Monday Musings–Good Intentions

GOOD INTENTIONS

We all have our ideas how the world should run. We think we know what’s best, what’s good, and what will work. If only everyone would follow our advice, the world would be a paradise.

When I was twelve, my parents thought it best I go to a new school for my last year at primary school. That school was a feeder school to the secondary school they planned to send me.

*[Photo 1: Full of hope of a new adventure © M.E. Trudinger 1975]

‘You’ll make some friends who’ll be there for you when you go to high school,’ they said.

Good intentions; a sound plan for transition…

Their plans just didn’t work out as they intended.

Two weeks into first term at that new school, I realised I’d connected with nobody. The girls in my class had formed their tight-knit friendship groups way back in Year 1, so I had no friend-prospects.

At recess, I sat alone Indian-style on the grass under a tree. Never mind, I thought, my books are my friends. I’ll read out the year. I opened my latest novel. Besides, I have plenty of friends outside of this school.

For the next few days nobody and my books kept me company at recess and lunch. What better way of dealing with loneliness of an hour by entering another world and the characters there. No different from the previous year at my old school when I ignored my friends in preference to researching dinosaurs and aliens in outer space.

*[Photo 2: One of my books, the Lost World of the Wends © L.M. Kling 2021]

Then the good intentions of the teachers came into play. The new Year 7 girl reading her books every break? Oh, no! We can’t have that! She must socialise.

So, with good intentions, the teachers denied me the joy and escape of reading. They forced me to play with my peers.

However, my peers, comfortable with their set, didn’t appreciate the teacher’s good intentions. As I followed one group into the girls’ toilets, the leader spoke up. ‘Nothing personal, but stop shadowing us.’

Fine then. I wiped the tears stinging the corners of my eyes and bit my lip. Sorry for upsetting your perfect little life. I’ll go find someone else to be my friend.

Soon after, I teamed up with a Year 6 girl. She sat on her own at lunch. I’d been kicked off the bench by the other cohort of Year 7 girls because I liked cheese and gherkin sandwiches. Rather than making a big deal of the excommunication, I wandered over to the Year 6 girl and sat beside her. She didn’t mind my choice of lunch.

*[Photo 3: Happiness is a friend, Poatina Tasmania © L.M. Kling 2010]

For the next week, we enjoyed each other’s company. We played on the monkey bars and joined others in her class playing four-square (a type of hand-tennis). For five days, my cliquey peers were happy, the teachers were happy, and I was happy. I’d found a friend.

But good things were not meant to last at this new school. The beginning of March, and just a hint of an autumn-south-westerly breezed through the classroom porches. I kicked off my shoes, pulled on my scuffs (major rule: no shoes inside the classroom), and lined up ready to enter class. The Year 6 teacher sought me out and took me aside. ‘You aren’t allowed to play with Year 6 students,’ they said. ‘It’s against the school rules.’

*[Photo 4: Beginnings of autumn © L.M. Kling 2021]

The school with good intentions had a rule: Students must only mix with students the same age as them and from their class.

So again, good intentions forced me out on my own again. I rode home that day, tears streaming down my face. I failed to understand. The injustice of it. They want me to socialise and then thwart every effort for me to do so, with all their damn rules.

With good intentions, the next day, Mum marched into the office and spoke to my teacher. With good intentions, my teacher reprimanded the girls in my class.

Made no difference. My peers wanted no part of those good intentions. And they didn’t like being told off. Not one bit. I paid for those good intentions right through secondary school, actually.

I considered making friends with some boys in my class. But after one day sitting at a table in class with them, I figured that making friends with the boys in my class wasn’t an option. Probably a rule about that too. After all, our teacher gave us a lecture on the evils of wearing bikinis…so…

[Photo 5: Beware, the bikini…modesty at Moana © R. Trudinger 1982]

For the rest of that year, I became very good at keeping out of the supervising teacher’s gaze at lunchtime and pretending to play with my peers while making sure I didn’t appear to be “shadowing” them. The bullies helped this charade by “shadowing” me. Not that I appreciated their efforts at the time. As the year wore on, I managed some illicit liaisons with my books behind the bushes, when the teachers weren’t looking.

