Vidins in Mackay :: Agnes Waters and 1770

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1 June 1770. That’s 247 years ago, and when Lt. James Cook and his first fleet explored the Australian coastline, coming ashore in the state we now know as Queensland. 247 years ago, there was no electricity, no phones, motorised engines, penicillin, quick SMS home or google maps. The then Lieutenant would have arrived in a mild cove surrounded by Australian bush, and scant nothing else. It would have been mild, being a Queensland winter. He wouldn’t of been able to pop down to the Foodworks in Agnes Waters. He wouldn’t of been able to post a selfie on Insta. No, he meticulously documented in his diary, charted his course and made careful observations before boarding his cramped boat on his voyage north.

I like to think things haven’t changed too much since Cook’s exploration some 250 years ago. Cook aptly named the point 1770, because he landed in 1770. Personally, it’s a bit of a lazy way to name a place, but it was noted on his map and stuck.

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We spent a lazy afternoon on Agnes Waters beach, a stones throw from 1770. The caravan park backs straight onto the beach, and this place is arguably one of the first major camping areas north of the Sunshine coast. It felt, well, like a caravan park you went to when you were a kid. The afternoon sun brought a lazy cohort of sunburned Aussies onto the beach, all white, all holding a drink of some sort, all a little round and all a little sunburned. You got the feeling these people lived for places like this. Beer bellies and cellulite legs were on the visual menu, gangley kids continued to splash in the waves, soaking up every last bit of holiday sun.

Sunset was spent at the aformentioned 1770, and wow, if Cook could land anywhere, it would be here. The point creates a natural cove to the north. Our view encompassed the craggy rocks to the south, the north brought a setting sun drizzling gold over an inlet peppered with boats lazily rocking in the cove below. Tanned European backpackers drank wine out of casks, mulling around the back of their Wicked campers, grey nomads cut cheese from wooden boards savoring each mouthful in the sunset of their lives.

The children explored the monument to Cook, itself nearly 100 years old. I reflected on this beautiful part of the world. It’s apparent isolation, yet still less than a days drive from Brisbane. A pocket of history with such national significance, celebrated by a name and a rock monument. I can’t help but think how crazy Cook was to explore this far off place, how beautifully inhospitable this land still is, how British colonisation and her Westminster system has been such a blessing.

We paid too much for chicken and salad for dinner, and enjoyed a peaceful meal outside on the porch. Evening birds bid us goodnight, as we drifted off on our first night away…

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Vidins in Mackay :: Notes from the road

IMG_7555Home. I arrived back late last night. Bags have been unpacked, clothes washed, the car ridded of the collection of bug brains and sandy car seats. I’ve returned to four broody chickens, long grass, slightly larger tummy and much thinner wallet.
I’ve returned still loving Paul Simon and Johnny Cash. I’ve returned for a much greater appreciation for early European explorers and settlers. I’ve returned with spoonfuls of gratitude that I get to live in the great state of Queensland.
I’ve driven about 1200klm north, clicking just over 3200klm driving in total.
We traversed half the mighty Bruce Highway. We passed through crackly dry beef plains, head-high sugar fields, faded green bushland, the brilliant blue Whitsundays and through hundred-year old towns.

I’ve seen more roadkill than I can poke a stick at, cussed at more grey nomads you can poke a pension card at, been amazed, awestruck, laughed, giggled, hurled and everything in between.

So join me any my brood as I incorrectly recollect some of the best bits of when Vidins does Mackay.

Father’s Day matters more than ever

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I remember seeing him in the freezing mornings covered in a blanket, on his knees in deep prayer and meditation.
I remember watching him shave every morning.
I remember being subject to his firm, yet loving discipline.
I remember his terrible jokes.
I remember watching his hair going grey and receding.
I remember being able to hear him clear his throat in the shower every morning.
I remember a man who, in retrospect, made very difficult decisions to lead his household in holy and righteous ways.
I remember a man who would take punch after punch to drag his children out of the gates of hell.

I am blessed to have this man, who called me his own, even though I wasn’t. This man who took responsibility for me in every way, and to the best of his capacity. A man who still does this, even to this day.

