Far beyond the cliffs the moon glistens a glowing yellow, rippled and jagged this way and that way by the careful caress of the dusk breeze across the water’s surface. Seemedly competing to be seen, two seagulls cast their bodies across the reflection, ablaze with glorious splendor, gliding above the tranquil ocean.
My eyes follow the birds as they fly over the cliff edge and nestle on the rusted guttering of the Surf Life Saving building down the hill and in a little from the edge of the Bronte cliffs.
“Hey God,” I say, “it’s me again.” Sitting on the grassy edge of a cliff jutting out over the ocean, resting on my palms, legs stretched out over the crashing waves beneath, I posture myself to talk to God. Leaning, palms, fingers, palms, fingers, I begin.
“As the waves furl below God bends down a listening ear, opening and closing in time with the waves and in time with my prayer. “What if…” I inquire, “what if…” Another night searching for another way; another decorated dusk drinking the salty air.
The breeze is the brush of God against my face, the answer to my question. He wraps me up in fervor, the hairs on my back bristle, my face, tight and salty after a day in the sun, cracks a smile. Playful and affectionate his touch, my attention captured.
I’ve never heard God say my name. Never heard him say, “there, there my son.” But I’ve seen lightening. I’ve seen thunder roar three seconds later, the cascading rain after that. There is surely a pattern in his response. Have you ever responded to a cruising bream swimming in a jetty’s shadow, underneath the water’s surface?
How can one respond actively without startling the fish? Do we want God to gaze in wonder, to feel our pain, or to work in our surrounds?
From my vantage point I can see a God panorama. In the water below I look and it glows a fantastic green, streaks of neon beneath the surface, interrupted by the shadows of hundreds of tiny fish swimming in clouds all over.
Rocks embraced by eddying tides, a strangely full embrace, cracking at the surface, the white foam of the waves mixing with the reflections to emit a residual limy colour.
I glance up at the sky as clouds like giant wilder beasts gather fury and butt heads in the middle of the sky. A stick of lightening bonds the sea to the sky, God’s right hand, fiery and defiant. The heavens shudder as the clouds collide, a creaking, crackling sound. Astonishing. Lying back, a cold, confident drop of water smashes on my forehead.
Caught my eye
As I turn my face the running away of water speedily down my cheek. My eyes fix on a tiny, white marking in the rock; Matt loves Sarah. The writing blurs out of discernible focus as I peer at a girl walking near the building across the beach, smiling, talking to herself. Another drop.
She bends down, fingers in the sand. Something tiny. A shell. And again, smiling. She looks over at me and holds it in the air before bending down to search for others. I turn my attention back to the clouds, my face wet with rain.
Embers glow fiercely behind the clouds and a then a radiant bolt joins the sky to the ocean for a second, before the Heavens rupture; a soothing drumming like a sand-rattle as the sea fills with tiny clefts, pierced by the rain as it litters the ocean.
For a while I lay there, eyes closed, and then I sit up. Next to me is the shell girl, my girl, eyes closed and head tilted upwards, smiling.
Something strange happens when we take our eyes off ourselves. We notice the abundance of life around us. I’ve never heard God say my name. But I’ve seen lightening.
David Luschwitz is a teacher in Walgett western New South Wales.
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