It was Anzac Day last Saturday. Usually, Tress and I would just enjoy the day off, and follow some of the services on TV. This year however, we decided to join in the commemoration by doing the “end of driveway” thing. So we got up a bit after 5.30am, went out to the end of our driveway, and thought about all those who had fought for Australia in numerous wars, but particularly at Gallipoli. It was heart warming to see, on our streets, numerous homes doing the same thing. We all had candles (ours is a virtual one on our phone), listened to The Ode and then the Last Post. A little while later, we went back in, and followed proceedings on TV.

Later in the day, I jumped on YouTube and watched a few videos to remind myself of what went on at Gallipoli in 1915. It was a massacre but out of that awful event, Australia’s identity as a nation took shape. ScoMo the PM said Anzac Day is a sacred day for all Australians  – how right he is.

It was a restful weekend. Funny that the idea of rest features when we’re at home for the most part. Other than a very quick trip to the shops late Friday arvo, the only other time we left home was late on Sat morning when Tress and I drove to South Yarra to pick up a little piece of furniture. Since we switched to the NBN, I had wanted to get something to house all those additional equipment (2 modems, heaps of cable and power board) so that they all don’t just sit haphazardly in the corner of our dining room. I finally found a nice wooden piece and picked it up on Sat morning.

It had been a wet weekend again too, so we did the usual stuff at home. We also celebrated little Micah’s birthday via online video conferencing. Loads of people called and it looked like a decent substitute for a proper party up at Woodend.

Late yesterday arvo, just after 6pm, Tress and I downloaded the “COVID Safe” app on our phones. It’s the contact tracing app designed to track down persons who have had contact with someone who’s contracted the virus. We hope this is something that will expedite our return to life before COVID. This morning, the Queensland Premier confirmed what was reported last night – Queenslanders will have some restrictions eased up from this Friday (1 May). Victoria appears to still be in locked down mode until at least 12 May, but I sincerely hope we can follow in Queensland’s steps. Soon.


“Teacher, don’t you care?”

Last Saturday, while Tress and I were having our usual weekend brekky, I set up a link to an online “meeting” for later in the day. We were to “meet” and sing the birthday song for my mum.

Like all video conferencing, the virtual birthday gathering delivered the usual hitches. When we finally connected everyone, mum sounded excited, and did most of the talking. I was contented to just look at the screen and listen. We eventually got to the singing part, and Daniel then said a prayer for her.

Earlier in that morning, Tress and I had pottered around outside. She did loads of weeding and I trimmed some hedges, pruned back the Japanese maple next to the shed, and tried to fix some edging timber that had come loose. We then cleaned up and headed out for our weekly grocery shopping, which turned out to be the only time we got into the car the whole week and a bit.

Later on Saturday evening, I cooked us a dinner of tofu and pork mince, which turned out to be a tad too much food so there was leftovers.

St Alf’s the next day was again via online delivery but this time Peter interviewed a couple of young ladies from the evening service. That was a silver lining as those interviewees were people we might otherwise never know. Deb talked about mental health and Amy, right at the end of the service, talked about her work as an ICU nurse at the Austin. She had also just been engaged to her boyfriend so it was a warm, feel good end. Earlier, Mark Simon had talked about Psalm 40, about being honest with our thoughts and feelings at this time, and about God being there for us.

Later in the arvo, I cooked us lunch, using some leftovers from the night before and making a nostalgic rice porridge to go with it, as well as some fried cabbage. Somehow, it worked. I then took the little fellow for his walk. After some tele viewing I cooked again, this time some meat sauce for our planned pasta lunches for the a couple of days this week.

We ended our covid’ed weekend watching the warm fuzzy MasterChef. It continues to feel strange and I guess like just about everyone else, I wondered when life can return to pre-viral days. I can perhaps guess what bits of those days I’d embrace again and which bits I’d be twitchy about. I guess the constant is God being there right through. Like other less than palatable episodes of my life so far, it feels like Jesus is sleeping while the winds attack the boat like a battering ram. I guess it matters more, that he’s in the boat.

Easter Online

Easter 2020 would forever live in many’s memories. Even the Queen’s. The Queen broke tradition to give an Easter message and said as much.

We took the Good Friday service online too. It was somber, as one would expect. Later in the day, I did some cleaning up in the garden – trimmed some very tall and overgrown hedges on the back eastern corner of the garden, mowed the lawns and swept up around the outside of the house. It started to rain as I was finishing up and it rained pretty much the whole time after that.

I took to YouTube and listened to the Sydney Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra sing and play Handel’s Messiah. It was beautiful and it was a pleasure to revisit this “majestical” piece of work (as Ricky from the Hunt of the Wilder People would say). The rain kept coming down, right through Saturday as well. Tress and I only managed to go outside during very small windows when the rains abated, to also bring the little fellow out for his very short walk.

As I went outside for a stroll just around the front of the house, I bumped into our new neighbour. Ryan and family from next door had moved out some months ago and they have been preparing to sell the property. The virus had put paid to that plan and the property was put on the rental market. On Saturday, I met the tenant and we had a quick chat. He was trying to work out how to get the water heater unit to start up and he also needed a screwdriver to get a laundry to start up. Chris told me he has 4 kids, whom he will have for 3 days a week. A couple of days later, while Tress was outside doing some weeding, he told her more about themselves. I hope he settles into his new home soon.