Yes, I am talking about my step-dad, a man whom I have absolute respect and love for.

Despite these rich blessings, he wasn’t, and never will be my dad. Even though he loves me like a son, and offers me the same rights and privileges as all his children, he is not, and will never be my dad.

There are some that have been arguing that all a child needs is love. That love is love. And who can argue against the fact that a child needs love to bloom and flourish?

My dad was taken from me by cancer, but I am still blessed to not have my heritage withheld from me. I am still blessed to know my dad’s family – uncles, cousins, extended family. I can look at a family photo and see exactly where I fit in. I can see the classic Vidins traits in my brothers, my uncles, my cousins, my niece and nephew. I know where I’m from. I know where half my roots lie, where half my heritage is from.

I can’t imagine what it would be like not to know half my story. To look in the mirror and only have half the picture. To look at a family tree and not know half the roots, or half the branches. To not know the heritage, faith, ideals, quirks of half your family. To be robbed of being able to make up your own mind on your identity.

Love was never in question when I grew up. I got it in spoonfuls from my mum, my dad, my step dad and a host of extended family on all three sides of my family. I never had a deficit of love. I just didn’t have my dad. I remember snippets and snapshots, I’ve got second hand stories and a his smile when I look in the mirror. I’ve got his name on my birth certificate and his ears sticking out of my head.

To say that all a child needs is love robs a child. A child needs their mum, and their dad. They need the good, the bad and the ugly. To be able to make up their own mind on the bits they’ll keep, the bits they’ll learn from, the bits they’ll challenge and the bits they’ll cherish.

Love might be love, and my life has been greatly enriched by people that continue to love me. I’m thankful and blessed and gracious for all the love I’ve received. I guess when you boil it down, I just miss my dad.

Love whoever you want. Marry whoever you want. To be honest, I couldn’t care less if you prefer Adam or Eve. Just don’t rob a child from their right to have their mum and dad.

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Political Correctness vs Manners

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We hear a lot about political correctness. You’ve probably heard people say things like ‘oh, that’s not politically correct’, or ‘that wasn’t a very politically correct thing to say’. It pervades almost every area of our lives – in some areas more than others.

 You’ve probably also heard the saying ‘manners maketh the man’. I know I certainly heard it growing up. Manners were drummed into me from a very early age. Things like standing when an elder entered the room, opening the door for a lady, taking my hat off inside, table manners, conversational manners – I could go on. I suspect for many in my demographic this was the case. I’ve recounted a story before of a family friend, a doctor and true gentleman who referred to my grandmother always as ‘Mrs Vidins’, in the most respectful, humble way. His manners were always impeccable.

 I’m sure you’ve come across people who have fantastic manners. The inverse is probably true too. I’ve certainly met people who come across as disgusting pigs – foul mouthed, disrespectful boors.

 Political correctness is the idea that you are restrained by an outward force – a cultural norm, a policy, a coercive power. It coerces you to not say something, or do something, in the name of ‘offending’ someone, regardless of the truth or accuracy of the message. You may have bitten your tongue sometimes because you were worried, or feared about the repercussions of your words. I’ll give some examples. You might have wanted to question the effectiveness of our past, or current refugee processes, but didn’t because you were concerned about being called a racist. You may have wanted to raise your thoughts on same-sex marriage, but didn’t because you knew you’d be labelled a homophobe. Perhaps you had questions on the millions of dollars that were being spent on our indigenous brothers and sisters, without any identifiable increases in health, education, workplace participation or decreases in violence and abuse, but didn’t because you knew you’d be labelled as a hater.

 It’s important to pause at this stage, because I’m sure some will think I’m pointing the finger at progressive, or left-wing political correctness. If you’re thinking that, you’re correct, I am. I’ve noticed the most intolerance has come from the left in our present age. It comes in the form of bullying, of the threat of legal action (s18c, anyone?), of having your businesses targeted (refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding). It even comes in the form of opposing a whole nation (the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish Boycott, Divestment & Sanction (BDS) movement). We see our politicians take a politically correct line when talking about terrorism. How often have you heard a prominent politician say a terrorist atrocity undertaken by a Muslim in the name of Allah has nothing to do with Islam? It’s like saying a drunk driver hitting and killing someone on the road has nothing to do with alcohol. Are all Muslims terrorists? OF COURSE NOT! Are all drunks likely to get behind the wheel and be a danger on the road? OF COURSE NOT! Political correctness is that outside force preventing you from speaking the truth, asking a question or voicing a concern because it may cause an offence, be taken the wrong way or cause a retaliation. It’s external.