My mum carried the burden of guilt from her good intentions of the year I lived friendlessly. But she needn’t be. My parents’ intentions were good. Though I suffered, these challenges were good for me. I learnt to persevere. I learnt that being alone doesn’t mean that I must be lonely. God was and is with me. I learnt not to quit. In short, I developed character. Besides, this school inspired me to learn the Japanese language, setting me on my future career path teaching the Japanese language, as well as travelling in Japan. And most of all, I learnt to see the kids sitting on their own and be their friend.

[Photo 6: Tokeiji, Japan © L.M. Kling 1984]

Yes, good intentions may not work out as we intended, but God can turn around our struggles, and our failures, with His best intentions for us.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”—Romans 8:28

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2022

*Feature Photo: Alone, in Japan © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 1985

***

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The Hitch-hiker, Last Day Free

[An excerpt…]

More silence as the Kombi trundled along Main North Road. Was this the trend for the road trip? Long awkward silences. Two brothers sitting side by side, itching to punch each other. Liesel itched to lay hands on Fox who squashed himself against the car door. And Minna opposite Günter, tried not to make too many calf-eyes at him, as well as trying her best to not nibble her nails. Was this what grown-up young people do for fun? Where was the excitement? The pillow fights? The Coca-Cola? Things go better with Coke, so the commercials say. And things in this mobile can did require better going.

A man dressed in brown walked on the roadside. He hunched over and stuck out his thumb.

Fox slowed down the van. ‘Oh, a hitch-hiker. Why don’t we pick him up?’

‘Are you crazy? No way!’ Liesel batted his arm.

Fox eased the Kombi to a stop. ‘He looks like he needs a lift. What the heck.’

‘What’re you doing?’ Liesel raised her tone.

But Fox continued to pull over to the side of the road.

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© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2015; updated 2022

Take a Free Horror Ride: A Halloween Special

THE HITCH-HIKER

[An Extract]

Johann glanced back at the bug of the man settled on the tucker box. ‘Cup? You want a cup? Be my guest, they’re in the tucker box, I think.’

I sidestepped that idea and ran to the Kombi. The coke bottle, I’d use the coke bottle.

After emptying out the icky liquid, I raced to the other side of the van. I reached as far as I could on tippy toes. No use. I was just too short. I jumped. I tried climbing up the roof rack. Failed. No footholds to launch me up. I slumped on the edge of the road and cried. No one cared that we were in danger. Liesel had given up without even trying. She didn’t care. And worse, I didn’t matter. Me, a nobody. Thirsty and no one bothered to give me a drink. Aware that I was all alone, I sniffed. Nothing could make me happy, not even the smell of kangaroo steak wafting under my nose.

‘Oh, little girl, why so sad?’

I looked up to see Boris in his grey skirt towering over me. I was sick to the stomach, like I had eaten a cocktail of worms and cockroaches.

‘What is wrong my pet?’ he asked.

I shuddered but refused to answer.

‘Maybe I can help you.’

For a price, I thought.

‘Just tell me what you want more than anything in the whole wide world.’

I glared at him. Over my dead body. What is this man?

Tears blurred my view.

He extended an arm to me. ‘Anything, anything at all.’ his arm seemed so skinny; more like a tentacle than a limb.

I rubbed my eyes.

It crouched beside me. ‘Come on, you can tell me. You can trust me. I can grant you anything, any wish you have.’

I blinked.

Beside me perched a man-size cockroach. Its oily armour glistened in the golden rays of the risen sun.

‘I don’t think I need anything, Sir.’ I tried to stay cool and resisted the urge to recoil.

Its antennae twitched. ‘Anything. Just say the word. Your wish is my command.’

‘I want you to leave me alone,’ I said. All thoughts of thirst evaporated.

Its beady eyes bored through me into my soul trying to suck out all my goodness, my life. ‘My dear girl, I’d beg you to reconsider. With the gifts you possess, the universe is your oyster—if you follow me.’

