My word for the week has been ‘paleochannel’!
Last Sunday after church was our second church walk, and a large group of us walked through the Jerrabomberra wetlands and enjoyed a short address from Patrick Paynter on the ACT government’s land management of this area over time. He spoke of the ‘paleochannels’, the ancient riverbeds, that run through the Jerrabomberra wetlands and the East Basin and it was fascinating to think about the flowing of water over centuries shaping the land where we were walking and talking – and enjoying our picnic lunch – on Sunday!
Perhaps, as we begin this series on psalms of lament we could think of them as paleochannels as well; evidence of ways of thinking and praying and sorrowing and questioning – evidence of ways of theologising – among God’s people over centuries. And we, too, are drawn into the flow of that process, allowing the psalms to provide patterns for our grieving and our questioning, but most of our, our desire for interaction and relationship with God.
On Monday nights, from 6 to 7pm, a pop up group is exploring some of Walter Brueggemann’s work on the psalms of lament. The group are working through a multi-media resource called The Psalmists Cry and there are four nights still to go (26 Oct, 2 Nov, 9 Nov, 16 Nov) and you are welcome to join in – either in person in the Lounge or on Zoom (see the bulletin for details).
Next Wednesday, 28 October, 7:30 to 8:30pm, we are also holding a writing workshop – to write our own psalms of lament. Rebecca Hilton will be running this, so please come along if you are in Canberra. For those who cannot be there in person we are repeating this workshop on Zoom on Wednesday 4 November, again from 7:30 to 8:30pm.
This Sunday, however, John Morrison will continue our series by looking at the structure of the psalms of lament and personal psalms of lament, and I will wrap-up the series on 1 November with a look at communal psalms of lament.
If there is a poem that relates our walk amongst the paleochannels of Canberra to our exploration of the paleochannels of the psalms it is Wendell Berry’s The Peace of Wild Things, so let me leave you with that and this beautiful image of wild budgerigars that Richard Allen was part of catching and tagging and releasing, as part of caring for our local wildlife over the weekend of the 11th October, while we, in our service, were blessing the animals.
Grace and peace, Belinda
Wendell Berry’s The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.