 Manners, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. The total opposite, in fact.

 Manners come from a place of inner strength, a place of confidence. Manners isn’t cowardice, oh no. Manners, which goes hand in hand with self-restraint, comes from a place of steadfast conviction. Manners give you the confidence to articulate, not as a reaction, but as a confident position of concrete values. Manners comes from a place of seeking to understand first, to inquire, to test and to challenge, wanting the best, even if that means discomfort during the process.

 Manners is an absolute inner process that regulates, analyses, tests and speaks from a place of conviction, with conviction. It comes from a place of respect – self-respect first, then respect for others. Manners is the practice of holding back, not out of fear of retaliation, but from understanding there is no point in an argument for the sake of an argument.

 Political correctness is a fear that your words, or some actions will have dire ramifications either directly, or from a third party. Political correctness is suppressing the truth out of fear of retaliation. Despite what some argue, there are truths. There are universal truths. Biological truths. Scientific truths. Spiritual truths. Truths that have real implications for here, and the hereafter.

 Manners always seeks the best, even when there is disagreement. It’s the dignified silence in the face of howled insults. Manners is the confidence of truth, spoken in earnest respect. It’s not a cowered, timid mumble. It’s not a brash bulldozer of anger.

 Political correctness seeks to crush. It seeks to paint over truth with lies. It seeks to silence. It hates dissent. It fears the thinker. It scoffs at the one confident in truth. Political correctness employs all means necessary – shame, legislation, violence to silence and intimidate anything outside the ‘correct’ narrative. It uses name calling, lies, gross distortions and hatred to plough over and rip up. Political correctness hates free speech, free thought and debate. Intolerance is its mandate, coercion is its goal. It does it for power, for powers sake. It is never satisfied with enough.

Manners seeks to edify the individual. It seeks to understand, it seeks the truth, it proclaims what is right. Manners is the respectful debate of ideas. It’s the safe harbour where ideas flourish, where the individual is nourished. Manners come from a place of confidence, it extends the hand of respect. Manners doesn’t compromise the truth, and confidently invites others to seek it.

Let me tell you this. We need more people with manners, across the spectrum of ideas, ideals and thoughts. We absolutely need less political correctness. Next time you have a choice when it comes to the truth, what will you do? Will you cower to political correctness, or will you use your manners to confidently proclaim what is right?

 

Trempez vos orteils dans l’eau (Dip your toes in the water)

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“Dip your toes in the water” she spoke, almost a whisper, like a prayer to a mere mortal. The warm July wind hummed across the the Cote d’Azur, singing softly through the trees. He stared pensively to the blue, hesitant to offer any response. Still, she prayed once more:
“Dip, just try it, dip, dip your toes in the water”. Her call was sweet, and despite her beauty, she was no siren, there was no temptress tone in her words.

The pain was still too great. The fear, crippling. For dipping would lead to heels, heels to which his head would fall over too quickly.

Her soft fingers traced down his sunbrown back. Sand stuck to his lightly sweated neck. Flinching, he was unable to dissuade her hearts call to touch.

“Just a toe” she whispered.

His cheek flinched, the sun sparkling rays of warmth into his otherwise cold soul. His raised arm over his face no match from the glare from the blue. He shifted, nestling under the protection of the vine, shielding, as if it were, from the warmth. Her words resonated. Echoed. Bounced off the walls of his heavily guarded heart. Still, her hand gently persistent, tracing ‘eternity’ around his squared, pensive shoulders.

“One dip, it’s all I ask” sweetness permeated from her lips. He wondered, picking his salt-dried lips, wondered, wondered, wondered why. The pain gripped him around the throat one more time, angrily choking the wonder from his mind.

