Psalm 148 for Western Australia


Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from heaven:
praise him from the heights of Toolbrunup.

Praise him, all his angels:
O praise him all his hosts.

Praise him, sun and moon, rippling staircase across the sea:
praise him, all you stars of light.

Praise him you highest heaven:
and you Cross bright against the dark of night.

Let them praise the name of the Lord:
for he commanded and they were made.

He established them for ever and ever:
he made an ordinance which shall not pass away.

O praise the Lord from the earth:
praise him you golden super-pit and caves of glistening stalactites.

Bush-fire and hail, cyclone and heat:
and willy-willies fulfilling his command.

Mountains of iron and giant ant-hills:
gum-trees, and grass-trees, and grey-green plains of spinifex.

Dingoes and kangaroos:
creeping things and long loping emus.

Elders of tribes, and many nations:
refugees and boat-people, and all who’ve crossed the seas.

Young folk and children:
Seniors and toddlers together,

Let them praise the name of the Lord:
for his name alone is exalted.

His glory is above earth and heaven:
and he has lifted high the stocks of his people.

Therefore he is the praise of all his servants:
of the children of the West, a people that is near him. Praise the Lord.

(Acknowledging Professor David Frost’s version of Psalm 148 in A Prayer Book for Australia)

* Toolbrunup – second highest peak (1,052 metres above sea level) in the Stirling Range in the Great Southern region of WA

* Staircase of the Moon – in Broome and Meelup in February and March the rising full moon shines over the east-facing beach to create a spectacular light effect like a staircase.

* super-pit – open-cut gold mine near Kalgoorlie 3.5 x 1.5 km and 600 metres deep.

* willy-willy – local word for dust-storm or mini-tornado.

* spinifex – properly called Triodia, these arid grasses are endemic to outback Australia.

Willly-willy

 

 

Psalm 89 for Western Australia


Lord, I will sing for ever of your loving kindnesses:
my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness throughout all generations.

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord:
and let your faithfulness be sung by your holy ones in cathedrals and karri forests.

O Lord God of hosts, who is like you?:
your power and your faithfulness are all about you.

You rule the raging of the sea:
when its waves surge at Yallingup, you still them,
when its tides rush in at Hedland, you level them.

You created the Kimberley and the Great Southern:
Kununurra and Esperance shall sing of your name.

The endless array of the stars is yours:
and so are the far-dreamt deserts of the interior.

You founded the fertile valleys of the West:
and filled the rivers with gilgies and fish.

Happy the people who know the cry of the black cockatoo:
who walk, O Lord, in the paths of your creating.

They rejoice all the day because of your name:
because of your righteousness they are exalted.

Our land belongs to our God:
our country to the One who makes us.

(Acknowledging Professor David Frost’s version of Psalm 89 in A Prayer Book for Australia)

* karri – eucalyptus diverticolor trees which grow extremely straight up to 80 metres.

* gilgie – a freshwater crustacean found in West Australian waters.

Karri forest (courtesy Wikipedia)

Christmas in a broken land


Those were the days when the heat’s fitful haze
turned the blue distant ranges to grey oceans,
and the sun’s morning light in spindling beacons bright
shone yolk yellow and all was stilled motion.

The bricks held their heat, shamed by defeat
they could no longer supply cool shelter;
Children ran slow and heard a bleak crow
caw listlessly over carrion with no one to tell it to

celebrate the arrival of God’s survival –
a new child in the bush down under:
not a plaster saint with blue robes faint,
but a battler, a beauty, God’s wonder.

Not a victory march through a triumphal arch,
but a nail-biter, to get there God’s struggling.
In today’s Australia, God appears a failure,
but God hangs on, power in long-suffering.

Maybe that’s why in the hot and the dry
we remember as kids God’s birthing;
nothing fancy or fussy, just a cowshed and mussy –
God’s total commitment to earthing.

–          Ted Witham, Advent 2013

Creation 1.0


God created the heavens and the earth

i. Pieces of God

Pieces of God strewn sparking
across the white-gold star-field of galaxies,
word-spells: breathings and vowels, shutters and consonants,
meaning and yearning –
God uttering creation into being.
 

God created the seas and all that swims and swarms in them

ii. Prayer of the Manta Ray

She stepped deeper. Her ankle was now covered. She shivered even though the sea water was warm and the sun shone. A wisp of warm breeze caressed her. “Prescience of joy,” whispered an angel, as the black disc, the manta ray, circled his way to shore. He delicately manoeuvred his sharp sting away from her tiny ankle and stroked the pale skin with his white under-body. The whole Indian Ocean came flooding into her like a gentle all-powerful tide.

As the manta ray glided back into the depths, not all the tide receded. Her body remained one with the water.

 

‘…the birds of the air…’

iii. Life after
(Sonnet)

I stand heart-still on bush-edge trail.
Puny next to high bunched boughs
of sage green gums.  The great wedge-tail
eagle soars: all before it stoops, bows.

 

My eye zooms: the bird has stalled:
gravity forgot; upheld by thermal.
All potential at rest, just the air mauled
by fierce talons; wings held formal.

 

Then, straight down from pin-head highs
the eagle drops, wings tucked, a grey stone-streak.
The lizard struck and killed, in cold eye’s

wink.  Wings wide as Passion Week.
For all of us in God’s surprise
are taken alive in Christ’s dear beak.

 

 

As At The Dawn


As At the Dawn

 

Because you love them free as they are
They say you have nothing to say

 

Because you put on a human face
They say you’ve hidden yourself

 

Because you’re all heart God
They say you’ve gone to sleep

 

Because your Spirit cannot be grasped
They say everything has gone wrong

 

Because you refuse to collude with evil
They say you’re good for nothing

 

Because you don’t crush people
They say they haven’t called on you

 

Because you’re not just any God
They say you’re just anything

 

Because you made me in your image
You are also everything they say

 

Dear God won’t you take pity on me?

 

Original French P. Fertin “Comme à l’aurore”, Paris: Desclée, 1974, p. 17
Translated by Ted Witham 2013

 

Life After


Life after

I stand heart-still on bush-edge trail.
My height nothing next to bunched boughs
of sage green gums.  The great wedge-tail
eagle soars: all before it stoops, bows.

The eye zooms: the bird has stalled:
gravity forgot; upheld by thermal.
All potential at rest, just the air mauled
by fierce talons; wings held formal.

Then, straight down from pin-head highs
the eagle drops, wings tucked, a grey stone-streak.
The lizard struck and killed, in cold eye’s

wink.  Wings wide as Passion Week.
For all of us in God’s surprise
are taken alive in Christ’s dear beak.

The Parable


THE PARABLE

 

How sad the sower —
the thrower
of seed.
In bonding for ever
in life
is his need.
Yet the task
the Father asks
is to throw
Far from his heart
to death to part,
and perchance not grow.
It’s utter folly
to risk losing love
and throw life away.
Yet the melancholy
Jewish raconteur
enjoins you and me
to lose all,
and in the losing
not to know
if the prize is yours.

Ted Witham