Tag Archives: Christianity

A Shimmer of Moonlight…Friday Fictioneers.

Engulfed by a grief which knew no bounds, Bernadette refused to light the candle for Jim. No point. Whether God was dead or asleep, he wasn’t there. Otherwise, he would’ve stepped in. Plucked her husband right off the road before the truck hit. He came to rest on the banks of a creek…too late for the kiss of life, let alone a goodbye. She could still feel his arms wrapped around her in an unbroken chain.

The candle stood as still as a statue, while an owl peered through the window, eyes glowing in the moonlight.

…..

This has been another contribution for Friday Fictioneers. This week’s photo prompt © Janet Webb. 

xx Rowena

Back to Earth.

A devout Anglican and stalwart leader in women’s ministry, Margaret Wesley didn’t believe in magic. Magic was the Devil’s work.

However, unwittingly Margaret’s new gardening book had taken her into unchartered territory, promising remarkable growth through talking to your plants.

Putting on her reading glasses, she started with the struggling Ipomoea purpurea vine:

“What comes out of the earth, returns to the earth…”

Astonished by the instant results, Margaret almost choked on her dentures. The vine was growing faster than a triffid, and was about to engulf her house.

“Mrs Wesley? Mrs Wesley?”

WHAT would she say to the Reverend?

……

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers.

 

The Audrey Roster…Friday Fictioneers.

Playing the organ on a frosty Sunday morning, Audrey sat the bulky hymnal on the front seat of her battered Toyota Corolla, and struggled to get the key in the ignition. Her eyesight wasn’t what it used to be. Although her vision was patchy, the Church was only two blocks away. She could get there blindfolded.

“Mrs Ledger, can I give you a lift?”

“No, thank you love,” she smiled. She’d heard about the Audrey roster. Next they’d be calling her son. She’d burned her bra in the 70s. No one was confiscating her car keys.

Not even the Police.

……….

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

Weekend Coffee Share- Happy Easter Edition.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Before I even offer you a cup of tea or coffee, let me wish you and yours a Happy and Blessed Easter. In so doing, I’d like to offer you more than Easter eggs, Hot Cross Buns and give you something meaningful instead, which would be so much more appropriate. So, I’ll offer you a hug and a smile and I just remembered that if you’ve just walked through our front door our Border Collie, Bilbo, and Border x Cavalier, Lady will be there. Bilbo might bark and he takes awhile to warm up to people, even people he knows, unless it’s my Mum who he seems to know is Grandma. Besides, just like Grandparents bring treats for the kids, she bring ham scraps for the dogs. Their love is easily bought.

bilbo & Lady friends

I know you think the dog protests too much. Somehow, friendship seems to grow on you when you’ve been thrown in the same backyard. You can somehow get used to having another dog around. Indeed, after all this time, I might even like the Lady.

We’ve decided to stay home and spend Easter Sunday with just the four of us. Well, that is after we’ve been to Church and Geoff and the kids will be going to hear Martin Smith from Delirious at Church tomorrow night. I don’t think I’ll be going as my lungs are quite sensitive and reacting to the slightest irritation at the moment. I’m slugging ventolin, preventer and phenergan and still coughing. Off for a lung scan, but I don’t think my lungs are any worse.

Anyway, as many of you will know, I’ve been embroiled in the Blogging A-Z April Challenge. My theme this year has been Traveling Alphabetically Around Tasmania. Considering my theme last year was “Writing Letters to Dead Poets”, I’d thought this year’s theme was going to be relatively easy. However, I didn’t just want to produce some kind of bullet point, shopping list tour of the place. I wanted something personal, intimate and providing an inside-out view of the place mixing in a bit of history in with our recent trip to Tasmania and our photos.

