The International Workers Memorial Day is held around the world each year on April 28th to remember those who have died in the work place, and to highlight the preventable nature of most workplace incidents and ill health and to promote campaigns and union organisations in the fight for improvements in workplace safety.
Service here (2015 service at Pilgrim UC) – note this is 5.5MB 2015 IWMD
This was written in response to the tragic loss of lives at Dreamworld (October 2016) in Queensland. It has been adapted for the IWMD service by leaving out the specific names mentioned in the first few lines.
Lives cut short
countless and nameless, myriad lives are cut short
before their abundance of life can be lived to the full.
There’s no sense to be made of a life cut so short,
no eternal purpose or universal will to the ending;
none, at least, I can fathom without recoil
from projected platitudes or power wielded cruel.
There’s no sense to be made, yet sense we make
for sense-making creatures we humans beings are:
sense-seeking missiles through the cold arc of life
huddled on a watery planet, seeking the joy of life
or simple survival while life still pulses or wanes.
The sense is in life itself, lived while yet we have breath:
clustered or lonely, embittered or enraptured,
watching the far flung fires of the cosmos
that light the night sky, pin-prick pointers to a scale
beyond most capacity to grasp, so far
beyond a petty god with a petty agenda of sins.
The sense is in life lived abundantly, and shared,
more 10:10 than 3:16 in John’s cosmic view,
lived as companions in life, loving and sharing
more than selfish scrabbling for all we can own.
Good God, bring us to our senses, to life as a gift.
A gift beyond price, is life to each being,
and all that we can do we must to protect
the fragile life each one carries and shares,
not in self-ish defence but in abundance shared.
If each felt as gift, and was treasured among all,
what new life might be possible, life in abundance!
Abundant life: the eternity of life lived in each moment,
not lived for some cloudy future beyond pearly gates,
but here and now, each moment a treasure, a gift,
a chance to enrich through encouragement and service.
Mourning those now gone, lives cut short, what can I do
but live eternal life here and now, God help me, anew.
Rohan Pryor, 28 Oct 2016
For Amanda Dawson, the Dreamworld four, and Rachel Millen,
and so many others including my Dad, Robin Pryor.
On this International Workers Day,
we pray for justice
for workers everywhere –
a living wage, workplace safeguards,
affordable housing, child care,
health care rights
un-tied to full-time hours,
re-opening plans based in worker safety
rather than customer maximization,
the right to collective bargaining,
the right to respect.
We pray for domestic workers,
for migrant workers, for child workers,
for prep cooks in the food industry,
for housekeepers in motels,
for garment workers, trafficked workers,
meatpackers, amazon packers,
for those with mandatory overtime,
those with three jobs and no benefits,
those who can no longer work
because of illness or injury related to work.
(Source: Maren C. Tirabassi)
This beautiful reflection by Moira Deslandes on the nine year journey from when her husband Tim was diagnosed with IPF to his death in October 2017. (Tribute by MP Amanda Rishworth in Australian Federal Parliament)
Listening to Sacred Stillness: Beyond Voices We Remember
This article was written for the 9/11 anniversary, but could helpfully be adapted for a reflection in an IWMD service.
Many of us have minds full of voices we remember, particularly on days like today. There are voices we remember with love or admiration, others we remember even though we try to forget them. We may remember voices which speak in soft, gentle whispers or urgent arguments. The voices remind us of people who have shaped our lives. Some have encouraged or inspired us while others have been examples for us to avoid following. There are insistent voices telling us to sit up straight or to play more quietly. We may hear voices asking us questions or sparking our imaginations.
It can be a challenge for us to go beyond those voices we remember. Some of them burrow deep into our subconscious to become part of our background noise.
Today, some of us remember voices of people we love. It may be months and years since the last time we heard their voices, but theirs are the voices we remember. We may have wrapped ourselves around those voices we love and remember. They are infused with sacred power for us.
Each of us is drawn to the voices we remember, motivated to hold onto the lessons they have for us. Some of those voices support us as we continue to grow and learn and explore our lives. The things they told us and the sound of those voices may inspire us to keep going. Others have not been so fortunate. The voices they remember place challenges in their way.
One of the challenges of listening to sacred stillness is going beyond the voices we remember. The world within us and around us is shaped by the voices we remember.
Some voices talk to us and some sing to us. We may remember the words to songs we heard decades ago as if we heard them yesterday. They are able to take us back in time.
Some of us can feel stuck in the voices in our own minds. We struggle to find peace, to hear clearly, to get past what we keep remembering. The voices we remember feel like fences which hold us in certain places.
Part of our practice of listening to sacred stillness is finding the stillness beyond the voices we remember. The more we struggle to work our way past all those remembered voices the more challenging it becomes.
We begin to find the stillness beyond the voices we remember when we learn to relax our struggling. Our practice of listening to sacred stillness is not about subduing or overcoming them. The voices we remember are not an enemy we need to conquer.
The more friendly our understanding of those voices can be, the more we are able to let them go.
We listen to sacred stillness in the realization we do not need to remember everything. We are not being disrespectful or neglecting them. Our practice with sacred stillness gives us opportunities to allow the voices to live in us.
The stillness beyond those voices is the context in which we can reflect and find deeper understanding.
As we loosen our grip on the voices we remember, they begin to loosen their grip on us. We relax our hold on what we remember from the past. The past becomes a more helpful resource for us.
Our practice of listening to sacred stillness helps us learn to listen well, more effectively. We become better able to listen to other people and ourselves, and the voices we remember.
Contemplative practices often show us how to approach our own lives in new ways. We learn live is not about dominating each situation we experience, but finding the deep truths each has for us. Our focus shifts from trying to master our lives to allowing our lives to master us.
We practice listening to sacred stillness and our practice helps us listen to voices we remember in new ways. Listening to sacred stillness teaches us how to experience what the voices tell us into a new perspective.
Reflecting on our relationship to those voices we remember can help us hear them in new ways.
We can hear new levels of meaning in what we remember hearing as a child. Our reflection can put into perspective words which sounded intimidating when we first heard them.
It is our choices which determine which words have power over us and we can make new choices. How we choose to listen to the voices we remember can change how we hear them.
Days like today are filled with voices we remember. In our minds we hear the voices of people we love like it was yesterday. We hear voices trying to understand what is happening which shape our own understanding.
As we practice listening to sacred stillness we unravel the layers of significance in voices we remember. Each morning we wake up to the possibilities of sitting still and listening to hear things in new ways.
We want to remember and work hard not to forget. As we remember, day by day, we begin to gain understanding. Our understanding helps us choose how we will respond.
Every day can be a day we start to see things in new ways. The stillness we find in the world and within ourselves gives us fresh insights and new questions. Any day can help us hear and respond to something in a new way.
Each day is a day to remember something significant for some of us. We hear voices we remember, which shape our lives every day, in fresh new ways.
Whose are the voices we remember today? How will we learn from the voices we remember?