Thursday, 1 November 2007

The vast humility of the Australian Landscape

Travel is a big part of any journey, of any pilgrimage and Journey of the World Youth Day Cross, Icon and Message Stick (JCIMS) is much the same. There have been a lot of periods throughout where I have experienced the vastness of the Australian landscape. I would like to share with you what it is like to be swallowed by the land and how this vastness helps me to think about things that are greater than me.

I was fairly uncomfortable in the van. The road had a bouncing roll to it but not so mechanical that I could fall asleep. And on the 3 hour drive sleep had certainly crossed my mind.

Outside the window through the World Youth Day paintwork that lines the side of the van is a landscape that echoes visions of iconic Australia.

The sky is a steel grey blanket, devoid of texture except for splintering custard yellow clouds in a corner towards the north east. The distance today is so great the clouds seemed to meet the land at the edge of the world, on the horizon.

The horizon had a remarkable ability to change appearance. Seemingly connected with the blanket of cloud, within a few seconds, with the help of a fast car and a hint of sunlight, a mirage would appear and split the horizon. The mirage created a blend between sky and earth that looked like a drop into steel, grey space. The mirage took on an appearance of weightlessness, a place where a floating Neil Armstrong would not look out of place.

There are two major differences in the landscape. The land is very flat, granite bench top like flat and the land also has very few big trees. It is made up of mainly low lying salt bush with the occasional struggling, keeled over tree. It is this uninterrupted vision which today helps to create such a vivid image.

The road is the only thing that separates the monotony. A creative way to describe the road is like a fold in an artwork where you put paint on one side, fold the paper over, smear it all together and then unfold it. The type of painting I am describing is one that usually creates a butterfly shaped, colourful smear. The road is the line, the fold of symmetry, surrounded by the most beautiful artwork, God’s artwork.

The landscape helps me to empathize with Bishop Chris’s connection with the universe and God. As I sit in the car and stare into the vast landscape that inhabits most of inland Australia, I feel a great sense of something greater.

It is humbling. It is humbling to feel so small despite traveling so fast. It is humbling to feel so insignificant compared to the harsh heat. It is humbling to realize that I am really just a chess pieces on the landscape, a landscape that reflects my never ending quest to search for an endpoint, an edge and ultimately a creator.

It is through the humbling realization that I will never reach that endpoint and that edge that I can find solace in something greater. I will not fully ever understand answers to questions that plague mine and many others meaning in this life but you know what, I don’t need to.

It is the irony of the loneliness of a long drive that I am able to feel a glint that I am not on my own. And it is only through feeling insignificant that I am able to feel so much stronger. It is God’s landscape, the Lord’s artwork that I am able to get there, to be in that destination.

Though for now, as the car bounces on the uneven road, I might catch a peaceful nap.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Matt,
You obviously have an artistic soul and outlook on life. Thank you for sharing your reflection on your drive in the vasteness of our country. Sitting at my desk your words painted a vivid picture and inspired me to see the beauty of God's creation in the everyday.

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