Planets over Sydney from Leichhardt

My impressionist (ie slightly blurry) view of planets Mercury, Jupiter and Venus (with Mars not quite visible I think) over Sydney this morning…

Click here for some other views.

God in action for Easter at Trinity Beach

The European name for the area known as Trinity Beach, far north Queensland, originates from Captain James Cook’s exploration of Australia in 1770.
He passed by this section of coastland on or near Trinity Sunday, June 10, 1770. The traditional owners of the region are the Gimuy Yidinji.
It is the first time possibly in my life that I did not attend a church service over Easter but being surrounded by family and God’s preaching through creation,  ensured a deeply spiritual experience.
A band of cloud crosses the reflected light of the moon producing the image of a cross. The light also produces a key-hole shape.
 
After a cross-shaped image created by the full moon on Good Friday, Easter Sunday's sunrise did not fail to bring a powerful feeling of resurrection.

New Year’s Eve pictorial from Yarranabbe (Darling Point)

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A work colleague who I’ve only known a few months kindly invited us to share the Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks from her harbourside location at Darling Point.

I calmly mentioned would she mind if seven of us showed up and in the great Australian tradition of hospitality, she warmly welcomed a few Halletts and relatives from Canberra.

During the wait between the 9pm and midnight fireworks, I was reminded of the new world of technology in which we live when my brother-in-law rang from his header on his farm near West Wyalong.

As the GPS system guided his large grain header through the heavy but rain-affected crop, I stood a hairbreadth from Sydney harbour and we chatted about our shared lives.

Grateful to hear that it was dry enough (for now) to harvest without getting blog, I wished him a happy new year in time to turn around and see my nephew playing with another boy on his iPad, seated on the lawn, surrounded by the panorama of Sydney.

Darling Point… originally named Mrs darling Point after Governor Darling’s wife. And previously known to the Aboriginal people as Yarranabbe, the name of the street we were in…

God makes a Google Street View appearance

Plenty of interesting things have been found on Google Street View ranging from dead bodies to hovering cars, but perhaps even God has made an appearance.

A god-like figure can be seen hovering midair above a lake in Quarten, Switzerland.

Discovered by the Gawker blog, the image is most likely to be the result of  light distortion or lens flare, however blogger Max Read has questioned tongue-in-cheek whether it might have more mysterious origins:

‘Is it something on the camera lens? Or is it maybe… God and His only begotten Son? And who’s to say that God isn’t “something on the lens”, in some kind of a cosmic, metaphysical sense?’ he writes.

God can be anywhere and everywhere – even on a camera lens no doubt – which kind of reminds me of the supposed ‘how many angels on the head of a pin‘ theological debate. Still, when God appears again in the sky, the Bible suggests we won’t be left guessing…

For a few more favourite Google Street View images, visit this Sydney Morning Herald gallery.

And let’s not forget Perth’s famous hovering cars or an unusual man-made landscape in a remote part of China which appears to be a model of a larger piece of territory complete with snow-topped mountains, streams and valleys.

Some Friday fun at my expense: City2Surf photos

Ok, so it’s the end of the week, we are four weeks into an election campaign and two and a half months through a cold winter. On that basis you could probably use a laugh, so I’ll go out on a limb and share my City to Surf photos.

Firstly there are the photos taken by the official photographers, Marathon Photos, who through the wonders of modern technology, allow runners to view a range of photos taken during the race. Keep in mind that nearly 70,000 people finished the City to Surf so to do this is no mean feat.

When a certain member of my family first saw these, they were in such agony of hilarity that they rang me 50 times to tell me to look. Very funny. All I can I say is that they reveal the agony my legs were truly experiencing by this stage. To view the video of me finishing and a small collection of photos, click here. You’ll see some small thumbnails which you can click on for a larger view, if your game.

Secondly, I took a range of photos on my phone before and during the event and, once again, there are some mildly amusing results. I admit, I’m not good at the whole self-portrait thing… Enjoy, and go for a walk or a jog this weekend!

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Jeffry leaves us far too quickly

One of the boys lingers after morning devotionsOne of the last times I saw Jeffry alive was as we gathered around a single candle flickering on the white tiled floor of the children’s home in Bali.

It was the first time that I had stayed overnight at the home and, although the home-parents had set me up in my own room with a fan, a blackout had left me too hot to sleep.

As I listened to the noises of the night – geckos, frogs, dogs, babies – it seemed only moments before I heard the sound of children and adults rising to share devotions.

As the children began to sing, I shuffled bleary eyed from my room and sat on the floor among them. We sang to Jesus, candle shining, and the tiles providing at least some coolness.

Jeffry was there, nurturing the candle as boys love to do, singing with the others his love for God.