I gulped. A cold breeze cut through me and as if I’d faced death itself; the Grim Reaper. I pushed myself up, and staggered from it. ‘No thanks, I’ll have none of what you offer.’

It reached out a spiny hand. ‘But you’ll—’

‘None at all.’ I dropped the bottle, and bolted to the campsite.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2015

Photo: Night Drama Flinders Ranges © Lee-Anne Marie Kling © 2000

***

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Thursday Thoughts–Open Crowd

[With life returning to some semblance of normality, a post from the pre-pandemic past…]

The Kingdom of God is Like…

A dilemma many of us have faced, maybe it’s a wedding, or a party — we want to invite all our friends and family, but can we? Is it possible to have an open invitation without the situation getting out of hand?

I remember as a young teenager being upset because my older brother received invitations to parties and not me. I remember standing at the kitchen counter, invitation to my brother in hand and complaining, ‘It’s not fair. I’m friends with them too. Why wasn’t I invited?’

‘Stop complaining,’ my mum would say, ‘your time will come.’

Didn’t help that our youth group friends had a saying: ‘You can’t have a party without my brother.’

Hey, I’m the sociable extrovert here! My brother’s the shy awkward type who prefers staying in his room making telescopes and short-wave radios.

*[Photo 1: You Can’t have a party without Rick © L.M. Kling (nee Trudinger circa 1985]

So, I lived with these multiple rejections as I believed them to be…

…Until one day, I collected the mail from the letterbox. What’s this? A letter for me? I tore it open and read:

‘Dear Lee-Anne,

                                    You’re invited to ***’s birthday party…’

Huh? I re-read the invitation. Must be a mistake. Where’s my brother’s name? Invitations always had my brother’s name attached, and occasionally my name included, especially where the youth group friends were concerned. Her invite made my teenage decade, for once, she invited me and not my brother.

But…what if there were parties or celebrations without restrictions on who’s in and who’s out? What if all who want to be invited could be invited? Are we inviting trouble if we make an event open to all?

I want to celebrate my late-Grandmother who demonstrated this openness and was successful. She looked outward at those in need of friendship and love. Her table was never too small and somehow, no matter the number of guests she had for Sunday lunch, she always made the food stretch. Something of the loaves and fishes plus Jesus’ effect. (Read in the Bible how Jesus feeds the 5000. Matthew 14:13 – 21)

*[Photo 2: Grandma’s table © L.M. Kling 2019]

So that’s all very well and good opening our homes and sharing dinner with others. But back to the party or community event idea. Is it possible to have a party without restrictions on who and how many come without fear of it getting out of control?

I believe it is possible—when we look beyond our limitations and look to God and others to enable us to achieve success; a piece of God’s Kingdom where all people are welcome, all people are valued and seen. And where those running such an event demonstrate the values of justice, mercy and compassion. With the right training, this type of event can provide a safe and caring environment.

Over the years I have participated in open-crowd events, often taking place in parks. There’s usually a variety of fun activities such as puzzles, stilts, giant snakes and ladders game, and a group game for all ages. People may join in if they want to, or just watch if they prefer. No one’s forced to join in. Even so, people from the event team connect with the on-lookers, getting to know them and by the end of the afternoon, they will be smiling and chatting with team members.

*[Photo 3: Mr. K Clown at a community Festival © L.M. Kling 2010]

One time, two of my friends whom I’d brought along joined, for the first time, in the group game of water-balloon volleyball. They had so much fun, their faces were glowing.

‘I’m so glad I joined in,’ one said. ‘If I’d sat and watched, I would’ve regretted it. It was so much fun.’

My other friend said, ‘We enjoyed the event so much and before we knew it, the time had come to pack up and go.’

*[Photo 4: Water-balloon volleyball © L.M. Kling 2010]

This welcoming experience, I think gives a glimpse of God’s Kingdom—it’s free and available to all who want to join in and engage with others in the community. Did I say it’s free? There is a cost—a change in our world view—a change from an inward-looking one where we are the centre of our universe, to an outward-looking one where we see others and value others and see that with others (and God) our perceived weaknesses become our strength.

