Hall #5 Spirit Journey

This hall takes me down memory lane, on a journey into the Red Heart of Australia. The Spirit Journey I made in 2015. Not an ordinary journey, but one which gave me unexpected experiences of Land:

  • flooding rains in the middle of a hot and arid country

  • the sound of water coursing through the veins of red mulga trees

  • featureless gibber plains disappearing into the Never Never

  • bogged cars later freed from Land’s embrace

  • warm hot springs refreshing mud-stained and weary travellers

  • abandoned homesteads once home to unrealised dreams

  • painted deserts of coloured rock

  • dingoes howling forlornly in the middle of the night

  • campfire companionship under a luminescent Milky Way

  • spectacular sunrises and sunsets

  • a moonscape of mine tailings surrounding Coober Pedy

  • underground homes, snug and safe in Land’s welcoming womb

  • a desert storm singing farewell to Land’s occasional guests

Photo: Chris Dalton

Photo: Chris Dalton

It’s a spiritual encounter for sure, but not one that focusses on pleasure, beauty and food for the soul. Here is Land freely giving, but showing life in the raw, vulnerable, and both witness and victim to our selfish ambitions – the greed of the anthropocene.

This is the same Land from which I take natural resources and land for farming and housing, and to which I escape for spiritual retreats. And what do I give Land in return – just a commitment to try to control the extent of the harm I cause it? Is this fair? Would I put up with Land treating me like this?

It’s a confronting hall to walk through, and as I hasten towards the exit I hear Land’s Voice softly whispering to me:

We played, you and I, on that day,

children wrestling in the mud,

delighting in life, together –

cars bogged, but land abundant

with the Spirit's blessings.

I, ecstatic with the sweet, soft rain

and you to share my joy;

you with horsepower, spade and rope,

proud of my mud that dressed

your car in glory and in hope.

"She'll be right, mate!"

we thought in silent concert,

barely knowing the other voiced

a mutual longing for Grace:

a prayer of life for all.

Later, my caresses bathed your mind,

reclaimed that mud and

refreshed your weary body

floating peacefully in

my warm embrace, freely given.

You loved me then

but did you love me when

you crossed the gibber plain,

rocks stretching to my

vast, flat horizon of unending shame?

I let you see me as I am,

undressed, vulnerable . . . exposed

to your probing eye that seeks

the soaring mountain, moonlit beach,

and pulsing, bountiful rainforest.

I did not hide my nakedness,

my soul stripped bare, honest to God

in all its barren emptiness,

but wounded by your cry

"There's nothing there".

And will you love me when

my scorching heat undresses you

and seeks you out, another Job to test?

Or will you curse the day

my harsh embrace may squeeze you dry?

We're so alike, you and I,

hidden and safe in Eden's clothes;

but dare you shed those skins and leaves

and trust in God's Shalom?

Will I still love you then?

Photo: Chris Dalton

I see the scales of justice close by the entrance to the next hall. I’m not sure now I want to enter, but memories urge me on.

#ChrisDalton #Spiritjourney #FLoods #HeartofAustralia #TerraNullius

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