'Hey bae... oh I mean barley.'
My voice bounces off the steel wall bunkers as I enthusiastically prepare myself for a day in paradise. Its 6:30 am and I'm staring at a stack of grain. Feed Barley, in case you are remotely interested.
I'm in the middle of nowhere, my feet hurt, all my data on my phone has been used, my stomach is lurching at the smell of grain and I just waved politely to a truckie who completely ignored the fact that I even exist on the face of this earth. He must have forgotten that I indeed am the one who watches his grain fall into the bunker for hours. Many hours. Did I mention hours?
It is now 6:35 am and I have already checked my phone three times, hoping that a sneaky three hours has passed. I'm disappointed once again and promise myself that I won't check the time for another three hours. I mean three minutes.
It is now 7 am and weâmy co-worker and Iâfeel sprightly enough to make small talk. My co-worker is 33 years my senior and likes to talk about his dog, Mikeâ'good ol' chap he is', his veggie garden, and his former days of glory in jail. I feign interest and all of a sudden I know more about Mike and vegetables than I ever thought possible. Mike. Vegetables. Mike. Vegetables.
And don't forget the jail stint.
The trucks are supposed to arrive at 7am, but for some reason unbeknownst to us, we don't receive trucks until roughly three and a half hours later. So we sit. Staring at the barley, hoping for a truck to come and also hoping for one not to come, so we don't have to stand up. We also complain about people complaining. We are full to the brim with hypocrisy.
It is now 38 degrees and I think I'm legitimately melting in my long everything. I wear long pants and a long sleeve high visibility top. I do my classic bug slapping ritual, the helmet first, the shoulders, then to the arms, the final crescendo approaches and I squeeze the death out of the lucky Rutherglen Bugs who love to dig into my skin. It's sweet revenge.
I have nowbeen sitting on this concrete tyre for 8 hours, watching the sun reflect off the tarp onto my pale skin. Great. So I am verging on skin cancer, sheer insanity, and I am crippled by monotonous boredom. Life is good.
Beauty in a fallen world
If you haven't figured it out already, I have just described to you my job, which even makes me cringe as I write about it.
It's a hot, dusty, pragmatic work place that exudes a certain aura that I despise. Is it a beautiful environment? Certainly not. But as I have stepped out of my comfortable into the not-so-comfortable-thatâit-really-hurts, I have discovered something.
There is a parallel to be found between the narrative seasons of days and the beauty to be found universally, which should unlock something within us as an outward response.
So I find myself in the middle of a debacle. Are we lying to ourselves when we describe something as beautiful? Is beauty a concept inflicted upon objects with no objective reference point? Are we left to flounder in a societal definition of beauty?
As Christians, we know that beauty can only be evaluated when compared to God himself. Beauty is seen in the colour, performance and ordering of creationâa multi-faceted illustration of a beautiful God. Ecclesiastes chapter 3, verse 11 highlights this so well: 'He has made everything beautiful in its time'.
When looking past beauty as only aesthetic relativism, we see that beauty is made to manifest and be a complete representation of God in our unpredictable-lonely-heart-drenched days.
Beauty finds its voice in and through a Creator in the moments and seasons where to appreciate something beautiful goes against all common sense and logic.
When God's beauty disturbs, we see an attractive clash of beauty, truth and goodness, and then something happens.
The reformation of attitudes, helping shape a new culture.
I choose beauty
So this time I do it again. I choose to pursue beauty in a situation where beauty doesn't reign.
My feet are aching but I'm getting paid well to do easy work. Even though there is very little infrastructure around me, the barren land quakes with reverence, it demands your gaze. The truck driver I just waved to probably didn't see me and even if he did, I'm glad I waved to him.
It is just one small act of appreciation.
I look at my co-worker with the same appreciation I gave to the truck driver and I begin to listen. He is full of stories, life experiences and thoughts that are not purely theoretical. He tells me of practical ways of dealing with Mike's misbehaviour and his thriving veggie garden that brings him so much joy.
He then offers me two zucchinis.
Three and a half hours later, I feel the ache in my feet but decide to ignore it and I get up from the concrete tyre, reminding myself to be present. This time I stop. It's more beautiful than ever and it's ringing in my ears. Barley is gushing upon the stack, trickling down the side of the steel wall bunkers. The dust rushes past me and this time I don't turn away; I wave at the grinning truckie.
He waves back.
And I'm thrilled, because it's a beauty.
Emily Black is passionate about writing and seeks to write raw, authentic and timely pieces that disturb and comfort, engage justice and fundamentally empower. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts at The University of Melbourne and actively desires to pursue a life of untainted freedom through Jesus Christ.
Emily Black's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/emily-black.html