Perhaps, I am the problem and it was inevitable my A-Z would get out of control again and break out of its box. I do have a tendency to bite off way more than I can chew. This week trouble hit when I started writing about the Irish Nationalists who were exiled to Tasmania. One of these, John Mitchel, wrote Jail Journal which covered the time from his sentencing, escape and arrival in New York. As it turned out, Geoff’s Great Great Grandfather, Daniel Burke and his brother, helped John Mitchel escape. So, there was quite a personal aspect to the story and it took quite a bit of research to get the family facts straight. By this point, I started wondering whether to continue with the A to Z and had a few days off. I don’t know what it was. However, I felt much better this morning and caught up.

The kids are currently on school holidays for 2.5 weeks and have had a few days away with my parents to give us a break. We certainly needed it and am so thankful. I feel like I’m always heading in so many different directions and yesterday I decided to go nowhere. I slept in until the afternoon and parked in my writing chair researching and didn’t budge. Indeed, my phone didn’t even record one step for yesterday. There was no data available.

It’s okay to have a PJ day no and then when it’s perfectly acceptable to wrap yourself up in your quilt and retreat. Stop fighting whatever it is you’re fighting for one day. Unless you’re really unlucky, it won’t be the end of your world. Indeed, I had a lot more energy to get on with things today.

We’ve decided to defer Easter lunch with my parents and brother until Monday, which is my brother’s birthday.

I’m also trying to work out how we’re going to get to the Easter Show this year. We’ve been given free tickets, but there’s only a few days left and things on. Hoping to get there on Tuesday.

Anyway, that’s enough about me. What about you? Do you celebrate Easter? Or, you have different traditions and beliefs?

Well, I hope you’re going well and I look forward to catching up.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

A Pathway to Heaven.

Brian put on his very best thinking cap and mustered all his concentration. As golden rays of sunlight beamed through the clouds, he could see heaven. Surely, if he looked hard enough, he would find Mother.

Moreover, in his nine year old mind, it wasn’t a huge leap of faith to believe an angel might bring her back. That just like Lazarus, Mother would miraculously rise from the dead.

His faith was bigger than a mustard seed.

Yet, Mother never came back. The gates of heaven stayed shut.

That’s when Brian stopped looking at the clouds.

There were no dreams.

Rowena Newton

This has been another contribution to the Friday Fictioneers . This week’s photo prompt comes from our host, © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

—-

The inspiration for this story, comes from my late Father-in-Law whose mother died when he was nine years old. He grew up in Penguin, Tasmania and we spent a few days there while we were in Tassie recently. We visited his old school (which now opens on Sundays for a market) and I looked through the windows to the clouds and thought of him grieving through class and missing his Mum.

After his mother died, family took in his sister and his Dad went away to work, leaving the two boys to fend for themselves. At 12, Brian left home to join the railways, despite being a bright pupil.

Brian died when my husband was 16. So, we’ve never met and we know very little about him and while I’ve used a real name and situation, it’s a purely fictional account of his response.

 

 

The Chaplain’s Voice, Port Arthur, Tasmania 1870-1877.

If you have been following my steps around the convict ruins at Tasmania’s Port Arthur, you’ll appreciate my efforts to gain some insight into what it meant to be a convict there, especially as Geoff’s 3rd Great Grandfather was a prisoner there.

While researching the Chapel in my previous post, I stumbled across this newspaper story covering a talk given by Rev. Rowland Hayward recounting his experience as Chaplain of the Port Arthur Settlement during 1870-77.

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Preacher at Port Arthur.

“At the Church of England Institute on Wednesday night the Rev. Rowland Hayward recounted his experience as Chaplain of the Port Arthur Settlement during 1870-77.

The Rev. F. S. Poole was in the chair, and the attendance was large. The lecturer prefaced his remarks by a review of the earlier history of the location of the prisoners at Macquarie, which, owing to its inhospitable character and difficulties of communication, was abandoned in favour of Port Arthur in 1835. In a little time this place became the most systematized of all British convict settlements.

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Convict Leg Irons on Display at the Chaplain’s Cottage.