*[Photo 5: Tug-of-War © L.M. Kling 2012]

We have a choice. We could stay safe in our “castle” reinforcing the walls to guard against fear and failure, and so leave others to stay isolated in their “castles”. Or we can look outwards, break out of our “castles”, reach out and connect with others making our communities better places to live.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2019; Updated 2022

Feature Photo: Keep the ball in the air — Willunga Almond Blossom Festival © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2010

***

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***

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Some Thoughts on a Sunday–Lost Sheep

[This Sunday morning’s sermon tackled the parable of the Lost Sheep, Luke 15;4-7. I recall an ancient post I had written way back when I first began blogging in 2015. Then today, the parable’s meaning was reinforced when I spent all afternoon searching for a document vital for our tax return. Strange how items vanish…We gave up on the paper and were able to retrieve a copy from the relevant website.

However, each person is unique. If a person goes missing, you can’t just replace them by copying them. Every year in Australia, around 38000 people go missing. Most are found within few weeks, but 2600 remain missing after three months.

The following post is a re-blog of the one I published in 2015.]

Lost Sheep

A fellow writer criticized the Mission of the Unwilling saying, ‘How can so many people go into space without others missing them on Earth?’

Good point—and I duly corrected that detail. As a part of the Intergalactic Space Force, each recruit had their explanation which they gave to family and friends why they wouldn’t be around for a while. Yes, fixed that…but—just wait a minute—did I have to do that to make the story believable?

Thousands of people around the world go missing every day…and if I think about it, I know people who have.

Sure, there’s the famous cases. Yes, Adelaide, South Australia, my hometown, is known for a few of those strange cases, both unsolved and solved. I remember as a child told not to talk to strangers…remember those children ‘round the corner? Never seen again.

But then there’s the willing missing—the ones who for whatever reason drop off the radar, leaving behind family and friends, to start their lives afresh. And they might have good reason to disappear if they’ve been the victim of an abusive relationship, or they’re a witness who needs protection.

Each community and clan deal with this jump off the radar differently. As is evident from my own observations of this current society, they are not all like my fellow writer who would make a beeline for the nearest police station when a loved one of theirs goes missing. In fact, there have been recent examples in Australia where the missing persons have met untimely permanent pushes off the radar from perpetrators who have then pretended, through text messages and the use of their bank accounts to deceive family and friends into believing their missing loved one is alive, but just doesn’t want contact. And in some cases, family and friends have believed these lies for months, years.

Isn’t this a cause for concern? Has our community become so disconnected, so focussed on the rights of the individual, we consider it a “social crime” to intrude on another’s privacy? Is society so fragmented, that when we receive a text or internet message from a loved one, saying, ‘Leave me alone,’ we accept it as gospel, as coming from the loved one, and sit back and leave them alone? Is there a problem these days speaking face to face, and treating people like they matter? Is it possible some people go missing because they feel no one cares; that they don’t matter?

In the parable of the Lost Sheep Luke 15:4-7, the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep to search for the lost one. In this society, such a person who goes looking for the lost, the “Black Sheep” of the family, is labelled “crazy”. But in God’s Kingdom each person is precious. Our world may not value these “lost sheep”, but God does, and His people do. I guess in the world’s eyes, God is crazy; He loves and values every human being. And the thing about lost “sheep”, they may not know they are lost, they may not want to be found, they may feel invisible in the sea of billions of “sheep”, but God knows who they are. I reckon there’s a bit of “lost sheep” in each of us. When we make others visible, treat them like they matter, and care for each other, this is community; we find the “lost sheep” and God finds us. This is our challenge, to value and love one another and treat each person with value and respect because they matter.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather others label me as “crazy” because I care and want to relate to real people, rather than be considered “sane” and thus disconnected, living my life only virtually through a screen.

 © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2022

Feature Photo: Sheep in the green paddock © L.M. Kling 2009

***

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A whole village?

