Red Dragonflies - naturally - are my choice of earrings for Fr Peter Maher's funeral today (particularly, so close to the Trans Day of Remembrance, as I remember the solidarity and hope Peter offered myself and other dragonfly people).
Red dragonflies especially can be rare to view, and very special (like brilliant loving priests) when the opportunity comes along. Yet, interestingly, they often appear to people surrounding life episodes of loss and death. For the dragonfly is a symbol of go-between people, winged priests of transformation. Death is after all the polarity of Life, and dragonflies help hold together the paradoxes of death in life and life, and eternal love, in death.
In Japan the dragonfly is considered to be very sacred and symbols of transition. Red dragonflies appear most often there at the end of summer with the message that autumn is coming. A beautiful Haiku poem reads,” That the autumn season has begun is decided by the appearance of the red dragonfly.” The Japanese embrace the dragonfly as a symbol of courage, strength and happiness while some Native Americans speak of the dragonfly as bringing a time of rejuvenation after a long period of trials and hardship. Indeed they have traditionally perceived dragonflies as the “souls of the dead” - so a dragonfly visitation around a loved one’s death could well signify the loved one’s soul taking form in the spirit of dragonfly. It offers the assurance their soul is free.
Fly wonderfully Peter in perfect light - just as you helped we others find their wings and reflect that light
I've been reflecting recently on transitions (including the 20th anniversary of our emigration from England in early March), as we traverse our current 'denominational' one - which feels in some ways both like a second emigration and also a deep coming home (on all kinds of levels), as well as other things. As so often, I'm drawn again to one of my great muses, Ursula Le Guin, who so brilliantly explored and celebrated what I might call a 'trans-ing' spirituality - in which binaries are not fixed but intertwine, and in which change and return may be one. These two passages state it so typically passionately and poetically (the first on the lips of Shevek, the central character in 'The Dispossessed' - and the other the blessing, in 'Always Coming Home', given to those who leave their home in the Valley to share with others elsewhere).
Mind you, when I showed this meme to Penny, she also immediately thought the black and white - with the Going Home theme (Mark Knopfler's great Geordie anthem) - was about Newcastle United! That'll work for me too lol...
A few weeks ago we had an owl in St Luke’s church building. It appeared first for the memorial service of a beloved Aboriginal woman. It stayed to perch above a wedding couple as they took their vows. It shifted next day to the high altar where it seemed to speak directly to me: ‘it is time to move.’ For, spiritually speaking, in many cultures the owl is a symbol of mystery, the feminine, and, above all, change. It appears, as a herald or guardian, at times of various transitions in the lives of individuals and groups. So it has been, I believe, for myself and Penny.
Today I am announcing that Penny and I are relinquishing our appointments in the Anglican parish of St Luke Toowoomba, to take effect from Monday 16 January next year. At the invitation of the Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, we do so to take up new roles in the life of the diocese and to enable the parish of St Luke Toowoomba to find new clergy leadership for the next steps in its journey. We do so with mixed feelings. For we have been richly blessed in Toowoomba and it is very hard to let go of the depth of relationships we have enjoyed with so many people here, both within church circles and in the wider city. Yet we would not be being faithful to our own sense of calling, or to the needs of the parish and wider church, if we did not do so...
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.