New Year’s Eve 2000 was celebrated on the Sydney Harbour Bridge by recognition of Arthur Stace’s Christian message, repeatedly chalked on Sydney streets over many years. My daughter asked: “Why that word — ‘Eternity‘?”
I typed up the history, as she wished to place it in a time capsule. My computer does strange things, (beyond my aging comprehension) and it came out in a column suitable for the bookmark poems I had recently begun to write. So Eternity was inspired for the reverse side! (Not to waste space!)
As darkness fell on New Years’ Eve
Expectantly the crowd awaited
As ’99 prepares to leave —
This century its place vacated —
A new 2000 to achieve —
And everywhere the breath is bated —
Seems an eternity!
On stroke of twelve, from midnight on,
Fantastic fireworks display
And Sydney Harbour glowed and shone
In red of fire and gold of day!
In celebration the Bridge did don
A smiley face to light the way.
To where? Eternity?
‘Twas half-past midnight, when at last,
The copperplate word burst aglow,
Unique to Sydney’s heritage past
In chalk on footpaths long ago,
And yet the memory holds fast
Of Arthur Stace’s bending low
To write… “Eternity”
He’d been a lowly, drunken man,
But overtaken by God’s power
To be a part of His great plan
To write in Sydney’s dark night hour,
And even generations span
And then from Sydney’s Bridge to tower
That word “Eternity”
On Sydney’s footpaths, end to end
That written word could oft be found.
For forty years, it did commend
Passers-by — to who-knows bound —
To the message that he penned
To pose the question,
“Where will you spend Eternity?”
2 January 2000
The story of Arthur Stace’s prompt for this remarkable Christian outreach is contained in Living & Learning.
Certain events and stories have inspired me to put in poetic form, examples of God’s amazing answers to prayer, in order that others may also benefit from the knowledge (permission requested where applicable). Such was the case with this excerpt from The Power of Prayer, the tale relayed by the best man at a local wedding.
Answers to prayer, some people say, are merely coincidence,
Yet to hear the following truthful tales, miracles make more sense.
“There’ll be one girl who’s right for me” a teenage student believed,
“But what if I choose the wrong one?” (he wondered and he grieved)
He prayed that God would give him a sign
(Greensleeves was a popular song at the time):
“Let the right girl wear long green sleeves — a silk dress.
So I surely will know to whom marriage address.”
Well, some years later, he’d forgotten the prayer
And met a young lady he thought of with care,
He invited her out, she became a close friend
A lovely young Christian on whom to depend,
Only later recalled the green sleeves he had seen
On that night that he realised he felt very keen.
While watching the ANZAC march on TV, tears welled in my eyes, and I had soon expressed my feelings in
Silent tears well in my saddened eyes
As the men and their memories march,
They are old and grey, but world-war wise
Their demeanour stiffened as starch.
The lump in my throat tries to comprehend
The perils they faced and fought,
The calls of justice and freedom to send
To injustices war had wrought.
On such men of courage our nation depended
When faced with liberty to save,
With honour they fought, our freedom defended
From the avarice and greed of a knave.
And the freedom they fought for is one we must cherish
The freedom to do what is right.
Not freedom to do as we like — or we perish
In surrender to the power of might.
25 April 1996
Galatians 5:13 (CEV); Philippians 8:4
Because of the volume of poems written by me over the last 30 years, they have been loosely assembled in 2 separate publications, for smaller volumes and lower cost. Although Living & Learning was published by Westbow Press in the USA, I realised that to save on exchange and delivery costs, I should have Cautionary Tales & Encouragements (which includes poems for children) printed by a local Christian printer.
Bookshop mark-ups add again to the price, so in Australia, I sell them both from my home, via phone or email orders. At only $20 per book, if collected or delivered locally, or $25 each if posted, all profit (currently at $3.40 per book) will be donated to Jericho Road, the Social Services arm of the Presbyterian Church.
Perhaps I should have called the second book Entreaties & Encouragements, as many of the children’s poems are written with the hope that parents will read to the children to help instill in them the will to do what is right, throughout life — kindly, with loving compassion, and trust in our awesome God.
My poems speak empathetically on many common life situations, with a Christian ethic. Although the usual copyright signs are printed in the books, I am happy to waive copyright for anyone to use personally in friendly situations, although it is polite to name the author.
Many others have been written as with a silent dictation, and I have been overwhelmed by the result, e.g. this Christmas poem was written in only 20 minutes, in this way, and on reading back, I was amazed at the unintended co-relation displayed between Jesus and Santa, in these few lines taken from
But we’re ready to welcome with a drink and a cake
That red-suited gift-giver who tries not to wake.
But would we make welcome the season’s Name-sake
If He dropped in to see us, to check we’re awake?
24 November 2008
“If I should write some lines of merit, only Christ can take the credit.”