Of Wends?

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Voices

Voices

You want success, don’t you?

            Study hard! Cram!

                        Go to University.

                                    Pass your exam!

It’s a piece of paper, that counts.

            Cleaning? You’re cleaning? That’s poor!

                        Try harder.

                                    You need a respectable job and more.

Teaching? Never saw you as one of them.

            Get out of your comfort zone.

                        It’s the bottom-line that counts.

                                    Moving interstate? Why can’t you work at home?

Ooh, you need a boyfriend.

            He’s not right, give him the flick.

                        He’s nice, when are you getting hitched?

                                    You’re engaged? That’s a bit quick.

You’re married! Congratulations! What about kids?

            Hmmm, you need to lose weight.

                        Sure you’re not pregnant?

                                    Better travel first, mate.

A house, you need a house. Location, location, location.

            Save your dough.

                        Go on strike, get more.

                                    Deposit, mortgage, life insurance—nest-eggs, you know.

Keep busy and if you’re not, look busy.

            You’re too busy, get rest.

                        What? No friends?

                                    Get a life, get some zest.

You’re not well. See, I told you so.

            Too many toxins.

                        Take these vitamins.

                                    Pills won’t work.

                                                Diet and exercise.

                                                            Paleo

                                                                        Pilates

                                                                                    Low carb

                                                                                                High sugar

                                                                                                            Too thin

                                                                                                                        Too fat

                                                                                                                                    Too much

                                                                                                                        Not enough!

Keep busy, save, work hard…Aargh!

Jesus said: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” John 10:27

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2017

Feature Photo: Sulphur Crested cockatoo © L.M. Kling 2019

***

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The Lost World of the Wends

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Choice Bites–Minna

As I developed my characters from the War against Boris series, stories began to emerge. Here’s one of them.

THE CHOICE: MINNA

One of those summer days doused in grey…I ride my bike to the beach to collect shells. As I comb the surf-soaked sands, a man’s voice snaps me out of the zone.

‘Found anyone interesting?’

‘Nup, no bodies,’ I murmur.

‘That’s a shame, a nice looking lady like you.’’

I fix my sight on shards of shell and ignore him. Hate those pickup lines.

‘Oh, what’s your problem? I’m not going to bite.’

I glance at him—had to see what creep I’m dealing with. Pale, pock-marked face, thirties and just a little taller than me at 165cm. In a grubby white t-shirt and brown trousers. “Never trust a man who wears brown trousers,” my school friend Liesel always said.

‘Come on, dear, just a little conversation. Tell me, what do you want more than anything in the world.’

I shrug. ‘To leave me alone.’

‘Tell you what, you tell me and I’ll leave you alone. Deal?’

I push my bike faster trying to escape this man, but he follows me.

‘I promise, I’ll leave you alone—just tell me.’

Hopping on my bike I announce, ‘I don’t talk to strangers.’

‘I’m not going to hurt you. I bet, I bet you’re one of those girls who wants to get married, have a family. That’s what you want more than anything.’

‘If you say so, now leave me alone,’ I say and then speed from the creepy little man with his creepy questions.

‘Your desire will be arranged,’ he says as I splash my wheels through the water. He then shouts, ‘But, I might add, there will be a price.’

‘Sure, sour grapes,’ I mumble. Then pumping the pedals, I sail along the damp-packed sand where the waves meet the shore.

Then, near the ramp and having to cross sand too soft for bike wheels, I glance behind before alighting.

The man in brown trousers is gone…

A short story from another project relating to that alien cockroach, Boris, “Choice Bites© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016, updated 2022

Painting: Sellicks Beach—where Mission of the Unwilling begins © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2015 [Mixed media]

***

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Mission of the Unwilling

Free—The Lost World of the Wends

[An Extract from my novel: The Lost World of the Wends]

Ghost in the Precinct

‘Why not?’ Adam pushed the gate. ‘I’m game if you are.’ He ran towards the historic church.

Amie hissed. ‘Get back here!’

