Thanks be to God for the joys of an ordinary Australian summer.
For the sad-eyed kangaroo that grazes beside our woodshed. For magpies carolling in the dawn, raucous sulphur-crested cockatoos making a mess of manicured lawns, wattle birds dangling practically upside down on an agapanthus head to extract a drop of nectar. For the purply blue of said agapanthus, the way it lines driveways like a guard of honour.
For the endless variety of ages and stages, sizes and shapes at the beach: heavily pregnant women in bikinis; tiny kids in microscopic wet suits, squatting, fascinated beside a rockpool; elderly couples – some stringy and leathered, others crepey and pale, walking hand in hand along the beach, all out enjoying the free gifts of clean air and water. For joggers and beach cricket and the fact that hardly anybody seems angry on the beach.
For the busy red chopper that warns of sharks, and the intrepid life-savers that keep us safe.
For time for that second cup of tea in bed in the morning. For seven kilos of detective novels, gleaned from library and op shop, filling my head and imagination with escapist pleasures. For the drifting scent of barbeques, for New Year’s Eve parties next door that weren’t as rowdy as expected and for the almost-deserted beach the next morning.
For the fact that, unlike my family in the UK, I know that we will always have at least some hot days; that the ocean will always be warm enough for swimming.
For the fact that when I am in the surf, I feel like a little kid again – bouncy and frolicking and free. For the churn when I dive through a breaker, and the buoyancy when I bob to the top of a big wave just before it is about to break. For the pewter of wet sand at the start and end of the day, for the fact that even at the height of the holidays, there are beaches a plenty with only a handful of people on them. For the Nautilus shell, delicate as the finest porcelain, that awaited me on one of these beaches.
For a stubby of crisp cider before dinner. For a fridge so full of Christmas left overs that you don’t have to go to the supermarket for a week. For the Christmas circulars that arrive late, so that I actually have time to read them properly.
That for a few weeks I can forget emails and agendas and politics.
For my forbears who built this place 100 years ago, so that its modest walls have sheltered six generations since.
For the ever-changing, never-changing sea that is my favourite metaphor for God: as accessible as the tiniest ripple on the shore and as fathomless, vast, deep an unknowable as Leviathan's playground . That it puts me in mind of Genesis and Job and the Psalms and St Patrick’s breastplate.
Thanks be to God for the ordinary joys of an Australian summer.
This was published in the February 2017 edition of The Melbourne Anglican