We’ve been up to all sorts of things lately:
Christmas – we travelled down to Crookwell, where my parents and Emma and I own a little property. We have tenants in the house at the moment so for the first few days we stayed in the Shearers Quarters on a sheep station 15kms out of Crookwell. The whole family was there for Christmas, sleeping in tin shacks. It was completely beautiful. Rolling hills, wind, no people. We went trout fishing most afternoons in the Pejar Dam – caught 2, one decent size. A few days out there and I never want to come back. The property is called Gundowringa – I recommend it for a quiet place to get away. It also has a fascinating history in the development of agriculture in Australia. At least, I found it interesting.
After Gundowringa we moved into town for a couple of nights in more comfortable surrounds. We stayed at Pinn Cottage, a local Crookwell B&B. It’s another beautiful spot. They’ve used Bluestone in the construction, a feature of lots of older houses in Crookwell. It’s really nice that there are still some places in the world where the local pattern of life still reflects a connection to the land and locally available resources. Houses in Crookwell were made of bluestone because that’s the kind of stone that lives there. Life in the country still has a sense of particularity which contrasts with the mass produced cityscape.
We walked around the town, went to the local cafe (Lynham’s), swum in the pool. One day Em and I drove out to Wombeyan Caves. It’s about 70kms from Crookwell but most of the road is dirt (our car – no stranger to dirt roads – has been making a strange sound ever since). We’ve driven that way once before, right through to Mittagong. Be warned, the road between Wombeyan and Mittagong is very exciting to drive. Not for the faint-hearted. This was the first time that I’d actually been into the caves. It’s definitely worth it.
We went on the self-guided walk. You head out through the bush for a while, come down a hill, and there’s a little steel door in the side of the hill. It’s like something out of a fairy tale. You go inside and it closes with a very satisfactory crash. Inside the cave system was spectacular. People always compare caves with cathedrals but you really can’t help it. Maybe the early Christian experience of the Catacombs left indelible marks. Yes, it was like a Cathedral. We couldn’t help talking in whispers, even though we were completely alone.
The other powerful impression was of everything flowing, melting, passing away. In these Limestone (Karst) cave systems the rock looks like wax. Something that your experience has always told you was hard and permanent is clearly revealed as impotent before time. Perhaps that is why people feel a sense of the sublime in caves, they overpower and unsettle us.
You touch the walls and they are rock, hard, immortal. But your eyes tell you that even rocks can perish.
The following day I got up at 4:30am, left Emma fast asleep, and drove to Sydney to preach. My text was ‘store up your treasure in heaven’. I talked about change.