Friday, January 8, 2016
an encounter that stays with me....
Australia 2012.I never thought I would travel this far to a place that I always yearned to visit.We were here for my son's wedding to the love of his life,Crystal Kelehear, and my memories are endless.The birds called bell birds that swarm in colonies and do sound like chimes but are creepy in one aspect, I never could spot one.They were all around in the tree right by the road and though noisy, they were invisible.
We were staying at the family farm about four hours from Sydney and miles from a town.The acres were thousands and mountains were everywhere.The crows cry like babies, the kookaburra bird laughs with abandon and instead of squirrels, 3 foot lace monitor lizards come at you from the leaf strewn under story.I loved it.If I never go back, I will feel deprived.
The day before the wedding was a Sunday and Crystal's kind sister found a Catholic Church in the next town but there was no one to drive me.The most likely volunteer would have been a son who had food poisoning and had been vomiting for two days. I hadn't the nerve to drive myself on the wrong side of the road in an unfamiliar country, so I stayed home, not happy.Crystal's father noticed.
I had watched Craig, who is a thin , rangy man with a grey beard in his mid 60s , tending sick cows, digging trenches to keep river water flowing to the house and a million other necessary chores and yet on the morning of the wedding he said this:"I know you missed church, so I thought we would have it up on the hill if you wish."What a generous offer in the midst of all that had to be done.I said yes.
After donning straw hats against the brilliant Australian sun, we hiked up the long driveway to the top of a hill.We sat in the shade of the leafy tree seen above.At our feet was a small monument to a much loved relative who is buried there.This spot looks out over a rolling pasture on to the mountains.We talked of his love for that person and his parents.I told of losing my sister and having dreamed that she and my mother had been reunited in heaven and were happy.It was an emotional time for us and it was church in a most unexpected way.I recall thinking that here we were, two displaced Celts, (both ancestors emigrated from Ireland) looking out over this beautiful plain.I will forget many church services but not this one on the hill.
The day before we left to come home, I wrote Craig a note thanking him for his kindness.Today's scripture was part of that note::
"The Lord is your guard and your shade;
at your right hand he stands.
By day the sun will not smite you
nor the moon in the night."Psalm 121
I hope that he has felt the Lord's shade in the many days since.