Service with a smile, a baker’s dozen – and here’s mud in your eye!
Sunday 22nd March 2020. Travel continued to dominate our thoughts last night, taking in the television news and communications from home. So waking to an email from our agent telling us there were no earlier flights available, and all they could offer was the Melbourne one next Friday, we responded with a firm “Okay, go ahead.”
Today we had been invited to attend morning service. This meant a lot to me, as it was the website for this particular church I had once approached with a view to learning more about my parents’ time in Delamere. Mum had referred to it in a letter: “I did miss Easter so much, it is not observed at all here, though I suppose it would be in the towns and maybe in the tiny church at Delamere if we could have got there.” Five years earlier, Linc had been the first to respond to my email enquiry, describing himself as “the secretary among other things”. Now he was welcoming us to the building itself. How envious would my mum have been?
The church is indeed tiny, over 160 years old and nestling in a beautiful little valley just off the main road to the Cape. We were among the first to arrive, and I was delighted when Lyn gave me the honour of pulling on the rope leading up into the bell tower. It was a tradition to call the residents to service that way, and I couldn’t help wondering if that unique sound had carried across the fields to my mother seventy years ago.
Around a dozen of us almost filled the small space inside, where the furnishings were deliberately modest. The small organ would remain silent, as the lady who normally played it was poorly – but fortunately not with the virus. So, the lay preacher’s husband had brought his acoustic guitar, and he led the singing of hymns that were largely strange to Elaine and I. But the volume of noise! It was impossible not to feel emotional here, in what was probably the oldest and most charming little church in South Australia, caught up in the fervour of a community that made us so welcome.
There were readings from the Old Testament and from the Gospels, referring to the miracle of Jesus curing a blind man. The bible tells us he did this by first daubing the man’s eyes with mud, and then washing it off. Not a bad analogy for the present world affliction, suggesting we will only recover once we have endured some rough treatment. It was also interesting to note this biblical reference as the apparent source of the expression “Here’s mud in your eye!”
The Christian message continued after the service, next door in the hall, over a welcome cup of tea. We were all invited to take home donations of baked goodies (croissants, doughnuts, bread and hot cross buns) that the lay preacher and her husband had brought over from a bakery near their home in Aldinga, thirty miles away. One touch of sadness prevailed: due to government restrictions about to be imposed on social gatherings, this would be the last church service for the foreseeable future.
Our afternoon would be spent in quiet relaxation, allowing Kato to establish his new-found ability to befriend Elaine by jumping onto her lap. Another miracle?
On the flip side, there would be no more positive information about travel. Not for a long time.
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