On Sunday, we took the Easter service online. As it was Easter, instead of just having the service play on the laptop, I connected it up to the TV, but St Alf’s is a conservative outfit and its online services are just videos of Peter and Mike giving talks and slides of hymns we were singing showing up. There were no streaming of onsite services like some other outfits. So I guess connecting it to the TV didn’t make a world of difference but it did mean we could be at the lounge room and get more space instead of huddling over the laptop on the dining table like we did in recent weeks. Peter talked about the “Journey” in the context of the road to Emmaus.

The weather finally cleared up yesterday, on Easter Monday. Tress spent the whole morning outside, weeding and cleaning up flower beds etc. I stayed in and did some house cleaning. We then cooked lunch, for the day as well as for later this week. Later that arvo, after walking the little fellow, we did more cleaning – especially “my office”, i.e., the study room.  Masterchef finally started again last night too, which gave us a bit of a fillip.

“The Journey”, aka “Road to Emmaus” was, in Peter’s message, a bit like a journey  through the valley of the shadow of death. We asked about where our help would come from, and the Psalmist suggested it was from the Lord. So, it is not abnormal to have feelings of despondency. The good book told of two big journeys – the Exodus and the Exile. One was to the Promised Land while the other was away from it. One to a land flowing with milk and honey while the other was to a land as defeated and concurred slaves. Yet through both, God was with the sojourners. The two on the road to Emmaus, were said to be downcast.  Hope was absent and they didnt know what was next. At the end of that journey however, they were filled with hope. The turnaround was said to be an understanding of what the Scriptures were about. That understanding – of an account that culminated in the resurrection – lifted them from being downcast to give them hope.

I thought that was a good message – one of hope at times such as now. Easter 2020, Easter Online 20200 may have facilitated a refocus of what hope is or ought to be all about.

George Pell Innocent

I was at my desk yesterday morning (at home of course) working, when a newsflash popped up. The High Court of Australia quashed the conviction of George Pell. He is innocent of the charges against him. A couple of hours later, footage of a small and modest convoy were seen to leave the prison complex at Barwon. The image of George Pell was clearly visible in the second vehicle, a black small SUV. He was seated behind the front passenger seat. Finally, after 404 days, his wrongful conviction has been quashed.

When he was first convicted, I read parts of the judgment and wondered how this man could have been convicted given the evidence. I expected his legal team to appeal and win.

At the Victorian Court of Appeal, I could not believe his appeal was not allowed and they affirmed his conviction. I read the whole judgment. I was totally convinced, when I read the dissenting judgment of Justice Weinberg, that George Pell should have had his conviction quashed and declared innocent. I freely shared my thoughts with my team maters, including my manager and boss, the Group General  Counsel of my employer. I wasn’t sure how they took it but I struggle to understand how a lawyer – any lawyer – would read the judgments and not think likewise.

So when the High Court finally decided, unanimously in a full bench (i.e., a 7-0 decision), to quash the conviction, I was relieved. I was relieved an innocent man is finally – after 404 days in prison – freed. I was relieved that in Australia, the law seems to have been upheld and the legal system has its integrity restored. For Victoria however, I hope something is done to avoid such outcomes in future cases. In an article by Paul Kelly in The Australian this morning, he made these points:

  • Vic Police – “Get Pell” agenda and failed in its investigation duties
  • Vic DPP – dubious decision to charge Pell
  • Vic Court of Appeal – failed to review evidence
  • ABC – prejudiced, biased and relentless victimization of Pell

I could only nod in agreement as I read it. I hope some day, persons in those institutions apologise to George Pell for the wrongs inflicted on him.

Lament, Gloomy Weekend

A few days ago, a member of a small group Tress and I have been a part of, sent us a link to an article by N.T. Wright. This jumped out at me:

The point of lament, woven thus into the fabric of the biblical tradition, is not just that it’s an outlet for our frustration, sorrow, loneliness and sheer inability to understand what is happening or why. The mystery of the biblical story is that God also laments. Some Christians like to think of God as above all that, knowing everything, in charge of everything, calm and unaffected by the troubles in his world. That’s not the picture we get in the Bible. (See here:Tom Wright on Lament)

Then when Mark Simon spoke on it at St Alf’s online service yesterday morning, I thought maybe that the act of lamenting is what we ought to be  thinking about at this time. The idea of God lamenting, takes the fact that we are created in His image, to a new level. God laments. We are created in His image. We too, lament.

Living in a hitherto prosperous community such as Australia, often obfuscates many realities in life on this fatigued planet. While the world sinks to its knees, many Australians continue to look for simple fun things to do like going to the beach or hanging out with friends in a dinner party, albeit a home dinner party. The epicurean thread wants to rule. It is so hard for churches in this community to embrace lament.

It is now week 4 since we became house bound. The one time we headed out beyond a 1-2 km boundary this past couple of weeks, was to buy food from the Malaya Inn restaurant. It was about a 15 min drive, maybe 15km away. We went grocery shopping at the shopping center near us on Saturday. That was a 1.5km trip, probably. It was also a dark, cold, windy and wet weekend. The rain kept on right through the weekend. We only caught a couple of small windows, when the rain abated, to take the little fellow out for a walk around the block. Those walks did us a world of good too, as my usual Sunday activities of St Alf’s, lunch and cooking, only just lifted me above an otherwise gloomy weekend.