Listening to Jenny speaking about the home ancestor shrine was conflicting for me. As an adoptee and first generation migrant I felt a great sense of dislocation by being reminded of my broken links to a past family. Australia, it feels, is a country built on dislocation through voluntary and forced migration, and the stolen generation’s separation from family and culture. Along with the strangeness, grief and loss, for some people there is potential to make a new life, an attempt to be free of past difficulties, and a chance to form connections that have been chosen.
The shrine also brought back memories of fond familiarity of travelling through Asia and living on Christmas Island. On the edge of the rainforest, painted pink and a little bit run down, there was a temple to Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy and compassionate action. Women would visit to bring offerings of perfume, lipstick and sweet food, and pray to her to help with pregnancy, children and families.
There is something comforting about making a place and time, as Jenny does, to reflect on the past and the future; to find a moment of connection, serenity and peace in our lives.