Adam shouted. ‘But I want to see the ghost.’ His small frame blurred in the darkness.

‘You’re trespassing.’

Amie bolted past the open gate. She was trespassing too, now. She chased Adam’s retreating figure. ‘There’s no such thing as ghosts.’

She heard footsteps near the whitewashed walls of the church. She followed the footsteps and the yellow hair that shimmered in the moonless night. ‘Adam, this is not funny. Come back now!’

No answer.

Footsteps crunched on the gravel. ‘This is not a joke, Adam. Where are you?’

A cold rush of air barged past her. Hairs pricked up on the back of Amie’s neck.

‘Adam?’ Amie called. She traced her fingertips along the rough wall of the church as she worked her way to the rear. ‘Adam? Where are you?’

She thought she saw him by the little building behind the church. Was that construction a toilet block? Or did she hear someone, Walter perhaps. Was that building the morgue?

The pale stick figure drifted towards that little building and vanished into it.

The wind howled.

‘Adam! Get out of there!’

Amie quickened her steps towards the building.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

Feature Photo: Dingo on a Mission. © courtesy of S.O. Gross circa 1945

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Free Holiday Reading–The Lost World of the Wends

A Story where the past and present, and vast distances in space intersect…and Boris does what he always does…

Eastern Europe, 1848

Prussian War raged, and the Wends as a village, left their homeland, with plans to set sail for Australia. From the Eastern edge of Prussia, they journeyed on a barge destined for Hamburg’s port, where they hoped to catch a cheap fare in the cargo-hold of a ship destined for the Promised Great South Land.

These villagers, never made their Australian destination. No one ever noticed, nor missed them. The neighbouring villagers assumed they had arrived in the Great Southern Land, and considered them so far away, and too distant to maintain contact. In Adelaide, also, the city for which they headed, the inhabitants were blissfully unaware of their existence. Migrating Prussians had taken their place in the over-flowing cargo-hold and were sailing across the Atlantic to Australia.

On this barge, headed by a man, Boris Roach, the Wends sang hymns of praise to God for their liberation from religious persecution, and the war. They looked to the promise of prosperity and freedom to worship God according to the Word. Their hope that their children and their descendants may thrive in their faith in the Promised Land of South Australia.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021

***

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The Lost World of the Wends

Monday Musing–Be Still

BE STILL

I go to the shops as I do every second day. At the checkout, the girl asks, ‘And how has your day been?’

‘Busy,’ I say.

‘That’s good,’ the girl says with a sage nod as if involved in some conspiracy to keep me on the hamster wheel of busyness.

In the Twenty-first century world “busyness” is good. Not being busy, then, is undesirable. Our Western Protestant work ethic touts, ‘Idleness is the devil’s workshop’. The state of “idleness” is to be avoided at all costs. These days, we equate idleness with boredom.

‘I’m bored,’ say your children (so did mine, when they were children many years ago, back in the good ol’ 1990’s), and terror strikes at the heart of each mother when they hear these words. Bored? We can’t have our children bored—idle—just imagine what devils will come to play if we allow boredom to fester. First, the grizzling, then, the niggling at each other, and before long, World War Three amongst the siblings and the house ends up looking like the Apocalypse.

*[Photo 1: The computer, the answer to all who cry, “I’m bored!” © L.M. Kling 2007]

No, we can’t have boredom.

So, in my quieter times now, I reminisce the days as a young mother, structuring each day, every hour—especially during the holidays, to avoid boredom—any strategy to avoid my tribe from becoming restless.

‘What’s wrong with a bit of boredom,’ my mother would say. ‘They need to learn to entertain themselves, you know, use their imagination. Nothing wrong with being still for a while, I say.’

Mum should know, she grew up in the Centre of Australia on a mission in the 1940’s and ‘50’s. Those were the really good ol’ days with no shopping centres, no electronic games, nor television. They did have radio, but her minister father only allowed the news to be heard from it. Heaven forbid they listen to modern music. During the War, even the radio was confiscated by the allies. So all my mum as a girl had to entertain herself were books. Even so, the Protestant work ethic was a major value in mum’s family as her mother, when she found her daughter reading would say, ‘Isn’t there some housework you should be doing?’

