Last night we came together in a ‘healing circle’ around a few fires that had been lit at Addi Road to help keep the wind and rain at bay.
As gusts of light rain inevitably came down we centred ourselves even closer together and registered what a few people spoke of as “the power of the fire” to release our thoughts and feelings in a free-flowing and quiet conversation.
Our event was called Shifa-Kanyini… in Arabic the word ‘shifa’ means healing; in Pitjantjatjara the word ‘kanyini’ evokes a concept of responsibility and unconditional love for all creation.
It is hard, of course, to keep these higher intentions – our good spirit and well-being – in mind when the world is so troubled and the news is flooded with war, intolerance and mass murder on a scale we have not witnessed ‘live on air’ before.
Anger and pessimism are the very natural responses that begin to dominate us. Responses that ultimately destroy all hope and make things worse, annihilating any possibility of change and spreading the futility and aggression even further afield.
Our night was a very simple gesture amid that turmoil: a chance to reflect, rethink, recalibrate – and share feelings. Many cultural groups in Australia have direct experiences of war and mass violence. Events in Gaza now, and wars still going on elsewhere all over the planet, go deep into each unique community history and cultural psyche, triggering all kinds of emotions.
Led by Mohamad Tabbaa, a trauma management specialist and practitioner of ‘reflection therapy’, members of Addi Road’s multicultural community sat around the fires we had lit, voicing their concerns and feelings… Palestinian, Jewish, Iranian, South Asian, Tamil, Vietnamese, Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Irish, Italian, Lebanese, Greek, Singaporean, Malaysian, Cypriot, Canadian, Dutch, Sri Lankan, Indonesian, Australian, Indigenous. 
Mohamad Tabbaa counseled against being caught up in the spirals of mutual anger and becoming like those we most strongly oppose.
He spoke of the need to come together like this, to talk, to share, and perhaps discover a greater understanding… and in the process release the raging and debilitating toxicity that can infect our perspectives. A process that strengthens us in difficult times and shows how we might act, individually and together, in the healthier, wiser and more just ways that are still open to us.
Barely fifty metres away our benefit for Gaza in partnership with Penny Appeal Australia was underway at the same time at our beloved Koshari Korner cafe. The money raised going towards essential supplies as the humanitarian crises worsens. Participants at each event at Addi Road wedded together in a generosity of purpose.

It was very special evening in every way. The wood crackling and glowing as it burnt; the hiss of rain in the fluttering and ebbing flames that answered the wind: each voice present merging in a search for empathy and understanding that built the warmest and brightest of fires against the dark around us. We thank everyone for being part of the light tonight.