Mr. Hayward was on the spot when the appointment was offered to him, having gone there for the sake of his health. With the duties of Chaplain, however, he combined Magisterial functions, but the dual capacity was embarrassing, as in his character of Chaplain he had often to soothe the wounds which he was bound to inflict as Magistrate. The manner in which he exercised the obligations of the latter, however, won over the convicts, who frequently refused to be tried by any other official than the Chaplain, as they had grown to fear the severity of the local officers, whom years of familiarity with the men and the conditions of their life had necessarily robbed of leniency or sympathy.

The natural beauties of the harbour and the station were painted by the lecturer, whose description, the audience were assured, was truthful, and opposed to the gloomy picture of both drawn by Marcus Clarke. The penitentiary was described, and although designed to accommodate as many as 600 prisoners during Mr. Hayward’s incumbency, the number of its inmates never exceeded 300.

A particular account of the institution was given, as also of the separate prison for refractory prisoners, who underwent in former days the refined cruelty of solitary imprisonment for an unlimited period. Here every prisoner immediately on his transportation suffered solitary confinement a month for each year of his term. Barbarous Mr. Hayward regarded this mode of punishment, although it was in substitution of the more brutal flogging, which was often administered in plenty for the most trivial offences.

At the same time, Mr. Hayward believed that in some cases a ” schoolboy flogging” would have rescued some unfortunate lads in the penitentiary from more serious mental and physical injury which were traceable to solitary confinement.

Referring to “The Term of His Natural Life,” the lecturer did not regard the work as exaggerated, but the horrors portrayed by it were rather an accumulation of all the atrocities that might have happened in connection with criminal life in Australia than a faithful account of the ordinary life at Port Arthur.

The lecture was freely interlarded with anecdotes, chiefly concerning two truculent ruffians named Mark Jeffries and Pat O’Hearn, who were a source of great trouble to the prison authorities.

The prison discipline was described, with its comprehensive system of supervision, including the plan of keeping dogs at Eaglehawk Neck to prevent the escape of the prisoners.

Altogether Mr. Hayward considered that provisions made for the bodily wants of the convicts were very generous, they being at least better cared for than the honest poor of the island. The lecturer spoke of his connection with Port Arthur as one of the happiest periods of his life. When asked his opinion by the Government as to the advisability of abolishing Port Arthur he was strongly opposed to the proposal, believing that the settlement offered to convicts the best opportunities of reformation. During the lecture, which lasted for two hours, there was an intermission devoted to music.

Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 – 1912) Tuesday 6 July 1886 p 3 Article

xx Rowena

The Chapel at Port Arthur.

Hauntingly photogenic, the Chapel at Port Arthur stops you in your tracks…especially once you delve into its past. After all, this Chapel witnessed such horrific, systemic brutality,  that it’s hard to conceive how Christianity had any place here. Indeed, I can almost hear those convicts crying out: My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

As I explained in my previous post, we visited the Chapel on our recent visit to Port Arthur. If you didn’t know its history,  you could easily describe it as a work of art with its striking silhouette representing resilience over adversity and withstanding the ageing effects of time. Moreover, whether you believe in them or not, these ruins definitely speak of ghosts!

Last night, I went trawling through old newspaper accounts about the chapel and thought I’d provide a few excerpts to give you a feel for its former horrors and glories.

port-arthur-illustrated-news

In 1842, the late Mr. David Burn, of Rotherwood, Ouse, made an excursion to Port Arthur and his account of attending the Chapel is very interesting:

“Next day (January 9,1842) being Sunday, we proceeded, after breakfast, to see the convicts mustered prior to their being marched to church. They were drawn up in three lines, each gang forming a separate division, the overseers (convicts) taking their stations in the rear. It was hideous to remark the countenances of the men, to which their yellow raiment, a half black, half yellow, P.A., and their respective numbers stamped in various parts, imparts a sinister, a most revolting expression. Scarcely one open set of features was to be found. To read’ their eyes, it seemed as though they were speculating the chance of gain or advantage to be hoped from us. Crime and its consequences were fearfully depicted in their ill-omened visages, and we turned from the disagreeable caricature of humanity with as much disgust as pity and regret.

