Some images and words for today

An early morning fog over the city today.  It felt appropriate to this Wednesday of Holy Week.

Words from the poet Mary Oliver:

Lord God, mercy is in your hands.
Pour me a little,
and tenderness too.
My need is great.
Beauty walks so freely
and with such gentleness.
Impatience puts a halter on my face
and I run over the green fields
wanting your voice,
your tenderness,
but having to do only with the sweet grasses
of the fields against my body.
When I first found you
I was filled with light.
Now the darkness grows,
and it is filled with crooked things,
bitter and weak, each one bearing my name.

And a prayer for today:

God of light,
shine your light today
into the darkest corners of my heart.
God of grace,
clear away the bitter and shadowy things.
God of love,
fill me with the presence of your spirit.
God of hope,
lead me into this day
as your servant in the world.

Palm Sunday March for Refugees

Today members of my congregation at Collins Streeet joined with thousands of Melburnians to express solidarity with asylum seekers languishing in off-shore detention centres and to call our government to a more humane and welcoming approach to refugees. Similar marches took place today all across the country.  One can only hope that those in power are listening.

Personally, I can’t think of a better way to embody the spirit of Palm Sunday and to begin the journey of Holy Week.

Ian Strange’s ‘Suburban’

There’s a photographic and video exhibition on at the NGV (Fed Square) at the moment by the New York based Australian artist Ian Strange. It’s dark, surreal … and oddly compelling. Though in retrospect I can’t say I enjoyed it, I’ve always thought anything that inspires a closer look at the suburbs is worthwhile … whatever we make of it.

pic 1


A Neighbourhood Tapestry

I love this tapestry.

It hangs just outside the La Trobe Reading Room in Melbourne’s State Library and each time I walk down the stairs I admire it. Not only are the colours striking, but it’s this beautiful representation of my own neghbourhood. It says so much more eloquently than I can manage in words what I feel about where I live.

Though my few blocks of the CBD are so far from the images of suburban neighbourhood—the sort of community in which I was raised—it’s still a neighbourhood, a place full of residential memory, story and life. The longer one lives in a place like this the more one comes to know that life. This tapestry celebrates that fact. There’s a richness to it that the ‘weaving’ both represents and embodies. It’s beautiful.

Title: Spring Street End
Design: indigenous artist Ben McKeown
Weavers: Pamela Joyce, Milly Formby and Emma Sulzer (2010/11)
Description: ‘It represents a reimagining of the Spring Street end of Robert Hoddle’s grid plan for the streets of Melbourne.’

Little Library at Melbourne Central

This is a great initiative from Melbourne Central.  It makes me smile every time I walk by. Just as the sign says: a little library where anyone can take a book or add a book. No charge and no membership. And what’s on the shelves can be totally different from one day to the next. It’s a nice touch in the midst of an otherwise blandly commercial space.

I hope it lasts!

The places I love

I love The Paperback on Bourke.  Spent a lovely, solitary hour there today.  It’s a pokey little place, but there’s hardly ever a crowd.  It’s a small but surprisingly wide collection of books (and not just paperbacks!)  tightly stacked around a narrow labyrinth, just a few metres really from entry to exit.

Though the limits on space keep the collection small, they’re especially good on fiction and Australian non-fiction, politics, history, philosophy, poetry and travel.

One of the best things about this idiosyncratic , if slightly chaotic place, is that it feels like it’s always been there.  First opened in the early 60s apparently (which means for me it always has been there), it remains a wonderfully independent and intelligent little bookstore.

The other ‘best thing’ is that the place is always open. Or it seems like it.  With the iconic Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar just across the lane way, you can wander past up to 10 on weeknights and 11.30 on Fridays and Saturdays and the lights will be on and the door open. I love it.

What’s with the elephants?

If you’ve been in the city lately, you’ve seen the elephants … 50 of them!  They’re all over the place, life-sized and dazzling … in an elephant sort of way.

They’re part of the celebrations marking 150 years of the Melbourne Zoo and in honour of its first Asian elephant calf, Mali.  Thankfully zoos like ours have come a long way since they began and now play important roles in education and conservation.  When it comes to increasingly fragile species like the elephant, this has to be a good thing.

When my kids were little we lived just across the way from the zoo and would often wake up to the animals’ morning chorus … or cacophony!  And our regular visits always included the elephants.  Good memories for us.