But somehow, standing in the clear night air, under a sky that glowed like a shower of sparks, none of that stuff mattered. It slipped off me. It was like shedding your clothes before you step in the shower. I felt I was down to essentials again. In fact I felt very close to God at that moment. I guess if you're ever going to feel close to God it'll be while you're looking at the heavens.
I remembered Robyn telling me the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and how they'd survived: when the King chucked them in the furnace and an angel or someone went in with them. The furnace blazed all around them but they didn't burn.And it did calm me. I don't know if it was Robyn or an angel or even God himself was in the boot, but I was starting to suspect that whenever I wanted God, he was there. Only not necessarily in the form I wanted, or doing what I wanted...In the pitch of the black boot I clung to the image of a fiery furnace, and it wasn't the furnace or Hell either.
So I found myself telling my own stories. It was strange: as I did it I realised how much we get shaped by our stories. It's like the stories of our lives make us the people we are. If someone had no stories, they wouldn't be human, wouldn't exist. And if my stories had been different I wouldn't be the person I am.
It was the world-without-adults daydream. In my dream I'd never quite figured out where the adults went but we kids were free to roam, to help ourselves to anything we wanted. We'd pick up a Merc from a showroom when we wanted wheels, and when it ran out of petrol we'd get another one. We'd change cars the way I change socks. We'd sleep in different mansions every night, going to new houses instead of putting new sheets on the beds. Life would be one long party.Yes, that had been the dream.
That night in bed I was thinking about the way creeks and streams operate. They start off little, gurgling and bubbling and jumping over rocks and stuff, full of energy, going all over the place. Then they get older and bigger, become rivers, take a more definite course, stick to their path, know where they're going, get slower and wider. And eventually they reach the ocean and become part of this vast mysterious world of water that stretches away forever.Yep, just like people.
You can never stay angry too long in the bush though. At least, that's what I think. It's not that it's soothing or restful, because it's not. What it does for me is get inside my body, inside my blood, and take me over. I don't know that I can describe it any better than that. It takes me over and I become part of it and it becomes part of me and I'm not very important, or at least no more important than a tree or a rock or a spider abseiling down a long thread of cobweb. As I wandered around, on that hot afternoon, I didn't notice anything too amazing or beautiful or mindbogglingly spectacular. I can't actually remember noticing anything out of the ordinary: just the grey-green rocks and the olive-green leaves and the reddish soil with its teeming ants. The tattered ribbons of paperbark, the crackly dry cicada shell, the smooth furrow left in the dust by a passing snake. That's all there ever is really, most of the time. No rainforest with tropical butterflies, no palm trees or Californian redwoods, no leopards or iguanas or panda bears.Just the bush.