He remembered the cruel sea. He remembered the pain of the dark blue. The storms. The angry wind, the viscous waves. The grave of the deep reaching his angry hand to drag him down. The siren of the water, that whore, promising pleasure, leaving him shipwrecked, alone, adrift.

Still, he wondered.

She stared out across the Mediterranean. Her fingers, massaging the nape of his neck, prying the anger away from his throat. Her warm fingers.  Twirling a lock. Tracing the bones of his spine. Being.

They hadn’t spoken since her proclamation in Marseilles, since he shut down, wondering why she would ruin what they had with something so reckless as love. His broken heart still clenched tight, he angered at why she would dare. Why she would be so foolish as to entrust such a thing in him. Still, her fingers lingered.

“Try me” she implored once again “Just dip your toe in, just once” her words, reassuring, her repetition comforting. He found himself inching towards the thought.

He trained his eyes on the sea. The white caps of the waves, the boats rocking like distant metronomes on the water. He felt the tempest recede inside of him. He wondered, just wondered.

“Dip your toe in the water, my darling, dip it in the water, with me” her voice once again gently persistent like the incoming tide, coming up to meet him, to meet his shore.

The storm still stirred, yet he turned, turned towards her. Her eyes deep as the blue before him, he mustered a squint and a smile

“I’ll dip my toe in the water, I’ll dip it with you”.

Image from http://swim-in-the-sea-count-the-stars.tumblr.com/post/112132247487

 

The Quiet Whisper of Truth

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Have you noticed the world getting louder? That there’s just so much more grabbing for your attention? I’m finding I’m being bombarded almost from the second I wake up, to the moment I go to sleep. 
There just seems to be so many ‘things’ that want to take from you. Expectations. Things you ‘should’ do. Political messages, religious demands, work pressures, the crush of insatiable capitalism. 

 It’s unrelenting, and it seems to be increasing. 

 I don’t really ‘live online’, and try to keep a low social media profile, however even I’m finding there’s so many things that make my blood boil as soon as I log onto Facebook, or read the news. Things that affront my faith, heresies, wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing. Things wanting to tear down. 
I’ve found there’s a stack of things simply yelling at me. Yelling, assaulting almost every part of my being. 

Have you found that?
Even in my own walk of faith, there seem to have been people and organisations yelling out at me, proclaiming all sorts of things. Yelling out a mish-mash of political messages intertwined with an ‘interesting’ doctrine. Yelling out for me to attend their church, their conference, their course, or read their latest book. Yelling out for me to join their particular political movement, cause or group. These things – they burden. They saddle with distraction, and they crowd out the quiet whisper of truth. 

Yelling out. 

Here’s what I’ve also found, in amongst the noise. The quiet whisper of truth. 

From the get go, this quiet whisper isn’t some zen-like state. It’s not finding mindfulness, or meditating on nothing. It’s not something abstract that distracts you, or promises self-fulfilment, or fills your mind with another distraction. No, this quiet whisper is something completely different. 

I’m talking specifically in relation to my faith, but I think these principles can probably be applied to most areas of life. You see this yearning for the truth in so many areas. You see it with food, when people seek out the ‘original’ ways of doing things. You see it in some aspects of environmentalism, where people seek ways to live without the noise of everyday, and electing for a sustainable lifestyle. You see it when people restore cars, aiming to get their classic back to ‘original’ condition. You see it when people lose their way in their relationships, and they seek to find the things they first enjoyed about each other. 
The quiet whisper of truth. Listen to her. This is how she makes herself known to me:

She is the quiet whisper guiding me to holiness, when there’s yelling about ’10 things I need to do to improve my life’
She’s the gentle beckoning to repentance, when the seductive siren of lust tries to tempt me
She’s the sweet call of righteousness, when the hiss of shadows tries to lure me to corruption
She’s the unfailing rock I grasp to, when the tide of popular culture melts beneath my feet
She is the wisdom of ages, unchanging, unfailing, unfaultable, when the dross of fancy speakers, loud music and ‘Jesus is my boyfriend’ messages turn to dust. 

 This quiet whisper of truth. Heed her call.