*[Photo 2: In the good ol’ days, being productive. Making kangaroo-skin rugs © S.O. Gross circa 1940]

As expected, then, I grow up in a world that values industry, productivity and filling each day to the full. The schools I attend are hot on producing good grades, projects and students who go on to university and become wealth-producing citizens.

Then, at sixteen, I have a revelation. We sing a chorus at church, “Be Still and know I am God”.

Being still…forget the homework…forget the housework…put aside my racing head of worries…centre my thoughts on God and his greatness. Pause for a moment and remember, God is God and He’s in control.

So at sixteen, I do just as the chorus bids. I hop on my deadly treadly (bike), and pedal down to the beach. I figure that’s the best place to be still; the waves lapping the sand, the sun on my back as I comb the shore for shells. Or on a sunny afternoon, I lie in the backyard and sunbake, think and ponder.

*[Photo 3: Entertainment of Seal, Glenelg South © L.M. Kling 2022]

The result? Wow! Those mountains? School and pedantic teachers going on about uniform—my socks, my hair? Boyfriends or lack of them? Life and my future? …All my concerns become molehills.

December 1979, I write a poem “Be Still”. Perhaps not the greatest work of literature, but the values stick with me…until I embark on university, work, and then a family. The poem hides in a book of my teenage missives. Ten years ago, I pull it out for a devotion. I preach being still, but I fail to apply the principles. I must keep busy. If I stop, even for a few minutes, what will others think? There’s just too much to do. Everyone’s depending on me as wife, mother, bible study leader, committee member …to produce the goods. I can’t let them down.

The culture to keep moving is ingrained. Go to meet people for the first time and they ask, ‘What do you do?’ The doing has to have a dollar sign attached to it. Not enough to do all the above as a mother. Must produce money to have status in the group. Without status, I am not heard. Ironic how the under-valued creative arts of writing and painting, though, afford status. I am creating. I am producing.

*[Painting 1: Life after Lock-down, Port Willunga © L.M. Kling 2020]

Even so, in this creative phase of my life, if I stand still, I feel guilty. Now, there are novels to write and art to produce. My “work”. I’m on the hamster wheel, but I can’t get off.

However, in all the busyness expected of me, the cogs of my life are unravelling. I drive to a cafe to meet a friend. She’s not there. I’d forgotten my mobile phone. I drive the thirty-minute return home and check my phone and then ring her. I’d gone to the wrong place. A misunderstanding. If I had taken the time to listen and ask the right questions…

The voice of my sixteen-year-old self still convicts me. ‘Be Still’.

For over forty years, I’d not been following my own advice. After the misunderstanding of the other day, I give myself permission to have time each day to rest…Time to be still…time to know God.

*[Painting 2: Sleeping Beauty on Huon, Tasmania © L.M. Kling]

So in the voice of my sixteen-year-old self, the poem:

Be Still

Exhausted, yet restless to advance

Ever onward in a trance,

A weary traveller

Refused to look around

So lost the intimate beauties which could be found.

Be still,

And know God the eternal creator.

Furtive, frustrated, fraught we flee,

When confusion bears down on thee,

A weary traveller.

Failure looms, chaos glooms,

In life, this lonely room.

Be still,

And wing your eyes

To soar above the clutter.

Marvel at the vastness of creation

Where God lies.

If what we infinitely fear

Will produce a lonely tear,

Of a weary traveller,

We blind ourselves with sorrows

Clinging to illusions of good morrows.

Be still,

Capture destiny in your heart,

For God said, “Let it be”.

See the beauty of it’s part.

Learn from what it has to offer

Ignore the scoffer.

A weary traveller did relent,

When Jesus was sent.

Be still,

While He,

Our hungry souls will fill.

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling (nee Trudinger) 1979

© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2022

*Feature Photo: Cradle Mountain, Tasmania © L.M. Kling 2009

***

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