Later that morning – it was still only about 7am – I enjoyed a specially procured breakfast of fried bananas and took photos of some of the kids as they headed off to school. Four other boys travelled on the back of motor bikes, but Jeffry rode his bicycle.

I had ridden his bike myself a day or two before. It was just before church at the children’s home and I was wearing my preacherly best, but caught up in the playfulness of children, hopped on the bike, riding up the lane, much to the amusement of the kids and arriving churchgoers.

Jeffry loved to call my daughter (Rebekah) bebek which means duck. She would ask for the names of animals to say back, and her attempts left Jeffry and the children rolling with laughter.  

A couple of days later I flew home but that little corner of Bali, down a back lane in Denpasar, is never far from my heart, or my family’s.

There was no candle, no white tiles, no smothering humidity when I got up yesterday morning, heading to make coffee and breakfast.

I noticed a text had arrived on my mobile. I opened it and read: ‘P please pray 4 Novi, motor bike accident young Jeffry died Novi in coma we r at hospital.’ Later we learned a drunk rider had collided with the two children.

My own sadness at this news cannot be compared with my daughter’s who has used almost every available holiday in the past few years to visit these children. We can only imagine the aching grief of those whose lives entwined with Jeffry every day.

It was many years ago when I sat in the room of a small boy as he died of AIDS, contracted from his mother. He had spoken of visions of Jesus coming to his room to speak with him. These memories tell me that Jesus is never outdone by tragedy.

Experiences like that, like this, remind us that every child is beautifully special and that somehow God, in his great love, makes provision even in the darkest hours. Our prayers and our presence are part of that provision, the reason we care, that we go.

One of Jeffry’s  ‘sisters’ at the home wrote, ‘everyone very sad , and also still not believe that Jeffry must go quickly…’

It is true, he has gone far too quickly for us, but he finds himself in a place where time, or tears, will never bother him again. Till we meet again…

Audio/Photo Post: Art, death & everything on Kensington St

Kensington St Broadway is a handy shortcut if you are heading to Redfern or Cleveland St. Turns out it is more than a little interesting with food, art, education, death and development all delving into this Sydney back street.

Turn off Broadway with the shadow of the UTS tower on your back and walk steadfastly past curious artefacts and digging developers to come face to face with your mortality. Listen to my impromptu description:

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Sleepy street throws up some random humour

This meddlesome mattress has been taking up car spaces around our street recently – I’m pretty sure I saw a ranger giving it a ticket this morning. But every mattress has a silver lining and today this one conspired with an unusual car number plate to throw up some random humour on an otherwise grey old day. I promise this is not a set up, I just walked out of my house and the gag was sitting there waiting for me to find it… PH

One year on, a fresh look for Utterance

I wrote the first blog post of my life on April 27, 2009, nearly a year ago, but it wasn’t until a hastily conceived New Year’s Resolution that I got serious about blogging (nearly) every day.

Utterance’s first thousand hits took about 10 months and the next two thousand just two months – I still marvel at those sites that have millions of hits in a day!

I’ve had some amazing feedback in that time, learned a great deal and rediscovered the joy of writing (if not, perhaps, the skill). I have even at times felt like a journalist breaking news – it’s hard to get the printer’s ink out of your blood (sorry, old journo saying…)

The full version of the Utterance header photo

To celebrate a year of Utterance, and to reflect the change of seasons, I’ve employed one of WordPress‘ favourite themes, Misty Look. The photo in the header was taken by myself at Hawkeshead in the Lake District, England. It shows a gate, a tombstone and a rather shiny clock on the old cathedral. Quite symbolic I think, but I’ll leave you to consider the conjunction of these elements. Happy reading and don’t forget to breath – speak – and breath again…PH

 

Jesus’ heavenly appearance at Easter Show

 

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Utterance reported on Wednesday that the Royal Agricultural Society, organisers of Sydney Royal Easter Show had refused the Bible Society of NSW a stall on the basis that it was of a ‘religious nature’.

More than 200 volunteers and thousands of resources had been arranged for the Easter, All About Life stall that was to be linked to the recent Jesus, All About Life media campaign.

Fittingly, Jesus did make an appearance at the Show today about 1pm thanks to the heavenly intervention of a sky-writer.

With the sun as an exclamation mark, Jesus All About Life appeared brightly in white against a brilliant blue sky, easily visible at the show in Homebush Bay. The words spread broadly in the gusty wind covering the whole city.

They made quite an impression in Sydney’s inner west where I managed to take the photos above on my trusty Nokia E71 phone and also an Olympus MU9000. Of course, the mandatory buildings, telegraph wires and even an obliging plane accompanied my city pics.

It’s good to be reminded that even the day the Jesus was crucified is Good and is all about life! PH