A Hundred Gourds 4:4 September 2015

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Jonathan McKeown - Australia


. . So Jacob rose early in the morning,
and he took the stone that he had put under his head
and set it up for a pillar . . .

Genesis 28:18

. . . the covenant is eternity’s beginning in time . . .

Soren Kierkegaard1

What after all are these churches now
if they are not the tombs and sepulchres of God?

Friedrich Nietzsche2

Today I serviced an elderly widow’s toilet and taps. She made me instant coffee served with biscuits, and I made conversation with her while I worked. She told me in her broken English that she and her husband moved from Sicily to Sydney “to give the children a better life”. Her daughter is married now and lives in Queensland, her son in Germany. The neighbourhood has changed so much that she no longer knows any one in the street: No-one cares, she said.

living long
enough to feel
the need for stone

Afterwards I ate lunch in the shade of a large palm tree in the grounds of a nearby church. Despite signs of dilapidation – the fallen gravestones – the root-buckled paths, there was evidence of care: the inviting lawns seemed well kept, the old stone church had stood the test of time. The people who built it bore something manifestly more admirable in mind than any property developer that has worked in the area since. The generous grounds and large spreading trees with their quiet pools of shade seem unconcerned by the mounting pressure of increasing urban density, as if it all were held back by some invisible levee.

Leaving I noticed the pedestrian paths that crossed the grounds and stopped where they intersected near the entrance to the church: the old sandstone steps and threshold were worn down …

giving moss
a place to gather
gully stones


1. From “On the Occasion of a Wedding” in Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions.
2. From “The Madman” in The Gay Science.

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