The week leading up to Easter is one of the busiest in the church year. So many services … all different! I usually plan a short break away after Easter Sunday, to relax and refresh. This year I spent a week on Kangaroo Island. A group of about 10 of us shared a holiday home on Island Beach. Most of the others were folk musicians. (I think more luggage space in the two cars we brought over was taken up with guitars, ukuleles, banjos and other unmentionable instruments than in clothing or food!) Evenings were spent on the balcony listening to the others jamming.
In the daytime, there was the beach with its blue sky and sand sending an invitation for long walks – “drop in anytime, no RSVP needed.” One morning, just after dawn, I accepted. It was a clear day and as I cleared the last rise of dunes, I noticed some dolphins breaching the waves close to shore and swimming slowly east in the shallow water. I paced them along the beach, walking fast. My reason was mundane. I wanted to photograph them, but the reflection of the rising sun on the water made it almost impossible. If I walked fast, I reasoned, I could get a little ahead of them and take the photo away from the sun.
So I walked fast, paused, raised the camera, and realised they were still a little too far ahead. So I walked faster, and they were still a little ahead. … After this had happened a few times, I started to smile and laugh. The blighters knew what I was doing. I wasn’t pacing them, they were pacing me! They were playing with me. I laughed with them, took a few snaps of dark spots on a sunny sea, and enjoyed the joke with my new friends in the sea.
Those dolphins had reminded me of the joy and delight that is in the world around us. Too often we can get bogged down in things – even doing things that are good and rewarding (like Easter services) – and miss nature’s invitation to play, to delight in what surrounds us, to talk with trees or birds, or even be teased by dolphins. Such things are not items in long range plans or schedules. They happen in the moment, in a glisten of sunlight, the smell of wet air, the flitting of a bird. When we notice them, they lift us out of our schemes and remind us of the joy that pervades creation. The Psalmist talks about Leviathan, one of the most feared of sea monsters, being created to “sport/play/tease” in the sea. My friends the dolphins were following this primordial wisdom (Psalm 104:26). In Genesis 1, when the Bible tells us that God saw that creation was good, I like to think of God’s face breaking into a smile, like a child, and exclaiming, unprompted, “Wow! That’s beautiful!” Many other verses in the Bible point to the playfulness and joy in nature.
This time of the year is one that is filled with delight. The dry heat of summer is over. We can enjoy sunny days along with refreshing rains. The dry colours of parklands and garden in summer are replaced by shoots of green grass. Nature laughs exuberantly. In the church tradition, the weeks after Easter are also a time to rejoice. Often the readings speak of the joy of the followers of Jesus.
I invite you to pause, look at the world around you and see those parts of it that are inviting you to rejoice. Delight in nature; laugh with nature. Remember, as G. K. Chesterton once wrote “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.”
I invite you to take yourself lightly.
Rev Dr Peter Trudinger
Peter writes: “Although the dolphins eluded my attempt to photograph them, four pelicans posed for a cover shot reminiscent of Abbey Road.”
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