Muster over, the men were marched with the utmost silence to church, whither we shortly followed — a military detachment, with loaded arms, being so stationed as to command the entire building. This necessary arrangement in a great degree destroyed the solemnity of the worship. The crew of the Favorite were present, their frank, manly, jovial countenances offering a striking contrast to the lowering aspects of the miserable yellow jackets. Service was performed by our fellow- traveller, the Rev. Mr. Simpson ; and the occasion being in aid of the Sunday schools, the worthy pastor took the opportunity of remarking, that as cash was a scarce commodity on the settlement, the I O U of any individual disposed to contribute would be gladly received, an observation which excited a general grin, since, however beneficial it might prove to the cause, the expression seemed more fit for the gaming table than the pulpit ; the language, nevertheless, was soon forgotten in the motive.

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The Church of Port Arthur is a beautiful, spacious, hewn stone edifice, cruciform in shape, with, pinnacled tower and gables. Internally, it is simple, but neatly fitted, affording accommodation for upwards of 2,000 sitters. There is no organ ; but a choir has been selected from among the convicts, who chant the psalms with considerable effect. As yet no clergyman of the Established Church has been resident, the religious duties having hitherto been undertaken by those zealous and indefatigable Christians the Wesleyans. Mr. Manton is the present respected pastor, a gentleman who has devoted himself not only to call the sinners of Port Arthur to repentance, but who has erstwhile laboured earnestly in the same good cause at the now abandoned settlement of Macquarie Harbour.1″

On Saturday 12 January, 1952…. this account of the Chapel’s history appeared in the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate:

“The church is noted for its high arches and soaring spires. It is of artistically worked freestone, and has a paved floor. Fire and time have ravaged the timber and the fine stained-glass windows. A convict named Mason was credited with having designed the church, but investigations have shown that it was designed by James Blackburn, who was later Town Surveyor of Melbourne. The church was interdenominational, and therefore never consecrated. It could accommodate 2000. Legend has it that residents of the area almost lynched a farmer who started a fire, a spark of which caught the roof and gutted it and the interior timber of the church.”2.

You wouldn’t know it looking at the Chapel now, but it was once covered in ivy.

As The Clipper reported on Saturday 22 April, 1893:

“Anyone who has been to Port Arthur, or has seen a photograph of the church, must acknowledge that the building owed much of its beauty to the enormous quantity of ivy which covered its outside walls. The preservation of this ivy was of much interest to the residents, but towards the latter days of the settlement, when discipline grew lax, the officials allowed their goats to graze within the church enclosure, which ate the leaves and tender shoots away as high as they could reach while standing erect on their hind legs. Although so thick on most parts of the wall there was one spot where it never grew at all — which was often a subject of remark by visitors and others. The reason given is not generally known. While the church was in process of erection by prison labor and when almost finished two prisoners were fixing the leads upon the roof, when they had a quarrel. The one knocked the other down, who fell heavily to the ground and was killed. In falling he struck the building, his blood staining the ground below. It is a curious fact, but the ivy never grew on that spot.”3.

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However, my newspaper journey exploring all these fascinating historical details, has in swamped what was OUR visit to the chapel. As I’ve mentioned before, Geoff’s third Great Grandfather served as a convict at Port Arthur. Therefore, as we explored and experienced every single nook and cranny, we were thinking of him. Indeed, we were family coming back to a very strange sense of home.

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Therefore, as I photograph the chapel perfectly silhouetted against an azure sky, I think of him hoping that against the odds, he might have found some solace here.

What are your thoughts about the ruins of Port Arthur?

xx Rowena

Sources

  1. Launceston Advertiser (Tas. : 1829 – 1846) Thursday 26 January 1843 p 4 (From Frazer’s Magazine, for September. J Concluded).

2. Saturday 12 January, 1952 the Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate.

3. The Clipper (Hobart, Tas. : 1893 – 1909) Saturday 22 April 1893 p 4 Article