all of its morals are very important to the theme of reconciliation. A lot of the first part of this piece is about how trust and cooperation benefit everybody, as shown by how the various parts of nature support each other. The second paragraph briefly reflects some of the themes in the first part, though is largely about closing the gap and truth-telling. The disadvantaged people in that paragraph are meant to represent First Nations peoples yet can be applied to many other disadvantaged minorities. Though they aren’t greatly personified, the sun, the waterfall and the stone all have a bit of a personality and do drive the story, with the sun shining on the waterfall to show the main character to it and the waterfall (and the stone) helping to teach the main character their lesson. I also tried to incorporate the message of caring for the Country and giving back in the second paragraph though less strongly than the other themes
Reconciliation means acknowledging and healing the wounds of the past and closing the gap so that First Nations people are on an equal playing ground with the rest of the country and rejecting all forms of discrimination and oppression. It also means respecting, preserving, and sharing First Nations culture and recognising their status as the first custodians of this land by respecting Country and acknowledging it.
Written By: Thomas Lovatt