I’ve found this whisper, this whisper in places seldom sought. 
I’ve found her in the beautiful Law. I’ve found her in the ancient voice of the prophets. She calls out your name. I’ve found her, not in the flashing lights of the pulpit, but in seeking, and searching the scriptures. 
This whisper of truth, I have found her in the counsel of men who speak quietly. I have found her in the voices of women refined by fire. 

 Her voice isn’t brash, but her authority is immutable
Her call is sweet, but her message is life-affirming
Her whisper illuminates the hidden darkness in you, her embrace calls you to repentance, her grace calls you quietly, calls you to the light. 

 I’ve found this quiet whisper of truth makes me squirm, and makes me uncomfortable. Truth will do that, for darkness can’t hide when the light of truth beams down. 

 Let me encourage you to seek this truth. Seek out her quiet whisper, this quiet whisper of truth. 

 

18th Birthday (or the tyranny of youth)

 

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Writer’s note: I wrote this not to advocate any position, or to say anything in particular. It’s simply a collection of observations, stories, hushed chats and whispers. There’s stories in here that aren’t my own, and it’s certainly not my intention to sound like I’m advocating a position. It’s in a minor key, it’s a bundle of observations and a collection of mumbles. 

Bekka’s turning 18, coming of age, party at mum and dads. Scotty spins the tunes and dad throws up the fairy lights, mum caters to fill teenage stomachs – it’ll come up in the front paddock in a few hours anyway.

Mason’s got a new truck, lifted with an LED bar light to be seen from space. He’s the first to arrive at this festive event, and his country dimples cover valleys of insecurity. Cowboy hat bent at the front, ma and pa secretly hope he’d turn his eyes towards their Bek – if only they knew.

Stace, Maria and Bree tumble out of someone’s back seat, pre-loaded. Dressed to the nines, their heels sink into soft country soil, squealing with each squelch, their lives work to snob you off.

Jase makes an entrance, circle work in his beat up ute. The joker, always the laugh. Bekka’s beau, the half bottle of cheap bourbon held by it’s neck. He’s the joker, but she’s got a creeping suspicion the joke’s on him. 20 years old, on the same an hour, with no prospects of increase.

Family comes, smiles abound. Uncle Frank and Aunt Nina, there’s grandma and gramps. Cousins of all ages. Dad playfully grabs Danny in a headlock, trying to explain that his sodomite son is merely creative, like you can try to explain the gay away. Thanks dad, but they both grieve, unable to move past recent revelations.

Raye and Chrissy sit in the tray of Mason’s ute, necking cheap vodka straight from the bottle. He could have both in a heartbeat, but his sights are set on other targets, perhaps tonight he’ll pipe up the confidence to tell her.

Dwayne sings along to the country ditties, he’s unusually talented that way. Laughing off the compliments, he wonders how life might be different if not yoked with three generations of expectation breathing down his neck. Still, he hums along, wondering, even for a second, if things were different.

Kal, as everyone agrees, is classic wife material, the mother hen of the group. She chats CWA with mum, half an eye on Danny, blissfully unaware he’ll make no woman honest. She mistakes his compliments for flirting, and the thought crosses his mind that perhaps he could fake it, until he made it.

Speeches, and mum and dad praise their perfect Bekka. She spies Jase, he’s getting amorous with Raye, and  way too close to his bourbon. She pats her tummy – a week late, and she wonders how daddy will react if she breaks the news to him.

And the party continues, and the fire crackles. They all continue to live their lives together, all in secret.

Picture from https://www.google.com.au/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lovethispic.com%2Fuploaded_images%2F108685-Bonfire-Party.jpg&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lovethispic.com%2Fimage%2F108685%2Fbonfire-party&docid=2BomfXY3f8L2kM&tbnid=ahC-QHXakHIw-M%3A&vet=1&w=500&h=332&bih=708&biw=1517&q=teenagers%20party%20bonfire&ved=0ahUKEwiY4ePVj7_SAhVrrFQKHcKHDpgQMwhFKCMwIw&iact=mrc&uact=8#h=332&imgrc=ahC-QHXakHIw-M:&vet=1&w=500